Hell , you know me ! There comes a time when you have to say enough is enough!

Hell , you know me ! There comes a time when you have to say enough is enough!

By Tophatal

We are but a month away from the 2013 NFL Draft , and already there is a great deal of speculation unraveling, as to who that first player, to be taken, will be . In seasons past , that number one overall choice has either had an outstanding career, or somehow fallen into oblivion , never to be heard from again . From afar, as a fan of the NFL , this is the one time of the year that I choose not to take any notice as to how the draft unfolds ! I am of the belief that the players chosen , will either live up to the perceived expectations or they will simply fall by the wayside , because of their lack of physical ability and mental toughness .

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In 2012 , it was the year of the rookie quarterbacks , by way of the excellent play witnessed and the leadership qualities shown by quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck . Luck and Griffin, taken numbers one and two respectively , by the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins , would go on to lead their teams to respectable showings in the divisional standings , as well as garnering a playoff berth for each franchise . Unfortunately, during the playoffs , both teams would indeed have early exits , with the Redskins falling to the Seattle Seahawks , and the Indianapolis Colts succumbing to the Baltimore Ravens , the eventual Superbowl champions .

This upcoming Draft , inasmuch as there is said to be a great deal of talent among the players declaring their eligibility . I truly believe that the talent level that many believe there is said to be , is not actually there , in any great depth ! Granted, the so-called “draft geeks “ and analysts will espouse the virtues of Geno Smith , Matt Barkley , Luke Joeckel and Alec Ogletree . More often than not , there is rarely a sure-fire bet or hit , that will be that impactful . However, a case could be made that last season Luck and Griffin proved that the 2012 draft class , particularly for the quarterbacks , might well have been the best NFL has witnessed in the past fifteen years .

This upcoming Draft , inasmuch as there is said to be a great deal of talent among the players declaring their eligibility . I truly believe that the talent level that many believe there is said to be , is not actually there , in any great depth ! Granted, the so-called “draft geeks “ and analysts will espouse the virtues of Geno Smith , Matt Barkley , Luke Joeckel and Alec Ogletree . More often than not , there is rarely a sure-fire bet or hit , that will be that impactful . However, a case could be made that last season Luck and Griffin proved that the 2012 draft class , particularly for the quarterbacks , might well have been the best NFL has witnessed in the past fifteen years .

Of course, it will be interesting to see how both of these sophomores will progress as the 2013 regular season beckons and what we might expect from both quarterbacks , as they become further acclimatized to the rigors of playing in the NFL . I certainly believe that with the moves made by the Colts , in particular , they are likely to prove to be a major contender for the AFC South and quite possibly a major force to be reckoned with , within the conference overall !

With the NFC East always being something of a conundrum , merely because of the preponderance of idiocy that simply overwhelms those who espouse to the fact that the Dallas Cowboys will always be a force to be reckoned with . The truth of the matter remains , the team , while Jerry Jones sits atop of his throne , the franchise will be nothing more than a mere laughing-stock , lacking in leadership , accountability at an any level , on or off the field of play. And, with the team’s overrated quarterback , Tony Romo being overpaid , while continuing to make excuses for his and the team’s perennially poor play . It were as if , flies are being genuinely attracted to fecal matter , each and very time I read a piece subscribing to the fact, that Romo is a great regular season player , while clearly being unable to lead the team to the necessary heights in the regular and postseason . Tony Romo, is only great, in brief spurts , of two or three games at a time , beyond that , he is not a player that can be can be consistently be relied upon, to lead a team to any length , of real tangible achievement or success . A fact that , seems to be lost, on the vast majority of the analysts who cover the game , and who are paid handsomely, for their opinions . Unfortunately, we also have a clueless batch of individuals within this forum, who will continue to be of the same mindset ! Stupid is , as stupid does !

It goes without saying that Jason Garrett and his coaching staff will this season , remain the focus of attention from around the NFL. The Cowboys’ failings, in 2012 , was self-evident in a wide range of categories , from their defense to their sputtering offense . Pardon me for saying this , with the Cowboys’ firing of Rob Ryan as the team’s defensive coordinator , to be replaced by an aging Monte Kiffin , whose two years assisting his son Lane Kiffin in a similar capacity with the Pac 12’s USC Trojans , to my mind has to be considered an asinine decision , especially when you take into account , that during that time-span ! The Trojans were never ranked in the nation’s top twenty-five , in any meaningful defensive category. Clearly , a case of the blind , leading the blind within the Cowboys’ front office at the timing of that particular decision !

I believe that a case can be made that the winning of a Heisman Trophy , no matter how prestigious the award might be , can be a claim that as the nation’s best collegiate player , is by any measure a guarantee of success . Yes, last season, Robert Griffin III excelled for the Washington Redskins , but the 2011 Heisman Trophy claimant did have his issues in spite of the team’s extraordinary season. With 2012 winner , Johnny Manziel remaining in college quite possibly for one or two more seasons in order to hone his game with the Texas A&M (Aggies) . It has to be said that Manziel may well have made the best possible decision. Countering that , are the following two quarterbacks , who might now be viewed as perhaps under-achieving journeymen around the NFL. Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart , now find themselves at a crossroads in their respective careers . Both achieved a great deal of success at the collegiate level , and each were afforded college football’s highest individual honor, by being named a Heisman Trophy recipient and award winner. Both, were players at USC (Trojans) , under what was thought to be the capable hands of then head coach , Pete Carroll and a program said to be above reproach. In the subsequent years, since their departure , and Carroll’s own jump to the professional ranks , I believe that we can attest to the fact that the coach’s tenure, was rife with sordid improprieties , that he and then AD , Mike Garrett simply chose to ignore and sweep under the carpet.

I believe that a case can be made that the winning of a Heisman Trophy , no matter how prestigious the award might be , can be a claim that as the nation’s best collegiate player , is by any measure a guarantee of success . Yes, last season, Robert Griffin III excelled for the Washington Redskins , but the 2011 Heisman Trophy claimant did have his issues in spite of the team’s extraordinary season. With 2012 winner , Johnny Manziel remaining in college quite possibly for one or two more seasons in order to hone his game with the Texas A&M (Aggies) . It has to be said that Manziel may well have made the best possible decision. Countering that , are the following two quarterbacks , who might now be viewed as perhaps under-achieving journeymen around the NFL. Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart , now find themselves at a crossroads in their respective careers . Both achieved a great deal of success at the collegiate level , and each were afforded college football’s highest individual honor, by being named a Heisman Trophy recipient and award winner. Both, were players at USC (Trojans) , under what was thought to be the capable hands of then head coach , Pete Carroll and a program said to be above reproach. In the subsequent years, since their departure , and Carroll’s own jump to the professional ranks , I believe that we can attest to the fact that the coach’s tenure, was rife with sordid improprieties , that he and then AD , Mike Garrett simply chose to ignore and sweep under the carpet.

Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart spent 2012 , laboring with the rather mediocre and self-aggrandizing Oakland Raiders , who over the last decade , have become the poster child , in how not to run an NFL franchise , but how to systematically ruin one, on a competitive and economic front . Albeit , that even being close proximity to one of the nation’s largest media markets , somehow the Raiders’ front office led by team owner , Mark Davis and GM , Reggie McKenzie , continue to make complete fools of themselves , with their remarkable consistency for making some of the most unbelievably ridiculous personnel decisions encapsulating the franchise . With the revenue streams afforded the Oakland Raiders , theirs as a franchise , should not be one , that is said to be losing tens of millions of dollars annually . Yet , somehow the incompetency of the front office does bear this out . Needless to say , with the incompetence being shown off the field , last season and 2011 , simply mirrored “ how far this franchise “ has fallen over the past decade .

With it now being apparent, that Palmer was not the player whom McKenzie felt could lead the team , after a very sporadic 2012 season . There now seems to be little interest by the general manager and owner , to supplant 2002 Heisman Trophy recipient and number one overall pick from the 2003 NFL Draft , with either his backup , Matt Leinart , or another troubled enfant-terrible , in Terrell Pryor . Albeit , that there were signs of intuitive play on the part of the former Buckeye starting quarterback. Carson Palmer has refused to take a pay cut or simply reconstruct his contact favorably , affording the Raiders some cap space . Reggie McKenzie has not exactly gone out of his way to endorse Pryor as the team’s future , as the Raider’s starting quarterback. It now seems likely , that the ten-year veteran , Palmer , will be cut and tossed unto the scrap heap , or quite possibly McKenzie might well seek out any opportunistic franchise , seeking to make a trade for the seasoned veteran.

With the Raiders due to take the third overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft , it seems highly unlikely that there is a need to trade down or up for the franchise . However , what will be needed by Dennis Allen and the organization’s scouting staff , will due diligence being used as it relates to the choices to be made . I am not so sure a quarterback is of the utmost priority for the franchise , as there are gaping wholes that need to be addressed over the team’s entire lineup . How the staff deals with those adversities, will very much be an indicator , as to what we should expect in 2013 , from the organization as a whole .

From a national champion title holder , to an “ overnight bust” , this is certainly how one could best describe Vince Young’s career at the collegiate level and then within the NFL . Never mind that in the wake of it all , the player has squandered the millions earned , having filed for personal bankruptcy, and now in the midst of seeking to make a comeback to the professional ranks . Given the player’s proclivity for being immature , oafish , disdainful of his teammates and simply ignorant of the fact that a coach seeks to guide him , as to how best to fulfill his career goals . I am not so sure, that it would be in an NFL franchises’ best interest to even remotely entertain the idea of giving Young a tryout ! . That being said , it would not surprise me if that perfunctory asshole and Tennessee Titans’ owner , Ken “Bud” Adams , sought to welcome Young , back with open arms . It was Adams’ intransigence and downright stupidity that led to Jeff Fisher’s departure , after the owner sought to side with the often troublesome former NFL player , rather than his well-respected head coach . The aftermath of it all, Young would soon be jettisoned by the franchise , as his play simply deteriorated .

From a national champion title holder , to an “ overnight bust” , this is certainly how one could best describe Vince Young’s career at the collegiate level and then within the NFL . Never mind that in the wake of it all , the player has squandered the millions earned , having filed for personal bankruptcy, and now in the midst of seeking to make a comeback to the professional ranks . Given the player’s proclivity for being immature , oafish , disdainful of his teammates and simply ignorant of the fact that a coach seeks to guide him , as to how best to fulfill his career goals . I am not so sure, that it would be in an NFL franchises’ best interest to even remotely entertain the idea of giving Young a tryout ! . That being said , it would not surprise me if that perfunctory asshole and Tennessee Titans’ owner , Ken “Bud” Adams , sought to welcome Young , back with open arms . It was Adams’ intransigence and downright stupidity that led to Jeff Fisher’s departure , after the owner sought to side with the often troublesome former NFL player , rather than his well-respected head coach . The aftermath of it all, Young would soon be jettisoned by the franchise , as his play simply deteriorated .

With there soon to be an abundance of free agent quarterbacks on the “open market” , Vince Young’s task will become all the more difficult , even with his less than impressive workout at the Longhorns’ Pro Day on the university’s campus playing field . He may well catch on , with an NFL team , either as a third string starter or as part of a practice squad, because I no longer believe that he has the play-making ability or the mental psyche to be a successful quarterback in the NFL ! All of the promise shown at the collegiate level , seem all for nothing , given the years wasted by Young , as he simply became a boorish oaf ! Win some ,and you lose some ! Vince Young has been nothing but a loser , since his entry into the NFL !

The more things change , at times , it is in fact the more they remain the same . Sideshow , performing animals , comical clowns and a high wire and trapeze act could best sum up the New York Jets’ diabolical season . A clueless owner , in Woody Johnson , a coaching staff simply devoid of creativity and intelligence , all of which was led by the self-absorbed Rex Ryan . And the reason why I categorically state that the Jets’ owner is simply clueless ! When you seek to apportion blame upon others, when you have the final decision as an owner on all personnel decisions , and you were said to be indifferent to the signing of a player. It indicates to me , that you are either an idiot , or simply willing to listen to others when their own decision-making has repeatedly come into question.

During this off-season , Woody Johnson bitched and whined that he was pressured into giving the final OK , in the trade that brought Tim Tebow over from the Denver Broncos , to the New York Jets . Heralded by the print media within the “Big Apple ” as a thing of “genius” , the acquisition would prove to be the Jets’ undoing and hoisting even more ridicule not only on the franchise but also upon the now stunted shoulders of the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner . See where I am going with this all , as it relates to the aforementioned winners of this accolade who have simply done nothing of merit in the NFL ?

With the Jets’ front office, now seemingly more unsure than ever before , as to whom is best suited to lead the team at the quarterback position , speculation mounted during the off-season that the organization would simply jettison their starter, Mark Sanchez , after his rather dubious forays of 2012 . With the franchise now having acquired ten-year journeyman and veteran David Garrard . It kind of makes you wonder, what other rabbits Rex Ryan will now seek to pull out of his top hat , while seeking to create the illusion and perception that the Jets are now progressing in the right direction . Suffice to say, anyone who feels that Garrard can provide the roster of quarterbacks already on this team with further competition , having seen the veteran quarterback’s play in recent seasons , has either got to be on prescribed medication or under the delusions of grandeur.

With the tempering rumors, that the Jets may well use their Pro Bowl corner-back , Darrelle Revis , as a form of trade bait to move up in the NFL Draft order , a great many things are now certain to come into play , as it relates to the franchise and the player .

In the midst of this all, Tim Tebow’s future remains uncertain with the New York Jets . A homecoming of sorts , is already out of the question , with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ management categorically stating that they have no interest in acquiring the beleaguered quarterback. There now seems to be a quandary as to how Rex Ryan will seek to extricate himself from a mess he fashioned alongside the team’s former offensive coordinator Tony Sparano , an individual, whose NFL coaching experience , can be best summed up in two words “absolute bull#hit “ !

From my own personal standpoint , what Ryan was able to achieve in his first three seasons with the franchise was impressive . Yet, in the subsequent years , all of the ballyhooed and hype simply cannot hide the fact, that he has become a bloviated ass , who rested on his laurels , rather than seeking to improve New York Jets ,as a franchise . GM John Idzik may well use this upcoming season , not only to assess the roster , but also Rex Ryan and his entire coaching staff . Failure once again , and it is likely , that he will be summarily relieved of his duties as a head coach with the franchise. Ryan’s most pressing issue beyond dealing with the team’s cap issues will be how best to also address the team’s draft needs .

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(1)Quarterback Matt Barkley , center, talks to reporters during NFL football pro day at the University of Southern California, Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …

(2) Safety , T.J. McDonald looks during Southern California’s NFL football pro day, Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …

(3)Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) is hit by Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) , as he throws, during the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Baltimore. The Ravens would go on to defeat the Colts 24-9 . AP Photo/Nick Wass …

(4) In this Jan. 6, 2013, photo, Washington Redskins quarterback , Robert Griffin III (10) returns to the huddle after hurting his right knee as he fell awkwardly while throwing an incomplete pass during the first quarter of their NFL wild card playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Landover, Md. An injury that sidelines Griffin well into next season is a very real possibility _ or at least it seemed that way Monday, Jan. 7, after head coach Mike Shanahan described the results of tests on the rookie’s right knee following a series of plays in their Sunday game that did additional damage to a knee that was just three games removed from suffering a sprained lateral collateral ligament. AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, L. Todd Spencer …

(5) Texas A&M offensive lineman Luke Joeckel answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine . Joeckel is being seen as a the consensus # 1 overall pick likely to be taken in this year’s NFL Draft . Yet the prevailing thought with the Kansas City Chiefs seeking a proven passer , Geno Smith of West Virginia could supplant Joeckel as that number one pick. AP Photo / Richard Sasser ….

(6) Geno Smith of West Virginia is seen here going through drills at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indiana , Indianapolis , earlier in the year. The quarterback is seen as the best passer in this year’s crop of eligible college quarterbacks with their sights set on the professional ranks of the NFL . AP Photo / Richard Sasser ……

(7) There’s always something to laugh about and seemingly find comical , if you just happen to be a member of the Dallas Cowboys . Pictured here , are the team’s under-achieving quarterback , Tony Romo and team owner , Jerry Jones , sharing a few laughs. I wonder what the 2013 season may well hold for the franchise within the NFC East and the conference as a whole . Certainly , it can’t be any worse than last season ? Perhaps it could ? Well , let’s hope so ! Getty Images North America / Christian Petersen …

(8) Raiders’ quarterbacks , from left to right , Terrell Pryor , Matt Leinart , Carson Palmer and Kyle Newhall-Caballero . Newhall-Caballero, no longer on the roster , remains a part of the Raiders’ practice squad. Rumors persist that with Palmer unwilling to restructure his contract for which he is due to receive $13 million for the 2013 season and the team seeking a cut , down to $10 million , he is likely to be cut by the organization . AP Photo/ Junii Kumagawa …

(9) Vince Young on the campus of the University of Texas (Longhorns’) campus , as he prepares for the Longhorns’ Pro Day . The former Tennessee Titans’ , Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills backup quarterback is hoping to make a last-ditch attempt to resurrect his somewhat understated NFL career . Of the NFL coaches in attendance on the day , only the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin was said to have shown any discerning interest. However, rumors now circling around the NFL , are that the Chicago Bears may well bring in Young for a tryout and as a backup to team starter , Jay Cutler . Getty Images North America / Ian Thompson ……

(10) Mark Sanchez(6) , listens in , as offensive coordinator , Tony Sparano confers with head coach Rex Ryan and starting quarterback Greg McElroy (14) , during a game played against the San Diego Chargers at Met Life Stadium , in East Rutherford , New Jersey . Also in picture , second string starter, Tim Tebow . The Chargers would go on to defeat the Jets 27-17 . To further exacerbate the franchise’s travails was their poor finish to the season and final standing within the AFC East , a third place finish with a 6-10 record . AP/Getty Images / David Shults ….

(11) From left to right , New York Jets’ owner , Woody Johnson , is seen here with newly installed general manager , John Idzik, who succeeded Mike Tannenbaum , and who was summarily fired by Johnson , after the team’s disastrous 2012 season . AP Photo/ Chris Douglas …….

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Shoot for the Moon and the Stars …..

It’s now time to shoot for the Moon and the Stars ….

With the NCAA Tournament having now taken shape, the brackets have been busted wide open. The “Sweet Sixteen “ is now upon us and to say that a number of fans around the country are now either up in arms in angst , would be something of an understatement . Meanwhile, there will also be a large litany of fans simply elated that their brackets have remained intact.

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Making it to the Sweet Sixteen are the little minnows of Florida Gulf Coast College , who along with their coach , Andy Enfield , have provided the biggest story in the NCAA Tournament by far . Now comes the hard part for the team , can they carry their “Cinderella Story” deeper into this postseason of surprises , crescendo and overwhelming hysteria ? For the team’s unlikely stars , Bernard Thompson , Chase Fieler and Brett Comer , to be able to display their skills in front of a national audience of millions , has to first of all ,come as a big surprise , never mind their rather shocking result, in defeating San Diego State University , in one the biggest upsets of this tournament , 81-71 .

Next up for Florida Gulf Coast , will be a prime-time match-up against Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators on Thursday evening , in what is sure to be a highly anticipated game , where the outcome grants the victors an appearance in the Elite Eight. No in state rivalry here , merely a contest, between two schools , looking to make some history of their own . None more so , than perhaps for the Gators’ head coach Billy Donovan , as he seeks to win his third national title , in seven years.

It’s not necessarily what you do , it’s the way and how you do it . The Miami Heat’s twenty-four game unbeaten streak carries on unabated , and for now , theirs is the story that the NBA is simply encapsulated by , none of this bull#hit as to woes of the ” overrated” New York Knicks or the under-achieving Brooklyn Nets .

It’s not necessarily what you do , it’s the way and how you do it . The Miami Heat’s twenty-four game unbeaten streak carries on unabated , and for now , theirs is the story that the NBA is simply encapsulated by , none of this bull#hit as to woes of the ” overrated” New York Knicks or the under-achieving Brooklyn Nets . Miami , in their most recent game , simply overwhelmed the hapless Charlotte Bobcats in a lopsided Eastern Conference match-up 109-77 . I am not so sure which Michael Jordan , is now relishing more , his possible upcoming nuptials or watching the franchise he now owns ,simply add more burden and further embarrassment to the his acumen as an a front office executive and team owner . The longer the Bobcats continue show their stunning mediocrity to the fans of the NBA , the less likely it is that the franchise can survive in its present form. A dwindling attendance at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte , North Carolina , along with declining revenues , and you simply have to question the mindset of Jordan and his fellow executives .

As to Miami’s own fortunes , well , let’s just say , a fortune cookie manufacturer could make several million dollars , simply placing in print “ Miami Heat wins another game “ , and then placing those messages inside several million fortune cookies. It is far too early to start to make comparisons between the Heat’s present run and NBA record run of the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers , a team that was simply resplendent with many of the game’s biggest stars. With Heat streak, now standing at twenty-six games and counting , the question now becomes , who amongst the teams remaining on their schedule , will be able to derail their ambitions , as they seek to surpass the Lakers’ thirty-three game unbeaten streak ? And tonight, the team being asked to take down the might of South Beach , will be none other than the Orlando Magic , a franchise seeking to rebound after the abrupt departure of Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers during this past off-season.

For Magic head coach , Jacque Vaughn , in his rookie season , he has been encumbered with a team that is still finding its way , while still seeking not to place itself amongst the league’s least competitive franchises .And boy , how this team has suffered and played , as you simply never know what level of ineptitude to expect from a group , that is said to be lacking in leadership , both on and off the court !

I’ll say this for the NFL , but this off-season has proven to be one opportunities , incompetence and the ongoing and brazen stupidity that one has now come to expect from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodel ! While, much has been made, with regard to the numerous off-season acquisitions that have been made, it is clear that there that there has been more money misspent on marginal talent , simply because idiots would prescribe to the fact that this is what the market can bear. Should anyone have expected any different , when you consider the idiotic banter that takes place between erstwhile fans and the geeks out there , making claims as to cap space and what teams have available to spend ? The general managers within the NFL are far from, being the brightest , much less, the most insightful or business minded of individuals ! On the evolutionary scale , if Darwin were alive today , I would dare say , that he would be perplexed as to how to best describe these particular individuals !

Reigning Superbowl champions the Baltimore Ravens , in the aftermath of their triumph over the San Francisco 49ers , have simply sought to revamp the roster . The retirement of Ray Lewis notwithstanding , the departures of Anquan Boldin , Ed Reed and Paul Kruger , has me now questioning the wisdom of GM Ozzie Newsome , in rewarding Joe Flacco with such an exorbitant contract , while the core of the Ravens’ lineup was torn asunder . As good as Flacco , just happened to be , for the Ravens during the postseason , his body work prior to 2012 , was simply, not overwhelming or dare one say, that impressive .

With the NFL Draft , now a little more than a month away , it will be extremely interesting to see how John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome set about rebuilding the roster after the loss of such extraordinary players during the Ravens’ off-season . Newsome might well be one of the most astute front office executives in the NFL today , and his record in terms of the franchise’s personnel decisions with the Baltimore Ravens over the past decade , has simply been indicative of that.

Well, now that we have had the idiocy of the World Baseball Classic behind us ! OK, for once, the winner , the victor , on this occasion , was not from the Asian Pacific Basin , as it had been twice before , with Japan winning the inaugural event in 2008 and then making a successful defense in 2012 . This year’s event, failed to live up to, any of the perceived hype that MLB or IBAF may well have hoped for . And for the purists out there , who are of the belief that a tournament hastily put together , prior to the start of the MLB Spring Training Schedule is simply a worthwhile event . I would pose this question to you all, would you leave your home to make your way to work without being fully clothed ? Herein, lies the misnomer and idiocy placed upon this quadrennial event by Bud Selig’s hierarchy . He simply believes that the WBC can now make up for Ibex’s World Cup as well as the loss of the event from the IOC (International Olympic Committee) Summer Games .

This year, the Dominican Republic was triumphant in defeating Puerto Rico in the championship game 3-0 . As to how Team USA fared , well let’s just say , the “Emperor”, had no new clothes and his manhood was exposed , put on show , which in essence , was nothing more than a spec on this entire event . As to why, they even bothered to turn up with a “half assed “ roster , that could be best described puerile is simply beyond me ! But this is so atypical of an institutional body , that has ideas, so high above its competitive standing that you simply have to look at it all , as one big goddamn joke !

Now down to business , and yes the 31st March kicks off the regular season schedule within baseball this season. However, for the for the vast majority of teams their Opening Day will not come about Monday , 1st April , with a slew of games being lined up for that Opening Day schedule . Reigning World Series champions , the San Francisco Giants will begin the defense of their title , playing their NL West rivals , the Los Angeles Dodgers , who will have on parade their $214 million payroll roster . As to what this ultimately says about the state of the game from a financial aspect , when it is clear that a ball-club with a $60 million payroll, barely has a pot to piss in , much less a window to throw it out of . I will leave it all, for you all to be the judge of that ! Suffice to say, the commissioner and the rest of the itinerant assholes who continue to espouse the financial well-being of this game, when it is clearly a mess , you can all go fuck the horse you rode in on !

As to the aspirations for teams who are seen as the presumptive favorites . Well, it goes without saying that anyone who spends $2.156 billion to purchase a ball-club , surely isn’t doing that for a group of gloating admirers . Magic Johnson , Mark Walter , and the litany of multi-millionaires and billionaires who joined the syndicated partnership of Guggenheim Baseball Properties Inc , to make that bold purchase , are clearly seeking an even greater reward. A rumored $ 7 billion television contract, also has greased the wheels , but I somehow get the feeling that MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner and Bud Selig will find a way of being a thorn in the side and pain in the ass of the Dodgers , as to how that sum will be disbursed amongst the Los Angeles Dodgers and the other (small-market) teams within the league ! All of that hard work initiated by the ball club and now they have to share their spoils with teams who in many cases, choose not to be competitive . I’m calling you out , the Kansas City Royals , Pittsburgh Pirates , Houston Astros , Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies ! Anyone who witnessed the play of the aforementioned teams in 2012 , and their final divisional standings , will know how mediocre they just happened to be !

On the day that Tiger Woods finds himself back atop of the World Golf rankings having won the Arnold Palmer /Bay Hill Invitational , a PGA Tournament founded by PGA Tour great , Arnold Palmer . Having led the tournament , for the better part of the three continuous days, with Sunday being rained out because of inclement weather. . It was left to Woods to remind us why he has been the most dominant golfer over the past decade , in spite of the recent idiocy of the player’s detractors and commentators within this forum, stating that the player was on the decline. Pardon me for saying this , but the likes of Bubba Watson , Webb Simpson , Keegan Bradley , Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink are not the type of guys on the PGA Tour who are going to hold the public’s attention for more than a minute much less , thirty seconds ! Furthermore, the players in question, are far too robotic and without any real humor or character ! And if Woods is said to be on the decline , then I would like to know how one actually determines that specific detail ?

Tiger Woods’ only serious threat on the final day of the tournament was the player himself and a rather capricious Ricky Fowler , whose last round of 73 (1 over par for the final round , 8 under par for the tournament , 5 shots behind the winner ) literally blew up in his face , with his erratic and inconsistent play . Can we simply say overrated, once and for all ! The whole world knows that the PGA Tour and world golf in particular, cannot survive in its present guise , without a dominant Tiger Woods on the golfing landscape. Only an idiot would ever consider and think to the contrary ! It has been Woods, who has been the sole driving force that has seen the PGA Tour prize rise from just over $35 million in 1996 to $375 million in total prize money for the 2013 PGA Tour schedule . It seems that, hitting a tiny white ball around an eighteen hole course does have its rewards after-all . The question now remains, as the schedule now progresses , can Tiger Woods now win at least one of the four Major Grand Slam Tournaments on the PGA Tour , and inch closer towards Jack Nicklaus’ PGA Tour record total of eighteen Grand Slam title wins. With his victory at the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational , Woods won for the seventy seventh time and is now five wins behind the all-time win total of 82 held by the late Sam Snead .

Any sport , whose most prestigious event just happens to be its opening day event of an almost year-long calendar , will have to grab my attention for about as long as I would desire to see full frontal photos of Rosie O’Donnell butt naked . And that is just not happening , just as in the same way , this heated idiocy that now seems to be fomented by NASCAR , as that sport seeks to enthrall a now apparent dwindling broadcast television audience . Anyone who witnessed the childlike fracas between three-time Sprint Cup championship winner Tony Stewart and Joey Logano , will know that both combatants , posses the physicality of an effeminate male ballet dancer . In the Sprint Cup season opener the Daytona 500 , we were all meant to be excited by Dania Patrick and the fact that she was the pole sitter for the sport’s most prestigious race. The only pole that Danica Patrick should be around , if it is her intent to attract my attention , then it had better be a stripper pole . Anything other than that , simply won’t cut it for me , much less garner my attention ! .

As to the season, and what it entails for the most ardent of fans of this multibillion dollar spectacle. I can only surmise that NASCAR will try to create as much drama as is humanly possible , while seeking to pique the viewers’ interest. Beyond that , I don’t believe that much else needs to be said !

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

Of the weekend’s sporting schedule , what if anything , raised your interest as to the events that took place ? Simply chime in with a comment , as you see fit ,and as always, thanks for the continued support of this site , as it is greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1) Florida Gulf Coast’s Dajuan Graf, from left,Eddie Murray and Brett Comer celebrate after winning a third-round game against San Diego State in the NCAA college basketball tournament, Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Philadelphia. Florida Gulf Coast won 81-71. AP Photo/Michael Perez …

(2)Mar 22, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Florida Gulf Coast Eagles guard Sherwood Brown (25) and guard Brett Comer (0) celebrate a 78-68 win over the Georgetown Hoyas in the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Center . Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports…

(3) Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) drives around Charlotte Bobcats’ Jeff Adrien (4) looking for a shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Miami, Sunday March 24, 2013. AP Photo/J Pat Carter …

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, left, shoots over the Orlando Magic’s Tobias Harris (12) and Jameer Nelson (14) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, March 22, 2013, in Orlando, Fla. The Thunder won 97-89 . AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr …..

(5) FILE – In this Dec. 16, 2012, file photo, Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil watches the action from the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore. Dumervil has spurred the Broncos for Baltimore, agreeing to a five-year deal, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome announced Sunday, March 24, 2013. AP Photo/Gail Burton …

(6) SAN FRANCISCO, CA – MARCH 19: Robinson Cano(24) and Jose Reyes and to Reyes’ left , Hanley Ramirez of the Dominican Republic celebrate after defeating Puerto Rico to win the Championship Round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic by a score of 3-0 at AT&T Park on March 19, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images ….

(7) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Carl Crawford is high-fived in the dugout after being driven in with a two-run home run from Andre Ethier against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game , Sunday, March 24, 2013 in ,Phoenix. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez …

(8) Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office executives and co-owners , from left to right , Hollywood media mogul, Peter Guber, team President Stan Kasten , Chairman , Mark L Walter and senior partner Magic Johnson . Walter , CEO of the venture capital firm Guggenheim Partners (assets $125 billion) , through their associate company Guggenheim Baseball Properties paid a record $2.156 billion to purchase the beleaguered Los Angeles Dodgers’ franchise which had been placed into bankruptcy proceedings by now disgraced former owner Frank McCourt . Suggestions of collusion were made , by several franchise owners , because it was widely believed and held notion , that the MLB commissioner favored the bid by the Johnson and Walter led consortium, much to the disdain of those who felt that Bud Selig failed to show any impartiality throughout the entire process having kept in close contact with the bankruptcy judge and consultants who handled the litigant proceedings . AP/ Photo / Marcus Hughes …..

(9) ….Tiger Woods, left, and Arnold Palmer share a laugh during the trophy presentation after Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 25, 2013. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack …

(10) Rickie Fowler lines up a shot on the sixth green during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament, Monday, March 25, 2013, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack …..

(11) Joey Logano has to be led away by his pit crew after an altercation with fellow Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart at the Auto Club 400 at Fontana Motor Speedway , in Fontana , California , this past Sunday . The race was won by Kyle Busch for his first victory of the Sprint Cup season . AP/ Photo/Keith Larson ……

(12) Danica Patrick walks to her car to qualify for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race in Fontana, Calif., Friday, March 22, 2013. AP Photo/Reed Saxon …

(13) Patrick certainly making sure that beyond her abilities on the track, her best assets, are indeed her looks . Bertelsmann Print AEG , GmBH …

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By Tophatal

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NCAA Basketball

NCAA Tournament results 24th March 2013

NCAA Tournament schedule 25th March 2013

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament brackets

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NBA news

NBA results 24th March 2013 and scheduled games 25th March

NBA standings (division) and by conference

NBA statistics

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NFL news

NFL transactions

2013 NFL Draft and NFL Combine news

NFL Draft by grades

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MLB news

MLB schedule 25th March 2013

MLB results 24th March 2013

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Hot chic pics of the day are below , Ines Cudna and Ewa Sonnet .

Ines Cudna . A hot piece of @ss by any stretch of the imagination , wouldn’t you say ?

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Ewa Sonnet

Batman and Robin move over , there are a new pair of caped crime fighters in town , namely The King and D-Wade

Batman and Robin move over , there are a new pair of caped crime fighters in town , namely The King and D-Wade

As the Miami Heat slowly progress towards eking out, their own little place in history, this season . It should be noted as the team looks to surpass the 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers’ impressive 33 game consecutive win streak . The fact of the matter is , that Lakers’ team had its fair share of stars, as well an explosive pairing , made up of Gail Goodrich and Jerry West , and need we forget , there just happened to be a center by the name of Wilt Chamberlain ?

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Slidehow .

Bill Sharman , the Lakers’ head coach , in that historic season was blessed with a team , resplendent with stars and role players . Needless, to say their march to the NBA title , was something of a stroll as they marched the postseason with a great deal of ease , without ever being truly tested . Say what you will , good teams , come and go , but the great ones live on in our memories , are immortalized and eulogized, as part of the NBA folklore .

Fast forward , four decades later , and the Miami Heat , coached by Erik Spoelstra , under the watchful eye of the Heat President , Pat Riley , now seem to be intent , on rewriting the annals of NBA history. This Heat team hasn’t so much been cobbled together , more of an exercise of building around , not one but four superstars . Well of course , at first it was the “ Big Three” , but this offseason with the acquisition of Ray Allen , they essentially became , the “ Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” . However , this season , it has literally been about the combined play of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade . And granted , Chris Bosh and Ray Allen have contributed greatly in the Heat’s fifty two game win total. And at this juncture about the only thing that can make serious make dent in the hopes , are the team’s own complacency. I certainly don’t believe that Heat owner , Micky Arison , Pat Riley and the executives are likely to have that scenario visit the organization!

Now for all of these pious holier than thou fans of the New York Knicks, selling that franchise , as if it were a “ hot stock tip”, without ever being able to show any evidence , that this team was simply good enough to be even in with a remote chance of somehow derailing the Heat’s postseason overtures . I would like to ask you all , what the hell happened concerning the New York Knicks , a team of underachievers ? And please don’t lament, and plead the fact, of injuries have caused this latest malaise concerning this franchise . Last I looked , several of the Heat’s victories over this current run , they have played at times, without Bosh , Allen and Wade . You now, seemed to have all crawled off into a darkened room, ceasing to even have the gravitas to be intelligent enough, to answer a question, as to what went wrong. So typical of the New York fan, when it comes to their professional sports’ franchise , forever obnoxious and simply clueless! How quickly, one forgets and then seeks to make excuses . Docile and stupid!

If there has been one thing that has been abundantly clear this season within the NBA , it is the mere fact that the quality of the play at times has bordered on being absolutely diabolical on both ends of the floor . I have read a number of articles within this forum by avowed NBA fans, simply showing their bias , without divulging anything of genuine interest or being remotely informative, as it relates to basketball at the professional level and the play we have all witnessed. And with due respect , the stories we are meant to be impressed with as such , have been hardly dramatic or really that thrilling . Plainly put , we may well yearn for something exciting to be happening within the NBA at present , but in reality, there are only two stories that matter most or simply draws our undivided attention . Those are for the moment , who among the Heat’s remaining schedule will be the first to take them down ? And secondly , when the “soap opera “ that happens to be the Los Angeles Lakers , come to a fitting end , with either Mitch Kupchak seeing the light or Jim Buss finally admitting that his sister and late father , have more of a basketball acumen than he will attain or secure over the course of his life ?

The Los Angeles Lakers (36-33) are at present in something of a dogfight , with their position within the Western Conference , by no means secure or even a guarantee . As the incumbent seated in the eighth and final playoff position within the conference , the team finds itself a mere combined 3 ½ games ahead of the ninth and tenth placed Utah Jazz (34-34) and Dallas Mavericks (32-36). And with both of those teams in question having a far more favorable remaining schedule than the Lakers . It simply shows us that the for all of the prognosis made by Kobe Bryant as to the team making the postseason . The All Star guard must know and better be sure , that his teammates are prepared “to have his back” , rather than his claims , simply coming across as sheer naïveté’ . As to whether or not the Los Angeles Lakers can overcome their immediate rivals within the conference for that eighth and final conference playoff berth remains to be seen .

The paring of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, as dynamic as they have been this season , I for one don’t believe that the duo have reached their peak , and realize how good they could become ! Certainly , they could rival such famed duos , as Jordan and Pippen , Stockton and Malone , Magic and Kareem , Bird and McHale, , to name but a few of those historic and famed combinations from the NBA’s “ glorious past” .

With fifteen games to go in their regular season schedule , at 53-14 , as of the 20th March , the record that the Miami Heat would no doubt like to surpass, is that of the franchise’s best record in its history , which came during the 1996-97 season , where they were able to go an astonishing 61-21 over an eighty-two game schedule. Leading the way that season were Tim Hardaway , Alonzo Mourning , Jamaal Mashburn and Voshon Leonard , as the team played their way to what was then , their best standing in franchise history . The team would go on to the postseason , where they would ultimately end up losing to the Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals .

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Picture gallery .

As to what the immediate future now holds for two of the NBA’s brightest and most accomplished superstars , now becomes a matter conjecture and speculation. Clearly , the likes of present day pairings Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant , Chris Paul and Blake Griffin , and the litany of other aspirants of this season would like nothing better than to make that premise James and Wade being the best pairing in the NBA , seem nothing more than an aberration . The question that has to be asked , is can any of the other duos in question, become the equal of the Heat’s pairing ? Your thoughts on this , and anything else you believe pertinent to subject matter ? Chime in with a comment, as you see fit .

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1)Dylan Karlovic, 11, holds up a sign before the Cleveland Cavaliers play the Miami Heat in an NBA basketball game , Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Cleveland. Miami won 98-95 . AP Photo/Tony Dejak …

(2) Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) celebrates with guard Dwyane Wade after scoring against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. The Heat won 86-67 . AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh …

(3) ” The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ” , from left to right Dwyane Wade , Chris Bosh LeBron James and Ray Allen . The quartet account for an astonishing 73 % of the Heat’s offensive output , with James and Wade being the team’s leading scorer this season and also during 2011 . It should come as no surprise also that the duo led the team in scoring in their postseason triumph of winning the franchise’s second NBA title in 2012. AP Photo/ Marc Hall …

(4) Kareem Abdul Jabbar , left and Magic Johnson , amongst one the celebrated and famed duos to have played for the Los Angeles Lakers . At the height of their prowess the pairing might well be adjudged to be “perhaps the greatest ” in NBA history ” . Then again, beauty as they say ….. ” is in the eye of the beholder ” . AP/REUTERS/Thomas Carter …

(5) Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen , two of the most celebrated and beloved players in the Chicago Bulls’ rich history . Multiple titles , and accolades have been bestowed upon this historic pairing . AP Photo / Nicholas Hastings ….

(6) Bill Sharman receives a handshake from Gail Goodrich in front of Jerry West and Pat Riley as the 1972 NBA Championship team is honored at halftime during the game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Getty Images North America / Harry How ….

(7) Bill Russell and Bob Cousy , one of the great pairings in Celtics’ History , that was in many ways viewed as the precursor to the Bird McHale partnership . AP/ REUTERS/ Atlantic Associates / Miles Middlecomb ….

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By Tophatal

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NBA news and archived stories

NBA schedule 21st March 2013 and results for 20th March

NBA standings (division)

NBA standings (conference)

NBA standings by teams

NBA statistics

NBA’s top ten duos

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Miami Heat profile and team news

Miami Heat schedule and an in depth schedule proviso

Miami Heat roster and assistant coaching staff Head coach Erik Spoelstra

Miami Heat team stats

Miami Heat team payroll and yearly salaries

Miami Heat team stats

Miami Heat franchise history

Miami Heat front office

Miami Heat team valuation along with revenues

NBA team values

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Hot chic pic of the day Cali Lynn

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Wale ……. feat’g Tiara Thomas ………………… “”Bad ”

It was the best of times and the worst of times ……

It was the best of times and the worst of times

With the final week of Spring Training now upon us, teams are looking to prepare themselves for Opening Day of the 2013 season. A number of ball-clubs teams will certainly be look to acquit themselves after something of a disappointing season. Cases could be made that two of the biggest disappointments from a competitive standpoint came by way of the Texas Rangers (93-69) and Philadelphia Phillies (81-81). And with both of these ball-clubs having among the highest payrolls of last season , it is easy to understand why both were considered a major disappointment to their fans and the analysts alike.

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Slideshow.

For the Texas Rangers , major upheavals have taken place during the off-season , with the departure of outfielder and slugger, Josh Hamilton for the millions that Arte Moreno and the Los Angeles were offering the player , to add some potency for their offense . GM Jon Daniels and team President Nolan Ryan had a difference of opinion as to how best to deal with a number of player issues beyond meeting what was said to be Hamilton’s ludicrous contract demands. With that taken into account, Ryan was forced to step down by several of the team’s other syndicated partners. Daniels, is now solely responsible for all of the player personnel decisions in conjunction with Ron Washington and the coaching staff.

The fact that Josh Hamilton was allowed to leave may well prove to be fortuitous for the ball club, with the player’s criticism of the organization , when both he and his wife stated that they were made to feel un-welcomed by the team’s hierarchy . Something , I fail to understand , given the Rangers’ support of Hamilton during his sobriety and drug issues as recently as of 2012 , and the admission, that he was once again drinking. However, what had become clear , was that in spite of the vast financial resources now at the team’s disposal , they no longer felt that a long-term five or ten- year contract , rewarding Josh Hamilton in excess of $150 million , would be in their best interest.

With Nolan Ryan, now being forced to step aside , his position within the Rangers’ organization is now , not even in “name only “. President Emeritus, any input or decision-making, even of the slightest, would now have to go through Jon Daniels. Further emphasizing how little power, he now has within the organization. If anything, this is something of a payback , after the power struggle that is said to have taken place , that led former front office executive , Chuck Greenberg, being forced out by Nolan Ryan and his backed supporters. Much of the Rangers’ initial success in the aftermath of the ball-club being acquired by the Ryan led syndication group , can be placed with Chuck Greenberg, a successful corporate lawyer and former sports’ agent. It was at his insistence, and input , that led to major corporate coups, that gave the ball-club to a more stable financial situation of the Texas Rangers on a long-term basis. It should be noted ,that when the Rangers came out of bankruptcy proceedings after the disastrous era under the tenure of former owners, Tom Hicks and Ken Gillette .

Many felt, that this was one of the most disruptive and most incompetent chain of events that had taken place in the franchise’s history. Much of which, all came under the tenure, in which an ever docile MLB hierarchy , led by Bud Selig , stood idly by , while Hicks and Gillette , were simply left to run amok with the Rangers’ finances. Kind of reminds you of the idiocy , that Frank McCourt was allowed to get away with , while almost bringing the Los Angeles Dodgers , almost to ceasing their operations , with the hierarchy of baseball, for a number of months having to guarantee the team’s payroll , because of the ineptitude being shown by McCourt , GM Ned Colletti and former CFO , Peter Wilhelm . And there were idiots within and outside of the game, still trying to claim that the ball-club’s problems were simply minor issues ? How fucked up, was their thinking to begin with ? And what actual, business acumen, did they actually possess, to make such asinine pronunciations ?

Greenberg’s abrupt departure may well have paved the way for Nolan Ryan’s attempt at having a stranglehold on the reins of power within the Rangers’ hierarchy . I simply believe, that this did not sit well, with a board of directors led by Ray C Davis , Bob Simpson , Neil Leibman , Rick George and Courtney Krug , to name but a few of the several wealthy individuals , who ploughed much of their wealth into the acquiring of the franchise . It should be noted , that the Rangers , much as in the same way that the Dodgers have been able to negotiate a rather lucrative television contract , beyond the revenues derived via the MLB Network and baseball overall. With the Los Angeles Dodgers’ reputed deal , said to be worth approximately $7 billion over a two decade period , based on certain initiatives . It has to be said that the Rangers’ $ 3.2 billion dollar-deal , over a similar time-span does seem to have its advantages , as well as placing the franchise in a great position to pursue top-quality free agents almost at will. Which begs the question , if the large market teams can go out and be so aggressive . Then , why the continued belly aching by so many of the small market teams, who feel that they are being disenfranchised , while they simply have their municipal councils eating out of their hands , while they themselves have done a piss poor job at seeking out additional revenue streams for their respective organizations .

I am now , sick and tired of the goddamn excuses , of individuals such as Stuart Sternberg of the Tampa Bay Rays , David Glass of the Kansas City Royals and “ moronic buffoons “ such as , Sandy Alderson and his asinine decision-making as it relates to the woefully inept New York Mets , a franchise , still hemorrhaging red ink , like a female still on her menstrual cycle .

The Rangers for their part, coming off two AL pennant appearances in the past three years , were something of a major disappointment in 2012 . And nowhere was this more self-evident, than on the final day of the regular season of this past year. In a game , in which they needed a victory, to secure not only a playoff berth but also the outright AL West crown for a third consecutive season. Somehow , this team would find a way to simply shoot themselves in the foot , in succumbing to the Oakland A’s in that final game . What might be even more exacerbating, was the very fact that for all but eighteen days, of the entire 2012 schedule , of one hundred and eighty-two days , the Rangers led the division , only to then surrender the lead and their crown to the A’s on that fateful day, in October of 2012. That 4-3 defeat , may well have explained a great deal about the “lack of heart “ of the Texas Rangers , not only as a team, but also something that may well have mirrored the complacency shown by the organization , whose very presence, was seen at times in the conceitedness of Nolan Ryan. “ It’s my bauble, and I will do with it, as I please “ ! Could those sentiments, better represent Ryan , not only as an executive , but also as a player ?

That defeat , led to the Rangers having to meet the Baltimore Orioles in a one game-playoff with the wildcard round , of the newly formatted postseason . Suffice to say, that the dark clouds hovered over Arlington Ballpark, in Texas, as the Orioles dismantled the Rangers 5-1 . No third consecutive return to the World Series , and seeking to avenge losses in 2011 and 2010 . Heartache and tears might be the best way to describe the Rangers after those two gut wrenching series’ defeats.

The Rangers’ preseason apart, Ron Washington, may well be spending a great deal of time now assessing this new-look team , with its acquired free agents and none roster invitees , but you simply have to know , that another season of missed opportunities , are likely seal the fates of a number of members of the player personnel, and quite possibly the manager’s role within this organization. A diminish role for Nolan Ryan, doesn’t exactly sit well, with one of the most prolific pitchers in baseball history , as well as being an outspoken executives.

A Rangers’ team predicated on offense last season , where they were also effective with their pitching , yet at times when it mattered the most, it was nowhere to be seen. Yu Darvish , has been able to establish, that the stories reported as to his being a star, are indeed true. What 2013 holds for the pitcher and the organization remains to be seen. It will be incumbent upon Darvish , as well as the rest of the staff to be at their very best , if the Texas Rangers are to be in with a chance of winning the AL West and making return to the MLB postseason.

Say what you will about the Philadelphia Phillies , but their recent track record in the NL East, up until last season, was quite impressive . However, take away from the years in question, from 2007 through until 2011, and you can see that the ball-club , essentially, fell on the leanest of times. Five years of highs and lows with Reuben Amaro , may well have brought about the franchise’s most recent by way of a series’ title in 2008 , with their defeat of the Tampa Bay Rays . Yet along the way , fans were able to witness the ball-club overpaying for paying for talent and where that still remains a part of the front office psyche. With the return of Pat Gillick in the primary role of a special consultant , advisor and de-facto SVP/General Manager. You would not be wrong to think that Gillick is simply there, to rein in the capricious mindset of Amaro. Take into account that manager , Charlie Manuel , has been repeatedly and heavily criticized for the team’s lack competitiveness in 2012. Injuries asides , a payroll of $174.5 million for last season , should have brought about a great deal more success, than a .500 record of 81-81 , good enough for a third place finish within the NL East , 17 games behind the newly minted divisional champions , the Washington Nationals.

As prolific as the team’s offense has been known to be , last season , with Ryan Howard being sidelined for much of the season due to injuries , and with Raul Ibanez , off to bolster the New York Yankees , and to complement what was already competitive laden offensive team. It must be said, that the Phillies suffered greatly from the loss of both players in 2012 , which was further exacerbated by the inconsistency of the pitching , primary from the relievers , who simply gave up whatever opportunities that were afforded them by the team’s starters . Given that those starters were , Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee , Roy Halladay , Kyle Hendricks , Antonio Bastardo , Vance Worley , Joe Blanton and Jonathan Papelbon , you simply have to question, not only the monetary investment in those players , but also the ineptitude of the performances in 2012.

A win in 2008 , of the World Series, gave the Phillies’ franchise their greatest triumph in recent history. Subsequent years, have seen highs and lows, more lows, I believe, than the rapturous and overwhelming cacophony of success! This season might be the last , in which Charlie Manuel will be afforded to get it right , and failure to do so , could very well lead to his dismissal from the organization , along with several members of his coaching staff . Not to be left out of that equation either, will be the players undoubtedly thought to be superfluous to the organization’s needs . And given the payroll commitment to the players on this roster . I get the feeling, that many of those high-priced individuals who fail to perform up to expectation , may well be customarily shown the door .

As far as I am concerned this asinine quadrennial event cannot disappear fast enough ! The World Baseball Classic , has been imbued upon the fans and public as another form of torture . God damn , and the baseball itself has simply been a frigging embarrassment to watch , in more ways than one ! Take nothing away , from the lesser lights who just happen to be willing participants in this god forsaken mess , but when Team USA waved the white flag of surrender in the double elimination round of the quarter-finals , it was simply time to call it quits ! Every other team , sought to get their best available players for what is said to be the most international team competition , outside of the IBAF sanctioned World Cup. Don’t forget now , baseball is no longer part of the Summer Olympics , as the erstwhile commissioner of the game in North America, sought fit to play both possum and chicken, with an institution singularly as frigging clueless as MLB , when Bud Selig challenged the authority of IOC President Jacques Rogge. If you are being repeatedly being asked as to why , “ you do not have in place a form of on-site and in depth set of testing protocols for illicit substances as well as PED’s “ ? And one of your many responses, is simply viewed as an excuse, when you simply state “ it is a privacy issue “ ! Then what sort of response would you have come to expect from Rogge , in the first place ?

Baseball has been kicked to the curb and it is unlikely to make a swift return to the Summer Games. The sport’s last representation came by way of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Much to the ire and angst of MLB , and the sport’s international governing body , IBAF . Now all that is left for the sport is a cooperative effort with the International Softball Federation , to make one last appeal to Jacques Rogge and the IOC Executive Committee for one final appeal of reinstatement. At the earliest , baseball’s quickest return would have to be at the 2020 Sochi Games , but even that is not a foregone conclusion at this juncture . So, what are we left with? The rather ludicrous and ill-conceived World Baseball Classic , an international team tournament, that has simply been, a sheer and utter mess ! Proponents of this competition have sung its’ praises highly , without realizing that as an organizational endeavor , from a logistical standpoint, it has been a nightmare . Never mind the fact the television ratings for the event and the staged games by way of the North American audiences , have been minuscule at best . I am now beginning to wonder, even if, ESPN as a co-sponsor and broadcaster, will be able to recoup its investment from in this eyesore! From an economic standpoint, with the MLB Network’s coverage , and the fact that we know that Bud Selig has the business IQ , might be marginally above that of Sarah Palin, this event has been simply an utter mess , from its inception.

I won’t go into the details of the 2013 event , other than to let you know that Team USA failed miserably , managing to be knocked out in a double elimination , in the quarter-finals of the competition . Tonight’s championship game will pit the Dominican Republic against Puerto Rico , which will be played at ATT&T/Pac-Bell Park in San Francisco , California . I am sure that there will not only be a large Latin contingent on hand to support both teams , but somehow , the commissioner may well be on hand to try to sell us once again, on what a tremendous tournament this has been . My response to Bud Selig , would be , “ please eat $hit and die “ !

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(1) Philadelphia Phillies shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, right, gestures as he talks with New York Yankees outfielder Ben Francisco , back to camera, before a spring training baseball game in Clearwater, Fla., Tuesday, March 19, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

(2) The ball sails over the the glove of a leaping Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard as New York Yankees Chris Stewart (19) reaches on a throwing error by Phillies third baseman Michael Young during a spring training baseball game in Clearwater, Fla., Tuesday, March 19, 2013. The Phillies defeated the Yankees 4-1 . AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(3) Phillies manger Charlie Manuel, right, speaks during a news conference Thursday as senior vice president and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr . looks on. The two individuals face a daunting task this season as the Phillies seek to rebound after a disastrous season in 2012 , in which the team finished third in the NL East with a .500 record of 81-81 . A major disappointment for a franchise with a $174.5 million payroll in 2012 , which was amongst the highest in all of Major League Baseball . Associated Press/ Carter Mitchell ..

(4) SURPRISE, AZ – FEBRUARY 20: Pitcher Yu Darvish (1) 1 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Surprise Stadium on February 20, 2013 in Surprise, Arizona. Coming off a sensational season , his rookie season with the Rangers . The starting ace will seek to improve upon last season’s stats within the AL .Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ..

(5) Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg (center), watches as team president Nolan Ryan gives the microphone to general manager Jon Daniels , after Ryan made the prediction that the Rangers would win the World Series in seven games at a Texas Rangers pep rally at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 1, 2010. It was not to be , for the Rangers in the postseason , particularly in the World Series , where they would come unglued in their series’ loss to the San Francisco Giants in a rather lopsided event 4-1 . In what was believed to be something of an internal power struggle , Greenberg was forced to step down , having been relieved of his duties ,with Nolan Ryan , summarily assuming control . However, this past off-season , Ryan, himself , was usurped with several members of the Rangers’ board of executives , said to be dissatisfied with the team President, and his autonomous role and lack of communication with his fellow executives . Now pushed aside, Nolan Ryan , finds himself on the outside looking in, without any real position of power within the Rangers’ hierarchy , as GM, Jon Daniels, now assumes the full control for all managerial and personnel decisions concerning the organization. Dallas Morning News/ Ricardo Echevarria ….

(6) Los Angeles Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton , left, and first baseman Albert Pujols joke around before the Angels faced the San Diego Padres in a spring training baseball game Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in Peoria, Ariz. Pujools , Hamilton and rookie sensation , Mike Trout will be looked upon to provide the bulk of the team’s offense this upcoming season . A season in which , the expectations are extremely high for the team and in particular , for Mike Scocsia and his coaching staff . AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

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Teams participating in the Finals : Puerto Rico versus Dominican Republic in a game to be played at AT&T Park in San Francisco , California , on Tuesday 19th March, 2013 .

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Hot chic pic of the day . Camila Alves , model and entrepreneur .

Failure is not an option

Failure is not an option

It is now nut crunching time as it relates to the NCAA Tournament and the brackets , and how the whole issue will be resolved . It is clear, that the adjudicating body that will come to their conclusions will never fully satisfy the analysts , fans or the media , no matter what decision is made . As a fan of College Basketball , this is simply the one tournament that I thoroughly enjoy watching from start to finish.

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Slideshow.

Teams are jockeying , for the privilege, of playing in what I believe to be the best collegiate sports’ competition, on the collegiate sporting landscape ! Football may well be the most popular sport by far , but with their continued flawed system to determine a national champion , we will never get to a point where we are truly satisfied with a format. Even now, with a rather flawed, but some might say, a much a fairer system to be instituted in the 2014-15 calendar. Which will be solely driven , and formatted for the mere means of gaining tens of millions more sponsorship dollars pouring into the coffers of the BCS and their associate partners It now begs the question , what other asinine concept will be thought up the odious and rather archaic members of that institution ?

Personally, after that catastrophe of a national title game , where Notre Dame simply got their ass handed to them , I am beginning to wonder what the hell , are the polls meant to be about ! Hell, that team , in no way , deserved to be ranked at number one in the nation , at any point of the season , in spite of their unbeaten regular season schedule (12-0) . The fact that the Alabama Crimson Tide , rolled over their ass , like a tractor-trailer crushing road-kill, does create this widespread belief, that the “ Fighting Irish” were simply overrated and a complete embarrassment of that ranking prior to the BCS championship game.

With the recent “signing day “ and this belief , that one can assuage these recruiting classes to validate a claim , as which program was the “ best of the best “ in terms of their recruiting goals. Well, in many ways , it is like trying to suggest , are we ever satisfied with whatever we progress by the decisions made by the Congress and an administration . At the end of the day , it all comes down to the perceived talent , but more so the acumen shown by a head coach and his coaching staff. And at the top of the heap at present , is the name of Nick Saban , whose record simply speaks for itself , that now , nothing else, really needs to be said !

OK, so here we are and a competition initiated after MLB , and IBAF (International Baseball Federation) , and their complete lack of accountability and leadership being shown by both hierarchies , as it relates to the game’s ongoing morass in dealing with their approach on the use of PED’s . For years , the MLB hierarchy led by Bud Selig , simply stood by , and watched in amazement as hallowed records were simply “being ripped “ from the record books with sheer ease. The fact that disgraced ball player, Barry Bonds’ feat of 73 home runs still sits in the books , along with the career home run record , another record held by Bonds . I am beginning to wonder what the venerable Hank Aaron , must now be thing as he watches the game he graced so effortlessly, now become ” a complete sham”, while the salaries of the top players are now reaching ridiculous levels !

While the MLB Spring Training Schedule is in full swing , the World Baseball Classic is being simultaneously. Yet, lo and behold , Team USA , managed by Joe Torre , have seen their foray in this competition come to an abrupt end , with the team’s defeat at the hands of Puerto Rico in the quarter-finals of the WBC. Personally , this is the one competition that since its inception , it has been a downright failure , primarily because the fact Team USA , ranked #2 internationally by IBAF, has seemingly been a train wreck , in international play. Doubt my word , ask yourself this , when was the last time the national side won anything of note at the international level, featuring many of their best stars from the Major League Level ?

It certainly, has not happened in the Olympics, over baseball’s last staging , which before the sport being jettisoned by the IOC. Team competition for both baseball and softball at the Olympic level , last took place in 2008 , and at the behest of the IOC Executive Committee , led its President , Jacques Rogge , led to the dismissal of both sports from the Summer Olympics. Now you have Bud Selig and his IBAF counterpart, Ricardo Fraccari behaving like a bunch of clowns , as they seek the reinstatement of their sport as well as softball, back as part of the Summer Schedule of the Olympics. Meanwhile, self-styled World Baseball Classic , remains a mindless bore and eyesore , barely watched on television , with meager ratings coming by way of ESPN’s and ABC’s televised coverage. About the only ones being served by this utter nonsense are the corporate advertisers looking to make a quick dollar by way of selling their wares .

With the failure of Team USA making a successful run in the WBC , it begs the question , the boast of being world champions ? Albeit, at the club level , where does it place the country at the international level, even with the team’s ranking currently being ranked at number two . After this competition , it is becoming increasingly clear that ranking will slip , along with hyperbole over the country’s boast of being the best in the world .

We know of the aspirations of a number of teams this season with a great on their minds , as it relates to the World Series . Reigning champions , the San Francisco Giants , will be looking to make a successfully defense of the title they won with ease in 2012 , defeating the Detroit Tigers . World Series MVP , Pablo Sandoval , will undoubtedly be looking cement what was a tremendous postseason for the player and his teammates .

Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy , his coaching staff and GM Brian Sabean , will be looking to have this team prepared for the long haul of an arduous 2013 schedule . And for Tim Lincecum, a former Cy Young Award winner in 2008 and 2009 . Last season was something of a misnomer for Lincecum , but he able to deliver for the team when they needed him most during the postseason.

Sabean and Giants’ managing partner , Larry Baer , have to be aware that the franchise will the ones with a target on their backs. Having won two World Series in three years , baseball has not had a repeat series’ winner , since the New York Yankees , won three in a row (1998, 1999 & 2000). And for the game’s most renowned franchise , there are now facing a time of uncertainty, with an aging roster at its core , and a great deal of uncertainty concerning the long-term futures of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez . And as one career winds down , with Jeter now in the twilight of his famed career , one has to ask who will now assume control and lead this team by example ? Certainly not Rodriguez , given his penchant for excuses , and seeking to apportion blame elsewhere for his own repeated mistakes. Less we forget also , Alex Rodriguez remains a flawed character , who has no desirable trait, and he might just be , the most despised player in the game today. It is my firm belief that the Yankees’ front office have erred in not rescinding Rodriguez’s contract in light of the latest expose’ in which this is the second time that the player’s name has been associated with a steroids’ investigation , after his admission of guilt to the use of PED’s in 2010, in which the third baseman confirmed that he experimented with steroid use from 2001 to 2004 , while playing for the Texas Rangers .

Rodriguez’s career in Major League Baseball, has been littered, with highs and lows , of which, many would consider career lows to be considerably more than the highs. I believe that perception to be true , primarily because of the player’s admission of guilt , and his use of steroids and the very fact that the suspicion still remains that he has never been fully truthful as to whether or not there was his continued use ! And that is in light of ongoing allegations concerning the third baseman and recent stories within the print and television media . What makes all the more disturbing also , remains the fact that Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid player in the game and whose career earnings will surpass a half billion dollars ($500,000,000) at the culmination of that career.

It should be of some note, that Rodriguez remains the only player in baseball history to have signed two separate contracts, where the team commitment on each occasion has been for $250 million. By return, for that investment , the player has rewarded baseball the teams and fans , with three MVP Awards , thirteen All Star Appearances , two Gold Gloves Awards , one World Series championship , active home runs leader (647) , as well as active RBI’s leader (1950) , and is now 99 hits away from reaching (37th all-time) the 3,000 hits’ plateau . Yet for all of those accolades , many fans believe the third baseman to self-absorbed , conceited , and not to be a great teammate , either with the New York Yankees or Texas Rangers. His relationship with Derek Jeter, is said to be fractured and one, which is day to day ,by most accounts , but yet, somehow the Yankees’ economic future will be based upon a player who remains a pariah within the game. Sidelined hip surgery and likely to miss the team’s entire regular season schedule. It can be said, that the Yankees will either sink or swim with the play of the players considered by Joe Girardi, that will give the franchise the best opportunity to win. And given the state of the team’s current pitching roster, I believe it will be a considerable task for the New York Yankees to overcome and win the AL East , much less gain a playoff berth this season.

The hyperbole was there , but now we’re beginning to see the character or lack of it thereof , as the New York Knicks (38-25) are falling from a lofty peak , falling from the sky, faster than a meteorite . And for all of the prognosticators , simply salivating over this team , primarily because of the assembly of All Stars , is simply and utterly asinine , when there is no body of work to go by ! That’s akin to placing an ugly chick in a two piece bathing suit and then to suggest, that she is in, with a favorite’s chance to win the Miss Universe contest. Not that anyone, would want to see this team strutting “ their stuff” on a catwalk, as it has been bad enough to witness their play over their last ten games , where they are 5-5 and losers of three straight . And need one suggest, that they are slipping down the Eastern Conference rankings , at a rather disturbing time in their schedule ?

Now the Knicks are having to serve the indignity of being without Carmelo Anthony , Tyson Chandler , and the vastly overrated and ailing Amar`e Stoudemire . Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson , now has to rally this team , simply take them to task over their lack of commitment to apply themselves far more aggressively as a defensive unit . Something of which , does not appear to be a part of the team’s psyche .

I get the feeling that this is not what team owner , James Dolan and GM Glen Grunwald , envisaged from the New York Knicks this season ! They are likely to fall short of their goal, and that is to make a deep and spirited run in the postseason. They will undoubtedly qualify for the playoffs , quite possibly as the third, fourth or fifth ranked team within the conference , based on current standings and the play of several conference contenders over their last ten games.

A competitive NBA, needs a resurgent Knicks’ franchise to be an ever- present force within the game. Anyone who suggests otherwise, clearly has no understanding of the franchise’s economic impact to the NBA as a whole . And while we have seen the rise of the Los Angeles Clippers , Golden State Warriors and in recent years the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers. There is no denying , that with the Los Angeles Lakers (35-32) , Miami Heat , the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks , the NBA postseason , simply becomes nothing more than a crap-shoot . More often than not, many of the playoff series are understated , with somewhat lackluster play on both sides of the ball.

While the New York Knicks have their on-field issues , their conference rivals , the Miami Heat continue their win streak , which now stands at twenty one consecutive wins . Do you get the feeling that the Heat are simply strolling through the regular season without being overly complacent ? And while we are at it , is LeBron James on his way to winning his fourth MVP title , joining a select group of players with at least two or more league MVP crowns as their laurels ? James and the Heat currently have the third longest win streak (33) in NBA history , a record currently held by the ‘71-‘72 Los Angeles Lakers (69-13) .

Not one to kick an animal while it is down , but it appears that the Los Angeles Lakers’ season is now on the line . Currently sitting in the eighth spot of the Western Conference , and no discerning reason to believe , that they are still capable of holding unto that position. Kobe Bryant’s claims that the team is still capable of making the postseason, is beginning to look somewhat tenuous . The Lakers’ schedule doesn’t offer the players any great aid over the remainder of their regular season. When adjudged against that of the seventh placed Houston Rockets (36-30) and the ninth placed , Dallas Mavericks (31-34). And as we know, the Western Conference has always considered to be a dogfight , for all of the aspirants seeking to make the postseason.

Now while many have been critical of Kobe Bryant , and the fact he recently lashed out at his teammates for their lack of commitment . The player was sidelined briefly, but he gamely made it back onto the court to aid his teammates in a thoroughly competitive victory over the Indiana Pacers . Much of that criticism has been valid , yet it remains a matter of conjecture and speculation how this team can survive in its present guise . Dwight Howard remains an enigma , meanwhile, Steve Nash , as gamely a veteran , as the fans know him to be . It is clear that the Lakers , are a considerable distance from where they need to be. In spite of it all, head coach , Mike D’Antoni tries to stress that the team , are now getting into their stride. As an observer from afar , I have never been enamored with D’Antoni as a head coach , and I still feel that GM Mitch Kupchak and Senior VP Jim Buss have erred , first, in the hiring of Mike Brown , and then the hiring of his successor , Mike D’Antoni ! With a mere fifteen games left in the regular season schedule for the league’s thirty teams , it will be very interesting to see how not only the Los Angeles Lakers will fare , but also many of the championship contenders seeking to make a name for themselves this postseason.

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Picture gallery.

What if anything, are you most looking forward to , when the NCAA Tournament is off and running ? In addition, which teams do you believe will be making a strong presence in the tourney and why ? Do you also believe that the World Baseball Classic has been a worthwhile competition or simply a bust ? Finally , the New York Yankees , will this be the season where we see the team back in the World Series , or will they fall by the wayside ? Chime on in with your thoughts .

Picture and slideshow gallery details .
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(1) Miami’s Durand Scott (1) reacts after making a basket as he runs past North Carolina State’s C.J. Leslie (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Saturday, March 16, 2013. Miami has moved on to the Finals of the ACC Tournament to be be played today , Sunday 17th March, 2013 , where they will play North Carolina . AP Photo/Gerry Broome ….

(2) Miami head coach Jim Larranaga directs his team against North Carolina State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Saturday, March 16, 2013. AP Photo/Gerry Broome …

(3) Puerto Rico catcher Yadier Molina ,left, pitching coach Rick Bones,center, and pitcher Nelson Figueroa celebrate after defeating the USA 4-3 in the World Baseball Classic second round Pool 2 elimination game between Puerto Rico and the United States at Marlins Park in Miami on Friday, March 15, 2013. AP Photo/The Miami Herald, David Santiago ….

(4) New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, left, and former Yankees first baseman and current Miami Marlins hitting instructor Tino Martinez before a spring training baseball game in Tampa, Fla., Friday, March 15, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens ….

(5) 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. P Photo/Paul Sancya ….

(6) David Sierra , sits in his family owned realty company in Coral Gables, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 29, 2013, displaying a photo of a flier that the management company passed out to tenants in an office complex where they rented space to Biogenesis and Anthony Bosch . New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez has denied a newspaper report on Tuesday that accused the baseball star of buying human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances from a clinic in the Miami area. The Miami New Times, an alternative weekly, reported that it obtained records detailing purchases by Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez , Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz and Yasmani Grandal from a clinic called Biogenesis, run by Bosch. AP Photo/J Pat Carter ….

(7) San Francisco Giants, managing partner Larry Baer , right to left, Pablo Sandoval, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy holds the Commissioner’s Trophy after Game 4 of baseball’s World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. The Giants won 4-3 to win the series . AP Photo/Matt Slocum, Pool ….

(8) New York Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Thursday, March 14, 2013. The Trail Blazers beat the Knicks 105-90 . AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens …

(9) Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade lies on the court during the first half against the Milwaukee Bucks in an NBA basketball game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Milwaukee. AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps ….

(10) A healthy relationship ? Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, draws a play for center Dwight Howard as they sit on the bench in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, Friday, March 15, 2013. Bryant and Howard the team’s two leading scorers are said to have a somewhat tepid relationship , but somehow things are said to be tenuous between the pairing. AP Photo/Michael Conroy …

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It’s not what you do or the way that you spend , it’s just that you’d better be spending it wisely

It’s not what you do or the way that you spend , it’s just that you’d better be spending it wisely

Two things now seem to be taking center in the world of sports , one just happens to be the conference tournaments within the world of College Basketball , and the just happens to be the NFL and their free agency window to sign unsigned or trade cap hit players they deem , unworthy and destined for elsewhere . With the NCAA Tournament not yet upon us , but with the dance cards of certain teams now being set , it will be interesting to now see which programs will be granted the privilege of being an invite to this season’s competition . It seems remarkable that last season’s triumphant Men’s champion , the Kentucky (Wildcats) are likely to miss out on defending their title . This season the Wildcats have simply been pitiful within the SEC and equally so , on the national stage in their out of conference play .

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Courtesy of USA Today

Top 5: Sizing up the best conference basketball tournaments

By Scott Gleeson , USA Today columnist

USA TODAY Sports dissects the top little dances that prelude the big one. Here’s a look at the five best conference tournaments:

Big East Conference

Dates: Tuesday-Saturday

Venue/location: Madison Square Garden, New York

TV: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU

Second-round matchups (Wednesday): No. 8 Providence vs. No. 9 Cincinnati (noon, ESPN); No. 5 Syracuse vs. South Florida/Seton Hall winner (2 p.m., ESPN); No. 7 Villanova vs. No. 10 St. John’s (7 p.m., ESPN2); No. 6 Notre Dame vs. DePaul/Rutgers winner (9 p.m., ESPN2)

Quarterfinal matchups (Thursday): No. 1 Georgetown vs. Providence/Cincinnati (noon, ESPN); No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse/USF/Seton Hall (2 p.m. ESPN); No. 2 Louisville vs. St. John’s/Villanova (7p.m., ESPN); No. 3 Marquette vs. Notre Dame/DePaul/Rutgers (9 p.m. ESPN)

BIG EAST: Conference bids farewell to tourney tradition

**Semifinals (Friday, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., ESPN) | Championship game (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)

Main story lines: Georgetown, Louisville and Marquette finished in a three-way tie for the regular-season title at 14-4, leaving a cutthroat tournament to determine the top overall team. This is the final year of the tournament as we know it, with seven of the league’s Catholic schools — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St.John’s and Villanova — forming part of a new 10-team conference. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference (Notre Dame is likely to join the league earlier than planned), and Rutgers is going to the Big Ten. Longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s potential retirement surely will be a subplot, despite his assertion he is not thinking about stepping down.

Key players: Otto Porter, Georgetown (16.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg); Russ Smith, Louisville (17.9 ppg); Vander Blue, Marquette (14.4 ppg); C.J. Fair, Syracuse (14. 5 ppg, 7.1 rpg); Jack Cooley, Notre Dame (13.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg)

Projected winner: Marquette

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Atlantic Coast Conference

Dates: Thursday-Sunday

Venue/location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.

TV: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU

First-round matchups (Thursday): No. 8 Boston College vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech (noon, ESPNU); No. 5 North Carolina State vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech (2 p.m., ESPNU); No. 7 Maryland vs. No. 10 Wake Forest (7p.m., ESPNU); No. 6 Florida State vs. No. 11 Clemson (9 p.m., ESPNU)

Quarterfinal matchups (Friday): No. 1 Miami (Fla.) vs. Boston College/Georgia Tech (noon, ESPN2); No. 4 Virginia vs. N.C. State/Virginia Tech (2 p.m., ESPN2); No. 2 Duke vs. Maryland/Wake Forest (7 p.m., ESPN2); No. 3 North Carolina vs. Florida State/Clemson (9 p.m., ESPN2)

**Semifinals (Saturday, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., ESPN) | Championship game (Sunday, 1 p.m., ESPN)

Main story lines: Miami might have the No. 1 seed, but Duke is playing like the best team in the country with the return of Ryan Kelly, who scored 36 points in his first game back against the Hurricanes. Considering the last matchup was a close game, and Miami previously beat Duke by 27 points, a tournament championship rematch would be well received, as would a North Carolina vs. Duke semifinal. North Carolina State has been inconsistent, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wolfpack find a late rhythm. Florida State’s Michael Snaer (14.5 ppg) has made four buzzer-beating game-winning shots this season.

Key players: Shane Larkin, Miami (13.7 ppg, 4.4 apg); Mason Plumlee, Duke (17.2 ppg, 10.3 rpg); James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina (14.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg); C.J. Leslie, N.C. State. (14.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg); Alex Len, Maryland (11.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg)

Projected winner: Duke

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In what might be the most disappointing season of his career , Wildcats’ head coach John Calipari , will have to carefully scrutinize where things went wrong for his team over the course of this program’s schedule . The loss of Nerlens Noel , certainly can’t have helped , and neither can the inconsistent play of the team over the course of the year. The only opportunity left for the Kentucky Wildcats will be their conference championship , and a spirited deep run, with the culmination of the tournament win , will be the only chance left for the players to show their prowess , and that they are deserving of an NCAA championship berth .

Inasmuch , as I have questioned John Calipari’s honesty , integrity and complete lack of character ! I can’t help but wonder ,what might have been , had he been availed his full squad of players at full strength within the SEC this season. Yet, while he and the Wildcats seek redemption , their conference rivals , the Florida Gators , are rolling along , and seem intent on proving that their play over the course of this season and their record of 24-6 , is not an aberration. And Gators’ head coach , Billy Donovan , the chance to possibly take this team on another historic run and a third national title in seven years , would be nothing short of miraculous . However, that premise is predicated upon the program gaining a favorable draw in the NCAA Tournament , beyond possibly winning the SEC championship tournament .

Mark Few and his number one ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-2) are simply looking to justify their current national ranking, while looking to make some history of their own. The West Coast Conference program seemingly has a comfortable lead within that conference , while on a win streak of fourteen consecutive games and a solid RPI (5) . Are they capable of winning college sports’ most renowned tournament ? Well that remains to be seen , although , I believe that the ultimate prize within collegiate athletics will be won by one of the more renowned programs within College Basketball !


Tom Crean
, coach of the Indiana Hoosiers , I firmly believe can and will one day be a head coach in the NBA . Though the opportunity has yet to arise , there have to be at least a few envious franchise owners and general managers around the professional ranks , certainly looking enviously at the young coach, and what he achieved at this historic program. Suffice to say , that come the off-season , when the coaching merry-go-round will begin , with perhaps one or two managerial firings , I have no doubt that Crean’s name will be atop of a number general managers’ lists . He has gotten the best out of a mercurial talent , in Victor Olidapo , while Cody Zeller , is, as good, as advertised. Granted , the team has slipped in the ranking in recent weeks, after a somewhat telling spell , where Crean’s players were exposed as being flawed on the defensive end of their game .

Crean’s resume’ speaks volumes as to his experience and character , yet I somehow get the feeling that he would now like nothing better than to lead this program to their first title in College Basketball , since the NCAA Tournament of 1987 , when they defeated Syracuse 74-73 , in what can best described as an “ epic final” . Finals’ MVP in that national championship game was Keith Smart, current head coach of the Sacramento Kings . One of the reasons behind the reverence of the Hoosiers’ program has been the abiding faith in what was essentially built by Bob Knight . As we know, the legend of this often controversial coach , is still clamored for, in this bedrock of College Basketball , which if anything, far outweighs the popularity of the NFL and resounding might I suggest all of the fable and mythical reverence that has been around Notre Dame football ?

As I alluded to earlier , Victor Olidapo and Cody Zeller have been the fulcrum that has essentially driven this Hoosiers’ team. Their most recent game , came by way of a narrow 72-71 victory over the Michigan Wolverines . Now with the Big Ten Tournament , now in full swing , it will be interesting to see how Indiana and the Wolverines fare as this particular competition gets underway , with the programs all seeking postseason aspirations beyond the recognition of being called the Big Ten tournament champions for the season.

Well , the NFL has kicked off what I like to think of as their “silly season” , wherein , the general managers around the league , seek to bolster their rosters , after the disappointment of last season . For the current Superbowl champions , the Baltimore Ravens , this off-season has proven to be an eventful postseason lull , even with the retirement of future Hall of Fame inductee Ray Lewis . GM Ozzie Newsome , and team owner , Steve Biscotti , it appears, have felt it best , not to rest on their laurels , but seek to bolster the team’s roster . In what has turned out to be something of a surprising move , wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers . And with their being ongoing rumors that the front office may well also seek to trade veteran free safety, Ed Reed to their opponents in this most recent Superbowl.

Forty Niners’ GM , Trent Baalke, either has to be seen as a wizard of or extremely fortuitous over the past five days. The franchise’s 2005 first round draft pick , in fact taken number one overall in that season’s draft , was traded to AFC West franchise the Kansas City Chiefs . A team that was in need, of an effective and an extremely efficient quarterback . None of which , was applicable to either Matt Cassel or his backup , Brady Quinn. And with new head coach , Andy Reid seeking to make the Chiefs a formidable force this upcoming season . It will be interest to see how a revamped roster will seek to acquit themselves during their 2013-14 schedule. The AFC West is likely to be a somewhat competitive race , but I do believe that once again, the division will be the Denver Broncos to lose, based upon their performances and their divisional play of last season !

As an avid New England Patriots’ fan, at this time of the season I long to see what mysteries will tend to unfold , as that mindful genius and often considered to be a megalomania-cal head coach , Bill Belichick , considers what his options might be , as it relates to the team’s roster , cap space , and whom he feels to be superfluous to the Patriots’ needs ! In what I believe to be gut-wrenching and inexplicable decision , it would appear that the front office and Belichick have decided to allow their wide receiver and in my estimation , the team’s best player , not named Tom Brady , in the departure of Wes Welker ! If the current ” twitter chatter “ is to be believed, then Welker will be off to join conference rivals the Denver Broncos , further adding to the offensive artillery of Broncos’ quarterback , Peyton Manning. Far be it for me to suggest , but the Patriots’ acquisition of Danny Amendola , by comparison , is simply allowing a Ferrari , off your lot and replacing it with a less impressive vehicle , by way of a Corvette ? Just my opinion , mind you , merely my own observation and opinion !

As to how Wes Welker’s departure might sit with Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, might be something of an indicator, as to the player’s overall reaction and any public statement that he may well choose to make to the press . Somehow, I feel that when the quarterback in question, sought to restructure his contract , in aiding the franchise with an additional $9 million

in cap space . My first instinct would have been to believe, that the Patriots would have re-signed Wes Welker to a two or three-year contract extension ! Alas, it was not to be , and yet somehow , I can’t but wonder , if this decision, won’t ultimately come back to “ bite the franchise “ in the proverbial ass !

If this is meant to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ year, this upcoming season . Then their off-season moves , and alleged ambitions , are quite impressive . Yet , beyond that , all of the talk in the world simply cannot hide the fact that , as this team goes , will be solely based upon the play of their four-year starting quarterback , Josh Freeman . Anyone , who simply believes to the contrary , clearly has not seen this team play, and how mindlessly inconsistent they can be , while exacerbating the patience of even their most devoted and loyal of fans . Two in particular , come to mind , Hillsborough County residents , and patrons of this site , SportsChump and “ Aero” , long-time devoted fans of the Buccaneers.

Buccaneers’ head coach Greg Schiano , may well be saying the sort things that he believes that the fans want to hear. Yet , I somehow , can’t help but wonder , if he believes the statements he continues to make , are based in fact, and anywhere close to being truthful . OK , as impressive as it was , the signing of Dashon Goldson , may well go a long way in bolstering the team’s defense , but their failure so far to obtain a productive free agent quarterback , veteran or otherwise , clearly hasn’t addressed the fact of one of the franchise’s biggest needs. Freeman , has become a relentless turnover machine and there seems to be no signs of abatement in that specific category of his play.

While all of the considerable talk appears to be about the Buccaneers’ wish also to obtain corner-back Darrelle Revis , a player who will not become a free agent until 2017 , but somehow given the fact that he spent much of last season on the Jets’ injured-reserve list . It might be considered too much of a gamble, for a player coming off a severe knee injury , and who no one really knows, whether or not, he can return to his best form , which came in 2007 , the year in which he was drafted by the New York Jets, as the fourteenth overall pick . In pursuant , to the Jets’ own decision , it may well be that the asking price of the franchise, may well be too high , as the Pro Bowl corner , is still viewed as one of the preeminent players at the position , as well as being one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL. Clearly , what will now take place between the Buccaneers and Jets , will all be about brinksmanship , and the sort of offer desired , and whether or not an amicable agreement can be reached .

Start afresh, and then hope that the chips will fall your way? Well, that now seems to be the mantra of the Miami Dolphins . Much like their baseball counterparts , the Miami Marlins , here is another professional sport’s franchise within the locale, that has simply done a damn disservice to their fans . Marlins’ owner , Jeffery Loria , has now taken to the print and television media , blaming that segment as well as the fans, for the ball-club’s misfortunes of last season . F#ck you , Loria , and the horse you rode in on ! You hired a self-absorbed and opinionated asshole, as a manager , who was simply unable to communicate or motivate the players under his guidance . Ozzie Guillen was never that influential in the Chicago White Sox’s winning of a World Series in 2005 , as much of the team’s success that season and into the postseason , came by way of the determination of the players , rather than the input of Guillen and his coaching staff at the time !

In the case of the Miami Dolphins, the team’s billionaire owner , Stephen “Steve “ Ross , is now seeking the city of Miami’s sole input and financing for the refurbishment of Sun Life Stadium, a venue that is entirely owned by the billionaire entrepreneur. And less we forget , the city still remains under investigation by the US Justice Department , for what is believed to be their misdeeds , in the financing of the Marlins Ballpark , which has now become something of a white elephant , which was sparsely attended for many of the team’s home games , during the venue’s inaugural season of 2012.

Perhaps, it is me , but Ross’ apparent wealth , and the very fact that he is and remains amongst Forbes’ 400 richest Americans , should not prove to be a hindrance in his being able to obtain private financing for a stadium that he owns . Furthermore, the NFL has its “ 3G financing program “ to aid their franchises with such issues . Something, I believe that Ross , his GM , Jeff Ireland , the CFO Mark Brockelman are fully aware of , but instead, would rather use a great deal of connivance and deceit , in order to get an already beleaguered city municipality , burdened with mountains of debt , looking to further plunge itself deeper into indebtedness. I was once told, by a patron, that the state of Florida has advanced from years of corruption and incompetence . Somehow, I believe that to be a myth, because the state continues to be mired with incompetence at all levels of government within the state . Simply, look no further than the rising evidence and allegations now leveled at the state’s Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll (R-Fla) ? And yet, her initial actions, in touting a business where she held an executive position , while in office, was in strict contravention of the state’s laws. Moreover , the state’s asinine governor , Rick Scott (R-Fla) , initially jumps to her defense , clearly showing , that his dumb ass , has no idea as to the rule of law , much less the goddamn laws of the legislature within his own frigging state .

The Dolphins have been bold , while seeking cap space , they have rid themselves of running back , Reggie Bush , who it appears , now becomes the featured “back” with the Detroit Lions . Good luck, on that one boys …..?

After something of a disastrous season in 2012 , this Dolphins’ team will undoubtedly have to raise the level of its play all-round , or simply suffer the ignominy of a repeat, of last year . Quarterback , Ryan Tannehill , their first round pick from the 2012 NFL Draft , had something of an inconsistent year , but obviously his exploits paled into insignificance when adjudged against that of Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck , Russell Westbrook , sophomores , Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick . That being said , head coach , Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland , have shown and will continue to show a great deal of faith in the young player , as he seeks to progress and gain legitimacy as a young quarterback in the NFL . So this season for Miami Dolphins will be imperative, as they seek some respect within the AFC East.

While I don’t begrudge the NFL at this time of the year , as it becomes, same old story repeatedly , season in and season out ! The story remains the same , it’s just the cast of characters that tend to change in terms of the change of events , and how we are asked to view them by print and television media, alike .

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Picture gallery .

With the NCAA Tournament brackets not yet set , as the conference tournaments are still ongoing, do you believe that , there may well be one or two prominent programs that will remain on the outside looking in , having not been invited to the “ Big Dance” ? And in terms of the beginning of the NFL off-season , and the recent turn of events , what major moves do you believe will be the most significant or in your estimation the biggest gamble of them all ? By all means , do take time to proffer up a comment on this and anything else , you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

Picture gallery and slideshow details .

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(1) Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos (4) shoots against Portland in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, March 2, 2013, in Spokane, Wash. AP Photo/Jed Conklin …

(2) Gonzaga’s Elias Harris (20) goes up for the dunk against Portland in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, March 2, 2013, in Spokane, Wash. AP Photo/Jed Conklin …

(3) Kentucky’s Ryan Harrow (12) shoots as Florida’s Michael Frazier II defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, March 9, 2013. AP Photo/James Crisp ….

(4) Coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats directs play against the Florida Gators February 12, 2013 at Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators won 69 – 52 . Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images North America …. .

(6) FILE – In this Nov. 18, 2012 file photo, Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed (20) runs after recovering a fumble by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. The Houston Texans will meet with free agent Reed on Thursday, March 14, 2013. The team said on its Twitter site that general manager Rick Smith is flying to pick up Reed in a private jet owned by team owner , Bob McNair . AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …

(7) This Jan. 20, 2013, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks to wide receiver Wes Welker (83) before the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, Mass. The Denver Broncos have found a new target for Peyton Manning, agreeing to a two-year deal with Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(8) FILE – In this Jan. 29, 2013 file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Dashon Goldson (38) smiles during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game in New Orleans. A person with knowledge of the contract says free agent Goldson has agreed to a $41.25 million, five-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, because the team had yet to formally announce Goldson’s deal. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …..

(9) FILE – In this Jan. 1, 2012 file photo, Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham (55) pressures Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) during the first half of an NFL football game in Atlanta. The Falcons have released running back Michael Turner , Abraham and corner-back Dunta Robinson . The moves were announced Friday, March 1, 2013, by a team that came up just short of the Super Bowl. With an almost $8 million salary received by the Buccaneers’ quarterback in 2012 , it has to be said that he offered the team a meager return on that investment . AP Photo/David Goldman ….

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By Tophatal

NFL pieces within this site and College Basketball

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NFL news and stories from around the league

NFL archived stories

NFL team transactions

2013 NFL Draft and details from the NFL Combine

2013 NFL Draft : Top prospects by grade

Top prospects by position

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NCAA Men’s Basketball

NCAA Men’s Basketball news

NCAA Men’s Basketball Conference Tournament results 13th March 2013 and scheduled games 14th March and beyond

NCAA Men’s Basketball statistics 2012-13

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Tears for Fear ….. “Everyone wants to rule the world “

😉

“Shout “

Glib, Yes, they are ! In the world of sports and in entertainment , what else would you tend to expect ?

Glib, Yes, they are ! In the world of sports and in entertainment, what else, would you tend to expect ?

You either have to be that damn naïve to think that an industry that so often is do devoid of creativity can actually come up with something truly original . An industry such as the Hollywood film industry garnered record box office receipts, in 2012 of $10.8 billion ($10,800,000,000) . Here were are, in the first quarter of 2013 , and so far the industry receipts are approximately $1.724 billion. And need we be reminded how self-indulgent the entertainment world has become , albeit that their philanthropic efforts are well chronicled in so many areas that should make the government feel ashamed of their own alleged claims . After all of the back slapping and glad handing, after the Oscars , of which I felt , the biggest joke and the very fact , here we have an industry that claims to be one thing , but on the reverse side of that equation, they simply come across as fools . Best Picture, winner , “ Argo “ was nominated four major motion picture awards , yet somehow , the movie’s director , Ben Affleck , was somehow overlooked in the Best Director’s category . Clearly, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) , the body that presides over the event , and its Directors’ Guild , who are privy to the voting and who list the nominees are ______ , they are either that irrational in their choices , or simply did not feel that Affleck was deserving of a nomination . Bear in mind , that Affleck swept , all of the other major awards’ show throughout the year winning “Best Director” , in the lead-up to Hollywood’s biggest night , where the young actor / director was not nominated in the Best Director category , with Chinese director , Ang Lee , winning the award for his luxurious movie ” Life of Pi” .

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Slideshow .

I recently read a somewhat ludicrous article , by someone suggesting that Hollywood now serves the consumer what they actually want, by way of their seasonal fares and offering . Multimillion dollar action thrillers , comic book adaptations , adult oriented comedies and the usual glut of blood and gore , slash-fest, moronic horror flicks , which are in fact , the cheapest form and most profitable aspect of the Hollywood film industry . Yet in spite of it all, this individual was looking to sell his morsel , that fans can relish with a great deal of joy, the second installment of the current rehashed cycle of Spiderman , whose last outing with a rather wooden Andrew Garfield in the title role of Peter Parker , aka Spiderman gave a rather pedantic wooden portrayal . And though the movie, “ The Amazing Spiderman” was rather underwhelming at the North American box office , with a stoic $262 million , albeit , the movie was able to almost double those returns on the international market with a take of 490 million , for a worldwide receipt total of $752 million . Panned at the box office, by the majority of critics , the movie’s producer and distributors Sony / Columbia Pictures , were hoping for a much larger take on the domestic front. With a second installment , now drawing attention , and the recent announcement that actor and comedian, Jamie Foxx , was now signed to the upcoming project , it remains to be seen whether or not this time around the , this installment can surpass that of the first, with Garfield reprising his role .

Courtesy of aheadoftheherd.com

How To Benefit From The Fiscal Cliff Pork Barrels


By John Mauldin | January 17, 2013

I want you to have my basic rundown on what the fiscal cliff deal accomplished. It’s essential that you see both the good and the bad of the deal. Here’s a recap of the most important changes:

First, the reinstatement of the full Social Security payroll tax will affect everybody with earned (wage) income. The payroll tax had been cut two full percentage points, from 6.2% to 4.2% the past two years – but that tax holiday is now over. This tax is paid on the first $113,700 of income.

Second, if your household makes less than $450,000 ($400,000 for single filers), your taxes are not going up.

Graph – Average Federal Tax Rate by Cash Income Percentile

Those of you who make more than those thresholds will see your top income-tax rate rise from 35% to 39.6%.

Third, for investors, the big change is the taxation on capital gains and dividends…

Again, if you make less than $450,000 ($400,000 for single filers), there will be no hike in your capital gains and dividends taxes. However, if your income exceeds those thresholds, the tax on capital gains and dividends will rise from 15% to 20%.
It’s a mixed bag of good and bad.

On the one hand, everyone’s going to feel the impact of Social Security taxes going back up, and if you fall into the higher-income group, your income taxes will go up.

The definition of the higher-income group, thankfully, is also raised, from $200,000 per individual and $250,000 for a family to $400,000 and $450,000, respectively.

The bad news is that neither Congress nor the president dealt with the endgame…

And as a result, Washington’s out-of-control spending and our national debt will continue to balloon. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that our deficit will actually rise by an additional $3.9 trillion over the next decade because of the fiscal-cliff legislation. And since the total tax increases are about 1.5% of GDP, that is going to be a big drag on the economy in the first year as we adjust, making overall growth much slower in an already slow Muddle Through Economy World. But it gets worse from a philosophical point of view.

Once again Congress included all sorts of corporate pork worth billions of dollars for everything from NASCAR racetracks to Puerto Rican rum and other special-interest provisions.

LA Times Headline

According to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the cost of these additional tax breaks will cost US taxpayers more than $63 billion just in 2013 alone. Here are the main pork beneficiaries:

Pork Barrel #1: Tax Breaks for Offshore Loans. Section 322 of the bill provides an “Extension of the Active Financing Exception to Subpart F.” “Active financing” is a fancy phrase that allows manufacturers and banks to defer taxes when they engage in special types of financial transactions. In short, it rewards firms to loan money to foreigners instead of American companies.

For example, the active-financing exception permits big banks like Morgan Stanley to avoid the 35% corporate tax rate on interest income from money lent overseas. Multinational companies with financing arms, such as Ford and General Electric, will benefit from this exception to lower their tax bills.

The exception is worth a mountain of money to a handful of corporations. It even has its own lobbying coalition – the Active Finance Working Group – which serves as a prime example of how important the 20 or so companies that benefit from the exception consider it.

Pork Barrel #2: Tax Breaks for Offshore Jobs. The fiscal-cliff deal gives huge tax breaks to American companies that sell their products through overseas affiliates.

Called a “pass-through” exemption, this loophole allows American companies to set up a new corporation in a tax haven, like the Cayman Islands, and to sell that new offshore company its valuable patents owned by the US parent company.

The royalties on overseas licensing of that patent that are earned would then be subject to no taxes.

Pork Barrel #3: Luxury Condos for Wall Street. Section 328 of the bill extends tax-exempt financing for the “Liberty Zone,” the area around the former World Trade Center, for another year. This tax break is supposed to help fund reconstruction after 9/11, but some have found that the bonds have mostly helped finance new luxury apartments, not to mention the construction of Goldman Sachs’ new headquarters.

Pork Barrel #4: Boxcars of Free Railroad Money. Section 306 of the fiscal-cliff bill gives a juicy tax credit to railroad companies to provide maintenance on their own lines. This credit costs about $165 million per year and will survive another year.

Pork Barrel #5: Thank you, Hollywood. The fiscal-cliff bill renews “special expensing rules for certain film and television” productions.

Movies and television studios can deduct up to $15 million of their costs if more than three-fourths of a project’s production takes place in the United States. The incentive will cost an estimated $266 million in 2013, and provide the industry overall , with $535 million .

Pork Barrel #6: Tax Breaks for Hedge funds and Private Equity. The mainstream media characterized Mitt Romney as an evil, job-killing private-equity pirate and loudly criticized the favorable tax treatment -called “carried interest” – that he enjoyed on his Bain Capital profits.

The bottom line is that hedge fund and private-equity moguls will continue to be taxed relatively lightly after the new fiscal cliff legislation.

The profits from investing other people’s money – AKA carried interest – will continue to be taxed as long-term capital gains for hedge fund and private-equity managers.

Pork Barrel #7: The Answer, My Friend, Is Blowing in the Wind. It is no secret that the Obama White House is very friendly toward the green-energy industry, so it should not surprise you to learn that there is a big tax credit for the wind power industry. The fiscal-cliff deal gives wind producers a 2.2-cent tax credit for every kilowatt-hour they generate in their first 10 years of operation. In broad terms, this credit is worth about $1 million for every large wind turbine.

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Can someone remind me why once again , that our federal legislators , feel it , necessary to bail out the Hollywood film industry to the tune of $535 million , in a field , where in 2012 , they had record box office receipts of almost $11 billion ? Congress’ reasoning behind this asinine measure , it will create thousands of jobs , while assisting blossoming states with ambitious film industry initiatives to survive . That’s all we need , from a fucking goddamn clueless legislative branch of government that on a good day , had they pot to piss in , and a window to throw it out of , they would still find a way of spilling that residue all over themselves , and rightfully so , considering the ongoing incompetence of the US Congress and the present administration .

Away from the world of entertainment , MLB and IBAF are still trying to sell the public on the concept of their rather inane international team competition , the World Baseball Classic . The highlight of which , so far , has been the all-out brawl that took place between the players from Canada and Mexico , in a game that was far more entertaining and thrilling , with melee we evidenced , than the level of play, itself . Apart from being a monstrously boring concept , these games , especially those staged in North America , have been sparsely attended and poorly watched from an audience standpoint , even with ESPN and ESPN Deportes , throwing their full weight behind this quadrennial event . Last held , in 2009 , with the inaugural event being staged in 2006, it would appear that Bud Selig and his compatriot from IBAF , the game’s international governing body , Ricardo Fraccari , are still trying to work out the kinks in a poorly conceived concept , which it now appears , that even a number of the participating managers are unclear, as to the current rules for the event . Doubt, my word? Simply, listen to the explanation offered by Mexico’s manager Rick Ventura , as to the disposition of his players and why the brawl that took place between Canada and Mexico , that resulted in his country’s 10-3 loss to the Canadians.

Fraccari , and Selig have been at odds , as to how best get the game of baseball reinstated back into the Summer Olympics . At a time, when IOC President , Jacques Rogge, is looking to make the world’s biggest sporting spectacle more appealing to an ever more discerning and younger crowd , the two executives of baseball , on the domestic front here in the US and his counterpart on the international , simply just don’t get the fact, that they both have to be on the same page , concerning how the game is governed and marketed to a broad-based international market. Furthermore , Bud Selig has alienated the MLB hierarchy from the game’s international governing body , with his original and often asinine stance that he could do nothing about the rampant era of steroids within the game of baseball. Really? Bud Selig’s backbone, still carries a yellow streak, while he’s paid an estimated $25 million a year to preside over a game that he has single-handedly ruined over the past decade with his idiocy and asinine mandates ! Considering, the makeup of the MLB hierarchy , festooned with a bunch of over aged individuals, whose contributions to the game, could very well be written on the back of a first class , for all of their worth ! Now, at a time when baseball and softball , both seek to be reinstated to the Summer Games , they still can find no common ground , wherein , they will be able to convince the IOC Executive Committee that the game still has a place within that particular quadrennial showcase . With Rogge emphasizing and reiterating the fact that until baseball and specifically MLB adopts a more stringent drug policy , it remains highly unlikely that the game will be reinstated to the Olympic Summer fare .

With the formal announcement of his retirement , New York Yankees’ relief pitcher, Mariano Rivera , will end his career with the only franchise he has ever played for , after a two-decade long career. A five-time World Series’ champion , Rivera and Derek Jeter , are the only holdovers from a team that was one of the most ball clubs in baseball history . This is particularly true of the franchise , that dominated the game, from the mid-nineties, through until the early part of this last decade . Now, at a time, when questions arise about the age and health of several players on the current roster . It has to be said, that the timing of Mariano Rivera’s announcement should not really come as a surprise to anyone. The real issue however , will be, what could happen, should the game’s greatest closer break down from a recurrence from his most recent injure ?

I liken the present New York Yankees’ organization , as a franchise in transition , out with the old , and in with the new ! Unfortunately , for many of the players now being entrusted to lead the ball-club in the next stage of what has been an already historic chapters of achievements, titular accolades , professionally and economically . It would appear that a number of those players are simply not up to the task, and upon the departure of Derek Jeter , you would hard pressed to suggest who among the current roster , is fitting to assume the leadership role of this team . Suffice, to say , an ailing Alex Rodriguez , long despised by the vast majority of fans remains, more concerned with an attempt to reignite a tarnished image , rather than showing , that he is capable of leading a team by example . Whereas, Rivera has been able to carry himself with a great deal of class and integrity , the opposite can be said of the Yankees’ third baseman , who remains a pariah within baseball’s firmament after his lackluster act of contrition , concerning his use of steroids . An act of considerable deceit, that he continued to perpetrate upon the public , until his admission of guilt in 2010.

Rodriguez will be lost to the team, for the greater part of 2013 , as he undergoes surgery and the recuperation process of rehab , for what is stated as being an ailing right hip. Isn’t it amazing, what steroids can do, to detract from a player’s abilities ? Yet, he we are, with anal retentive fans of the game , suggesting , steroids simply do no harm when abused ! What the fuck, is that all about ?

Yeah baby ! The NBA is heating up, alright , and about the only thing that remains to now be answered , is which team in the Eastern Conference is likely to be the Miami Heat’s whipping post and “ bitch “ in the Eastern Conference Finals ? Can anyone, make a case for teams such as the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets , as being “ worthy adversaries “ for the South Beach based NBA franchise ? The Heat are now rolling off victories , faster than it takes Congress to make a decision on a worthwhile piece of legislation . Truth, be known , that branch of the government , couldn’t find its own rear end, with the aid of a flashlight, were they all locked in a darkened room !

Yeah baby ! The NBA is heating up alright , and about the only thing that remains to now be answered , is which team in the Eastern Conference is likely to be the Miami Heat’s whipping post and “ bitch “ in the Eastern Conference Finals ? Can anyone, make a case for teams such as the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets , as being “ worthy adversaries “ for the South Beach based NBA franchise ? The Heat are now rolling off victories , faster than it takes Congress to make a decision on a worthwhile piece of legislation . Truth, be known , that branch of the government , couldn’t find its own rear end, with the aid of a flashlight, were they all locked in a darkened room !

Would it now be remiss to suggest that this is now a “ one horse race “ within the conference and that the Miami Heat’s lead is now insurmountable ? That’s a big word __ insurmountable ! For Knicks’ and Nets’ fans, I will allow you some time, to find a Thesaurus or Webster’s Dictionary to look up the meaning of the word ! Got it? Good !

Boxer , Bernard Hopkins , once again found a way of redefining his career within the annals of the sport . On Saturday night, against the highly favored , younger and unbeaten , IBF light-heavyweight title holder , Tavoris Cloud . The elder statesman of the sport , at the age of forty-eight , turned back time and summarily taught the thirty-one year old, Cloud , a supreme boxing lesson . To say, that Cloud was demoralized, after suffering the first professional defeat of his career would be an understatement. I believe , it was one more of shock, as he allowed Hopkins to dictate the pace of the fight, while subjecting the title holder, was subjected to so much punishment in a thoroughly enlightening display of modern-day pugilism . These are the sort of ring heroics , that the sport now needs , and not the asinine antics of Floyd Mayweather , or the purported prowess of the Klitschko brothers , who currently dominate what is turning about to be a heavyweight division that “ is so devoid class and talent “ , that you are simply yearning for George Foreman , to come back out of retirement and clean up the “ goddamn division “ ! As to the claims of renowned boxing analyst Bert Sugar , that boxing still remains relevant . My suggestion to Sugar , would be to take a look at the boxing scene overall , then name the list of undisputed champions that currently reign supreme within the sport ? It is at times like this , I have to ask the question who in hell, just happens to be paying these assholes to proffer up anything in print , much less oratory in nature ?

Hopkins’ unanimous twelve round decision , makes him the oldest fighter to have held a world title , and a record he originally held, when he defeated , Canada’s , Jean Pascal , a few years ago . Personally , I would like to think that this was Bernard Hopkins’ last professional fight in the ring ! He has a burgeoning career as an executive, within Oscar de La Hoya’s , Golden Boy Promotions Inc , as the developer for East Coast talent , signing and providing the trainers for young aspiring fighters on the Eastern seaboard. The fact, that Hopkins is still fighting, as he approaches his fifth decade is astonishing , when one considers the brutally of the sport and that he feels there are still more challenges left for him within boxing . Kudos to Bernard Hopkins , on another excellent achievement , but at the same time , I preface my those congratulations , by asking the boxer , to now , simply , “call it quits “ !

Say it isn’t so ? The NFL teams are now seeking to divest themselves of players, they believe to be superfluous to their needs . Cap figure and financial frugality coming from the league , while they continue to hold municipalities where they are domiciled , hostage ? Yeah, please ! the Atlanta Falcons will be building a new stadium , for which the city of Atlanta will be putting up $200 million of the projected $1.15 billion cost for the new venue. The remaining $915 million will come from team owner , Arthur Blank and private financing being provided by several established financial institutions .

Remarkably , in recent years , this might be the first time wherein , a municipality , county or state governmental agency is not being asked to subsidize such a venture, as the NFL does have provisions to provide their franchises with such assistance, as and when needed . Yet, with the naiveté being shown by local politicians , at a time when, they have their own budgetary woes to deal with . It would appear that, they are willing become subservient to the whims and antics of the professional sports’ franchise owners . And the payback in all of this , an additional taxable source and revenues , while either owning that venue outright , as in the case recently , the city of Sacramento spent countless millions, refurbishing in part Sleep Train Arena , home to the NBA’s Sacramento Kings . With the impending relocation of the franchise, at the end of this season , after the sale of the Kings , to Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer and , venture capitalist Chris Hansen . I have to ask , in all of the dealings that Mayor Kevin Johnson , had with the King’ ownership , led by the Maloof family . What the hell was he thinking , when it became more routinely clear , while he was supposedly negotiating with Joe and Gavin Maloof in goodwill . How is it , with the Maloof’s repeated lies , he was unable to figure out , that he and the city’s residents were being duped and taken for a ride ? The entire city of Sacramento , just got way dumber, and that is not solely , because of their state legislators housed in state capitol ! Got it ? Good ! Fans will continue to show their absolute gullibility and stupidity , bitching and whining about their federal taxes , yet , they damn well sure as hell , don’t complain when they are being repeatedly screwed at the municipal , county or state level ? Why, is that?

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Picture and slideshow gallery below .

What thoughts if any , do have concerning any of the salient points within this article ? And of the weekend’s sporting events , were there any , which offered you some form of drama and entertainment ? Chime on in with a comment as you see fit .

Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Actor , director , Ben Affleck is seen here with cast members from his hit movie , political thriller ” Argo” . Also in picture , are two of the movie’s producing partners Grant Heslov , to Affleck’s immediate left and actor, George Clooney . Courtesy of MPAA & Oscars.com @ copyrighted material …. all rights reserved .

(2) Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield star in Columbia Pictures’ “The Amazing Spider-Man.” The hit movie collected $262 million at the domestic box office and a further $490 million worldwide , ensuring a sequel from Sony Tri-Star / Columbia Pictures Inc. @ Copyright Sony Entertainment / Columbia Pictures Inc all rights reserved …

(3) Players and coaches from Mexico and Canada come together in an on field altercation during the World Baseball Classic First Round Group D game at Chase Field on March 9, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Christian Petersen ….

(4) Yankees front office, coaches and teammates listen as New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera , far right, who holds baseball’s all-time saves record , announces his plans to retire at the end of the 2013 season during a news conference at Steinbrenner Field , Saturday, March 9, 2013 in Tampa, Fla. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(5) Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) dunks against the Indiana Pacers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Miami, Sunday, March 10, 2013. AP Photo/Alan Diaz …

(6)Bernard Hopkins, right, avoids a punch by Tavoris Cloud, left, during the second round of an IBF Light Heavyweight championship boxing match at the Barclays Center Saturday, March 9, 2013, in New York. Hopkins won by unanimous decision . AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …..

(7) Bernard Hopkins,right, hits Tavoris Cloud, left, during the fifth round of an IBF Light Heavyweight championship boxing match against Tavoris Cloud at the Barclays Center Saturday, March 9, 2013, in New York. Frank Franklin II/ Associated Press …

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By Tophatal

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List of winners from the 85th Annual Oscars

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World Baseball Classic news

World Baseball Classic results

MLB news

MLB results 10th March 2013 and schedule for 11th March 2013

New York Yankees news and press releases

Mariano Rivera’s career bio , career stats and his postseason stats

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NBA results 10th March 2013 and schedule for 11th March 2013

NBA standings by division and by conference

NBA potential playoff picture based on current conference standings

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Boxing news

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Helfer-Park

Hot chic pic of the day , Tricia Helfer and Grace Park .

Age, is simply, nothing but a number , yet , when it catches up with you , it does make one look old

Age, is simply, nothing but a number , yet , when it catches up with you , it does make one look old

Having spent a decade in armed forces of Her Majesty’s government as a member of the British Royal Marines , I have to admit that those years were some of the best and the most formative of my adult life ! Two decades plus , later , and here I am , residing in the USA , Central Florida of all places , and I am amazed as an ardent sport’s fan , to hear others quip and the belly aching of fans , as to the merits of their teams ! And nowhere is this more cognizant, than with the self-absorbed fans of the teams, residing within the Big Apple , New York City , to be exact . Granted, the Buffalo Bills failed miserably last season , with the intra-conference rivals the New York Giants , also failing to show any resolve over the course of their season . And the less said , about the three-ringed circus , known as the New York Jets , the better the whole world becomes !

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As if to further place emphasis on how asinine the world of the NFL now becomes this time of the year , consider the fact, that teams will now start to trim the fat from their rosters , as they deem to be necessary , all to fit in, under a league mandated salary cap that has increased exponentially each season . Yet , repeatedly , rarely do you hear of the league hierarchy , speaking of financial restraint being shown on the part of owners , and the front office executives . Instead, it is left with NFL Commissioner , Roger Goodell , regaling us with the fact the NFL revenues are increasing , while he purports to suggest , that he is working to make the game safer . Unfortunately, those claims are false and falling on deaf ears , when one considers the fact that the NFL , still remains a defendant in at least 275 civil suits within the legal system , at varying levels within the US Courts , ranging from the state to the Federal Level . In midst of this , all , $ 1 billion ($1,000,000,000), set aside to assist in providing benefits for retired veterans of the past still remains unused , yet when questioned on the matter , Goodell and his union counterpart , DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA (Players’ Union) , somehow cannot provide a suitable answer , as to the reasons why that money has yet to find its way into the hands of those who need it the most .

Courtesy of USA Today

Flat salary cap forcing NFL teams to restructure numerous contracts

By Mark Garafalo , USA Today

In the NFL right now, Paul is making out like a bandit. It’s Peter who’s getting robbed.

With the start of the league year approaching and a salary cap flatter than most expected, there’s been a run of what have been termed “restructures” around the league. It’s a term that connotes a somewhat involved process, but it’s actually a simple move in which the money a player is slated to receive in the current season is repackaged as a signing bonus, thus allowing the proration of the guaranteed money to be spread over the rest of the contract.

Like the saying goes, it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul: All of the cap room saved in the current year is being pushed back to later years.

It happens every year in the NFL as competitive teams spend up to the cap to fill in the final pieces of what they believe is a Super Bowl-worthy roster. But the extent of the occurrences this year hasn’t been seen in the league since the late 1990s and early 2000s when teams were still trying to learn how to manage the salary cap.

By now, teams know better. Or at least they should.

FREE AGENCY PREVIEW: AFC East

MORE: Where should Patriots devote newfound cap space ?

With clubs like the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers having to restructure the deals of as many as 10 players, it’s an indication much of the league was caught off guard by how flat the cap has been under the new collective bargaining agreement. (However in the Cowboys’ case, they must finish serving a $10 million cap penalty assessed against them last year for overspending during the cap-less 2010 offseason.)

This season, it’s expected to be roughly $123 million, which is where it was back in 2009 in the final capped year of the previous CBA. The cap won’t spike in coming years despite the expected influx of big dollars from TV contracts in 2015.

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In baseball , the standings and the postseason simply reflected how awful the New York Mets and their crosstown rivals , the New York Yankees , just happened to be ! With Spring Training now in full swing , and the World Baseball Classic said to be an international team tournament , said to represent the “best of the best “ of the international talent available

for the fans to observe . I am now, beginning to wonder how much longer MLB and IBAF (International Baseball Federation) FAB can carry on with this ridiculous charade ! Hopefully , not ,much longer given the dire mediocrity of the play coming from several of these international teams , including Team USA, itself . This is one competition; I believe that the world can do without !

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The ailing and aging New York Yankees are now in a world of trouble , with Mark Teixeira , Alex Rodriguez , Curtis Granderson , and a still unfit Derek Jeter , still being uncertain as to when his return might be. The three aforementioned players, beyond, Jeter , remains on the team’s disabled list.

The loss of that triumvirate , along with Derek Jeter , represent and an offense that led the league and the AL home runs . Teixeira , Granderson, Rodriguez and Jeter , accounted for 100 of the team’s 245 home runs in 2012 , an AL record for the season . Moreover, the real issue with the Yankees , remains their pitching , and other their starting pitcher, C C Sabathia, one could attest to the fact that the team’s pitching remains their Achilles’ Heel .

One of the more pressing issues to resolve for GM Brian Cashman will be the impending status of the team’s second baseman , thirty-year old , Robinson Cano , perhaps the Yankees’ best all-round player , and in many fans’ eyes , the heir-apparent to Derek Jeter , as the team captain. The player becomes a free agent in 2014 , and one seriously doubts that the ball-club would like to see Cano , seek to test the free agency market . A highly desirable and productive player , it would not be out of the realms of imagination to see Robinson Cano be offered a multi-year , multimillion dollar contract. At present, the second baseman, is in the final year of a four-year $30 million deal .

As the Yankees, make their way through their preseason schedule , it will be interesting to see how the team fares , and how Joe Girardi goes about assessing his roster of none roster invitees and every day players , seeking out the strengths and weaknesses of the squad overall . . The team opens their regular season schedule , with a three game set against their heated divisional rivals, the Boston Red Sox , at Fenway Park , in Boston , Massachusetts , with their first meeting on the 1st April, 2013. In the ensuing months , there will be a great deal, that we are liable to learn about this team , the organization , and the fans , themselves .

The NBA this season , has left a lot to be desired , while fans are looking for feel-good stories , which have been few and far between . OK, so we have the Golden State Warriors within the Western Conference surprising everyone with their resiliency , and the recent play of Steph Curry has been exceptional , to say the very least . Yet , beyond that, there are no real break-out stories , which seemingly have the fans on the edge of their seats . The NBA defending champions , the Miami Heat , are making their division and Eastern Conference seem like something of a cakewalk , as they simply stroll through , slaying their opponents , almost at will.. So much so, that it seems , that head coach , Erik Spoelstra has an embarrassment of riches , by way his roster’s star laden makeup . As the team’s season has progressed , we have seen LeBron James systematically raise the level of his play , to the point , where we must now ask “ since the heydays of Michael Jordan, has there ever been a player this dominant within the NBA , with such an sound all-round game “ ?

Sixteen straight wins , for the Heat , and the NBA analysts, are now looking for “ superlatives “ to describe the team , as well as the play of James , who remains the leading candidate for the League MVP award, a trophy , which he won for the third time, last season , in his already illustrious career . And while his legend grows , so too , are the flattering comparisons that are being made. It is way too early to make either the suggestion or the comparison as to the greatness of LeBron James . What we do know , it is , that he is now the preeminent player in the NBA , with perhaps only Kevin Durant , being remotely close by comparison , in the creation of a “budding rivalry”. A much-needed rivalry , I might add , because although the belief is that the league has a dearth of extremely talented players . In reality , what we do have, is a handful of very good players , one truly dominant player , and perhaps no more than two or three very good teams , now playing in the NBA .

At the start of the season , a great deal was made concerning the strengths of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks . With the Nets having relocated from New Jersey to their lavish and palatial venue , the Barclays Center in downtown , Brooklyn , New York . Nets’ owner , Mikhail Prokhorov , the billionaire Russian oil and financial magnate , and majority stakeholder /owner of the multi-billion dollar development , that houses commercial and residential estate, as well as the NBA’s newest venue , was meant , to signal the reawakening and relevance of a newly revamped Nets’ team , led by their All Star point guard , Deron Williams . The point guard, and the newly acquired Joe Johnson , were meant to provide the glitz and glamor to rival that of their more renowned erstwhile rivals, the New York Knicks . However, what has taken place with the franchise this season , is one of sheer ambiguity and the very fact that Brooklyn Net are simply not a very good team. Certainly not good enough, to be seen as a credible challenger, to the might of the Miami Heat. And while the Nets’ fans might beg to differ as to how their team might well be viewed by the rest of the fans around the NBA . The fact of the matter , is that the evidence is there for all to see , and which has been witnessed by the inconsistent play by the franchise over the course of the season. Avery Johnson , head coach of the Nets at the start of the year, would be relieved of his duties , by GM , Billy King , after it was felt that Johnson had lost control of the team. Speculation began to mount , that the firing of the coach came at the behest of Williams, who is said to have clashed with Avery Johnson , on more than one occasion concerning the style of play of the team. Shades of Jerry Sloan’s departure, from the Utah Jazz, Williams’ former team , and how it all went down ? I will leave that for you all , to speculate on .

Johnson’s successor, veteran head coach , P J Carlesimo , and it must be said, there were signs of improved play, only for there to be a subsequent tapering off as the team faltered. The Nets’ most recent game played against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats , a team that once again seems to be on the verge of creating NBA history , by ending the season with the league’s worst record . In 2011 , that was most certainly , the case with the Bobcats’ front office , having no idea , as how to get the franchise heading in the right direction. Team owner , Michael Jordan and GM , Rich Cho , will have a number of issues to address this off-season concerning this team and the makeup of its roster . Chances are , the Bobcats will be part of the NBA Draft Lottery pick , when the draft comes around .

The Nets for their part , now holding down the fourth seed within the conference , a potential playoff opponent , would appear to be the Chicago Bulls (34-26), a team whose defensive prowess has kept them in close games throughout much of their season schedule . Leading the Bulls ,without their All Star and former MVP point guard , Derrick Rose , we have seen Carlos Boozer , Luol Deng , but most notably , Joakim Noah , playing at a level not often seen with this two-time NCAA championship winning Florida Gator .

Inasmuch, as high praise has been heaped upon the New York Knicks this season and the fact that they have led the Atlantic Division throughout much of their schedule. To my mind, the biggest disappointment remains the fact that this team has an aversion to playing defense , in spite of the claims of their fans . A strong case, could be made that although Mike Woodson demands it, of his players , they somehow, only play defense as and when they see fit for the need to do so. They remain, one of the league’s best offensive units , but therein lies the misnomer for the players on this roster . What use, is a prolific offense , when you simply resist the desire and discipline to defend ?

With an aging core , in terms of its roster , the one thing that this Knicks’ team remains susceptible to , are injuries to their core group of players , but more so, to their veterans , players such as , Rasheed Wallace , Jason Kidd , Marcus Camby , Kurt Thomas and Amar`e Stoudemire . All season long for the New York Knicks , it has been the Carmelo Anthony “ show” , while he has been ably assisted by J R Smith , Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton . Personally , now , I feel that the prospects of the Knicks having a deep and successful run in the postseason , are not as assured , as they might well have been two weeks ago ! It has been the team’s inconsistency in large part , which has been all the more thought-provoking , beyond the fact that as the season enters the final third of its arduous schedule , things now become a great deal tougher , as teams now jockey themselves for position , the divisional races , and conference berths , with a view to entering the postseason.

A patron , who is a frequent guest to my columns , suggested that former Miami Heat and Orlando Magic head coach , Stan Van Gundy , was one of the better coaches that we have seen within the NBA in recent years . Van Gundy , no longer with a team , now awaits an opportunity to come his way , and a speedy return to the league . Both Van Gundy , and his sibling , Jeff Van Gundy are but a few of the siblings to have either played or coached alongside in each other in NBA history . Jeff , is now a respected NBA commentator and analyst for TNT Tv , and his astute observations , do provide some levity , as part of that network’s broadcast coverage. Stan Van Gundy ,with an all-time win percentage of .641 would fall behind only Gregg Popovich and Tom Thibodeau among active head coaches in that specific category . However, in light of that , as good a coach as Stan Van Gundy is said to be , I have always judged a head coach, not only by the success attained , but also by the players that he developed, from their being drafted and then becoming established stars . In reality , I have yet to see view the former Heat and Magic head coach in that endeavor ! Granted , as I alluded to earlier , he is a very good coach , more so an X’s and O’s type of individual , when placed in the right type of environment. His last coaching foray , with the Magic, was well chronicled , wherein , it all came to an embattled and bitter end , with the fallout between the coach , the Magic front office executives , but also , his contentious relationship , with former Magic center , Dwight Howard. Suffice to say , the pairs’ behavior, bordered on being rather infantile and less than honorable . Could one have asked for anymore ?

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Picture gallery .

In light of the opinions, raised, within this article , what thoughts do you have on the points raised ? By all means do leave a comment as you deem fit on this , and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter . Thanks , as always for the continued support of this site and of the content matter overall , as it is greatly appreciated !

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By Tophatal

More sports’ related pieces within this site : NFL , NBA , MMA , MLB , Boxing , College Basketball , Soccer

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(1) FILE – In this Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Buffalo Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman (56) walks on the field before an NFL football game against the New York Jets in Orchard Park, N.Y. Merriman is calling it “Lights Out” on his career , announcing on his website, Tuesday, March 5, 2013, that he plans to retire. AP Photo/Bill Wippert, File …

(2) Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. The first year head coach , faces a rough first season , with major roster moves having been made during the off-season , as the Bills seek reduce cap space , in order for the upcoming NFL Draft and to acquire potential free agents . AP Photo/Michael Conroy …

(3) New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan warms up during Clemson Pro Day on Thursday, March 7, 2013 in Clemson, S.C. AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt …

(4) New York Jets defensive back Darrelle Revis runs on the field before the preseason NFL football game between the New York Jets and the New York Giants Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. There now seems to be mounting speculation that the Jets may well seek to trade the corner-back who spent much of the team’s 2012 schedule on injured reserve . AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …..

(5) New York Mets’ Wilmer Flores hits a home run off Venezuela pitcher Enrique Gonzalez during the ninth inning of an exhibition baseball game , Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Venezuela won 14-10. AP Photo/Julio Cortez …

(6) Home plate umpire Chris Segal , left, gestures a called strike on New York Mets’ Travis d’Arnaud , right, for the final out, next to Venezuela catcher Miguel Montero in an exhibition baseball game, Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Venezuela won 14-10. AP Photo/Julio Cortez …

(7) Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton follows through on an RBI ground-out off New York Yankees’ David Phelps during the first inning of a spring training baseball game , Tuesday, March 5, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. At right is Yankees catcher Chris Stewart . AP Photo/Matt Slocum …

(8) TAMPA, FL – FEBRUARY 20: Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees poses for a portrait on February 20, 2013 at George Steinbrenner Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The player who becomes a free agent , seeks a long-term deal with the Yankees’ organization , but it appears that GM Brian Cashman and managing partner Hank Steinbrenner are said to be unsure that it would be productive in offering Cano such a deal . Leading to speculation that the ball club might be willing to allow the player to test the free agency market in 2014 . Photo by Elsa Martinez /Getty Images …

(9) From left, Golden State Warriors’ Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut , David Lee , and Step Curry watch from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. AP Photo/Ben Margot ….

(10) CHARLOTTE, NC – MARCH 06: Deron Williams(8) of the Brooklyn Nets shoots over Ben Gordon (8) of the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 6, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images …

(11) Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant drives past New York Knicks’ Tyson Chandler , right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 7, 2013, in New York. The Thunder won 95-94 . AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …

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Highest paid NFL quarterback , running back , wide receiver , tight-end , corner-back and linebacker

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Kimbella

Hot chic , pic of the day

PTI , it was a weekend, of highs and lows . More lows , than highs , I believe!

PTI , it was a weekend, of highs and lows . More lows , than highs , I believe !

Well just like LeBron James , I decided to take my talents elsewhere , in this case , North to visit the state of North Carolina over the weekend . A number of work colleagues and myself traveled up to Tobacco Road , Blue Devils’ country to take in the game between the Miami Hurricanes and the renowned Duke Blue Devils , coach by four-time NCAA championship winning head coach Mike Krzyzewski . These two titans with the ACC this season , have been on the path of a vengeful rematch , ever since Jim Larrinaga’s players took the Blue Devils behind the woodshed and comprehensively gave them an a$s whooping in mid-January , that not until Saturday afternoon, were the hosts be able to exact some sort of revenge at Cameron Indoor Arena , in Charlotte , North Carolina .

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Cameron Indoor Arena is a venue filled with heralded history , as well-being home to one of the most well-respected programs in collegiate athletics’ history . And make no bones about it , the success achieved in men’s basketball is primarily down to the program’s now legendary coach, Mike Krzyzewski and his astonishing achievements as a basketball coach.

If there is one thing that we should now be accustomed to, it is that you can never take Mike Krzyzewski team lightly. And where, there w ere many simply looking to “write off the Blue Devils’ season . It was abundantly clear, that the ACC and in particular the season was not yet lost for this team . The players on Krzyzewski’s roster sought to make a statement, that would be seen and heard across the collegiate basketball landscape , as a reminder of what to expect during the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament . And the hero of the hour , in this game on Saturday , just happened to be Ryan Kelly , whose single-handed display took on epic proportions and was described by the Blue Devils’ coach as one of the five best performances ever , by a player that he has coached under his tutelage . High praise indeed , coming from a coach of Mike Krzyzewski’s esteem , and when you consider the players coached by Krzyzewski during his tenure with this program, you have to realize how special Kelly’s achievements were on Saturday afternoon.

Ryan Kelly scored 36 points on 10 of ten fourteen , shooting, hitting seven threes from beyond the arc , as well as , pulling down seven rebounds , and leading all scorers in Duke’s 79-76 victory over the Miami Hurricanes. With both programs also ranked in the top ten of the NCAA rankings and with both having ambitions with regard to the regular season ACC championship crown . This game most definitely went along way letting us know what we should expect once the NCAA Tournament gets underway . I certainly expect both of these ACC programs to be in “ the thick of things “ , the farther along we get into the tournament !

“ Pretense “ and “ pretenders “ do go , hand in hand , as how else would you expect to now hear the bells within Madison Square Garden a faux cathedral to mediocrity , go exceedingly silent quiet ? The cacophony of noise extolling the virtues of the New York Knicks (35-21) were soundly silenced on Sunday afternoon. Mike Woodson’s team played host to their heated conference rivals the Miami Heat (43-14) . In what should have been a game emphasizing the best of what the Easter Conference had to offer . The Knicks simply threw up the white flag of surrender and must now realize that in a seven game series , they will not be remotely in the same area code when it comes to competitive play, especially if they are matched up against the Heat at any stage of this postseason .

LeBron James and his teammates simply overwhelmed the Knicks with an exhibition of teamwork , whereas their opponents were simply struggling for solutions as to how best to stop the league’s best player and one of its most potent offensive weapons . I have always maintained during the regular season , you can put up all the damn points you want on the scoreboard , but if you can’t play a lick of frigging defense , then you are definitely not going to progress deep into the NBA postseason.

Undoubtedly, the front office of the New York Knicks saw this team in its current guise , had ambitions not only to challenge the Miami Heat , but to also lay down the gauntlet to the rest of the aspirants within the Eastern Conference as well as the NBA as a whole. And while I have been impressed with the Knicks in large part , primarily because of the play of Carmelo Anthony . I simply believe that there are still far too many flaws on this team , that GM Glen Grunwald has failed to address ! It would appear that the organization is intent on spending money and acquiring free agents as a way of attaining success , rather than by appearance alone , seeking to nurture talent organically. Having dropped from the second seed to the third seed within the conference , does not aid the franchise , given their recent form of the New York Knicks in their endeavor for the season .

Well , the Baltimore Ravens have their man , having signed quarterback , Joe Flacco in what is now said to be the “ highest salaried contract “ in NFL history. The deal in question , is a six-year $ 120 million compensation package , that makes the player , the highest paid in the NFL as well as the highest paid quarterback in league history. Far be it for me, to suggest, that the player is overrated or overpaid , as I feel that the league , long ago failed to eschew financial accountability , much less intelligence , being shown by Commissioner Roger Goodell , or the league hierarchy , team owners and the front office executives ! Flacco for his part , simply lived up to his team’s and that of John Harbaugh’s expectations , as the Ravens triumphed over the San Francisco Giants in Superbowl 47 (SB47/XLVII).

With the off-season now in full swing and teams seeking to offload impending free agents and players thought to be superfluous to their needs . The player personnel version of “ Black Monday “ has begun , with some notable players having been discarded by their respective franchises . And nowhere was this more evident than with the Atlanta Falcons and their summarily discarding amongst others , running back , Michael Turner , Dunta Robinson and perennial Pro-Bowl defensive player , John Abrahams . The team’s failings this postseason , I believe are a reflection not only of their poor play but also , a clear lack of leadership , and the very fact that quarterback , Matt Ryan , appears to be a “lamb being led to the slaughter” , once the postseason comes around. He’s great during the regular season , yet for some reason any type of postseason foray becomes his “ Achilles’ Heel” .

The fact that head coach, Mike Smith in conjunction with Team President , Rich McKay GM, Thomas Dimitroff have sought to make these wholesale changes , is a clear sign of dissatisfaction as well as the fact that they now believe that they have gone as far as was ultimately possible with the players that they have jettisoned . While the players taken from their most recent drafts have proven to be productive , quite obviously , many of the team’s seasoned veterans simply did not meet expectations. As to where the Falcons now go from here , it remains to be seen, but it becoming abundantly clear that Matt Ryan should he fail this upcoming season to lead this franchise deep into a postseason run. The questions will be raised concerning his abilities and the fact that this first round 2008 NFL Draft pick could very well be viewed as something of a “ considerable bust” . Your thoughts on this , and anything else you believe to be relevant as it relates to the Atlanta Falcons , this past season ?

The fact that head coach, Mike Smith in conjunction with Team President , Rich McKay GM, Thomas Dimitroff have sought to make these wholesale changes , is a clear sign of dissatisfaction as well as the fact that they now believe that they have gone as far as was ultimately possible with the players that they have jettisoned . While the players taken from their most recent drafts have proven to be productive , quite obviously , many of the team’s seasoned veterans simply did not meet expectations. As to where the Falcons now go from here , it remains to be seen, but it becoming abundantly clear that Matt Ryan should he fail this upcoming season to lead this franchise deep into a postseason run. The questions will be raised concerning his abilities and the fact that this first round 2008 NFL Draft pick could very well be viewed as something of a “ considerable bust” . Your thoughts on this , and anything else you believe to be relevant as it relates to the Atlanta Falcons , this past season ?

The NFL Combine while it lasted , was something of a drab display and granted , there are no real players of standout talent . There is this continued belief that teams will be able to pick up “ a diamond in the rough” .Yet , from what many of us have witnessed and the NFL analysts have suggested , there has not been one overpowering performance that has simply blown everyone away. This weekend , Lauren Silberman , sought to make history as the first female to be part of the NFL Draft participants , as part of a combine , by trying out as a kicker . The fact that the tryouts in question , were held at Florham Park , New Jersey , home of the New York Jets’ practice facility , should tell you all you need to know . Gimmick or not , only the Jets as a franchise , would be prepared to subject themselves and Silberman to such ridicule . And the former soccer star with the University of Wisconsin (Badgers) , while trying her best , her two attempted kicks went for a combined 32 yards . Silberman, in her later interviews after her unsuccessful tryouts suggested that the quadriceps injury that she suffered some weeks earlier , restricted her full range of motion and complete movement . My thoughts on this all , there’s a place for Lauren Silberman , within the Lingerie Football League , but most definitely , not in the NFL !

Spring Training may well be here, and the standings as they currently are , within the Citrus and Grapefruit Leagues , do not really give enough of an indicator , as what to expect , once the regular MLB regular season schedule gets underway. Besides , isn’t there an idiotic international competition, that will somehow , interfere with the preparations of the teams? The quadrennial event known as the World Baseball Classic , is now once again within our midst and the group play will commence on the 2nd March , 2013 . The television coverage for the Classic, will be provided jointly by ABC/ESPN , in its entirety. The fact that team USA since the competition’s inception has never had a great showing , indicates one of two things , (1) ____ the top US born players , simply have no interest in a competition where they will not be richly rewarded and (2) ____ this competition devised by the MLB hierarchy and IBAF , baseball’s international governing body simply knows that the sport can gain no traction while it remains under suspicion because Bud Selig has failed miserably to rein in the actions of the ” drug cheats” within the game ,here on the continent of North America .

Team USA manager Joe Torre will be looking to stave off the team’s bad showing in the WBC . Since its inception the organization has failed to make a deep run , whereby it has qualified for the championship game , itself . The current makeup of the roster while extremely talented , it doesn’t create the impression that this is any way the best or most competitive team that could be fielded for what is said to be most prestigious international team tournament , beyond the IBAF World Cup. The team is drawn in Group D in a four team group, which consists of Canada , Italy , Mexico and the USA , itself . They will be based in Phoenix , playing their initial group games at Chase Field , in Phoenix , Arizona , home to the Arizona Diamondbacks . The sixteen team tournament , with its first round of group staged games should make for an enthralling event, as the scenarios begin to play themselves out .

As I alluded to earlier the Team USA roster , while being talented , it is by no means a team that offers the fans the best of the talent available , for what I believe to be a truly competitive team ! The pitching staff led by R A Dickey , also consists of Derek Holland , Mitchell Boggs, Tim Collins , Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez , amongst others . In terms of offense , the lead will be provided by Mark Teixeira, Giancarlo Stanton , Brandon Phillips , Adam Jones , Ryan Braun , David Wright and Ben Zobrist . A real threat to anyone , when you consider the strengths of the other participants as the two-time reigning champions , Japan , Cuba , China , Chinese Taipei and the Dominican Republic .

And the game of baseball faces an uphill battle as it seeks to have the sport reinstated as part of the Summer Olympics . The mere fact that Selig is now pressing Ricardo Farrari , President of IBAF to merge their efforts with ISF (International Softball Federation) , the governing body for the women’s softball as they present a joint bid to have both sports reinstated , spells out for me clearly how low on the “pecking order” both sports have now become on the international sports’ scene. So much so, that IOC President , Jacques Rogge and the fellow members of the IOC Executive Committee have indicated that both sports, were they to be reinstated , the earliest proposed return would not take place until the 2020 Summer Games . Do however , bear in mind that a decision has not yet been made , as to which country and city will be the host for the games in question . Those with a vested interest in hosting the quadrennial event , are the cities of Istanbul , Turkey , Tokyo , Japan , Madrid , Spain , Doha , Qatar, and Baku in Azerbaijan. I am sure that there will be enough intrigue and the atypical connivance of bribery and corruption , that will go along with the bidding process in question ! Not unlike the asinine antics, we have come to expect from the MLB team owners and the league hierarchy , itself .

Inasmuch, as I am looking forward to baseball’s season of ridiculous intent , of luring the fans , in with they believe will be an exciting year . Let’s get one thing straight , the game will still be engulfed by those who have , and those who do not ! The fact that the New York Yankees this year , will have a payroll exceeding $200 million , once again sets us up for a season , where even the Bronx Bombers will be hard pressed to outdo the Los Angeles Dodgers for print space and within the television media , as Magic Johnson and his latest bauble , with their $215 million payroll will try to outdo their AL counterpart , both on and off the field of play. Personally , I am beginning to wonder whether or not the Oakland Athletics and their rather menial payroll of $60 million will be able to reproduce the form , and excitement witnessed last season , at home and away from the O Coliseum and still be competitive enough to compete at the highest echelons of the game ! And dependent upon who you may ask the AL West might either get exceedingly tougher or softer , with the addition of last season’s worst baseball franchise , the Houston Astros (55-107), as they now become the latest member of the American League (AL). Make of it what , you will , but I am sure that the sweetheart deal and sweetener offered ($65 million) to Astros’ owner Jim Crane , will ease the burden and pain of another insufferable season !

Speaking of insufferable seasons, how much longer will the fans of the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates have to endure the years of ignominy in terms of their poor showing from year to year ? Several years ago a patron of this, claiming to be a knowledgeable individual and an employee of a well-known NL Central franchise made the claim , that the Royals were a ball-club on the rise and would be a serious contender in 2011 and 2012. Well, here we are, in 2013 , and the franchise is no better than a .500 team and that is even with the aspiring talent that is made to make up the roster. Personally , I do not believe that the Kansas City Royals’ owner , David Glass , has the slightest interest in seeing the franchise be a competitive concern within baseball. If that were the case, then surely with the resources at Glass’ disposal , in terms of his wealth , then he would have made a concerted effort to change the mindset of this entire organization . Instead , year in and year out , the Royals are the backwaters’ organization relying on the largess of the league hierarchy and the continued asinine tax sharing revenue scheme. Bud Selig believes this exercise has been to the benefit of the small market teams around the league , but in reality , nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ll say this for Pirates’ owner Bob Nutting , he really does know how to blow smoke up people’s ass. Having purchased the franchise from McClatchy family , the Pirates have yet acquire a winning season , during his tenure, as the owner of this ball-club. The lone star, on this Pirates’ team , and the organization’s best player , is their All Star center-fielder, Andrew McCutchen . Granted, Nutting has made an effort to raise and then pare down the Pirates’ payroll repeatedly over the years , dependent upon the ball-club’s degree of success. GM Neal Huntington , has worked in conjunction with the team owner and coaching staff to draft prudently to meet the team’s needs over the last few years (2009,2010,2011 and 2012). With the departure of the Houston Astros , it will be interesting to see if the Pirates can avoid being the bottom feeder within the NL Central this season .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Over this past weekend, which sporting event to your mind, provided you with the most interest ? Also, do you believe that there will come a time when a female can compete, at any level, within the NFL ? Your thoughts on this, and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter . Thanks as always for the continued support of this site, as it is gratefully appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow details for your perusal .

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(1) Duke’s Ryan Kelly (34) drives to the basket as Miami’s Shane Larkin (0) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, March 2, 2013. Duke won 79-76 . AP Photo/Gerry Broome ….

(2) Miami’s Kenny Kadji (35) dunks over Duke defender Ryan Kelly during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, March 2, 2013. AP Photo/Gerry Broome …

(3) Mason Plumlee (5) looks to make a pass during the against Miami Hurricanes at Cameron Indoor Arena , Charlotte , North Carolina on Saturday 2nd March , 2013 . Duke would go on to defeat Miami 79-76. Miami Sun Sentinel / Jorge Vargas ….

(4) Duke fans celebrate after the team’s triumph over their ACC rivals the Miami Hurricanes in a conference match-up between these two teams with NCAA championship aspirations. Before, however , there still remains the conference title as well the championship to be decided . @ copyrighted material …….. all rights reserved .

(5) NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 3: LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat shoots in a game against the New York Knicks on March 3, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Heat would go on to defeat the Knicks 99-93 , and then on Monday night , they would gain their fifteenth consecutive victory by outlasting the Minnesota Timberwolves in a lopsided 97-81 triumph . Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(6) Further emphasizing that the Knicks can’t defend “worth a damn ” . Lebron James goes in , unchallenged for an uncontested dunk against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2013 in New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images ..

(7) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco walks up to a microphone before speaking at a news conference at the team’s practice facility in Owings Mills, Md., Monday, March 4, 2013. Flacco agreed to a contract that will make him the highest paid quarterback in NFL history after leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl XLVII victory over the San Francisco 49ers. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(8) FILE – In this Dec. 9, 2012 file photo, Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) sits on the bench before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C. The Falcons have released Turner, defensive end John Abraham and corner-back Dunta Robinson The moves were announced Friday, March 1, 2013, by a team that came up just short of the Super Bowl. AP Photo/Bob Leverone …..

(9) From left to right , Atlanta Falcons’ team President , Rich McKay , GM Thomas Dimitroff and team owner , Arthur Blank are seen in the executive sky-box suites at Falcons’ home game . McKay and Dimitroff have made the decision to revamp the team’s roster by cutting several players as part of an off-season purge and “salary cap easing” , as they prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft and the possible signing of free agents this off-season . AP Photo / Marcus Richards ….

(10) Lauren Silberman talks to officials after taking two attempts during kicker tryouts at an NFL football regional combine workout, Sunday, March 3, 2013, at the New York Jets’ training facility in Florham Park, N.J. AP Photo/Mel Evans

(11) Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen runs off the field in the rain before a baseball spring training exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall ….

(12) Andruw Jones 25 and Jonathan Balentina (29) of Netherlands celebrate with team-mates after 4-1 victory against Australia during the World Baseball Classic First Round Group B match between Australia and the Netherlands at Intercontinental Baseball Stadium on March 5, 2013 in Taichung, Taiwan. ….

(13) Joe Torre will manage Team USA in the World Baseball Classic . Torre is hoping to lead the team to international success in a competition that the country has yet to win since its inception in 2006 . AP/REUTERS/ Martin Jacobs …..

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If at all interested do take time to participate in the above mentioned poll .

By Tophatal and my bio

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NCAA archive basketball news

NCAA Men’s Basketball rankings

NCAA men’s basketball results 03/03/2013 and results of 2nd March 2013

Men’s basketball schedule 4th March 2013

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NBA news

NBA results 3rd March 2013 & scheduled games for 4th March 2013

NBA standings by division and by conference

NBA playoff picture

NBA team statistics offense

NBA team stats defense

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NFL news & news from the NFL Combine

NFL transactions

NFL Draft 2013

Atlanta Falcons news

Baltimore Ravens news

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MLB news

MLB results 5th March 2013

MLB schedule 6th March

MLB Spring Training Standings —- Citrus & Grapefruit Leagues

World Baseball Classic home page and team brackets

World Baseball Classic news

World Baseball Classic schedule

I say fi’ty, you say fifty , but who gives a damn ?

I say fi’ty, you say fifty , but who gives a damn ?

By Tophatal

Many of those who know me , through my offerings within this site , may well be a aware that at one time , one of my first loves in the sporting world , was the sport of boxing . My two favorite’s fighters in history are modern-day contemporaries , middleweights, “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins . Albeit , a special place remains in my heart, for the undisputed “ greatest fighter in history” , Muhammad Ali , a three-time heavyweight champion. With the recent revelation , that rapper and business entrepreneur, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson , has now been licensed in the states of Nevada, New York and California , as a boxing promoter . It begs the question, is this something that the sport now needs to be revitalized, and to remain relevant ? I liken the sport of boxing to the NHL (hockey) and the fact , that particular sport has been mismanaged , does not have a sound economic base , but yet, their half assed fans are still trying to sell the NHL and its teams as something relevant ! Four labor stoppages inside of two decades , doesn’t make you relevant , it makes you by appearance alone, goddamn stupid , and deservedly so !

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Jackson hopes to bring along his expertise, having built an estimated fortune of $250 million , from his clothing line, real estate , record and film production company, as well as from selling his stake , in supplement and bottled water product Vitamin Water, for a reputed $100 million , while still retaining a minority stake in the company. Who says, gangster rappers and “bangers”, don’t know, how to make that “government cheese “ (money)? Boxing remains a sport riddled with corruption , mismanaged by the five relevant boxing hierarchies , and wherein the three biggest fight promoters within this environment tend to collude when it supports their interests to deprive and cheat the consumer almost at will. Veteran promoters , Bob Arum , founder of Top Rank Inc , Don King of his self-styled and named Don King Promotions Inc , and the last entrant unto the scene, former multi-world title-holder , Oscar de La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions Inc , have simply made the boxing landscape seem like downtown , Kabul or Baghdad , after another terrorist atrocity , which has left a path of death , destruction and utter chaos. Does anyone, now realize that it has been almost a decade since the sport of boxing had an undisputed heavyweight champion? At present the division, is dominated by East Europeans that are truly lacking in talent. So, much so, that it has become so embarrassing to see those fighters on display inside of a boxing ring. The last fighter to hold the undisputed crown was the British fighter , Lennox Lewis , who retired from the sport in 2004. Since Lewis’ retirement, the heavyweight scene has been dominated by Ukrainian siblings, Vitali (45-2-0) and Vladimir Klitschko (59-3-0) . The two brothers, hold all five of the title belts that matter and with no wish to unify the division , the sport remains devoid of a truly recognizable champion for the heavyweight category .

Arum , King and de La Hoya , have all failed miserably, with their endeavors, in not only cleaning up the sport , but also, in creating a lasting interest , in this once revered spectacle of gladiatorial pugilism . Boxing , if anything , in spite of the presence of Floyd Mayeathter and Manny Pacquiao , has simply lost ground to the explosive arrival and the ascent of MMA under the banner of UFC . And for the idiot who once wrote within his domain, that the genre of Mixed Martial Arts was on the decline , because hockey has more of a fan-base and viewership . Please shut the hell up , take note of the NHL , where it currently stands , and the fact that NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman and the NHL hierarchy now pays NBC Sports to carry its lame ass brand ! Shouldn’t that be, the other way around? So this is how a $2.5 billion sporting enterprise is meant to be ran ? Well , actually , be ran right into the goddamn gutter ! Piss on that , if you like , as I know that I will !

As to the altruistic intentions of 50 Cent , well , you can either judge by his deeds, in terms of his already astonishing success as a recording artist and as an entrepreneur , or by the fact that he comes in as a novice within this realm, but having a sizable knowledge of the sport , and with what now appears to be a budding stable of young and up and coming talent signed to his G-Unit Boxing Promotions Inc . Of the most recognized names within that stable is the undefeated Cuban exile , junior lightweight title aspirant , Yuriorkis Gamboa (22-0-16 KO’s). In September of 2012, 50 Cent and his then budding friendship with Floyd Mayweather , saw the pairing of the two obviously ego-driven talents , forge a business relationship that was begin with the setting up of a fight promotion’s company TMS Promotions . However, with the rapper being openly critical of his partner , and his refusal to take on his young protégé’ Gamboa , in a proposed title fight . What should have been a mutually beneficial business arrangement between Mayweather and 50 Cent , turned into an acrimonious relationship of “name calling “ , with a slew of profanity laden rants, which were exchanged, between the two , virally , in print and on , more than one occasion, in public . The last such exchange, took place after , Manny Pacquiao’s most recent bout , his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez , in which Mayweather, described the Filipino fighter as a boxer past his prime, who deserved an ass whooping, in refusing to give the public what they desired , a super-fight between the two megastars . Jackson’s response , was swift in suggesting , and defending Pacquiao, by suggesting, if there was anyone deserving of an ass whooping , it was Mayweather , himself , and that his fighter, Yuriorkis ” Yuri” Gamboa , would be the fighter to hand out that “said ass whooping “ in grand style .

The vitriol between the two , has reached a new high, with the cacophony of verbiage and garbage being exchanged between 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather , seem far more thrilling and interesting than any staged fight at the heavyweight level over the past eighteen months .

Did you see that ? Well for almost the second time in ten days, the once high and mighty New York Knicks were brought back down to earth , by an upstart with the NBA . The Knicks playing at the revered and venerable Madison Square Garden, in New York City , New York , were taken to task by Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors . Curry , would score a career high 54 points in the Warriors’ 109-105 loss to the Knicks. And with the Steph Curry leading all scorers on the night . The game although a victory for the Eastern Conference franchise , further emphasized how poor a defensive team the Knicks just happen to be , and will continue to remain.

Curry’s performance was a season high within the NBA this season . However, what might be even more inexplicable, was how the player was snubbed as an All Star representative for the Warriors this season . Steph Curry has been one of the most prolific scorers within the Western Conference , the NBA and by far the most productive player on the team’s roster . And much of that credit, should go to budding Coach of the Year candidate , Mark Jackson , who now has the franchise on the cusp of returning to the NBA Playoffs for the first time , since 2007 .

As much as Mike Woodson tries to get his players buy into a defensive mindset and strategy, it seems that there is no one cognizant or seemingly intelligent enough on the roster to fully comprehend what that might mean . Ergo , “ defense wins goddamn championships “ , points on freaking board during the season, only gets you regular season wins . Get it ? Good !

There is a lot that the New York Knicks have going for them at present , as Carmelo Anthony , is having one hell of a season . Beyond that , several of his teammates have stepped up , but unfortunately that hasn’t happened on a consistent enough basis . Mike Woodson may well be happy enough with the team’s showing within the their division , but the ball club has slipped off , in the conference standings . No real threat , as of yet , but if the team becomes any shakier , don’t panic , just simply acknowledge that , they are not as good , as first advertised . Knicks’ fans, while knowledgeable , tend to act , as if the goddamn world owes them something . If its respect that they are said to be looking for , then , before you can respect , you have to earn it . And the Knicks simply haven’t done enough to earn that respect , in spite of what their fans may well think . The New York Knicks , are not perennial contenders for the NBA title and haven’t been so , in a considerably long time . And their recent body of work over the past five years tends to bear this out .

With the Knicks having fallen down in the conference standings from that coveted #2 seed to where they now sit behind the surging Indiana Pacers coached by Frank Vogel . It has to be said that all of those wishes and ambitions held by the Knicks’ front office could be forlorn, should this franchise fail to make a successful and deep run in the NBA postseason. Team owner, James Dolan and GM Glen Grunwald have seen fit increase the team’s payroll to where they exceed the league’s soft salary cap of $58.044 million . That figure for the Knicks, is now set at $79,405,151 , which ranks the team’s payroll as the sixth highest in the NBA for the 2012-13 season. The vast resources at the organization’s disposal as part of The Madison Square Garden Company , the familial holdings for the sports’ ventures of the Dolan family. Take into account also, the very fact that the franchise remains the most valuable ($1.1 billion) in the NBA as well as the most profitable by the most sizable of margins besting their nearest rival , the Los Angeles Lakers by almost 50%.

With the NBA’s greatest player recently celebrating his fiftieth birthday ____ Michael Jordan. It was somewhat surprising to see the league not celebrating the event, even more so. The former league star, now the C owner the Charlotte Bobcats , has seen his team perform poorly , all season long. Jordan , alongside team GM Rich Cho , have not seen a great deal of success in recent years with draft pick , after draft pick , has been something of a monumental bust . Granted, this season the Bobcats have struggled primarily from having seen their best player , Kemba Walker beyond the missed games , has been his inconsistency to what was said to be a very good all-round game.

It is extremely sad and exacerbating to see Jordan’s fall from grace as a front office executive, be so extreme. Counting the biggest mistake on that resume` being his decision to take Kwame Brown straight out of high school as the number one draft pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards , as then owner, Abe Pollin , was countenanced by Michael Jordan, who was serving in his role as the Head of Basketball Operations , for the Washington , DC based franchise . And as we now know, Brown’s career has seen more misdirection and incompetence, as many believe the decision to acquire the untested high school “ phenom “ , was a mark of sheer indulgence and stupidity , only marked by the imbecilic explanation by the executive, that the player’s game could be honed , and making him a perennial All Star. Unless, I am mistaken, Brown has yet to aspire to those celebrated heights , heights or be a solid contributor to any team that he has ever played on ! And over the course of his ten-year career the player has earned in excess of $58.23 million dollars, with his most productive year being the 2001-02 season when he averaged 10.7 points per game with the Washington Wizards in what was then, his rookie season . Brown now with the Philadelphia 76ers , now languishes on the bench , which comes courtesy of head coach , Doug Collins . And the coach may well seek to use the player as, and when, he so pleases . . Which, given Brown’s average of 1.7 points per game for this season , in the twenty-two games , in which he has started , for which he has been a participant in half of those games, the returns have been a mere pittance for the Sixers , at this juncture . In this day and age, when the perception that the league hierarchy wishes to extol financial expediency , it seems hard to equate, how someone of Kwame Brown’s menial stature be rewarded with a two-year $5.5 million contract by the Sixers’ franchise , with the player becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2014 ? Any takers by then , do you think ?

Next up for the Sixers, will be a home game against the Golden State Warriors , in what is sure to be an entertaining match-up between these two aspiring franchises , seeking to makes themselves heard, amongst the cacophony of teams now seeking a playoff berth within their respective conferences, as the playoff picture begins to get a little clearer in some areas and more into focus . Doug Collins’ players find themselves six games out of the eighth spot , within the Eastern Conference , where the position in question, is currently held by the Milwaukee Bucks (28-28 [.0500]) .

50 Cents’ altruism and wish to make the sport of boxing once again relevant , while commendable, he alone, cannot orchestrate the changed needed , when the “major players” such as Bob Arum , Don King and not coincidentally, the four international governing bodies of the sport, seem so averse to change . The , IBF , WBA , WBC and the IBO have simply created , an all too corrupt landscape where the promoters dictate far too much of the branding , the major bouts that take place , and who in essence are the participants in those major fights , be they title or none title bouts.

The NBA for its part this season , has presented the fans with a monstrous brand of basketball , which if it continues along its present course , could very well lead to where the fans question their allegiance to a brand that has in recent years has been more concerned about its image , revenues and shown little if any thought for the most important aspect of its environment , the fans who pledge their allegiance to the teams , attend the games, with an even bigger television audience watching nationally , as well as internationally .

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Picture gallery .

What thoughts if any, do you have with regard to the salient points within this article? And do believe that over the remainder of the NBA season we are inclined to see a marked improvement in the play of the teams? Do you believe that rapper 50 Cents’ entrance into what is already a convoluted and corrupt sport will see any sort of difference within boxing at all? Chime in with your thoughts on this , and anything else you believe to pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Bernard Hopkins (R) poses with former boxer Marvin Hagler after defeating Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright by unanimous decision after Hopkins and Wright’s light heavyweight fight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center July 21, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Getty Images North America / Ethan Miller ….

(2) Boxing promoters Don King , left , and Bob Arum , long time enemies now respected friends . The two most powerful men in the sport of boxing with over six decades of experience the two , have a stranglehold on the sport , which they have no wish to relinquish control. King, the founder & CEO of Don King Promotions Inc , based in Palm Beach , Florida, has promoted some of the most important heavyweight fights in boxing history as well as managing or promoting some of the most well-known fighters within the division over the past four decades. His contemporary Bob Arum , through Top Rank Inc , based in Las Vegas , Nevada in recent years has promoted some of the biggest fights staged in the city of Las Vegas and the state of Nevada . At present , Arum’s most famous client is former multi-world titlist Manny Pacquiao . Within his promotion’s company , he has a litany of rising and established stars, well-known to the fans of the sport . AP Photo/ Mark Walters …

(3) A towering figure over the sport of boxing and the heavyweight division’s first three-time champion , Muhammad Ali, whose career and legacy have been well established . The seventy-one year old fighter , now suffers from Parkinson’s disease , as well as the early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, and he is now rarely seen in public , suffering a speech impediment and severe neurological disorders brought by the longevity of his boxing career and the injuries inflicted from that fight career. At his side constantly is his wife and companion of twenty-seven years , Yolanda Ali. Ali , a ” prized inductee “ into the International Boxing Hall of Fame now through his writings , promotes peace and humanitarian efforts that embraces the joint efforts between Muslims and Jews across the globe , in counteracting stereotypes about both religions , while seeking to spread tolerance between not just both religious sects but also across all ethnic divides. AP REUTERS / Ingemar Halstead ….

(4) Floyd Mayweather Jr. weighs in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena May 4, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Joining him , is rapper and entrepreneur 50 Cent , as the two bonded and formed a business relationship ,forming TMS Promotions Inc . Mayweather Jr. fought Oscar De La Hoya for the WBC super welterweight championship at the MGM on May 5, 2007 winning in a split decision . The two former associates and best friends , have now taken to the social platform, Twitter to be highly critical of each other . The falling out , between the two luminaries, centers around the rapper’s claims that he’s owed $2 million by the boxer , after the dissolution of their joint venture, and also Mayweather’s unwillingness to meet his fighter Yuriorkis Gamboa , whom he manages and promotes. Getty Images North America / Carlos Jiminez …..

(5) NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 27: Stephen Curry (30) of the Golden State Warriors advances the ball against Raymond Felton (2) of the New York Knicks on February 27, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Curry scored a career and season high 54 points in the Warriors 109-105 loss to the Knicks . AP Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images …..

(6) New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, in New York. The Knicks won the game 109-105 . AP Photo/Frank Franklin II ….

(7) New York Knicks’ Tyson Chandler , left, and Iman Shumpert , right, defend against Golden State Warriors’ Jarrett Jack (2) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, in New York. Jack was called for traveling on the play, resulting in a turnover. The Knicks won 109-105. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …

(8) LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 26: Blake Griffin (32) of the Los Angeles Clippers passes the ball against the Charlotte Bobcats at Staples Center on February 26, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers won 106-84 . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ……

(9) Charlotte Bobcats guard Ramon Sessions , right, tries to shoot over Los Angeles Clippers center Ronny Turiaf during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. The Clippers won 106-84. AP Photo/Chris Carlson …

(9) In the foreground at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte , North Carolina , are Charlotte Bobcats’ general manager Rich Cho seated , and joining are team owner , Michael Jordan , right and the team’s Snr Exec VP , Fred Whitfield . The Bobcats this season are once again under-achieving and it appears that the franchise looks as if they finish the season once again with a .500 record for the 2012-13 for the year , repeating what appears to be an ongoing cycle of ineptitude of this ball-club , since Jordan assumed control , having bought the team outright from former owner , Robert L Johnson , founder of BET (Black Entertainment Television) . Getty Images / Sarah Gilling …….

(10) Dallas Mavericks guard Darren Collison (4) shoots as Philadelphia 76ers guard Maalik Wayns (18) and center Kwame Brown (54) defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game , Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, in Dallas. Brown is having torrid time this season with the Sixers , producing career lows in a variety of categories , while proving to be one of the least productive centers in the entire NBA this year . AP Photo/John F. Rhodes …

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