Rare feats , no feats, and some feats are made for greatness ….

Rare feats , no feats, and some feats are made for greatness …..

By Tophatal

No hitters and perfect games no longer seem to be a rarity in the game of baseball as it now seems to be an ever-increasing occurrence within the game. What baseball hasn’t seen in over four decades, is the accomplishment of the batting’s Triple Crown, last achieved by Carl Yastrzemski during the 1967 . That year, the Yastrzemski led the AL with a .326 batting, average, 44 home runs and 121 RBI’s.

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In 2012, the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera might just be on the cusp on joining a select group of players to have achieved the feat of baseball’s hallowed Triple Crown. Cabrera leads the AL, batting .327 , with 42 home runs and 133 RBI’s as of 29th September , has a comfortable lead over his closest rivals Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton in each of the aforementioned categories . Pitchers may well have had stellar seasons ,but it in large part the fans simply yearn to see the monstrous home runs and offense from the teams. From my own perspective should Miguel Cabrera pull off the feat of the Triple Crown , then most certainly it would make him a presumptive favorite for the AL MVP , of whom his closest rivals are likely to be, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout within the American League ! All three players and their respective teams , the Detroit Tigers , Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers are all involved in either divisional races or for one of the two berths in the revised playoff format for the AL wildcard.

For the Detroit Tigers, having opened up a two-game lead over the Chicago White Sox (83-75) within the AL Central , the team’s biggest goal is the secure the divisional crown and insuring themselves a berth in the postseason. Jim Leyland and his managerial staff this season , have seen their schedule being turned upside down through inconsistent play and a wide variety of other unforeseen problems as the team sought to play itself into contention. GM Dave Dombrowski and team owner Michael Ilitch have seen fit to make this the year where they spent in order to bolster the roster . It would be remiss to suggest that Cabrera has been the sole reason why the Tigers have prevailed this season , but he has been the main impetus behind the Tigers’ resurgence as a contender in 2012.

With only four games remaining on their schedule the Detroit Tigers, the team next face the declining Minnesota Twins (66-92) in a game that has more meaning to the divisional leader, than it does for a Twins’ organization, in a season , where nothing has gone right at all . And from my own standpoint, I’m wondering whether or not the front office will stand by manager , Ron Gardenhire, as he faces another season with a sub .500 record and a team that has simply under-achieved , and not met the expectations sought. Gardenhire , is one of the longest tenured managers in baseball, and he has had considerable success with the ball-club over the course of his tenure , but for the past seven years the returns have been meager. Whatever , the future now holds for the Minnesota Twins , the decisions to be made by the front office will stress whether or not the organization’s faith in Ron Gardenhire will remain.

The Detroit Tigers remain a venerable ball-club with noted accomplishments by the players over the course of their history. It would be a significant achievement, were Miguel Cabrera to attain the Holy Grail of baseball, in terms of the Triple Crown. The first baseman , and slugger, is a mercurial talent with prodigious productivity over the course of his career . This season we have seen noted accomplishments with the perfect games , no hitters , and even a four home run game from the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton , but I believe that those feats , would somehow pale into insignificance given the historical significance and the rarity of such an occurrence with regard to the Triple Crown ! What thoughts if any, do you have with such a premise?

The remaining games should prove decisive in terms of the culmination of the regular season , as it will lay out the final standings , as well as setting up the scenario for the divisional round of the MLB playoffs. . In light of the Tigers’ postseason sojourn in 2011 , which saw the team fall to the Texas Rangers 4-2 in the ALCS , led many to believe that the ball-club simply was not equipped to make a successful attempt to win the World Series . 2012 , might just be the year , where with everything in place , the AL Central team with its All Stars , led by Miguel Cabrera , Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander , could very well make it an eventful and successful year for this esteemed baseball organization. It should prove to be very eventful once the postseason gets underway , commencing on the 5th October, 2012.

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Picture gallery

Should Miguel Cabrera achieve the rare feat of claiming the Triple Crown , do you believe it to be a noteworthy accomplishment by the player ? What , if anything are you specifically looking forward to , as the MLB playoffs approach ? By all means , do leave a comment as you see fit , and thanks as always for the continued support of this site !

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Picture and slide show details below.
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(1) Boston Red Sox great, Carl Yastrzemski , the last player to accomplish the feat of the Triple Crown in 1967. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers leads the AL batting standings in each of the categories in question , and could become the first player in 45 years to achieve the feat. Courtesy of Sports Illustrated / Michael Hart ….

(2) Detroit Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez fields an infield pop-up for the out off the bat of Minnesota Twins’ Pedro Florimon in the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 in Minneapolis. Watching, left, is Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder. Detroit would go on to defeat the Twins 2-1. AP Photo/Jim Mone …

(3) Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera watches his three-run home run off Minnesota Twins’ Casey Fien in the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in Minneapolis. The homer tied him with Texas’ Josh Hamilton. AP Photo/Jim Mone ….

(4) Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, left, and Prince Fielder celebrate after the Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 in a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in Minneapolis. Both hit home runs in the game. AP Photo/Jim Mone …..

(5) From left to right agent Scott Boras , Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski, Prince Fielder , team owner Michael Ilitch , and manager Jim Leyland . The organization formally announced Fielder as their biggest free agent acquisition , having signed the player to a nine-year $214 million contract in January 2012 . Detroit Free Press / Chris Cowan ……
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MLB news

MLB standings & wildcard standings

MLB results 30th September , 2012

This week in baseball history , September 29th & chronological historical information

AL batting 2012 & NL batting 2012

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Detroit Tigers’ active roster

Detroit Tigers’ managerial staff

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MLB rare feats – perfect game & no hitter

MLB rare feats hitting for the cycle & four home run game

MLB rare feats

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Bios: Carl Yastrzemski ——- AL batting stats 1967 —— & bio for Miguel Cabrera

He is definitely not his father’s son …….

He is definitely not his father’s son ……

By Tophatal …..

I must be missing something, but somehow in the past three months , the off-season now the pre and regular season has left the NFL in a great deal turmoil. The New England Patriots and their infamous head coach Bill Belichick has seemingly has gone off the deep end , in trying to acquire any troubled offensive player and make them something of a pet reclamation project . Chad Johnson and his issues, now seem to be a thing of the past, but I found it somewhat naïve of the head coach, in one moment signing Kellen Winslow Jr to a one year deal only to cut the player upon his own request . Surely, Belichick must have known that the younger Winslow, is nowhere as gifted a player as his father , the Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow . . To top it all , while he was with on this roster he would not have been viewed as the equal of the Patriots’ record-breaking pair of tight ends of last season , Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski .

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I’ve always maintained that upon his being drafted out Miami (Hurricanes) by the Cleveland Browns as the sixth overall pick in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, the player has done little of note in his eight years in the NFL . Lackluster, would be an overly generous way to describe the tight end’s contributions , and most definitely his stay with the Patriots was about as worthwhile as watching paint dry. Meager returns from a player that Belichick totally believed , but somehow he chose to overlook the Winslow’s foibles , his troubled relationships with his fellow teammates and at times the coaches, whom he played under. One game , was said to be all that it took for the decision to be made to jettison Kellen Winslow Jr . From my own standpoint , I am still trying to figure out why it was the player, was signed to a team that in reality had no real offensive issues , and whose biggest issues still remains the team’s defense.

Winslow’s career in the NFL, first with the Browns, for a period of four years from 2004 through to 2008, were perhaps the most productive segment of his career to date. However, his unwillingness to conform and be a leader on the field led to his departure , via a trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he would spend three indifferent seasons , culminating in his being traded again , this time to the Seattle Seahawks. The departure from the Buccaneers I believe, came about from new head coach Greg Schiano wanting to stamp his authority and identity on the team. A strict disciplinarian, he sought accountability from his players and not excuses, something that Winslow was unable to deal with or fully understand as a player who was simply coddled throughout much of his collegiate career with the Miami Hurricanes. And perhaps Winslow, felt it would be the same in the professional ranks of the NFL. Gifted , but mercurial would be the best way to describe Kellen Winslow and his career thus far in the league , as he has simply failed to live up to those lofty expectations.

Though signed by the Seahawks , the tight end would never play a down or actually be suited up for duty. Head coach , Pete Carroll saw indifference from a player unwilling to tow the line, and be a leader on the field. Again, a move out of expediency would see Kellen Winslow on the sidelines, waiting for another chance to display his talents. As I alluded to earlier, one game with the Patriots , in the team’s 30-31 —- loss to the Baltimore Ravens, was all it took for Bill Belichick to jettison the player. In all likelihood the player will be picked up by team looking for a good blocking tight end who is also a threat on offense. As to who that franchise might be , remains to be seen .

In stark contrast, the career of Kellen Winslow Sr , is one of accomplishment, and the fact that he was enshrined in 1995 into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio , speaks not only to the evolution of the player , but also the esteem with which he was held by his peers. A prolific tight end during his NFL career , all of which were played with the San Diego Chargers from 1979 through to 1987. When one considers the Hall of Fame enshrined tight ends , one has to acknowledge and consider how great a player the Chargers’ player just happened to be. A number of Winslow’s statistical marks still remain on the Chargers’ record books but those are likely to be surpassed by the team’s current tight end Antonio Gates . Having stepped away from the game, Kellen Winslow still keeps an observant eye on the NFL and particularly on the San Diego Chargers and that of his son. Now I don’t profess to know how the elder Winslow might well feel about his son no longer being on an NFL roster, but I am sure that his proudest moment beyond his son’s accomplishments at the Collegiate Level was to see his son, Kellen Winslow being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2004.

Within the NFL , the father-son familial and career path is one revelry and no doubt great expectation. Granted, we have seen success , in large part due to the Manning family , led by patriarch Archie Manning and his two Superbowl winning sons , Peyton and Eli Manning . Their accomplishments stand out by leaps, and bounds. However, there have been other successful families within the NFL who have achieved a great deal of fame and distinction. Clay Matthews III , a defensive lineman with the Green Bay Packers , and a member of their Superbowl winning team , is the son of Clay Matthews and nephew of Bruce Matthews , names that are synonymous with the NFL as both of these elder statesmen were seen prototypical players who exuded toughness and longevity. The Packers’ defensive lineman now has a younger sibling , Casey Matthews , playing in the NFL as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles . Familial ties have their advantages and disadvantages , but above all, within the NFL it all comes down to having talent .

In the aftermath of the idiocy of the first three weeks of the NFL season , it is great to know that finally, common sense prevailed , rather than the continued intransigence of Roger Goodell and the league hierarchy . What might be even more troubling in this whole debacle of using replacement referees, was the muted tones of the NFL owners as they each saw their teams embroiled in the repeated “ comedy of errors” , as we had part-time officials who were simply not cognizant of the rules . Yet all I heard or read by a number of patrons within this forum , were that these officials were doing their leveled best . Monday night’s debacle led by referee Wayne Elliott simply showed us why the NFL had to act expeditiously , in getting the NFL certified referees back on the field of play was of the highest priority . Now comes the hard part for Roger Goodell , how does he now make up for this monumental faux-pas on his part, for which he has yet to take responsibility for , much less have the league issue a public apology to the fans. Would that be too much to ask of the NFL at this juncture? Or has common decency and respect been replaced by egotistical approach and the conceitedness of the league hierarchy? It now seems appropriate to let you be the judge of that !

Thursday night’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens , saw the welcomed return of the referees the fans are accustomed to seeing. They were soundly applauded by the fans in attendance at M&T Stadium, in Baltimore, Maryland. And I would dare say , that even if during last night’s game the officials made a minor mistake , there would not be as much outrage exhibited by fans as there has been in the prior three weeks of the NFL .Now the fans can get back to truly enjoying the NFL , albeit, that the league itself , still has a number of issues to address . Hey, Commissioner Goodell, will you choose to break bread with Jonathan Vilma? Or will that asinine pissing contest you’re both conducting , still continue?

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As a fan of the NFL , what are your thoughts on Kellen Winslow Jr being cut for the second time this season from an NFL roster ? Do you believe him to be a talented enough player, to be given another chance this season? What thoughts if any do you have on the familial ties within the game concerning fathers and sons? Finally, with the return to the NFL of the certified game officials , do you feel that the rest of the season will be one of welcomed and meaningful games being officiated with more competence? Do leave a comment as you see fit .

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(1) Kellen Winslow Jr (82) seen here at the New England Patriots’ practice facility in Foxboro’ , Massachusetts ,. The player was cut after one appearance this season for the franchise ___ with the request coming from the player to be relieved of his duties from the team . His wish was granted by head coach Bill Belichick and GM Nick Caserio . AP Photo / Paul Hammond …..

(2) Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow Sr is seen here giving a keynote speech at a gala affair promoting education for at risk youth . The father to player , Kellen Winslow Jr, the former Chargers’ great exuded confidence and talent over the course of his career in the NFL and he was on of the most prolific players to have played the position in NFL history . Getty Images North America / Matthew Hardy …..

(3) Tight end Kellen Winslow (82) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cannot bring in this pass as safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (21) of the St. Louis Rams breaks it up during the game at Raymond James Stadium on October 24, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …….

(4) Kellen Winslow (80) suited up and ready to play in a game for the San Diego Chargers . This prolific tight end is one of the “most beloved players” in Chargers’ history . AFP/ REUTERS ….

(5) Two generations of the Manning family . From left to right , Eli Manning , Peyton Manning and the family patriarch Archie Manning .All three have had successful careers in the NFL with the sons having won three Superbowls between them . Eli and Peyton have also won the Superbowl MVP award in the years that they guided their teams to victory in the NFL showcase event . AP / Pat Marshall ….

(6) Teammates Donald Driver , left and Clay Matthews, right show off their Superbowl rings prior to the 2011 ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theater , in Los Angeles California …. Philip Hough /ESPN /ABC ….

(7) Casey (foreground) and Clay Matthews , in a stringent workout routine . The two brothers now make their careers in the NFL , with Casey Matthews playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. Clay, was a apart of the Packers’ Superbowl winning team , following their triumphant 2010 season . AP Photo / Getty Images / Harry How …..
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(8) Bruce Matthews, left , is seen here alongside his brother Clay Matthews after a game between the Houston Oilers and Cleveland Browns during the mid eighties . REUTERS Archives ….

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Giving it one last try ……

Giving it one last try ……

By Tophatal

The divisional races in some cases are heating up , whereas in others, they are pretty much settled , as baseball enters final stretch of the regular season before it all culminates on the 3rd October . In what has been an eventful year that was filled with the usual plethora of drama , it should be noted that not much has changed in terms of the players’ continued fascination with the use of prohibitive substances (PED’s and anabolic steroids). The league hierarchy would have us believe that they have everything under control , but at the minor league level, the illicit use by the players is far more widespread than the league would care to acknowledge . In the past 18 months in the Minor Leagues , over seventy players have been caught , penalized with the mandatory suspensions , yet the feeling is that the concern amongst the fans is what actually happens at the MLB level , where many of the game’s high-priced stars exhibit their talents . This season we have had our answer with the summary mandatory suspensions of Melky Cabrera , a one-time leading candidate for the NL MVP , and also with the Oakland A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon . The latter, whose suspension may or may not have severely hampered the A’s hopes of making the postseason. As things now stand, it is looking like a four-horse race for the two AL wildcard berths.

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In what he says, will be his twentieth and final season in the Majors , the Atlanta Braves (90-65) utility player and outfielder, Chipper Jones will be looking to lead the team into the postseason for the first time since 2010, where they lost (3-1) in the NLDS to the San Francisco Giants . This season the Braves have been lucky enough to play themselves into contention for a postseason berth within the NL. As the leading contender for one of the two berths under the new playoff format instigated by Bud Selig , the ball-club seemingly has a comfortable 6 ½ game lead over their closest rivals the St Louis Cardinals , with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers closely following in hot pursuit.

The Braves, now have 7 games remaining on their schedule , starting with the final game of a three-game series against the Miami Marlins. Fredi Gonzalez’s players, then close out the month of September with two games against the New York Mets , and with their final three games, in a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Ballpark , in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania .

The NL East division appears to be of reach , albeit , that were the Washington Nationals (94-61) to lose five of their seven remaining games , then just about anything would be possible . For the moment however, I am just happy to witness a season, where the Braves had more than their fair share of success ! ! GM Frank Wren and team President John Scheurholz have emphasized a commitment to success, which has been passed on by Gonzalez’s coaching staff to the players on the entire roster. And it has been that renewed commitment that has brought about the change in fortune for the team over the course of the season. Michael Bourn , Chipper Jones , Jayson Heyward , Freddie Freeman , Dan Uggla and Martin Prado , have all contributed greatly to the team’s efforts in 2012 , in providing the offensive productivity needed to be viewed as a contender within the NL. While the pitching at times, has been exacerbating and inconsistent , here too, players such as Tim Hudson, Mike Minor , Brandon Beachy , Tommy Hanson , Paul Malholm and Craig Kimbrel , have more than justified their worth to the team.

One of the more positive things to come out of the season for the Atlanta Braves , has been to see that renewed interest in the team by the fans. Far too fickle , at times it was somewhat depressing to see Fulton County Stadium (Turner Field) in Atlanta , Georgia , barely filled to capacity for the Braves’ home games . This season having drawn over 2,242,046 in —- attendance for their scheduled games at Fulton County Stadium , the franchise ranks eighth of the National League’s sixteen teams averaging 29,117 per home game. Team payroll asides, Chairman & CEO Terry McGuirk along with the managing partners who make up the ownership group of the organization , would have to be happy with the 2012 season. . The ball-club has been fiscally prudent with team salaries , which this season is pegged at $83,309,942 , a far cry from the almost $200,000,000 that the New York Yankees have budgeted for their roster.

The playoff picture is still somewhat muddied , as the vagaries that make up this point of the season will be filled anomalies .In 2011, who would have thought that both the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox would have surrendered their wildcard berth leads to the St Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays , in what has been described as one of the best finishes to a season , in recent baseball history . As we all know, the Cardinals would go on to prevail in a thrilling triumph in the World Series over the Texas Rangers . The Atlanta Braves would like nothing more to be a participant in baseball’s showcase postseason event , but that would now all be predicated upon how the ensuing scenarios now in motion , would play out . There is no denying that the most significant moment in the Braves’ postseason history came in 1995 , when they prevailed in defeating the Cleveland Indians (4-2). Two other appearances in the “ Fall Classic” resulted in losses, in 1996 and 1999 , each time to the New York Yankees .

With the inauguration of a one game playoff format , the Braves would have to face the St Louis Cardinals for the privilege of appearing in the NLDS . In between 2008 and 2012 , the two teams have met thirty-three times , with the St Louis Cardinals holding a significant 19-14 lead. In 2012 , their meetings show a significant turnaround , with Atlanta having defeated the Cardinals five out of the six times ( 5-1) that they have met . It would be easy to surmise that this bodes well for the postseason, should such a scenario materialize! The last meeting between the two teams in 2012 , was a hard-fought competitive game , which resulted in a 10-7 victory for the NL East —- team. The advantage would appear to favor the Atlanta Braves , but in a one game playoff format , just about anything can happen .So we might as well let the chips fall where they may , in such an instance and just hope for the best .

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In light of the new playoff format for the postseason , which in all likelihood will be tinkered with by baseball’s hierarchy. Do you ultimately believe that this change will of benefit to the game? Or do you simply see it all as just another make-shift idea of Bud Selig to simply create the perception that everyone is in with a chance ? And of the NL teams that will be vying for the NL pennant as the NL’s representative in the World Series , which of the ball-clubs do you believe to be the best and will be triumphant ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit .

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(1) In this photo taken Sept. 25, 2012, Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones , right, celebrates after the Braves beat the Miami Marlins 4-3 in a baseball game in Atlanta, to clinch a playoff spot. With one last trip to the postseason assured, Jones is relishing the final days of his last season. Jones, who will be honored by the Braves before Friday night’s game against the Mets, says he is savoring the final days of his last regular season as he and his teammates look forward to the playoffs. AP Photo/David Goldman …..

(2) In this photo taken Sept. 25, 2012, Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones , right, celebrates with teammate Freddie Freeman after the Braves beat the Miami Marlins 4-3 in a baseball game in Atlanta, to clinch a playoff spot . With one last trip to the postseason assured, Jones is relishing the final days of his last season. Jones, who will be honored by the Braves before Friday night’s game against the Mets, says he is savoring the final days of his last regular season as he and his teammates look forward to the playoffs. AP Photo/David Goldman ……

(3) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Paul Maholm (17) works against the Miami Marlins in the first inning of a baseball game in Atlanta, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. AP Photo/John Bazemore … (4) Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) works in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Atlanta, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. Kimbrel earned the save as Atlanta won 3-0. AP Photo/John Bazemore …….

(5) ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 26: A young fan shows off a sign in support of Chipper Jones (10) of the Atlanta Braves against the Miami Marlins at Turner Field on September 26, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images ….

(6) Fredi Gonzalez tries on his Braves jersey as the team’s new manager. At the Wednesday press conference announcement, Gonzalez is flanked by (from L-R) team president John Schuerholz, general manager Frank Wren, and former manager Bobby Cox . Photo-Edgar Treiguts ….

(7) (L-R) Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz , Atlanta Braves Chairman Emeritus Bill Bartholomay , Atlanta Braves Chairman & CEO Terry McGuirk , and Major League Baseball Living Legend, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron . Philip Moss / Atlanta Journal Constitution ….

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One year ago today : MLB standings (divisional) & wildcard ———- schedule for 27th September 2011 and the resulting scores

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MLB important dates & MLB postseason schedule 2012

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I’m going to pi#s on you ___ comes courtesy of the NFL

I’m going to pi#s on you ___ comes courtesy of the NFL

By Tophatal

I am not going to dwell on the events of Monday night in the NFL, other than to suggest that with each passing moment that the league has the replacement referees on the field of play , the legitimacy and integrity of the game suffers. The television ratings may well be high but if the idiocy on display continues , then look for a marked decline with the ratings . Fans will not , and should not continue to tolerate or be asked to tolerate the sort of ineptitude being shown , much less the contempt now being exhibited by the league hierarchy for the fans. Albeit, that the broadcast networks and the league’s own in-house network outlet have yet to show their disgust by the inconsistent officiating but moreover the clear incompetence the officials , Richard Simmons and Wayne Elliott , two of the three referees presiding over Monday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks at Q West Field , in Seattle , Washington .

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The Seahawks may well have come away with an ill-deserved victory and the team’s wide receiver Golden Tate now has another accomplishment now tied to him that surely cannot be looked upon as one of chivalry or sportsmanship. That being said , the ridicule now being showered upon the NFL and directed towards Roger Goodell , is clearly indicative of the outrage now fomenting . The public statements forthcoming from the commissioner’s office are not only bewildering , in the league’s backing of the officials on Monday but it gives clear evidence that the NFL is not in the slightest bit concerned with what the fans think or even that of an outside observer might well have felt about the events. The league continue to treat the fans with contempt, as they deem it fit and with not much more beyond that .

Week four in the NFL will bring us another slew of games with another Thursday night precursor in the lead-up to Sunday’s schedule set of match-ups. The Cleveland Browns will be the guests of the Baltimore Ravens when these two AFC teams meet in a conference and divisional match-up. Baltimore is coming off an emotionally wrought 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots, during which wide receiver Torrey Smith , may well have played the best game of his two-year career. The uncertainty as to whether or not Smith , would be joining his teammates on the field , was overshadowed by the death of his younger brother Tevin, in a motorcycle accident , 48 hours earlier . And to the great surprise of not only John Harbaugh but the Ravens’ front office , Torrey Smith suited up and showed the reason why he has to be considered one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL .

The victory for the Baltimore Ravens (2-1) over the Patriots , has the franchise leading the AFC North over Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) on points differential and conference wins. This match-up between the Browns and Ravens should give us a sense as to how good this Cam Cameron designed offense is said to be of Baltimore’s, and whether or not Joe Flacco is actually growing in stature as an NFL quarterback . It has been Flacco’s improved play and his growing confidence in his offensive unit that is now leading many to believe that this could very well be the season during which the Baltimore Ravens make a successful run, deep into the NFL postseason. We have always known that the Ravens’ defense has to be considered amongst the best in the AFC, which has been built around the defensive prowess of Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Ladarius Webb , and Dannell Ellerbe .

If there is one thing that can be said about the Cleveland Browns then it would have to be that their fans continue suffer in silence , as the franchise simply meanders from one season to the next. Already off to an 0-3 start to their season , one could attest to the fact that Pat Shurmur’s task has not been made any easier with the less than adequate contributions from the rookies as well as the seasoned veterans on the roster . An inauspicious introduction the NFL for rookie quarterbacks …. Brandon Weeden and a game , which saw the player set an NFL low with a QB rating of 5.1 , has simply signified that the Browns will be in for a tough time over the course of the season. Weeden’s predecessor, Colt McCoy , has simply been cast aside like a pair of worn shoes, that in essence could still be of use to the franchise. That decision was borne out of team President Mike Holmgren’s frustrations but at the same time, it has to be said that the Browns’ mishandling of McCoy’s injury in a game played against the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, indicates to me also that beyond the injury , they were simply unhappy with the quarterback’s lack of progress and his leadership abilities . . And this game against the Ravens , could prove to be something of a nightmare for the Browns’ players , both from a defensive standpoint and offensively. >. If Brandon Weeden is unable to guide the Browns to their first win of the season , then there may well be a great deal of pressure brought to bear, in seeing Colt McCoy brought back to be the signal-caller and quarterback for the team.

Are the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) getting old , or is simply complacency on the part of Mike Tomlin and his coaching staff ? It may well be a mixture both but it has become abundantly clear with the departure of Bruce Arians as the team’s offensive coordinator , thing now are not as they once were . Succeeding Arians, Todd Haley, the former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs , has been brought in by Tomlin to provide what is said to be a more balanced offense. Three weeks into the Steelers’ season , and the team has proven equally as incompetent on defense as it is on offense . And the team’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is not entirely satisfied with the playbook devised by the offensive coordinator. The Steelers’ sole victory, came by way of the 27-10 dismantling of the New York Jets , but a loss in week one to the Denver Broncos and then a last-minute loss to the Oakland Raiders , 34-31 at the O Coliseum , has left the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans wondering , what the hell is going on inside of the franchise. No need to actually press the panic button as of yet , with the team having a bye-week, before facing the Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) in week 5 at their home field, Heinz Field , in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

The perceived match-up of these two vaunted franchises, should prove to be one of the major highlights in week five, amongst the games to be played . For Eagles’ head coach, Andy Reid , a much-needed win has to be of the highest priority for his team , given the unevenness in the play of Michael Vick in 2012 for the Eagles . While Vick, with his incentive laden contract has yet to truly justify its worth , albeit, that he remains one of the most gifted athletes of his generation. To my mind , if the Philadelphia Eagles are to be in with a whiff of the postseason , much less the NFC East divisional title, they are going to have to play at a much higher standard than is currently being exhibited in 2012 , never-mind the inconsistency of their play throughout their entire 2011 schedule. Needless to say, the words “ dynasty “ , “class of the division , were not applicable , as they fell , all too short of their ambitions last season.

The Arizona Cardinals are now 3-0 and lead the NFC West , but in all probability, given the uneasiness under which Ken Whisenhunt started the season with this team , not being sure who his starting quarterback would be . The head coach now find the franchise reaching giddy heights , leading the division and being one of only three unbeaten teams left in the NFL at this point of the season. John Skelton was lost to the team in week three , and so it was left to their high-priced free agent signing Kevin Kolb to assume the reins for the injured starter. I seriously doubt that at this point of the season , anyone would have assumed that the Cardinals would be one of the three remaining unbeaten teams , joining the ranks of the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans in that specific category. The results however, do not lie , as the Cardinals are off their best start in the NFL in several years.

On Sunday the Arizona Cardinals will play hosts to the Miami Dolphins (1-2) and the likelihood is, that this will be a highly contested game between two quarterbacks, in Kolb and Ryan Tannehill, who will be looking to lead their respective franchises to victory. The Cardinals trail the Miami Dolphins in this head to head series 2-8 in the ten games played between the two teams over the past four decades. In their most recent meeting in 2008, the Cardinals defeated their AFC East counterparts 31-10 , quite convincingly , with Anquan Boldin , Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner , leading the charge for the Cardinals on the day. And though I do not believe that Sunday’s match-up will be that lopsided an event, there is the believe with this new-found confidence in this Cardinals’ roster , .Joe Philbin and his players will be thoroughly tested by the Cardinals , once this gets underway.

Courtesy of Pro Football Talk.com

Daopoulos: NFL, NFLRA deal is done

By Mike Florio , ProFootballTalk.com

NBC picked the right year to hire an officiating consultant.

Jim Daopoulos , a long-time official and supervisor of officials, joined NBC this season. And he tells PFT that the NFL and NFL Referees Association have signed a new deal.

A crew is being assembled to work Thursday night’s game between the Browns and Ravens. Then, on Friday, the officials will travel to Dallas to retrieve their equipment and receive their game assignments for Sunday and Monday, with the same crews working together as last year.

Details are still not clear, but Daopoulos says that the much-debated pension issue was resolved with the current defined-benefit plan remaining in place for five years before switching to a 401(k)style defined contribution plan.

Also, it’s believed that the deal will cover five more years before this one, which means that we’ll potentially be doing this again in 2018.

UPDATE 10:56 p.m. ET: Daopoulos has provided some more facts. The officials will vote on the deal in Dallas on Friday, at which time it will become final. They’ll then participate in a clinic, and head on Saturday to the game sites. Also, the officials will receive a pay raise of four percent, with 12 guaranteed game checks this year and 19 in subsequent years (including preseason). As to the checks they’ve missed this year, the officials will divvy up $2.5 million.

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With the outrage and uproar caused by this egregious mistake by the officials, officiating Monday night’s game, it is now being reported that the NFL hierarchy is working aggressively and proactively to expedite an agreement with referees’ union (NFLRA). The main stumbling block still remains the league’s wish for the referees to give up their pension benefits and seemingly accept the premise of being bound by a 401K as a benefits’ package. This is something that referees’ spokesman Mark Baltz , has stated that they would be quite prepared to accept , as long as the NFL hierarchy are prepared to make other concessions as first sought in their original round of deliberations. From the outset NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has sought to make the union the “villains of the piece” , which has essentially backfired , further tarnishing the NFL’s already blemished and some might say battered and bruised image. Perhaps, it took these chain of events to truly awaken Goodell and the hierarchy as to the sheer outrage of the fans , and now the public in general. To further ridicule the league , the commissioner’s public statement emphasizing his implicit faith the replacement referees , clearly shows how out of touch with reality Roger Goodell just happens to be. With a renewed focus to expedite an agreement , it is highly unlikely that we will see a quick return of NFL certified officials until week five at the earliest or week six at the latest. One more week of this lunacy only further exacerbates this situation , which clearly could have been resolved more amicably, had Roger Goodell been more amenable to working with the referees’ union, rather than being a belligerent buffoon !

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The NFL in the past four weeks has found itself once again at the center of some unwanted attention , more so , for the incompetence shown by the replacement referees , rather than for the excitement and thrills exhibited by teams over that timeframe. Do you believe that the league will successfully address the problems they have faced? By all means do take time to leave a comment on this and anything else you believe pertinent on the subject matter in question.

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Green Bay Packers corner-backs Tramon Williams (38) and Charles Woodson (21) and safety M.D. Jennings (43) fight for possession of a jump ball with Seattle Seahawks wide receivers Charly Martin (14) and Golden Tate , right, in the final seconds of the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Seattle. Tate was ruled to have come down with the ball for a touchdown, and the Seahawks won 14-12 . AP Photo/Stephen Brashear ….

(2) Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy addresses reporters’ questions about a controversial touchdown call on Monday Night Football during a press conference in Green Bay, Wis., on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. AP Photo/The Green Bay Press-Gazette, Lukas Keapproth ….

(3) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Packers 14-12 in an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Seattle. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren ….

(4) Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) and wide receiver Sidney Rice celebrate after their 14-12 win over the Green Bay Packers in an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Seattle. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren ……

(5) Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) looks to pass in the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Cleveland. Weeden threw two interceptions and was sacked four times in a 24-14 loss to the Bills. AP Photo/David Richard …

(6) Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walks off the field after a 34-31 loss to the Oakland Raiders during an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. AP Photo/Tony Avelar ……….

(7) Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, right, hugs Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb, left, following an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 27-6 . AP Photo/Paul Connors ….

(8) Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, right, is sacked by Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington , left, in the second quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. AP Photo/Paul Connors …..

(9) Arizona Cardinals’ John Skelton holds his knee as he grimaces in pain after being injured during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Seahawks 20-16 . AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ……..

(10) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell shares a humorous moment with two game officials prior to a preseason game in 2012. It is being reported that a compromise has been reached between the league hierarchy and the NFLRA (referees’ union) that will see the officials return to work by no later than week 6 of the NFL regular season . However, with a vote yet to be taken by the union , there is no guarantee of a proposed deal being approved and ratified by the union . AP Photo / Brian McDonald ………..

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Thursday night’s game ….. Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens @ M&T Bank Stadium , Baltimore , Maryland ,.
All-time series head to head meetings between the two teams

NFL week three results

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Dave Chappelle channels R Kelly …… “Piss on you ”

Bamboozled but it’s being done for your own good

Bamboozled but it’s being done for your own good

By Tophatal

Do we really need to be reminded why it is that the NFL this season has become a constant running joke? In light of last night’s debacle and the sheer ineptitude shown by the replacement referees in officiating the game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks at Q West Field , in Seattle , Washington. I am now inclined to believe that the team owners , coaches and front office executives (general managers) cannot be entirely happy with the situation of replacement referees adjudicating the regular season games . We are now three weeks into the 2012-13 season and already the blunders made by these officials have been magnified greatly. Never-mind, the fact that there are claims being made, that at a similar point of last season , the amount of missed calls were significantly higher .What was not brought up as part of this argument, was the very fact that referees in 2011 were in fact certified game officials of the NFL , whereas, the replacement officials now being used are from the Collegiate Level of football , from the D2 and D 3 level of the ranks within FBS Subdivision , where the game is played at a considerably slower pace .

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NFL Commissioner , Roger Goodell , still remains under the misapprehension that these officials have served the NFL well , three weeks into the season. There’s a great deal of outrage not just amongst the fans but also with the coaches , their staffs and most certainly among the players , who seemingly befuddled by the calls , blown or misinterpretations of the rules . If that isn’t a damning indictment of what we have witnessed this season, then consider the fact that within the past forty-eight hours, Bill Belichick, John Fox , John Harbaugh and Mike Shanahan have been fined by the league for what they interpret to be the coaches’ unprofessional conduct, of being in physical contact with the game officials and the verbal abuse of those very same referees. Further exacerbating this all , one should note that in each case where the coaches in question were involved with apparent conflicts , these situations arose from the very fact that the coaches felt that the referees had made graves errors in their interpretations of a play and the calls they rendered .Repeatedly, the fans have witnessed this throughout the season but yet the league hierarchy has failed to address this situation and the growing anger it has brought around the league.

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Green Bay Packers fan Mike LePak holds a sign Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 on Lombardi Avenue in Green Bay, Wisc., in protest of a controversial call in the Packers 14-12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Monday night in Seattle. Just when it seemed that NFL coaches, players and fans couldn’t get any angrier, along came a fiasco that trumped any of the complaints from the weekend. AP Photo/The Green Bay Press-Gazette, Lukas Keapproth ….

Roger Goodell , stated that by week five , he felt that the league hierarchy and the NFLRA (referees’ union)< would be close to an agreement , wherein we would see a return of the NFL certified referees. Instead, the two sides remain at impasse, with no clear resolution in sight. The sticking point appears to be over the 401K’s for the officials and the willingness of the league to acquiesce to the union’s demands . The NFL insists upon the officials becoming full-time employees of the league but it would appear that they are not prepared to reward the referees, accordingly. As to what this would suggest about the NFL , when one considers only recently did the commissioner make it public that the league had renegotiated an existing television contract that would net the NFL, an additional $2.5 billion in revenues , for the next three years . Somehow, I get the feeling that the league is not exactly strapped for cash when it comes to their $7.5 billion-a-year ($7,500,000,000) industry ! What are your precise thoughts on the matter? The growing tension between the NFL and the NFLPA hasn’t diminished one iota , and with the ongoing saga of the “Bounty Scandal” and the wholehearted support now being thrown behind Jonathan Vilma by the players’ union . It leads me to believe that the current CBA (collective bargaining agreement) simply isn’t worth the paper it is written on ! . A mere six months after, what we were led to believe would be a decade long peace accord , Roger Goodell and his union counterpart DeMaurice Smith are once again, squabbling like children in a sandbox .

From my own perspective, the longer this asinine charade goes on, the less credibility that the NFL will continue to have ! Not that the league at present has a great deal of credibility or the implicit trust of the fans. Goodell remains embroiled in the mess of the New Orleans Saints’ saga , which has now become more of a soap opera, with the two main protagonists being the commissioner and Saints’ defensive player Jonathan Vilma. Isn’t there a cage match, that could be organized and sanctioned by the UFC , that would pit these two , in battle, in an octagon ? Would that really be too much to ask at this juncture ? As the longer this plays out in the court of public opinion , never-mind the fact that Vilma still intends to press ahead with his defamation lawsuit against the commissioner as well as the NFL, as it begs the question who is in fact winning this particular pissing contest , between these two egotistical morons ?

If you can’t beat them , then join them and by god , the NHL and Gary Bettman have proven to be intent on ruining the sport of hockey , alienating the fan-base it has , while driving off their star players to now pursue their careers abroad while being richly rewarded. The saying is … a fool and his money are easily parted “ .Well, no one ever sought to consult with the idiots who run the NHL or the executive members of NHL hierarchy as well as the NHLPA (players’ union). With a league enforced lockout of their players , there doesn’t appear to be a 2012-13 NHL season on the horizon, and with the mere fact that this just happens to be the fourth such stoppage initiated by the hierarchy in the last two decades, simply indicates to me how devoid of intelligence the NHL and the Players’ Union just happens to be .Four god-damn work stoppages in twenty years ? Fuck , not even the automotive unions (UAW) at the height of their once dominant powers were as fucking dumb as the NHLPA ( union) , much less the lame the NHL hierarchy. Yet here we are, with the sport now inflicting itself with another gunshot wound to the abdomen. Bleed, mother-f##ker bleed , and die, a slow and embarrassing death ! NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr , once held the similar role within the MLBPA (union), so all that can be conjured up that led to the last labor stoppage within the game of baseball , can be best summed up, when I say, that Fehr and the equally ubiquitous Bud Selig , presided over that goddamn mess as well ! Now you have Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr jousting for the now dwindling popularity of a sport that has seen better days ..

I have never been much of a hockey fan to begin with , however, what I do find admirable about the sport, is the athleticism of the players ! Last season with the Los Angeles Kings having won the Stanley Cup , one could attest to the fact that this would lead to a rich, upcoming chapter for the sport. Instead , all of the antagonism shown between the two parties has now led to this impasse where neither side can be entirely happy with the present situation. NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr , once held a similar role with the MLBPA (union) , when the game of baseball had their last labor stoppage , when Fehr and the equally ubiquitous Bud Selig sought to have their own antagonistic relationship. Now, we have Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, choosing to have their own personal standoff. There are no winners here, simply losers, the fans and the sport itself , which is now bound to lose several million dollars with any prolonged work stoppage. Good for business? Hell no ! Bad for hockey, what the hell do you think? With their being no clear signs of an amicable and speedy resolution to this now ongoing mess it would be interesting to hear the opposing sides of this argument and the reasons behind this impasse. Squabbling, over a revenue pie of $3.3 billion, of which the NHLPA seeks a division of 57% of the revenues , now makes you wonder how the teams can simply exist within this economic template , especially when one bears in mind the struggles of the small market teams within the NHL and the unevenness in gate attendances for the games in the last several years for those NHL franchises .

Hockey’s most profitable and valuable franchise, the Toronto Maple Leafs remains a constant reminder how to manage a sports’ hockey franchise , while maintaining stability . The same cannot be said for the vast majority of the teams within the NHL but yet there are those who would try to suggest otherwise. Especially, those with a limited background in business and finance but yet here they are trying to suggest that the current economic climate the game operates under has led to a healthy environment for the sport. That would not be so bad, until you take a look at the current mess that Gary Bettman has presided over while not seeking to work closely with union. Bill Daly , Deputy Commissioner of the NHL, now seeks to meet with the NHLPA’s Special Counsel , Stephen Fehr, to open up other channels and lines of communication , beyond that of Bettman’s own dealing . Herein, lies the caveat to this all, if the union is not prepared to acquiesce from their current demands having let them be known to Gary Bettman. Then, why in hell’s name would Daly be of the opinion , that he can somehow change the mindset of the players , when even Stephen Fehr has stated that the hierarchy has mistreated his members. The NHL has simply become impotent, devoid of intelligence and leadership !

Don’t hate the player , hate the game ! And the game today friends, the sport of baseball is front and center . As the season now winds down, with a mere dozen or so games left on theteams’ schedules. We are now seeing a number of ball-clubs simply scramble for their dear lives , as they chase after a divisional title or a wildcard playoff berth. A patron of this site tried to suggest that MLB has parity amongst its teams , nothing could be further from the truth , as he tried to suggest that this has become so , because of the change in format for the playoffs . All this has really done, is to add a layer to what has already become a convoluted season, without taking into account baseball’s end of season showcase finale .

Well here in the Tampa Bay area, the fans are resting their hopes on the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays can make a late season surge , as they seek one of the two available AL berths for the ALDS . Joe Maddon’s players as of late have become maddeningly inconsistent , to the point that where you simply do not know what to expect from one moment to the next. Now while I don’t begrudge the Rays’ fans their wish to see the team make the postseason for only the fourth time in the franchise’s history. There can be nothing but praise for Joe Maddon, who has guided the ball-club to its greatest successes in recent years but at the same time , the mere thought of knowing that this team can contend , yet they continue to fall short of their ambitions. It has been this premise, that now seems to be constantly casting a giant shadow over the AL East team. The Boston Red Sox has a down year, while the New York Yankees remain a perennial presence, in seeking postseason honors. Maddon and the team, were supposed to take advantage of the situation and be the outright challengers to the “Bronx Bombers” within the division. Instead, the upstart Baltimore Orioles , led by the ingenuity of their manager Buck Showalter , has kept the Rays at bay, while actually challenging the Yankees for divisional supremacy. Hey look, I didn’t call this one at the start of the season , so make of it , what you will !

The Rays’ season in terms of their head to head series with their divisional rivals does in large part point to where many of the team’s problems have stemmed from over the course of 2012. Losses in games that should have been sewn up because of the lack of timely hitting in terms of run support for the pitching staff , has led the team into its present predicament. Say it isn’t so Joe? The boys of Summer, are now proving to be a profound disappointment , no matter how you try to spin the story as the team’s woes !

Currently sitting three games out of the wildcard berth , behind the Orioles, Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angels , the team’s fate rests in its own hands as well as seeking the teams ahead of them to simply implode. Well this is not September of 2011 , where the Red Sox simply folded like “a cheap suit” as they ______ Maddon and the guys got into the postseason via the back door .This time around I get the feeling that the team will fall short , and the fans will all the more disappointed , in spite of the team’s valiant effort ! What thoughts if any do you have on that particular premise?

In light of the points raised within this piece , where do you see the faults that may well lay in terms of the premise set out with regard to last night’s NFL game , the NHL and the plight of the Tampa Bay Rays ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit .

Slide show details below .

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(1) Crystal Deicher , front, and Alicia Schadrie hold signs Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 on Lombardi Avenue in Green Bay, Wisc., in protest of a controversial call in the Packers 14-12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Monday night in Seattle. Just when it seemed that NFL coaches, players and fans couldn’t get any angrier, along came a fiasco that trumped any of the complaints from the weekend. The Seahawks’ victory featured one of the most bizarre finishes in recent memory, and was certain to reignite frustrations over the locked-out officials. AP Photo/The Green Bay Press-Gazette, Lukas Keapproth …..

(2) Officials signal after Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate pulled in a last-second pass for a touchdown from quarterback Russell Wilson to defeat the Green Bay Packers 14-12 in an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Seattle. The touchdown call stood after review. AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo ….

(3) Officials try to sort out the final play of an NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks as players and coaches swarm the field, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Seattle. After a period of confusion, a Seahawks touchdown by wide receiver Golden Tate was allowed to stand for a 14-12 win . AP Photo/Ted S. Warren ….

(4) Green Bay Packers fan Mike LePak holds a sign Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 on Lombardi Avenue in Green Bay, Wisc., in protest of a controversial call in the Packers 14-12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Monday night in Seattle. Just when it seemed that NFL coaches, players and fans couldn’t get any angrier, along came a fiasco that trumped any of the complaints from the weekend. AP Photo/The Green Bay Press-Gazette, Lukas Keapproth ….

(5) New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma says he has “eight or nine” affidavits that would contradict allegations made in one affidavit by former coach Gregg Williams. The player recently filed a lawsuit seeking the evidence in the NFL’s possession that refutes his claims that he was not involved in the Saints’ bounty scandal. The preponderance of the evidence in the league’s retention was supplied in the sworn affidavit testimony given by former Saints’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. AP Photo / Louis Lanzano …..

(6) NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman , left, is seen here with Deputy Commissioner, Bill Daly. The two are now trying to reconvene talks with senior members of the executive committee of the NHLPA (players’ union). This will be the fourth league enforced labor stoppage within the NHL in the past eighteen years . And you wonder why there has in a marked decline in attendance , revenues and the television audience ? AP Photo Jay Brewer ….

(7) Donald Fehr , center, executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, stands with NHL hockey players, from left,Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos , Montreal Canadiens’ P.K Subban , Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby , New York Islanders’ John Tavares and Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin as they speak to reporters following collective bargaining talks with the NHL Players’ Association, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, in Toronto. Photo: The Canadian Press, Chris Young / AP …

(8) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – SEPTEMBER 23: Manager Joe Maddon (70) of the Tampa Bay Rays makes a pitching change against the Toronto Blue Jays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 23, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

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MLB news & press releases

MLB schedule 25th September 2012

MLB results 24th September , 2012

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Raquel Reign . A hot piece of a#s by any stretch of the imagination .

A tale of one city but two teams that now seem to be at a loss.

A tale of one city but two teams that now seem to be at a loss.

By Tophatal

It is the same mentality, and not much has changed and there the idiocy goes on. The Tampa Bay Rays are simply now playing and fighting for pride .Unfortunately, theirs is a task that is really in the hands of others as it is in much with themselves , and the way , they will now meet the obstacles placed in front of them . Joe Maddon and his staff have simply placed far too much faith in genteel talks , rather than holding his players accountable for many of their own self-inflicted wounds . Ill-timed series’ losses , lack of timely hitting and the pitching that at times has been woefully inconsistent.

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At 83-70 and nine games remaining on the Rays’ regular season schedule , it has to be said that the team’s plight now remains remotely inaccessible , by way of the AL East as well as a possible wildcard berth within the AL and that of being part of this postseason schedule . The divisional rounds of this postseason begins on the 3rd October , and with their being a great deal at stake , it will be interesting to see how the teams fare during the divisional series as they get under way. The Rays came away today with a heartwarming 3-0 victory over their divisional rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays.Next up for the Rays will be a two game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, commencing 25th September , before heading to Chicago to take on Robin Ventura’s —– Chicago White Sox , in a highly anticipated four-game series starting on the 27th of this month . The White Sox, are in the midst of their own heated divisional race , as the AL Central heats up , as the team holds a one game lead over the Detroit Tigers . There still remains a number of plot-lines that are yet to be fulfilled , with so many teams vying for the few berths and divisional races remaining that are not a forgone conclusion.

The Rays’ own worries beyond this season should they fail to make the postseason will be one of revamping the roster and , paring down payroll and dare one say ? The same old routine ,of the same old excuses, concerning why this organization is once again at a crossroads and is unable to challenge the “major” teams within the game of baseball. As I have said repeatedly, I believe that it is now time for team owner Stuart Sternberg to either seek an outside investor with deep pockets to assist in going after the major free agents on the market , rather than this continued asinine stupidity, that this ball-club is heading in the right direction. If this means the team once again disappointing their small core of fans , then clearly Sternberg and his partners are beginning to misjudge the faith of the fans who still support the team. Being among the franchises with a fan-base that realistically from an economic standpoint , barely survives but for the grace of the league hierarchy and their archaic tax revenue sharing scheme . Bud Selig’s attempt to create this premise that parity is alive and well within the game of baseball , is now falling flat . The Tampa Bay Rays at the culmination of the regular season will certainly have some decisions to make as well as a great deal of reflection as to why their season fell so flat .

For all of the false bravado that has been forthcoming Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Greg Schiano , and there is little to suggest that this team is capable of making an assertive challenge within the NFC South much less the conference or NFL as a whole. For the second week running the team has come up short and once again the offense has proven to be woefully inept in all facets of the game. And it is now becoming abundantly clear that quarterback Josh Freeman’s game decisions are more of a liability than they are an asset. Anyone who believes to the contrary needs only to look at Freeman’s play over the short span of 2012 , to see that the shortcomings witnessed in 2011 , have not disappeared from his game.

The Dallas Cowboys played hosts to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington , Texas. Both teams came into this matchup with similar records of 1-1 , with both looking to gain some traction within their respective NFC divisions. Opposing quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Tony Romo , have had moderately successful seasons coming into this game but in no were their displays indicative of what the fans should expect of the two players in question. Neither in this were particularly pretty , albeit that there were some pretty big plays from the Buccaneers in the opening moments of the game. However, from thereon in , as the match-up unfolded , it became pretty clear the direction , in which this event was heading. Tampa’s much vaunted defense , which to my mind remains a work in progress, simply didn’t live up to the task at hand ! Freeman’s efforts, in leading the offense were nondescript and lacked real aggression on his part . The resulting 16-10 loss by the Buccaneers was not one of the team’s better games of 2012, leading me to believe that Greg Schiano and his staff ,will be going back to the drawing board to work out the kinks in the team’s defense as well as offense.

Freeman’s post-game interview would suggest that the Buccaneers , win and lose as a team but there was nothing there to indicate that he bore a great deal of responsibility for a poorly executed game , followed by a woefully inept offense, that offered very few highlights or positives for the Buccaneers’ fans. For the locale on air personalities giving their diagnosis of this game, I have to sometimes wonder what they saw from the event that gives them any remote indication that this is a very good Buccaneers’ team to begin with ! They were poorly coached , Greg Schiano and his coaching staff , made few, if any adjustments, to try and negate the Cowboys’ offense throughout this game. Not that the events, as they unfolded , would have provided anyone with a great deal of excitement sought, as these pair of teams were offensively challenged from the outset . DeMarco Murray, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant offered the Cowboys’ fans a glimmer of hope as to what they can expect over the remainder of their season , should the team’s offense become a great deal more consistent. From my own perspective the Cowboys will be in for a hard time challenging the might of the New York Giants (2-1) within the NFC East, as they still remain “ the class” of the division ! Whatever the remainder of the season holds in store for the Cowboys will be in part be based upon their play , rather than the team leaving their fate in the hands of others .

The Buccaneers in week four will host the Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium in a conference match-up between two teams fighting for early season survival not just within their respective divisions but also within the NFC . Whether or not Schiano and his coaching staff will have answer for Robert Griffin III , the Redskins’ offense and of the play-calling of Mike Shanahan, remains to be seen.

As a diehard New England Patriots’ fan , I will support this team through hell or high water ! That being said, there comes a time where I feel it not only right to be critical of head coach, Bill Belichick, and a number of decisions that he tends to make but also with his continued tinkering with the defense . And yes , I am well aware that last season , the team’s defense was amongst the worst in the NFL over the course of the year. In 2012, things do not seem to be all that different even in light of glimmering signs of improvement and the mere fact that the front office’s preponderance of going with a number of defensive players by way of the 2012 NFL Draft , seems to have not achieved much way of an overall improvement in the secondary’s play .

Sunday night , in NBC’s highly anticipated broadcast showdown , the network served up for the viewing public’s pleasure , the game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium , in Baltimore , Maryland . And of the games in week three , this might well have been most thrilling , if not necessarily the best adjudicated of the regular season games that the fans have been witnessed to , in 2012.Once again, the replacement officials played their part in denying the fans what should have been a far more exciting game by their somewhat haphazard interpretation of the rules , in rendering some curious decisions throughout this match-up. Anyone who simply believes that the NFL is not suffering through a rash of idiotic refereeing decisions that have been made during this season , well those individuals are not of sound mind or competence . From an image standpoint, the NFL while it remains immensely popular with its legions of fans, the temerity of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to suggest that these replacement officials are doing a favorable job , in lieu the league’s certified referees not being available to the NFL because of the league enforced lockout , is akin to suggesting that Rosie O’Donnell would prove to be an adequate substitute for Heidi Klum , to parade around in sexy lingerie, as part of a Victoria’s Secret Model Lingerie show and extravaganza . Roger Goodell, is an ass and will remain an ass for the foreseeable future! I don’t believe that I could put it anymore succinctly than that !

The game itself, between the Patriots and Ravens beyond the incompetence shown by the officials , became all about the efficiency shown by the opposing quarterbacks , Tom Brady and Joe Flacco . The Ravens’ quarterback with his full complement of offensive weaponry , was ably served by his receiving corps, led by Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta, Ray Rice , and Anquan Boldin . The Ravens came away with a hard-fought 31-30 victory that dropped the Patriots to 1-2 , within the AFC East , placing them behind the New York Jets (2-1) and the Buffalo Bills (2-1). And while the Ravens walk away victorious, with another stellar display coming from Joe Flacco , the Patriots will be left to wonder what might have been , in having this game snatched away from them , when it was all within their grasp. Next up, for Bill Belichick’s team will be a divisional game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium , in Buffalo , New York.

Revenge is a dish best served cold and most definitely what has befallen the New Orleans Saints (0-3) this season can be seen as justification for the franchise’s failure to truly acknowledge their misdeeds . Now while their anal retentive fans try to suggest that their being persecuted for the errors in judgment by the coaching staff current and former, for the events of the past four years. There can be no denying, that the players involved in this farce remain in complete denial. Perhaps, none more so than the team’s celebrated quarterback Drew Brees and his continued stance that teammate, Jonathan Vilma is innocent of all the charges currently being leveled against him, in the Saints’ bounty scandal. If it were not so asinine as to the claims being made by Vilma, that while the NFL has only one signed affidavit concerning his actions in this episode , he will be able to have nine in opposition to those statements .I’m wondering whether or not the player will be able to conjure those up , by pulling them out of his own asshole ! Jonathan Vilma , was and still remains reluctant to give any form of a statement concerning his reported actions in this whole debacle. He categorically denies any wrongdoing on his part , albeit that the statements made the team’s former defensive coordinator < Gregg Smith , would suggest otherwise . However, with the NFL hierarchy’s total mishandling of this case and the very way that Roger Goodell has rendered his ruling on this issue. It now leads me to believe that no matter what action is now taken by the NFL , the stench of this whole spectacle will still remain within the public’s view and senses .

To my mind , the way that the Saints have started their season , with three successive losses to open their season , in many ways makes up for the smugness shown by Brees , Vilma , Will Smith and this entire Saints’ organization from their front office on down to the player personnel and coaching staff . Seeing , Drew Brees , having to explain why the team’s offense lacks direction as well their usual customary explosiveness and the lack of defense from this unit , is akin to watching a child having to explain why it is their lying , having been caught with their hands in the cookie jar ! Brees may well believe that they can turn things around , and that “ the us against the world mentality will be enough to guide them through. In reality however, the quarterback is simply blowing smoke up everyone’s ass , as he and his teammates now look for a way to scurry on out of the limelight . How else can you explain the Saints’ 27-24 loss in a game played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans , Louisiana, where they were completely outplayed by their opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs , from start to finish? Get the feeling that the Saints’ fans are in a for a long an arduous season ? Chime in with your thoughts and observations on the matter.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the salient points raised within this piece ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit and always , thanks for the continued support of this site.

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(1) Tampa Bay Rays pitcher J.P. Howell throws out Toronto Blue Jays’ Colby Rasmus at first base after fielding his ground ball during the seventh inning of a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(2) Tampa Bay Rays’ B.J. Upton , left, is congratulated by Ben Zobrist after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in St. Petersburg, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. The Rays would defeat the Blue Jays 3-0 . AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ……

(3) Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria , left, signals to the dugout from second base after hitting a two-RBI double as Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar watches during the eighth inning of a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. The Rays won 3-0 . AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ……

(4) Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray dives for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys would defeat their conference rivals the Buccaneers 16-10 . AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ……

(5) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) hands the ball to running back DeMarco Murray (29) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …..

(6) Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) strips the ball from Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/LM Otero ….

(7) Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, left, talks with line judge Esteban Garza during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. AP Photo/Nick Wass ….

(8) Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith walks off the field after an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. Baltimore won 31-30 . Smith, who was playing less than 24 hours after the death of his 19-year-old brother, had six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns for the Ravens. AP Photo/Nick Wass ….

(9) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, center, looks for a receiver as he is pressured by Baltimore Ravens defensive end Pernell McPhee during the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. AP Photo/Gail Burton …

(10) New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) challenges the official after wide receiver Lance Moore (16) hit the pylon in the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. After review the pass was ruled incomplete. AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman …..

(11) New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is sacked for a safety in the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

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MLB news & press releases

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MLB results 23rd September , 2012

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Actress Regina Hall

It isn’t over, ‘til it’s over

It isn’t over ‘til it’s over

By Tophatal

With a now heated rivalry brewing into something that the AFC has long needed, and that is a competitive match-up of two like-minded teams. Unfortunately, for the fans, they are no longer accustomed to seeing this within the NFL. Franchises no longer have real longevity where they are dominant over a determinate period. Granted, the New England Patriots, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh Steelers are the only teams in this decade to have won multiple Superbowls in this decade. Only the Patriots and Indianapolis Colts , specifically, have been teams that have been able to produce double-digit wins each season while making multiple appearances in the postseason .

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The existing series (46-29[in favor of the Patriots]) between the Colts and Patriots still has some meaning to it but with AFC South franchise now in transition under a new quarterback , coaching staff and a crop of rookies and free agents . I seriously doubt that the vast majority of fans will still take a in keen interest, in this once intriguing rivalry ! Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback , Andrew Luck still has a no long way to go before he can rival the feats of his predecessor Peyton Manning , much less constitute and reinvigorate a this rivalry with Tom Brady and the Patriots. In years to come however, there may well come the scenario where we may well see Luck and the Colts challenging the pre-eminent teams within the league for supremacy as well as being perennial challengers for the Superbowl .

Week three brings about a slew of games that are as intriguing as they are in some respects dire for a number of teams. The New England Patriots this weekend will be the guests of the Baltimore Ravens when the two teams meet in a rematch the AFC championship game of the 2011—- post season . New England would go on to prevail over the Ravens 23-20 and thereby abruptly bringing an end to the Ravens’ postseason foray .

This season both AFC teams are off to shaky , but steady starts with each holding a 1-1 record and seated atop of their respective divisions . Coaches Bill Belichick and his counterpart John Harbaugh know though it’s still early days yet , but neither team can go afford enter week four with a 1-2 mark . Both teams have made the customary off-season revamping of their rosters and the draft choices made as each seeks to make their presence felt. In week two both teams both somehow inexplicably lost games that they each had within their grasp. . The Baltimore Ravens fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 23-24 in an error strewn game . Those flaws will need to be addressed Harbaugh and his staff before the team faces the Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium , in Baltimore, Maryland, For Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, two seasoned veterans thought to be in the twilight of their careers , this season both are in exceptional early season form.

Ravens’ quarterback Joe Falco has to be entirely happy that he finally has an offense that is capable of competing at the highest levels of the game. Ray Rice , Anthony Allen, Dennis Pitta , Anquan Bolden and Torrey Smith have all been able to profit from Flacco’s new-found resolve this season. If the Ravens are to succeed , then it will have to be their quarterback who shows the greatest poise beyond the other given and well-known attributes of this team.

Five appearances in the Superbowl in this decade, with three wins, have pretty much cemented Bill Belichick’s legacy as a candidate for the Hall of Fame . The franchise already has a future Hall of Fame enshrinee in Tom Brady . And it has been the league MVP’s desire , determination to add to his legacy and to lead this team to another triumph in the NFL’s postseason finale. The team’s inexplicable 20-18 loss in week two to the Arizona Cardinals , beyond the complacency shown , leads me to believe that the defensive woes evident last season, have once again returned to haunt the franchise once again in 2012. This must situation must be quickly and remedied by Belichick and his coaching staff , if the Patriots are to have any semblance of a successful season within the NFL.

The Patriots’ offense remains as potent as ever , and it remains the focus of the team as a whole . Admittedly, there are a number of established rivalries within the NFL but in the AFC , none might now prove to be as exciting or as intriguing as this budding rivalry and series between the Patriots and Ravens . Since the Baltimore Ravens’ reestablishment as a franchise in 1996, in Baltimore , Maryland , these two franchise have met eight times in total , with New England holding a 7-1 lead over the Ravens. No doubt John Harbaugh and his players would like to see that particular stat improved , and the belief that over the course of time , it will ! This game I believe , will be a game of two halves with both seeking to achieve some dominance . Undoubtedly, the slight advantage may well lie with the Ravens as they have been able to show something of a more balanced attack and with a physically ferocious defense , this all could come down to how effective the Patriots’ running game can be. And for Tom Brady and his counterpart Joe Flacco, this as such could be a contrast in styles , when the two players meet this upcoming Sunday.

Fresh off his team’s embarrassment, Greg Schiano remains unrepentant , as to the actions of his players, after their 41-34 loss to the New York Giants last Sunday. The Buccaneers’ head coach would have the public believe , that with his players being caught on camera throwing punches and looking to stamp on their opponents as Eli Manning was about to “ take a knee” to close out the game , this was meant to be sportsmanlike behavior. Schiano, for all of his eagerness to prove himself an NFL worthy coach , and having the respect of his peers . He has in effect , placed himself and the Buccaneers right in the crosshairs of the NFL , never-mind the fact that the less than sportsmanlike play has now gone unpunished by the NFL hierarchy . Yet we are told that NFL Commissioner , Roger Goodell , values safety , and the players’ safety is the paramount issue within the game and the NFL as a whole ! The NFL commissioner is a pompous ass , were he to commit an act of flatulence, he would certainly suffer an aneurysm. The league at present has enough to deal with , without another NFL head coach making a complete ass of himself , while the NFL fans now have to deal with a less than thrilling on-field product and replacement official , for who the speed of the game now leaves them gasping for air , beyond being indecisive when it comes to making even the most instant of decisions. However, this is what the fans are now being asked to deal with as the season enters week three of the regular sixteen game NFL schedule .

The Dallas Cowboys (1-1) will play hosts to their conference rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as both teams look corral the errors made that saw each , succumb to a loss against their most recent opponents . Jason Garret and his defensive coordinator , Rob Ryan , have several issues to address on a team , that if anything is overrated and continues to greatly under-achieve ! From my own perspective , I don’t believe that this game will be highly entertaining , if anything it would very well end up being one monotonous bore , given their recent performances in those aforementioned losses. Both offenses have struggled in part because neither quarterback has proven to be consistent enough , two weeks into the regular season. As good As good , as Josh Freeman and Tony Romo are said to be , neither player has really shown the prerequisite leadership that would make you believe that both teams are viable Superbowl candidates.

I’ll give it to the city of Los Angeles but the clamor to have an NFL franchise , no matter how bad the economic environment and the clear fact that for Antonio Villaraigosa and his horde of parasites seated on the city council . It should be noted that with the recent announcement by billionaire media mogul Philip Anschutz to sell his company AEG Inc ______ the possibility Anschutz being part of any deal to bring a franchise to the city of Los Angeles has gotten even more remote. The NFL hierarchy may well crave to see this happen but in this economic environment even the wealthiest of investors would not be stupid enough to even remotely consider bring a franchise to the nation’s second largest and populous city. Villaraigosa , for his part has substantial budgetary woe that he and his council members have failed to address but yet it is being reported that he is constant contact with Roger Goodell to gauge the NFL ‘s interest and the their timeline in bringing an NFL franchise to the greater Los Angeles area.

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Daily News

Philip Anschutz to hand off NFL stadium project near goal line

By Vincent Bonsigniore , Staff Columnist

As you might imagine, my cell phone has been blowing up since news broke that the Anschutz Company, headed by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, said it is looking for a buyer for its AEG interests, which also has ownership in L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles, the NBA’s Lakers, NHL’s Kings and Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team.

Anschutz and AEG have been pushing to build an NFL stadium and revamp the Los Angeles Convention Center for more than a year. The proposal is now within two weeks of gaining full clearance from the L.A. City Council to commence building.

Only to have Anschutz announce Tuesday he’s going to sell, prompting a flood of calls from everyone ranging from people within Ed Roski Jr.’s competing NFL stadium project in the City of Industry to media types in San Diego interested in what this might mean to their Chargers, one of the teams most prominently mentioned as a possibility to move into one of the two stadiums being proposed.

Every one of them asking, essentially: Did you see this coming and what does it all mean to the Farmers Field stadium plan?

My answers being, “No,” and, “Who knows?”

Welcome to the world of billionaires, right?

Off the top of my head, one possibility comes to mind.

Based on private conversations I’ve had with people involved in the project, I never got the feeling Anschutz truly felt the stadium proposal AEG president Tim Leiweke was pushing on him would ever get as far as it has.
Anschutz kept telling Leiweke that he had his blessing, while never truly thinking Leiweke would navigate through all the political red tape and potholes in his way to actually get it to this point.

Now that Leiweke has carried the ball to the goal line, maybe Anschutz isn’t as “in” as we thought as he’s ready to hand it off to someone who is prepared to carry the ball into the end zone.

If so, Anschutz walks away with billions and a new, energetic, completely “in” owner takes it to a new level.

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Anschutz is heavily vested in the downtown Los Angeles area , as owner of the Staples Center , Nokia Theater , as well as being a 30% owner in the NBA’s , Los Angeles Lakers, a majority stake owner in the L A Kings of the NHL and owner or minority stake holder in several MLS soccer teams beyond being the outright owner of the Los Angeles Galaxy . Though Anschutz maintains that an NFL franchise within the greater Los Angeles area still remains a viable concern , much of that is predicated upon the city and to a lesser extent the county providing the majority of the financing towards any proposed venue , albeit that another wealthy mogul , Ed Roski has seen his own ambitions for a similar maneuver take a backseat to Anschutz’s own proposal for the Los Angeles Convention Center , in downtown Los Angeles.

While there is a clamor to bring the NFL to los Angeles but yet, Villaraigosa has done little to address the city’s budgetary deficit, increasing poverty levels , a growing homeless population , increased crime rate, and a growing divide in the community across socio-economic lines .Throw in the fact that a number of private and mid-size businesses no longer see the city or state as a viable and business-friendly partner. Any immediate hope for a change in the fortune of that municipality seems further away than ever. Add in , the very fact that as part of his city’s own austerity measures, while truly not wishing to address Los Angeles’ dire financial situation , the mayor is now out the political stump , currying favor with the Hispanic voters , in seeking their support for the Presidential incumbent Barack Obama, in the upcoming Presidential elections . Roger Goodell supports the return of football to the city of Los Angeles but neither he , or any senior member of the league hierarchy has suggested how best to make this all possible. Furthermore , he has not stated whether or not the NFL would be a willing partner in engineering any proposed maneuver , at this moment in time. Talk is really cheap but actions speaks louder than words in such an instance , and that is all the fans will continue to see , not that they are entitled to anything beyond that.

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Do you believe that the NFL currently has a rivalry that truly enthralls the fans? If so which pair teams or multiple rivalries within the league that actually does create the biggest interest ? With Philip Anschutz’s decision to sell his multi-media entertainment conglomerate , do feel that this now advances or hinders the prospect of an NFL franchise within the greater Los Angeles area ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site .

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(1) New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin watches during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. The Giants would go on to defeat the Panthers 36-7 , in a thoroughly lopsided victory . AP Photo/Bob Leverone ….

(2) Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) throws a pass under pressure from New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck (91) during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. AP Photo/Bob Leverone ….

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(3) Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick dives in for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/The Wilmington News-Journal, Suchat Pederson …

(4) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) walks off the field after a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Mel Evans ….

(5) New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon Lloyd , left, and tight end Kellen Winslow (82) run on the field during a team practice at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. The Patriots announced Wednesday that they signed Winslow. AP Photo/Steven Senne ….

(6) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald , left, pats the shoulder of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after an NFL football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. The Patriots lost 20-18 for their first regular season home loss since 2001. AP Photo/Elise Amendola …

(7) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo throws in warm ups before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Seattle. The Cowboys would go on to lose to the Seahawks 27-7 . AP Photo/John Froschauer …

(8) Seattle Seahawks’ Greg Scruggs, left, and Jason Jones (90) move in to sack Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Seattle. AP Photo/John Froschauer ……

(9) New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (88) runs past Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Mark Barron (24) for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ….

(10) Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (L) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas (R) hold a joint news conference at the Los Angeles Central Library on September 19, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Villaraigosa and Mayorkas announced an initiative with the Los Angeles Public Library to bolster local immigrant integration efforts. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America ….

(11) David Beckham (L) and Philip” Frederick” Anschutz attend the game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on April 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Getty Images North America / Noel Vasquez …..

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It’s not about the money is it? Hell yeah, why else would they play?

It’s not about the money is it? Hell yeah, why else would they play?

By Tophatal

The College Football season (D1) is already in full swing and the wherewithal of the teams as they pad their schedules in order to proceed up the rankings . Never let it be said that the NCAA in conjunction with the BCS doesn’t know a good thing when they see fit .College Football has exploded into a multibillion dollar industry that can simply exist by itself. However, the corporate executives on Park Avenue and further afield know that a tie-in with the NCAA , BCS or in fact a wildly successful college program can do them no harm . There are a multitude of sins come hand in hand with such an arrangement, that can lead to the gross violations and surreptitious behavior, that we have witnessed in recent years. And it has been the failure of the NCAA, as well as athletic directors and compliance officers at these schools that has led us to where we are today.

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NCAA President Mark Emmett and the body he presides over are toothless body, whose powers are rarely exhibited as warranted. OK, so a great deal will be made of the punishment handed down to Penn State but let’s face it, were it not for the public outrage and a certain amount of the empathy , the football program at the university would have been given the death knell . Not quite cast out in exile , it may well be several years before football at the Penn State can once again be looked upon with any reverence. Bill O’Brien has an unenviable task ahead of him , beyond succeeding the late Joe Paterno , as he also has to reinvent the sullied image and tarnished reputation of this once proud program. I firmly believe that he will succeed but that success will come along with detractors who are averse to change.

The acting AD David M. Joyner has been quick to show his support for the new head coach and his revamped coaching staff and that faith now seems to paying dividends . Beaver Stadium at College Park in Pennsylvania seems to have been revived with the fans now throwing their full support behind the Nittany Lion players . The team is off to a 1-2 start with their next scheduled game to be played this upcoming Saturday when they take on Temple (Owls) University at University Park, Pennsylvania . This game should give us a guide as to the progress being made by team and where they may well stand amongst their competitors within the Big Ten standings .

Matt McGloin is clearly being asked to lead and provide with the prerequisite leadership sought, as the program and the team undergoes a new chapter in its history. And the best way possible is for Penn State to win and at the same time show the pride and demeanor that clearly wasn’t present under Joe Paterno, as he and his coaches led the program into some unfathomable depths of despair while trying to gloss over the egregious and heinous actions > of Jerry Sandusky , most notably Gary Spanier and Tim Curley. It is extremely hard to fathom how both Curley and Spanier could be so nondescript and lackadaisical in their handling of the sordid affair that dragged down Penn State. The Freeh Report has done little to alleviate to the pain caused by all of the parties involved in this sordid episode , other than to suggest that there was no leadership or moral decency to be found from anyone in a position of authority. Such, are the vagaries and the Machiavellian maneuvers deemed necessary to pursue a cover-up.

Be honest here , hands up if you were ready to ride on the USC (Trojans) bandwagon because Lane Kiffin was selling you the fact that this team was ready to become a “world beater” ? Don’t be shy, man up, and show yourself. There is nothing more humbling, that a large dose of reality and being solidly kicked in the ass as well as by a nemesis who brings you back down to earth. Kiffin and his self-absorbed demeanor, were rendered less reverential in light of the Trojans’ 21-14 loss to Stanford (Cardinals) . And in one fail swoop, the chances of USC being a prominent factor in the BCS national title picture , resembles the chances of Donald Trump becoming a Democrat! And with that loss we may well seen the hopes of Matt Barkley dashed , as the presumptive favorite for the Heisman Trophy . The Trojans’ quarterback will have to play at an at exceptionally high level over the remainder of the team’s schedule if he is to have a remote chance of being an award winner , thereby adding to the Trojans’ legacy of producing Heisman Trophy winners .

Lane Kiffin’s career has been marred by a great deal of controversy and his departure from Tennessee (Volunteers) to become the head coach at USC after the departure of Pete Carroll, to return to the NFL . Kiffin’s abrupt and rather surreptitious move left a rather unsavory taste amongst the hierarchy at Tennessee, and certainly among the majority of Volunteers’ fans. The coach’s disposition for flouting the NCAA rules and then responding that he was unaware that there has been any transgression , shows Lane Kiffin not only to be somewhat economical with the truth but also a conceited son of a bitch ! How else would one describe the fact that on repeated occasions since his ascent to his current position , he has seen fit to endanger a program that has only just returned from sanctions imposed on it by the NCAA , while his predecessor and then AD Mike Garrett simply looked the other way, as the surreptitious behavior of several Trojans’ football players went unreported. As we all know former USC tailback Reggie Bush rather than face further embarrassment returned his Heisman Trophy —- (2005) after all of the furor of his career with USC and the alleged payments received by the player . A house was furnished to his family, which has since has been proven that the player profited from that gift. Something that Bush to this day, still denies any wrongdoing on his part, while only having offered a less than contrite apology for what he says were simply errors in judgment while at attending USC on a full scholarship.

The Trojans’ program is one of the most profitable and revenue driven programs in College Football, ranking in the top ten of all of D1 football. And though thePAC 12 is seen as the epicenter for college football in the West , in no way should it be deemed that the teams can be overlooked as non-contenders for the national title. Stanford, Arizona (Wildcats) , Arizona State , Oregon (Ducks) , Oregon State , California (Bears) and UCLA (Bruins), can be viewed as omnipresent forces within the conference.

Kiffin has been blessed with a talented team led by Heisman Trophy hopeful, Matt Barkley , T J McDonald, Silas Redd and slew of NFL hopefuls, who for the present will look to impress the NFL scouts while parlaying their college careers into something more tangible. The conference games will be also a telling mark as to whether or not the Trojans are a national championship-caliber team. From my own perspective I believe that USC , if they are to prove themselves worthy , they will have to win out , and simply win the PAC 12 championship game convincingly , in order to convince the BCS Committee of their worthiness as a national champion contender ! Having lost so early in the season isn’t necessarily such a bad thing but the manner of the loss and the opponent in question, certainly has hindered Lane Kiffin’s chances raising the national championship trophy.

If Lane Kiffin is said to be conceited, then Alabama’s head football coach, Nick Saban has to be looked upon as a conniving and disingenuous bastard! He has been known to be condescending, most definitely a liar, and if nothing else, someone who has willingly courted controversy solely for the sake of placing his himself for scrutiny within the public arena. There is no denying that as a college coach he has known considerable success having won three national titles over the course of his career but it has been his cold and calculating approach that has times alienated him with the press while he is beloved by the program’s fans in the state of Alabama. Last season , Saban brought the Tide program another national title, with their thoroughly lopsided victory over SEC rivals LSU (Tigers) —– 21-0 in the BCS national title game. That loss left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Tigers’ players and left Les Smiles smarting and somewhat dismayed in the way his team lost the game , having gone in as the decided favorites , due to an earlier regular season conference victory over Alabama in 2011.

In 2012, these two teams may well be clashing once again for the SEC championship title that might be seen as a precursor to another potential national title rematch. However, it is my belief that there may well be another SEC aspirants with something to say about that whole premise ! Florida , under second year coach Will Muschamp has his team playing with a great deal of zeal , with an improving defense and an offense , that is slowly finding a rhythm that will indeed serve them well, as they proceed over the course of their schedule. Will Muschamp has recruited vigorously, trying to avail himself of best talent available in order to make the Gators a competitive force once again. The program had fallen on hard times, since the departure of Tim Tebow in 2010, for the NFL . With Tebow’s departure , then came Urban Meyer’s abrupt and sudden resignation, subsequent retirement, un-retirement and then return to the program , only to then leave once again. Now, with Meyer having returned to the college game, where he now coaches the Ohio State Buckeyes. A betrayal that is not lost on the vast majority of Gators’ fans across the country who still feel aggrieved by Meyer’s actions.

Florida, is off to a 3-0 start with decisive victories over Bowling Green State, Texas A&M and Tennessee (Volunteers ). Next up for Muschamp’s players will be a 22nd September match-up against SEC rivals Kentucky (Wildcats) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium , in Jacksonville , Florida. It will be here that we should get to see whether or not, Jeff Driskell, Trey Burton , Mike Gillislee , Solomon Patterson , Josh Evans , and Jonathan Bostic are as good as advertised.

Things are genuinely great, when all three prominent Florida college football programs are riding high. The Gators are 3-0, as are Florida State (3-0 and the Miami Hurricanes (2-1) . Albeit, that the latter two programs are part of the ACC , it should be misconstrued that football isn’t part of the glamor of a conference primarily known for their renowned basketball programs . Jimbo Fisher has a top ten ranked team with ambitions on a national scale. And no doubt the Seminoles’ head coach would like to prove the naysayers wrong with a run to BCS Bowl prominence , with the ultimate goal , being a participant in the BCS title game. The results garnered by FSU through three games , are pretty impressive , and gives credence to the fact that Jimbo Fisher and his coaching staff has this team playing with a great deal of guile . And a highly anticipated game against the Clemson (Tigers) this weekend should give the home fans a great deal to cheer about , when the two programs meet at Doak Campbell Stadium , in Tallahassee ,in Florida ,.

Miami’s off-season woes have been well chronicled concerning the mismanagement and non-compliance of the athletics department with NCAA mandates , concerning personal gifts offered to student athletes . School AD, Shawn Eichorst and university President Donna Shalala have simply buried their heads in the sand, while this sorry episode engulfed the program. What might be even more inconceivable is that head football coach Al Golden could have been conduit for much of the actions that went on , unreported , with an intermediary of the coach, acting as a go-between for the players and the now disgraced and federally incarcerated former Canes’ booster Nevin Shapiro. And Shapiro has been naming names , embroiling current and former players to whom he paid hundreds , if not thousands of dollars , plied them with substantial gifts beyond what anyone could have deemed possible. Now as the school tries to distance itself from those issues , Al Golden still retains his position as the head coach. Miami did themselves no favors with their embarrassing 52-13 loss to Kansas State on the 8th September , before rebounding back to beat Bethune Cookman ….. 38-10 . Miami’s next meeting, has them tangling with fellow ACC rivals , Georgia Tech in a game that is sure to competitive, as it will be mean-spirited between these two high-profiled programs.

College Football is fraught with danger , not necessarily with regard to the endangerment of the players on the field . More so, it has to do with the corruption of the sport and the bear facts, that the major conferences within the game are simply driven by greed , power and the growing need to garner as much money as they can , while carrying on their business activities with wanton disregard of morals or ethics. The idiocy remains that so many fans are buying into this bullshit , while trying to suggest that this is simply the best way for the game to proceed. Clearly , there is not enough intelligence to go around , and it would appear that being apathetic is the choice that is preferably taken by many rather than seeing the NCAA , BCS and conference presidents act responsibly. Not to be left out of this all, are the well compensated coaches who simply are happy with their lot, no matter what idiotic changes are proposed.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Although we are only into the fourth week of a fourteen week schedule for College Football , what surprises if any , have come as a complete shock to you ? Which programs , do you feel will be vying for the national title, as well as the most prominent BCS Bowl games? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on this topic and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) NCAA President Mark Emmert , who succeeded Dr Myles Brand upon his death, to become the highest ranking executive of the NCAA . Over the years , questions have arisen as to the genuine willingness of that governing body to punish certain programs with impunity . Only light of the apparent outrage of the public did the NCAA punish Penn State for the egregious acts that took place and the conspiracy to cover up those acts by the highest ranked officials on the board of trustees of the academic establishment . AP Photo / Connor Gilchrist …

(2) Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien, left, shakes hands with Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo before an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. The Nittany Lions would go on to defeat Navy 34-7 . AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …

(3) Quarterback Matthew McGloin (11) of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to Jesse James (18) during the first quarter against the Navy Midshipmen at Beaver Stadium on September 15, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. Getty Images North America / Rob Carr ……

(4) Matt Barkley (7) of the USC Trojans tries to get a pass away after being hit during their final quarter of their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Palo Alto, California. .Ezra Shaw / Getty Images ….

(5) USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin talks to quarterback Matt Barkley during their loss to the Stanford Cardinals at Stanford Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Palo Alto, California. Ezra Shaw / Getty Images ….

(6) Head Coach John L. Smith of the Arkansas Razorbacks shakes hands with Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide before a game at Razorback Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Tide would go on to crush Arkansas 52-0 in a game that wasn’t even remotely close . Getty Images / Wesley Hitt ….

(7) Denzel Devall (30) of the Alabama Crimson Tide sacks Brandon Allen (10) of the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Crimson Tide defeated the Razorbacks 52-0 . Getty Images /Wesley Hitt …..

(8) Jeff Driskel (6) of the Florida Gators throws under pressure from the Tennessee Volunteers during the second half of play at Neyland Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. . John Sommers / Getty Images …

(9) Will Muschamp head coach of the Florida Gators reacts to a call by the officials during the first half of play a against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Getty Images / John Sommers ….

(10) University of Miami President , Donna Shalala , is seen here with the university’s AD Shawn Eichorst . The two have tried to distance themselves from the allegations brought about, after it was revealed that former Canes’ booster Nevin Shapiro was guaranteed access to current and former athletes on the men’s basketball and football teams. Monetary gifts and loans were provided to these players by Shapiro. In the latest around of allegations , head football coach Al Golden has been embroiled in this mess , with the belief that he had a subordinate act as an intermediary between Shapiro and his players . Golden vehemently denies any wrongdoing on his part or that he was aware of any of his players accepting gifts from the now incarcerated Shapiro. Miami Herald / Antonio Echevarria ………

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Pitchers and out-fielders , please report for the final moments of the regular season

Pitchers and out-fielders , please report for the final moments of the regular season

By Tophatal

As the baseball season enters its final slew of some eighteen or so games , the hopes of a number of teams now seem to be falling by the wayside , as they are either failing in making a push for a wildcard berth or divisional title . The stories have been well chronicled as to the Washington Nationals (89-57) shutting down their start pitching ace Stephen Strasburg for the remainder of the season. As to what sense that actually makes among the front office of the organization and that of their fans , I will leave that for you to judge ! To my mind it speaks volumes as to the ineptitude of GM Mike Rizzo and the fact that the ball-club truly lacks ambition and the will to win.

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The Nationals currently maintain a 5 game lead over their closest rivals within the division the Atlanta Braves (85-63). The NL East has pretty much been a two-horse race for the greater part of the year , with Davey Johnson’s team leading for the majority of that time. What has truly impressed me about the Nationals , in light of the decision made , has been the resiliency shown by their pitching staff. And for Gio Gonzalez , who I believe might just be the most credible of the candidates for the NL Cy Young Award this season ! That asides, the awards’ season could be very generous towards the organization with Davey Johnson could also be named the NL Manager of the Year. The NL Central is pretty much sewn up with the Cincinnati Reds (88-59) maintaining an eleven game lead over the second placed St Louis Cardinals , and with the Pittsburgh Pirates seemingly having another late season ; meltdown. I am not sure that they are still postseason worthy team in the NLDS !

I don’t know that with the splash made by the Los Angeles Dodgers in adding over $295 million salary commitments by way of trades engineered by the past month by the front office. As ambitious as we know the new ownership group to be , I believe that it all might to be too little, too late for the Dodgers to now make their own playoff push in gaining an NL wildcard berth ! Unless there just happens to be divine intervention from up on high with the San Francisco Giants (84-63) blowing their eight game lead over their NL West divisional rivals .

In the AL , all three divisions have now become very tight races and there does not appear to be a consensus as to who the outright winners will be . In the waning days of July , one could have subscribed to the fact that the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers would be romping away with the AL East and AL West by sizable margins. As of the 17th September , those two teams are closely looking over their shoulders as both the Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles look to erase those divisional leads of ½ game and 3 games , respectively .

Joe Girardi has tried to downplay the considerable pressure that the New York Yankees are presently under , and he is quite within his right to do so. However, I am not so sure that sort of optimism is entirely shared by everyone within the front office ! The Orioles have made a mockery of the standings as they have gainfully competed against both the Tampa Bay Rays and Yankees this season , outsmarting them at almost every turn . Buck Showalter and his coaching staff , has this team playing with a great deal of pride and passion. It is something that has not been lost on the fans who have turned up in droves once again, to watch this team play at Orioles Ballpark/Camden Yards, in Baltimore, Maryland . And the Orioles’ players have not been disappointed, as Nick Markakis , Adam Jones , Matt Wieters , Wei Yin-Chen, Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop and Chris Tillman have led this team to being on the cusp of making their first postseason appearance since 1997 , when they lost (4-2) in the ALCS to the Cleveland Indians . In the subsequent years since, there has been little for the Baltimore Orioles or their fans to feel elated about.

While many of us have wondered whether or not Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos was a hands’ off owner e , as there is the belief that he devotes more time to his DC law firm (Angelos Law LLC) and their lobbying efforts up on Capitol Hill , leaving the day-to-day running of the team in the hands of EVP, Dan Duquette , and Special Assistant EVP, Brady Anderson . Given the play of the team this season , there is no reason to believe why the Orioles cannot pull off a major surprise, should they make the postseason and the way that the schedule has been setup. There does not seem to be that truly dominant team within the AL this year , although the team statistics are very deceptive. The Texas Rangers (87-59), at present have the best record within the AL but as of late, the team has been very inconsistent, with one game win streak , albeit that over their last ten games they are 6-4 .

If there has been one team to my mind that has proven to be a disappointment , then it would have to be the Tampa Bay Rays ! With each passing season their financial situation becomes even more precarious and there doesn’t appear to be a long-term solution on the horizon. Senior managing partner Stuart Sternberg seems unwilling to take on a financial partner with deep pockets , and who would be able to assist GM Andrew Friedman in retaining the talent , rather than jettisoning those players merely for financial frugality . The team is quickly falling out of playoff contention , much of it through their own poor play in recent games.

The Rays’ franchise is valued at $323 million but they are one of the most profitable teams ($26.2 million) in all of baseball because of the frugality shown by the front office . Frugality doesn’t always equate with success but such are the vagaries of the business landscape of the game that in part the financial imbalances within baseball leads to this mockery that there is a level playing field . Nothing, could be further from the truth but that truth has yet to set baseball’s hierarchy or the team owners ……. free !

Today, the Rays are the guests of the Boston Red Sox as they will send to the mound Felix Doubront(10-9, 5.11 ERA ) to face Tampa’s Jeremy Hellickson (8-10, 3.22 ERA) . Game wins and series’ wins are now of the utmost importance to Joe Maddon’s …. team if they are to succeed in their attempt to make their fourth postseason appearance in franchise history , all of which have come in the past four years . With the likelihood of the Rays missing the postseason , I would hate to see the disruption that once again will beset this franchise !

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Picture gallery .

As we the regular season now winds down within baseball , what if anything has been the biggest disappointment for by way of a player or team performance during the regular season ? At the same time, which ball-club do you believe will be ultimately triumphant in the World Series ? Which player will be your choice for the World Series’ MVP? By all means do 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 below .

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(1) Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones , right, celebrates with teammate Freddie Freeman after the Braves defeated the Washington Nationals 5-1 in a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Goldman ….

(2) Washington Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez lays down a sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Atlanta. Gonzalez was out at first. AP Photo/David Goldman ……

(3) Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher John Ely , right, covers his face as catcher A.J. Ellis looks on after Ely walked in a run in the 12th inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …

(4) Tampa Bay Rays Matt Joyce , left, argues with home plate umpire Paul Emmel after striking out in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. Emmel tossed Joyce from the game for arguing balls and strikes. AP Photo/Kathy Willens ….

(5)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 16: Rafael Soriano (29) of the New York Yankees shakes hands with teammates after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on September 16, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images …. (6) Baltimore Orioles outfielders Xavier Avery (70) , Endy Chavez (27) and Nate McLouth celebrate after defeating the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, in Seattle. Baltimore won 10-4 . AP Photo/Elaine Thompson …..

(7) Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter , right, heads to the mound with catcher Matt Wieters to pull relief pitcher Zach Phillips in the eight inning against the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, in Seattle. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

(8) Baltimore Orioles EVP Dan Duquette ,left, is seen here with team manager Buck Showalter , as the duo take questions from the convened press at Orioles Ballpark, in Baltimore , Maryland ,. Courtesy of Baltimore Sun ….

(9) Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos testifies before the House Government Reform Committee about the ongoing dispute involving the Nationals’ and Orioles’ TV exposure on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 7, 2006. Major League Baseball and Orioles owner Peter Angelos control most of the Mid Atlantic Sports Network which owns the broadcast rights to Nationals games, but is not carried by some local cable companies. UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg ….

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Class is spelled C-L-A-S-S now back the f##k up

Class is spelled C-L-A-S-S now back the f##k up

By Tophatal

Week two of the NFL season brought about one or two surprising results and let’s just say that there might indeed be some justice after-all, as the New Orleans Saints find themselves rooted at the bottom of the NFC South with an 0-2 record . Their 35-27 loss to the Carolina Panthers shows that for all of the still fomenting controversy that continues to embroil the franchise , let’s not forget there’s football to be played by this team. And as of now , there can be no excuses made for his latest defeat Drew Brees or anyone else on this team , be it from the coaching staff , led for at present by Aaron Kromer , while Joe Vitt and Sean Payton sit out their league mandated suspensions . Meanwhile , the four players embroiled in the scandal that has engulfed the franchise will be meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as they seek to reach an amicable agreement on some form of punishment. No one will be entirely happy with the situation no matter what form of a compromise is reached.

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What may well have been the most eventful game of the day , might be the events that unfolded between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants at MetLife Stadium , in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Apart from being a thrilling spectacle, this game lived up to all of the expectations between these two NFC conference teams. The Giants’ front seven made sure that quarterback Eli Manning was adequately protected but at times you could clearly see that the Buccaneers’ players beyond their inexperience showed a complete lack in class, as they sought to make some exceptionally dubious and distasteful plays.If this is what Greg Schiano feels that he needs to imbue his team with , in order to make them better , then he had better take his dumb ass back to the college ranks with Rutgers and ply that trait there ! If your defense isn’t good enough, and in giving up over 600 yards of offense , as Eli Manning and the Giant’s offense simply shredded your “secondary” for 510 passing yards along with 94 rushing yards , simply indicates that the Buccaneers were not amenable to being embarrassed in-front of a national television audience. Schiano’s post-game interview and his reasons behind the last-minute actions of his players speaks highly to a coach looking to make a name for himself among his peers while not realizing those actions will have serious repercussions for his team. Tom Coughlin has made his sentiments known with regard to t

Courtesy of NFL news

Greg Schiano ‘nothing dirty’ about tactics vs. Giants

By Greg Rosenthal of NFL.com

New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin was furious with new Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano after Tampa Bay tried to dislodge the football while Eli Manning was kneeling down to ice Sunday’s 41-34 win.

Eli Manning called it a “cheap shot.”

Several Giants called it bush-league. Schiano called it Buccaneers football.

“I don’t know if that’s not something that’s done in the National Football League,” Schiano said after the game, via the Tampa Bay Times. “What I do with our football team is we fight until they tell us game over. And there’s nothing dirty about it. There’s nothing illegal about it. If people watched Rutgers, they would know that’s what we do at the end of a game.”

Schiano started changing the culture in Tampa the minute he got there. He obsessed about keeping players’ toes on the line — literally. He got rid of players that didn’t fit in like tight end Kellen Winslow. The end of game strategy ties right into Schiano’s no holds barred approach.

“We do what we’re coached,” Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “Leave it at that.”

It will be telling to see if Schiano changes his approach when a similar situation comes up again. His quote above indicates that he’ll hold his ground and do things a little different.

It will be even more telling when the Bucs can hold on to a massive second half lead on the road.

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The game-officials once again made some questionable calls and if the fans are asked to endure this idiocy over the remainder of the season , then Roger Goodell and the league hierarchy will have a great deal of explaining to do. As the game’s highest-ranking, executive the commissioner insists that the replacement referees are performing exceptionally well. I seriously doubt that the vast majority of fans share Roger Goodell’s enthusiasm for the officials and the numerous mistakes that have been and will be made ! As the season unfolds it has become abundantly clear that the decision made by the commissioner to install the replacement referees was a sent as a message to be show across the bow of the NFLRA (referees’ union). The NFL hopes to reach an agreement with the union by week five but the impasse between the two parties, rather than converging now seems wider than ever , with the league seeking to the pain the referees’ union as the villains of the piece . It is becoming even more apparent that both parties are so far apart than any thought of a quick resolution now seems further away than ever.

It would be remiss to suggest that the New York Giants had this game entirely to themselves but as the Buccaneers sought to dominant and forceful , you simply got the feeling that their best simply would not be good enough. Josh Freeman, the young quarterback of the Buccaneers is seeking to reestablish himself as the sophomore quarterback we saw in 2010 . Unfortunately, as I alluded to earlier the Buccaneers’ defense was a step too slow and inexperienced to deal with the Giants’ offense. As the game ebbed and flowed, so too did the physicality and temperament of the match-up between these two teams . However, what may well have been a damning indictment was how during the waning moments the Buccaneers’ players began to show their frustration and complete lack of class .

Courtesy of NFL.com

Tom Coughlin, Greg Schiano argue after Giants’ win

By Dan Hanzus , NFL.com

Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz don’t meet again until Sunday night, but Tom Coughlin and Greg Schiano provided a nice undercard of squabbling coaches at the Meadowlands.

Fox cameras captured Coughlin jawing at Schiano seconds after the New York Giants’ 41-34 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. According to The Star-Ledger, Coughlin was upset that Bucs defenders attempted to tackle Giants quarterback Eli Manning during a kneel-down in the final seconds.

“I don’t think you do that,” Coughlin said, according to the New York Post. “You don’t do that in this league. Not only that, you jeopardize the offensive line, you jeopardize the quarterback. Thank goodness we didn’t get anybody hurt — that I know of. A couple of linemen were late getting in.”

Manning told reporters after the game that he took “a little bit of a cheap shot” on the play, according to the Post. Wide receiver Victor Cruz made several mentions of a “cheap shot” during his time with reporters. Defensive lineman Justin Tuck said the play “won’t be forgotten.”

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said the players were just doing as they’re instructed, and Schiano confirmed that, saying it’s something his Rutgers teams always did.

“I don’t know if that’s not something that’s done in the National Football League,” the first-year Bucs coach said, according to the Post. “What I do with our football team is that we fight until they tell us game over. And there’s nothing dirty about it, there’s nothing illegal about it. We crowd the ball like a sneak defense and try to knock it loose. …

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On the wrong end of a 41-34 loss ,with the Giants in possession of the ball and Eli Manning about to take “a knee” to end the game , the defensive unit saw fit to rush the Giants’ offensive line looking to do some physical harm. In his post-game interview sought to downplay this by simply suggesting that his players played to the “whistle” . There is as such a code of conduct to the followed , and I believe sportsmanship and having the respect for an opponent should mean something ! It would appear that does not appear to be in the playbook of the Buccaneers’ young head coach. If he and his team continues with that mindset , he could very well find out that this will all come back to bite his team in the proverbial ass ! A number of the Bucs’ players could be seen apart from looking to clear a path the Giants’ quarterback were also seen to be throwing punches at their opponent. The end of game confrontation and the “heated” exchange of words between Greg Schiano and his counterpart , Tom Coughlin may well lead to an investigation of the events during the game and the conversation between the two head coaches on-field at the end of the game.

At 1-1 within the NFC East , I am not so sure that I can take the Dallas Cowboys seriously as a legitimate contender for the Superbowl (SBXLVII) . Team owner Jerry Jones may well feel that this team is built to win this season but clearly something is awry after the events of this past Sunday . Inexplicably, head coach , Jason Garrett and his much vaunted team failed to show up as they laid what can only described as a piece of fecal matter , in being wrong end of a 27-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks . Can someone please call me when Tony Romo is of the mindset to win a meaningful game over the course of his career , much less lead with authority . There is way too much deference that has been given to a player that has yet to deliver anything tangible to the Cowboys’ franchise .

Turnovers plagued the Cowboys during this game at Qwest Field in Seattle , Washington, and the biggest culprit was Tony Romo , with his erratic play during this match-up against the Seahawks .. Repeatedly , we’re told that Romo is a top-ten quarterback in the NFL and with due respect to Ron Jaworski , one year doesn’t career make . Statistically, 2011 was the best year yet for Cowboys’ incumbent starting quarterback but as I have suggested, the player has yet to win a meaningful game over the course of his eight-year career ! !. Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson , a rookie from this year’s NFL Draft and taken 75th overall in the third round by the Seahawks , came into only his second professional game and simply outshone his more seasoned opponent . It could now make for one hell of season in the NFC West , if the Seattle Seahawks can ride on the coat-tails of Russell Wilson. The young rookie, has shown the poise not often associated with a first year player and in beating out his more celebrated teammate Matt Flynn, whose contract was designed him to create the premise of Flynn being seen as the seasoned veteran . However , during the preseason would suggest that it was Wilson who was ready to be the signal-caller for the team at the behest of head coach , Pete Carroll .

It no longer makes any sense , to continue to lambast the Dallas Cowboys, as their record over the past ten years speaks volumes as to the ineptitude shown by the franchise in that time. Suffice to say, a pot of gold and a leprechaun still might not be enough for an under-achieving and what amounts to being a highly overpaid roster , albeit that they remain the NFL’s most valuable franchise . Jerry Jones may well love to make money but I would surmise, he would love to make even far more money with his club being anointed Superbowl champions, and with the Lombardi Trophy sitting in the midst of a trophy case festooned with the other 5 titles won by the NFL franchise, since their inception.

Quarterbacks coming out of USC (Trojans) should get their SAG cards (Screen Actors’ Guild) , as their performances this weekend bordered on being more dramatic , rather than being athletic. Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer and Matt Cassel have proven to me , all that glitters is not necessarily gold . The trios of quarterbacks’ respective teams were defeated, as the New York Jets fell 27-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers , the Oakland Raiders were their usual lackluster selves in being upended 35-13 0 by the Miami Dolphins . And does anyone actually believe that the Kansas City Chiefs are a real threat to anyone after their humiliation at the hands of the Buffalo Bills in losing 35-17 ? I think it is pretty safe to say the hype that has justified USC Trojans’ quarterbacks is only valid, when applicable at the college level , yet within the NFL beyond Sanchez’s two successive incursions in the postseason , the returns have been meager amongst the aforementioned players at the position . . Hype is one , yet there has been nothing tangible from the trio to suggest that they’re capable of leading their respective teams to where they desire to be.

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Picture gallery .

Of the results in week two , which do you believe was the most surprising of all ? Which team has been the most impressive in the two weeks of football that we have been exposed to ? Last but not least , are you of the belief that the behavior of the Buccaneers’ players was a premeditated act in the dying moment of the game when the result itself (41-34) was beyond doubt ? Do leave a comment as you see fit , and as always thanks for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees (9) reaches the ball over the goal line for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. The Panthers won 35-27 . AP Photo/Bob Leverone…

(2)New Orleans Saints acting head coach Aaron Kromer looks on during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. AP Photo/Bob Leverone …

(3) New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) looks to pass as teammates Sean Locklear (75) and Kevin Boothe (77) block during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. Manning threw for 510 yards, second most for a Giants quarterback, and Andre Brown’s 2-yard run with 31 seconds left lifted New York to a wild 41-34 victory Sunday over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …..

(4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) celebrates with Erik Lorig (41) after rushing for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Julio Cortez …..

(5) Giants’ head Tom Coughlin , left , is seen here with his counterpart Greg Schiano after the Buccaneers’ loss 41-34 in an NFC —-game on Sunday 16th September , 2012 at MetLife Stadium , East Rutherford , New Jersey . The heightened animus between the two coaches had more to do with the behavior the Buccaneers’ defensive players in the waning moments of the game. AP Photo / Todd Andrews … ….

(6) Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer (3) hands the ball to running back Darren McFadden (20) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Miami. The Dolphins would go on to defeat the Raiders 35-13 . AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …

(7) Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush (22) celebrates a second touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Miami. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

(8) Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) talks with New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) after an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. The Steelers won 27-10 . AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …..

(9) Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel throws during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. Buffalo defeated their AFC opponents the Kansas City Chiefs 35-17 . AP Photo/Bill Wippert ……

(10) Buffalo Bills’ C.J. Spiller (28) runs against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. AP Photo/Bill Wippert ……

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Talk is cheap, put up or shut up

Talk is cheap, put up or shut up

By Tophatal

There are certainties in life that we know that it is our duty to uphold , love of one’s family , country and a belief system, that acts as a moral beacon in our lives. In the world of sports and specifically the NFL , then that might have to be Tom Brady is guaranteed to give the New England Patriots at a minimum , a ten win season and that Jay Cutler for all of the praised heaped upon him by none other than ESPN’s own Ron Jaworski , he still remains something of an anathema as a quarterback . The fact of the matter is, the player keeps on coming up short in the games that matters the most . I have had one patron try to suggest to me that Cutler’s performance in the NFC Championship game for the 2010-11 post season would be something of the past .Well lo and behold the stage was set for Cutler and the Chicago Bears to prove me wrong in a game that represents the longest running series and rivalry in the NFL , which are the games between the Bears and their conference and divisional rivals the Green Bay Packers (1-1) . This was meant to be a test of two versatile quarterbacks on the opposing teams. On the one you had Cutler, who with his teammates sought to increase their lead within the NFC North but alas, as the events unfolded at Lambeau Field , in Wisconsin, this game would not be one , where the Chicago Bears would hold true to form. Instead , missed assignments , the ill-effectiveness of the Bears’ offensive line and erratic Cutler performance doomed the away team , as the Packers ran away with the game , distancing themselves from an inept Chicago Bears’ team.

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In the aftermath of this 23-10 victory for the Green Bay Packers , this win gives Aaron Rodgers , Mike McCarthy and the Packers’ team something of a respite after their week one loss to the San Francisco 49ers in somewhat of a thrilling 30-22 defeat. The Niners’ defense simply stymied the Packers’ much vaunted offense , leading many to believe that the rookies drafted by Green Bay to bolster the defense would remain a work in progress as their season would unfold. Lessons learned in that loss were quickly absorbed and put to the test against the Bears.

For the rather infantile and immature Jay Cutler , what this simply signifies to me , is that as talented as he is , his mindset becomes one , where , when adversity stares him in the face , in no way is he up to the task! Cutler has yet to win a meaningful game over the course of his career , and as I have repeatedly said , he abandoned his teammates in their hour of need in that rather telling NFC championship game which resulted in 24-14 loss to the eventual Superbowl champions of that 2010 season , the Green Bay Packers. Prior to the game Cutler and his teammates belittled their opponents by suggesting that the Packers and their defense would not be able to deal with the Bears’ offense. If only the Bears’ quarterback knew what Clay Matthews and the rest of the Packers had in store for him , I seriously doubt that the quarterback would have been so bold in his comments . Sacked seven times during the game , harried , harassed and in throw in several forced fumbles , and it one might suggest that Cutler’s day at the office , would be one that he would rather forget. Talk, is cheap, you either up or shut up! Cutler cannot do both and that has now become a bona-fide fact.

Well the New England Patriot started off their 2012 schedule with a rather lopsided 34-12 victory over the Tennessee Titans , a team now finding its footing under second-year coach , Mike Munchak . With the victory comes the expectation that Bill Belichick now has the prerequisite pieces in place to make another deep run into the postseason. After last season’s epic and seismic loss to the New York Giants for the second time in five years the NFL postseason finale , of the Superbowl . You simply get the feeling that a hex has been placed on the franchise and the very fact that they cannot overcome their latest nemesis. I am not usually one to concern myself with superstitions of black cats , a rabbit’s foot , or even a lucky coin for that matter. In games of chance , and sporting events , you either make your own luck by playing to your potential , or failure comes about ,merely from the fact that you did not put in the effort and preparedness to be ready on the day. With both losses to the Giants , each time , complacency set with a team that had victory within their grasp.

The off-season in many ways was beneficial for coach Belichick and his coaching staff as they set about revamping the roster through the NFL Draft and free agency acquisitions . GM Nick Caserio, in consultation with Bill Belichick has seen fit to be judicious with the choices made, as Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Tavon Wilson, Jake Bequette, Nate Ebner, Dennard Alfonzo, and Jeremy Ebert. These players have made contributions in the preseason but their baptism of fire came in the first regular season game of the Patriots’ schedule . The 34-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans , as decisive as it might have appeared , in no way should anyone read in to the result , that all of the issues that befell the New England Patriots in 2011 have been addressed in this one game.

New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady a league and Superbowl MVP , has created a legacy that has seen him rewrite the history books while looking to cement his legacy as one of the all-time greats to have played the quarterback position. He now has running game that is supplemented by the play of Stevan Ridley and arsenal of receivers led by Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Julian Edelman, Wes Welker , Brandon Lloyd and Brandon Bolden .

Week two, will see the New England Patriots host the Arizona Cardinals (1-0) in a game that pits two unbeaten teams looking to secure an extended lead of their respective divisions . And for head coach, Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals, the decision which awaits him , the choice between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton , as to which these two inconsistent quarterbacks will be Sunday’s starter for the team.

Clearly for the Cardinals, they would have preferred going into the season with some semblance of consistency being shown by their pair of quarterbacks but that has not been the case . Kolb ,signed to a lucrative deal by the front office , has as barely lived up to the expectations in meeting that contract , and the starting position was granted to John Skelton on merit , as deemed by the head coach. In the team’s opening season game —- against the Seattle Seahawks , Skelton performed admirably before suffering an injury , that would see Kolb replacing the incumbent to end the game , which resulted in a narrow 20-16 victory for the Cardinals over their NFC West divisional rivals. This upcoming game against the Patriots should prove to be interesting , as the Cardinals’ defense now get the chance to gauge themselves against one of the league’s more hyped offenses. It will become a test of wills when the two teams meet at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Massachusetts , this Sunday.

Now in light of the league hierarchy (NFL) , yet to resolve the situation between NFL and the NFLRA (referees’ union) , with the replacement officials still adjudicating the regular season games thus far. It must be said there have been far too many inconsistent calls by the replacement referees , who normally adjudicate the games at the D2 and D3 levels of Collegiate Football. It is my firm belief that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has erred in his judgment , in thinking that the union would be ready to resolve their issues amicably , when it has been the league who has been completely intransigent ! It was this sort of behavior by the commissioner that led to a protracted lockout of the players (NFLPA [union]) . That subsequent agreement as we now see leaves a great deal to be desired which has led to even greater distrust between the league and the union. In light of it all , we are now at week two of a sixteen game regular season schedule which is arduous and testing. These replacement referees have tested the will of the fans and the media at large. Roger Goodell for his part, has been graceful in describing the officials’ performances as being great but I would suggest that the replacement officials have been average at best, if not barely competent ! Your thoughts on that premise ?

Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times in conjunction with the Associated Press

NFL has temporary five-week schedule for replacement officials

A person familiar with the schedule says the league has it set up to use replacement officials through at least Week 5. The regular officials have been locked out since early June in a labor dispute.

Associated Press

September 11, 2012

The NFL has devised a temporary five-week schedule for using replacement officials.

A person familiar with the schedule told the Associated Press on Monday that the setup is done through Week 5 of the regular season. The regular officials are locked out and replacements worked the preseason and the first week of the regular season.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has not made public officiating schedules.

In early June, the league locked out the officials, who are part-time NFL employees, after their collective bargaining agreement expired. The NFL Referees Assn. and the league met for three days at the beginning of September before talks collapsed.

The NFL and the union, which covers more than 120 on-field officials, are at odds over salary, retirement benefits and operational issues. The NFL has said its offer includes annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 annually by 2018. The NFLRA has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it would ultimately reduce their compensation.

Replacements were used in 2001 , but only for one week of the regular season before a deal was reached. This year’s replacements have had some errors, particularly late in Arizona’s 20-16 victory over Seattle when the Seahawks were awarded an extra timeout . The officiating crew admitted its mistake after the game.

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I certainly do not believe the NFL, under Roger Goodell’s guidance has been working steadfastly enough to resolve the issue , and their impasse with the union. None of the statements that can be directly attributed to him would suggest otherwise, as he seeks to paint the NFLRA as “the villains” of the piece. The league enforced lockout was initiated by Goodell , and as initially inferred by the commissioner that this was brought about by Mark Baltz and his members .The commissioner countenances the use of the replacement officials and believes that they continue to do an excellent job , even under the current conditions . As the season progresses and naturally mistakes made by the referees are highlighted , it will become clear to the fans that the league is at risk of being further ridiculed , if it is not already being ridiculed by the fans and media alike. In stating that by week 5 he envisages some form of an agreement , clearly indicates that it was Goodell’s intent for a protracted dispute with the officials, and as what this might suggest by the commissioner and the hierarchy . Well, that would have to be open to a great deal conjecture and speculation.

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What thoughts if any, do you have concerning the points raised in this article ? And do you believe the NFL can perform competently with the replacement officials continuing to adjudicate the regular season games and quite possibly the postseason based on the evidence shown ?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 .
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(1) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell whose latest faux-pas has been to initiate an enforced lockout of the NFL referees , while replacing those official with referees from the collegiate system from within the D2 and D3 levels of FBS (Football Subdivision) . At best their performances can described in the pre and regular season as average to moderate . One would question however , how they might be viewed in the postseason when a great deal more is said to ” be on the line “ for the teams in question. AP Photo/ Mark Thompson …

(2) Green Bay Packers’ Clay Matthews (52) sacks Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler (6) during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. AP Photo/Mike Roemer …..

(3) Green Bay Packers’ Donald Driver catches a touchdown pass in front of Chicago Bears’ Chris Conte (47) during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers would go on to defeat the Bears 23-10 given their divisional record at 1-1 within the NFC North . AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps ……

(4) Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler walks off the field after being sacked during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 23-10 . AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps …..

(5) Jay Cutler (6) of the Chicago Bears tries to escape Mike Daniels (76) of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 13, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bears 23-10. Getty Images North America /Johnathan Daniels …

(6) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady watches from the sideline in the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. Brady threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots won 34-13 . AP Photo/Wade Payne ….

(7) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) scrambles away from Tennessee Titans’ Mike Martin (93) and Karl Klug (97) in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. The Patriots won 34-13. AP Photo/Joe Howell ….

(8) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) celebrates his touchdown pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. Kolb replaced John Skelton, who was injured and left the game. AP Photo/Paul Connors …

(9) Arizona Cardinals quarterback John Skelton (19) is sacked for a six-yard loss by Tennessee Titans defensive end Kamerion Wimbley (95) in the second quarter of an NFL football preseason game on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. AP Photo/Joe Howell ….

(10) Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald, right, pauses as he puts a hand on injured quarterback John Skelton, on ground, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Seahawks 20-16 . Skelton was carted off the field and replaced by Kevin Kolb. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ……

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You can’t handle the truth !

You can’t handle the truth!

By Tophatal

With the regular season of baseball’s schedule due to end on the 3rd October the final three days of the schedule could prove to be interesting as the divisional races and wildcard standings get somewhat tighter. That being said , this season has been embroiled in way too many controversies that has simply indicated that the MLB league hierarchy has not been able to abate the continued use of PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) by the players at the “Major League” level or the “ Minor League level of the game . It remains a constant and annoying reminder why Bud Selig is an ass ! When this whole drama began, the commissioner and his subordinates chose to look the other way , while the team owners within the game saw that the fans became more rabid as to the exploits of Barry Bonds , Sammy Sosa , Mark McGwire and a litany of other players at the height of this infamy profited financially from this calculated malfeasance . This all became a bountiful “ cash windfall” for the teams that had big league sluggers and pitchers willing to ingest or inject themselves with whatever may well have been the “flavor” of the moment by way of the substances available . As to the idiotic fans who try to excuse the behavior as much ado about nothing , while either directly or indirectly they , themselves have been subject to this all by way of making some financial outlay. Think about what it has actually cost you.

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This season two prominent and high-profiled players have fallen afoul of the league’s steroid policy with a mandated 50 game suspension being meted out to the San Francisco Giants’ slugger Melky Cabrera and pitcher Bartolo Colon of the Oakland A’s . A lesser light in Marlon Byrd has also been suspended but the utility player is now viewed as someone on the downside of an unremarkable career . Now while the commissioner can point to the fact that this policy is working , it simply has not been enough of a deterrent to stop the players from seeking a way to cheat. Consider also , the very fact that at the minor league level the use there amongst the players is still significant and shows no signs of abating even with what we are told is a far more stringent testing protocol by the league . In 2012 , eighty-four players have been netted by baseball as part of that wide-reaching power but yet the fans are to believe that the league hierarchy have things under control . How so , and what guarantees can the league assure the fans that they are dealing with this matter seriously ? .

I will continue to maintain that where we have a commissioner’s whole premise has been to now see the growth in revenues of the game while obfuscation all other responsibility due, then we will continue to see baseball become something of an afterthought amongst its most ardent of fans . And while there has been a great deal to feel excited about with a number of teams playing themselves into contention within the divisional races by way of showing their resilience . It has to be said there have been a number of sub-plotlines that has left the fans what the hell has been going on. Perhaps no story over the course of this season has carried as much weight as the saga that surrounded Washington Nationals’ pitcher Stephen Strasburg and the decision rendered to shut down the player for the season , as the team appears to be on the cusp of making the postseason . The team’s GM Mike Rizzo in conjunction with the coaching staff led by veteran manager , Davey Johnson , made the decision to shutter the player , and in doing so, demeaning the fans and some might say Strasburg’s fellow teammates .

The NL East is now a forgone conclusion in determining a winner as I do not believe that the Atlanta Braves (81-62) can erase the 7 ½ game lead that the Washington Nationals (88-54) currently maintains within the division ! What now seems within the Braves’ grasp is an NL wildcard berth but much of that will be predicated upon the play of the team and their not showing any complacency over the remainder of their schedule . With the Braves having lost the first two legs of a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers in Milwaukee , it is incumbent upon Fredi Gonzalez and his staff to get the players back on track when they face the Brewer in the final game of that series tonight . On the mound for the Braves when they face the NL Central team will be Paul Malhom (3-3 , 3.48 ERA) , as he faces off against Yovani Gallardo (14-8 , 3.76 ERA) . A good showing in that game would certainly lift a some weight of the shoulders of the Braves’ players as they seek another playoff berth as being part of baseball postseason showcase. The Braves hold a healthy six game lead over the St Louis Cardinals but the really story lies in the teams seeking the second of the two wildcard playoff berths as the Cardinals , Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates vie for that sole remaining spot.

If nothing else in terms of nothing else , there is one league award that could indeed create a great deal of controversy this season , and that would be for the NL MVP . With Melky Cabrera now sitting out the remainder of the season due to the mandated 50 game suspension , a case is being made that the most credible candidates for the award, are , Andrew McCutchen , Buster Posey , Ryan Braun , Jay Bruce and Matt Holliday . Braun the league MVP in 2011 , came under a cloud of suspicion having won the award after it acknowledged that the player had tested for a banned substance . To further heighten the whole idiocy of this affair and the ramifications afterwards , was the mere fact that baseball’s hierarchy sat on this information for a number of months before making it known to the public. As to what this says about the incompetence of the commissioner’s office and the very fact that they chose not to divulge those details to the BBWAA , who oversees the process in the adjudication the game’s most prestigious individual awards , signifies to me that Bud Selig simply hasn’t a goddamn clue how to conduct the league’s business in an appropriate manner . That being said , whatever credibility that the public believes that the Baseball Writers’ Association (BBWAA) has , in essence has fallen by the wayside, as that archaic and outmoded body simply turned a blind eye as to the malfeasance of the players embroiled in the steroid era but yet many believe them to be carrying out a worthwhile duty in reporting the game . It’s not easy being stupid but the erstwhile baseball fan who still holds this game up on a pedestal , as something pure and above reproach has to meet that criteria ! LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

With Ryan Braun , this season producing statistically a far better year in 2012 than his award-winning season of 2011 , there are a growing number of supporters , seeking the player to become the first back-to-back winner of the NL MVP since Albert Pujols achieved that feat in 2008 and 2009 . Prior to that the last such player to achieve that rare feat , was none other than Barry Bonds who won the award for four straight years , from 2001-2004 , playing for the San Francisco Giants . In all, Bonds won an unprecedented seven NL MVP Awards over his often controversy laden but historic career .

Now the situation is arising that Melky Cabrera’s stats for 2012 (BA -346 [leads the NL in batting average] 11HR’s , 60 RBI’s ] ) will stand while he sits out his current suspension which goes beyond the regular season ending , and validates his being a candidate for the NL MVP . Somehow, this premise cannot sit well with those opposed to Cabrera being seen as a viable MVP candidate . With that in mind , Braun is also in the NL’s top 5 in batting average and in leads in a number of other offensive categories among the NL’s top offensive players . If the 2011 League MVP winner, Ryan Braun is now seen as a legitimate candidate, then it simply does not bode well for this adjudication process. Although Braun’s suspension was overturned by a mediator (Shyam Das) on a technicality, for which the Brewers’ player feels is a vindication of any wrongdoing on his part. What should not be overlooked is that Ryan Braun’s samples tested positive for a banned stimulant and but for the idiocy of the league’s sanctioned testing facility not following the protocols set by MLB , Braun in 2011 , would have sat out a fifty game suspension. Baseball’s hierarchy , one would expect to mandated that Melky Cabrera’s 2012 statistics be removed from the official records but it is clear that any remote intelligence thought to be found within that body is now, nowhere to be seen ! Intelligence is certainly not the biggest inherent trait to be found within the upper echelons of baseball, certainly not among baseball’s governing body , or among the team owners that of the MLBPA (union) led by Executive Director Michael Weiner ! This is merely my opinion on these matters but should you share similar thoughts , then by all means leave a comment as you see fit either in support or in opposition.

So let’s get this straight , Houston Astros’ owner Jim Crane having spent $775 million to purchase the ball-club , and now witnessing the franchise descend into mediocrity over the course of this season , would like to have Roger Clemens on the team’s pitching rotation ? Now, I know that desperate times calls for desperate measures and baseball being geared towards being a family friendly pastime and that it has an aversion to adult entertainment . The thought of Clemens returning to the “Big Leagues” having not pitched in almost five years with his last display being in the 2007 postseason . I get the impression that Crane must admire the showmanship of PT Barnum , if he is said to be seriously contemplating the seven-time Cy Young Award winner , pitch for the Astros once again in regular season game . An aging egotistical as##ole like Clemens would be welcomed back into baseball’s fraternity , primarily as a money-making exercise because that ball-club has no god-damn ambition whatsoever ! Never-mind the fact that the sort of message this would send to the young pitchers within their minor league system of the Astros , seeking that September call-up , were Clemens to be brought into the Astros’ fold . Roger Clemens has tried to state that his only intent with this return is to have some fun but his agent Al Hendricks has been mindful of the fact that the Astros and the Kansas City Royals have shown interest in the veteran pitcher . A s to what this states about the pitching for both of these organizations , I will leave you to be the judge of that !

Far be it for me to suggest that all is not right in New York City, with the New York having problems in trying to make a successful defense of their AL East title . In mid-July (17th July) the Yankees had a 10 game lead over their then closest rivals the Baltimore Orioles (47-44) . In the seven weeks since, that lead has been completely erased with Orioles and Yankees now sharing the lead of AL East with a mark of 79-62 with the Tampa Bay Rays (77-64) a mere two games behind the joint leaders of the division. Joe Girardi and a number of his players are trying to downplay the obvious tension that built up within the clubhouse and within the Yankees’ fandom . The team itself, is 4-6 in their last ten games , having lost their most recent game to one-time nemesis the Boston Red Sox . The 1-0 loss has many wondering whether or not the high-priced roster of players are meeting the expectations of the fans as well as the front office executives. GM Brian Cashman has seen the highs and lows of the organization but here are now looking at a ball-club seeking to weather the storm and right the ship. New York now faces the Red Sox at Fenway Park in a game which now takes on even greater meaning, as the Orioles face off against divisional rivals the Tampa Bay Rays , with series’ implications of their own .

The Yankees’ pitching has been suspect for the majority of the season , and with injuries proliferating much of the rotation , it should come as a surprise that the team has labored under this impediment . I am not about to suggest that the Yankees are about to fall short of making the postseason there will be a number of question asked of Hank Steinbrenner , Managing Partner , Hal Steinbrenner , Managing General Partner , Lonn Trost , COO , and other senior executives of the organization.

Year and year out , it never ceases to amaze me with the consistency of Yankees’ captain and short-stop Derek Jeter , as he leads the Yankees’ offense in that particular category. A five-time World Series’ champion with the only franchise he has ever played for. Jeter has won just about every individual honor available within the game of baseball , in terms of Gold Gloves , multiple All Star appearances , AL MVP and Rookie of the Year . Jeter, now in the twilight of his career , is a certainty, as a first-time ballot and future Hall of Fame inductee . While no one doubts the player’s well known tenacity and leadership qualities, the question remains , can his teammates follow his now “ legendary “ trait ? If the players are unable to do so , then look for this team during the off-season to be revamped once again, with the front office looking to jettison a number of players superfluous to their needs .

Often the butt of so many jokes in recent years it now looks as if the Oakland A’s are about to have the very last laugh . The team now has the second best record in the AL , as they seek to chase down the Texas Rangers for the AL West divisional crown . For Bob Melvin and his coaching staff this season , must be seen as validation and vindication that the organization has been on the right track. GM Billy Beane , if anything has to be viewed the AL Executive of the Year , as he has guided this team within the guile not often seen from a general manager within the game. Shrewd off-season and trade deadline acquisitions , a draft policy that over the years has borne fruit for the organization , along with a farm system that is richly laden with talent .

What is now becoming all the more certain is the dogfight —- within the AL for the wildcard berth has suddenly become all the more interesting with the A’s being part of this whole scenario. For the long-suffering fans that has seen the ball-club mistreated rebuked by Bud Selig , while this idiotic executive has seen fit play a game of charades with the organization in seeking to assist them with their endeavors for a new ballpark. Meanwhile the devious and egregious behavior of two prominent New York Mets’ executives Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon have seen their wishes granted for a near-billion dollar edifice built to house a franchise that has under-achieved this season , merely because the joint-owners and Mayor Michael Bloomberg deemed it necessary . An ignoramus such as Bud Selig, is deemed a smart individual and has been given far and wide-ranging powers but the decisions in recent years made by the commissioner has left a great deal to be desired . It’s certainly not rocket science but how in this day and age the MLB commissioner and his NFL counterpart Roger Goodell are deemed intelligent men , has to now come into question ! . The commissioner championed the Mets’ cause for a new ballpark in the midst of that ball-club’s growing financial problems and their association with disgraced financier Bernard “ Bernie” Madoff , even light of their being growing evidence as to his malfeasance . Blah , blah , blah ! Why the fu#k should anyone care about anything the commissioner has to say about the game, when he simply has failed to address the numerous issues that continues to plague baseball ?

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(1) Barry Bonds, left, and Sammy Sosa, center, can appear on the ballot for the first time, along with Roger Clemens . Mark McGwire, right, has not fared well. Three major stars of the game who at the height of their respective careers became significantly embroiled in the “steroid era” of baseball . Getty Images North America / Jed Jacobsohn …….

(2) Magic Johnson , left , new owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers is seen here alongside Frank McCourt on Opening Day at Petco Park in San Diego , California , prior to the game between the Dodgers and San Diego Padres . McCourt having taken the ball-club into bankruptcy proceedings as part of a messy divorce settlement , would see the franchise be sold to Johnson and his syndicated partnership group for an all cash bid of $2.156 billion . Frank McCourt , however , still maintains the “rights” to the parking at Dodgers’ Ballpark , much to the annoyance of the Dodgers’ fans . AP Photo /Jesse Reid …. Courtesy of USA Today …

(3) (L to R) Baseball Commissioner Allan “Bud” Selig , New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg , Mets Chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon and New York Mets’ mascot Mr. Met attend a press conference at City Hall May 16, 2012 in New York. It was announced that at Citi-Field and New York Mets will host Major League Baseball’s 2013 All-Star Game . Getty Images North America /Allison Joyce ….

(4) Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario , left, waits for the throw from the outfield as San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence scores on a sacrifice fly hit by Joaquin Arias in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 8-3 victory in a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. AP Photo/David Zalubowski ….

(5) Melky Cabrera (53) of the San Francisco Giants hits an RBI single driving in Ryan Theriot (5) in the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at AT&T Park on July 1, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The Giants’ slugger will forgo the rest of the season having sit out a mandatory 50 game suspension for violating baseball’s banned substance policy . Getty Images Thearon Henderson …..

(6) Ryan Braun (8) of the Milwaukee Brewers prepares to bat against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 5, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Marc Serota / Getty Images …..

(7) HOUSTON,TX – SEPTEMBER 12: J.D. Martinez (14) of the Houston Astros reacts after striking out with bases loaded in the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Minute Maid Park on September 12, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Chicago won 5-1 . Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …..

(8) Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow (R) and owner Jim Crane (left) chat during batting practice on opening day before the game against the Colorado Rockies at Minute Maid Park on April 6, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Jared Wickerham / Getty Images ….

(9) Derek Jeter (2) of the New York Yankees hits an two-run double in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox during the game on September 11, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. September 10, 2012 – Source: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America ……

(10) Derek Jeter(2) of the New York Yankees walks off of the field with first base coach Mick Kelleher (50) and manager Joe Girardi (28) after injuring himself on a close play at first base against the Boston Red Sox during the game on September 12, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images …..

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Hot chic pic of the day Jordan Carver . As you like it , a simple quote of Shakespeare .

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Ooh la la ! Simple slice of heaven , that’s Jordan Carver ! Now go get some our your own .

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NFL , acronym for the No Fun League ……

NFL, acronym for the No Fun League ….

By Tophatal

The NFL season opened up with a flurry of games and the league’s rookies took the field for their baptism of fire . On what was a record day, five quarterbacks drafted in 2012 were on the field of play. The top two picks, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III led their respective teams in their inaugural games in the NFL.

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A number of results were not that surprising , while others, in some respects, came right out of nowhere. Peyton Manning returning the NFL after almost eighteen months away from the league, led the Denver Broncos to a heartwarming victory (31-19) over the Pittsburgh Steelers in their regular season opener . Fans at Invesco Field, in Denver, Colorado, had to be pleased with the outcome. And for Manning on his way to the victory , the player connected with DeMaryius Thomas for his 400th touchdown pass and would further add to that tally with his 401st to Jacob Tamme , adding to an already illustrious career for the four-time league MVP . For Ben Roethlisberger and his Steelers’ teammates , this was in essence a game that they would rather forget , on so many levels .

I don’t believe that it would be wrong to suggest, that beyond a reasonable doubt the Buffalo Bills after their lackluster effort against the New York Jets , the franchise might just be the worst teams in the NFL , solely based upon their performance in this game. Given the ineptitude shown by team and the fact that Chan Gailey’s coaching staff were if anything simply out of their depth in the Bills’ first regular season game .

Now while during the preseason a great deal was justifiably made concerning the ineptitude shown by quarterbacks —- Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, it has to be said that the Jets’ starting signal-caller was simply exemplary in his performance during the game against the Buffalo Bills. For head coach Rex Ryan his coaching staff this result (48-28 victory) bodes well for the Jets and the remainder of their season .

High praise indeed for everything that was and written about 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. The Redskins’ quarterback exemplified everything that many believed he was capable of, as he led the Washington Redskins to an improbable 40-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans , Louisiana , in-front of a sold-out crowd of rabid Saints’ fans. Given the explosiveness of the now famed Saints’ offense , one seriously doubted that the Redskins could have withstood a Drew Brees’ led attack , normally known for its high-powered efficiency . Somehow , the improbable came to be as repeatedly this game ebbed and flowed , with Griffin simply outlasting his counterpart in a thoroughly exciting game.

In what might be seen as a possible precursor to a 2012 NFC championship game , the Green Bay Packers played host to the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay , Wisconsin,. The two opposing quarterbacks , Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Alex Smith of the Niners , simply looked to carry on from where they left off from 2011 . Both of these highly touted players who were part of the 2005 NFL Draft , which saw Smith taken ahead of Rodgers that season . The 49ers’ quarterback in 2011 showed that he was ready to assume control and lead this team. And indeed Alex Smith was able to do that , as Jim Harbaugh saw his players make it all the way to the 2011 postseason but who would fall to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game 20-17 in a highly-competitive match-up . That disappointment did not sit well with Harbaugh and his players , and the organization has been motivated to revamp the roster as well as making several free agency acquisitions this off-season . The addition of Randy Moss , Marion Manningham , and Brandon Jacobs , gives Smith an added arsenal of offensive weaponry that will certainly make the San Francisco 49ers a formidable opponent this season.

This game proved to be as interesting as anticipated , with the Niners’ stifling defense and a passing game that was everything one would it expect it to be . Those defensive players would harass and make the Packers’ offensive line a mere aberration as they made life problematical for Aaron Rodgers’ in the Packers’ home opener in 2012 . San Francisco would secure a 30-22 victory , which sees the team tied atop of the NFC West alongside the Arizona Cardinals (1-0) . And though it is still early days yet , these two teams will meet in their scheduled divisional match-ups in weeks’ eight and seventeen in what is sure to be two very crucial games .

Now while a lot has been made about the first week of the NFL season , with a record five rookie quarterbacks making their starts in the NFL. Who would have thought however , that Cleveland Browns’ rookie Brandon Weeden would have such an awful game on the way to the team’s narrow 17-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles . In truth , both quarterbacks on display left a great deal to be desired, with their erratic and underwhelming display . There is no denying that Michael Vick is one of the most athletic quarterbacks to have graced the NFL in the past fifteen years but I certainly would not count the player , as a top 5 quarterback in the league ! Vick gave one of the worst performances of his veteran career , having been picked off four times during the Eagles’ game against their AFC opponent . To read Brandon Weeden’s game statistics against the Eagles reads of mediocrity at its’ very worst . The player’s QB rating , dauntingly disastrous 5.1 and no, that is not a misprint , 5.1, what else can be said ? One doubts that we will ever again witness such a mind-numbing statistic being posted by an NFL quarterback !

Don’t get me wrong, there is some quality football that will be played in the NFL this season , it is just that I am not so sure that we will all bear witness to that materializing within the AFC West ! The biggest selling point within the division is the fact that it now becomes the home of Peyton Manning as a member of the Denver Broncos. The team is likely to be highly favored by the odds-makers in Las Vegas being the divisional champions, as they seek to make a successful defense of that title in 2012. The other residents within the division, the Kansas City Chiefs , Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers will certainly look to overturn that premise . And last night we were given a glimpse of two of those aspirants, as the Raiders played host to the Chargers at the O Coliseum in Oakland, California, Unfortunately for the fans in question , who sought to stay up on the East Coast to witness this farce . It simply was a game , filled with errors , as the Raiders stumbled their way through the game with a plethora of mistakes and missed opportunities . Far be it for me to suggest but Dennis Allen in his rookie season as coach of this team cannot be at all pleased with what he witnessed from his players.

The upheavals made within the Raiders’ organization at the end of last season with the firing of Hu Jackson and the installing of Reggie McKenzie as the general manager , remains a constant reminder as why this franchise has never maintained a semblance of continuity over the past decade. Granted, with the death of Al Davis , and you simply knew that this renowned franchise would be in for a change in direction , with Davis’ son, Mark Davis , assuming the reins of the Raiders. Well, things have not changed for the better , as it appears that a smooth transition has made way for the idiocy of before , as it relates to the play of the team . Lackluster , ill-prepared and no signs of any real leadership from any of the seasoned veterans on the roster , and it is easy to understand the spectacle the franchise has become . Far too often, the butt of so many jokes , while the die-hard fans of the Raiders seek out any sign of positivity that might appear. If last night’s events are anything to go by , then those signs will be few and far between , any type of progress sought . The Raiders’ 22-14 loss mirrored so often what their long-suffering fans witnessed over the course of last season with the team . If Dennis Allen is to seek the improvement sought, then he and his coaching staff will have to address many of the needless mistakes made by his players that laid the foundation for this defeat .

As the season proceeds, undoubtedly the fans will question the veracity of the referees , as week one has not highlighted any major controversies seen from the replacement officials . However, as the impasse remains between the league hierarchy and NFLRA (referees’ union) we are bound to see questionable calls that could prove to be fateful in terms of an outright result to a regular season scheduled game. What we have witnessed is that the officials recruited from the college game has given such a divergence in how these referees interpret the game from their counterparts who usually adjudicate the NFL games .With the overturning of the commissioner’s verdict in the suspension of Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove , Scott Fujita and Jonathan Vilma , with all four player given full clearance to be participants in the opening weekend scheduled games of week one. It now begs the question where does this now place Roger Goodell , as the commissioner of the NFL and the power made available to him as the league’s highest-ranking executive ? If he can be challenged on such an issue, as the scandal that embroiled the New Orleans Saints . Then clearly, at some point concerning in the future there will be a challenge as to how Goodell imposes and renders a verdict concerning an NFL player’s conduct. Fans feel aggrieved by the league’s inaction on so many issues without this idiocy and the predicament that the NFL now finds itself in !

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Picture gallery .

Week two will once again a bring us a slew of games that should provide us to a degree with an indication as to the teams’ seasons may well pan out . In comparison at this point last season the results were not too dissimilar , as we saw the league’s stars step up to the plate as their teams set about their tasks.

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(1) Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) watches from the bench in the closing minutes of the Colts’ 41-21 loss to the Chicago Bears in an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. AP Photo/Jim Prisching ….

(2) Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) is pressured by Chicago Bears defensive tackle Matt Toeaina (75) as he releases a pass during the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. AP Photo/Jim Prisching …

(3) Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) scrambles in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert …

(4) Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) poses for a photo with filmmaker Spike Lee , center, after an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. The Redskins won 40-32 . AP Photo/Matthew Hinton ….

(5) Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) is wrapped up by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Larry Foote (50) during the second quarter of an NFL football game , Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Denver. AP Photo/David Zalubowski …

(6) Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning hugs head coach John Fox as he holds his 400th touchdown ball following an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 in Denver. The Broncos won 31-19 . AP Photo/Joe Mahoney …

(7) New York Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez, left, and Tim Tebow celebrate after a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets would go on to defeat the Bills 48-28 . AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …

(8) San Francisco 49ers’ Alex Smith (11) shakes hands with Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (12) after an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The 49ers won 30-22 . AP Photo/Mike Roemer ……

(9) FILE – In this Sept. 9, 2012 file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) has the ball knocked from his hand by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Trent Cole in the first quarter of an NFL football game in Cleveland. Weeden had one of the worst —- debuts in NFL history, a 5.1 rating . Cleveland’s defense forced five turnovers , but couldn’t get the one it needed to stop Michael Vick. It added up to another tough loss , but one that showed some promise for a young team. AP Photo/Mark Duncan …..

(10) San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive end Dave Tollefson (58) and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (77) during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. The Chargers would go on to defeat their divisional rivals 22-14 . AP Photo/Ben Margot

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Did they just do that ?

Did did they just do that?

By Tophatal

Well we have seen the idiocy of the MLB season played out with a decision that simply makes no sense with the Washington Nationals deciding to shut down their starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg . To realize the gravity of the maneuver , you have to understand the very fact that the Nationals now sit on the cusp of making the postseason for the first time since 1981 when the franchise fell 3-2 in the NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers . At the time, the franchise were known as the Montreal Expos . In the subsequent years the ball-club has struggled to remain relevant , albeit that Bud Selig pretty much eased the way for the sale of the team to present owner Ted Lerner.

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To my mind , GM Mike Rizzo has made a rash decision that is pretty much a slap in the face Strasburg’s teammates and to the long-suffering Nationals’ fans. Anyone who believes that this decision was based upon the well-being of Stephen Strasburg, then they are clearly that naïve and gullible. Manager, Davey Johnson , has suggested that the reason behind to now shutdown the player, was based on the fact, that his performance, in his most recent outing was lackluster and not up to par. Would anyone actually be at all surprised , when for the past five weeks this has been the topic of conversation with Strasburg being continually asked what his thoughts would be , should the coaching staff make the decision to curtail his season? There is no damn common sense to be found within the Nationals’ front office after this utterly idiotic decision ! The game would result in a 9-7 loss to the Miami Marlins , in which the player pitched three anemic innings allowing six hits , 5 earned runs and three walks . What was abundantly clear from this game was the immense pressure Strasburg had been placed under , with this ongoing spectacle and the very fact that the Nationals’ coaching staff did little to downplay this all, instead they allowed this whole spectacle to played out , to the sheer and utter ridicule which has made this ball-club a damn laughing-stock.

Now while the Nationals currently maintain a 5 ½ game lead over the Atlanta Braves within the NL East , this whole scenario does not play out well, for the Davey Johnson’s team . They are certainly better with the fifteen game winner than they are without him . And with the Strasburg’s productivity in terms of the strikeouts amassed there is this growing that this will come back to bite the Washington Nationals in the proverbial ass.

The Nationals will finish their two-game series against the Miami Marlins today at Nationals’ Ballpark in Washington , DC. A loss to the Marlins though not catastrophic , it would certainly deflate the confidence of this team and undoubtedly lead to some soul-searching on the part of the players. As to the spin that will now to be placed on this scenario by the coaching staff, and the hierarchy of the organization .Well. those questions may well be answered, in terms of how the remainder of the Nationals’ season will end. While, I have no doubt that this team will undoubted make the postseason , I am not so sure that they can now go deep into the playoffs , taking the NL pennant and then the World Series , itself !

Next up for the Washington Nationals , will be a three-game set against the lowly New York Mets . It would be an understatement to suggest that the Mets have been pitiful this season , with the exception of R A Dickey , perhaps one of the presumptive favorites for the NL Cy Young Award in 2012.

Monday’s game will see the Mets playing host to the Nationals , with Gio Gonzalez (18-7, 2.98 ERA) taking the mound against Collin McHugh (0-1, 3.27 ERA). Tuesday , will see Jordan Zimmerman (10-8, 2.99 ERA) against R. A . Dickey (18-4 , 2.64 ERA) and as part of this trifecta of games, the final pairing will be John Lannan (2-0, 3.46 ERA) against the Mets’ Matt Harvey (3-4 , 3.04 ERA) . Needless to say, a series’ sweep or at least a 2-1 series’ win would be beneficial for the Washington Nationals , as they embark on the final thirty-plus games of their regular season schedule.

In 2011 the Milwaukee Brewers came away with the NL Central as the divisional champions as Ron Roenicke’s made their first postseason appearance since 2008 . In 2011 however, the Brewers’ foray would not be short-lived as they made it to the NLCS ,where they would succumb to the St Louis Cardinals losing the series 4-2 . This season within the division and it appears that NL Central will have a new champion , and it now seems beyond a doubt that the Cincinnati Reds will come away with their first divisional title since 2010 . Reds’ manager Dusty Baker would like nothing better than to get this team playing at a consistently —- high level as they enter the final stretch run of their season. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips , Ryan Ludwick , Jay Bruce , Johnny Cueto , Bronson Arroyo, Matt Latos, and closer Aroldis Chapman have spearheaded the Reds’ impressive season. I believe that the Reds are being overlooked as a credible contender for NL pennant . Sunday , and we saw the Reds inexplicably falling 5-1 to the Houston Astros , with Johnny Cueto (17-8) losing his eighth game of the season in that defeat. The Reds’ next three games pits them against the Pittsburgh Pirates , who it now seems have played themselves out of contention for the division (NL Central) as well as quite possibly the wildcard berth in the NL , having gone 3-7 in their last ten games. So much for the talk, of the Pirates having turned the corner , as it appears that like the cars of Sprint Cup Series within NASCAR , the cars only head in one direction ____________ “ always turning left” .

Making a case for complacency would be easy this season , especially in light of the New York Yankees and the way that they have allowed a ten game lead within the AL Easy simply erode to the point where as the 8th September they shared the lead within the division with this season’s surprise team the Baltimore Orioles. The troubling issue for the Yankees is that team captain Derek Jeter and manager Joe Girardi have tried to downplay everything that has transpired concerning the team’s abrupt meltdown over that past six weeks . Now with everything to play for and there being so much at stake , it has to be said should the Yankees fail to make the postseason, then there is a deal of blame to be apportioned all-round , from the front office on down to the coaching staff to this highly overpaid roster of players . Is there anyone who truly believes that Alex Rodriguez is worth $ 32 million a year , given his lack of productivity over the past five years and the player’s lack of leadership skills ? Yet, with even with the baggage that comes along with Rodriguez, he’s merely viewed as the primary selling point as the active home run leader as he looks to surpass the all-time home-run mark of 762 , currently held by Barry Bonds . The former Pirates and Giants’ slugger has been embroiled in a slew of controversy that has simply destroyed Bonds’ image as well as the game of baseball. Thankfully , with the player essentially retired , he does not have the ambition to make a bold return to the game . At the opposite end of the spectrum, seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens , who simply craves the limelight, and is now attempting a return to baseball, having signed a contract with the Atlantic League’s —— Sugarland Skeeters . Independent League’s Sugarland Skeeters.

Far be it for me to suggest that Roger Clemens deserves the time of day , however, with the player having been acquitted in US Federal Court of perjury and obstruction of justice . The player has to viewed in a different light , as he was found not guilty by a jury of his peers. From my owned perspective, the prosecution’s handling and presentation of the case by the US Justice Department’s attorneys , gives credence , that the federal government is being ran by a group of unintelligent buffoons ! With the country now in an election cycle and with both main political parties simply offering sound bites that amount to nothing more than the two main Presidential candidates dithering on so many of the most acute issues that affects this country . Then again , baseball needs a real kick in the ass considering the idiots who preside over the game at the highest level ! Baseball does not need Roger Clemens back in the arena of baseball but unfortunately, the hierarchy’s handling of a number of issues strictly related to the game has been so poorly handled that sport remains a complete laughing-stock among the vast majority of fans who choose to follow baseball .

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Considering the event leading up the Washington Nationals concerning their starting pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, do you believe that the decision made by the organization was a prudent choice ? Also with regard to the playoff picture and that of the divisional wildcard races , which teams do you believe are now in the drivers’ seat as these races proceeds towards their inevitability ? Do leave a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper , bottom, is out at second base as he gets tangled up with Miami Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano as Solano turns the double play during the first inning of a baseball game at Nationals Park, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Washington. The Marlins would go on to defeat the Nationals 8-0 . AP Photo/Alex Brandon ….

(2) WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 09: Giancarlo Stanton (27) of the Miami Marlins celebrates with Jose Reyes (7) after an 8-0 victory against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 9, 2012 in Washington, DC. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images ….

(3) WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 07: Stephen Strasburg(37) of the Washington Nationals sits in the dugout after leaving the game after the third inning against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on September 7, 2012 in Washington, DC. The player has seen his season come to an abrupt end with the decision made to shut him down for the remain of the Nationals’ 2012 schedule. Strasburg has voiced his displeasure but states he understands the organization’s concern but remains unhappy with that choice. Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images …..

(4) Cincinnati Reds’ Johnny Cueto pitches against the Houston Astros in the first inning of their baseball game in Cincinnati, Sunday Sept. 9, 2012. AP Photo/Tom Uhlman ….

(5) Jimmy Paredes (38) of the Houston Astros hops back to first base in time as Joey Votto (19) of the Cincinnati Reds takes the throw from pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) of the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 9, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images ….

(6) Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Zach Britton (53) delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees during the third inning of a baseball game on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Baltimore. The Yankees would go on to defeat the Orioles 13-3 . AP Photo/Nick Wass …

(7) New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson, right, celebrates his home run with teammate Ichiro Suzuki (31) , of Japan, during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Baltimore. The Yankees won 13-3 . AP Photo/Nick Wass …..

(8) Third base coach Rob Thomson congratulates Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees after hitting a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 8, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ….

(9) Alex Rodriguez 13 of the New York Yankees flips his bat after lining out for the second out of the ninth inning during the Yankees 10-6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 6, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images …..

(10) Roger Clemens 21 of the Sugar Land Skeeters throws in the second inning against the Long Island Ducks on September 7, 2012 in Sugar Land, Texas. . Getty Images North America/ Bob Levey …

(11) Roger Clemens (21) of the Sugar Land Skeeters talks with his catcher Koby Clemens (22) before playing the Long Island Ducks on September 7, 2012 in Sugar Land, Texas. . Bob Levey / Getty Images North America …..

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MLB news & archived news’ stories

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MLB team salaries …… & highest paid players in baseball . Highest average player salaries .

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Hot chic pic of the day . Sheila Marie

“Rehab”

“Rehab “

By Tophatal

I don’t like to lend money to friends , or family , unless it’s of the utmost urgency ! However , with that in mind I find it less than sobering to see that once again the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their season home opener will be unable to sell out their game against divisional rivals the Carolina Panthers . With a new head coach , coaching staff and several free agents signed in the off-season to coincide with the franchise’s draft picks in the 2012 NFL Draft . One would have thought that this would have piqued the interest of the fans within the locale . Instead , it has been a hard sell , ineffectively being marketed by the Buccaneers’ Sales and Marketing Department . The television ads have been mundane, without creativity and likewise within the print and radio areas, as well . I’m sorry , but whoever is leading this exercise on behalf of the Buccaneers needs to be relinquished of that position , immediately , and done so , without any compensation !

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Slide show.

Greg Schiano , in his first season as a head coach has an arduous and bold task ahead of him . All of the bravado cannot hide the fact that he will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed. His situation might may well have been impeded by the fact that with the franchise such a big splash in the off-season signing Vincent Jackson , one of most desired and sought after free agents in 2012 . Team GM Mark Dominik for his part , has been quick to sell the attributes of his new head coach and the fact that he brings the much-needed discipline not witnessed from this team in 2011. It remains to be seen what is brought to the table by Schiano and the team in its current guise prior to the their season unfolding .

Now one could be decidedly critical of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and specifically , of the Glazer family . However, to my mind , we have repeatedly seen such instances where the ownership have simply stood pat , rather than trying to lure the fans to attend games at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa , Florida . Of the Buccaneers’ last seventeen regular season home games , 15 have been blacked out , due to the fact that franchise has been unable to sell the required allotment of tickets in avoid a league mandated blackout within the local television market. Also herein, we have had the idiocy of a member of the Florida state legislature trying to force the NFL to change its policy concerning this issue . I have always maintained that when you have a governmental agency intruding upon the commercial activity of any corporate enterprise , when their actions are not warranted , then no good can come from it all . This is not a legal matter but yet a state legislator with far more acute to deal within the state makes an ass himself within this area. Then again, this is Florida, where common sense simply and intelligence amongst its state legislature do not go hand in hand.

The Buccaneers for the present has a cordial relationship with the Tampa Sports Authority , owners of Raymond James Stadium, and the lessor of the venue to the franchise for their scheduled home games. That agency is a conduit for the Hillsborough County Government .

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not the only NFL franchise to find themselves in such a position but unfortunately their situation is unlike any other , merely because of the longevity relating to the number of regular season blacked out games . And if I were to tell you that this Central Florida franchise is one of the most valuable teams within the league , then I believe it certainly makes this scenario all the more improbable . It would be remiss to suggest that Avram Glazer , COO, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be magnanimous and philanthropic by offering several thousand tickets at a discounted price to the fans but this exercise has been executed before . One could point to the fact that Central Florida is in the midst of an economic downturn not seen in over seven years. High unemployment, a malaise within the community, and not much ingenuity being shown by the local politicians by way of creating an environment that invigorates the business environment, and leads to an upswing in employment.

As to the divisional match-up , this game has the makings of what will be something of an offensive minded collision of two teams . Throw in the fact that the two opposing quarterbacks in Cam Newton fresh off his record-breaking season , and Josh Freeman , who will be looking to improve their statistical marks of 2011 .

Coming off a 4-12 season in 2011, it is easy to understand why the front office decided to head in a new direction , with the firing of Raheem Morris as the as the Buccaneers’ head coach. The team was decidedly lackluster and we witnessed the regression of Josh Freeman throughout the entire Buccaneers’ schedule and that of the team as a whole . Ill-disciplined , a lack of accountability , and no leadership from any of the veterans on the roster , clearly indicated that the team was heading in the wrong direction. A great deal more is expected of Freeman this season , with the player being given an array of options offense , with Vincent Jackson , LeGarrette Blount and rookie full-back —- Doug Wilson . However, Greg Schiano will undoubtedly, be looking to see more from his revamped defense . Mason Foster, Gerald McCoy and Mark Barron will be asked to make sizeable contributions to a defense that ranked amongst the worst in the NFC and the league as a whole last season.

Of all the games in week one of the NFL season openers , perhaps the most eagerly anticipated, might be the return of Peyton Manning as he leads the Denver Broncos in their season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers . In the aftermath of last season’s wildcard round of the NFL Playoffs , when the Steelers were subjected to a rather humiliating loss to the Broncos , who were led at the time by Tim Tebow . It has to be said, that the defeat left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Steelers’ players and the abrupt end to their postseason foray in 2011 .

In what was a career defining moment for Tebow, in many ways was also a sign that the player while undoubtedly not lacking in heart , as he left a lot to be desired as a quarterback in the NFL . In the off-season , John Elway , Head of Operations for the Denver Broncos, made the decision that the franchise needed a veteran quarterback to lead the team. With four-time league MVP Peyton Manning available, after being cut by the Indianapolis Colts , it seemed only natural that Elway would pursue the former Colts’ quarterback. With Manning now firmly entrenched as part of head coach’s John Fox’s offense , the player also becomes a quasi on-field offensive coordinator , thereby further assisting the offensive mindset of Fox’s coaching staff.

Manning’s acquisition made for a great story during the off-season and then when you add in the fact , that his younger sibling Eli Manning led the New York Giants to their second —- Superbowl in five years . Then you can understand the numerous reasons why Peyton Manning seeks to reassert himself as the top quarterback in the NFL. In what amounts to be a division that a number of fans believe to be a foregone conclusion , there is the belief that the Broncos will stroll through the AFC West with consummate ease . The Kansas City Chiefs , San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, would like nothing better than to rewrite the script, to add their own ending to the plot-line that’s said to have been scripted. An 8-8 mark in 2011, garnered the Broncos the division and a berth in the postseason of 2011. I don’t believe that such a mark will be conclusive enough to repeat that feat but I could very well be wrong in that assumption ! The Broncos’ regular season meetings against the Chargers , Chiefs and Raiders , could very well provide us with the premise that we seek.

The opposing quarterback in this game will be two-time Superbowl winner Ben Roethlisberger . Coming off a 12-4 season in 2011 , having finished second within the AFC North to the Baltimore Ravens . Mike Tomlin and his players will this season seek to reassert themselves not only within the AFC but also within the NFL. With several nicked up players, the injury bug seems to have caught up to the Steelers’ aging core of veterans on the roster. However, with the departures and free agency acquisitions , alongside what has been determined to be a very good Steelers’ draft class of 2012. The thinking has to be, that Tomlin and the coaching staff will be well served by this unit, as they march forward this season.

the loss of Bruce Arians as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator has led to some discord between Roethlisberger and Arians’ successor Todd Haley . Haley has sought more of a run-first offense , whereas the quarterback was quite happy with Arians’ playbook of the passing option for the majority of the Steelers’ plays. This season and it remains a work in progress for Ben Roethlisberger and his teammates in adapting to Todd Haley’s offensive playbook. Mike Tomlin has made it clear he wants his offense clicking on all cylinders as the their season takes shape. The first signs where he will be able to gauge its success will be the game against the Indianapolis Colts’ defense.

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Picture gallery .

Week one of the regular season , which games of the regular season do you believe will be the most anticipated ? Also in light of the repeated problems facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being unable to sellout a number of their regular season home games , is it your opinion that the team ownership should bear the burden of making sure that those unsold tickets be purchased by club ? Or do you believe that the NFL should be doing more to assist the franchises in meeting that goal ? Do take this opportunity to leave a comment on this topic and anything else you believe to pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slide show details below.
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(1) FILE – In this Aug. 24, 2012, file photo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson looks for yardage during their NFL preseason football game against the New England Patriots in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers were 27th in the NFL in scoring and also had one of the league’s least productive running games last year, but the team is counting on their rising young quarterback, multiple veteran free agent acquisitions and a new head coach to make a difference. The Buccaneers are scheduled to begin their regular season on Sept. 9 at home against the Carolina Panthers. AP Photo/Dave Martin ….

(2) FILE – In this Aug. 24, 2012, file photo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano watches from the sideline during an NFL preseason football game against the New England Patriots in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers were 27th in the NFL in scoring and also had one of the league’s least productive running games last year, but the team is counting on their rising young quarterback, multiple veteran free agent acquisitions and a new head coach to make a difference. The Buccaneers are scheduled to begin their regular season on Sept. 9 at home against the Carolina Panthers. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….

(3) 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 …

(4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ GM Mark Dominik in his third year as the front office executive of the organization is presiding over the revamping of the team , with a new head coach acquisitions and draft picks by franchise in 2012. AP/ Getty Images / Nolan Turner …

(5) 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 …

(6) Denver Broncos head coach John Fox, left, reacts to a call against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL preseason football game , Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(7) Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) goes over plays with teammates Adam Weber (2) and Brock Osweiler during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(8) FILE – In this Aug. 26, 2012, file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) passes against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Denver. No need to ask Steelers coach Mike Tomlin if Peyton Manning is back. As far as Tomlin is concerned, the Broncos quarterback never left. AP Photo/Jack Dempsey …..

(9) Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno (27) rushes as Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Dan Williams (92) and Daryl Washington (58) defend during the first half of an NFL preseason football game , Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. AP Photo/Matt York …..

(10) Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger throws under pressure from Buffalo Bills’ Nick Barnett (50) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012. AP Photo/Gary Wiepert ………

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NB : Read more NFL pieces within this site @ Tophatal’s Blog category NFL

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NFL news and news from around the league

NFL schedule week 1 & NFL results week 1

NFL standings by division & NFL standings by conference

2012 NFL Draft

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ news

Tampa Bay Buccaneers profile

Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster

Tampa Bay Buccaneers schedule

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2012 draft picks

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Rihanna …. Feat’g Justin Timberlake …… Rehab “