It takes a village to raise a child , but what does it take to make an NBA franchise better ?

It takes a Village to raise a child , but what does it take to make an NBA franchise better?

By Tophatal

Well with the NBA schedule now eagerly making its way into the third quarter of the season , we can see that the divisional and conference standings now taking shape . No real surprises here , with the Miami Heat (40-14) and San Antonio Spurs leading their respective divisions with comfortable leads . And before the rather inane supporters of the New York Knicks (33-20) start to belly ache with their continued idiocy as to how dominant their team has been , let’s really take a look at that shall we . Beyond, leading the Heat in their season series , the team’s record and play has been somewhat uninspiring . I mean how and why is that they have disappeared into the shadows faster than a priest caught disrobing , as they seek to force themselves upon a young victim ?

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Only, the ever so obnoxious Knicks’ fans can one moment speak so passionately about their team, one minute , to then remain silent , the next ! Now not only are the Knicks suddenly a team without direction but they now find themselves as the third seed within the Eastern Conference , ½ game behind the suddenly surging Indiana Pacers (35-21) , a team , which recently blew Mike Woodson’s players off the court , in a rather embarrassingly lopsided twenty-six loss to the Pacers 121-95. Somehow , you won’t hear the Knicks’ ingrates discuss that loss , but they will suggest that Carmelo Anthony ought to be considered a worthy candidate for this season’s league MVP. Granted, there may well be some veracity to that argument, but this year , the race is essentially between LeBron James and his shadow , because no one else, is even remotely close to the player in terms of his extraordinary play this season .

Consider the fact that, the New York Knicks are now 4-6 in their last ten games , whereas the team that they seek to supplant , the Miami Heat , as the “best “ in the Eastern Conference are in fact 10-0 in their last ten games . Hardly ,seems fair , does it,? Yet, these are blatant facts borne out , for those who really seek to delve further into the matter . Yes, you, the Knicks’ fans out there, why so goddamn quiet? ? You guys, can talk the talk, but as always, more often than not , there tends to be more bullshit behind it , as you are not always prepared to “walk the walk” , more than anything else !

I don’t that there is a great deal to be said about the Detroit Pistons , as this franchise is seemingly heading into oblivion . Coming off an eleven-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks , I am not so sure that GM Joe Dumars and the team’s ownership group led by billionaire venture capitalist , Tom Gores and Dennis Mannion could have ever envisaged this team , playing so ineptly . Head coach Lawrence Frank , in spite of his youthful exuberance and experience , it is becoming abundantly clear that the franchise , while its core of players are considered to be young , the talent level and leadership needed , simply is not there , for them to be even considered a legitimate contender within their division , much less the Eastern Conference as a whole .

Greg Monroe , , Jose Calderon and Rodney Stuckey , might well be considered the franchise’s best players , and the remnants from the Pistons’ most recent success , the title team of 2004 , are now a fast fading memory, for the fans normally in attendance at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit , Michigan, . And for Dumars , the architect of that championship winning team , time must be now fast running out , as I seriously doubt , that Tom Gores can considered it , to be in the franchise’s best interests to have the front office executive remain in his current position , that much longer .

The 2012 NBA Draft cannot be considered to be a productive one for the Pistons’ franchise , with Andre Drummond , (9th pick overall) taken in the first round , to be followed by Khris Middleton and Kim English . Thought to be prudent, but worthwhile picks , all three players having contributed overall in the team’s play , it is apparent there are still some great strides needed , before each can be considered a major star in the NBA . Albeit , that both Drummond and Kyle Singler , the franchise’s top pick from the 2011 draft , do figure in the top twenty of the league’s rookie players for scoring this season . Leading the way, in that specific category has been the Portland Traiblazers’ Damian Lillard, whose exciting play has been one of the standout highlights , for an otherwise somewhat under-achieving season for the Western Conference franchise .

Coming off a thoroughly convincing 92-86 victory over the now laboring Boston Celtics at the Rose Garden in Portland , Oregon,. It has to be said, that if the Trailblazers (26-30) are to chase down the eighth seeded Houston Rockets (31-27) and the ninth seeded Los Angeles Lakers (28-30) for that eighth and final qualifying berth for the chance to be an active participant in the postseason. Then, the level of play we are currently witnessing from the team will have to be of a much higher standard .

Blazers’ head coach Terry Stotts and GM Neil Olshey can only hope to achieve any semblance of success , just as long as team owner, Microsoft co-founder , billionaire, Paul Allen , is willing to keep the “purse strings” open , in order that the franchise is able to lure talented free agents to the Pacific Northwest . And given the premise that success, as it relates to the Portland Trailblazers in recent years, has become something of a lost cause , their last postseason appearance came by way of the 2011 postseason , in which they suffered a first round series’ loss (4-2) to the eventual NBA champions , the Dallas Mavericks .

In the aftermath in the death of Los Angeles Lakers’ owner , Dr Jerry Buss , it was a time of soul-searching , solemnity and dare one say , “ empathy for this renowned franchise” ? Well, the time for mourning, is now over and it is back to playing with passion, rather than going through the motions. In their most recent games , it would appear that the team have begun to heed the words of teammate Kobe Bryant , after the player chastised his fellow players for their sheer lack of effort . Personally, I have no problem with the presumed team leader “calling out “ his teammates , especially where , in the case of the head coach , in this case , the witless Mike D’Antoni , who is being paid a King’s ransom , but yet he has brought not a goddamn thing to the table by way of his coaching acumen . It were as if he is now leaving the players to figure it out for themselves , because he sure as hell , hasn’t been able to figure it out along with that lame assed coaching staff , whom he apparently calls upon for assistance. At times , this season , it were as if Sarah Palin were advising the team on their playing strategy , but I digress, the Tea Party advocate and “ doyenne of all things stupid “ , might just be more equipped to proffer up meaningful advice than a bonehead , such as Mike D’Antoni ! The Lakers’ head coach brings with his a resume’ that first glance seems impressive , until you realize he has never achieved anything of note from a coaching standpoint , nor has he ever developed a player that has become a perennial All Star . Need one say anymore, on the matter?

Presiding over this debacle in recent weeks or to be more accurate, throughout this entire season , has been GM Mitch Kupchak and Lakers’ EVP Jim Buss . The deluge of abuse and criticism , rendered against the duo , has been far and wide, it has been deeply scathing and seething with such venom , that you would be hard pressed to suggest that much of that was not warranted. And granted, while the Lakers have now played themselves into the position where they now sit on the cusp of obtaining a playoff berth , but it remains to be seen whether or not the team will be competitive for a deep playoff run in the postseason. Beyond the 2012-13 acquisition of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash , the makeup of this roster is uninspired and failing in so many ways. Unfortunately, the apathy shown by the fans is what you should now come to expect when success in recent years has simply been bought through high-priced acquisitions , rather than being organic and from within .

Does anyone feel truly threatened by names such as Robert Sacre , Darius Morris , Andrew Goudelock , Earl Clark , Darius Johnson-Odom , Jodie Meeks and Devin Ebank ? Yet somehow , there was this rather asinine idiocy that a team bolstered by Bryant , Pau Gasol , Nash , Howard and Metta World Peace , would be deemed a likely conference favorite for an NBA title ? I would have drunk the Kool-Aid , until I realized that it might well have been pissed into by profound idiots such as Skip Bayless , Tony Kornheiser and Jon Barry , allegedly knowledgeable NBA pundits and media darlings , who are trying to sell this organization as a credible contender for the world championship. I’m sorry, but, I have never drunk from the pot, that others have defecated or urinated in ! It is simply not my style , nor will it, ever be!

I have long-held the contention that the Lakers will be a franchise , that will be bereft of leadership and talent , the moment that Kobe Bryant officially walks away from the game . He will go down in history , as one the top fifteen players in NBA history , Look beyond the career statistics and where he ranks amongst the all-time greats and look at the player’s achievements on the court as a player , and I believe that you get a much clearer picture as to what he simply about as an individual and as a competitor . There is not one player on this existing roster that has the competitive instinct or the all-round ability to lead this team into for the next decade or more . And for anyone to have the temerity that Dwight Howard can be seen as such an individual , leads me to believe that the person in question is either a downright blithering ass or clearly a person, who simply doesn’t understand the nuances and the fundamentals of this game ! Howard has never been, a leader, nor does he possess the intelligence or the maturity to assume such a role . And the mere fact that Mitch Kupchak sees the center as the heir-apparent to Kobe Bryant, is both a sign of desperation on the part of the executive , as he clings to straws, while looking for a lifeline to save the Lakers’ floundering season . . The team’s next game will be against conference rivals the Minnesota Timberwolves , scheduled for tipoff at 10:30 pm EST at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California , on Thursday evening .

Make of it what you will, but teams that simply do not plan ahead for the future , and who would rather spend their way to success , tend to fall abruptly from grace because the know-how , and business acumen simply isn’t there ! Cases, can now be made for both the Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks , of which the latter is now simply on its last legs, as they seek to gain the last gleaming remnants of competitiveness out of Dirk Nowitzki , and the now laboring Mavericks . At 25-30 the eleventh placed Dallas Mavericks are now on the outside looking in , as they seek to climb out of their present position and up the conference rankings . Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban ” gambled and lost” in the Deron Williams’ sweepstakes as the Nets’ point guard chose to remain with the Eastern Conference franchise , as they sought resurrect their fortunes . The Brooklyn Nets with a payroll of $87.6 million for the season , have the second highest payroll in the NBA , which is led by the Los Angeles Lakers and their whopping $100.1 million , far exceeding the league’s “ soft salary cap figure” of $58.044 million for the 2012-13 season . And far be it for me to suggest, but even though the Mavericks’ figure of $69.6 million seems minuscule by comparison , in 2011 , they were amongst the highest salaried teams within the NBA , with Kobe Bryant being the highest paid player in the league that season , with a salary of $24,806,250 .

Mavericks’ GM Donn Nelson is now left seeking ways , how to best move forward as they seek build towards the future with the winding down of Nowitzki’s career . The 7’ center/power- forward has been of the best European players to graced the NBA over the past two decades , and to my mind there has not a player this good , from the European continent the Croatian , Drazan Petrovic graced the scene as a player with the New Jersey Nets . And Petrovic’s skill-set was as a mercurial point guard who simply astonished the fans with his passing dexterity and playmaking abilities . The closest we have now come to seeing this by way of European point guard , might well be the San Antonio Spurs’ dangerously deceptive Tony Parker , a three-time winning NBA titlist with the NBA franchise .

It is hard to see where the Mavericks will go from here because the team in its present guise is suffering growing pains , even in light of this and their 2011 draft picks . Defensively , the Mavericks are exceedingly poor and giving up 102.6 points per game for fourth worst in the league. And from an offense standpoint , the team remains woefully inadequate in more ways than Mark Cuban and Donn Nelson would care to admit.

Mikhail Prokhorov , the billionaire owner of the Brooklyn Nets cannot be entirely happy with what he has witnessed from his team this season . Already on their second head coach of the year, after the firing of Avery Johnson , who would be replaced by P J Carlesimo . As the interim head coach , he now has to work with the self-indulgence of Deron Williams , an “ overrated “ point guard , and the lackluster Joe Johnson , who with $60 million plus , remaining on his existing contract , he could very well be “ one of the biggest busts “ of the NBA season by way of his lack of productivity . GM Billy King , may well be rethinking his original stance of acquiring Johnson , albeit , the thinking would be that the player would be deemed a comfortable fit , alongside Williams and Brook Lopez , the young center , that the franchise now pins their hopes upon , having lost out in the race to acquire , then free agent , Dwight Howard .

The Nets are coming off a rather debilitating 76-72 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies , in which the team played some uninspired basketball in their defeat by one the Western Conference’s best teams. As to what this says about this Nets’ franchise and their overall ambitions over the remainder of the season , one can only surmise how it might all end . The team will seek to recover from that rather lackluster performance as they are the guests of the New Orleans Hornets , one of the NBA’s more uninspired teams of the season. A second successive defeat would not necessarily write off the hopes of the Nets , but it certainly wouldn’t create a conducive environment , as the franchise moves into the final quarter of their schedule . And with the outlay by way of the team’s payroll (87,577,676) , anything short of the playoffs and a deep run in the postseason and the front office of the Brooklyn Nets might seek to make some long-term changes right across the board that would most certainly have some far-reaching ramifications for the franchise. The financial resources asides , with Prokhovorov , being worth an estimated $13.2 billion , a fortune which places him as the fifty-eighth richest individual on the planet. It does lead one to believe that even with the Russian’s vast wealth , he must have known that his fortune alone , the lure of Brooklyn , and the ostentatious-ness of the cavernous Barclays Center/Atlantic Yards’ Complex. That alone , as the attractive pearl , could not have been enough of a driving force , for him to truly believe that his franchise could be taken as a legitimate contender for this season ? For him to have truly believed that , either he was under the mistaken belief , that the team was simply that good or the fact that rest of the Eastern Conference was simply mediocre , and would be willing to become “ lambs to the slaughter “ as the Nets laid siege to the conference . Which, do you believe it to be?

From my own perspective , I never bought into the Nets to begin with , as this current team had no real body work for which one could truly judge by . And the continued apathy , and idiocy shown by the fans of both the Knicks and Nets , as if it is now , both of these franchises’ time to shine, is simply idiotic to begin with ! As I alluded to earlier New York Knicks were a mediocre 5-5 in their last ten games , hardly something to tie one’s hat on , by way of viewing them as a legitimate , much less a perennial contender . Meanwhile, the Nets are simply a team , lacking in leadership , with a coach whose greatest claim to fame , was the very fact that he escaped being choked out by a psychopath NBA professional several years ago.

If things were to get any worse for the Boston Celtics (30-27) , then what guise would it take? They have lost their best player, point guard Rajon Rondo for the rest of the season, and the dark shadows have begun to set over this franchise. Rumors are circling that GM, Danny Ainge , would like to jettison Kevin Garnett and his burdensome contract , given his age and the fact that there are said to have been several inquiries from interested parties looking to acquire the seasoned veteran. Yet, with a no-trade clause tied to the contract , which would have to be waived and agreed upon by the player. It seems highly unlikely, that Garnett would actually leave a franchise , where he has stated categorically , he would like to play out the rest of his career with the Boston Celtics. With three years remaining on Garnett’s existing deal and approximately $36 million owed to the player , it would take a major concession on the part of the veteran and multiple All Star , to suddenly jump ship. And I can only envisage, Garnett going to a legitimate contender , rather than Ainge and owner , Wyc Grousbeck simply engineering a salary dump . As to what this might indicate to the Celtics’ fans , who may well see it, as the front office simply giving up on the season , when there is still something to play for , could very well sit either way , with those diehard individuals .

As the seventh seed within the Eastern Conference , the Celtics are quite comfortably set , with a two-game lead over their closest rivals the Milwaukee Bucks (27-28). All that is now being asked of Doc Rivers and his staff is to guide this team into the playoffs , and then simply let the chips fall where they may .

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Picture gallery, for your perusal .

It may well takes a village, to raise a child , but sheer know- how , real expediency and acumen is needed to make a successful NBA franchise . Something I truly believe, to be lacking in several of the franchises now playing within the NBA ! David Stern , longing to be seen as the best executive in professional sports , often comes off and across as a conceited self-serving pompous ass ! And is further proof is needed , during this last labor dispute with the NBPA (union) , while seeking concessions from the union , the commissioner was still compensated to the tune of $25 million in salary , not inclusive bonuses and other discretionary incentives . It simply makes you wonder . what really , does the NBA have to offer the fans by way of a very good product , and if anything by way of real integrity or intelligence ? The apathy of the fans , who state that there are some wonderful story-lines to be had , only speaks to their sheer stupidity , if it is simply a feel-good story that an individual is said to be looking for , when the product being served up , is nothing more than a rehashed meal , that is simply being reheated and packaged to look ever so fresh . Your thoughts, on this all ?

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Picture, and slideshow details below.
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(1)MIAMI, FL – FEBRUARY 26: LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat works up the crowd during a game against the Sacramento Kings at American Airlines Arena on February 26, 2013 in Miami, Florida. The Heat would go on to defeat the Kings 141-129 . Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …

(2) Sacramento Kings’ John Salmons (5) fouls Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Miami, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. AP Photo/J Pat Carter …

(3) San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan (21) passes under pressure from Phoenix Suns’ Goran Dragic , of Slovenia, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Phoenix. The Spurs would go on to defeat the Suns 97-87 . AP Photo/Matt York …

(4) Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) shoots around Detroit Pistons center Greg Monroe (10) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio …

(5) Detroit Pistons’ owner , Tom Gores is seen here with the team’s GM Joe Dumars during a pregame shoot around at the Palace of Auburn Hills , in Detroit , Michigan, . This season has simply been one of immeasurable struggles for the franchise , whose roster has been completely been revamped over the past two seasons . AP Photo & Detroit Free Press / Asa Hutchinson …

(6) John Starks (3) , left of the New York Knicks , looks to defend against the Nets’ point guard Drazan Petrovic during a game played at Madison Square Garden , in New York City , New York . Petrovic’s career in the NBA was cut short , when he died in an airplane accident , in his native Croatia , formerly known as Yugoslavia . Heralded as one of the greatest European players ever to have played in the NBA , his legacy still lives on in the minds of many Nets’ fans who saw him play. Courtesy of NBA.com/archives @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ….

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Striking out for glory , three strikes, you’ll never believe it ……

Striking out for glory , three strikes, you’ll never believe it

By Tophatal

Well, the MLB preseason has commenced and Opening Day saw a glut of games to start the season, preseason that is. And over the next seven weeks we’ll get to the league’s teams set about finding a rhythm while looking to get their free agent signees and none roster invitees acclimatized to playing something akin , to competitive baseball . The biggest talking point, may well be whether or not teams such as the Washington Nationals , New York Yankees, Oakland A’s , Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers can get over last season’s failings , as things played out during the regular and postseason .

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While I have no wish to see the idiocy of 2012 paraded in front of me by Bud Selig and the league hierarchy, the conclusion has to be , the sooner the commissioner steps down , the better off the game of baseball will be. And quite reasonably , I believe that the majority of the game’s fans are of the belief, that Selig has performed poorly over the course of his almost two decade career. And the commissioner as always , has continued to sing the praises of the game and its economic strengths. Am I mistaken ? How can a franchise with a $ 60 million payroll expect to compete competitively with the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , who between them will have a combined payroll of almost $410 million for the upcoming season. Somehow, I get the belief that the schleppers at the bottom rung of the payroll ladder will be feeding from the cast-offs left by their more resourceful peers .

Far be it for me to suggest, but with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers having won the AL MVP in conjunction with baseball’s first Triple Crown winner in four decades , after what was said to be a highly debatable vote . The question remains , can Cabrera rebound and prove in 2013 , that last season was not an aberration ? At the same time, AL MVP , runner-up , Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels can further excel, after leading the Angels in so many offensive and defensive categories in 2012. Now while I don’t begrudge Cabrera his win of the AL MVP , I did feel that so much of what Trout did for his team was simply brushed aside . That being said , the Angels , failed miserably , when so much more was expected of this ball-club from last season .

Angels’ owner , Arte Moreno and GM , Jerry Dipoto , did not stand pat during the off-season, as they sought to bolster the roster with the biggest free agent acquisition on the market , with Josh Hamilton signing a multiyear deal with the Los Angeles Angels’ organization in December of 2012. Say what you will , but Mike Sciocsia , the Angels’ manager will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed , as one of the longest tenured managers , active in baseball. The team’s last postseason forays have been and came in 2009 , when the franchise went to the ALCS and in a 4-2 series’ loss to the New York Yankees. However, the franchise’s most triumphant moment came in 2002 , with the Angels’ triumph over the San Francisco Giants in a thrilling 4-3 series’ victory over the NL pennant winners of that season. I get the feeling that Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno are getting extremely impatient , especially when you take into account that over the past three seasons the franchise has spent in excess of $500 million payroll commitments , to get a meager return in that time-frame .

Josh Hamilton for his part , after a tremendous start to the season with the Texas Rangers , simply cooled off offensively , causing many to believe that the outfielder simply didn’t have the temperament to lead. The player’s acquisition by the Angels , after what was something of a protracted negotiation process with Rangers’ team President Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels . At the end of the day, a long-term deal was never a consideration for the Rangers , who felt Hamilton , apart from being injury prone, the player , repeatedly had problems concerning his sobriety and drug dependency issues. And with his acquisition by the Los Angeles Angels, it did not take Hamilton all that long to alienate his former supporters by being overly critical of the Rangers’ fan-base and their lack of loyalty to that ball-club.

If the Angels are to succeed in 2013 , then , the team’s offense will certainly have to be far more productive than they were in 2012 , and the pitching and defense will have to be top caliber , if they are to have any semblance of success as a cohesive unit .

Considered to be among the favorites, this upcoming season within the AL for the pennant as well the World Series . I do believe for the Angels this season , all roads leading to the title will have to go through either the Texas Rangers or the Detroit Tigers . Those two teams given their balance , I believe could and should be contesting the AL pennant in 2013. And while there are proponents out there for the always competitive New York Yankees , I am not so sure that the famed franchise , given their aging core roster , will be fully equipped to take down the might of either of the aforementioned teams.

If the Angels are to succeed in 2013 , then , the team’s offense will certainly have to be far more productive than they were in 2012 , and the pitching and defense will have to be top caliber , if they are to have any semblance of success as a cohesive unit .

Considered to be among the favorites, this upcoming season within the AL for the pennant as well the World Series . I do believe for the Angels this season , all roads leading to the title will have to go through either the Texas Rangers or the Detroit Tigers . Those two teams given their balance , I believe could and should be contesting the AL pennant in 2013. And while there are proponents out there for the always competitive New York Yankees , I am not so sure that the famed franchise , given their aging core roster , will be fully equipped to take down the might of either of the aforementioned teams.

As an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves , with the retirement of future Hall of Famer , Chipper Jones , it will be interesting to see which of the players on the roster will now assume the role of the leader of this team . GM Frank Wren and team President John Scheurholz have seen fit to be prudent in their off-season acquisitions and that was most the case with organization acquiring BJ Upton and his younger sibling Justin Upton via a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks .

Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff will be looking to have his team prepared for the regular season , and most certainly they will be using their preseason schedule to assess the makeup of their roster , with that of their none roster invitees , and budding prospects they deem ready to be part of their everyday lineup. The ball club has gotten off to an inauspicious start having lost the first two games of their preseason schedule. Game one was 2-1 loss to the Tigers , with a subsequent 8-3 defeat at the hands of the Yankees. The team on Sunday , will play the Pittsburgh Pirates , in a game staged in Bradenton , Florida .

Going forward a great deal will be expected of this team , and most certainly from the Upton brothers , as they join a select group of siblings to have played in MLB at the same time , either as teammates or as opponents . That asides , the infancy of the season, should provide us with little to gauge the overall the competitiveness of the teams , at the start of their schedules.

If the baseball gods are watching over the game this season , then hopefully they will be watching the minnows within the game . As I alluded to earlier, they are the bottom feeders , who are simply left to either feast or famine , by way of the scraps left at the table . There are those who would suggest that baseball has real parity by way of the postseason and the participants there each season . From my own perspective , nothing could be further from the truth , because in essence , the majority of the entrants tend to be some of the high salaried teams we have grown accustomed to seeing .

The Atlanta Braves’ regular season schedule will begin on the 1st April , 2013 when the team will play host to the Philadelphia Phillies , in a two game series at Fulton County Stadium /Braves Ballpark in Atlanta , Georgia,.

I don’t believe that it is necessary to delve any further into problems of Alex Rodriguez and the fact that the team’s hierarchy seem completely devoid of any intelligence and how best to deal the third baseman’s continued off-field issues. Beyond that, an aging roster , a pitching staff where other than C C Sabathia , there is little to suggest that this pitching staff will be good enough to win AL East outright, and make it to the postseason . From an offensive standpoint , we know that the team will be good enough , and they will be led by Curtis Granderson , Mark Teixeira , Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter , the Yankees captain .

The Yankees’ stiffest opponents within the division could very well be provided by the Baltimore Orioles , rather than either the Tampa Bay Rays or Boston Red Sox. As the ball club seeks to reinvent itself from being a high-spending opulent franchise , the organization now seeks to be frugal. The franchise will have pared down their payroll of $197 million in 2012 , the franchise have in fact increased its payroll for 2013 to approximately $210 million for this season and roughly $3 million behind the free-wheeling Los Angeles Dodgers and their commitment of $213.455 million.

The fact that the Yankees have given up that title , in terms of team salaries , does come as a surprise , but it will not negate the fact that the franchise will this season pay in excess of $60 million in terms of baseball’s “ luxury tax”, which each season , several teams within the league pays as a surcharge , for exceeding $150 million threshold , that kicks in for the ball-clubs above the aforementioned figure. The accumulated figure is then split amongst the franchises deemed as being among the small market teams within the game. The fact that this is the sort of idiocy deemed necessary from an economic standpoint for Bud Selig to suggest that this is the best way to create a level playing field is somewhat akin to trying to make the claim the commissioner is fully cognizant as to irreparable harm caused by abusing steroids . The commissioner , continually remarks that the game has seen marked improvements in how it polices itself while seeking out the offenders within the game who continue to cheat by using banned substances to aid them in their on-field achievements . The mere fact that there are no signs of abatement and former Red Sox pitching ace Curt Schilling , states that he was asked by the then management staff , headed by Terry Francona , to use banned substances to aid him , in his recuperative measures, while injured . Well , it would further suggest that in part , that either front office executives and team owners simply didn’t give a damn . or the mere fact that the league hierarchy itself , would knowingly turn a blind eye to such an incident. Care to offer up your thoughts on this all ?

From my own perspective , I find Curt Schilling to be a self-serving conceited and absorbed asshole , who remains a publicity seeking whore of the highest order ! As to the player himself and the idiots who believe him to be a candidate worthy of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame , please get a goddamn clue ! Why further taint that already tarnished institution any further ? Beyond that , I have nothing else further to say !

With the latest realignment which now sees the move of Houston Astros from the NL Central to the AL West . I am not so sure that the AL’s newest franchise will fare any better than they did last season , when the team ended with a league worst 55-107 record in 2012. The move to the AL West was seen as a “sweetener “ for Astros’ owner Jim Crane who purchased the franchise for $775 million, from then owner , Drayton McClane . The fact that Bud Selig seeks to once again favors the owners who in part have played their role in ruining a game that generations have come to love . Much of his however, has been led by the sheer ineptitude shown by the commissioner , the league hierarchy and the self-absorbed union and its Executive Director Michael Weiner , who in his short time, in that position , has made the limited achievements of his predecessor, Donald Fehr seem like a landmark for labor issues within the realms of sports , which in reality , and anyone who has been able view Fehr’s legacy , will know, that he has done little for the sport , and as he has recently continued to do so , in a similar role , with the NHLPA (players’ union) and their recent three-month long labor stoppage within the NHL , which saw that body realize a loss of $800 million in revenues during its lockout . Beyond that , what else can anyone say ? The relevance of the NHL ranks up there alongside fecal matter on being placed upon a wall and deemed to be art . Fuck that piece of crap and fuck the NHL ! What a joke of a sport from top to bottom !

Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow , Bo Porter and his coaching staff , I firmly believe will be in for an arduous task to get this team prepared for the regular season ! Even with their preseason foray , I still believe that the Astros will struggle even within this environment , as a precursor to their regular season schedule . The chances of the Houston Astros even coming close to challenging any of the habitants within the AL West , given the all-round proficiency said to be on view , will be remote at best. The team’s best player J D Martinez , will have to go a long way reproducing the form exhibited in 2012 , but clearly the franchise believes that the player to be the face of the organization for years to come . Martinez and his teammates will have a great deal prove if they are to be taken seriously as a legitimate contender within the AL this season .

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Picture gallery . (By clicking on a frame you can view that picture in new formatted size)

With baseball’s schedule now in its infancy by way of the Spring Training Schedule , these games cannot necessarily be seen as a precursor to regular season itself , but it may well provide us with one or two surprises by way of players one could expect to see as being dominant throughout much of 2013. Your thoughts on this and anything else you believe relevant on the subject matter ? Do chime in with your thoughts , and thanks as always for your continued support of this site as it is greatly appreciated !

Picture and slideshow details below.
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(1)Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper waits to take batting practice during a spring training baseball workout in Viera, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. The young Nationals’ phenom hopes to reproduce the form shown for the team of last season , as they seek to fortify their position within the National League . AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack …

(2) New York Mets non-roster invitee outfielder Marlon Byrd (6) slides in with a run past Washington Nationals catcher Chris Snyder (7) on an RBI single by Jordany Valdespin during the fourth inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in a game played between the two NL East residents . AP Photo/Julio Cortez …

(3) Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly , left, and Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura talk before an exhibition spring training baseball game in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. AP Photo/Paul Sancya …

(4) Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham , left, tags Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier out trying to steal second base in the second inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

(5) Detroit Tigers’ Prince Fielder , right, greets third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) after his home run during the third inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in Lakeland, Fla. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall…

(6) Los Angeles Angels’ Mark Trumbo , left to right, Mike Trout , Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton pose for photographers during photo day before a spring training baseball workout Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, in Tempe, Ariz. Angels’ manager Mike Sciocsia and GM Jerry DiPoto are hoping that the acquisition will provide more potency to the team’s lineup as well as their defensive capability as they hope to mount a more successful challenge within the AL West this season , which sees the arrival of the Houston Astros as the division’s newest arrival . AP Photo/Morry Gash …

(7) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran throws during the first inning of a baseball spring training exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall …..

(8) Pittsburgh Pirates’ Clint Barmes , right, celebrates with Gaby Sanchez , left, after hitting a home run during the fifth inning of a baseball spring training exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. The Pirates would defeat the Braves 9-2 . AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall …

(9) Newly acquired Braves’ outfielder BJ Upton is seen here with the team’s GM Frank Wren . The player an unrestricted free agent , was signed to a five-year $72.5 million deal , that sees him joining his younger sibling Justin Upton , who was> acquired in a multi-player trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks during the off-season by the ambitious Atlanta Braves . The franchise might now posses one of the best outfields in all of Major League Baseball if you care to peruse the team’s depth chart and everyday lineup . AP Photo/ Chris Morrison …

(10) From left to right , Braves’ GM Frank Wren , Justin Upton , center , and the team’s manager , Fredi Gonzalez . With the pairing of the siblings , the Upton brothers will join a select fraternity of brothers to have either played as teammates or as opponents over the course of baseball history . Upton gifted athlete and prodigious talent , will undoubtedly make the Atlanta Braves a great deal better, as a defensive unit and his productivity , by way of his offense should prove to be an added bonus for the team this upcoming season . AP Photo Chris Morrison …..

(11) Houston Astros’ new manager Bo Porter , right, with owner Jim Crane , answers questions during a news conference, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Houston. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan …

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Alchemist ……. ” Hold U Down ”

It’s not just practice , athleticism , it is also about character , character, character and integrity ….

It’s not just practice , athleticism , it is also about character , character, character and integrity .
….

By Tophatal

If you don’t believe character plays a part, in the determination of a player or should I say an athlete’s status , then think again . So much of what I’ve read by patrons within this domain, simply veers around ability , rather than looking at other innate intangibles . If one tends to overlook character and integrity in the belief that also isn’t a desired trait in an athlete , then that front office executive along with the coaching staffs in question , are liable to end up with egg on their face .

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Throughout the years teams within the MLB , NBA , NFL and NHL have made costly blunders by way of their draft choices by simply going after what they believe to be a great athlete , rather than looking at a number of other intangibles . With the 2013 NFL Draft set for April , from the 22nd to the 24th , it will be interesting to see how those teams go about making their choices as it relates to the franchises’ needs at the time . Already, there seems to concerns over a number of players and their presumed status . Perhaps, no more so, than it relates to Notre Dame defensive player and Heisman Trophy candidate finalist , Manti Te`o.

As good as Te’o was said to be for the Fighting Irish during the season , undoubtedly, it was the player’s apparent off the field issues that brought more attention and his claims that he was duped into an online relationship with a female he had never met, Lennay Kekua, whom he insisted was his girlfriend . Having come forward to profess his love for this female , Manti Te’o would then go on to inform us of the untimely death of his grandmother , and then, that of his girlfriend. What we now know , is that the whole episode as it related to Kekua, and played out chronologically, was false and littered with a great deal of perception on the part of the perpetrator and by Manti Te’o , who for some apparent reason, chose to play along with this charade . The individual in question, who engineered this deception, was a male admirer of the Notre Dame Player. Roniaoh Tuiasasopo, a closeted homosexual, claimed that his intent was simply to get the athlete reciprocate what he felt was a reciprocal emotional affinity with the athlete . Yeah , that’s the sort of horse-#hit you tend to read about when there’s said to be a psychologically imbalanced individual on the loose . ” I want him to love me , but , he doesn’t know I’m male and not female ” !

Notre Dame AD , Jack Swarbrick , jumped to the defense of the athlete without ever apparently obtaining a full explanation from Manti Te’o , as to his original statements about his now apparent imaginary girlfriend. Te’o , a defensive lineman and linebacker for Notre Dame, is thought to be a consensus top ten pick in the upcoming NFL Draft . . If Teo’s actions are not seen as a sign of the player’s lack of credibility and integrity , then can someone advise me, what is ? Because , with the young Irish player now claiming that his actions should not affect his draft status , as he should be judged purely by his accomplishments on the field .Granted , Manti Te’o was very good for his team throughout much of the season , but when it mattered most , both the player , team and coaching staff were simply nowhere to be seen , as Alabama , literally blew their opponents of the field in the BCS national title game with a rather embarrassingly lopsided 42-14 victory .

If Teo’s actions are not seen as a sign of the player’s lack of credibility and integrity , then can someone advise me, what is ? Because , with the young Irish player now claiming that his actions should not affect his draft status , as he should be judged purely by his accomplishments on the field .Granted , Manti Te’o was very good for his team throughout much of the season , but when it mattered most , both the player team and coaching staff were simply nowhere to be seen as Alabama , literally blew their opponents of the field in the BCS national title game with a rather embarrassingly lopsided 42-14 victory .

I do believe that Manti Te’o is likely to be a first round draft pick in this upcoming NFL Draft . However, the question remains , which team is likely to take this young man , given his lack of maturity , but yet, his undoubted skills ? We know that several franchises around the NFL are desperate for NFL defensive help , and at a wide variety of positions , beyond linebacker . At the end of the day, it will be left to the general managers and head coaches , to come to a decision which will undoubtedly have far-reaching ramifications for their long-term ambitions, no matter which way one seeks to look at this situation .

Well the “culling “ has begun in the NFL as teams seek to gain some exposure and placed themselves in a healthy position under the proposed NFL salary cap , which is likely to be in the region of $126.5 million for the upcoming season . And for several franchises , this may well mean having to rid themselves of several high-priced veterans , who are deemed no longer productive , or simply beyond the fact that their salaries are too much of a cap-burden , as they prepare for the upcoming draft.

Well, the story that was, and is, the New York Jets , shows no signs of abating . The newly appointed general manager, John Idzik , having succeeded. Within the franchise’s front office . Idzik , has remained tight- lipped , as to the immediate future of the team’s Pro Bowl corner-back Darrell Revis , and whether or not the player will be placed on the trading block. Yet, it appears that Tim Tebow’s future with the franchise , is now all but certain , that the player will be part of the cotillion of players who will be shown the door .

A disaster filled season for the Jets, was further evidence of the fact that Rex Ryan , as the head coach , had lost control of the team , was simply unsure of what his best lineup would be from week to week , never-mind the fact , he had no means of telling how diabolical a player , Mark Sanchez would continue to be over the course of the season , where indeed the starting quarterback was among the league’s worst performers at the position throughout much of 2012 .

Backups , Greg McElroy and Tebow , used in whatever ways thought up by then , offensive coordinator, Tony Sparano , was simply another indication as to how bereft of creativity the coaching staff just happened to be , but the mere fact that Ryan , himself, would continue to make excuses for the team’s poor performances , without ever once holding his players accountable . That pretty much summed up the entire Jets’ season , without adding to the fact, that team owner Woody Johnson chose to “ cry foul” , by stating that he was pressured into acquiring Tebow , by his front office, against his own reservations , which somehow , he just failed to communicate with former general manager , Mike Tannenbaum , who along with Rex Ryan , were the original proponents of what has now described, as one of the “more asinine trades” in recent NFL history . can’t say, that I would disagree with that statement at all ! As to where Tim Tebow’s future may well lay , is anyone really overly concerned at this juncture ? .

Riddle me this, name the NFL franchise which in this past season was amongst the worst performing defensive teams in NFL history ? If you guessed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , New York Giants , Tennessee Titans , New England Patriots or the Jacksonville Jaguars , you not be that far off in your estimation . The answer is , none other than the New Orleans Saints , who gave up a monstrous 440.1 yards per game which ranked the beleaguered franchise last among the NFL’s thirty-two teams. That figure equates to just over 7,000 yards over the course of a sixteen game schedule , and a record in NFL history.

The impasse between Roger Goodell , the Saints’ players , the NFLPA (union) , their animus towards the league hierarchy’s handling of the now infamous ” Saints’ Bounty” scandal , speaks volumes as to why the NFL commissioner has far too much power, in terms of his authority within the hierarchical setup of the league entity . And even with the rescinding of the suspensions of the four players centered within this scandal, you still get the feeling that this whole episode is far from over ! Saints’ defensive player, Jonathan Vilma , has yet to stop his legal action , pursuant of the NFL and Goodell , in which as a plaintiff, in his lawsuit at the Federal level for slander , libel , and defamation of character , for which he is said to be seeking punitive damages. Vilma , if anything has right to seek recourse in such a manner , as from the very outset Roger Goodell set out to be antagonistic , rather than being impartial , as the league’s investigators gathered their evidence , in some cases by dubious and surreptitious means. As defendants in this case , the commissioner and the NFL as a whole, have now either to, publicly issue some form of an apology to the player, or seek to settle this matter out of court.

Away from those legal issues , it would be fair to say , that in spite of the injuries , it would be fair to say that the New Orleans Saints had an underwhelming season , falling far short a number analysts and fans’ expectations . The fact that the team failed to make the postseason , falling short and completely out of contention not only within the NFC South, but also within the NFC , casts a giant shadow their 2012 sojourn. The franchise’s coaching staff at times , used a plethora of excuses for the team’s lackluster performances during the season.

With head coach , Sean Payton , having been reinstated ,after his year-long suspension mandated by the league , he recently re-signed with the franchise , “inking” a five-year deal , worth north of $42.5 million , including performance based, incentives and bonuses . That deal would make Payton amongst the highest paid head coaches in the NFL , ranking him alongside Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks , Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots .

As I alluded to earlier, the Saints’ biggest concerns were with their defensive corps , but yet, there was evidence there to suggest , that the team’s once prolific offense of recent years had now began to splutter , rather badly . Those issues I believe will be addressed in this upcoming NFL Draft by Sean Payton and the front office staff , headed by general manager , Mickey Loomis ! Last season , the franchise was expedient in addressing their needs , in a variety of positions, as they availed themselves of the talent available in that particular NFL Draft (2012).

For this upcoming draft , before anything is actually done , I believe that there will be some rather expedient decisions that will have to be made, as to the franchise’s salary cap issues as it relates to the team’s payroll ($138.6 million). The team will need to pare down , just off over $25 million to place themselves in a comfortable position to either re-sign a number of their impending free agents or pursue free agents in the open market , as well as meet their obligatory needs , as it relates to their payroll for the upcoming season based on the league mandated cap. Teams such as the Saints will be under the gun , as by 3:00 PM , Eastern Standard Time( EST), today , general managers around the league, will have to come to a decision, as to the contracts of their impending free agents , and whether or not to cut them or simply seek to re-sign at a lower base salary. “Capologists” , will now come into play as they seek to make a name for themselves inside of their respective front offices. In the lead-up to the NFL Draft they might just be amongst the most important employees inside an NFL franchise , as they are able to do from a financial standpoint can go a long way in saving a franchise tens of millions of dollars over a three or four-year time-frame .

Gainful employment sought, unwilling applicants need not apply. Yes, these are now the deafening tones now being heard across the entire NFL landscape. Can someone explain to me why Brandon Jacobs would seek to talk himself out of what was thought to be a fruitful position with the San Francisco 49ers ? It now appears all but certain , that the running back will be jettisoned by the Forty Niners’ front office headed by GM Trent Baalke. The franchise has already began with a slew of moves as they seek to create a comfortable enough cap space , before they embark on their off-season moves. One of the other much-discussed scenarios , has been that of the future of the team’s starting quarterback in the earlier part of 2012 , Alex Smith .

Having lost his starting spot , to understudy , Colin Kaepernick , who would then go on to guide the franchise to the NFC championship game and then on to a thrilling Superbowl 47 (SBXLVII) loss to the eventual champions, the Baltimore Ravens . The consensus seems to be that Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh may well seek to gauge the interest of any vested parties seeking to gain a veteran quarterback. From my own perspective , I believe that it would be in the Forty Niners’ best interest to retain Smith , rather than allowing the player to leave via a trade . The player, still has two years remaining, on a three-year $24 million contract , of which he is owed $15 million, and wherein , he is due to become a free agent in 2015 .

I certainly do not believe, any NFL franchise can operate competitively without a standout backup quarterback in the league today ! Doubt my word? Then simply look around at the depth chart of the franchises within the NFL and peruse the rosters of the teams in question and the backup quarterbacks at the coaches’ disposal.

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Picture gallery .

I certainly do not believe, any NFL franchise can operate competitively without a standout backup quarterback in the league today ! Doubt my word? Then simply look around at the depth chart of the franchises within the NFL and peruse the rosters of the teams in question and the backup quarterbacks at the coaches’ disposal.

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Picture gallery slideshow details below .
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(1) Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide (L), and head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish talk before the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on January 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Alabama would go on to defeat Notre Dame 42-14 in a lopsided and embarrassing defeat for the then, number one ranked team in the nation . The win , garnered Saban his fourth BCS national title as a head coach of a college program. Gettty Images /Kevin C. Cox ….

(2) Manti Te’o (5) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish warms up prior to playing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on January 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The player throughout much of the Irish’s strove to fight off questions concerning his sexuality , in the aftermath of it being revealed that the alleged female he was said to be involved , in a relationship , never existed . Ronaioh Tuiasasopo , a closeted homosexual with unrequited love fomented a charade , which somehow Te’o chose to play along with , even after revelations were made that Lennay Kua was never existed . Much ado about nothing ? Or simply the possibility of a high-profiled athlete not wishing to reveal a taboo in testosterone driven sport of college football, ” where a man must be and reveal , he is a man ” . Quite frankly , there has to be male athletes within the college game and NFL who are definitely gay , but who are simply too afraid to reveal their sexuality because of the stigma that is still attached to the lifestyle within collegiate and professional sports amongst male athletes . Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann …..

(3) Linebacker Manti Te’o of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish works out at IMG Academy on January 23, 2013 in Bradenton, Florida. Te’o is considered a top-ten consensus pick amongst the line-backers declaring their eligibility for the upcoming NFL Draft (2013) . Getty Images / J Meric ….

(4) New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. The beleaguered head coach faces, and will be , under a great deal of pressure to resurrect the fortunes of a franchise that had a disappointing season (7-9) within the AFC East , having failed to make the postseason . With their being upheaval , within the front office , with the removal of former GM , Mike Tannenbaum , to be replaced by John Idzik who would then subsequently relieve offensive coordinator , Tony Sparano of his position. As if to complicate matters further there still remains the uncertain future of quarterback Tim Tebow , as the Jets seek to revamp their roster . AP Photo/Michael Conroy ….

(5) John Idzik talks to the media during an NFL football news conference introducing him as the new new general manager of the New York Jets, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in Florham Park , NJ,. AP Photo/ Julio Cortez ….

(6) John Idzik, center, reacts while standing next to New York Jets owner Woody Johnson , left, and head coach Rex Ryan during an NFL football news conference introducing Idzik as the team’s new general manager, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in Florham Park , N.J. AP Photo/Julio …

(7)FILE – In this Dec. 12, 2012 file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell smiles during a news conference after the NFL owners meeting in Irving, Texas. Roger Goodell was paid $29.49 million by NFL owners in 2011, nearly triple his compensation from the previous year. Goodell earned $11.6 million in 2010. Throughout much of 2012 , the commissioner very much had antagonistic and contentious relationship with the New Orleans Saints’ organization , as well as with the NFLPA (union) . All, in all , after the rescinding of the suspension of four players , said to be involved in the Saints’ Bounty scandal , it should be acknowledged that Goodell has seen his once autocratic power diminish , somewhat . Of further embarrassment to Roger Goodell , has been his complete failure to enact the HGH testing protocols that had been agreed to , between the NFLPA and the league hierarchy. The commissioner insists that the edict will be carried out , but the never-ending delays have now drawn the attention of Congress’ House Oversight & Government Reform Committee as well as the Senate Commerce Committee and that of Senate Judiciary Committee . Having given to testimony to the congressional committees in question , it now clearly shows how incompetent the tenure of Roger Goodell has been since he succeeded Paul Tagliabue in 2007. AP Photo / L M Otero …

(8) Mickey Loomis , executive vice president/general manager of the New Orleans Saints, talks with Saints head coach Sean Payton, right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Phoenix Suns in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. AP Photo/Bill Haber …..

(9) San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick (7) and Alex Smith (11) talk on the sideline late in the fourth quarter of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …

(10) Brandon Jacobs of the San Francisco 49ers in seen here during a game played at Candlestick Park , in San Francisco , California ,. The veteran running back has somehow managed to talk himself out of a job with the franchise , after his continued sniping at the coaching staff and front office at his not being given enough playing time under the staff of head coach Jim Harbaugh. The player has since been cut by the franchise , with his immediate future somewhat uncertain. In an ironic turn of events, Jacobs’ former Superbowl winning teammate with the New York Giants , Ahmad Bradshaw was also let go by that franchise for salary cap reasons . AP Photo/ Mark Pettigrew …. ==========================================

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NFL news and news from around the league

NFL archived stories

NFL transactions

NFL free agents

NFL team salaries

NFL Draft 2013 & 2013 NFL Draft order

NFL Combine and news therein

NFL postseason results

NFL standings (division)

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New York Jets news

New Orleans Saints news

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NCAA football & College Football news

Notre Dame Football news

NFL Draft top prospects by position

Quarterbacks running backs —- wide receiver —- tight-end

corner-back —- defensive tackle

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Thao-Annie

That’s a hot piece of Asian-American ” persuasion ” Annie Thao .

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Reflection Eternal ….. Move Somethin’

And then , there was one ………

And then there was one

By Tophatal

At a time when the world of sports is embroiled in the idiocy of steroids and the protocols for testing and specifically that of HGH , steroids and all manner of PED’s . Once again, baseball (MLB) finds itself in a mess, one of its own making. Three major stars of the game find their names linked to a story printed in a local Florida newspaper , Miami New Times, which has now gone national. The story in question, is that of the paper’s reporting that Alex Rodriguez , Nelson Cruz and Ryan Braun are all embroiled in the latest allegations of the three players being linked to a Coral Gables’ based medical concern , which produces synthetic supplements, such as steroids known to be banned by the four major professional team sports in North America . Biogenesis , a company, founded by Anthony Bosch , is at the center of this latest controversy that remains a constant within the game , and for which baseball’s hierarchy led by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig seems to have no answer for .

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The triumvirate of players have all denied their culpability and involvement , but herein lies the issue , both Braun and Rodriguez have been embroiled in their own episodes and the use of steroids . Alex Rodriguez’s own admittance of his use of anabolic steroids between 2001 and 2004 , when he was a player with the Texas Rangers before being traded to the New York Yankees , makes his recent denials , all the more improbable. And with Rodriguez’s performances for the franchise during that time can be best described as being erratic and lackluster . And 2012 most definitely has been a reminder of that , albeit , that the player can now claim that he has been part of a championship winning team in 2009. In the subsequent years, since that triumph, the postseason for the New York Yankees has been something of a complete anathema .

Courtesy of Miami New Times

A Miami Clinic Supplies Drugs to Sports’ Biggest Names ….

See also : The A-Rod files , Every mention of the Yankees’ slugger in Tony Bosch’s records

By Tim Elfrink , Miami New Times

Open the neat spreadsheet and scroll past the listing of local developers, prominent attorneys, and personal trainers. You’ll find a lengthy list of nicknames: Mostro, Al Capone, El Cacique, Samurai, Yukon, Mohammad, Felix Cat, and D.R.

Then check out the main column, where their real names flash like an all-star roster of professional athletes with Miami ties: San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland A’s hurler Bartolo Colón, pro tennis player Wayne Odesnik, budding Cuban superstar boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz. There’s even the New York Yankees’ $275 million man himself, Alex Rodriguez, who has sworn he stopped juicing a decade ago.

See also: “The A Rod Files: Every Mention of the Yankees Slugger in Tony Bosch’s Records”

“The Melky Files: All the Mentions of Melky Cabrera in Tony Bosch’s Records”

“The Tony Bosch Files: Nelson Cruz, Yasmani Grandal, Wayne Odesnik, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Yasmani Grandal, Jimmy Goins and Yuri Sucart’s Records”

Read further and you’ll find more than a dozen other baseball pros, from former University of Miami ace Cesar Carrillo to Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal to Washington Nationals star Gio Gonzalez. Notable coaches are there too, including UM baseball conditioning guru Jimmy Goins.

The names are all included in an extraordinary batch of records from Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic tucked into a two-story office building just a hard-line drive’s distance from the UM campus. They were given to New Times by an employee who worked at Biogenesis before it closed last month and its owner abruptly disappeared. The records are clear in describing the firm’s real business: selling performance-enhancing drugs, from human growth hormone (HGH) to testosterone to anabolic steroids.

Interviews with six customers and two former employees corroborate the tale told by the patient files, the payment records, and the handwritten notebooks kept by the clinic’s chief, 49-year-old Anthony Bosch.

Bosch’s history with steroids also adds credence to the paperwork. The son of a prominent Coral Gables physician named Pedro Publio Bosch , he was connected with banned substances when slugger Manny Ramirez was suspended for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy in 2009. At the time, MLB confirmed the Drug Enforcement Administration was probing the father and son for allegedly providing Ramirez with HCG, a compound often used at the tail end of steroid cycles.

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For Ryan Braun , with his legal counsel, now making a statement to indicate their client was simply a consultant for Biogenesis , with a view to endorsing a number of their supplemental products. Far be it for me to suggest , but Braun now suggesting that his involvement the company came purely from a commercial enterprise and as an endorser , does on the face of it seem asinine , but this might be simply be beyond belief . Now comes the hard part , can Ryan Braun’s career be taken at face value , and be seen as above reproach ? A former NL MVP , in 2011 , And while that season , Braun was very productive , 2012 was said to be far more productive for the t player .

Alex Rodriguez will be missing from the Yankees’ lineup for the greater part of the 2013 season , further making their offense not impervious to several weaknesses , as exhibited during the regular and postseason .

The New York Yankees this upcoming season will be hard pressed I believe, to deal with a number of their fellow inhabitants of the AL East . And much that is predicated upon the results of 2012 and their postseason results , which to my mind will be a strong reflection as to the mental makeup of this team for their 2013 schedule . Also when you add in the fact that the team’s short-stop , and on the field inspirational leader , Derek Jeter , will be returning after recuperation , from having suffered a broken right ankle, he during the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers of 2012 . One , could well understand why , this team will be placed under a great deal of pressure to succeed . With an aging core of players , Joe Girardi and his coaching staff , I believe , will not be too sure , as to what his best lineup will be ! Unsure of who is starting catcher will be , he also has to deal with the fact that beyond CC Sabathia , his pitching staff is extraordinarily thin , and one should also bear in mind that closer , Mariano River , as good as we have known him to be , his psyche may well still be up in the air, after last season’s horrendous injury that curtailed his season .

Rivera one of the Yankees’ mainstays during their success in the latter half of the nineties , has proven himself to be one of the truly great pitchers in the franchise’s history. This could very well be, Rivera’s last season in the famed Yankee’s pinstripes, and I am sure that baseball’s all-time saves’ King , simply would like nothing better than to ride out in a “ blaze of glory” , having won a sixth World Series title with the only franchise he has ever played for . Whether or not he and his teammates can recapture the form , that made them such a dominant force within the game , from 1995 through to the early 2000’s, remains to be seen. . I would like to think that throughout much of this season , the Yankees could possibly regain that form of old . Yet , when one bears in mind the collective age and experience of Jeter , Rivera , Hiroki Kuroda , Andy Pettite , Ichiro Suzuki Alex Rodriguez and Travis Hafner . You can’t help but get the feeling , that that this team is now in the last remnants of being truly competitive , while chasing after what appear to be an elusive title that to my mind will be beyond their grasp !

In light of the allegations arising out of the Miami Times’ article, as it relates to Nelson Cruz. No formal statement has been forthcoming from team President Nolan Ryan , GM Jon Daniels or from Ron Washington , who leads the Texas Rangers’ coaching staff. And with Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy not prepared to take tentative measures of their own to conduct any form of an investigation. It does lead me to believe, that the commissioner , is not prepared to issue a public statement, even with their being a preponderance of evidence to suggest that there is some veracity to the claims being laid out in the article .

There is a great deal of backpedaling on the part of the league hierarchy , more of than not, as to how they set about making a case that they are cleaning up the sport , when the questions are raised ____ ” as to why it is, we have seen a preponderance of players being ensnared over the last two seasons “ than were caught when the findings of the “ Mitchell Report” was leaked to the public , a number of seasons ago. Subsequently , it has been one ” mea-culpa ” after another, with the game and the league hierarchy made to look like complete imbeciles ! Personally , I find it all the more appealing when the game of baseball is brought further on its knees in subjugation , because it has never really truly sought to define itself, much less make any type of effort to clean up its act ! .

The social experiment that came about with Jackie Robinson becoming the first person of color , to be a participant as a player in Major League Baseball , while commendable . History , and baseball historians , tend to gloss over the fact that Robinson was often the subject of some vile racial epithets , not just from opposing players , managers and fans , but also in certain areas of the print media , under the pretense that his abilities were over exaggerated and that his color would be an impediment to his becoming a success in the game . Over time , the game would come to know Jackie Robinson as being extremely talented , a man of principle who served the game well as a great ambassador . And even though with his enshrinement into Baseball’s Hall of Fame , and with their being a day annually which commemorates his introduction as a player , it was still not enough to hide the fact that on the night (11th April, 1974) of Hank Aaron surpassing what was then Babe Ruth’s career and baseball’s home run record of 715 home runs . Aaron was made to feel “ like a man without a country “, as he was vilified and subjected to death threats for achieving such a feat by a number of ignorant buffoons ! Granted , in the immediate moments in which he had surpassed that mark , some fans who ran unto the diamond in Atlanta Stadium , Atlanta Georgia , swathed Hank Aaron in adulation , yet in various circles this feat was viewed as something of an atrocity , with the breaking of a sacrosanct , record which was held by a known bigot at the time .

For the first time in almost a decade, the New York Yankees , will not be the team entering the season with baseball’s highest payroll . That honor , if you view it as such , will belong to the free-wheeling and high spending Los Angeles Dodgers . They will have more than doubled the team’s payroll of last season which stood at , just over $95 million . On Opening Day , 31st March , 2013 , the Los Angeles Dodgers’ payroll will be a new MLB record of $213.245 million , far outstripping their closest rivals , the New York Yankees , by a clear $3 million . As to what this now says about the financial state and the overall economic health of baseball , I will let you be the judge of that ! Suffice to say , that the minnows at the bottom end of the food chain , will be left to fight for the scraps that will undoubtedly be left at the table . And to realize how great the disparity will be , the Oakland A’s will have the league’s smallest payroll at $60 million on Opening Day .

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Dodgers’ $6B-$7B TV deal will widen chasm between MLB’s rich and poor

By Jeff Passan , Yahoo Sports

Everyone knew the number would be big. Major League Baseball hates involving the legal system, and it went to court for the number. A team sold for more than $2 billion because of the number. A management group went on a drunken-sailor payroll escapade anticipating the number.

Now we know the number. Big doesn’t begin to describe it.

Dangerous does.

The Dodgers’ ownership group will have even more reason to smile with their new TV deal. (AP)Over the next 25 years, Fox is going to pay the Los Angeles Dodgers somewhere between $6 billion and $7 billion to televise its regular-season games, barring a last-minute snafu in negotiations, according to Deadline.com. That’s twice the previous record for local TV rights. That’s at least a quarter-billion dollars a year for the Dodgers and Dodgers alone. That’s maxing out at $1.73 million a game for each of the 4,050 scheduled. That’s the final tummy tuck on a body’s worth of cosmetic surgery that could happen only in Los Angeles.

Most of all, that’s the siren that baseball’s new era has arrived, one in which the sport’s best revenue-sharing intentions cannot save it from the self-cannibalizing greed that drives these TV mega-contracts – and drives a wedge between the haves and have-nots harder to extract than sword from stone.

[Also: Royals willing to part with top prospect to land starting pitcher]

When the deal closes, the Dodgers will make more money from local TV alone than 26 franchises take in from all of their revenue streams. Only the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs do better, according to Forbes’ annual franchise valuations, though they’ll soon be joined by the Angels, Rangers and Phillies. The first two have their own $3 billion TV deals; the Phillies are set to cash in on their own that will keep them in the sport’s top stratum.

This goes well beyond the surface concerns about such deals. The justifiable anger toward regional sports networks (RSNs) and leagues for forcing the average consumer to subsidize their absurdity. The way such deals force MLB, to keep its asinine local blackouts in place. (If MLB offers a-la-carte games or allows local broadcasts on the Extra Innings package, the incentive to pay stupid prices for cable channels would wane, and the size of these contracts would atrophy.) And even the possibility of that – of a revolution against cable and satellite, and of these RSNs’ bubble bursting, the prices too big and the consumers no longer willing to support them.

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For the first time in baseball history, team payrolls for Major League Baseball (MLB) , as a cumulative sum , the figure will top $3 billion ($3,000,000,000) for all thirty teams within the league . Financial disparities, or not, the game of baseball has now hit a plateau of unprecedented heights. As to how long his perennial madness will be allowed to go carry on , as teams continue to hemorrhage red ink remains to be seen , but is clear, that something has to be and must be done </b , sooner , rather than later ! If not , then we shall sure see the death knell in a team or several teams either being contracted or being forced to declare bankruptcy , and then ceasing to operate once and for all . Bud Selig can point to the fact that revenues have increased exponentially , but what he cannot point to , is that the game does operate on a level playing field for all , in terms of financial expediency . It should be noted, that teams who have barely eked out a profit , specifically those designated as small market teams, have done so at the largesse of the league hierarchy and that of its asinine tax sharing scheme rather than anything being achieved by way of the “alleged financial acumen” being shown by the general managers , CFO’s (Chief Financial Officers) , and team owners . Personally, I am now sick and tired of hearing idiotic fans point to the likes of , Bob Nutting , David Glass and Stuart Sternberg doing all that they can , to make their teams a real success , when it reality, all that owners like that have done , is to simply look for a handout , while trying to coerce city and state governments to allow them even greater tax breaks, in order that they can operate . Never mind the fact , that due to the complacency and idiocy of the politicians at those specific levels , through their damn naïveté` , they are then left carrying the bag , when their fiscal policies show a budgetary shortfall , and the lame ass fans out there , continue to bitch and whine about their taxes and lack of infrastructure resources within their midst . You simply deserve what you get , in such instances !

It will be interesting to witness how Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly and his staff , manage not only a talented team , but also one that is filled with laden prima donnas and miscreants . Don’t be fooled by the fact that because of the team’s new ownership group led by Magic Johnson , Mark Walter and Todd S Boehly , that everything will be smooth sailing , because over the course of this upcoming season , there is bound to be moments of discontent and blame being apportioned all over this organization. Big things are expected of this ball club once Opening Day comes around . With a $213 million payroll , would you expect any-less ?

The Dodgers’ Opening Day Schedule will see them , begin a three-game home series at Dodgers Ballpark , in Los Angeles , against reigning World Series champions , the San Francisco Giants on the 1st April , 2013, and it should provide the fans of both teams a chance to gauge the possible strengths and weaknesses of both of these ball clubs in the season’s infancy.

Inasmuch , as I love the game of baseball , my biggest concerns are , how will the game continue to address the issue of steroid abuse ? And also , with the league hierarchy, now fully behind the mandatory testing for HGH (human growth hormones) , how will they deal with very first instance of a player , having tested positive ? In reality, as harsh as the penalties appear to be , as designated Bud Selig, they have not in any way proven to be enough of a deterrent, to force players from and to stop cheating , by way of using an illicit substance . Selig can continue speak with a great deal of charm and rhetoric , but at $25 million , as he is being compensated annually. He has simply been a poor executive , whose idea of being innovative , has simply been to throw fecal matter up against a wall , and then go with what sticks , as an idea of innovation ! Should we expect any better from someone who has now held that position for almost two decades ?

What to make of the Chicago Cubs , as they seek to escape another year of infamy and sheer ineptitude ? One year in , and GM Theo Epstein , is still trying make sense of what he has, by way a team roster . Spring Training , with the none roster invitees , acquired free agent veterans and what is said to be a young team at its core with one or two overly priced players should give the front office executive , manager Dale Sveum and the coaching staff , a chance to gauge how good this ball club can be .

A fourth place finish last season in the NL Central with a record 61-101 , where they managed to beat out the Houston Astros (55-107) in not finishing last within the division , is clearly enough of an indicator to let you know how bad the Cubs continue to be . This is a team that is devoid of leadership on the field , and wherein the manager , Dale Sveum , seems to be either consulting a book entitled “ Managing Baseball Teams for Dummies “ revised edition . Or the manager is simply letting his players hold sway, in making decisions as to the team’s play. And with the Astros now making the move to the AL West, are we going to be in with a chance of seeing the Chicago Cubs this season , finish once again on the bottom rung of the NL Central ladder ? These are some of the more interesting stories that we could very well see unfold for the franchise over the course of the season .

One of the more interesting stories now coming out of Wrigley Field in Chicago , is that of owner , Tom Ricketts seeking increase the club’s television revenues . After six decades of their association with broadcast partners WGN , which is in part owned by the Cubs , with the majority stake held by cable giant Comcast. It would now seem that Ricketts will either seek to divest himself of the franchise’s minority stake in WGN , while seeking out new broadcast partners within the local market or quite possibly looking for a commercial tie-in with one of the nation’s larger television broadcast concerns . Given the hefty price that will be sought , I seriously doubt that a local affiliate will tie themselves in with the Cubs , in spite of their vast local following and the fact that the franchise resides in one of nation’s larger advertising markets. If a tentative deal cannot be worked out between the Chicago Cubs and WGN’s parent company , then quite possibly for the first time in sixty years , fans of the Cubs will not be able to view or listen to the teams games within the local market .

With money now being the determining factor, that can sustain the ambitions of a professional sports’ franchise , the Chicago Cubs because of their large following are but one of the few teams within baseball that can still turn a handsome profit ($28.1 million) , even within the midst of a severe economic downturn , without ever having to seek an assist from baseball’s hierarchy. It serves the franchise well, but definitely not well enough , if the franchise seeks to compete on an equal footing competitively and economically with the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies , Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL , much less the rest of baseball.

The months of April , May and June should give us an indication as to how the Chicago Cubs may well fare. By comparison, in 2012 , entering the first week of July , the team was playing sub. 500 baseball posting a mark of 32-52 (.381) , With a projected payroll of $102 million for this season , GM Theo Epstein may well seek to forgo the team’s financial expediency and acquire a number of free agents , if the team is in a divisional or a wildcard contention during the latter part of the season, will . seek to make some bold moves . If not then , the front office will seek to jettison players superfluous to their needs , while taking a look at their top prospects within their farm system .

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Picture gallery .

With players now reporting for Spring Training , and with Opening Day beckoning , in the first week of April, what do you hope to see from the teams this season within baseball ? And also do you believe that the hierarchy still remains in the best position possible, to handle any likely incident that may well occur, as it relates to a player testing positive , for a banned substance ? Chime on this , and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter , right, and Eduardo Nunez laugh during batting practice at a workout at baseball spring training, Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, in Tampa. AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(2) New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi , left, and general manager Brian Cashman talk during a workout at baseball spring training, Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, in Tampa. AP Photo/Matt Slocum …

(3) FILE – In this Oct. 14, 2012, file photo, New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out during the second inning of Game 2 of baseball’s American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers in New York. When the Yankees re-signed Rodriguez in December 2007 , they expected him to set home run records. Now some in the team’s management hope he never plays again, so much of the $114 million he’s still due can be covered by insurance. Not only is he injured, he’s at the center of performance-enhancing drug use allegations. AP Photo/Paul Sancya …..

(4) Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun waits to hit during baseball spring training Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in Phoenix. The player’s name has been linked to documents suggesting that he may well have been a recipient of PED’s from the Coral Gables’ based medical concern Biogenesis , a company founded by Anthony “Tony” Bosch. Braun’s legal counsel and agent , Nez Balelo , has stated that Ryan Braun was merely paid up endorser of a number of supplements produced and marketed by Biogenesis and in no way was his client a recipient or known conduit for the production or distribution for any illicit substances banned by MLB and its hierarchy . AP Photo/Morry Gash …

(5) Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz , right, talks to pitcher Neftali Feliz (30) during a spring training baseball workout on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in Surprise, Ariz. Cruz’s name has been linked with Coral Gables’ based medical company Biogenesis , producers of nutritional supplements and anabolic steroids . The player has denied any wrongdoing on his part . There has been no formal announcement from within the Rangers’ organization . However , it is being widely reported that GM Jon Daniels will be consulting with manager Ron Washington and team President Nolan Ryan , should there be anything that implicates the player in this latest controversy to hit Major League Baseball. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …

(6) Hall of Fame inductee Jackie Robinson is seen pictured here as a Brooklyn Dodger . On the 15th April , 1947 , Robinson became the first person of color , to play for a professional baseball team in Major League Baseball , and as a part of the then changing times within the social landscape of the country this solemn moment was seen as a “catalyst” for change . Albeit , that it was not universally looked upon in all areas of the social fabric of society. Each year , the date , 15th April ,1947 , is commemorated by MLB and has come to be known as ” Jackie Robinson Day” . The player’s number , #42, has been ” officially retired ” by the league hierarchy . And this year will mark the sixty-eighth anniversary of this now , historical landmark event within North American sports . AP /REUTTERS …. archives …

(7) Hank Aaron seen here as a Milwaukee Brave . Known as Hammerin’ Hank , over the course of his esteemed carer the Hall of Fame inductee , surpassed what was then the all time home runs’ career mark of 715 home runs held by Babe Ruth . Aaron would end his career with 755 home runs , 2997 rbi’s , career batting average of .305 , OBP .374, SLG .555 and an OPS of .929. . That figure would subsequently would be passed on 5th September , 2007 by Barry Bonds and the career home runs’ mark now stands at 762 home runs which is also acknowledged by statisticians the Elias Bureau , long seen as bastion of legitimacy for the game’s most hallowed feats . As to what this would now suggest about the bureau and the fact that the league hierarchy also recognizes this mark , does lead one to be believe that Elias, much like Bud Selig’s office, simply refuses to acknowledge that some of the game’s most hallowed marks are ” tainted” . And with Bonds’ career feats now coming into question, it would suggest that only not even the noblest of intentions cannot now refute , what fans clearly see as the game’s ridicule . MLB.com archives @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …

(8) Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager , Don Mattingly , left, is seen here with managing partner and co-owner , Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson . This season the Dodgers will have the highest Opening Day payroll in MLB history , with a figure of $213.455 million topping their closest rivals the New York Yankees by over $3 million . Cumulative salaries for the league’s 30 teams will exceed $3 billion for the very first time . Johnson has stated , that his mantra will be to …. “win at all costs , with money being of no object ” ! The regular season schedule for the Dodgers opens up with a three-day series against the San Francisco Giants , the reigning World Series champions . AP Photo / Tom Sharpe …

(9) Chicago Cubs’ general manager Theo Epstein , left is seen here with the team’s senior managing partner and owner , Tom Ricketts . The franchise now finds itself in an unenviable position, of having to renegotiate a television rights’ deal with WGN broadcast outlet , which has carried the team’s television broadcasts for six decades . As a minority owner in the outlet , Ricketts now has to deal with WGN’s parent company Comcast , who also just happen to be owners of national television broadcast and media conglomerate NBC Universal Media Inc . Getty Images North America / Philip Moore ….

(10) Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum, right, bumps fists with Matt Garza during a spring training baseball workout, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Mesa, Ariz. The Cubs will have a tough time this upcoming season , in trying to not be the “bottom feeder ” and cellar dweller within the NL Central , having just finished above the hapless Houston Astros (55-107) last season . AP Photo/Morry Gash ….

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MLB Spring Training Schedule begins 1st March , 2013

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MLB team values NB: * At the times of these figures it should be noted the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2.156 billion ($2,156,000,000) had not been yet finalized . Team values in ascending order

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen …………..

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

By Tophatal

A patron of my site tried to suggest that a the presumed leader on a renowned NBA franchise was being disingenuous, in being critical of his teammates . From my own perspective, by appearance alone, when the player happens to be the best athlete and player on that team and he is expected to carry the burden of that organization upon his lone and competitive shoulders . Then he has every right to be “calling out his teammates” no matter what the circumstances , especially in the case where it would appear that the head coach takes a nonchalant and laissez-faire approach , merely seeking to make excuses for the team’s poor play and then drawing the ire and complete disdain from the fans . If you haven’t caught on by now , the team in question just happens to be the Los Angeles Lakers (25-28) and of course , the player , just happens to be , none other than Kobe Bryant .

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Slideshow .

Now while the talk of the NBA at present has been outstanding play of play of LeBron James and his six-game run of averaging 30.4 points, 6 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game . Meanwhile , James, and the Heat, hold a comfortable seven-game lead over their closest rivals within the Southeast Division , the Atlanta Hawks (29-22) . It would remiss to think that Miami Heat and their head coach , Erik Spoelstra have had this season all to themselves . At present, the team is being is pushed hard, within the Eastern Conference , by none other than the New York Knicks (32-18). Who themselves have it on their minds, if at all possible , to supplant the Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference . With that in mind, it is clear that Mike Woodson and his players had hoped to make that a reality before the All Star Break. The Knicks’ head coach however, can feel pleased with the fact, that his team leads the Heat, in their regular season series’ meetings (2-0) , so far, as part of the duos’ regular season scheduled contests.

It has to be understood , that there are as such, for all sense and purpose only three teams that certainly matters in terms of piquing the fans’ and public’s interests when it comes to the NBA , namely those franchises are the Boston Celtics , the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat . And granted , a case can be made for the San Antonio Spurs , but for the fact that they’ve won four NBA titles since 1997 , one seriously would have thought that the Gregg Popovich coached, and Tim Duncan led franchise , would be seen as one of the NBA’s marquee franchises . And perhaps, over the last four years with the ascent of Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder , as a rising powerhouse not only within the Western Conference but the NBA as a whole .

While I am not against players showing their passion or zeal on the court for the game , away from it , I would like to think that they can hold themselves accountable for their actions. A great deal of criticism has been leveled at Kobe Bryant over the course of his career , much of if it valid , and other cases , most definitely . With Bryant’s recent criticism, of his teammates, for their lackluster efforts on the court , it could be seen that the player’s frustrations had boiled over into sheer anger and contempt. And much of that, I believe has been brought about from the mere fact Kobe Bryant no longer has any faith in the abilities of general manager , Mitch Kupchak and SVP Jim Buss , son of team owner, Dr. Jerry Buss. The duo of senior executives, have simply made a mess of the season, with some rather curious and dubious personnel decisions. And while, the pundits were singing the praises of the acquisitions of Dwight Howard , and Steve Nash and their insertion unto this team . It has to be said , that the experiment so far, has worked out about as successfully, as the 72 day ‘marriage’ of Kim Kardashian to Nets’ power forward , Kris Humpheries. All of the hoopla behind that sham of a marriage” could not hide the fact , that intellectually and emotionally, the pairing was contrived and orchestrated, simply to whet the appetite of the public’s fascination of a publicity hungry female and a moderately successful NBA player . I just hope, that you had at least one chance, to tap that ass Kris ? Just simply, tap that ass !

On a one game winning streak , but losers of seven of their last ten games , there is no denying that you would have to be simply naïve , not to understand Kobe Bryant’s frustration. The team’s head coach, Mike D’Antoni, seems to be completely devoid creativity and ideas ! And to this asinine theory , that D’Antoni would bring about a defensive resilience to this unit , that is tantamount to suggesting that Lindsay Lohan’s acting career, has been a resounding success, given all of her off-screen problems . In the case of D’Antoni , he simply, has not brought anything meaningful to the table , by way of his alleged coaching prowess. In terms of defense the Los Angeles Lakers rank sixth , in the Western Conference allowing an astonishing 100.5 points per game , while in the league as a whole they rank eighth in points allowed . And when one takes into account that Bryant has been the primary offensive weapon on a team that is devoid of leadership , beyond the player , himself , and the very fact that the Lakers are physically and mentally soft ! What would now give anyone the notion that this team is simply good enough to make a credible run deep into the playoffs , much less actually garner a playoff berth based on their current standing within the conference ? If there happens to be a loyal Lakers’ fan still pinning their hopes and beliefs that the team can somehow turn things around . Then I, for one, would appreciate a succinct explanation as to how this will come about , given the franchise’s present situation ! Anyone, surely, there is a Los Angeles Lakers’ fan with the gravitas to show their undying allegiance to this renowned franchise?

The Lakers’ next game pits them against their co-habitants of the Staples Center in Los Angeles , Los Angeles Clippers (38-17) , in what is sure to be a heated and highly contested match-up . Vinny Del Negro’s Clippers hold a 2-0 series’ lead in their head to head match-ups this season , with their last meeting ending in a five point , 107-102 victory for his team . Will the Lakers be up to the challenge or will Blake Griffin led Clippers be like marauding mercenaries laying waste to the Lakers’ slowly evaporating season ?

While the Lakers and Clippers are dueling it out , a repeat of last season’s NBA Finals will be on tap , as two of the game’s most prolific scorers and some arguably might say , the NBA’s two best players , LeBron James and Kevin Durant will face off against each other , when the Miami Heat are the guests of the Oklahoma City Thunder , at the Chesapeake Energy Center , in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma ,. It is likely that the fans in attendance and those watching the cable broadcast are likely to see a highly entertaining and offensive minded game. Two of the game’s, biggest scorers , and a pair of teams , with the players , who, are good enough , to keep the electronic scoreboard rattling along at a phenomenal pace .

I firmly believe that the NBA over the last eight years, has simply sold its very soul to the Devil ! And while it has a great brand on perception , if you simply delve beneath the surface and sift through the bull-crap , espoused by David Stern and so many of his subordinates , you will find that there is not a great deal of transparency or clearly defined demarcation points, in terms of the hierarchy’s leadership. Stern , simply eschews it all , and rules his fiefdom with a rod of iron , that the likes of Joseph Stalin and Muammar Gaddafi would have been proud of . Thankfully, the NBA does not, suborn the use of torture , life-long imprisonment, or execution by a firing squad , as a means of rendering punishment , or as a harsh deterrent for those who oppose his every whim. Be warned Mark Cuban , as I know at, $1.25 million in fines and counting , your adversarial foe (Stern) is simply looking for you to be critical of his very next idea of grandeur. As for the NBA commissioner , when will he get it into his thick skull that the wide latitude given to him , is not given in order that he belittles the fans , and the cities in which the NBA franchises are domiciled . If you think that last statement just happens to be off base , then consider David Stern’s distinct lack of aid , given to the city of Sacramento as the municipality and the fans of that franchise fought for the Sacramento Kings’ retention within the California state capitol . .

With the Kings having been sold for a reputedly exorbitant $ 525 million to a consortium led by hedge fund manager and venture capitalist billionaire , Chris Hansen, Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer , and a number of minority stake-holding partners , who now await the NBA Board of Governors’ approval , in relocating the beleaguered franchise to Seattle , Washington. And even with a last-ditch effort mounted by Californian billionaire , Ron Burkle , jointly with ex-President Bill Clinton with their last-ditch bid , which seems unlikely to be favored , even with the backing of Sacramento City Mayor Kevin Johnson , now leading the municipality’s efforts . This wouldn’t all be so comical and sad , when you realize that the basketball franchise is one of the NBA’s least supported teams , and in terms of competitive success , the Sacramento Kings’ last postseason appearance , came back in 2006 , that ended , with a first round series’ loss (4-2) to the San Antonio Spurs. Subsequently, things have been pretty sparse by way tangible success competitively , personnel wise and most definitely , from an economic standpoint , with the team eking out a mere $2.6 million in profits, on revenues of $96 million . A rather meager return , given the franchise’s locale and region , but yet one asinine Kings’ devotee , once suggested to me, that the franchise is a profitable concern compared to many of its peers. What this idiot failed to acknowledge because of his undoubted lack of business acumen, was that the franchise had distinct advantages over many of its rivals, but in reality, the ownership group and front office , clearly were , mismanaged the franchise and placing it on the brink of financial insolvency . All of which, he failed to acknowledge, when the evidence was placed in print for him to peruse. Well, if you can’t damn well balance a check book , then it’s clear that a financial balance sheet would be right above his intellectual being.

For the soon to be departing Sacramento Kings’ owners , Joe and Gavin Maloof , and their siblings . Well, let’s just say, that their sale of the franchise has come about at least, five years too late. During, their tenure, the Sacramento Kings have seen their fair share of highs and lows. In retrospect , I would definitely say more lows , than highs , but those are just my personal opinions ! I can only hope that with relocation and a far more resourceful ownership group , the Kings can hopefully see a return to better days ! The Maloof’s sheer indulgence and lack of forthrightness has to come into question , but so too must David Stern’s apparent willingness to let a franchise owner almost single-handed take the franchise to brink of extinction without ever once questioning the motives of Joe and Gavin Maloof. Well this should not at all come as a surprise to anyone , given the commissioner’s instincts and his own overall lack of honesty and integrity . One only has to follow the David Stern’s actions , and that of the present owners of the Oklahoma City Thunder, to fully comprehend the web of deceit and lies which took place during the sale of the Seattle Supersonics , and their subsequent relocation to their new locale , in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma .

The recent injury to the Kentucky Wildcats’ Nerlens Noel , a point has to be raised . In clearly what was a season ending injury , Noel , thought to be a consensus number one overall pick for the 2013 NBA Draft , will be sidelined for the rest of the team’ regular season schedule , with not even a remote chance of a return , for participation in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament . Wildcats’ basketball coach , John Calipari , in a somber mood , having spoken to the player after his injury , simply stated that he hoped to see the player back in a Kentucky Wildcats’ uniform next season . The chances of that happening , I e firmly believe just went up in smoke ! Should Nerlens Noel make a full recovery , and he is looked upon favorably by the draft experts , NBA coaching staffs , then it seems abundantly clear , that the player will declare his eligibility for the NBA Draft and seek to make his fortune in the professional ranks . A torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee , is the injury which has sidelined the young Wildcats’ star for what is not necessarily an indeterminate period .Surgery , and recuperation period of six to eight months is considered a bare minimum time for recovery . And this is the exact same injury that NFL running back Adrian Peterson was able to recover from in record time . Therefore, it all bodes well for Nerlens Noel, now, if placed under the appropriate medical staff for treatment. I would like to think, that the player seeks to make a return to the collegiate ranks , but everything would suggest that with the untold millions that awaits in the NBA , a young athlete of Noel’s potential would find it hard forgo the chance of that fortune .

Nerlen’s injury came in a game between the Wildcats and the Florida Gators . Billy Donovan’s , players came away with an exciting 69-52 victory , in which there were some thrilling plays from both teams . With Nerlens Noel scoring a game-low eight points in the Kentucky Wildcats’ loss. Their next scheduled game will be an interesting contest against the Tennessee (Volunteers) in Knoxville, Tennessee , this Saturday , the 16th February , 2013.

With the NBA hierarchy’s apparent intent to review eligibility status of college players , questions will arise of the intent of the league to review present rules governing the college athletes’ eligibility, of their entrance into the NBA Draft. Once again, the “one and done rule” becomes a subject of great conjecture, debate and speculation. Is it really the league’s duty impinge and deprive a potential employee a right to earn an income merely because the NBA sees it as a way controlling the apparent quality and branding of their product ? This essentially, is what this maneuver will all boil down to, should there be any anticipated changes. Fighting this, will be the agents, whose clients will be subject to this edict. NCAA President, Mark Emmert , will undoubtedly seek to offer his input with regard to this issue. This will either all come crashing down around the NBA’s ears or David Stern , will once again be able to use his power and cast aside any opposition to his authority. Your thoughts, on this all ?

Inasmuch as it pains me to say this , this an NBA season just seems to be mirroring many of their predecessors , in a great deal of the play we see being exhibited . Scoring seem to be on the increase ,meanwhile there are deficiencies on defense that fans seem to be overlooking , while they seek to gloss over these issues within the league (NBA) at present . A number of fans seem to be oblivious to this all , as they seek to make light of these obvious flaws within game , which is being ignored by David Stern , as his only thought seems to marketing a waning product to anyone willing to listen to his spiel . Suffice to say , with the NBA brand having saturated the North American market , the NBA’s need for growth , will come from the continents of Australia , Africa , Europe , and Asia .

The league’s biggest growth area will be in China , where its population of 1.6 billion people are now fans of the NBA. And with the Beijing Olympics , and the success of Team USA Men’s and Women’s basketball teams in bringing home Olympic gold, heightened the popularity of the game , even more so. Even, in light of retirement of former Houston Rockets’ , center, Yao Ming , a Chinese native , and the country’s most popular and prominent sporting export , until the recent ascent of WTA Tour player , Li Na . The female tennis professional is now idolized by young girls and women , in very much the same way , as Yao has been admired and appreciated by the country’s population. His popularity still remains high , as he now seeks to broaden the base and popularity of the sport of basketball across the country of China.

Na’s rise to prominence , has seen her become a three-time Grand Slam finalist and winner of the 2011 French Open title on the clay courts of the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris , France. Add in the fact , of her seventeen career singles’ titles , 16 doubles’ titles and over $10 .6 million in prize money , and one can fully appreciate why she’s held in such high esteem by the Chinese people and the People’s Republican Party of China. Li Na , is currently ranked fifth in the WTA rankings , with top spot held by Victoria Azarenka of Belarus . And with both sports , basketball and tennis reaching such a widespread audience globally , with each reputedly becoming multi-billion dollar enterprises , then clearly, any room for growth will be eagerly sought by the NBA , FIBA as the international governing body of the sport of basketball , and the WTA , as the custodians of the sport of women’s tennis.

Sunday, the 17th February , marks the fiftieth birthday of Michael Jeffrey Jordan, arguably , the greatest player in NBA history. Most certainly justified , as being one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All-time . The question now becomes, how will the NBA celebrate their most famous and universally recognized ambassador ? Jordan’s name is still revered globally , and that is in spite of the rise today’s era of stars , such as Kobe Bryant , LeBron James , Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony , Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose . Jordan’s legacy and his achievements will long be remembered after his passing and thankfully many of the accomplishments are either etched in our memories or held on film , where we can view them all for prosperity . Who can fail to remember his game winning shot over the outstretched arms of a then bewildered Craig Ehlo of the Cleveland Cavaliers , in the waning seconds , of what was a career defining play , of which he has repeated countless times over ? Yet this game winning shot, in Game 5 of the first round of the 1989 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs , meant a great deal more than just a victory , as it elevated Jordan to a God like, deity status. Michael Jordan remains one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet , and his universal acclaim might only be outshone at present, by retired boxer , Muhammad Ali and PGA Tour golfer, Tiger Woods . And no doubt , LeBron James , would like to see his fame take that ascent into the stratosphere , but first, it will take at least another three or four NBA titles , several league MVP’s , 6 or more Finals’ MVP awards , 8 more scoring titles , an additional ten more All Star Appearances, and shall we say, 20,000 more career points as an added bonus , before the comparisons can be made to Jordan , the icon , and the player who James , models himself after ?

Comparisons, will continually be made between NBA players of the past, and those of the present. Moreover, at times it may seem somewhat at disingenuous to gauge the greatness of these players , in thinking old versus new . In reality, there are no other means , nor is there an exact science to come up with a result that will meet everyone’s satisfaction , and that would deem to be fair . In my honest opinion to best way judge the players of the past against today’s crop of stars is to wait until an NBA of today makes his formal announcement to retire . And then we can start to deliver our verdicts , as to what we determine greatness to be !

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Picture gallery .

What do you believe may well be the NBA’s biggest failure as a sport’s brand ? In addition, do think that they can rectify those problems on long-term or the short-term ? By comparison , do you believe it to be justified in trying to suggest who is the better player of the two , in making a decision between Michael Jordan and Michael Jordan ? Do bear in mind that James is only now entering his tenth year in the NBA , having been drafted as the number one overall pick , from the 2003 NBA Draft. Your thoughts or comments on this and anything else you believe relevant to this article is greatly appreciated . So do take time, and chime on in .

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Picture and slideshow details below for your perusal .

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(1) “Faces of the NBA “ … the past and the present. Left, LeBron James holds the Bill O’Brien Trophy , signifying, his first NBA title (world championship). And right, Michael Jordan , long considered the NBA’s greatest player past or present . AP Photo / Chris Pearson …

(2) Los Angeles Lakers center , Dwight Howard , left, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan defends during the first half of their NBA basketball game , Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill ….

(3) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) shoots as Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) defends during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …

(4) Left , NBA Commissioner , David Stern and the Dallas Mavericks’ owner , Mark Cuban . The two individuals have had a contentious relationship , which is said to be built on ” mutual respect” . Yet, herein lies the dilemma , over the course of Cuban’s custodianship of the Maverick. He has reputedly, paid over $1.25 million in fines rendered by the league hierarchy led by David Stern . Cuban , a billionaire , tech entrepreneur will no doubt think of the fines as a mere pittance , when by comparison his net worth exceeds $2.35 billion . Getty Images/ Stuart Gough …

(5) Houston Rockets basketball center Yao Ming attended a press conference in Beijing, China to announce a partnership deal with the Brisbane company Monster Cable Products Inc. Yao and Monster has developed a broad range of co-branded “Yao Monster” consumer electronics and lifestyle products for distribution in China. Yao Monster products include headphones, bags, 3D glasses and home theater connectivity and power products. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a portion of the proceeds will go to the Yao Ming Foundation, which builds schools for disadvantaged children in China. Courtesy of Pacific Coast News … @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ….

(6) Nerlens Noel , the Kentucky Wildcats’ guard is seen lying on court during a game between Florida and the Kentucky Wildcats . Noel tore his Anterior cruciate ligament in his right, knee and will be lost to the team for the rest of their schedule , missing in its entirety the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament . Florida would go on to defeat Kentucky 62-59 . While Noel hopes to make a quick return , it is highly unlikely that he will return for his sophomore season with the team . Nerlens Noel is considered to be a ” consensus top five pick overall “ , if not the number one pick for the 2013 NBA Draft. It seems almost a certainty that Nerlens Noel will forgo his sophomore season , declaring his eligibility for the draft , recuperating , while honing his game in the ranks of the NBA . A number of NBA coaches and scouts have seen Noel’s game and have been impressed with the player’s all-round skill-set . AP Photo / John Thorn …

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NBA teams’ salaries and with the league’s “soft” salary capof $58.044 million , one could attest to the fact that, the general managers , team owners and league hierarchy are simply ” kidding” themselves as to the NBA’s apparent frugality !

Highest paid NBA player , average salary and cap hit .

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Consequence , feat’g Kanye West …….. “ The Good The Bad & The Ugly “

Stick with it, or move on

Stick with it, or move on

By Tophatal

With the NFL season coming to an exciting end with Superbowl XLVII (Superbowl 47) , and the triumph of the Baltimore Ravens over the San Francisco 49ers . It has to be said, that this off-season could be just as climactic and riveting as much of the postseason just happened to be . Teams are now looking shed players they believe to be superfluous to their needs , with many of the individuals either being seasoned veterans or overpriced stars .

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Slideshow .

Now there is no denying , that there will be a major fallout this all , as teams will either seek to re-sign the very same players they let go , and simply move on ahead, by making use of the upcoming NFL Draft . The draft order for the majority of the teams in the NFL were decided by where they finished within the league and by way of the postseason . With the Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) finishing at the bottom of the ladder amongst the NFL’s 32 teams , it will certainly be interesting in seeing not only recently installed head coach, Andy Reid , his coaching staff overseeing this draft with another first time GM , John Dorsey .

Courtesy of NFL.com

2013 NFL Draft order: Kansas City Chiefs own No. 1 pick

The Kansas City Chiefs own the No. 1 pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, which will be held on April 25-27.

The NFL draft will kick off in primetime for the fourth consecutive year. The first round will be held on Thursday, April 25. The second and third rounds are set for Friday, April 26. Rounds four through seven will be held on Saturday, April 27.

The draft order is determined by the following procedures:

(A) The winner of the Super Bowl will select last and the other Super Bowl participant next-to-last, regardless of their regular-season record.

(B) The conference championship game participants not advancing to the Super Bowl will select picks No. 29 through 30, according to the reverse order of their standing.

(C) The divisional playoff participants not advancing to the championship games will select picks No. 25 through 28, according to the reverse order of their standing.

(D) The wild-card participants not advancing to the divisional playoffs will select picks No. 21 through 24, according to the reverse order of their standing.

(E) Non-playoff clubs will select No. 1 through 20, according to the reverse order of their standing.

If ties exist in any grouping except (A) above, they will be broken by strength of schedule (i.e., figuring the aggregate won-lost-tied percentage of each involved club's regular-season opponents and awarding preferential selection order to the club which faced the schedule of teams with the lowest aggregate won-lost-tied percentage).

If ties still exist after applying the strength of schedule tiebreaker, the divisional or conference tie-breakers are applied, if applicable. If the divisional or conference tie-breakers are not applicable, ties will be broken by a coin flip.

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Click on link to read in full .

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The primary needs for the Chiefs undoubtedly will be on their defense and quite obviously with the vapid and under-achieving performances of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn , which literally sank the hopes of the franchise over the course of the season . Given the mediocrity, witnessed by fans, in seeing the Chiefs literally fall apart under then head coach Romeo Crennel , was to witness a team without leadership , zeal and passion , all of which did not go unnoticed by the team’s owner , Clark Hunt .

History has suggested that the Kansas City Chiefs have had a modicum of success with their draft history , but it has become abundantly clear after last season’s failing , something drastic had to be done. The firing of both Romeo Crennel and Dorsey’s predecessor , Scott Pioli , was only the first of the major upheavals , that Clark Hunt decided , that major changes would be needed , if the fortunes of this once proud franchise was to be turned around. With a payroll of $128, 051,400, the franchise may well seek to remain over the league’s salary cap, or start to pare down that figure. Beyond that , several issues also must be addressed , with regard to the team’s offense which was amongst one of the least productive in the NFL , in terms of points scored(211), beyond points’ differential , which played a large part into the numerous reasons why the team was so ineffective all-round, and ranked the offense at near bottom overall of the NFL’s 32 teams . Something that I believe, will be addressed by offensive coordinator Doug Pedersen , during the off-season , with his assessing the playing staff and by way of the upcoming draft. And with a number of analysts invariably making their own prognostication as to who will be taken number one overall , it could very well come down to what John Dorsey and Andy Reid believes will be in the best interests of the franchise overall . With their being a propensity to the choice of quarterback , Geno Smith , being taken as the number one overall pick on a number of draft boards of several analysts . The conjecture and speculation will continue as to the decision that will be made by the Chiefs’ front office , between now and the opening rounds of the NFL Draft.

As to the Chiefs quite possibly making Geno Smith their first choice in the NFL Draft, as acute as the team’s pass offense just happens to be , I believe it would be in their best interest to simply seek to bolster their defense , and then look to make a pick for a quarterback in the second or third round of the draft !

The changes first and foremost that undoubtedly will be made could come by way of the Chiefs addressing also their cap hit , wherein they may well seek to cut certain players , or simply look at various ways of restructuring their contracts to make them a great deal more “cap friendly” . From my own perspective, I believe that Andy Reid can turn things around for the Chiefs’ franchise , given his track record in Philadelphia , with the Philadelphia Eagles . The problem may well be , how patient or impatient are the fans in Kansas City , Missouri , in wanting to see a quick turnaround and almost immediate success ?

As a Florida resident , albeit , that I have lived in various parts of the country , this is now where I call my home . An expat Brit , who has become accustomed to the nuances of the game of football (NFL style) , and the mere fact , that the state has three professional franchises domiciled here . It is hard to imagine where the success will come from , in terms of the Jacksonville Jaguars , Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers >/a> . All three teams in 2012 , had distinctly indifferent seasons , and as many of you may well attest to this fact , the trio were amongst some of the worst performing franchises over the course of the year, in so many different aspects of the game . And in terms of the quarterback play exhibited by starters , Blaine Gabbert , Josh Freeman and Ryan Tannehill , I seriously doubt you would have witnessed such mediocre display by the trio over the course of one season. Suffice to say, their respective head coaches , can and should not be pleased by what they saw last year.

Head coaches , Gus Bradley , Greg Schiano and Joe Philbin , all will have their work cut out for them , coming into the off-season , with having to assess their respective playing staffs. And whether or not they will like it , they will come to several decisions that will either satisfy their the fans of those franchises , the Jaguars , Buccaneers and Dolphins , or simply draw their anger . Care to offer up your prognostication, as to how the fans in question may well feel?

For Jaguars’ head coach , Gus Bradley , thankfully, he will not have to put up with the idiocy of knowing or hearing that Jets’ backup quarterback , Tim Tebow , will be traded to the franchise , while looking to supplant Blaine Gabbert from his starting role. Is it not enough that , but for a flew fleeting moments in 2011 , the Heisman Trophy winner , has not shown the NFL fan that his game still has not progressed from beyond what can be best described as a moderately average quarterback ? Yet there seems to be a number of anally retentive individuals within this forum who believe that he is being denied the chance to show his overall skill-set. It should be noted, that playing in the NFL is not a “God given right “or a damn handout, as can be witnessed when one collects a welfare benefit . Yet, this just happens to be what so many fans seem to be calling for , when it comes to Tim Tebow . As affable an individual as he is , as an NFL head coach , would you want him as your starting quarterback in a decisive game , yet alone as a regular season starting quarterback within the NFL ? These are the questions one should be asking and not making asinine statements concerning the player’s alleged stellar abilities !

Jaguars’ GM , David Caldwell , should be commended for not caving into the idiocy of bringing Tebow to his home town , no matter how loud and clear the demands were from the fans . Clearly , as passionate as team owner, Shahid Khan , might just be about the former Florida Gators’ star , even he, must have known , he could not risk the same sort of ridicule that has engulfed the New York Jets’ franchise, while Tebow labored under the weight of expectation , with the sheer comedic volumes and turns that took place with that bereft and lackluster organization over the course of this past season . Suffice to say, Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez combined , were a “ ringing endorsement “ of what one should come to expect when one someone utters the word “ overrated “ ! Only, an idiot would wish to see a similar fate befall the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Miami Dolphins for their part , coming off an under-achieving season , borne out of a 7-9 mark within the AFC East , will have a great deal to prove , if they are to viewed as the equal of the New England Patriots , the dominant franchise within the division over the last over the last decade. Joe Philbin , having rode on the shoulders of his rookie quarterback , Ryan Tannehill , can only hope to see marked improvements from the player in his second season . This much we do know, the player could be effective when protected , with the right assortment of weapons to complement his skillset , but with the team being so inconsistent over the course of the season. What many of us witnessed from Tannehill , was a player being asked to do way too much , with too little support , being offered in return .

As to the other on-field issues faced by the Dolphins, by way of the defense and offense . Well, let’s just say Philbin and his coaching staff will need to assess those issues and address them expeditiously .

Now unless , I am mistaken , the Dallas Cowboys , Miami Dolphins and the Green Bay Packers of the NFL, are the only three franchises, where the venues that they are currently domiciled in, and play in, are wholly owned by those respective organizations. All of the other teams in question , their stadiums are either municipally owned or county owned . Dolphins’ owner , billionaire , real estate mogul , Stephen Ross, would like for the city of Miami in conjunction with the Miami Dade County government to pay for the $400 million proposed refurbishment and renovation costs to Sun Life Stadium in Miami , from its conception , known as Joe Robbie Stadium , named after, the franchise’s initial founder and owner. With his eye set, more on hosting Superbowl 50 (SB L) in 2016 , Ross knows that if the work can be completed now , it places the city of Miami in a very advantageous position to beat out possible suitors for the privilege of hosting the NFL’s and North America’s biggest sporting event. Caution here has to be warranted , as there is a great deal of reluctance on Stephen Ross’ part to even pay in part anything towards the cost of the proposed renovations. All of this, from an individual, who, is said to be amongst the 400 wealthiest individuals (ranked #83) —– (net worth $4.4 billion) in the United States. I can only surmise, that NFL , under the auspices of Roger Goodell, the commissioner , will use a great deal of arm twisting and coercing , in order to force for the governmental agencies concerned to “pony up “ the estimated $400 million cost , with the intent of using the staging of the Superbowl as a bargaining chip , rather than have one of his owners merely delve into his pocket or seeking private financing for the proposed project !

Given, the grave financial crisis that both city of Miami and Miami Dade government are now under . I find it somewhat disconcerting , and almost conceited that Ross would deem it fitting that the city and county’s residents should pay for the refurbishment of a venue which he owns outright . Pardon me for saying this, but given the level of ineptitude shown by the city of Miami and their dealings with the MLB hierarchy and the Miami Marlins’ owners , over the financing and building of the Marlins’ ballpark ____ the 34,500 seat venue built at the cost of $575 million using a mix of tax revenues and derivatives’ financing , is now in the midst of a sharp decline in attendance . Meanwhile, the city of Miami finds itself at the center of an investigative probe by the US Justice Department for their actions , in the financing of that venue , with their being allegations of bribery and corruption amongst city officials to ensure a favorable vote . There has to be cause for concern that things will not be totally above-board , as it now relates to the Miami Dolphins and their vested interests. Suffice to say, in a corrupt city such as Miami , just about anything goes , and will happen , just as long , as the money is spread around , to all of the vested parties concerned .

When Josh Freeman was drafted as the seventeenth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft , many felt it was something of a capricious and gregarious choice by then , Buccaneers’ head coach , Raheem Morris . In the subsequent years, since being chosen , Freeman has provided the fans with some highs , but more than not , so many lulls, that have descended into a crescendo of sheer ineptitude .

Team GM, Mark Dominik , remains convinced that the player he and Morris tied their masts and futures to , can still get the job done and lead this franchise to success . Raheem Morris’ successor , first year coach , Greg Schiano, after this past season remains thoroughly unconvinced that Josh Freeman can get the job done under any circumstance . Which begs the question, what does the future hold in store, for a player who believes he has all of the tools necessary to be a success , whereas, his coaches simply have bouts of trepidation each time he has been on the field of play during the 2012 season . Plain and simple , in spite of the weapons around him , for much of 2012 , Josh Freeman played some uninspired football , and no amount of excuses from the player , himself , from the head coach , can hide what is blatantly obvious to see. And those are , Freeman’s game and skill-set have deteriorated to such a low , that he cannot be trusted to implement the simplest of plays ! He may well have the steadfast support of his teammates , but in the end, those statements will not go a long way in convincing the head coach of any decision he may well choose to make.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were once a renowned franchise , built on a stealthy defense with players who were committed to the their art-form . However , in recent years and most certainly under both Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano , those traits were certainly missing . And while injuries may well have played a part in the Buccaneers’ miserable 7-9 season , that solely cannot be used as a primary excuse for the team’s woes during 2012 . Defensive players, such as , Lavonte David , Mason Foster , Mark Barron , Ahmad Black , Quincy Black , Gerald McCoy , Adam Hayward and Luke Stocker, are not names you would now hear being mentioned as preeminent Pro Bowl caliber type defensive players . And given the team’s propensity in recent seasons with their draft policy , it will be interesting to see how Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano address some of the most acute needs of the franchise , as they currently assess them to be.

With the team , now having in excess of $15 million available , in cap space , of which $ 10 million , is a rollover figure from the previous season , it should prove to be interesting, to see what moves will be pursued by the Buccaneers during this off-season. And given Schiano’s wish to have readily available competition at all positions on his depth chart . Could it be, the player most likely to feel pressured , will be his starting quarterback , Josh Freeman ? Your thoughts on this , as it relates to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ?

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Picture gallery.

With the NFL Draft still two months away, and with a number of teams already off-loading players superfluous to their needs in order of not having to meet contractual obligations have to be honored no later than the 31st March, we are now seeing teams scurrying to make avail themselves of all the cap space possible . Where do you see your team or teams making bold enough moves by way of the draft or through free agency ? And how do you believe that both Greg Schiano and Andy Reid will fare during this off-season ? By all means do take time to offer up comment on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) One of the more comedic and asinine of moments in recent NFL history that still hasn’t been convincingly explained by either the Superbowl XLVII Organizing Committee or by anyone from within the NFL hierarchy . Fans and members of the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers wait for power to return in the Superdome in a Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, file photo, during an outage in the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, in New Orleans. Officials of Entergy New Orleans say the cause of the Super Bowl blackout was a faulty device called a relay that had been installed to prevent a failure of electric cables leading to the Superdome. They said the device has been removed and replacement equipment will be installed. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ….

(2) “Eyes on the prize” . Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass , from left, head coach ,John Harbaugh , general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome and owner , Steve Bisciotti speak alongside the Vince Lombardi Trophy at an NFL football news conference on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in Owings Mills, Md. The Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII last Sunday. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(3) New Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey , left, poses with new head coach Andy Reid during an NFL football news conference announcing Dorsey’s hiring Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ….

(4) New Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, left, poses with Chiefs’ Chairman & CEO ,Clark Hunt during an NFL football news conference Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ….

(5) Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) makes a one-handed catch for a touchdown in front of Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Jalil Brown (30) in the second quarter of an NFL football game , Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey …

(6) Matt Cassel (L) and Brady Quinn listen to ID Coach inventor Isaac Daniel at the launch of the Isaac Daniel, ID Coach at the Sheraton Riverwalk on January 31, 2009 in Tampa, Florida. The ID Coach system allows coaches to communicate plays to players without using hand signals or audio transmitters. Play calls are transmitted using a military grade encrypted wireless link from the coaches Personal Remote Terminal (PRT) to the assigned player on the field who receives the play on the ID Coach wristband. An ID system to assist the players ? It sure as hell hasn’t worked for either Cassel or Quinn this past season , has it, as evidenced by the team’s standing within the AFC West and the league as a whole ? Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images for EAG Sports Management ….

(7) Billionaire real estate mogul, Stephen Ross , center is seen here with between sisters , Serena (left) and Venus Williams . The two siblings and WTA tennis rivals , are minority stakeholders in Miami Dolphins’ franchise , amongst a slew of A-list celebrities that also include Marc Anthony , Jennifer Lopez, Gloria & Emilio Estefan and actor, Will Smith . Ross is positioning himself and the Dolphins’ franchise to host Superbowl 50 (SB L) in 2016. However , he and the city of Miami and the Miami Dade County government have failed to reach a compromise , as who should pay for the estimated $400 million in upgrades and refurbishment , sought for Sun Life Stadium , home to the Miami Dolphins’ franchise. It should be noted that the venue itself , is owned by Ross , with the only benefits going to the governmental agencies in question, being certain taxes and ancillary fees charged to the franchise for services rendered . The NFL franchise owner , worth an estimated $4.4 billion , Ross is unwilling to pay for any of the costs in question or pay in part , towards the aforementioned sum for the much-needed upgrade. . AP/Photo/ Pat Carter ….

(8) From left to right , Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, general manager Dave Caldwell , owner Shad Khan and president Mark Lamping , from left, flank the NFL football team’s new logo, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Jaguars unveiled a new logo and a “Stand United” theme. AP Photo/Florida Times-Union, Bruce Lipsky …

(9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) hits the ground after being sacked by the Denver Broncos in the third quarter of an NFL football game , Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in Denver. This was simply another game in which the Buccaneers’ quarterback failed to perform up to the standards expected of him by head coach , Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik . It would appear that Freeman’s position as the team’s starting quarterback have been greatly imperiled by his lackluster displays throughout much of the 2012 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . AP Photo/Joe Mahoney ….

(10) Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) throws a pass during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. AP Photo/Brian Blanco …

(11) Buccaneers’ GM Mark Dominik , left , is seen here with the team’s head coach Greg Schiano at the practice facility (One Buc Place) of the NFL franchise . The two management executives have some considerable deliberations to be made , as to the makeup of the roster going into the off-season , and in light of their issues on the defensive side of the ball where they failed miserably during 2012. There also seems to be an apparent lack of veteran leadership from the senior members on the roster . All of this played into the unremarkable season for franchise in 2012 , where they finished with a 7-9 record within the NFC South . The Tampa Bay Times / Scott Dreeson ……

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Money ? We make it , we spend it , so what’s your beef ?

Money ? We make it , we spend it , so what’s your beef ?

By Tophatal

Well , with teams , now beginning to report for Spring Training and their schedules , it seems that baseball, and specifically the team owners and general managers will start as they mean to go on. With team payrolls being pared down in a number of cases , others have chosen to set themselves apart by seemingly agreeing to some of the most outrageous and ridiculous demands of the players and their agents. Nowhere, has this been highlighted more, than with the recent news of the signing of Felix Hernandez to a seven-year $175 million contract by the Seattle Mariners , that will make the Mariners’ starting pitcher , one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball , as well of the highest paid players in the game.

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Slideshow .

The Seattle Mariners remain an enigma and a conundrum all rolled up into one , as they have been an omnipresent franchise , that seemingly wants to compete , but then shows no wish to do so , for one reason or another .

Mariners’ EVP & General ManagerJack Zduriencik , may well have felt that the franchise could not afford to have Hernandez test the free agent market , given the pitcher’s productivity over the past four years, but specifically, as he was one of the most productive starting pitchers in 2012 . What might be even more exacerbating, is the very fact with all of the resources at the Mariners’ disposal, it is now that they seek to offer Hernandez , such an exorbitant contract , while the team itself remains uncompetitive and ineffective .

While I believe Felix Hernandez to be one of the top line starting pitchers within the game today , I do believe that with the escalating salaries , the game is now at a point where the failure of the league hierarchy , and the failure of the team owners and general managers to rein in their costs, will bring about a financial catastrophe, that it will simply will never recover from. Bud Selig and his union counterpart , Michael Weiner of the MLBPA continue to dance their merry dance around this particular topic without achieving or suggesting how there can be a level playing field and economic competitiveness amongst the teams. The Mariners as a franchise , barely broke even , having earned profits of $2.2 million on revenues of $225 million. And for the franchise’s managing partner, Howard Lincoln and the front office executives who preside over this franchise , have done so ineffectually without having achieved anything of not over the past decade. All of the goodwill that could have been sustained within the community has been eschewed for incompetence and excuses from the executives, right down to the coaching staff of manager , Eric Wedge . Wedge’s managerial career is not overly impressive but , he seems to fit the model sought by Jack Zduriencik, and the Mariners ambitions to be viewed as a success. Somehow , I find it fitting that a franchise as unambitious as the Mariners should now find themselves in such a predicament !

The pitching staff , led by Hernandez , Hisashi Iwakuma , Blake Bevan , Erasmo Ramirez, Hector Noesi and a bullpen made up of relievers , Stephen Pryor ,Charlie Furbush, Oliver Perez , Lucas Luetge , Carter Capps , Josh Kinney and closer , Tom Wilhelmsen . Pitching was not a real forte of the Mariners in 2012, albeit , that Hernandez was the lone standout from a rather mediocre staff .

And while Eric Wedge could attest to the fact that he had a young team, to work with 2012 , what could not be hidden , was the mere fact that his players performed poorly, while never being contention within the AL West at any point of the season. From an offensive standpoint, with a team ERA of .234 , the Seattle Mariners , were at the bottom end of the baseball’s thirty teams . Behind , Dustin Ackley, John Jaso, Kyle Seager , Casper Wells , Jesus Montero and Michael Saunders , this team simply struggled throughout much of the season. It should come as no surprise, in light of this all ,Safeco Field , in Seattle , Washington , saw an average attendance of just over 21,000 per home game ,which was amongst the lowest in all of Major League Baseball (MLB) , in 2012.

As to what this season may well hold for the Seattle Mariners , could very well be determined by team’s showing , when they open their regular season schedule , which begins , with a four game series against the Oakland Athletics at the O Coliseum , in Oakland California , on the 1st April, 2013. In the franchise’s recent history , postseason appearances have been few and far between , with the Mariner’s last such appearance coming in the 2001 postseason , with Seattle reaching the ALCS , where they would fall in five games to the New York Yankees . It is highly debatable that the team can mount a formidable enough challenge within the AL West , given the strength of the Oakland A’s , Los Angeles Angels , Texas Rangers , and that is with due respect to the division’s newest member , which will be the Houston Astros .

In terms of the team’s off-season transactions , the franchise did nothing major , but history tells us they have prudent in a number of their trades while not seeking to overpay for the talent in question. Financially prudent , or simply a franchise being far too cheap , while making themselves available as a recipient of the league’s luxury tax sharing revenue scheme ? All of this while the Mariners are still in part , owned by the Japanese games’ manufacturer Nintendo . Beyond that , is there anything else that needs to be said ?

It seems somewhat ironic former Boston Red Sox pitcher, Curt Schilling would now come forward suggesting , that the team’s medical staff was encouraged by management , for he and other teammates to use illicit substances, specifically to aid him , in his recovery from injuries suffered while a player for the franchise . These claims, date back to 2008 , when Schilling was a starting pitcher , on the roster of the ball-club. Now, what might see somewhat exacerbating is the very fact that this is the first time we have heard these claims from the former pitcher and baseball television pundit , because earlier statements forthcoming from Schilling , would suggest that he has never witnessed or heard a player use any illicit substance , be it PED’s or any other prohibited substances that have been banned by baseball.

Courtesy of The Boston Globe

Curt Schilling says Sox medical staffer suggested he use HGH in 2008

By Peter Abraham , Boston Globe
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was standing in the clubhouse at Fenway Park early in the 2008 season when a member of the team’s medical staff suggested he try human growth hormone to help overcome a shoulder injury.

“There were a few people around and I was shocked,” Schilling said Thursday. “After this person left, I turned to a teammate and said, ‘Can you believe that?’ It came out of nowhere.”

Schilling reported the incident to Theo Epstein, then the team’s general manager. Epstein was required to inform Major League Baseball, and an investigation subsequently took place.

“Our office was notified,” said MLB vice president Pat Courtney. “We take any report like this seriously and there was an investigation.”

Courtney would not say what the results of that inquiry were because it was a personnel matter between a team and its employee.

Schilling said the person no longer works for the Red Sox, something that two baseball sources confirmed. The team has made a number of changes in its medical staff in recent years, but none apparently was a direct result of the 2008 investigation.

Schilling said “two or three” investigators from MLB came to Boston to speak to him.

“I don’t remember who they were,” said Schilling. “I was trying to downplay the whole thing because I wasn’t playing at the time and I didn’t want to cause any problems in the clubhouse.

“Had I known Theo was going to report it to MLB, I would have never said anything. I was kind of mad that he had to do that.”

Schilling did not identify the person who suggested HGH to him, telling the Globe only that it was not former medical director Thomas Gill, former head athletic trainer Paul Lessard, or former strength and conditioning coach Dave Page.

Schilling responded to a Twitter user who asked why he wouldn’t expose somebody who suggested he use a substance that is banned by Major League Baseball.

“Because outing the person would not do anything for anyone,” Schilling wrote. “It wasn’t anyone in uniform, nor the baseball ops group.”

Schilling said he was taken aback by the suggestion, and that it was not made in a joking manner.

“It was right out in the open, it was sort of a conversation between 1½ people,” he said. “There were people listening. It was the last thing I expected.”

Schilling initially spoke about the incident Thursday morning during an appearance on ESPN Radio. Shortly thereafter, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said he was surprised by the news.

“Certainly this is something to look into, but it came from out of left field, to use a baseball cliché,” Lucchino told reporters at a Jimmy Fund event in Boston.

Later in the day, Lucchino said he did recall the incident and that the investigation by MLB was conducted “in a timely manner.”

Schilling signed a one-year, $8 million contract before the 2008 season and passed a physical. But he never pitched because of a torn rotator cuff and a biceps injury.

There was a dispute at the time about what course of action to take with Schilling. Gill advised a course of rest and rehabilitation. Dr. Craig Morgan, who had twice operated on Schilling’s shoulder, suggested another surgery.

A third-party, Mets team physician David Altchek, agreed with Gill. Because Schilling was 41, the thought was that surgery would mean the end of his career.

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At this point I truly believe that Curt Schilling has a great credibility and integrity problem, with these latest claims. Five years after, he has retired , it is now, that he feels it appropriate to make these claims without providing any proof whatsoever to substantiate his statements . But herein, lies the conundrum for Schilling , he has been subject as to his own integrity , and the very fact that he and his former business partners in a games’ manufacturing venture filed for bankruptcy (debts incurred $165 million with assets of $15.6 million) , after his company 38 Studios Inc , which was clearly mismanaged by the partners , having received in excess of $100 million taxpayers’ monies from the state of Rhode Island , with their being little oversight coming from the state’s Department of the Treasury and Finance . Schilling has suggested that his creditors were overzealous in their actions seeking repayment , without ever wishing to work with his company’s executives in coming to an amicable solution in resolving the business’ financial woes . Financial mismanagement , and incompetence , is no excuse for repeatedly berating his creditors as well as the state of Rhode Island .

Curt Schilling, makes these allegations, as it relates to his career in 2008 , when he was a starting pitcher on the Red Sox’s roster , From my own standpoint has a credibility and integrity issue , as it relates to these claims , while at the same time the former pitcher and now tv analyst did suggest , that he at no time had ever witnessed a teammate or close personal friend use any illicit substance banned by MLB . Yet , he we are five years on from his retirement, and we now find Curt Schilling placing himself in the midst of another embarrassing episode for the game of baseball. As to a formal response from the Red Sox organization , I am pretty sure that the ball club’s legal counsel will have been consulted by team owner, John Henry and his partners as to any legal recourse that they can now seek to take against the former Red Sox player in the form of libel and slander . . It is at this point, I would like to know your opinions on Schilling’s statements and whether or not you are of the opinion they are valid and have any veracity to them at all ?

Well, with the New York Yankees’ third basemen , Alex Rodriguez quite possibly now being sidelined for the entire 2013 Yankees’ regular season schedule , the team’s senior managing partner Hal Steinbrenner is now voicing his concerns , over the player’s health and long-term future with the well-respected franchise. With Rodriguez’s name once again being associated in another steroid scandal , for which he maintains his complete innocence. One now has to wonder what the future now holds for the third baseman and his long-term aspirations .

Courtesy of NY Daily News

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner says Alex Rodriguez’s alleged ties to Miami lab ‘a concern’, says team will cooperate with MLB probe

Steinbrenner, who spoke to reporters outside the team’s minor-league complex Friday afternoon, also mentioned that the Yankees have had ‘one or two conversations’ with second baseman Robinson Cano about a contract extension.

By Anthony McCarron , New York Daily News

Hal Steinbrenner says there’s not much to say on A-Rod matter because ‘I know as much as you do.’

TAMPA — Alex Rodriguez’s link to the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic is “a concern” for the Yankees, Hal Steinbrenner admitted Friday.

But, the Yanks’ managing general partner added: “It’s out of our hands. We’ll cooperate with MLB in any way we can, any way we’re asked to. Other than that there’s not much to say. I know as much as you do.”

Rodriguez, who has admitted using PEDs from 2001-03 while with Texas, was listed among records at Anthony Bosch’s now-shuttered clinic in Miami, according to a report in the Miami New Times. As the Daily News reported Jan. 26, Major League Baseball and the Drug Enforcement Administration are investigating Bosch, an A-Rod associate, for allegedly supplying performance-enhancing drugs to players. Through a statement from his PR firm, Rodriguez denied being treated or advised by Bosch and claimed that the Biogenesis records are “not legitimate.”

However, Yankee teammate Francisco Cervelli’s admission via Twitter that he consulted with Biogenesis, along with Brewers slugger Ryan Braun’s confirmation in a statement that his name had indeed appeared on Bosch’s client list, would appear to undermine Rodriguez’s claim.

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It now seems mind-boggling and absolutely idiotic that Hal Steinbrenner insists on taking this stance in light of the ball club’s previous experience with the player and his admittance of guilt in his use of steroids , having previously denied any use on his part. With Rodriguez’s name now associated with failed Miami medical concern Biogenesis , along with that of Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers , Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez Yankees’ teammate,Francisco Cervelli. Either after the third baseman’s less than contrite public apology in February , 2009 , it were as if Hal Steinbrenner and the entire New York Yankees’ organization were satisfied with the apology and the actions or one should say lack of action taken by the ball club and league hierarchy.

It should be noted , that less than six months later, Rodriguez’s name would be linked with now incarcerated Orlando medical professional Dr. Anthony Galea , who treated several prominent athletes and celebrities ,but with the doctor’s incarceration , having been found guilty of distributing of narcotics , the sale a transportation of hallucinogens , steroids , Oxycontin , PED’s and other banned substances as constituted by the league hierarchy. Now comes this idiocy and the league and Yankees are now standing back seeking the wheels of the legal establishment to take its course before they deal with the player . However, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , as usual, has issued his latest statement which more often than not, has the commissioner simply making a complete ass of himself, as he has repeatedly done, more often than not , with such issues. Selig has stated that baseball will conduct their own in-depth investigation , but if it is anything like of the alleged investigation of the Miami Marlins and the “ fire sale” initiated by the ball club , has me wondering how competent is this hierarchy to begin with ? They are definitely not as meticulous or as prudent, as the commissioner would like to have us believe and boy , does Bud Selig like to blow smoke up everyone’s ass , more often than not !

For the past two seasons Alex Rodriguez’s contributions to the New York Yankees can be best described as being anemic , but his postseason foray of last season , clearly shows that the player’s skill-set has been steadily on the decline for several years . With the Yankees having to pay Alex Rodriguez in $28 million for this season, and with their being $114 million remaining on the player’s existing $275 million contract. The contract makes the third baseman the highest paid player in baseball. With resources to the New York Yankees and having baseball’s highest payroll , it has me wondering whether or not the franchise can still continue to squander their resources on a player whose best days are behind him and most certainly not ahead of him. With Rodriguez having to undergo hip surgery, and clearly the belief his use of steroids quite possibly playing into his health issues , something even beyond the naiveté of the Yankees has to be clearly amiss. As a replacement , the Yankees acquired free agent Kevin Youkilis , who should prove to be a more than worthy replacement for his sidelined colleague. And while it was wildly being speculated upon that Hal Steinbrenner might seek to void the Alex Rodriguez’s contract , any move initiated by ball club would be met with stern resistance by the players’ union headed by Executive Director Michael Weiner .

Legal recourse, could be sought even with their being a moral’s clause written into the third baseman’s contract , but such a protracted legal case would turn the game on its ear , especially given the current weakness of baseball’s hierarchy under its commissioner, Bud Selig. . It is here where there seems to be a real divergence in the claims being made by Major League Baseball , and what we now know are the real facts , and that is , for all of claims in terms of the league’s ongoing success in the continued clamping down of the illicit use of steroids , players are still finding ways of “ cheating the system” , and they are being aided either by unscrupulous agents or “pill clinics” across the country , but it would now appear to centrally located within the state of Florida . Meanwhile the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney General’s Office has yet to arraign , indict or prosecute anyone successfully in this regard , leaving it instead in the hands of the US Justice Department to go after such individuals . Which begs the question, what is it that State Attorney General , Pam Bondi and FDLE Commissioner , Gerald M Bailey hope to achieve, when they seek to do very little within state of Florida , has become the epicenter for “steroid” , illegal sales, and distribution of such narcotics and steroids , specifically.

One should note, that over the past thirty months in excess of 156 players have engulfed by baseball’s testing policy , with the vast majority of those players being caught at the Minor League Level . The high-profiled stars at the major league level are seen for what they are , “ cheaters” , who have been able to use the law or in so many cases the incompetence of the league hierarchy , to simply outsmart the game’s custodians . And you wonder why , Bud Selig , still comes across , looking like the complete and pompous ass , that he is ? > A case can be made that baseball’s incompetence has really played in the news and the idiocy we now see encompassing the game , yet no mention has been made of this by the television analysts , who currently cover the game . I have never been an admirer of anyone of the baseball analysts or on air commentators who spend more time pontificating and speaking of a once glorious past within the game that was a complete fraud to begin with ! Make of it what you will , but let’s call it for what is really is , just goddamn apathy and not much else beyond that !

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Picture gallery .

Do you believe that the Seattle Mariners can justify their offering Felix Hernandez such an exorbitant contract given the team’s lack of competitiveness in recent years ? And do you believe that Curt Schilling’s statement can be taken at face value given his proclivity for sensationalism ? Furthermore , with the likelihood of Alex Rodriguez missing the Yankees’ entire regular season schedule in 2013 , do you believe that franchise would be within their right to “ void his contract” , even if it meant having to defend their action in a civil litigation ? Chime on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) FILE – In this Aug. 15, 2012, file photo, Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez reacts after throwing a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Seattle. Hernandez and the Mariners are working on a $175 million , seven-year contract that would make him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball , according to a person with knowledge of the deal’s details. The person spoke to The Associated Press Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been completed. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren …..

(2) Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge reacts to a question from reporters, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, at the team’s annual media briefing prior to the start of baseball spring training . AP Photo/Ted S. Warren ….

(3) Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik talks to reporters, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, at the team’s annual media briefing prior to the start of spring training baseball. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren …

(4) David Reed, 7, of East Helena, Mont., pumps his fist as he pulls a Seattle Mariners baseball from a gift bag presented to him by Mariners pitcher Charlie Furbush , left, and outfielder Casper Wells during the Seattle Mariners Caravan visit to Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Spokane, Wash. Reed has been in the hospital battling T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia since October. AP Photo/The Spokesman-Review, Dan Pelle….

(5) FILE – In this Dec. 5, 2012 file photo, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona answers questions during a news conference at the baseball winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. Owners of the Boston Red Sox thought the team wasn’t marketable after the season and needed to “sexy players”, former general manager Theo Epstein says in a new book co-written by former manager Terry Francona. “Francona: The Red Sox Years” is co-written by the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy and is scheduled for publication by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Jan. 22. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey ….

(6) Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling (38) throws out the first pitch after being inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame prior to the game against the Minnesota Twins during the game on August 3, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Schilling now claims that during the 2008 season he was encouraged by the team’s medical staff to used banned substances to aid him in his recuperative process having suffered a number of injuries during the season . The claims though unsubstantiated , have become something of water cooler subject of debate and conjecture . Getty Images North America / Jared Wickerham ….

(7) (L-R) Manager Joe Girardi , Mark Teixeira, Hal Steinbrenner and General Manager Brian Cashman pose for a photo during a press conference to announce Teixeira’s signing to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on January 6, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City . Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images …

(8) FILE – In this Oct. 14, 2012, file photo, New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out during the second inning of Game 2 of baseball’s American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers in New York. When the Yankees re-signed Rodriguez in December 2007 , they expected him to set home run records . Now some in the team’s management hope he never plays again, so much of the $114 million he’s still due can be covered by insurance. Not only is he injured, he’s at the center of performance-enhancing drug use allegations. AP Photo/Paul Sancya, …..

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MLB news

MLB schedule important dates

Spring Training scheduled games

MLB free agents & team transactions

MLB team transactions January 2013

MLB team payrolls 2012 & for 2013

Highest paid players in baseball , highest paid starting pitcher and highest paid third baseman

MLB Regular season schedule begins (31st March 2013)

MLB standings (2012) & wildcard standings

2012 MLB postseason

2012 World Series

World Series championships by clubs

World Series championships by seasons

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New York Yankees’ profile

New York Yankees’ news

New York Yankees depth chart

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Seattle Mariners news

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Jessica Marie

Model Jessica Marie

And the condemned man ate a hearty breakfast …..

And the condemned man ate a hearty breakfast

(8)

By Tophatal

As the continued fallout continues within the NBPA (players’ union) within the NBA with the stepping down of union Executive Director Billy Hunter , the season carries on with due swiftness. The league’s showcase event the 2013 All Star Game , will be upcoming , with three days of the NBA’s best players, as well as their rookies , and a slew of other events thrown in , to entertain the fans who will be in attendance along with a global audience of millions globally . And considering the ongoing popularity of the game on global scale , especially in the Far East , it is becoming easier to understand why Commissioner David Stern continues to use some of the game’s biggest stars to raise the profile of the brand abroad , specifically in the aforementioned market.

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Slideshow.

Now it goes without saying that this season within the NBA , it appears on the surface to be an undue success , but if you dig beneath the surface, you can certainly see that the game as it is being presented to the fans, is simply in the midst of a slump , as the quality of the play has become tiresomely inadequate and tediously boring , bordering on being inept. What might be even more asinine, while the game finds itself in such a morass , is the sheer apathy of the fans , who are trying to suggest that with this play , comes the chance to see teams we would not otherwise see , come to the forefront and simply surprise us all . Perhaps , no one team represents this more than the newly acquired Golden State Warriors (30-19) , under the ownership of billionaire financier ,Joe Lacob , and Hollywood mogul,Peter Guber. GM Bob Myers , along with special consultant and executive board member ,Jerry West , sought to hire first-time head coach, and former NBA point guard Mark Jackson to helm this young roster in the team’s coaching capacity , with Jackson’s staff made of up a number of seasoned veteran coaches , with primarily a college background.

As I alluded to earlier , the Warriors are one of the major surprises of this NBA season , seemingly coming out nowhere to make a solid if not unspectacular run in the NBA , this season. One of the more telling points of the team’s season has been their ineffective play from a defensive standpoint , with Golden State amongst the bottom feeders within the conference and NBA as a whole within this specific category, as well as the differential margin , in determining victories.

The Warriors’ roster , led by Steph Curry, Andrew Bogut , David Lee , Harrison Barnes , Carl Landry , > and Jarret Jack , have been playing with some semblance of consistency , but, in no way , would that be a true reflection what on the face of it is a young and very inexperienced roster overall. The most senior of the players , overall , would be eleven-year veteran , Richard Jefferson , who in the latter part of his career , has become something of a journeyman , providing the voice of experience for the rookies on the team.

Coming off, what was the franchise’s most humiliating loss of the season on Tuesday night , wherein their opponents , the Houston Rockets shot an astonishing 57.5% from beyond the arc , draining twenty-three of forty attempts , in three-pointers , on their way to a 140-109 drubbing of the Warriors. It is hard to see how anyone could find any solace from such an embarrassing defeat. Yet, here was , Mark Jackson , suggesting that he’s an old coach, who has a healthy respect for the game and that in some respects , he felt that the Rockets’ conduct was somewhat unsportsmanlike . Pardon me for saying this , but if , Jackson wants to teach his young players about adversity and steering defeat head on , then surely, it would have been better for him to point to the positives and negatives from that game , rather than to harangue his opponents . Furthermore , if he is seeking to take this Warriors’ franchise to the next level , wherein, they can be seen as a legitimate contender within the Pacific Division of the Western Conference , then surely during the game , and from hereon-in defense , and how his staff teaches it to these players, will have to take precedence over everything else, as it relates to the Warriors’ game and their productive output.

The Warriors’ next game will be a conference match-up against the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum , in Memphis, Tennessee , on Friday night . . The game itself , pits two teams with postseason ambitions , and with a ½ game standing between the sixth placed Warriors and the fifth placed Grizzlies in the conference standings , it is easy to understand why this match-up will be of utmost importance to both teams.

I’ll give credit , where credit is due, but , if this is a harbinger of things to come , then I feel sorry for the fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves (18-28) ! The team , currently sits at the bottom of the Northwest Division within the Western Conference , and hopelessly out of touch with the division leading Oklahoma City Thunder (37-12). Prior , to the start of the season , so much had been made of the fact that mercurial point guard, Ricky Rubio , would be the lynch pin , that would finally see the franchise rise back up like a phoenix from the ashes . Instead , the team’s best player , forward /center , Kevin Love , has been sidelined due to injury , and with the team , now on a two game losing streak , having only managed to win two out of their last ten games . It now has me wondering, what else can , and will go wrong for the beleaguered franchise !

Timberwolves’ head coach , Rick Adelman , well-respected by his peers , is a coach who’s known to work well with younger players , but his plight with this team could very well prove to be far more difficult , than even he could have imagined , Now with the loss of Kevin Love , the situation goes from being difficult , to bordering on being impossible. As the team’s best and most productive player , Love was one of the main reasons to come out and watch this team play. Now , for owner , Glen Taylor, and GM , David Kahn, the situation , now becomes about what can now be done for the franchise to be in with even a remote chance of having some semblance of a successful season. With Love , having signed a four-year $60 million contract in 2011 , this was meant to be viewed as one of the more serious moves that the front office sought to take, in order to make this franchise a much more formidable contender within the NBA. With the season now falling apart, the unthinkable might be about to happen with David Kahn quite possibly contemplating to move the highly desirable and productive power forward , Kevin Love. The player has stated , that it is his intent to fulfill his contractual obligations with the Timberwolves and play his entire career with this organization . Yet, for all sense and purpose , if the situation remains as it now is , there is no way that Kahn or Rick Adelman , can hope to retain the player . I doubt that Kevin Love , has any desire to really remain with a franchise , where the possibility of contending for a title, is now becoming more remote, than ever before .

Next up for the Timberwolves will be a Friday night game , that pits them against the high-flying New York Knicks(31-16) , who are seeking to keep within striking distance of the Miami Heat (32-14) within the Eastern Conference for the overall number one seed . Adelman and his players can only hope to catch the Knicks an off night , they seek to even the season series between the two teams , with Mike Woodson’s players leading 1-0 , having won their first meeting of the season, when they met at Madison Square Garden , in New York City , in late December, with the Eastern Conference team coming away with a hard-fought 94-91 victory . The likely outcome , will be the Knicks once again, eking out another victory , while hoping that the Heat, find themselves on the wrong side of a loss , in their scheduled Friday night meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers at the American Airlines Arena , in Miami , Florida .

There is nothing as morbid, as watching the remnants of a multiple vehicular car accident, and then seeing the dismembered bodies lying along the highway. Suffice to say, this might be the best analogy to describe the Los Angeles Lakers ever disastrous season. One which has been filled with high drama , ridicule and more idiocy than you could ever have imagined . OK, so we are all aware of the Mike Brown dismissal five games into the season , and the claims made by GM , Mitch Kupchak , that the team was simply heading in the wrong direction under Brown . Well ,with that chapter having ended all so comically , someone forget to take their feet off the gas pedal , as another crash was about to take place , in the form of Mike D’Antoni succeeding Mike Brown. Pardon me for saying this , but if this was meant to be a sound decision, as to D’Antoni’s hiring . I would like to know, if Kupchak and his accomplice , Lakers’ SVP , Jim Buss were “ Baker enacted” after this clearly mistimed and idiotic decision and hire ?

At 23-27 (.460) , witnessing what is clearly a very bad Lakers’ team simply limp from game to game , albeit that they have won six of their last ten games , but herein lies the dilemma for Mike D’Antoni, even with the acquisition of stars, such as Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, someone forgot to remind D’Antoni and that goddamn imbecilic coaching staff of his , that the team , simply doesn’t play a lick of damn defense. And as to his continued asinine belief,, that the players will mesh together, and find a rhythm , perhaps he can try explaining that to the growing number of angry Lakers’ fans . With Kobe Bryant remaining so stoic, and yet to let loose , with an angered outburst , criticizing management , you simply know that , it will be only matter of time before the player erupts in anger and simply berates the organization. Well , he has fleetingly been critical of his teammates and their lack of effort , and it is understandable , when you consider that for the past two years at least , it simply been Bryant carrying this team on his broad shoulders. And as admirable as the games of Howard and Nash are said to be , who didn’t see this cluster f#ck coming ? The last time the Lakers tried a maneuver of this magnitude , it simply imploded , causing the team at the time to simply act like a bunch of petulant children. It should be noted that season in question , the team went to the NBA Finals of 2004 , as an evens’ favorite , seeking to make light work of the Detroit Pistons . Well as that story unfolded , someone forgot to make the Pistons aware that the script called “ for them to be submissive and to take one for the team “. The Pistons’ reply to the Lakers ___ “ take that and shove it up your ass “ !

If former Lakers’ great, Magic Johnson , has been vocal enough to be critical of both of these coaching hires , but also , having suggested that Kupchak hire former Phil Jackson assistant, Brian Shaw , to originally succeed the famed coach, when he retired from this very same franchise . If the Lakers’ hierarchy were not prepared to listen to even the positive criticism , then , it clearly shows not only how out of touch with reality the Lakers’ ownership just happens to be. The personnel decisions being made, as it concerns playing staff in recent years, have become so comical and ludicrous that one has to question the mindset of Mitch Kupchak . Should this season fall short of perceived expectations , then it is becoming increasingly clear that changes will have to be made , and many of them will be so far-reaching and bound to have some serious repercussions , that even the fans and analysts alike , will be totally taken aback by those decisions. Personally, I do not believe that Mitch Kupchak , Jim Buss or even Dr. Jerry Buss now possess the intelligence to ultimately do what is necessary ! If that were the case, then the Lakers would not now, find them in such an embarrassing situation. Someone within the Lakers’ hierarchy will have to pay for this mea-culpa . Care to guess who that will be at this juncture ?

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Picture gallery .

As the NBA All Star Break approaches and the schedule being in full swing with the trade deadline also in focus , what major moves if any , do you see taking place ? Also , are you of the belief that this has been a down year in the NBA in terms of the play , by way of comparison to last season ? Do take time to leave a comment , as you see fit , and thanks as always for the continued support of this site , as it has always been greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes (40) goes up for a shot while defended by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki …

(2) Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson gestures during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Oklahoma City won 119-98 . AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki …

(3) From left to right , senior managing partner , Joe Lacob , senior consultant, Jerry West , center and Peter Guber , owners of the Golden State Warriors . The franchise is in the midst of a reawakening of sorts and they could very well on their way to a postseason berth for the first time since 2007 . AP Photo / Richard Curtis …

(4) Injured Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love talks to teammates during a timeout during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Genevieve Ross …

(5) Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) , of Spain, drives around San Antonio Spurs guard Gary Neal during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Genevieve Ross …

(6) Timberwolves’ owner Glen Taylor ,left , is seen here with Head of Basketball Operations & General Manager , David Kahn . The duo seek to resurrect the fortunes of the Minnesota Timberwolves , but with the long-term loss of forward Kevin Love , it looks as if the franchise will be in for tough season , and barely with the possibility of ending with a winning record for the year . AP /REUTERS/ Renee` Schmidt …

(7) A pensive Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni pauses as he looks down court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. The Celtics won 116-95 . AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(8) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) walks onto the court with Metta World Peace , left, and Dwight Howard during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. The Celtics won 116-95. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

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Tushkanova-Inessa

Ukrainian actress and model , Inessa Tushkanova

CSI New England , another atrocity perpetrated in the name of football

CSI New England , another atrocity perpetrated in the name of football

Crime    scene    tape

By Tophatal

In the aftermath of another hellacious and disappointing postseason for the New England Patriots. As a passionate and avowed fan , I have to ask, how can a team that performed so admirably during the regular season , be so lackluster in the playoffs , but more so specifically in the AFC championship game which led to a thoroughly embarrassing loss to the eventual Superbowl eventual champions , the Baltimore Ravens ?

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Slideshow.

A great deal of the blame, now rests squarely upon the shoulders of head coach Bill Belichick and his coaching staff . And it cannot have escaped your notice , that a great deal of the team’s woes , stemmed from an inconsistent defense , who for much of the season , simply under-achieved , in spite of the attempts made by defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia , Belichick and GM , Nick Caserio to draft prudently over the past two seasons , with an emphasis being placed upon acquiring skilled defensive players . Granted, the franchise also went out, and traded for either pending free agents who could fill a specific role from a defensive standpoint. To my own mind, here they failed to acquire anyone who could fulfill the requirement s sought!

If the defense of the Patriots was said to be the team’s Achilles’ Heel , then its offense continued to be prolific throughout much of the season , with the franchise’s All Pro quarterback leading the way once again. Tom Brady continues to astound while remaining one of the league’s elite quarterbacks . Complemented by arsenal of productive players , such as Stevan Ridley , Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker , Rob Gronkowski, and Danny Woodhead , Brady was able to make light work of the AFC East as the team won the division with consummate ease .

While racking up yards during the regular season , in coming away with victories that somehow at the end of it all would prove to be meaningless , as the postseason came around . Bill Belichick’s staff and I believe the players in general, were woefully neglectful and disconnected from the fact that the defense was amongst the most anemic within the AFC , much less the entire NFL. It has been this sort of complacency and demeanor of head coach that has systematically become ingrained into the team, that led to their and the season’s unraveling when they faced the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game. Now, if anyone would have mentioned to me that for the entire second half of that match-up the Patriots’ offense would be go entirely scoreless , not being able to muster a safety , offensive or defensive touchdown , much less a field goal . Then, I would’ve said “you’re completely crazy” ! . Yet, lo and behold , the facts would bear this out , as Joe Flacco and his teammate s simply laid waste to the Patriots’ ambitions for another postseason .

Well, put out the yellow crime scene tape, and cast it over the Patriots’ horrific postseason failings against the Ravens. Good God Almighty, when one of the most prolific offense in the NFL , is unable to even muster three points from a field goal , during the second half of a postseason game , given the prolific output from the franchise in recent years during the playoffs , then questions will have to be asked and answered, by Bill Belichick . Well as we know , the head coach showed his immaturity in not in failing to turn up for the mandatory post-game interview as required by the NFL hierarchy. Conceited , bombastic and a downright ass , these are perhaps the words, that can best describe the Patriots’ head coach , and self-absorbed genius. In many ways, the continued disparaging remarks about this franchise , I truly believe are not necessarily aimed at the players , but more so towards Bill Belichick , and his lack of candor , and the very fact that at times, he shows complete disdain for the press and fans alike . I may well be wrong in my assumptions , but if I am , then can someone point out to me , where I may well be mistaken in this belief ?

With the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft taking place from the 25th April through until the 27th April , it will be interesting the see the steps that will be taken by the Patriots’ staff as they seek to acquire players , that they believe will be complementary to their overall needs . And once again , I believe a great many of their choices will be predicated upon bolstering their defensive line , by way of this Draft . And while that premise at this juncture is based on supposition , Nick Caserio and Bill Belichick may well have a number of decisions to make concerning a number of the team’s impending free agents , and a number of unproductive players , who simply failed to live up to the lofty goals sought . With the likelihood that the salary cap is likely to rise by several million dollars , from the current figure of $120.6 million . It remains to be seen how the Patriots will address their own issues with regard to the roster’s payroll and the cap hit . The biggest off-season issue for coaching staff and front office is whether not to offer a multi-year deal to Wes Welker , who in the last five years has been the most productive receiver in the NFL.

Undoubtedly, a slot receiver of Welker’s caliber is not easy to come by , and he should be compensated likewise based upon his productivity , not just on this season , but simply based on his prolific production for the Patriots since he was acquired by the team as a free agent in March 2007 . From thereon-in , it has simply been about the player shattering franchise records ( career receiving & single season ) on the books of the Patriots. If Wes Welker released , there will be at least 31 other teams likely to show interest, in this versatile player . Doubt my word ? Watch the stampede that is likely to take place !

Undoubtedly, a slot receiver of Welker’s caliber is not easy to come by , and he should be compensated likewise based upon his productivity , not just on this season , but simply based on his prolific production for the Patriots since he was acquired by the team as a free agent in March 2007 . From thereon-in , it has simply been about the player shattering franchise records ( career receiving & single season ) on the books of the Patriots. If the player is released , there will be at least 31 other teams , likely to show interest, in this versatile player .

So the Patriots’ season ended with an emphatic thud , as they were laid to rest by the ever so resourceful Baltimore Ravens , who on the day went about the duty with an assassin’s creed , kill the subject , to get the job done and the rewards will come after . On the flip side of that coin, the carcass of the New England Patriots now lays strewn all over the greater New England area , and the head coach , hasn’t the goddamn decency to offer the fans or the public a cursory explanation. As a diehard fan of the franchise who tries to attend at least five games a season where possible , seeing the demeanor of Bill Belichick , though it hasn’t driven a wedge in between me, and my loyalty towards the organization , he has now begun to piss me off , for all of the wrong reasons , and a great many more , far too numerous to mention !

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Picture gallery .

What to your mind was the biggest failure of the New England Patriots this past season ? And do you believe that they can rectify their problems and still remain a dominant force within the NFL ? Or are you of the opinion that the franchise is slowly declining as force within the league ? Chime in with your comments as you see fit on the subject matter and anything else you believe to be pertinent .

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Picture and slideshow details below.
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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks up at the scoreboard during the second half of the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. AP Photo/Steven Senne …

(2) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco celebrates with Matt Birk (77) and Marshal Yanda (73) after throwing a five-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta during the second half of the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. AP Photo/Charles Krupa ….

(3) New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, and Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh , right, meet at midfield after the NFL football AFC Championship football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. The Ravens won 28-13 to advance to Super Bowl XLVII. AP Photo/Elise Amendola …

(4) The top defensive end taken in the 2012 NFL Draft , New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones speaks with the media in the locker room at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. The Patriots cleaned out their lockers after losing to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday night in the AFC Championship game. AP Photo/Stew Milne ….

(5) Patriots’ GM Nick Caserio , seen here addressing members of the convened press . The front office executive has a number of tough decisions to make this off-season as it relates to the New England Patriots’ franchise . One of the decisions in question, hinges on whether or not to resign Wes Welker or to ” franchise tag” the player for a second successive season and simply pay him the average salary of the top 5 players at the wide receivers’ position . AP Photo/ Chris Parsons …

(6) New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) runs out of the tackle of Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed (20) during the first half of the NFL football AFC Championship football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. AP Photo/Stephan Savoia ….

(7) New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) is congratulated by Tom Brady after catching a one-yard touchdown pass during the first half of the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. AP Photo/Stephan Savoia …..

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NFL related stories : 2013 NFL Draft: Top five prospects at every defensive position

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Geno Smith talks about preparing for the NFL Draft

Which quarterbacks are liable to or should go in the first round ?

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New England Patriots’ draft class 2012 & draft history

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‘TI’ ….. feat’g Wyclef Jean ….. “You know what it is ”

When, it’s all said and done , the better man, or team won . Or were they ?

When, it’s all said and done , the better man, or team won . Or were they ?

By Tophatal

Well, the 2012-13 NFL season has come to close , with the Baltimore Ravens winning their second Superbowl since 2000. The “ Harbaugh Bowl” lived up to all of the hype and expectations , one have come to expect of the nation’s biggest sport’s event . The city of New Orleans were wonderful hosts, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans Louisiana , was the perfect setting for the event.

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With Ray Lewis now riding off into the sunset as a retiring NFL player , happy with the knowledge of having won his second world title ring , whatever awaits defensive lineman , undoubtedly will be a great deal of wealth and adulation. The wealth, will come in the form of the monies that will obviously be offered to a player by a number of broadcast outlets seeking to have Lewis become an NFL analyst , and who might well be described greatest defense player of his era, and quite good enough to be placed amongst the top five players at the position to have played the game in the NFL . The Ravens came away with a moral and well deserved victory , in a thrilling 34-31 win over their NFC counterparts , the San Francisco 49ers . Opposing quarterbacks , Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick , for the most part , were excellent , and it would suggest that both of these players, should have long and successful careers for their respective teams. Flacco was named the MVP of Superbowl 47 , albeit , that I felt either Jacoby Jones or Ed Reed could have supplanted Flacco for the award, but at the end of the day, the recipient of the award , seemed just right.

For winning head coach , John Harbaugh , he now becomes the first coach in NFL history to have taken a team to the postseason in each of his first five seasons , and to have won a Superbowl in his very first attempt. Baltimore Ravens’ owner, Steve Biscotti , billionaire industrialist , and avid sport’s fan has worked tirelessly in making the franchise he now owns a source of pride in the greater Baltimore area . Both Bisciotti, and general manager, Ozzie Newsome , have built the Ravens into a formidable franchise both on and off the field of play. And this victory was a culmination of their efforts along with that of the entire coaching staff , the players and the fans , themselves . . Newsome drafted prudently , and acquired players , using due diligence , while not having to pay outlandish salaries , in assembling this current roster . Inasmuch, as we know that there is bound to be off-season upheavals amongst the playing staff, there simply can be no denying that the Ravens will be amongst the contenders and quite possibly be viewed as a prohibitive favorite for the Superbowl , for next season. . Your thoughts, on this ? Simply chime in with a comment.

At a time when the NBA should be content with its environment , the game is mired in mediocrity , and lo and behold the self-indulgent union, the NBPA (union) now finds itself mired in controversy , that can only be deemed as an embarrassment not only to the union , league but also the sport , and the brand itself. The now embattled union has seen its Executive Director, Billy Hunter , be forcibly asked to step down , but he states, he is in fact taking a voluntary leave of absence , while the union’s executive committee conducts an in-depth investigation into the misappropriation of league funds , and suggestions that Hunter , sought to transfer $ 7 million in NBPA funds , to be used as an investment to shore up the finances of a Cherry Hill , New Jersey based bank, where two of his children , just happened to be employees . What makes this latest mea-culpa so embarrassing, at the center of this all, is the very fact that Billy Hunter’s intent was have this transaction take place without having advised any senior executive member of the union hierarchy. And here was I thinking , the only such organizations who conducted themselves with such secrecy, were the Teamsters Union , UAW , AFL-CIO and the now inept US government .

It is hard at this juncture to feel any empathy towards the union , Billy Hunter , who is being paid a $ 3 million annual salary to provide the union with his expertise in labor laws, as well as a wide variety of union related issues concerning the NBA . Somehow, I now feel, that Hunter’s days with the union are numbered , with him being in all likelihood being fired. Only a formal announcement awaits , pending the outcome of the investigation , with union President , Derek Fisher , or his deputy , VP , Keyon Dooling , making the statement that Billy Hunter will be relieved of his duties, as the union’s Executive Director , to take effect , immediately .

At the start of the season , in the midst of the upheavals around the league with so many off-season moves . A great deal was made of the fact that the Brooklyn Nets would be seen as a viable candidate to challenge the perceived dominance of the Miami Heat within the Eastern Conference . After an inauspicious start to their schedule , Nets’ GM Billy King summarily fired , beleaguered head coach , Avery Johnson and promoted , his assistant , PJ Carlesimo to the position of interim head coach , until the end of the regular season . And while the Nets under Carlesimo , have proven to be a great deal more energetic in their play , I am not so sure that this team , will be able to challenge the likes of the Miami Heat or the New York Knicks , were it to come down to a postseason seven game series !

At 28-19 , the Brooklyn Nets , currently sit in second place , three games behind the New York Knicks (30-15) within the Atlantic Division . In what might be seen, as one of the more competitive divisions within the NBA , it has to be said that the three teams in contention within the division , cannot now afford to make any major slip-ups between now and the end of the regular season , with so much being on the line , and where a drop in a conference position , can mean a life or death situation for those teams and their postseason aspirations. Personally , I am not convinced that the makeup of this current Nets’ roster is simply good enough or anywhere near talented enough to win an NBA title. The team led by Deron Williams , Joe Johnson , Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries have proven to be somewhat inconsistent , albeit , that since the installing of P J Carlesimo as the head coach , there has been a gradual overall improvement in the team’s play.

Are you beginning to wonder how good the Chicago Bulls(29-18) might be , were Derrick Rose fully fit and playing on that current roster ? Taking up the slack , in the absence of the point guard , have been Luol Deng , Carlos Boozer , Joakim Noah , and Nate Robinson . And this has all been borne out , by having the third best record within the Eastern Conference ,while leading the Central Division over their closest rivals , the Indiana Pacers (28-19) . Bulls’ head coach , Tom Thibodeau , in spite of his postseason letdown in 2012 in the playoffs , which at the time , it was the scene of what precipitated to the loss of the Bulls’ point guard , in their first round series loss to the Philadelphia 76ers . Thoroughly outplayed in the entire series , the reverberations from that series’ defeat to suggest that beyond the inexperience shown by the team at the time , Thibodeau’s inexperience was glaringly transparent for all to see. With Rose, now on the mend , and thought to be almost nearing the end of his rehabilitation from his surgically repaired left knee . The anticipated timeline for his return, is said to be, after this year’s All Star Break (15th-17th February 2013) , which will be played at the Toyota Center in Houston , Texas , with the rosters of the East and Western Conference being made up of the game’s biggest stars.

The Bulls’ next game will be on Monday night , when they face the Indiana Pacers in a pivotal match-up , that should tell us a great deal about these two teams and where they currently now stand . However , with the anticipated return of Derrick Rose , Tom Thibodeau , has to be mindful , as to how the insertion will affect the rhythm, that the team currently now have. Winners of seven of their last ten games , which is amongst hottest streaks now going in the NBA . As I alluded to earlier , the expectations are high for the return of Derrick Rose , and the likelihood , his first game back could very well be either against the New Orleans Hornets on 19th February , or quite possibly against the Charlotte Bobcats on the 22nd February . There is an intervening game in between 19th and 22nd , on the 21st February , which would I believe would prove to be too stern a test for the player, in having to face the Miami Heat at home in the United Center , in Chicago , Illinois .

If Rose can recapture the form that won him the NBA league MVP , in 2011, then it would certainly bode well for the Chicago Bulls and their very ambitious point guard .

Call me naïve , but it may well take more than a kick in the a$s for David Stern to realize that the NBA brand is in the midst of a down year from a competitive standpoint in comparison to last season . And it would certainly help if the commissioner and the league hierarchy would acknowledge that fact, rather than continually extol the virtue of a league that is lacking in truly appealing stars. Granted , the likes of LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony , Dwyane Wade , Kevin Durant , Russell Westbrook , James Harden , Tony Parker , Chris Paul and Blake Griffin , are some of the most recognized names , and well-paid stars in the NBA at present . Yet, even that by itself, is no real guarantee concerning the success of the league. The revenues of the brand , will grow and decline exponentially , as the NBA finds itself in the midst of another economic downturn .

At a time when the NBA calls out for a rivalry to match the most famous of them all , that of the “ heated rivalry “ between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers during the regular season , but one which took on a life its own during the playoffs , but even more so during the NBA Finals . The budding embers of what could be this best era’s rivalry , that of the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder was on view last season during the 2011-12 NBA Finals. And we have seen growing stature and respect between the game’s two best players , in Kevin Durant and LeBron James . Their teams , which they represent , the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, are considered to be amongst the best in the NBA , but this season it is clear that the league is seeing some rather mediocre play being exhibited by the teams in the NBA .

For the Thunder’s head coach , Scott Brooks , his team’s play has been as resolute as ever , even in light of the departure of James Harden from last season’s roster in a stunning trade that sent Harden to the Houston Rockets , and one which literally took everyone by surprise. Currently, with the second best record in the Western Conference. At 36-12 , the Thunder sit two games behind the conference leading San Antonio Spurs (38-11) who are winners of ten consecutive games , currently the longest such winning streak in the NBA at present .

In their regular season meetings between the Heat and Thunder , since the inception of Western Conference franchise , these two teams have met a total of 54 times , when one takes into account the franchise’s former being as the Seattle Supersonics . The Miami Heat currently leads the series 30-19 during the regular season , and by a margin of 4-1 in the postseason , as reflected in their only series’ postseason meeting , which took place in last season’s NBA Finals.

In the 2012-13 season , and their only meeting thus far , the Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-97 in the Heat’s regular season opener to start the defense of their NBA crown. Kevin Durant , and LeBron James, led all scorers , scoring 33 and 29 points respectively , for the Thunder and the Miami Heat, during the game. The next scheduled meeting between these two franchises will take place on the 14th February when they will meet at the Chesapeake Energy Center , in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , in front of what is sure to be a rabid and vociferous crowd of primarily loyal Thunder supporters . It could be seen as a precursor, as to another possible encounter in the postseason , but much of that will be predicated upon how both teams acquit themselves over the remainder of their respective regular season schedules, and in the earlier rounds of the postseason.

Shrewd businessman and some might say perhaps , one of the ” most despised “ owners in the NBA . Yet somehow , Mark Cuban , owner of the Dallas Mavericks , and a constant thorn in claw of David Stern, has always found a way to either keep himself in the news , or that of the franchise that he owns. In the subsequent years, since the Mavericks won it all, in 2011 , when they defeated the Miami Heat in a surprisingly easy 4-2 series’ victory , with Dirk Nowitzki , being named Finals MVP. Since that triumph , the Mavericks have fallen on hard times, with Cuban and general manager , Donnie Nelson , having to shed burdensome contracts , or simply players who were under-achieving with the franchise. Head coach , Rick Carlisle , will be asked to work his magic once again , this time however , with something of a younger cast to complement the aging and declining skill-set of Nowitzki, who is now , in the twilight of an illustrious career.

Now playing for pride more than anything else , it is extremely difficult to see how the Mavericks can hope to play themselves into playoff contention , and currently playing with a sub .500 record at 20-28 ! The team lacks real scoring , and defensively , there remains a great deal to be desired , from unit that gives up on average 102.9 points per game and a staggering 33.7 defensive rebounds a game. Definitely, not the sort of statistics that is likely to win a franchise a championship. Away from the court , Donnie Nelson, is having a tumultuous time in dealing with troubled star , Delonte` West , a player , whose off the field troubles and well chronicled run-ins with law enforcement , have shone a light on West , far more than anything he has ever achieved on the field of play throughout his troubled career . His refusal to originally report for duty , with the Mavericks’ D League affiliate the Texas Legends , can only cast further doubt , on whether or not he has a role to play for this franchise , much less a have a future at all within the NBA . At this juncture , I would think it pretty safe to suggest that either by the trade deadline or at the end of this season , Delonte West will no longer be with the franchise ! I mean , why have a loose cannon , within your midst , when your coaching staff is trying to create some semblance of camaraderie and competitiveness amongst the players ?

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Picture gallery .(By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in a larger formatted size)

During the Superbowl , which incident or incidents do you believe may well have been the focal and turning point of the game ? And do believe, the explanation of electrical the power outage was good enough, given the importance of the event? Last but not least , what do you believe to be the biggest disappointment behind such lackluster play season in the NBA at this point of season ? Chime on in with your thoughts as you see fit

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Picture and slideshow details below for your perusal.
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(1) A fan looks around the Superdome after half the lights went out during a power outage in the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert …

(2) Baltimore Ravens players look around the Superdome after the lights went out during the second half of NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. The game would resume after a 34 minute delay with the Ravens defeating the Forty Niners 34-31 , in the most watched Superbowl game in NFL history . AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(3) Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy during a news conference after NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 . AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(4) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with MVP Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco at a news conference after the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. The unassuming quarterback whose contract expires on the 31st March seeks a new deal with Ravens’ organization . Team owner , Steve Bisciotti , in conjunction with GM , Ozzie Newsome have stated that they will do whatever it takes to retain their Superbowl and MVP winning quarterback without having to resort to “breaking the bank” . AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(5) San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh , left, greets Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh after the Ravens defeated the 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Dave Martin …

(6) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, left, and linebacker Ray Lewis celebrates their 34-31 win against the San Francisco 49ers in NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(7) Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome , who also happens to be the Baltimore Ravens’ general manager . Newsome became the franchise’s general manager in 2002 , having worked as a consultant with the Ravens prior to being promoted by owner Steve Bisciotti . In the subsequent years , it has been the executive’s keen eye for talent , which has drawn rave reviews from his peers. He now joins a select group of NFL individuals to have won a Superbowl as a player and in the role as a front office executive , but it should be noted that with the victory, he becomes the first African-American to have guided a franchise to a Superbowl victory , in his present capacity, as a general manager. Courtesy of USA Today /AP Photos / Mark Warren …

(8) NBPA President , Derek Fisher , left, is seen here with the union’s Executive Director , Billy Hunter , right , taking questions from the convened press , at a time when the union was at an impasse with the NBA hierarchy over the renegotiating of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Hunter , is now embroiled in tawdry scandal that involves the misappropriation of union funds by a subordinate in his employment who was in fact a family member (daughter – Alexis Hunter) . Further allegations. though not fully substantiated but showing a pattern of behavior suggesting that the union executive sought to transfer $7 million in union funds to a Cherry Hill's , New Jersey based bank , where his son just happened to be a mid-level executive . The intent was to use the funds to prop up the balance sheet of what was then a financially impoverished concern.

(9) Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Humphries (43) shoots over defending Chicago Bulls players in the first half of an NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center , Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(10) Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ….

(10) Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives past Charlotte Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 in Miami. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

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Actress , author , philanthropist and entrepreneur , Jaime Pressley .

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And as most would aspire to see Pressley !

The lunatics have indeed taken over the asylum

The lunatics have indeed taken over the asylum

by Tophatal

With the NBA season now in full swing , and having reached its midway point , teams are now jockeying themselves into position divisionally , as well as within their respective conferences , to make that second half push for a playoff berth , for the NBA postseason. And already the league has seen its sheer of controversy, with the summary dismissals of Mike Brown from the Los Angeles Lakers , five games into their season , and that of Alvin Gentry from the underachieving Phoenix Suns . And while I do not believe that this will be the last of the managerial firings that will take place over the course of this NBA season , it is my belief that a number of coaches have now been put on notice , that the general managers and team owners are not prepared to put up with incompetence on the part of their head coaches .

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In the Eastern Conference , it does now look as if the Miami Heat , will not be as dominant a team as they were said to be last season , on their way to marching through the NBA Playoffs and their second NBA title . Defensively , we have seen something of a drop off from this current roster, in comparison to last season , albeit , that there have been certain changes , as to the makeup of the team. Team President and de-facto general manager , Pat Riley , has seen fit to bring in Ray Allen , Rashard Lewis, and Chris Anderson , to add what is an already formidable squad of players , with a payroll to match , which is now amongst the highest in the NBA .

When one bears in mind, that the league hierarchy , this past season , were simply asking for two-fold concessions across the board, from the NBPA (union) , while there has been “ little “ real resolve shown by the teams, to scale back on their exorbitant spending in terms of team and players’ salaries , and simply making it, somewhat asinine of a notion, that there is a “soft salary cap” of $58.044 million and a luxury tax for teams whose payrolls are above the aforementioned figure . It is at times like this , I have to question the alleged business acumen of David Stern , albeit , that he has led the NBA , for the past quarter of a century, to unprecedented success from an economic standpoint, but upon a downturn in the economy , he and his subordinates , as well as the owners ,and front office executives have not seen fit to rein in their expenses , while simply gouging the fans in terms of ticket prices , for what has essentially now become, something of a watered down and thoroughly diluted on-court product.

Heat , head coach , Erik Spoelstra , certainly has his team playing with a great deal of resolve and after their crushing and lopsided victory over the Brooklyn Nets , it is clear to see why they are at present are in a class by themselves within the Eastern Conference . Fans of the New York Knicks , however , might feel to the contrary , and would be very much willing to dispute that fact, as Mike Woodson , has his team playing some great basketball at present . . And one has to admit , that whenever these two noted franchises have met , they simply have not let the fans down , be it , in the regular season or in the postseason , as their much-anticipated and heated rivalry continues unabated . . The next scheduled meeting between these two teams , will not be until 3rd March , in a match-up at Madison Square Garden , home to the famed , New York Knicks . And with Woodson’s team currently leading the season series 2-0 , with the Knicks’ most recent victory over their arch rivals , coming by way of a 20 point shellacking of the LeBron James’ led Heat 104-84 in early December . Prior to that , in their initial meeting of the season series , the New York Knicks would have their way , with what appeared to be an undisciplined Miami Heat team. .

I am not about to suggest that David Stern , ought to consider contraction , given the poor play of a number of teams around the league . Yet, I have to ask , why should the fans be paying good money to witness the mediocrity of teams such as the Charlotte Bobcats (11-34), Washington Wizards (11-33) , Cleveland Cavaliers (13-33) , Orlando Magic (14-31) , New Orleans Hornets (15-31) and the Sacramento Kings (17-30) . About the only thing that has been continuously this incompetent , has been both legislative chambers of the US Congress , along with the present Presidential administration .

The next scheduled game for the Miami Heat, will be an away encounter against the Indiana Pacers , at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse , in Indiana , Indianapolis . The Pacers are one of the more surprising teams within the Eastern Conference this season , as head coach, Frank Vogel has the likes of Roy Hibbert , albeit , deferentially, David West , Paul George , Gerald Green and Danny Granger , playing with a great deal of confidence . Much of that , I believe has come from the presence of Brian Shaw , as an assistant head coach , providing more resolute defense from his team . This game , should provide both teams with a stern test , as each seeks to impose their will upon the other .

So at this point of the Boston Celtics’ season , is now on the cusp of imploding , as they have arguably lost their best player , point guard, Rajon Rondo , for the entire regular and postseason, should the team be in with a chance of gaining a playoff berth. Yet , GM Danny Ainge , is said to be unsure as to whether not he should delve into the free agency market and pursue a trade for a point guard . His own cupboard, within his roster, is threadbare , and looking at the options via free agency for a suitable fit . without having to break the bank , the situation overall doesn’t appear to be all that bright. It is likely that Ainge will consult with head coach , Doc Rivers , and team owner, Wyc Grousbeck , before a final decision is made .

Without a field court general and a productive point guard such as Rondo , the Celtics would quickly become a demonstratively average team , struggling to score and play in transition with any ease . >. And the team , does not seem to be helping themselves at present , with their undoubted inconsistency , due to the loss of the valuable point guard. A test of the team’s resolve will take place when they host the struggling Orlando Magic (14-31) in a game to be played at the TD Banknorth Center , in Boston , Massachusetts , on Friday night. This match-up should give both teams a chance, to gauge themselves at this point of the season and see what , if any positives they can take away from their respective situations . For first time head coach , Jacque Vauhgn of the Orlando Magic , to say that he has been made a “ sacrificial lamb” would be a great understatement , as the team is lacking in confidence . There seems to be no apparent leadership forthcoming , either on the field of play from anyone amongst Vaughn’s coaching staff , or from the coach , himself . For GM Rob Hennigan and CEO Alex Martins , the choice of Vaughn , might have been a prudent one , given the coach’s overall lack of head coaching experience .

I don’t think that at this point of the season , I can remember so many teams within the NBA playing sub . 500 basketball and wherein , the fans feel as if they are being short-changed by the on-field product . >. Yet , this is what the league hierarchy feel that they can bestow upon the consumer , fans and their corporate sponsors , while the league’s revenues increase exponentially primarily through the renegotiation of the NBA’s television contracts with their broadcast partners , such as ABC/ESPN , TNT Tv , WGN , none affiliated broadcast outlets nationally, and global network broadcast partners. The NBA has now become an annual $4.5 billion industry , and with teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks seeing their value , rise above the rate of inflation , with a number of the franchises also eking out fairly substantial profits in a down economy . It should be noted also, a number of teams are the recipients of an outmoded and archaic formula , wherein they are the benefactors of a luxury tax sharing scheme . Teams with payrolls in excess of the league’s “ soft salary cap” of $58.044 million are penalized as much as $1-00 for every dollar they are over that soft salary cap figure . The monies, derived from that scheme, are then disbursed amongst the so-called small market teams within the NBA. It does appear that even with the luxury tax in place , the teams do not appear to be showing the financial restraint one would have come to expect , albeit , that this latest CBA (collective bargaining agreement) , agreed to , between the league hierarchy , led by David Stern and the NPBA (union) remains littered with potholes and numerous dangers , that they clearly do not wish to address publicly .

The core of the Spurs’ roster , revolves around the team’s “ Big Three” , players, Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker , each of whom , has won an NBA title ring with the franchise . With four titles to the Spurs’ trophy cabinet , there would be nothing better for the organization , than for this team to add a fifth NBA championship to their treasure trove . As Duncan , Ginobli and Parker go , then so does the rest of this team , with the role players and certain youngsters coming off the bench to add to the team’s productivity . Hopefully , we can see that same sort of being shown by the players during the course of the postseason . Hopefully , we can see that same sort of being shown by the players during the course of the postseason . With the team playing host to the Washington Wizards on Saturday , at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas , it will be interesting to see how the Spurs fare against a team , that as of late , has become less inspiring and more of an embarrassment to themselves as well as to the NBA . The Wizards’ organization, just seems to be crumbling under the continued weight of mediocrity .

I could well be wrong in my assumption , but I have always maintained , if a business entity cannot hold its own executives accountable for their actions , then whatever befalls them as a concern , no sympathy can be shown for that entity. In the case of the NBPA (union), and the ongoing saga , and revelations of the misappropriation of monies ($80,000) from within the organization , by family members employed by the union’s Executive Director Billy Hunter . It leads me to believe that either Hunter was simply naïve and completely unaware of these actions , or somehow he chose to turn a blind eye to the fraudulent acts committed by Alexis Hunter , daughter of the union executive , when there is a clear case of a conflict of interest , when his daughter also just happens to be an employee in a struggling bank , where the executive sought to use the union’s funds for investment purposes , but in reality those funds were being used as a precursor , to shore up that bank’s capital base . What might be even more exacerbating in this whole saga , is the very fact that Billy Hunter , may well have countenanced this maneuver without first seeking the approval of the union’s executive committee .

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports & AP (Associated Press)

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter sought union investment for bank with ties to son

On the weekend of the 2009 All-Star game in Phoenix, Pat Garrity, the treasurer of the National Basketball Players Association, walked into a conference room inside the Sheraton Phoenix determined to make one final stand in his decade of service to the union. Garrity had warned peers and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter prior to the ’09 executive committee meeting that he planned to challenge Hunter on business practices, and several players purposely steered clear of the confrontational scene.

In the aftermath of the U.S. banking crisis in 2008, Garrity had grown increasingly suspicious of an investment bank project that Hunter had been pitching to the executive committee and player representatives. For Garrity and some peers in the NBPA, the investment made no sense.

Hunter had sought a $7 million to $9 million investment from the union into Interstate Net Bank of Cherry Hill, N.J., a financial institution that federal and state banking regulators had slapped with debilitating “cease-and-desist” orders, sources said.

Garrity discovered information online that left him feeling obligated to confront Billy Hunter: Hunter’s son, Todd, had a seat on the board of directors of Interstate Net Bank.

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Click on link to read in full .
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Billy Hunter , has now sought a leave of absence , as he now seeks to defend himself from what could very well turn out to be serious legal action , if it is proven that he knowingly sought to countenance and misappropriate funds from the union which he presides over . For union President , Derek Fisher , this has to be a complete embarrassment , as he has always maintained what appeared to be close personal relationship with the union’s executive director. There is no evidence to suggest that Fisher , himself , may well have known what might have been going on , but clearly with a number of the union’s player representatives voicing their concerns, as to how , and why , $7 million of union funds , were being used as an investment vehicle , when no communication or a vote took place between Hunter and the executive committee, to approve such a move , has to be seen , as a real cause for concern.

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Picture gallery .

With the NBA All Star Break , a little under two weeks away (15th – 17th February) , what do you hope to see , when the second half of the season half of the season gets underway ? And what thoughts , if any , do you have , concerning what now appears to be some serious allegations that are being leveled at Billy Hunter of the NBPA ? Chime in , on this , and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

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NBA related news’ stories : Leader of Players Union Is Put on Indefinite Leave , but volunteered to also take a leave of absence

Prince, Daye, Davis make debuts for Grizzlies

Celtics’ Sullinger out for the season with back injury

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1)MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 1: Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers pushes the ball up the floor against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game on February 1, 2013 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(2) Minnesota Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio , left, of Spain, goes high to defend but Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Nash gets off a pass in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Jim Mone ….

(3) Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) reacts to a call alongside Indiana Pacers’ Paul George (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. The Heat would go on to lose the game 102-89 against the Indian Pacers . AP Photo/Doug McSchooler …

(4) BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 1: Paul Pierce (34) of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic on February 1, 2013 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Magic 97-84 . Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images …

(5) Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) drives to the basket as Kevin Garnett blocks out New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(6) SAN ANTONIO, TX – JANUARY 30: Tony Parker (9) of the San Antonio Spurs looks to pass the ball in game played against Kemba Walker (15) of the Charlotte Bobcats on January 30, 2013 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas . Getty Images /Greg Carmody ….

(7) San Antonio Spurs’ owner , Peter Holt , right , is seen here with the team’s head coach Gregg Popovich . The two individuals have a close and trusted relationship , which has been to the mutual benefit of the Spurs’ franchise . AP Photo / Ian Turner ….

(8) In the foreground , seen are , NBPA President , Derek Fisher , left , alongside him also, is the union’s Executive Director , Billy Hunter . The besieged union executive has voluntarily taken a leave of absence pending an investigation as to the improprieties that have taken place , with the misappropriation of union funds by a family member of Billy Hunter . The union leader has denied any wrongdoing on his part , but there does appear to be mounting evidence to suggest that Hunter did not make the executive committee or the players’ representatives or for that matter union president aware of what had taken place . With the possibility of legal action being taken against him (Hunter), as well as his daughter , Alexis Hunter , who was also in the employment of the NBPA. It seems highly debatable that can and will be allowed to retain his position as the executive director of the NBPA (Players’ Union) . Getty Images North America / Elise Amendola ……

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