As one door closes , another one opens . For Christ’s sake , keep the f##king door shut !

As one door closes , another one opens . For Christ’s sake keep the f##king door shut !

Well the idiocy of the NFL Draft has come and gone , in spite of this high-profiled event , nothing will really be learned until many of these rookies get their first taste of the NFL , during week one of the upcoming season . And to hear many of these draft geeks and on air personalities speculate and prognosticate , you would’ve thought that all thirty-two teams in the NFL were in sheer dire straits . In reality this draft had more to do with personalities , lack of real talent in a vast array of areas , in spite of the recommendations being made by members of the media .

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Now Tim Tebow having been cut from the organization at the behest of GM John Idzik , speculation still remains as to the future of the team’s beleaguered quarterback , Mark Sanchez whose performances in 2012 , were amongst the worst in the AFC and NFL throughout much of last season .

Courtesy of Pro Footballtalk.com

Testaverde disappointed Tebow didn’t get a chance

By Darin Gantt

While just-released quarterback Tim Tebow hasn’t had much support today, at least one former Jet is disappointed he didn’t get a chance to stay.

Former quarterback Vinny Testaverde had worked with Tebow recently in Florida, and he said he saw significant mechanical improvement.

“I was kind of disappointed because I was hoping he’d get a chance to show the coaches what we worked on,” Testaverde told Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com. “I think they would’ve been impressed if they had compared this year to last year ” .

Testaverde spent a week with Tebow, concentrating on his footwork. In layman’s terms, Testaverde said Tebow “was stepping in the wrong direction when he was throwing the football.”

Testaverde also consulted with IMG instructor Chris Weinke, saying they “speak the same quarterback language” because they both played under Dan Henning.

“Chris and I looked at Tim careful and we were both amazed,” Testaverde said. “Everybody has been focusing on his throwing motion, trying to fix that, but nobody had picked up his footwork. His footwork was all screwed up. Chris and I looked at each other after about four or five throws, and we saw the same thing. We got his footwork fixed. His throwing motion is now a non-issue.

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Sanchez is owed in excess of $12.8 million for the upcoming season , but it seems that in all probability , John Idzik will seek a trade of the player, rather than retain him for the entire season while still having to make the financial outlay . He is due a roster bonus of $4.1 million due on the 1st June , and a possible trade partner , if anything would rather seek to only pay a nominal sum with regard to the player’s salary , and then assuming the remainder of Mark Sanchez’s contract from 2014 through to 2016 . This upcoming season for the Jets will be very interesting to see how they fare in their season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the 8th September 2013 ,

It seems that fans , agents and analysts alike were simply surprised that a quarterback was not taken in the top ten of the first round of this NFL Draft . The fact that it was the Buffalo Bills , with the sixteenth pick in the first round taking EJ Manuel , made that whole premise all the more surprising . That being said , now consider the franchise’s options at the position , when you consider that Kevin Kolb is meant to be the Bills’ starter for the upcoming season . Shit , I’d rather walk on hot coals , rather than seeing Kolb quarterback any franchise within the NFL , as he simply does not possess the talent needed to be a starter in the NFL . Yet somehow, Bills’ head coach Doug Marrone and the front office believe the veteran to be their man . It is my belief , that sooner , rather than later , Manuel will be a starter in the league , quite possibly this season , if Kolb’s recent performances are anything to go by.

The AFC East , if nothing else , should prove to be a great deal fun , considering the antics of the teams from within the division and their performances from last season . Among the teams seeking redemption from last season’s nightmare , just happens to be the New York Jets , whose head coach , Rex Ryan barely escaped from the franchise’s purge of a mediocre coaching staff from 2012 . Out went , offensive coordinator , Tony Sparano , whose ides of team offense bordered on being absurd . And the very fact , that he has now joined the coaching staff of the Oakland Raiders , further enhances the notion , that coaching in the NFL , is no longer about creativity in terms of coaching talent but simply the “ rehashing” of “ mediocre coaches” “ , whose ideas are in essence , from a bygone age “ ! How else can one simply explain the fact that Sparano and Ryan were simply so how out of touch reality , while being allowed to ruin the franchise , and with asinine belief that Tim Tebow would be able to contribute to a team that was lacking in talent and creativity , never-mind poor coaching from every layer , within a considerably inept organization. Yet boneheaded individuals swayed by their emotions, continued to call for Tebow’s inclusion either as a starter or in some other capacity for the franchise . Fantasy geeks were either that blasé or simply that goddamn stupid, throughout much of 2012.

Sanchez is owed in excess of $12.8 million for the upcoming season , but it seems that in all probability , John Idzik will seek a trade of the player, rather than retain him for the entire season while still having to make the financial outlay . He is due a roster bonus of $4.1 million due on the 1st June , and a possible trade partner , if anything would rather seek to only pay a nominal sum with regard to the player’s salary , and then assuming the remainder of Mark Sanchez’s contract from 2014 through to 2016 . This upcoming season for the Jets will be very interesting to see how they fare in their season opener against Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the 8th September 2013 .

With this draft I expected the New England Patriots to do a great deal more than they did , but once again I believe they have failed miserably with this particular draft class . To try and suggest that Jamie Collin s , Aaron Dobson , Logan Ryan , Duron Harmon , Josh Boyce , Michael Buchanan and Steve Beauharnais . These are the players drafted by the organization with view redeeming itself after a monstrous postseason foray , which was best summed up in the team’s embarrassing loss to the eventual Superbowl champions , the Baltimore Ravens , in the AFC championship game . Given the team’s malaise during the game itself and the very fact that Bill Belichick was out-smarted and outmatched by his opposite number John Harbaugh .

I firmly believe that Belichick failed to address the concerns of this team on defense , albeit , that they made a few off-season deals that would suggest that he , GM Nick Caserio and the coaching staff have addressed the team’s failings over the past three seasons. ( 2012 , 2011 & 2010 ). This season if this team in its present guise is unable to address those woes , then the Patriots’ 2013 regular season foray is likely to be an extremely tough one . While fans and analysts alike will point to the potency of the team’s offense over the past few seasons . One should also remember , defense wins championships , and the offense is simply there , as the mainstay of the regular season .

With the NBA postseason now in full swing with the opening round series in some instances , all but established . It seems somewhat unbelievable to believe that the league’s two most renowned franchises are about to be or have been eliminated the first round of the NBA Playoffs . The Boston Celtics have fought back from the cusp of being eliminated in game four , but still find themselves with an almost insurmountable issue in having to still erase a 3-1 deficit in their first round series against the highly regarded New York Knicks .

Having watched this series unfold , to say that I am disappointed in the lack of commitment being shown by the Celtics , would be a tremendous understatement . The core of this roster simply is not good enough , nor has there been any leadership shown by seasoned veterans such as, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett . Granted , while Doc Rivers does not have the privilege of having the team’s best player on the court , It must be said , that as surely as Rajon Rondo is missed, it should not be made or seen as the primary excuse for the team’s poor play in this series . Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson has simply instilled into this team a real “killer instinct” , not often witnessed with the Knicks’ teams from the franchise’s recent past .

It would be fair to suggest that the Boston Celtics and the franchise’s front office will have to reassess the makeup of this roster and look to build around either Rondo or seek to bring in a marquee free agent during the off-season . Certainly , GM Danny Ainge and senior managing partner Wyc Grousbeck will have to come to a decision , sooner , rather than later as it relates to the immediate and long-term future of this renowned franchise .

This series may well be far from over in the eyes of the Celtics’ fans and players, and it does seem highly unlikely that the team will be derail what now appears to be a focused Knicks’ team obviously looking towards that perceived showdown with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals . Alas , it is my belief that after all of the in-fighting within the Boston Celtics’ locker room and the animosity that allegedly lingered between Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen wasn’t quashed by the coaching staff , head coach or by the Kevin Garnett , the perceived leader of this roster . Instead , Garnett chose to show his immaturity , by berating his former teammate , haranguing him , after his departure , but even more so , when it was announced that Allen had signed with the reigning NBA champions , the Miami Heat.

These are certainly the twilight years in the careers of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce , certainly , two players that are likely to be enshrined in the Naismith (Basketball) Hall of Fame , having met the eligibility requirements upon their retirement .

Despite their value and profitability , it would be fair to say that the Los Angeles Lakers are the most storied franchise in NBA history alongside their most heated rivals the Boston Celtics . With the two franchises accounting for over thirty of the NBA Finals competed for in NBA history .

In what wasn’t seen as a strange turn of events, when the Bryant-less Lakers met the San Antonio Spurs in their opening round series , expectation were high. Instead lackluster … performances , an injury riddled roster and the growing immaturity of Dwight Howard shone through , in what can be best described as piss poor performances all-round from every participant on this Los Angeles Lakers roster during the series. And you simply know things are bad for the franchise when one of the Lakers’ most celebrated fans , actor , Jack Nicholson offers his congratulations to Gregg Popovich and the entire Spurs’ roster , while ignoring several members of the Los Angeles Lakers’ playing staff.

With the Lakers being swept 4-0 in the series , it was the franchise’s earliest exit in the postseason , where the Lakers has a lost series , in such an embarrassing fashion , with that coming in the 1967 Western Conference Semi-Finals to the San Francisco Warriors (Golden State Warriors) .

Mitch Kupchak and SVP Jim Buss now have the unenviable task of assessing the roster and making a number of far-reaching decisions as it relates to the makeup of this team . In my m honest opinion , the general manager and team owner have erred in so many decisions as it relates to this franchise in recent years , that it has been a constant comedy of errors , watching the Lakers as their season came to an abrupt end. Suffice to say , with Dwight Howard showing a real lack of commitment and his getting into foul trouble in the third quarter of game four (103-82) , the fate of this team was sealed as the Spurs came away with a rather lopsided victory , as they now await the victor of the series between the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies .

The Los Angeles Lakers, are now left on the outside looking in , as their season has simply gone up in flames . In all likelihood, with the Lakers’ bloated payroll ($100.1 million) , and no semblance of financial rationale for the never-ending stupidity to simply overpay for marginal talent , much as it would appear to be for a number teams around the NBA , while David Stern inexcusably tries to make the claim that the franchises of the NBA are financially responsible . Perhaps the NBA Commissioner could indicate the transparency of the claims he continually makes ? Once a boneheaded asshole , always a boneheaded asshole ! Nothing more , nothing less as it relates to David Stern !

ESPN’s David Aldridge is reporting that there will be a stay of execution as it relates to the sale of Sacramento Kings by the Maloof family to a consortium led by billionaire venture capitalist , Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer . In what is said to be a last-ditch attempt by the city of Sacramento mayor , Kevin Johnson , it appears that the NBA hierarchy and its Board of Governors have vetoed the sale of the franchise , and the consortium’s bid of almost $600 million is now likely to be overruled ,with the commissioner having been left with egg on his face , as initially he welcomed the pursuant bid of Hansen and Ballmer .

Courtesy of ESPN

In shocking twist, the Kings will likely stay in Sacramento

By David Aldridge

The NBA has all but officially decided to keep the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento.

In a unanimous vote of the league’s combined Relocation and Finance committees Monday afternoon, 12 NBA owners recommended that the league’s Board of Governors vote to deny the relocation of the Kings to Seattle — and, in doing so, deny the sale of the team from the Maloof Family to a Seattle-based group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

The recommendation will be taken up by the full Board for a formal vote the week of May 13. But it is almost certain that the full Board will go along with the recommendation and vote to keep the Kings in Sacramento, at least for another year.

Relocating a team requires a majority, or 16 of the league’s 30 teams to vote yes. As 12 teams have already voted no, that means the Seattle group would have to get 16 of the league’s remaining 18 teams to vote yes, a near-impossibility. And once relocation is voted down, the sale of the team to Hansen’s group would follow, for Hansen has consistently said he was only interested in buying the Kings if he could move them to Seattle.

“I’ve never been prouder of this city,” Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson Tweeted Monday afternoon. “I thank the ownership group, city leaders, but most of all the BEST FANS IN THE NBA!!!”

While the Maloofs are not obligated to sell the Kings, they will now be under incredible pressure to do so, after Sacramento put together a group led by software magnate Vivek Ranadive, who would be the first majority NBA owner of Indian descent. Ranadive’s group submitted a formal bid to the NBA earlier this month that NBA Commissioner David Stern said was comparable to the Seattle bid, and which the league considered binding.

It is not clear what steps the league could take if the Maloofs opt not to negotiate with the Ranadive group or sell to it. Stern reiterated earlier this month that the league does generally allow owners to sell to whomever they want, provided the new owners’ finances are in place, even though the league decides whether teams will be allowed to move.

The league also knew that its owners’ decision would rip the heart out of one city or the other. There was no solution that could make both happy.

“It’s not exactly comparing two cities,” a source with knowledge of the discussions said Monday. “It’s been hard to leave a place that’s been good to the NBA. Leaving a team, leaving a city, leaving a bunch of fans when they stepped up. That’s what it is.”

The decision caps an incredible comeback by the city of Sacramento, which looked doomed to lose its team after Hansen and the Maloofs announced in January they had reached a binding deal for the Maloofs to sell 65 percent of the team to Hansen, or $341 million, on a franchise valuation of $525 million. Hansen gave the Maloofs a non-refundable $30 million deposit as part of the agreement.

Ranadive’s group, according to an April 17 letter from the Maloof Family to the league that was leaked to the media, agreed to match the $525 million valuation for the team, but wanted to give the Maloofs a $15 million non-refundable deposit instead of $30 million. The Maloofs claimed that entering into an agreement with the Sacramento group would constitute a breach of contract with the Hansen group and would reduce the family’s leverage to negotiate in case the league vetoed the sale to the Hansen group.

Hansen had meticulously put together a plan over two years, purchasing land near Major League Baseball’s Safeco Field on which he wanted to build a new arena for an NBA and National Hockey League team. He reached an agreement with the city of Seattle for construction of a $491 building with up to $200 million in public funds.

But Sacramento, led by Johnson, came roaring back, putting together its own arena deal and ownership group, first led by supermarket mogul Ron Burkle and 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov. But Burkle had to drop out of the team and arena plans after a conflict of interest with one of his businesses, which represents NBA players, was discovered.

Burkle was replaced by Ranadive, a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors, who quickly became the face of the Sacramento group. The city and the Ranadive Group reached agreement on construction of a $447 million arena, with Sacramento contributing $258 million toward the costs.

The Board of Governors postponed a final vote on whether to accept the Seattle or Sacramento plans when it met earlier this month, with NBA Commissioner David Stern citing the incredibly complex issues the league faced. Could it vote to leave a city whose fans had been incredibly loyal over the years, and who had reached agreement with the Maloofs last year on a new arena deal, only to see the family walk away?

On the other hand, Seattle had famously lost its team, which became the Oklahoma City Thunder, in 2008, and the NBA had lost a potentially dynamic market. The Hansen bid for the Kings wildly inflated the value of all other NBA teams, and the potential revenues from a regional sports network and other corporate dollars made Seattle an enticing city. In addition, Hansen’s group went about its business quietly, as the NBA prefers.

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For the last eight years the Sacramento Kings have been one of the least supported franchises in the NBA , along with being one of the least profitable of the NBA’s thirty teams . Why in the world Johnson would seek retain a loss making concern that is barely supported with anemic attendance level seems somewhat idiotic , but for the life of me I cannot understand the reasoning behind the mayor’s madness when his city has its very own budgetary woes to deal with . As with any asinine politician, who ill-serves his electorate, and the citizens who have entrusted him to lead. It does beg the question , will he now seek to use public resources to aid millionaire software magnate Vivek Ranadive and his last-minute bid for the Western Conference franchise ? Ranadive stepped into the fray , the moment this consortium hastily put together by Kevin Johnson , when billionaire real estate magnate , Ron Burkle dropped out the syndicate citing personal and professional reasons . In reality, Burkle’s concerns lay elsewhere , as he is one of the lead developers of the downtown Los Angeles area, seeking build a commercial and private real estate development , that will potentially house a 85,000 to 100,000 seat stadium with the view of luring a relocating or a new NFL franchise into the nation’s second largest ad market and its second most populated city. Be that as it may , my question for commissioner , if he is now prepared be mindful of the Board of Governors’ wish in such an instance . Then what in essence is now so different here from the same situation that arose when the Seattle Supersonics’ sale to Clay Bennett , when that franchise was then relocated to Oklahoma City ? Clearly , the league hierarchy , in this instance, has never acted with any real transparency , as it relates to their decision-making .

Many of you will know by now, that there were allegations made that the NBA acted with a great deal of subterfuge as they simply sought to relocate the Sonics’ franchise because of the advantage tax breaks that would be received by the Oklahoma City Thunder , from the municipality of Oklahoma City . Over the first five years of the residency within their new home (Chesapeake Energy Center) , the franchise was able to receive in excess of $65 million in tax breaks and other lucrative benefits for the state of Oklahoma’s only professional NBA franchise , much less its only professional sport’s franchise. It now begs the question what benefits will the city of Sacramento offer to the new ownership group of the Kings and their wish to remain in the California state capitol ? Is this really how Kevin Johnson and his fellow city commissioners wish to spend the goodwill and the resources of the city, while the NBA once again profits from this all. Most of all, the biggest benefactors from this all will remain the Maloof Family , and the lead siblings, Joe and Gavin Maloof , who preside over the sports’ interests of the familial holdings .

If Vivek Ranadive’s bid is now approved , and the Maloofs walk away with their newfound cash haul of $600 million to aid them in now ailing business interests as it relates to the family’s beverage , hospitality and transportation interests , their departure from the ranks of owners within the NBA fraternity , cannot come around quick enough in some circles . Joe and Gavin Maloof’s alleged business acumen as it relates to the Kings , has been at best , mediocre and a complete farce . The very fact that GM Geoff Petrie has also presided in and over this fu#king mess , makes it all the more asinine , that David Stern continues to make these dubious claims as to the league’s continued financial health and well-being. Meanwhile, anally retentive fans, continue to buy into the commissioner’s continued bull$hit ! The sooner the commissioner departs from his post , the better off NBA will be ! Unfortunately, Stern’s heir-apparent , Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver will assume his role in February 2014 and will follow in the same vein, as his predecessor. What else could the NBA ask for, at this juncture ? Simply one more reason to see the NBA for what it has simply become , a brand and business template completely devoid of character , integrity but above all , real leadership from anyone with a position of authority. Does anyone actually believe that David Stern has always acted in the best interest of the league?

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? By all means do leave a comment as you deem fit , concerning the subject matter and anything else that you believe to be pertinent .

😉

Tophatal ……….. 2013/04/29

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) In this Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 photo, New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow (15) warms up before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y. The New York Jets say, Monday, April 29, 2013, they have waived Tebow. AP Photo/Gary Wiepert ….

(2) Tim Tebow (15) is seen here alongside his now former teammate, Mark Sanchez(6) , after the former Heisman Trophy winner was waived by the franchise . The New York Jets still have 5 quarterbacks remaining on the roster . There now seems to be mounting speculation that Sanchez is likely to be traded by the Jets , should they be able to find a suitable trade partner willing to undertake the remainder of the player’s sizable contract . GM John Idzik and head coach Rex Ryan have refused to speculate on Mark Sanchez’s immediate future at this juncture . AP Photo / Richard Carter ….

(3) Jets’ front office executive John Idzik, left, sits next to New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan while waiting to be introduced as the Jets new general manager on the Jan 24th, 2013 . AP Photo / Mark Ruffo …..

(4) West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is seen here making his first public appearance as a member of the New York Jets . The quarterback was drafted as in the second round by the AFC East franchise . Smith hopes to make an immediate impact and contribution for the Jets this upcoming season . Yet it appears unlikely that he will be the starter in week one , as the common belief is , that veteran quarterback David Garrard will be the starting quarterback in that game , their season opener , against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . Getty Images North America / Paul Windham …..

(5) Veteran quarterback David Garrard, pictured inset , is likely to be the team’s starting quarterback during the regular season , but he is likely to face stiff competition from newly drafted rookie Geno Smith , as well as the other passers on the roster seeking to become the primary quarterback in the team’s depth chart . AFP / Ricardo Marchiallo ….

(6) New York Knicks’ Raymond Felton (2) gets a high-five from a teammate as Boston Celtics’ Doc River s walks onto the court after calling a time out during the second quarter of Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Boston, Friday, April 26, 2013. AP Photo/Winslow Townson ….

(7) New York Knicks’ Iman Shumpert (21) tries to control the ball as Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce (34) struggles with Knicks’ Kenyon Martin , far right, during the second half in Game 4 of a first round NBA basketball playoff series in Boston, Sunday, April 28, 2013. The Celtics won 97-90 in overtime. AP Photo/Elise Amendola …..

(8) Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol (16) , of Spain, knocks the ball out of the hands of San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan during the second half in Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series , Sunday, April 28, 2013, in Los Angeles. The Spurs won 103-82 and swept the Lakers in four games to bring the Los Angeles’ franchise’s season to an abrupt end . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill ….

(9) Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard , right, looks on along with San Antonio Spurs guard Gary Neal , left, after receiving a technical foul during the first half in Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Sunday, April 28, 2013, in Los Angeles. Howard scored seven points before getting ejected early in the third quarter for arguing . The Spurs won 103-82 . What we have seen from Dwight Howard in recent years has been the player’s growing immaturity and complete lack of leadership skills , but there are those who stand by the claim that he remains the best center in the NBA , and that may well be the case from a defensive and offensive standpoint , but it has to be said that he lacks the leadership qualities as such revered centers as Shaquille O’Neal , David Robinson , Hakeem Olajuwon , Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill ….

(10) Indian-American software mogul Vivek Ranadive who is now showing an interest in purchasing the beleaguered Sacramento Kings . In the aftermath of 12 of the NBA’s thirty owners voting against the sale and relocation of the franchise , it now leaves the road clear for Ranadive’s bid to be accepted by the league hierarchy and Board of Governors . Getty Images North America / Bill Parker ……….

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NFL news and news from around the league

NFL archived stories

NFL Draft (2013)

NFL quarterbacks taken in this season’s draft

NFL team transaction

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New England Patriots’ news

New York Jets’ news

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NBA news and archived stories

2012-13 NBA Postseason summary & news

NBA Playoffs Brackets

NBA results 28th April & results 27th April

NBA schedule 29th April

NBA free agents 2014

NBA team salaries & players’ salaries highest paid

Boston Celtics’ news

Los Angeles Lakers’ news

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Hot chic pic of the day Jordan Carver .

More of Carver on the move , just as you may well like it , or not .

Take it from me , those puppies of Carvers’ need to be sucked and played with a great deal , if only in fun !

A room with a view , and it’s looking good , baby !

A room with a view , and it’s looking good , baby !

I have to admit that this is one time of the sports’ calendar that I do not always look forward to ! One , you have the NFL Draft , three days of monotonous boring chatter , amongst draft geeks , on air television pundits , merely speculating on what may or may not happen, with a number of teams seeking to improve upon last season . Meanwhile , in the NBA , their postseason , while in its infancy , has now began to create a great deal high emotion and drama . Never mind the fact , we now have an ailing and “ aging “ Los Angeles Lakers’ team on the cusp being unceremoniously dumped out of the postseason foray . Call me naïve , but who in their right mind , actually believed that the Lakers stood a chance against the San Antonio Spurs in this first round match-up ? Granted, the loss of Kobe Bryant to a season ending injury, seemingly, has made the Spurs’ task that much easier. However, the reality here, was the mere fact that this Lakers’ roster really has no depth at all , to it. .

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Away from the two sporting scenes mentioned , in baseball , we have seen the fast start to the season by the Atlanta Braves’ (21-15) , and their outfielder , Justin Upton , and his having struck an astonishing eleven home runs in twenty games for the team, while at the same time being looked upon as a mid-season contender for NL MVP . Under manager , Fredi Gonzalez , his coaching staff , and this Braves’ team have proven to be dominant within the NL East , while it could be said that , they are now the best team in the Majors , judging by their record alone .

Strange as this may seem , as an avid Braves’ fan , my biggest concern as it related to the team , was whether or not the pitching staff , could and would improve upon their showing of last season . This season the staff has been stellar, leading the NL in team ERA (2.52), while seemingly being miserly in terms of their play in the first two-thirds of a game , with some stellar defense , with solid contributions coming from all-round .

Next up for Gonzalez’ players will face will an intra-league game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park , in Detroit , Michigan , in the best of a three game series , starting on Thursday , 26th April . That series should prove to be highly entertaining and interesting for a number of reasons , beyond what takes during the three game series.

It must be a sign of the times because having moved from the NL Central to the AL West , the Houston Astros still remain a moribund franchise . From a team that bore and ended up with a league worst and franchise worst record of 55-107 in 2012. In spite of the team having changed ownership , with Jim Crane , having assumed control with the three-quarters of a billion purchase of the franchise from Drayton McClane , it would appear that the incompetency of the front office remains intact along with an impoverished coaching staff , that seems completely lacking in confidence and bereft of ideas .

At 7-14 , the Astros are already struggling to make their presence felt within the AL West , and those struggles have been highlighted in the losses racked up by this team , with manager , Bo Porter on appearance alone , now seems to unsure, how best to deal with the adversity that he and the team now face .

The Astros’ task will not get any easier of their next six games , having to face both the Boston Red Sox (14-7) and New York Yankees (11-9) on the road , while not looking to further place themselves in anymore jeopardy of becoming completely irrelevant this season . They will begin a four-game set , starting today at Fenway Park , in Boston , against a resurgent Red Sox franchise . Needless to say that the Astros’ Phil Humber will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed , when he faces his opposing starting number , pitcher , Clay Bucholz . An intriguing match-up in what should prove to be a very interesting series . That being said , less than one fifth of the way through the regular season schedule , and does look as if the Houston Astros’ mark of last season could very well be in jeopardy at this juncture , basing that simply upon the figures at this point last season .

Not really wanting to rain on anyone’s parade , but watching the Los Angeles Lakers’ flounder at present , while several of their players continue to make excuses for the team’s poor play, does bring a wry smile to my face . OK, so I am a contented Spurs’ fan looking to see the franchise make it to another conference semi-finals’ appearance . For Mike D’Antoni , the mounting criticism of his coaching style , and the lack of team defense cannot be overlooked at as it relates to the regular and postseason . And if to further emphasize the issues that the team now faces , beyond the injuries to Kobe Bryant , you have the “ walking wounded “ of Steve Blake , Steve Nash and Jodie Meeks , making the team’s locker room, now seem like the triage unit of a military medical base . Only in this case , it’s not a military unit , that has come under fire , but a bunch of whining bunch of overpaid individuals that make up the Lakers’ roster .

If neither Nash or Blake are ready to suit up for Friday night’s game three , then it will be left to seasoned veteran point guard , Chris Duhon , to be the team’s facilitator at the position , when the series resumes at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California,. Dwight Howard , for his part has given the Lakers a solid contribution this postseason , but the reality to be faced here , is that Howard cannot do it all alone , and I seriously doubt that the center , actually relishes the leadership role that has now been entrusted upon him ! ! Whatever the outcome of this series , GM Mitch Kupchak , along with SVP and team owner , Jim Buss will have to seriously take a look at the makeup of this roster , its age and the overall experience of the players concerned .

The NFL Draft , what more or else can anyone say about this three-day spectacle of insipid self-serving gratuity on the part of the NFL ? Isn’t it bad enough that one of the league’s newest owners is now embroiled in an investigation that could have some serious consequences and serious ramifications . as to the league itself conducts its business as well as how it goes about vetting potential suitors seeking to buy an NFL franchise . Cleveland Browns’ owner , Jimmy Haslam , part of a Tennessean political dynasty and a self-made billionaire, now finds himself at the center of a federal investigation of which he and his company, Pilot J Inc are the focus of a fraud and grand larceny investigation . If the allegations are to believed, based upon certain pieces of information leaked , and documentation that is now in the hands of the FBI , which alleges that sales’ employees circumvented payments due to the company’s clients , for their own personal use, as well as being used in a scheme to prop up and boost Pilot J’s financials , for accounting purposes and obvious financial gain. While Haslam, has suggested that he was unaware of the scheme that is said to have taken place , lead investigators from the FBI have suggested otherwise , with the CEO’s name being mentioned in several documents that would suggest that he may well have been a willing participant in the fraud that has been perpetrated leading to the loss of tens of millions of dollars due to clients nationwide.

Bill Haslam , governor of Tennessee , hasn’t yet begun to distance himself from his sibling , but now even he, seems to be on the verge of being caught in the crosshairs of this now joint investigation by the White Collar Crime Unit of the FBI and the US Justice Department’s Criminal Division . Damn guys , what the f#ck have you now gotten yourselves into ?

The Haslams , are known to be “ big political contributors” to Republican causes , as well as to legislators at the state and federal levels , having raised millions of dollars for the Republican Party over the last decade and a half . Far be it for me to suggest , but when the shit begins to roll downhill , you had better make sure that none of it sticks your ass ! Herein , lies the un-savoriness of this whole shebang, as it now relates to the NFL and the very fact that the league has yet to issue a public statement , beyond the idiocy league spokesman , Greg Aiello , stating that the commissioner’s office is closely monitoring the situation. Roger Goodell and the entire NFL hierarchy couldn’t monitor their own goddamn “ bowel movements “ , if of prescribed to do so by experienced medical professionals . Yet we are now to believe, that they are closely monitoring the federal government’s investigation of a franchise owner ? When this investigation was first underway , Jimmy Haslam was in the process of purchasing the Browns from then owners , the Lerner family with the league and their board of governors approving the sale. It now begs the question what type of due diligence was taken , if any , by the NFL when they conducted a background check of Jimmy Haslam and the financial documentation made available to the NFL ? Much of this idiocy , back to my mind , is somewhat reminiscent of Reggie Fowler , now a minority stakeholder in the Minnesota Vikings , sought to become the first African-American minority owner of an NFL franchise .

A great deal of embarrassment would come to light for the NFL hierarchy as well for the then bidder , Fowler , who failed to obtain the financing necessary , albeit, that the documentation he provided the NFL for their approval failed to indicate his financial woes and the very fact that , the funding was not fully in place by the financial institution , he stated was being made available to him. It would however lead to then commissioner , Paul Tagliabue seeking out a new purchaser of the franchise. Fowler would , himself seek legal action against the NFL, by suggesting that they showed a prejudicial bias, in denying his bid to purchase the Vikings from Red McCombs . Tagliabue was successful in bringing in Zygi Wilf to buy the beleaguered team , with Reggie Fowler on board as a minority stakeholder . It’s pretty much safe to say, that after that embarrassing episode , the NFL no longer seeks to see itself being made a complete idiot in the eyes of the public or the fans. Yet somehow , NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell , over the past eighteen months has brought that all back to the fore , with his ongoing incompetence and a great deal more !

After a nondescript season that saw the Browns end up with a 5-11 record and firmly rooted at the bottom of the AFC North . With that final mark in the NFL , it grants the franchise the chance , with the sixth pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft and from thereon-in , the sixth in the second round (68th overall) , subsequent picks in the third , fourth , fifth , sixth and seventh rounds accordingly .

Browns’ head coach Rob Chudzinski , his coaching staff along with the front office led by GM , Michael Lombardi , and CEO Joe Banner , this franchise will undoubtedly have to strive to make last year’s woes a thing of the past . From my own perspective the Browns were woefully inept last season and in 2011 , in terms of the draft classes in question. What might be even more idiotic concerning the Cleveland Browns , was the thinking that Brandon Weeden , was simply good enough to lead this team to any semblance of success this past season .

Weeden was taken as the 22nd overall pick in the first round of 2012 NFL Draft and the fourth quarterback taken overall behind by Andrew Luck , Robert Griffin III , and Ryan Tannehill . With the exception Luck , Griffin and Russell Wilson , the rookie quarterbacks of last season, can be viewed as moderately average , if nothing else .

I am not about to suggest as to where , and how the Browns should come to any type of personnel decision as it relates to this NFL Draft . Those decisions will be made by the executives who seemingly know best, and not by any prognostication from any draft geek , television pundit or NFL analyst for that matter . However , over the upcoming season and specifically as it relates to the Browns , I’ll be keeping an observant eye on the franchise , seeing how they progress and the type management style brought by Rob Chudzinski , and his staff. As to how this all plays out , as to the ongoing investigation being conducted by law enforcement into the activities of Jimmy Haslam and his company.

To my mind this unraveling episode is liable to have some far-reaching ramifications for the NFL and every single franchise from this point onwards . There are those within this community who simply do not fully comprehend the allegations now being leveled against the Browns’ owner and the very fact that the NFL were simply negligent in how they went about granting their approval in the sale of the Cleveland Browns . Doubt my word ? Then ask yourself this , how in this day and age a multi-billion dollar concern such as the NFL with all of the resources at their disposal , yet they can botch such an exercise and then act as if their actions have been above reproach. Jeff Pash , as the NFL’s Chief Legal counsel , may well be the accomplished and an incompetent legal adviser , that the league has at present , but then again , it shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone given the ongoing incompetence that is routinely being exhibited by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell .

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What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the salient points raised within this piece ? By all means do take time to leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site !

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood throws against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 24, 2013 in Denver. The Rockies won 6-5 in 12 innings . AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez …

(2) Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis (24) tags out Colorado Rockies’ Eric Young Jr., (1) at home during the 11th inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 24, 2013, in Denver. The Rockies won 6-5 in the 12th inning. AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez …

(3) Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz points to the dugout as he rounds first base on a solo home run in the third inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros in Boston, Thursday, April 25, 2013. The Red Sox would go on to defeat the Astros 7-2 . AP Photo/Michael Dwyer ….

(4) Houston Astros’ Philip Humber .. pitches in the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Boston, Thursday, April 25, 2013. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer …..

(5) SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 24: Gary Vitti , athletic trainer of the Los Angeles Lakers, speaks with Steve Blake (5) as the team plays against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2013 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Photos by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(6) San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan (21) is defended by Los Angeles Lakers’ Dwight Howard (12) while trying to score during the first half of Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series on Wednesday, April 24, 2013, in San Antonio, Texas. AP Photo/Eric Gay ….

(7) Browns’ CEO Joe Banner ,left , is seen here with team owner, Jimmy Haslam , brother of Tennessee governor Bill Haslam (R_Tn) . Haslam’s company Pilot J Inc is at present the subject of a federal law enforcement investigation concerning fraud , grand larceny . The ongoing investigation is now joint investigation by the FBI and US Justice Department , with senior sales executives and certain executives within the company who are said to be implicated in the investigation. AFP/Photo /Martin Gorham ….

(8) Barkevious Mingo , from Louisiana State , stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected sixth overall by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2013, at Radio City Music Hall in New York. AP Photo/Jason DeCrow …..

(9) Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) talks with quarterback Jason Campbell during NFL football mini-camp at the team’s training facility, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, in Berea, Ohio. Weeden and Campbell threw passes side-by-side as the Browns opened their first mini-camp of the season. The 29-year-old Weeden is the incumbent and started 15 games last year. He was the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 draft. Campbell, 31, was signed as a free agent on March 26. The ninth-year pro appeared in six games last season with the Bears. AP Photo/Tony Dejak …

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By Tophatal 2013/04/25

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MLB news and news from around the league

MLB schedule 25th April

MLB probable pitchers 25th April

MLB standings and wildcard standings

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NFL news and news from around the league

NFL team transactions and transactions from the month of March , 2013

2013 NFL Draft

NFL Draft by team and by round

2012 NFL Draft

NFL schedule regular season 2013

Cleveland Browns’ profile

Cleveland Browns’ news and archived Browns’ stories

Cleveland Browns’ roster & team statistics (2012)

AFC North division (2012)

Cleveland Browns’ draft order 2013

Cleveland Browns’ draft history

Cleveland Browns’ 2012 schedule

Cleveland Browns’ schedule (2013)

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NBA news and 2013 NBA Playoffs’ series schedule

NBA schedule tonight & results from Tuesday night

NBA postseason stats : Players’ scoring ppg

Assists per game

Rebounds per game

Field goal percentage

Teams’ postseason stats : Teams’ stats summary (postseason)

Team stats’ offense

Team stats defense

Eastern Conference series’ results & summary

Western Conference series’ results & summary

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It was a year that we were told, was meant to be special ….

It was a year that we were told, was meant to be special

The MLB season has begun in earnest with several teams showing their mettle , while others are already beginning to show signs of wear and tear . If that isn’t enough the game of baseball , still has to deal with the fact that with several players sidelined with injuries , the fans still have to view the prospect of seeing their teams under-achieve or in some cases over-achieve .

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Right out of the gate the Atlanta Braves started out fast , albeit that as of late things have cooled down somewhat for Fredi Gonzalez and the team , who were on a three game win streak as of 21st April , 2013 . Seizing the day, for the franchise has been the play of the Braves’ newest player , Justin Upton , who along with elder sibling, BJ Upton , were brought in to bolster the offense of the ball-club . Justin Upton leads the Majors and NL in home runs .

As the Atlanta Braves remain atop of the heap within the NL East standings , it should come as no surprise that the Miami Marlins remain a club that is seemingly spiraling out of control , heading nowhere fast , without their being any signs of leadership on or off the field of play. Rookie manager, Mike Redmond and his staff have been entrusted to manage the team . From within the front office , executives, Larry Beinfest , David Sansom , GM Michael Hill , and team owner , Jeffrey Loria have taken it upon themselves to take a back seat having gutted the roster , and having plead economic woes as to the reasons why and the team’s misfires of 2012 , as the ultimate excuse . All somewhat asinine , when at the start of last season , the Marlins moved into their $575 million new Marlins Ballpark , situated in downtown Miami, with those very same executives informing the public and fans that this would all be the dawn of a new era . Alas , it has been more of the same , with the same ongoing mediocrity , which is currently on display with this team , firmly exhibited by their anemic 4-15 record within the NL East , which is by far the worst in the Majors this season.

Next up for the Marlins will be an away game against the Minnesota Twins (8-7) which will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota , which will be part of a double-header to make up for a postponed game from Monday afternoon . On the mound in game one for the Twins will be Kevin Correia facing Ricky Nolasco . Game two , will pit Jose Fernandez of the Marlins against Mike Pelfrey . A series that in many ways reflects two franchises that are so alike , while in many respects , are also somewhat different, as how they each seek to battle their own adversities .

While the season remains in its infancy , what cannot be denied, are the litany of injuries that seem to be hampering the teams , their aspirations and no doubt , progress over the course of the season . It is hoped that those players will be able to contribute to their respective ball clubs upon their return .

From my own perspective , at this point of the season and the teams as such not yet hitting a real rhythm of consistency , it will be somewhat difficult to gauge how good or bad the ball clubs are actually doing . One could surmise that by looking back at this point last season < and the events that unfolded at the same point , could prove to be fruitful. Yet that in of itself, is by no means a clear indicator of what we should expect by season’s end or at any point during 2012 . One of the things I do believe that will be prevalent , will be that the fans will remain ever vigilant as to the exploits of the players , particularly when it comes to any single season mark that may well be under threat !

The single season home run mark which currently stands at 73 , a figure held by Barry Bonds does seem to be out of reach of today’s Major League sluggers and rightly or wrongly , the record will always be looked as being somewhat “ tainted “ , in spite of continued innocence being plead by Bonds, as to his unknowingly ingesting a banned substance . And the same can and should be said of the career home run record , also held by Bonds . A player who now seems intent on gaining his acquittal of perjury , and who no doubt , looks to be enshrined in Cooperstown , New York , as an honored member of baseball’s Hall of Fame . While Bonds does have his detractors , there are many fans out there who continue to support the player , in spite of the allegations and charges that were leveled against him . And to my mind , Barry Bonds in some respects remains one of the most admired , as well as one of the most despised players in the game’s history

In 2001 , when Bonds set the mark for the single season home run mark . Many felt that having obliterated the previous mark set by Mark McGwire , this would in fact put an end to the scurrilous and some might say unwarranted rumors concerning McGwire’s own accomplishments in that endeavor. However , what we do now know , was in fact that Mark McGwire was not without his own demons as well lacking as lacking in candor as to his honesty . The former St Louis Cardinals and Oakland A’s slugger , is now a hitting instructor on the staff of the Los Angeles Dodgers . As to how one might view this latest turn of events in the former slugger’s career , can either be looked upon with a great deal of disdain or ridicule , dependent upon whether or not you are an admirer of the player. Your thoughts if any , on this all ?

Baseball’s hierarchy led by Commissioner Bud Selig , have never spoken openly public on the fact that both the career and single season home runs’ record remains intact and validated on their books . A fact that is further acknowledged and emphasized by the Elias Stats Bureau , a bastion allegedly for what is said “ to be pure “ as it relates to the game’s most heralded statistics .

I have always maintained that while Bonds , McGwire and Sammy Sosa were laying waste to the single season home run mark , it simply diminished the feat of Roger Maris when he broke the sixty home runs’ plateau for a season , when in 1961 , he surpassed the record (59) held by Babe Ruth . Somehow baseball’s sordid and dirty little secret was allowed to simply ran the gamut of highs and lows , with the print and television media simply looking to absolve themselves from reporting anything suspicious as it related to the era that would become known as the “ steroid era” . In truth , not much has changed from the mid-nineties when the feats of the aforementioned players were being lauded as being superhuman and , a marvel for the baseball fans to watch in astonishment.

Consider the fact that even today , with what Bud Selig claims to be the toughest drug testing protocols in all of professional sports , we still have players running afoul of the league’s testing policy , having tested positive for a wide array of banned substances . It is even more prevalent at the Minor League Level , where in the last two and a half years , over one hundred and thirty players have been suspended in accordance with the league’s mandated edicts . A stunning figure , no matter how one chooses to make an argument favoring or opposing the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) and other illicit substances .

Bonds’ record breaking single season home run feat would come off a hit , from opposing pitcher Dennis Springer of the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game played at Candlestick Park in San Francisco , California on the 7th October , 2001, between the San Francisco Giants and their famed NL counterparts .

The 2001 season itself, filled with its infamy cannot be overlooked in terms of the accomplishments within the AL and NL that year . Bonds would come away with the NL League MVP for the season with his AL counterpart , Ichiro Suzuki winning the AL crown as well as the Rookie of Year honors . Ichiro , would have a spectacular rookie season with the Seattle Mariners , while going on to simply fulfill the promise first shown as a player within Japanese Leagues . Now with the New York Yankees and looking to aid that franchise in whatever way he can . It has to be said , that perhaps at long last , the fans of the game can see the player perform at the highest levels possible as well as quite possibly being a regular postseason contributor to the Yankees’ current and future aspirations .

The teams making up the 2001 postseason gave us an array of teams with varying degrees of success throughout the regular season . . Aspirants seeking to make their presence felt were the New York Yankees , perennial contender , along with the , Cleveland Indians , Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s . From the senior circuit (NL) , we had the Arizona Diamondbacks , Atlanta Braves , Houston Astros , and St Louis Cardinals . And the postseason foray would in part, play out like a fictionalized Hollywood thriller , with the Arizona Diamondbacks having an improbable run through the postseason , where they would meet the high-flying New York Yankees in the World Series .

A triumphant Diamondbacks’ team managed by Bob Brenly having won the franchise’s only World Series’ title . They would subsequently fall from grace , with their being a some major upheavals amongst the managerial and playing staff in the subsequent years .

A triumphant Diamondbacks’ team managed by Bob Brenly having won the franchise’s only World Series’ title . They would subsequently fall from grace , with their being a some major upheavals amongst the managerial and playing staff in the subsequent years . Sharing the World Series MVP honors were pitchers , Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling , two of the game’s most renowned pitchers in recent history . Both players having retired , they now await their eligibility for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame . In or out , for both , Johnson and Schilling as for enshrinement in Cooperstown ?

From my own perspective I do feel that the 2001 baseball season was unique in its very own way , but the tragedy of 9/11 struck home , to cast an irreversible shadow over the entire postseason , albeit , that the nation was unified in a common cause for the greater good . Yet , were it not for the atrocities committed on that fateful day in September , one seriously doubts also that it was in that very same year that Barry Bonds cast his own dubious shadow over the game , leaving his legacy I believe completely in question !

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Picture gallery .

How do you view the 2001 season , during which Barry Bonds’ feat that in many respects cannot be completely overlooked , in spite of the triumph of the Arizona Diamondbacks ? Less we forget also , that September , baseball came to a complete halt , after the tragedies that took place on September 11th , 2001 . Chime in with your thoughts on the season , as you deem fit , and thanks as always , for the continued support of this site !

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) DENVER, CO – APRIL 23: Evan Gratis (24) of the Atlanta Braves celebrates his solo home run with third base coach Brian Snitker (51) during the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

(2) Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton swings to hit a single in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Goldman …

(3) Miami Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo , right, visits pitcher Jose Fernandez after he walked Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer in the first inning in the first game of a day/night double-header , Tuesday, April 23, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minn. AP Photo/Jim Mone …

(4) From left to right , Miami Marlins’ front office executives , Larry Beinfest , Jeffrey Loria and David Sansom , seen here at the franchise’s ballpark discussing team issue’s . This season looks as if tit will be another lamentable year of indifference and mediocrity for the Marlins , with the team now firmly rooted at the bottom of the NL East after a disastrous start under rookie manager Mike Redmond . AP Photo / Arthur Moore …

(5) Barry Bonds blasts home run number 73 on his way to the single season home run record in 2001 . The former San Francisco Giants’ player also holds the career home runs’ mark (763) having broken Hank Aaron’s feat of 755 . Courtesy of San Francisco Chronicle @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ……

(6) Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling , right , are seen here with the Word Series trophy , after the Arizona Diamondbacks’ expected 4-3 series’ triumph over the New York Yankees in 2001. Johnson and Schilling were voted joint World Series’ MVP for their efforts in the postseason , with Bob Brenly guiding the franchise in his rookie season to the Diamondbacks’ first , and only World Series . Courtesy of MLB.com ….

(7) The Diamondbacks’ Luiz Gonzalez and his late game heroics is seen here hitting the winning RBI off Yankees’ reliever Mariano Rivera , that would give the franchise their first World Series , in 2001 . AFP/Photo/ Barry Young …

(8) A draped banner during game seven of the 2001 World Series , bringing the nation together in its national pastime , uniting us all after the horrors and the grief of 9/11/2001 . Getty Images / Ron Carter …..

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By Tophatal 04/23/2013

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MLB news

News from around the league

MLB standings

MLB wildcard standings

MLB schedule 23rd April

MLB results 22nd April

MLB probable starting pitchers 23rd April 2013

This week in MLB history

This day in MLB history chronologically

My ball, my game, my rules, let’s play ball

My ball, my game, my rules, let’s play ball

The NBA season has come to an end , with no major surprises as to whom the conference representatives will be and the seeding , as well the first round match-ups . Before the postseason gets underway, we already have a situation where the customary managerial merry-go-round will have begun. Lawrence Franks was fired as the head coach of the Detroit Pistons , and it is widely being speculated upon that Pistons’ owner Tom Gores , may well be prepared to relieve Joe Dumars , from his position as the general manager of the franchise .

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Doug Collins , formally stepped down as the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers , and it is likely that he will fill the vacancy , in succeeding Rod Thorn as the team’s President and Head of Basketball Operations for the franchise . The third managerial upheaval took place, with the firing of Byron Scott as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers . GM Chris Grant and team owner , Dan Gilbert , thanked Scott for his effort and services , but in reality , both front office executives were simply disappointed that Byron Scott was unable to engineer an even bigger improvement of the team , in comparison to last season . Kyrie Irving may well have had an exceptional season for the Cavaliers , but what cannot be denied , is the very fact that the team was highly inconsistent over the course of their season. And this was borne out by the franchise’s record of 24-58 within the Eastern Conference and their last place finish within the Central Division of the conference.

Away from the spectacle of some of the more poorly performing teams of the past season , it should be noted that the defending NBA champions , the Miami Heat (66-16) , simply made it something of a cakewalk , strolling away not only repeating as division champions but the margin of their dominance over the rest of the conference was simply astounding . Yet for all of the hyperbole that has surrounded the team this season , questions will come to the fore , as to how good this group of players just happens to be , and whether not they can be considered to be amongst the top ten teams in NBA history , should they repeat as NBA champions .

If there is one thing that appears to be beyond a certainty , it is that , LeBron James will repeat as the League MVP , winning the award for the fourth time of his now astonishing career . And James would certainly like to wipe away the criticism that has been leveled at him that he was not capable of winning a title unless he was part of an All Star team. Granted , playing alongside Dwyane Wade , Chris Bosh and Ray Allen , does have its privileges , but at the same time detractors will point to the fact and ask the question , would he have been just as successful playing alongside lesser luminaries within the NBA ?

A first round match-up against the Milwaukee Bucks , now awaits the Heat in the opening round of the NBA playoffs . Clearly, the Bucks will have no wish to become a whipping post for Lebron James and his teammates in this opening round series. This much we do know , if this team does play at anywhere near the level of the discipline shown last season , then series will be a short one , with Jim Boylan and his coaching staff not wishing to fulfill any expectation , that this series will be a walkover.

The team thought to have the best chance of dethroning the Miami Heat within the conference , might just be their most heated rivals and sometime nemesis the New York Knicks . This season , Carmelo Anthony . has led this team by example , being ably abetted by JR Smith and Tyson Chandler And for the Knicks , their postseason will begin with an opening round series that might be the most enticing of the NBA opening round series, when they face off against the Boston Celtics . The first game of this series will take place at Madison Square Garden , in New York City, New York , with the two teams vying for a semifinal berth at the end of what should be an explosive and exciting series of games .

PJ Carlisimo and the Brooklyn Nets and their high salaried roster face a tough series when they face the Chicago Bulls . What is simply intriguing here , is whether or not Derrick Rose will be on the team’s roster for the postseason . The point guard and 2011 League MVP still remains optimistic as to whether or not he will be able to play. For much of this season , he has remained supportive of his teammates and their endeavors , but yet one gets the feeling , that if Rose isn’t able to make an appearance this postseason , then it would be seen as a tremendous disappointment to the fans , but specifically to the Bulls’ front office . From my own perspective , I now believe that it would be in Rose’s best interest to forgo any attempt an appearance, and simply get himself back to game fitness in time for next season .

The Brooklyn Nets have a great deal to prove during this postseason , as the expectations remain high amongst the front office . Team owner has simply given the “green light” to GM Billy King to do whatever it takes in terms of acquiring players and if necessary just go for broke and “ break the bank” in terms of player salaries . Team owner , Russian billionaire , Mikhail Prokhorov having lavished his millions not only the team but also on the franchise’s multi-billion dollar venue , Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn , and now one of the NBA’s premiere venues . As to whether or not , Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are capable of leading the team into a deep playoff run remains to be seen .

In the Western Conference , it would appear that the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs are on head on collision course for the Conference Finals , as the two top seeded franchises within the conference . Their play and record over the course of the season would suggest that they are by far the two best teams within the Western Conference. In their head to head meetings this season it has been their season series was tied at one game apiece (1-1). However, last season’s Western Conference Finals , we witnessed the growth and maturity of a Thunder team that now has to be looked upon as a legitimate contender for this year’s title .

The San Antonio Spurs having won four NBA titles with famed head coach Gregg Popovich at the helm of this franchise , knows that the window of opportunity is quickly closing for a team that at its core is still reliant on their “ Big Three Stars”, Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli , and Tony Parker . They have now added to their lineup seasoned veteran and two-time NBA scoring champion , Tracy McGrady . And the veteran , if he is merely able to give the team a solid contribution during the playoffs then it augurs well for the franchise .

San Antonio will face the Los Angeles Lakers the first round of the playoffs , with game one being played on Sunday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas. An exhilarating series awaits the fans as these two teams will pit their wits against each other in seeking a competitive advantage.

I am not so sure that any fan of the Los Angeles Lakers will be relishing the chance of seeing their team relish taking on the Spurs this postseason , without the aid of Kobe Bryant as part of the team’s roster ! And inasmuch, as on air analyst Tim Legler believes that the Lakers are in with a definite chance , that chance in essence, is simply remote , if not at all . Legler’s brain, is not in overdrive, it hasn’t even moved out of “park “ in most instances . It’s the fact that he simply loves to hear the sound of his own voice , even while defecating .

The loss of Bryant to a season ending injury , prior to the end of the Lakers’ regular season schedule , now seriously impedes the team’s chances of progressing beyond the first round . Personally , I do not believe that they possess the firepower necessary to even make this series competitive ! The Spurs just happens to be a far more athletic , talented and more resolute team all-round . In the match-up of the head coaches , Mike D’Antoni , in spite of the alleged prowess , he simply does not the basketball acumen shown by his counterpart , Gregg Popovich . It is not even remotely close in that particular aspect and therein lies the ridicule concerning Legler’s asinine statements .

It will be at this juncture that I must ask the question as it will now equates with the Los Angeles Lakers , will Dwight Howard be able to step up to the plate in the absence of Kobe Bryant and prove that he can be the leader of this team ? Howard as of late, he has been playing at a level not seen his acquisition by the franchise. And now can we assume that his teammates will follow suite?

Of the teams coming into the postseason there was none hotter than the Miami Heat with a 9-1 win streak , but within the Western Conference there were several teams with an above .500 mark down the final ten game stretch of the regular season . It should come as no surprise that the Denver Nuggets (57-25) , Los Angeles Clippers (56-26) , and Memphis Grizzlies (56-26) hit a rich vein of form. Now the question becomes , with the conference known to be a dogfight , what awaits the fans in terms of the postseason play expected from these teams ?

The Denver Nuggets under the erstwhile acumen of George Karl , this Nuggets’ team might be the most dangerous of all , outside of the top two seeded teams in the Western Conference. Ty Lawson , Andre Iguodala , Wilson Chandler , and Kenneth Faried will be asked to lead the squad, when they play host to the Golden State Warriors . For Warriors’ head coach Mark Jackson , this will be his and the team’s baptism of fire for the first time since the franchise last played a part in the NBA’s postseason spectacle , which came by way of an appearance during the 2007 postseason . The team would fall 4-1 to the Utah Jazz in Western Conference Finals. For the Warriors’ ownership group this has to be seen as vindication of the faith they have shown in Mark Jackson and his coaching staff.

Another first round match-up within the first round in the Western Conference , will be the series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies . Don’t be fooled into thinking that Blake Griffin , Chris Paul and the rest of the members referred to as “Lob City” can walk away from this meeting unscathed . The combatants are two evenly matched teams, albeit , that the Clippers will be seen as the prohibitive favorites , no doubt because they are the higher seeds and having the better seasonal record overall. Yet , if you would care to look at the season series between the two franchises and coming into the final ten games of the regular season. It would be remiss to suggest that the Clippers would have the upper hand. Another intriguing series , with plot-lines that could not have been better devised by Hollywood script writers .

Before the postseason foray begins , away from the spectacle, comes the expectations as to what might have been from a number teams. The Orlando Magic ends with the worst record within the NBA and final mark of 20-62 . For head coach Jacque Vaughn , in his inaugural season with the franchise in his role , it must be said that Vaughn and this team have a long way to go be even remotely thought of as a serious competitor within their division , much less the conference or the rest of the NBA for that matter . The Magic’s executives have to seriously assuage the caliber and quality of this roster , as well as the experience of this coaching staff . Clearly , neither has met the expectations of fans or the hierarchy , and with a declining fan base in terms of home game attendance , it does become all the more troubling with regard to the franchise’s long-term future and their economic viability .

The issues for Jacque Vaughn is how to figure out what his best lineup is likely to be , and which players can be viewed as superfluous to the team’s needs. With a team payroll of just over $87.3 million this past season which was third highest payroll amongst the league’s teams . And one wonders why the NBA is bereft of real acumen when it comes to the their general managers and team owners ? Yet, there are patrons within this forum who actually believe that the NBA and NFL have owners who are actually genuine businessmen ? When , will it occur to these individuals that these owners can simply use their franchise’s simply as a tax write-off and are not always simply looking to make a profit from operating their respective franchises ? Rarely do I read of a patron talking about the business side of sport , moreover I believe that they are simply apathetic to the issue with a lack of real knowledge with regard to that aspect , and would rather regale you with simple issues such as fantasy sports . Is it anything like, fantasy sex and what real gratification can you really get from that premise? Answers, please?

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Picture gallery .

What if anything, are you most looking forward to, during the NBA Playoffs ? Simply leave a comment as to you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site as it is greatly appreciated !

Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) File – In this March 4, 2013 file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott reacts in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have fired coach Byron Scott after three losing seasons , not necessarily to the chagrin of the fans or the Cavaliers’ front office . AP Photo/Tony Dejak ….

(2) Detroit Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank watches from the sidelines during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, April 15, 2013. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio ….

(3) FILE – In this Oct. 17, 2012 file photo, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins, left and Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott talk before the start of their NBA preseason basketball game in Philadelphia. The Cavaliers have fired Scott after three losing seasons . Collins has resigned after three seasons and is likely to assume an executive role within in the Sixers’ front office , succeeding Rod Thorn as Head of Basketball Operations. AP Photo H. Rumph Jr. ….

(4) Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6), Mike Miller (13) , Mario Chalmers , center, and Dwyane Wade (3) high-five after taking a ten-point lead over the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Bulls 105-93 . AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….

(5) New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony , left, shoots past Indiana Pacers’ David West during the second half of the NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 14, 2013, in New York. The Knicks won 90-80 . AP Photo/Seth Wenig ….

(6) San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan (21) shoots over Minnesota Timberwolves’ Chris Johnson (20) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in San Antonio. AP Photo/Eric Gay …

(7) MIAMI, FL – APRIL 17: Dwyane Wade (3) of the Miami Heat drives against Doron Lamb (1) of the Orlando Magic on April 17, 2013 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Miami would defeat the Magic 105-93 . Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE Getty Images …

(8) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant , left, puts his head in his hands as trainer Gary Vitti looks on after being injured during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Friday, April 12, 2013, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 118-116 . The Lakers lost Bryant for the entire postseason with an ankle injury and it is uncertain whether or not the All Star guard will seek to return for the 2013-14 season . AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill ….
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Tophatal ……. 04/19/2013

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NBA news and archived stories

2013 NBA Playoff schedule

Scheduled for 20th April 4 games and for 21st April, another 4 games (Sunday)

NBA transactions

NBA Final divisional standings

NBA Finals conference standings

NBA overall standings

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Hot chic pic of the day Wendy Fiore

And a little more of Fiore .

Forget green eggs and ham ……. how ’bout green scarfs ?

Don’t blame me for what an ancestor did , that was then , this is now

Don’t blame me for what an ancestor did , that was then , this is now

Over the past ten years a concerted effort has been made to right an evil wrong perpetrated within this country , that most would rather forget and simply choose to ignore , or better yet, claim , that as it was a thing of the past , then it should be forgotten . Well , racism is not a thing of the past nor has it been forgotten . Today , we have the proliferation of sex trafficking and slavery across the globe , and the United States has become one of the largest market places for the industry . Many of those who are being trafficked are young girls , as well as young boys , as the purveyors of this trade cater to the needs of their perverted customers . Never let it be said , that money doesn’t get you what you want and when you want it . And yes , the oldest profession known to man remains the livelihood of many , with law enforcement simply at a loss as how to eradicate its presence .

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Slideshow.

Many of you may well be aware of such boxing luminaries from the past , Archie Moore , and Floyd Patterson , who reigned over the heavyweight scene , when the sport was rich in talent and the title fights actually meant something . Long before, the prominence of Muhammad Ali , George Foreman , Sonny Liston , Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson came into being . The two most celebrated fighters within the division , of any era and weight category , were boxers who paved the way for the sport of boxing to be respected and where boxing historians still reveled in their notoriety , fame and skill-set . Less of the stupidity , as to the “ greatness” of Rocky Marciano , who on his best day would have been hard pressed to defeat either Jack Johnson or Joe Louis Barrow . The latter , whose given name was Barrow , took the name Joe Louis , and then rose to become the greatest heavyweight in boxing history , until the ascent of a young man from Louisville , Kentucky , by the name of Cassius Marcellus Clay. Clay , as you know , would later become known as Muhammad Ali , having converted to Islam , and the Sufi sect, of one of the world’s great religions.

Jack Johnson became boxing’s first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion , when the sport , not so much in its infancy , was still finding a way to legitimize itself and become recognized as a sport that appealed to the masses . Routinely , triumphed as a discipline of gentlemen , the sport was essentially dominated by Caucasian males who refused to fight their African-American contemporaries at the time (turn of the century) , for fear of being beaten or shown to lack the physical ability in proving to be the better athlete or boxer. Much as it was within the game of baseball, and the continued belief that Babe Ruth was, and still remains the greatest player to have ever played the game baseball . The inductee within Baseball’s Hall of Fame , refused to play against teams from the Negro Leagues and was a staunch supporter of the sport remaining segregated . Granted , there were laws on the books that prevented teams from within what was then MLB from facing any affiliate from the Negro Leagues . However , it was known that these edicts were circumvented , when money was said to have changed hands, in order to facilitate such games , which were never actually recognized in or for the record books . Historians and the revisionists of baseball, would later seek to change that all , primarily to suggest that the game at the time was being played on a level playing field . What a crock of fecal matter !

Joe Louis remains amongst the top five heavyweight champions in boxing history , his record of twenty-five consecutive title defenses and the longevity of his boxing reign and career , places him amongst the pantheons of the sport . Yet it was his demeanor away from the ring that enamored the fans of boxing , while at times , we knew there to be detractors, because of Louis’ ethnicity . As World War II (WWII) was about to reach , and spread its tentacles widespread , and the rise of Nazism becoming a plague across Europe . Joe Louis would be used as a battle cry for the war effort , when he fought then former foe and nemesis , German boxer , Max Schmeling , in an epic rematch , that has been described as one of the greatest fights in the annals of boxing history. It should be remembered that Louis , lost to Schmeling , when the two met in a non-title fight at Yankee Stadium , in New York City , New York on June 19th , 1936. A then unbeaten Louis (24-0-0) was the prohibitive favorite for the bout ,which would end with a knockout in the twelfth round victory for Schmeling. The shock of that loss and the fact that the news was reported back to then German Chancellor , Adolph Hitler , was met with a great deal of adulation and exaltation by the leader and German people , as they sought to prove themselves the “Master race “ and that indeed , the rise of an Aryan Nation to profligate the world, and to try and prove that nation’s dominance . Alas , it would prove not to be , for Hitler , or for the German people .

In the long-awaited rematch , Joe Louis would exact his revenge, with a sweeping and stunning victory , which saw Max Schmeling KO’d in the very first round , when the two fighters met for the second and final time of their illustrious careers. A long-lasting friendship would be built between the two up until 1981 , and the passing of Joe Louis , whose funeral would be attended by Schmeling , who had now become a successful businessman and industrialist .

Louis was hoisted and used as a tool to try to sustain the myth that Rocky Marciano should and would become a great champion . Marciano’s career (49-0, 43 KO’s) was unblemished upon his retirement, and the fact that he fought and defeated , a past his prime Joe Louis , only showed the slippery slope that the sport of boxing would take over the ensuing years . One of the more embarrassing aspects of the post Joe Louis’ career , was the fact that as a ” war hero ” and military veteran , he would then be pursued by the federal government for the non-payment of taxes by the IRS, the agency responsible for such endeavors . It would take the assistance of Louis’ former nemesis, Max Schmeling to come to his aid , with then known gangster , Frank Lucas , disgusted with the treatment of the boxer by the US government , paying off a $50,000 a tax lien levied against Joe Louis by the agency . It would not be the last of Louis’ financial woes , much of which were caused by caused by the mismanagement of his finances by his then manager , Mike Jacobs .In the wake of it all , we can see what happened then to Joe Louis, has been mirrored repeatedly down the years within the sport of boxing , countless times , with promoters and managers defrauding their clients , and simply leaving them destitute .

Jack Johnson’s career was marred by the inherent racism that was abound within the sport and the very fact that the early part of his boxing career was simply prefaced with bouts against “colored fighters” , speaks largely to the fact that the country was still divided primarily along racial lines , before one could actually mention socioeconomic lines . It would also fair to say , that even though the sport had yet to attain an international presence by way of an internationally recognized body to run boxing . Fledgling groups grew out of the need , for there to be some sort of structural setup. However , the main groups were all Caucasian controlled , with the input coming from wealthy financial backers , who simply saw fit for the none inclusion of Black or even Hispanic fighters at the time . Out of this grew the nondescript organizations with claimant of being a legitimate body to govern the sport for colored fighters. Quickly shot down , it was the growing reputation of Johnson as a pugilist , that would catch the attention of the now more famed white fighters, who sought to debunk the myth that their black counterparts were superior and who were merely ancestors of slaves simply looking for another avenue to vent their anger and to seek reparations . Those claims and particular that of Johnson, that would also hold sway with the promoters and manager of James L Jeffries , who at the time was the world heavyweight champion .

During the ensuing years of his reign , Jack Johnson would be the subject of numerous racial attacks, in which, on several occasions he narrowly escaped death . And if to further exacerbate this all, Johnson also became the subject of ongoing police investigations , as law enforcement in the South as well as in his home state of Texas, sought to make an example of him , rather than see him prevail with his new-found fame , wealth , and notoriety. I was recently rebuffed by two patrons who tried to suggest that the racial divide within the country as such no longer exists . Unless I’m mistaken , the “so-called advances” that have been made , are now being trampled upon , not only by the electorate themselves , but also by the highest court in the land , the US Supreme Court. If anything , the apathy of the electorate and the ongoing existence of racism hasn’t declined but can and will remain within our midst , only because so many , no longer wish to question this type of behavior .

Away from the ring , Jack Johnson’s life was lavish , as with his new-found notoriety and acclaim , came the trappings of wealth , success and the very fact that abroad , specifically in Europe, he would find the sort of respect and reverence he would be unable to find in America . The very fact that the Parisians of Paris, France , held the boxer in such high esteem , simply showed, that he could gain respect elsewhere , that was not afforded or granted to him in the land of his birth. Can anyone not see the similarities in Johnson’s life and that of Muhammad Ali’s , at the time of his wrongful incarceration for being a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War ? Ali became a man without a home , having been imprisoned , vilified in the press as a coward , and then to have his family subjected to heinous racial epithets, as well as physical harm . Par for the course in a country that tries to hold itself up as a moral beacon of light , when it subjects many of its citizens to such heinous acts , never-mind the continued mistreatment of the native American Indians .

Four decades on , ask yourself , how far has this country really advanced , and how it treats the minorities within its borders ? Do you really, have an answer that you believe to just and even based on principles that you would hold true?

Johnson’s undoing, it was believed would be the fact, that his private life became more public , when he remained in America . Lavish cars , the parading of his wealth and his accompanying of females , especially those from outside of his ethnicity ran afoul of the laws of the land. A black man, cavorting with a white woman, and parading her off as a chattel ? Yet, a white male raping a black woman , and you would be hard pressed to find law enforcement agencies seeking to arrest the perpetrators of such a crime , let alone have him being placed on trial . Less, we forget also, interracial relationships were frowned upon , and marriages within those racial demographics , were unlawful, during the early part of the twentieth century . Jack Johnson epitomized the lifestyle of so many of today’s high-profiled athletes , a disdain for the law , specifically those that he felt were unjust , and the very fact that in spite of his wealth and his wish to enhance the life of those amongst his own race , he was treated with disdain by his white counterparts within his chosen profession, as well as by the bodies who sought to represent the sport across the country.

Lucille Cameron, a white female , whom Johnson would be in a long-term relationship for several years was questioned by the police , who sought to coerce her into making a false claim that she had been abducted , and taken across state lines . Under the outmoded and archaic “Mann Act “ (1910) , it was unlawful to take a white female across state lines for a pernicious act . The law itself was drawn up specifically to stop acts of immorality , and prostitution , but more often than not , it was used to target black males with a desire to enter into a sexual relationship with a white female . In the rural south of America , and in the Midwest , it was not uncommon to hear of a black male being railroaded into pleading guilty, for such a crime , even when there was said to be no evidence of a crime being committed . And for Jack Johnson , his fate was a year imprisonment on a trumped charge , for which it was never proven that he took Cameron across state lines , only that the two traveled together as companions , while at the time both he and Lucille Cameron were in a relationship , albeit that it was frowned upon because of their ethnicity . As I alluded to earlier , white male raping a female could go unpunished , but god forbid a black man at the time , got involved with a consensual relationship with a white female .

Over the past two decades, several congressional leaders have sought or proposed a legislative measure to have this crime expunged from Jack Johnson’s record . However , as of late , it has been the past decade , Senators John McCain (R-Az) and Harry Reid (D-Nv) have sought to obtain a Presidential pardon for Jack Johnson , which has been reviewed by successive administrations from Bill Clinton on down to the present White House incumbent , Barack Obama to have a pardon be granted . Having been reviewed by the US Justice Department under then President Clinton , a pardon was never granted. And as the descendants of Johnson’s family, awaits for some kind of progress in the petition for his pardon , it does seem odd that in this day and age, it is left to an ambiguous and some might determine an inept bureaucratic agency to make a recommendation to a President , who seems more intent on trying to create the perception that he seeks to represent the electorate and is said to understand the rule of law . Yet when questioned on the initiative concerning Johnson , he appeared to be nonplussed and out of sorts as to whom this individual was said to be .

Courtesy of USA Today

Pardon still pushed for ex-heavyweight champ Jack Johnson

Members of Congress introduced a resolution Tuesday to pardon ex-champ Jack Johnson

By Jon Saraceno USA Today

The fight for the legacy of Jack Johnson continues unabated.

Two U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives introduced a resolution Tuesday to pardon the first African-American heavyweight champion, wrongfully convicted of violating the Mann Act in 1913.

Since 2004, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) have sought a posthumous pardon of Johnson, whose racially motivated prosecution and conviction imprisoned him for a year.

The Mann Act prohibited transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes; Johnson dated a Caucasian woman.

Johnson’s reputation and Hall of Fame career were ruined.

Johnson, the son of a former slave, was born March 31, 1878, in Galveston, Texas. His boxing skills were honed in “battle royals,” events in front of white audiences in which several black men fought until a last man was standing to collect the coins tossed his way.

He turned professional in 1897 and went on to win the heavyweight title in 1908 by defeating Tommy Burns in Australia.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Rep. William “Mo” Cowan (D-Mass.) joined McCain and King in co-authoring the resolution.

With bipartisan support, McCain hopes President Obama will take action. In past years, both chambers of Congress unanimously have passed the resolution but no executive action was taken.

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Click on link to read in full .

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In spite of his relationships , and marriages , Johnson’s yearning for respect from his white counterparts would lead to a bout , that saw the beginnings of the decline in his career . His fight with Jess Willard at the Oriental Park , in Havana , Cuba , with the World Heavyweight title at stake , would take on epic proportions. As the fight was staged and fought in humidifying heat , in an outside arena , with the temperature , in excess of 105 degrees. Johnson as the champion could have refused to have taken the fight , but such was his pride and ego , that he simply made light of the threats , from the promoters , his opponent and his detractors who were in attendance , seeking the black champion dethroned . The bout would go on for an astonishing twenty-six rounds , with Willard , winning by a knockout . Yet that was not in part all of the story , as during the fight , Johnson punished his much bigger opponent relentlessly , knocking him down , only to have the referee Jack Welch , disregard what was a clear knockdown , by claiming that Willard slipped during the fight in the third round . A further knockdown took place in the seventh round, that saw a prolonged count , beyond the mandated ten seconds’ count , that allowed the challenger , Jess Willard , to regain his composure and to continue . Johnson would then realize, that this fight could and would not be won by the champion , and that it would not be won fairly , according to the Marquis of Queensbury rules .

Attrition would get the better of the champion in spite of his gallant effort and the very fact that he out-boxed his opponent throughout the entire fight , even after having been knocked down, himself . In the twenty-sixth round the bout came to an end with Johnson being knocked down , seemingly unwilling to make it to his feet. He would later acknowledge that he could have carried on and would have beaten Jess Willard , but knew that any effort that was put forth by him would have been in vain. The 5th April , !915 , would forever , change the face of boxing as we know it, as it would be three decades later before the sport would see another heavyweight champion of color , when Joe Louis won the title by defeating James Braddock , on June 22nd , !937 at Comiskey Park , in Chicago , Illinois , with an eighth round knockout of the champion.

After the championship title loss to Jess Willard , Jack Johnson would fight for another sixteen more years , winning twelve of his final thirteen bouts , never once being allowed to challenge for the heavyweight title again. The boxing establishment in America had enough the braggadocio pugilist and his claims as being the best boxer on the planet who mocked his white opponents for their lack of ability. In reality , it may well have had more to do with the fact that they saw with Johnson’s reign as the champion , more young men of color would seek to make a name for themselves in a predominantly white Caucasian driven sport , that was also dominated at every level by Caucasians and that had intertwined itself with the gaming interests in a number of circles that was also dominated by organized crime . Now the sport of boxing no longer needs organized crime to remain and maintain its seediness , as the remnants of such endeavors have now found themselves at the highest echelons of the sport within each of the main international governing bodies of boxing . Wherein , corruption prevails , promoters dictate, what title fights take place and in many respects, which fighters are given title shots , even when their credentials remain suspect . And I might add, in a sport that now sees declining audience participation, and where the two most prominent boxers of today, are now said to be in the waning years of their careers . It could be said, that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao can bring nothing new to the sport of boxing , that we have not yet seen from a bygone era .

Both Jack Johnson and Joe Louis , had the skills and the talent to garner fame worldwide , while carrying themselves with a great deal of character and respect. Can the same actually be said of many of today’s fighters, who followed in the footsteps two of the sport’s most renowned talents ? Do bear in mind that Johnson set the template for many of the antics we would later see with Muhammad Ali , with his imbued talents , of which a great many of his traits were also reminiscent of Joe Louis at his very best . Say what you will about the era of Mike Tyson , but in reality Tyson was not so much a boxer , he was more of a street brawler , with an intimidating disposition, that simply scared many of his opponents in the early part of his career .

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Picture gallery .

What thoughts if any, do you have concerning the careers of Jack Johnson and Joe Louis ? Is it your belief that the sport of boxing during the era that each fought had a resounding effect on their lives and the way that they were said to have conducted themselves ? Chime in with a comment as you see fit on this and anything else that you feel is pertinent to this particular subject matter ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) World heavyweight champion , Jack Johnson , pictured , prepares to defend his title against Tony Ross at Duquesne Gardens in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania , in June of 1909 . Johnson would go on to defeat Ross with sixth round victory , referee Jimmy Dime presiding . @ copyrighted material ………. all rights reserved .

(2) Jack Johnson is seen here during a ring workout in preparation for a defense of the World “Colored” Heavyweight” title . Johnson before actually winning the legitimate world championship primarily fought only black or Latin fighters because of the restrictions that prevailed within the sport of boxing at the time . The sport was a closely monitored and controlled by primarily white businessmen and organized gambling , who sought no participation whatsoever at any level by minority fighters or trainers . As with all of the major sports’ recreational activities , segregation dominated the landscape completely . In many cases there were legal statutes on the books around the country restricting mixed sports between Caucasians and minorities of any ethnicity . AP/REUTERS archives ….

(3) Johnson is seen here with the third of his three wives , Irene Pineau . The couple were married for twenty-five years , right up until his death in 1946. Attalla pictorial biographies .

(4) A pensive Joe Louis is seen here having just finished an arduous and rigorous ring schedule . Louis still remains the longest tenured champion in heavyweight boxing history , along with having made a record 25 consecutive title defenses . Time Inc @ copyrighted material ….. all rights reserved ….

(5) Joe Louis would prove to be triumphant in his rematch against German fighter Max Schmeling . Considered bitter rivals at the height of their respective careers . It was the “fog of war” and the looming appearance of the country having to enter WWII that brought about much of the seething vitriol and xenophobia aimed at Schmeling . The two ring rivals would end up being close friends , right up until the time Louis’ death , which Max Schmeling who had become a wealthy industrialist , and who would come his friend’s financial aid , as well as attending his funeral in 1981. REUTERS/ Thomson Inc …….

(6) Joe Louis , left , is seen here with former boxing adversary Max Schmeling . The two former pugilists fought two epic battles during their careers , but would later become firm friends . It was Schmeling who would provide Louis with financial assistance when the former world champion underwent financial difficulties , much of which was self-inflicted . However, a large portion of Louis’ ring earnings were squandered on meaningless investments or simply withheld from him surreptitiously by his then manager , Mike Jacobs . Joe Louis was also given assistance when renowned Harlem gangster and drug Lord , Frank Lucas paid off a $50,000 tax-lien placed against the fighter by the IRS. It should be noted that Louis a war hero and veteran during WWII , had been hounded by the IRS and US government for his debts. It would later take an act of Congress to have that debt stricken , in recognition of Louis contribution to the “war effort” and his contributions to the sport of boxing . Hearst Inc. / Keith Appleton ….. …….

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Boxing related pieces within this site

NB : Reference source Ten Fascinating Interracial Marriages in History

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Tophatal …………. 04/17/2013

Boxing related news' headlines : Pacquiao zeroes in on Next Opponent ranking four possibilities

Nevada Athletic Commission needs to consider fundamental changes regarding way it penalizes fighters

World’s No. 1-rated female boxer to shift to MMA

Rising star Austin Trout has ‘much respect’ for Canelo Alvarez for demanding to fight him

Nonito Donaire Full of Excuses Following Rigondeaux Loss

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Boxing news courtesy of Ring Magazine

Boxing news courtesy of Yahoo Sports and archived stories

Chronologically – heavyweight boxing champions

Bye , the bye , news , views and all of the things you thought that mattered ….

Bye , the bye , news , views and all of the things you thought that mattered ….

Well, after an eventful weekend , during which I aided a friend by repairing his computer , as a reward he , along with his wife , my girlfriend and I , took in a movie . Given, the fact , that lately , in terms of my movie entertainment, the last film I took in at the theater, was Denzel Washington’s Oscar nominated role, in the movie, “Flight” . A great film, with a terrific ensemble cast, and fantastic on-screen performances by the main actors , in the various leading roles . Sunday afternoon, as a quartet, we took in the movie “42” , starring Chad Bozeman and legendary Hollywood screen actor , Harrison Ford . The movie itself , was biopic , which gave if anything a stylized Hollywood telling, on the life of Hall of Fame baseball player , Jackie Robinson , and the events leading up to the desegregation and integration of Robinson into the Major Leagues , and the repercussions from that life changing event .

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Robinson   is   seen  here     being    interviewed   by   noted    journalist    Jimmy  Piersall   .  @   copyrighted  material    LA     Times     all  rights reserved   ...
Robinson is seen here being interviewed by noted journalist Jimmy Piersall . @ copyrighted material LA Times all rights reserved …

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Leave it to the Los Angeles Dodgers , after their off-season , and their lavish off-season of continued spending , while the front office led by lead owners , Magic Johnson and Peter Guber , and one can simply understand the urgency being shown by Johnson and his business partners . Yes, well having spent just over $2 billion to buy one of baseball’s most renowned baseball teams . It is easy to understand why there would be such a belief that the Dodgers , in order for them to remain relevant within the game , it would mean winning , and not simply having a $200 million payroll , and with the managerial staff and GM Ned Colletti suggesting that “ money is of no object , by way of acquiring talent . Well, it has been a quarter of a century , since the Dodgers were part of baseball’s showcase event , the World Series . The year was 1988 and franchise’s greatest triumph in their recent history. That series , set about all the adulation and excitement , one would come to expect from a long-established and famed ball club , whose rise back to prominence had long been awaited . In the ensuing years since , that victory , for the Dodgers , it has been seasons of high and lows , but in recent years , the ball club became more widely known for the events taking place off the field , and with the gross negligence and financial mismanagement by former owner , Frank McCourt , and his having to place the ball club into bankruptcy protection and reorganization .

A patron recently suggested to me , that the team owners within baseball were actually businessmen. Well , if they are anything like Saul Katz , Fred Wilpon , David Glass , Bob Nutting , John Moores , Stuart Sternberg , Jeffrey Loria and McCourt , himself . Then clearly there is a reason why the game finds itself in such a financial rut and one of its own making . And for those who suggest that this all comes about because of a dire economy , then think again. Baseball’s financial morass , came by way of the league hierarchy , dumb ass front office executives/general managers , owners and the players themselves , thinking that they could simply make hay , while the sun shines without ever thinking about the game’s long-term future and its financial future .

Consider the fact, that one-quarter of the ball-clubs in baseball, struggles to eke out a profit without the aid from the MLB hierarchy and the game’s archaic tax sharing revenue scheme . And the purists out there, would have you believe that Bud Selig actually knows what the hell he is actually doing ? On a good day the MLB Commissioner could not tell you or explain to the most ardent of fans succinctly , why he failed so miserably in not equating the explosion of offensive prowess during the nineties , when there was clear evidence , that not everything within the game was above reproach . Meanwhile , anally retentive idiots suggested that the players’ malfeasance in terms of their cheating, taking illicit substances , was OK .

On the Opening Day of this MLB season , the Los Angeles Dodgers , did have the league’s biggest payroll , with salary commitments in excess of $213.5 million . That figure would be supplanted , when the New York Yankees acquired troubled out-fielder, Vernon Wells from the Los Angeles Angels . And while the player is off to a good start this season , with his new team , it must be said that Wells has remained something of a failure, having yet to live up to his exorbitant seven-year $126 million contract .

Yankees’ GM , Brian Cashman , must still possess a great deal of guile in convincing the Angels, and still have his opposite number , Jerry DiPoto , agree to such a deal where the Angels would still be committed to paying 65% of the remaining two years left on Wells’ ludicrous deal, with the New York Yankees paying for the remaining sum. Granted , the Yankees and Angels are two of baseball’s big market teams , with a great many resources at their disposal . And it has been those indices , that have aided the big market teams , while the minnows and lesser lights within the game , have been left to feed off the scraps left at the table .

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One of the Dodgers’ many trades initiated over the last ten months , which saw the team’s payroll balloon from a mere $153 million to its present figure , which saw a 40 % increase from 2012 . Well, that came by way of the signing of pitcher Zack Greinke , the 2009 Cy Young Award winner , whose six-year $147 million contract , must now have everyone wondering , if the player , was actually worth it , given the most recent incident involving the pitcher . Greinke was involved in an altercation that led to a multi-player brawl , which first came about after the pitcher struck opposing batter , Carlos Quentin of the San Diego Padres . Quentin reacted angrily , charging the pitchers’ mound and coming to blows with the Dodgers’ ace , that would lead to his collar-bone being broken in the ensuing fracas and two team melee between the opposing . As to what this all says , as to the baser instincts of the players and the allegations that players in baseball , can actually brawl and fight , I leave it for you all to be the judge of that ! Suffice to say , Quentin will correctly sit out , his league mandated eight-game suspension . Zack Greinke for his troubles will now spend at a minimum, sixty days on the Dodgers’ DL , recuperating from his injuries . Can someone explain to me , what Greinke’s intent might have been when he sought to “beam” Quentin during the game ? And as one patron tried to suggest, it was simply manly testosterone rising . More like a bunch of frigging assholes with nothing better do with their time , who’ve now placed their respective teams at a disadvantage .

An idiot’s bitch move, and why the players in the game are so anally retentive !

That brawl , last Thursday at Petco Park in San Diego , California , did nothing , but raise the stakes in the anticipated returning meeting between the two teams and heated rivals within the NL West . That most certainly will be the case when the Dodgers play hosts to the San Diego Padres at Dodgers’ Ballpark , in Los Angeles California , for a three-game game home series , starting this Monday , 15th April , 2013 . That series could very well tell us a great deal about both teams , their intent the prospective directions that they may well be heading in. That series could very well tell us a great deal about both teams , their intent the prospective directions that they may well be heading in.

There comes a time where everyone and every man has to stand up and be counted . At this juncture , the excuses and stop and the truth has to be told as it relates to the Tampa Bay Rays. The fans may not like or actually want to hear it but at this juncture the Rays are amongst the worst performing teams in all of baseball . Slice it and dice it , but Joe Maddon and his staff simply know that this team is not meeting his expectations or those of their most earnest and diehard fans . The departure of James Shields and Wade Davis had nothing to do with gaining a competitive edge by promoting talented pitchers up from within the Rays’ farm system. Once again , it’s simply back to the penny-pinching ways of the early predisposition of Stuart Sternberg and his business partners , who as owners of the franchise , have just about everyone within the locale, drinking the Kool Aid , while they continue to bitch and whine about a new stadium within the city of St Petersburg, Florida .

I truly believe that the Rays’ front office erred greatly in allowing the departure of James Shields and to a lesser extent, Wade Davis ! Now , Andrew Friedman , is not necessarily banking upon the players , but more so the managerial ingenuity of Joe Maddon. Yet the manager for his part , forever the patriarch to team , simply refuses to acknowledge the fact this roster is simply not as good as last season’s group of players . The stats at present , bear this out , and with the Rays’ record of 4-8 , twelve games into the season and the projection for the team , based on present form , would be a win total approaching between 55 and sixty wins for the year . A far cry, from the ninety-win season of 2012 and a third place finish within the AL East , and narrowly missing out on a playoff berth for the playoffs . If the Rays and specifically , Evan Longoria , are to be relevant within the AL this season , then there has to be, more of a sense of urgency from the players , rather than the lackluster performances and the repeated excuses being put forth , by anyone within the organization seeking to make a public statement .

Next up for Maddon and this team , will be the final game of an away series against what appears to be a resurgent Boston Red Sox team, under new manager , John Farrell . And today, the Red Sox added to the Rays’ woes by inflicting the team with their third straight loss and their fifth loss in their last ten games , placing the Rays at the foot of the AL East . With that 4-8 mark , Joe Maddon and the Rays , have the sixth worst record in the Majors , with the bottom mark as of the 14th April , held by the lowly San Diego Padres (2-10) .

Now inasmuch , as I believe that the Rays can overcome their difficulties , a great deal of how the team deals with this adversity will be based on the leadership abilities shown by Evan Longoria and teammate , David Price , the AL Cy Young award winner of last season , and the franchise’s only winner of one baseball’s most illustrious individual awards . Price’s season in 2012 , was sound if not spectacular , without their being , a no hitter or perfect game to show in his stats, but what David Price was able to show , was his consistency , and his will to go that added extra mile on behalf of the team.

Call me naïve , but if the Miami Marlins (2-11) (@ 04/14/2013) do end up with the worst record in baseball this season , is there a chance that team owner , Jeffrey Loria will seek to blame the press and fans alike , for the team’s ongoing misfortunes after last season’s abysmal showing , ineptitude and gross misconduct of then manager , Ozzie Guillen ? This much I do know , Loria , along with Bud Selig over the past eighteen months have sold the residents of Miami , and in general the fans of baseball , a real can of goods, but more appropriately a bucket load of fecal matter . Yet , here we are , with baseball fantasy geeks seemingly looking for shreds of evidence that the Marlins do indeed have several good players on their roster . That would be like suggesting that pop singer, Britney Spears , has never lip synched while performing on stage . Thirty million CD’s later and her music still is vapid and her talent remains marginal at best . And in the case of the Miami Marlins , beyond Giancarlo Stanton , there is no real reason to watch the Marlins play.

At this juncture , pitiful might well be the only and best way to describe the underachieving Marlins this season . GM Michael Hill and the front office have pared down the team’s payroll to a miserly $40.5 million from last season’s audacious $118 million , as Ozzie Guillen and an overrated team sought to lay assault on the rest of the NL , as was their intent to make a serious challenge of winning the franchise’s third World Series title . In reality, the Marlins’ chances were doomed from the outset , as their season began and ended in a whimper .

The firing of Ozzie Guillen, acknowledged by many as a necessity has seen the ascent of former Marlins’ Mike Redmond as the besieged, Guillen’s successor . So far, the signs are not that encouraging for the rookie manager and his staff , as his team has begun floundering and capsizing like a listless vessel floating nowhere across the ocean. As poorly as the team has played , you simply get the feeling that this might not be the worst that the Miami Marlins has to offer their fans and the fans of baseball in general .

Fan base for the Marlins this season, appears to be bordering on being downright anemic in terms of attendance for the team’s home games, at their year-old $575 million Marlins’ Ballpark , built at taxpayers’ expense , “ without one red cent” coming from baseball’s hierarchy or the team’s ownership . Reminder to the Tampa Bay Rays’ fans and their incessant stupidity , that a venue ought to be built for a franchise whose ownership group seems to be unwilling to contributing towards the cost of a new venue , but yet , you continually hear senior team managing partner , Stuart Sternberg “ bitching and whining” , as to why the city , county and state municipalities will not come to his aid , with the building of a new venue to replace the archaic and now crumbling Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg, Florida . Stupid is as , stupid does ! Only in the state of Florida where, the fan-base of the only two professional franchises combined , would hardly make a dent in the average attendance for a New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox or Philadelphia Phillies’ home game . Florida , simply isn’t a state that can sustain two Major League Baseball franchises , let alone , one .

As if to give you an idea as to what this might entail , consider the following , the Boston Red Sox recently saw its’ consecutive games’ sellout streak in terms of home games’ attendance come to an end after 820 games , of which , twenty-six were playoff appearances , A feat that has not been accomplished by any other franchise in baseball and which came to a culmination , after a decade of economic success for the franchise , along with two World Series championships in 2004 and 2007 . Alas , the Marlins have never reached those heights of economic success , albeit , that they are one of the few franchises to have won two world titles over the last sixteen years . This year , I don’t believe that the Miami Marlins will be even in with a remote chance of making the playoff ! They are simply not good enough a team , to challenge anyone within their division , much less the rest MLB.

What are your expectations in the lead-up to the 2013 All Star Game , and which teams do you believe , are likely to be a success this season , in terms of their regular season play ? Chime in, on this, and anything else , you believe pertinent to the subject matter , at hand .

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Robinson is seen here being interviewed by noted journalist Jimmy Piersall . @ copyrighted material LA Times all rights reserved …

(1) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez , left, gets back to second base just in time to be the throw to Arizona Diamondbacks’ Cliff Pennington during the seventh inning in a baseball game, on Sunday, April 14, 2013 in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks defeated the Dodgers 1-0 . AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Josh Beckett, right, meets with catcher A.J. Ellis during the seventh inning in a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks won 1-0 . AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ..

(3) Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis , right, walks off the field as the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate a 1-0 win in a baseball game, Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ….

(4) San Diego Padres’ Carlos Quentin charges into Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke after being hit by a pitch in the sixth inning of baseball game in San Diego, Thursday, April 11, 2013. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi …..

(5) Punching and getting your ticket ” punched ” . In this April 11, 2013, file photo, San Diego Padres’ Carlos Quentin charges into Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke after being hit by a pitch in the sixth inning of baseball game in San Diego. Quentin on Sunday, April 14, dropped his appeal and began serving an eight-game suspension for rushing the mound and inciting a brawl in which Greinke broke his left collarbone. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi ….

(6) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson delivers against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. Against the backdrop of the events that took place at the ballpark , tragedy struck downtown Boston as the Boston Marathon took place , as two explosives devices were set off , killing three individuals and injuring one hundred and ninety-seven more , with many of those injured , being in serious or critical condition. AP Photo/Winslow Townson …

(7) Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings can’t come up with a triple by Boston Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury during the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. AP Photo/Winslow Townson ….

(8) Boston Red Sox’s Jarrod Saltalamacchia watches his solo home run with Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton during the fifth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. The Red Sox would go on to defeat the Rays 3-2 and ” sweeping ” their divisional rivals in their home series . AP Photo/Winslow Townson …..

(9) Tampa Bay Rays’ ‘ David Price pitches in the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Boston, Saturday, April 13, 2013. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer ….

(10) Marlins’ executives , CEO, Larry Beinfest , left , is seen here with general manager , Michael Hill , who between them , have to deal with meddlesome team owner , Jeffrey Loria, and Loria’s stepson, David Sansome . The two lead front office executives in charge of the day-to-day personnel decision-making have been undermined by the team owner and his stepson at almost every turn . And with that has come the unenviable task of having deal with the firestorm and publication relations’ nightmare after Loria’s verbal attack and onslaught against the local and national media , as well as for their criticism of his decisions, after the team’s end of season “fire sale” . Loria claimed that after the team’s abysmal season in 2012 , it was unsustainable to have a $118 million payroll , with the franchise barely making any money . All this in light after he and the rest of the front office executives have colluded with Bud Selig into coercing the city of Miami commission to fast track the financing and vote for what has become a $575 million boondoggle in the implementation and building of the Miami Marlins’ Ballpark , completely financed by the city , which is still in the midst of its biggest financial crisis in over two decades . To exacerbate things even further the city commission now finds itself under investigation by the US Justice Department , as they seek to ascertain whether or not there was collusion and claims of certain commission members accepting monetary incentives from unknown sources in exchange for their votes . Current Mayor Tomas Regalado and his predecessor , Manny Diaz are one five central figures at the center of the investigation. It is not yet known if any executive from the Marlins’ front office or from the office of Commissioner Bud Selig , is the focus of the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation. However, under a subpoena , documents have been removed from the town hall as well as from the homes prominent city commissioners , as the legal arm of the federal government conducts their investigation. Getty Images / Rick Hill …..

(11) A legend in his own mind and now one of the most despised and disliked individuals in all of baseball , Miami Marlins’ team owner Jeffrey Loria , who in the past year, has ordered the paring down of the team’s payroll from $118 million to a now miserly $40.5 million , which he believes to be competitive enough to give the Marlins a chance of being a contender within the NL this season . Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post/ Osvaldo Ortega ….

(12) Miami Marlins’ manager Mike Redmond , who succeeds Ozzie Guillen . after the former manager’s unsuccessful and only season with the South Florida franchise , which was a disastrous and politically charged 12 months of sheer mediocrity from everyone within the organization . Miami Herald / Jean-Louis Baptiste …..

(13) Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins . The young outfielder is remains the centerpiece of a team , that this year simply hasn’t performed or met anyone’s expectations . The player himself , was said to be unhappy with the team’s fire sale , that saw the 2012 roster gutted to its very core , with many of the high-priced players simply jettisoned by the front office , at the behest of the Marlins’ unpopular team owner , Jeffrey Loria .

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Tophatal 04/15/2013

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With the NBA season now winding down , teams are jockeying position for the divisional as well as conference berths , with thoughts of qualifying for the postseason . The Miami Heat and the New York Knicks could very well be on a collision course for a meeting at some point during the playoffs. The fans and broadcast outlets will undoubted be hoping that these two titans and avowed foes will meet in the Eastern Conference Finals .

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The Eastern Conference is turning out to be quite a competitive staging point this season , but once again it would appear that injuries have played a part in the fates of a number of teams . Stars such as Rajon Rondo , Derrick Rose , Danny Granger , Kevin Love , Dwyane Wade and Amar`e Stoudemire have at some point been sidelined for all or part of the season . And for their respective teams , it has meant them showing their resilience, because of the adversity in question. While we may well choose to overlook this factor , it should be noted that the teams in question have fared well within the conference . With the Heat’s recent twenty-seven consecutive game winning streak coming to an abrupt end , with their assault on the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ record of thirty-three consecutive wins , is at least safe for another season. The focus now , has to be now , how does the team rebound from the disappointment of not being able to equal or surpass that feat . The eyes on the prize , has to be the bigger picture of winning the NBA title . As the defending champions , the Miami Heat knew that a target had been placed on their backs. And that might well have been further exacerbated by the fact , that the franchise , has proven to be relentless in acquiring free agent talent , as evidenced by the Heat’s acquisitions . Ray Allen and Chris Anderson to complement the franchise’s ready collection of “ high-profiled stars “ and role players on the team . And it could be maintained that Allen and Anderson are being well compensated , as contributing to the team’s , and being a part of the Miami Heats’ franchise .

Head coach Erik Spoelstra and the front office led by team President Pat Riley and team owner , Micky Arison have seen the value of the franchise rise exponentially , while remaining competitive and extremely profitable. Ever since the Heat’s acquisition of three-time League MVP , Lebron James , the expectations were and have remained high , with the evidence of that paying off with a rise in the franchise’s value and profits . It is prudent to add in the fact, that the Heat have now become the biggest and best show in town , as they have seen a rise in the attendance levels for the team’s home games at the AA Arena in Miami , Florida , since the star’s acquisition by the franchise. .

The Miami Heat for their part , will now seek cement their lead (ten games ) within the Eastern Conference over the second placed New York Knicks (51-26) and within their division . Currently, that lead within the conference is now at a staggering 10.5 games , with five games left in the regular season , it will be interesting to see how things pan out for the teams seeking to be part of the NBA’s postseason foray .

Wednesday will offer the fans ten games on the day’s schedule with the marquee match-up being the game between the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets . The match-up could add more intrigue in the pecking order of the conference makeup , with both teams vying for the second third places within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference . The Nets are currently the fourth ranked team within the conference , with the Celtics seated as the seventh ranked team , above the eighth ranked Milwaukee Bucks (37-40) . Both teams have had their struggles this season , and this game should go a long way in determining how both teams maintain their composure going into the postseason.

I may well have missed something but for some unknown reason Sacramento city mayor Kevin Johnson , believes it prudent to still chase after pipe-dreams , as he seeks to retain the Sacramento Kings within the state capitol. As you may well be aware, the Kings’ Maloof family have agreed in principle to the sale of the franchise to a consortium led by Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer and venture capital billionaire , Chris Hansen . The duo seek to relocate the team to the city of Seattle and it would appear that the duos bid of $575 million , with Joe and Gavin Maloof still retaining a minority stake in the team. Pending the NBA’s hierarchy and its Board of Governors’ approval , it does appear that the Kings will be relocated .

A last-ditch attempt is being made by Kevin Johnson to have the remain in Sacramento , but his hopes now look to be dashed , as it will be derailed , after Californian real estate mogul , Ron Burkle dropped out of a rival bidding consortium , of which Johnson ,himself, is a member . However, with the departure of Burkle, the most visible and high-profiled member of this syndicate, after some internal frustrations, an d fractured relationships , which the billionaire entrepreneur refuses to address. One might still question why, Johnson would seek to retain a barely profitable enterprise , that remains one of the NBA’s least supported franchises over the last eight seasons. I was once told by a Sacramento native and patron of this site , that the Kings remain a viable franchise , but herein lies the idiocy of that individual’s statement. Yet here are the facts , the Kings remain an uncompetitive , mismanaged franchise, without any leadership on , or off the court . From a financial standpoint, there is little to be desired or to suggest that under GM Geoff Petrie . or the Maloof family, that they would have been able to turn things around , much less where the meager fans in attendance, could hold out any sort of hope that this team could be resurgent once again.

Courtesy of CBS Sports

Ron Burkle drops out of group vying to buy Kings

By Royce Young, NBA Writer

On the surface, it seems like a major blow for Sacramento in its fight to keep the Kings. With 10 days to go before the NBA Board of Governors decides the future of the franchise, billionaire investor Ron Burkle is pulling out.

Why? Because of a conflict of interest. Via the Sacramento Bee:

Facing questions over a conflict of interest, Burkle instead will focus on redeveloping other portions of Downtown Plaza. “He’s so committed to Sacramento,” the mayor said, adding that he spoke with Burkle on Monday. “There’s a host of ancillary development opportunities that Ron will participate in.”

Burkle was going to take the lead in developing the proposed $448 million arena and would have held a small ownership stake in the team. Sacramento officials had said his presence was a huge asset in part because he successfully developed a new arena three years ago for his hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Burkle is part-owner of Relativity Sports, which manages some NBA players’ careers.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson insists Burkle’s departure won’t hurt the city’s chances to keep the team, instead claiming other investors were going step in and fill the hole.

“I don’t look at this as a slow-up or a hiccup,” Johnson said, via the Bee. “We won’t miss a beat.”

With Burkle taking a step back, Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov are going to be “lead investors” of the group. The report also says the Jacobs family of San Diego, who founded Qualcomm telecommunications, would take on a more significant ownership role.

The Jacobses didn’t join the Kings effort until late March and have kept a low profile. One of the family’s members, Jeff Jacobs, issued a statement Monday saying “we are thrilled to join Vivek and Mark in their efforts to keep the Kings in California and revitalize Sacramento.”

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has announced a new investor to help fill the role vacated by billionaire Ron Burkle in the city’s bid to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle.
Johnson also said Tuesday that Sacramento developer Mark Friedman has joined the group. Friedman will help build the planned arena downtown.

Burkle still plans on having a part in solidifying the future of the Kings in Sacramento, though, as he plans to work on developing the downtown area around the new arena.

Burkle was the original investor to step up in an effort to match the Seattle group’s bid for the Kings after the Maloofs reportedly sold the team for $525 million. He also stepped up in 2011 while the Maloofs angled for a move to Anaheim and helped shut down that.

“The Maloofs do not like Burkle,” sports-law expert Michael McCann told the Bee. “By removing him from the story … it could end up helping Sacramento.”

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The Sacramento Kings, is a franchise in name only , and the sole purpose, has to be placing a public face to this issue , for the residents to witness how inept and incompetent they have been . It simply makes no sense to retain a franchise within a city that itself has its own budgetary crunch , with the mayor now seeking an assist from private enterprise , as well as using public funds in seeking to retain a beleaguered NBA franchise . Yet somehow , this, has been the rallying call of Kevin Johnson . I simply wonder if the residents in the state capitol are fully cognizant of that fact ?

Well, Kobe Bryant may well have reiterated what many of us are coming to grips with , and that is , this may well be the player’s penultimate or final season in the NBA . Now a seventeen-year veteran in the NBA , having entered the league as a draftee of the then Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft as the thirteenth pick overall in the first round . How different might the fortunes of both the Los Angeles Lakers and Bobcats may well have been , had not then Lakers’ GM Jerry West pulled the trigger on a deal that brought Bryant to the Lakers in exchange for some nondescript entities superfluous to that franchise’s needs . Five NBA titles , four All Star MVP awards , two NBA Finals’ MVP awards and a League MVP award , along fourteen All Star Appearances , have pretty much cemented Bryant’s legacy in the NBA and the game’s history. Granted , the one accolade that might escape Kobe Bryant should he choose to retire at the end of this postseason , will be the chance to supplant Kareem Abdul Jabbar as the NBA’s most prolific scorer in terms of career points (38,387). Bryant currently holds the record amongst active players with 31,506 points which presently places him fourth all-time in regular season career points. He also sits third all-time in career postseason points with 5,640 in the postseason , all amassed with the Los Angeles Lakers .

This season for the Lakers , after the initial managerial upheaval , there were still frailties concerning this team , in spite of the additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash . Head coach, Mike D’Antoni has been entrusted to run this ship , while executives Jim Buss , son of the late owner , Dr. Jerry Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak have presided over the drama and subplots , that have made up the Lakers’ soap opera season . Often critical of his teammates , Bryant has had to temper his angst , in order to produce as only he can , on a roster that really does lack cohesion , in spite of what their recent record might suggest. He remains the leading scorer and the second leading provider of opportunities in terms of assists per game for the team . If the Lakers are to prevail in the postseason , in the aftermath of Bryant’s prediction and guarantee of a playoff berth , then in all honesty every player on this roster will have to raise the level of their play over the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs , itself. Anything short of that , and it will be all for nothing .

Tuesday night , Mike D’Antoni’s players “downed “ the New Orleans Hornets 104-96 in something of an uncompetitive game during its latter stages , without their being a genuine effort on the part of the away team ,in seeking to derail their more renowned Southern Californian rivals. Next up for the Lakers will be an away game against the Portland Trailblazers (33-44) , led by leading Rookie of the Year Candidate , Damian Lillard who will be ably assisted by teammates , LaMarcus Aldridge , Nicolas Batum , Jared Jeffries , Luke Babbitt , Wesley Matthews and J J Hickson . Blazers’ head coach Terry Stotts , will be looking for a spirited late run from his players , knowing that they have missed out on a playoff berth , with some missteps along the way during their season . With a central core built around Aldridge and Lillard , I believe that the Blazers’ front office , can acquire the players needed to place this franchise amongst the elite within the conference , with a view of making a genuine run of winning an NBA title. GM Neil Olshey certainly has the credentials to make this reality .

Having injured during the 2012 NBA playoffs , the Chicago Bulls’ , Derrick Rose , it was felt would take enough time to recuperate from what was thought at the time to be a serious injury , but not a career threatening catastrophe . Now at almost at the culmination of the Bulls’ regular season schedule , and the point guard and 2011 League MVP , has yet to suit up in a Bulls’ uniform for a game this season . With the player sidelined and unable to give a definitive time or any expectation , as to his return , head coach Tom Thibodeau is now left with the unenviable task of having to choose whether not to include Rose as part of the Bulls’ postseason roster. Rose has stated that his practices have been almost “near perfect” , with his body back to almost being in game shape. However, Derrick Rose’s issues now , might not be physical , but more psychological , as there seems to be a fear of re-injury , as it relates to his torn ACL and MCL. It would be something of a shock , were the young point guard’s career come to an abrupt end , having never fully reached the undoubted that many believe Rose has. From my own perspective , if the player is unable to play , then the coaching staff and front office need not take the risk of having him be a part of the roster as they enter into to the postseason ! That may sound somewhat cynical , but I feel given the investment made in Derrick Rose , he is seen as the heir apparent to Michael Jordan and the face of the franchise’s future . It is prudent if the player returns under his own time-frame , even if the fans and public alike , would like to see his quick return.

The Chicago Bulls were formidable enough to show the fans what they were capable of , when they derailed the Miami Heat’s quest in surpassing the Lakers’ consecutive games’ win streak , when they defeated LeBron James and his teammates’ quest for basketball immortality . A Bulls’ team showing that type of resolve and resilience is quite capable of derailing the hopes of some the Eastern Conference’s more prominent teams . A first round match-up based on the current conference standings, would pit the fifth seeded Bulls, against the fourth seed , Brooklyn Nets . It should come as no surprise that the Chicago Bulls leads the Brooklyn Nets 3-1 in their season series , in their meetings during the 2012-13 season . The Bulls also lead their potential postseason counterparts by an almost similar margin when it comes to their match-ups. Dating back to their first to their first meeting in 1998 at that stage of the NBA calendar , the franchise holds a 3-0 mark over the Brooklyn Nets.

In recent seasons the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love has evolved into one of the best Power forwards / centers in the NBA . Love’s evolution from an awkward angular player into on an offensive and rebounding giant has made him a superstar in the NBA , as well as an Olympian and member of Team USA’s gold medal winning team in London. And Love is handsomely paid for his prowess by the Timberwolves , and he is amongst the highest paid players at his position in the NBA .

Kevin Love has been sidelined with a fractured right hand which has prolonged his stay on the sidelines this season for the Timberwolves . With his being on the bench , although he has suited up for a mere eighteen games , it has been left to Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko , to lead this team from an offensive and defensive standpoint . With Timberwolves’ head coach Rick Adelman and his staff being entrusted to guide this team , it will be interesting to see how the franchise manages to steer their way through the remainder of the season , while looking forward to next season and the presumed imminent return of Kevin Love. Adelman recently became the eighth coach in NBA history to have won 1,000 games over the course his coaching career . The all-time NBA leader is Don Nelson with the figure of 1,335 wins over the course of thirty-three year coaching career in the league . With that in mind consider the fact that amongst active coaches of which Adelman is now the current active wins’ leader . The next coach expected to pass that milestone will be the San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich (904 wins). That feat is likely to be accomplished with the franchise at some point during the during the 2014-15 NBA season .

The San Antonio Spurs may not be viewed as one of the glamor teams within the NBA , and while all of the hullabaloo tends to be about the Heat and the Knicks . Consider the fact, that , this will be the fourteenth consecutive season that the franchise has made it to the postseason , while averaging .. 50 wins per season . And yet the hype has been about the New York Knicks and their recent unbeaten run . Let’s get real for once , until this Knicks’ team has achieved something of relevance , simply don’t go overboard , because in reality the franchise has languished for four decades hoping for the “winds of change “ . And no amount regaling by the fans about past and current feats , can hide the years of inconsistency and gross mismanagement . The fans and prognosticators alike , tend to show their apathy , rather addressing both the positives and negatives concerning the Knicks’ franchise .

While the Eastern Conference has been granted with the presence, privilege and confidence of knowing that they have the reigning NBA champions within their midst . It must be said that this season, the occupants within the rival conference , the West , will try to do their damnedest to make sure that their Finals’ representative will be the best that the Western Conference has to offer . With the conference now locked with a two-way tie atop with the Oklahoma City Thunder (57-21) and San Antonio Spurs now sharing the best record in the conference, as well as within the NBA as a whole . It certainly will be interesting, to see how things play out, over the four games remaining over the course of the NBA schedule. Though the brackets have yet to be locked into place, as to who the first round match-ups will be , the prevailing thought appears to be, the way things are situated at present , will be as such, be representative of the first round series we are likely to see . With the Thunder holding the tie-break in their series this season against the Spurs , the chance for San Antonio to end up with the best record within the conference will mean the team having close out their schedule with at least three wins , with the hope that Kevin Durant and the Thunder drop at least one of their four remaining games on their schedule .

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Picture gallery .

As the regular season winds down what if anything to your mind has been the most memorable moment or team this season by way of expected or unexpected success ? And to your mind which player or players have impressed you the most , with regard to their attitude, and overall play ? Chime in, with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade , left, sits on the bench with forward LeBron James during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Tuesday, April 9, 2013 in Miami. Wade was ruled out of Tuesday’s home game against the Bucks, the fifth straight contest that the All-Star guard will miss while tending to a sprained ankle and bruised knee. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee …

(2) WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 10: Shane Battier (31) of the Miami Heat and Ray Allen (34) of the Miami Heat celebrate a victory over the Washington Wizards on April 10, 2013 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images …

(3) Boston Celtics power forward Brandon Bass (30) dunks over Brooklyn Nets’ center Brook Lopez (11) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. AP Photo/Elise Amendola …

(4) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 3: Rajon Rondo (9) of the Boston Celtics practices shooting prior to a game against the Detroit Pistons on April 3, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Rondo, who is out for the remainder of the season, underwent ACL surgery in February. The point out with a torn ACL , now looks to recuperate during the off-season , with the hope of making a comeback for the 2013-14 season . Back up point guard , Jason Terry will be asked assume the role successfully filled by Rondo for much of his career with the Celtics . However , also on the roster , Celtics’ head coach Doc Rivers does also have the privilege of the use of using Avery Bradley , Jordan Crawford , Courtney Lee and Terrence Williams . Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images …..

(5) City of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson , center , is seen here speaking to the convened , press after a hastily arranged meeting, to explain the last-minute withdrawal of billionaire real estate mogul , Ron Burkle . The billionaire investor, an avid sports’ fan is happens to be the nemesis of the Maloof Family , owners of the Sacramento Kings, the franchise which Johnson hopes to retain within the California state capitol. However, it is also being rumored that Ron Burkle also has a conflict of interest in such a proposal , as he is also involved in a consortium seeking to develop the downtown Los Angeles city area , with a view to building $3.5 billion commercial and retail project that will also house a football stadium , with a view to either luring a relocated and existing NFL franchise or with the hope adding a new Los Angelean NFL team to the NFL’s thirty existing teams . AP Photo / Keith Marshall ………….

(6) Famed real estate mogul , entrepreneur and political Democratic power broker Ron Burkle . The businessman for what are said to be , personal and professional reasons, has dropped out of a consortium that sought to lodge a rival bid , in pursuant of the proposed bid made by rival suitors Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer , who as a duo have agreed in principle to buy and relocate the Sacramento Kings and move that franchise to Seattle , Washington , state . In what will undoubtedly be seen as a last-ditch effort by the Sacramento city mayor , Hansen and Ballmer’s bid , now only seeks the NBA hierarchy and Board of Governors’ final seal of approval. NBA Commissioner , David Stern has not commented publicly on the efforts of Kevin Johnson and his attempt to retain the Kings’ franchise in Sacramento . AP Photo / Tim Marshall …

(7) Timberwolves’ head coach Rick Adelman , is seen on the sidelines talking to his star center and forward, Kevin Love . The two have a very respectful relationship , that has seen Love’s career blossom over the past few seasons . However , with the player being lost to the team for much of this season , the Minnesota Timberwolves have labored after a promising start to the year . It is hoped that Love will make a fully recovery from his wrist injury to be a part of the franchise’s off-season workouts . Getty Images North America / Christian Hernandez ……….

(8) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant , left, drives on Portland Trail Blazers guard Will Barton during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Bryant scored a season high 47 points , leading all scorers in the game against the Trailblazers . AP Photo/Don Ryan ….

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NBA related stories : Raptors’ Valanciunas injures neck against Bulls

Chandler out, Martin back for Knicks

Wade (ankle, knee) to sit out fifth game in row

Love, to have arthroscopic knee surgery

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NBA pieces within this site link provided ………….

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By Tophatal …. 04/10/2013

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Jenny Farley ….. aka ” J-Woww ” . And wow , her “melons ” are ripe for sucking , and are worth looking at !

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Wu Tang Clan ____________ “Triumph”

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It never rains but it pours, and then some ……..

It never rains but it pours, and then some

A week into the baseball season and fans were thrust into one of the best early season pitching performances in recent history . The Texas Rangers’ rookie sensation of 2012 . Yu Darvish came within one strikeout of pitching a perfect game . The right-handed pitcher fanned 26 consecutive batters over 8 2/3 innings before his quest for perfection came to an unfortunate close .

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The meeting between these two AL West teams it is hoped will be the first of some memorable games between these two renowned franchises . That being said , for the Houston Astros as the division’s newest member languished in the NL during 2012 , finishing with baseball’s worst record that season, finishing at the bottom of the pile within the NL Central with a 55-107 record . Needless to say, Astros’ owner, Jim Crane and the team’s coaching staff led by Bo Porter , are hoping to see marked improvement from the team this season , after the woes of 2012.

Personally , I am of the opinion that the Houston Astros will be hard pressed to have a successful season against many of their divisional rivals, the Los Angeles Angels , Oakland Athletics , Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. Five games into their season , and their record at present bears this out, with a 1-4 start . The team led by Jose Altuve , Matt Dominguez , Rick Ankiel , Brett Wallace , Bud Norris , Philip Humber and Erik Bedard will be entrusted to make a legitimate attempt to do something positive within baseball this season .

As the Texas Rangers, seek to overcome the last two seasons of immense disappointment , with the team faring not so well in the postseason . The upheaval within the front office , after the demotion of former team President , Nolan Ryan , seems to have worked in the team’s favor , with there now seemingly more of a professional resolve with Ron Washington’s players. GM Jon Daniels , will now have the day- to-day, decision-making for all personnel decisions , as well as dealing many of the team’s business and other financial matters. Ryan for his part , has accepted the demotion , but I get the impression that it does not sit well with this Rangers’ icon . Bearing that in mind , it was Ryan who led the Coup d’état , that led to the removal of former Rangers President & CEO Chuck Greenberg , essentially, the driving force behind the Rangers’ survival , after the franchise was resurrected , having been placed into bankruptcy proceedings , because of the repeated failures and financial mismanagement by former team owners , Tom Hicks and Ken Gillette .

I was once told by a patron that first and foremost , baseball’s owners are businessmen. Idiocy, knows boundaries, with many, who simply have no idea, as to how a business is ran. The vast majority of owners , within the game, simply use these teams as a tax write off , rather than for profit reasons . However, it would be foolish to think that there isn’t a great deal of money to be made within the game of baseball . In addition , the more profitable teams within baseball tend to be the ones that are well ran or in some cases , franchises, where the owners are the ones who dictate a policy of being miserly in almost every economic aspect of their financial mandate , and that is especially true when it comes to team payroll . Doubt my word , then ask yourself then why it is that teams such as the Kansas City Royals , Pittsburgh Pirates , Miami Marlins , Tampa Bay Rays , continually cry “ poverty” , but yet , when it comes to their financial well-being , they are the ones who profit by way of baseball’s bewildering and asinine tax sharing revenue scheme ? To denote once again, baseball owners being businessmen, well, that is simply a crock of shit ! They are nothing more than carpetbaggers and asset strippers, who are, of the opinion that they are Kings of their own domain. In reality , they are only as good as they appear to be when their teams are winning , and by that , I mean ” winning ” titles !

In the NL East this season , I truly believe that the division will provide the fans some of the most exciting games we are likely see , as the teams encounter each other over the course of the year ! The Atlanta Braves , led by manager , Fredi Gonzalez and his assistants , are intent on dethroning last season’s divisional champions , the Washington Nationals , who once again should prove to be the Braves’ biggest adversary over the season. And for the Nationals , a great deal of skepticism and ridicule the decision made by team’s general manager , Mike Rizzo , when he and team owner , Theodore “Ted” Lerner made the decision to curtail the season of their pitcher , Stephen Strasburg , deciding to keep the player on a decidedly low innings’ pitch count , rather risking the player having an injury. Bear in mind that in 2011 , the player spent a great deal of time on the DL , having undergone “ Tommy John “ surgery , it begs the question, if they were seeking to protect their investment , then it was clear that they were a year too late , and definitely short on common sense .

In the case of the Braves , pitching this season does not appear to be an overall problem for Gonzalez and the staff . On Saturday evening , the Atlanta Braves played hosts to the Chicago Cubs . The game turned out to be thrilling and historic , highlighted by the exploits of the Upton brothers, B J Upton and his younger sibling , Justin Upton , as the duo cemented victory for the team , with a thrilling 6-5 win . Justin Upton would homer twice , driving in two runs , with elder sibling , BJ also joining in on the home run tally for the Braves on the night.

The feat by BJ and Justin Upton who as brothers were the pair of siblings to hit home runs in the very same game since the same accomplishment was achieved by Billy and Cal Ripken for the Baltimore Orioles in 1996.

The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals jointly lead the NL East with a 4-1 record as of 6th April. A patron of this site and who often visits to leave the customary and complimentary comments , recently made the bold prediction that the New York Mets would be major contenders within the division along with the Pittsburgh Pirates within the NL Central . Now, given the recent records of the Mets and Pirates and the very fact that neither , have played a major role in the postseason for a considerable amount of time . It seems rather ironic that he would choose to make such a prognostication , and the very fact that and that neither ball-club seems to have a farm system or the talent that has borne the fruit of their labors. Somehow , given the mindsets of the ownership groups of the teams in question , and the very fact that their financial resources are quite diverse , it is still somewhat remarkable to see these ball-clubs perform so poorly . Then again, no one can attest that the owners within baseball are in fact among the brightest of the bright. Owners, such as Fred Wipon, Saul Katz and Bob Nutting , do leave a lot to be desired, in spite of their alleged business acumen , which makes me wonder, how the hell can anyone believe that they are or have been able to bring any semblance of success to either franchise , which of late has been nowhere to be seen.

I know it’s early in the season , but several teams are looking rather lackluster and out of sorts . The New York Yankees (1-4) are looking languid and it would appear that Joe Girardi already beset by team injuries , now has to look at a roster lineup , that simply has no cohesion or leadership forthcoming , albeit, that there is proven ability on this team . Sidelined by injuries still , are Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Curtis Granderson , Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda and the players in question made a sizable contribution to the team’s record and productivity in 2012 .

The Yankees are an ailing organization in more ways than one , as they seek to get younger in terms of the roster’s makeup. GM, Brian Cashman , he and Girardi, will now have to figure out what is now in the best interests of this franchise as it proceeds forward. This will be Mariano Rivera’s last season with the New York Yankees , as he bows out of the game, as perhaps the franchise’s best pitcher in their renowned history . A great deal of the of the Yankees’ season will be dependent upon their pitching staff and how they perform during 2013 .

Coming off an 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers , the two teams will meet again on Sunday at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan , where on the mound will be CC Sabathia facing off against Justin Verlander . A loss and we could see the Yankees off to their worst start in the franchise’s history over the past decade .

While many fans will undoubtedly be glad to find the New York Yankees in their present predicament and with their underlying issues. Hal Steinbrenner’s wish this season to pare down the team’s payroll , now appears to be a thing of the past , with the acquisition of Vernon Wells from the Los Angeles Angels . Wells for his part , has a chance to establish himself , as his career has been one of a great deal of underachievement throughout the majority of his tenure within baseball . The player, is still owed $42 million on the remaining three years of his existing contract . However , with the Angels due to pay %70 that figure with the Yankees honoring the remaining %30 of that contract . There is a lot to be said about the Yankees and the way in which they choose to spend their money on their players , but it has become a long running joke that if the organization cannot fix their issue from within , then they will simply spend their way out of trouble . And that situation has not changed over the past eight years .

Sunday , and the Yankees provided their fans with some relief , with their 7-0 shellacking of the Detroit Tigers . While impressive, it’s still early days yet for a team that remains lacking in overall confidence. Then , take into account that you have a manager who is still unsure as to what his best starting lineup might be.

Best pitching in baseball we were told , and it appeared to be an apt way of describing the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitching staff . The truth of the matter is , that description would have been more appropriate in conjunction with last season’s roster , rather than complement of players that now makes up this year’s roster . Although the Rays jointly lead the AL East with a 3-2 mark , that is by no means a clear indicator as to be of the belief , that they are the best team within the division at this juncture . I don’t believe that a case can truly be made until the schedule has really come into focus and that the teams have found a rhythm of sorts ! By mid-May , it is at this time , where I believe that many of the ball clubs will have in fact have found some semblance of a rhythm . I think that this can be seen, when adjudged to at the same point last season and how the divisional standings were at the time.

Not one to gloat but the Rays’ Sunday afternoon game against the Cleveland Indians , left a great deal to be desired, as David Price gave one of his worst performances for the Rays in a very long time. The fact of the matter was , that Price along with the team’s middle relief and closers , simply could not get the job done , as the Rays ended up on the wrong side of a very lopsided and embarrassing 13-0 loss to their AL Central foes . No amount of excuses can be made for this type of loss , but yet that was simply the best way to describe Joe Maddon’s post-game interview , which was filled with clichés and some rather asinine sound-bytes from this well-respected manager.

Maddon , and his team , will now go on the road , where they will face the Texas Rangers (4-2) in a three game series starting on Monday afternoon at Rangers’ Stadium , in Arlington Texas. If the previous meetings between these two teams are anything to go by, then the fans should be genuinely in for a treat. On the mound for the Rays will be Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 7.11 ERA) facing off against Alexi Ogando of the Rangers . A win would obviously benefit the Rays , create a confidence building routine for the team, for their run of games , now coming up on their schedule .

Well , a new group comes in and the thought is , we will see an immediate change , with a view to setting a new track , for success for a long besieged and beleaguered franchise . That clearly, was the case with regard to the San Diego Padres and the new ownership group led by Ron Fowler , Tom Garfinkel , Dave Winfield , with Josh Byrnes being ably assisted by Omar Minaya , in the capacity as assistant general manager . The $800 million paid to purchase the ball club’s majority stake from former senior managing partner , John Moores , was somewhat staggering , given the lack of recent success of the Padres . However, prices like everything else at present , do tend to rise , based on the premise that the purchaser is always willing to pay “ an asking price “ . I believe that in this case , it was simply zeal of the bidders wanting to be part of baseball’s ownership fraternity.

Bud Black who has been entrusted to manage the team . A 1-5 start to the Padres’ season, is not emphatic sign that the ball club is heading in the right direction , by any stretch of the imagination. Losers of three straight games , it has to be said that this team is not as good as advertised .

Black and the Padres will play host to the Los Angeles Dodgers and their high priced roster of players with a three game series , starting on Tuesday , 9th April , at Petco Park , in San Diego , California . On the mound for the Dodgers will be Josh Beckett facing off against Clayton Richard of the Padres. Though it is still early in the season we have seen a number of NL pitchers already getting into some semblance of a rhythm . Whether or not the Padres can use these series of games to overcome their sluggish start , will be predicated upon the mindset and preparation of the team , when they begin their series against the Dodgers.

While the league (MLB) still in the infancy of its’ season , it is hoped that we can overcome any major on-field controversy as it relates to the ongoing issue, of the illicit use of steroids and other banned substances , which now seems to be the rage of the players at the “ Big League” and Minor League Level .

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Picture gallery .

As a fan of the game of baseball , what do you ultimately wish to see come out of the season ? And what actions do you feel would be appropriate should another player fall afoul of the league’s steroids and PED’s testing policy ? Simply chime in with your thoughts and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow details below, for your perusal .
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(1) Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish waves to the crowd after leaving the game after pitching a no-hitter into the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros Tuesday, April 2, 2013, in Houston. AP Photo/Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle …

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

(3) Former team President , Nolan Ryan is seen here with the Texas Rangers’ general manager Jon Daniels . Ryan was removed from his position after the failings of the team last season , and what was thought to be a disconnect between the former player and his fellow executives of the syndicated ownership group , concerning his autocratic rule and wish to be involved with the team’s personnel decisions . Daniels now assumes full control and all of the policy making for the day-to-day business dealings as roster moves . AP Photo / Martin Hall ….

(4) Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg talks with pitching coach Steve McCatty after the fourth inning as they play against the Cincinnati Reds during their baseball game in Cincinnati Sunday April 7, 2013. The Reds would go on to defeat the Nationals 6-3 .AP Photo/Tom Uhlman ….

(5) Cleveland Indians’ Mark Reynolds , right, is congratulated on his three-run home run by teammate Ryan Raburn as Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton , left, looks on during the third inning of a baseball game on Sunday, April 7, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays would end on the wrong side of a 13-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians, one of the franchise’s worst defeats over the past decade. AP Photo/Mike Carlson ….

(6) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price reacts after giving up a three-run home run to Cleveland Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall during the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday April 7, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. AP Photo/Mike Carlson …

(7) Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton hits a walk-off home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 6-5 . AP Photo/Butch Dill …..

(8) Padres Group representatives Peter Seidler , Ron Fowler and Kevin O’Malley address the media. The syndicate group purchased the renowned franchise for $800 million and are seeking to rebuild the fortunes of the Padres while seeking to make them competitive and from an economic standpoint , self-sustaining . Ben Platt/MLB.com ….

(9) Manager Bud Black of the San Diego Padres watches the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 6, 2010 in Washington, DC. Black and the Padres face an extremely tough task this season in making the team competitive enough to deemed legitimate challengers within NL West in 2013. Getty Images North America / Greg Fiume ….

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By Tophatal …… 04/08/2013

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Jenny Farley “aka” J-Woww . Size doesn’t necessarily matter , just as long as you’ve got the size that fits into her “ matter

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Kimbella . Get her juices flowing and she could a create tidal wave of sexual gratification . Well, at least I’d like to think so !

They did what and why? And their explanation, was what again ?

They did what and why? And their explanation, was what again ?

I have some serious misgivings when I read of the never ending idiocy happening within the world of sports . And nowhere, has it been more candid, simply sordid , and beyond belief than at the collegiate level . It is hard to understand how a bureaucratic monolith of an institution such as the NCAA can be allowed to operate in its present guise , while being so corrupt and completely damn well devoid of any intelligence and leadership . Countenancing this all in many respects has been NCAA President Mark Emmert , who says all of the thing, he believes the public wishes to hear , but lo and behold , he like many of his subordinates simply go out and their actions simply belies and undermines the good they seek to bring about and the changes needed to salvage the years of inaction , and the simply idiocy of the previous administrators of this institution . Emmert succeeded Dr. Myles Brand in November 2010, after his predecessor’s death due to pancreatic cancer .

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Since his rise to the position of NCAA President , Emmert has sought change , much of that primarily with regard to student stipends , said to be part of the change in culture and perception of the “paid student athlete “ , something that no one can now deny is actually prevalent at the collegiate level. Yet , it remains college sports’ dirty little secret , that they do not want uncovered , to then create the perception that they have been unwilling to do anything about the sordid underbelly college sports, beyond the prevalence of sexual crimes that has also become a part of the culture on college campuses across the country . And the apathetic view being taken by so many , is if it goes unreported , then it is not a statistic that we need to worry about . Nothing new , when you consider the fucking idiots in complete denial after the Jerry Sandusky “affair “ and the actions of the Penn State trustees and that of the late Joe Paterno .

Emmert’s rule within the NCAA, has also brought a great deal of criticism from insiders within the collegiate athletic body , as he has systematically removed trusted administrators and replaced many of them, with a number of bureaucrats . However , his rule has been described as being almost autocratic bordering on maniacal in some cases . And when things are said to be not to his satisfaction , he has been known to berate subordinates with such disdain that accusations of abuse can be leveled against him . Yet thus far , he appears to be like ” The Teflon Don” , as nothing ever seems to stick . He is however viewed by a number number of legislators within the US Congress as someone who has brought back some semblance consistency within collegiate athletics . Given the fact that , that the NCAA is granted non-profit status as a charitable organization , by the US Congress , rather than what it just happens to be , a commercial enterprises whose annual revenues runs into the tens of billions of dollars . Somehow , this must have escaped legislators such as Senators Charles Schumer (D-Ny) , John McCain(R-Az) , Rep Darrell Issa (R-Ca,) , Lindsey Graham (R-SC) , Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Jim Cooper (R-Tn) .

In recent months, Mark Emmert’s reign as the NCAA President has come under increased criticism after the mea-culpa and mistakes made by NCAA investigators and what was said to be their ongoing investigation of the Miami Hurricanes’ athletics’ program and the misdeeds of former Canes’ booster , now incarcerated felon , Nevin Shapiro . Claims of fabricated evidence and previous known associations with Shapiro , by several of the investigators from the NCAA’s Infraction Committee conducting the investigation at Emmert’s behest , questions the integrity of any impartiality and that of the NCAA , as an institution. Furthermore, it has been witnessed over the years that Collegiate Athletics’ governing body punishes with impunity programs it seeks to make an example of , only to allow other to carry on with their own nefarious misdeeds , away from prying eyes . How else can one simply explain the repeated occurrences of the U Conn Huskies Men’s Basketball program and the actions of former head coach Jim Calhoun ? Lies by the former coach as to player eligibility , recruitment violations , cheating scandals , all of which seem to have been overlooked by the NCAA and specifically by Emmert . Calhoun , has been succeeded by his assistant and former NBA player , Kevin Ollie , to lead the program , after his twenty six years with the U Conn program . Hopefully , Ollie will ring in a reign, where the program can be looked upon with a great deal more integrity , in spite of the success achieved with Jim Calhoun at the helm.

As to the situation with the Miami Hurricanes and the disruption caused, and the fact that former AD Shawn Eichorst , has since left the school , to hold accept a similar role with the University of Nebraska (Cornhuskers) brings about this question . How can the NCAA, now conduct any further investigation of the school in spite of the claims of Shapiro and the evidence he provided to the FBI and the NCAA , when the institution’s own investigative body cannot carry out and conduct an investigation , without their now being any perceived interpretation of impropriety ? A strong case can be made where Mark Emmert has countenanced this incompetence , because his own reign thus far has also been one of sheer incompetence without anything of tangible note being put into place to strengthen the integrity of the NCAA as an institution. Instead , the body in question is mired in and with incompetence , all too corrupt practices and the very fact that they continue to bleed their broadcast partners dry , by overcharging them for the content they provide to ABC/ESPN , TNT , Fox Sports , CBS Sports and NBC Sports .

Emmert’s career prior to his succeeding Myles Brand has been blighted by controversy and a great deal of incompetence on his part. And with the latest allegations now surrounding his tenure at the University of Connecticut , it begs the question , was there not a more qualified candidate , without this type of baggage to succeed his predecessor ? It is alleged that Emmert along with two other top officials at the university knew of the difficulties that had beset a $100 million construction project on the university’s campus , but somehow they chose to ignore the warnings of mismanagement that had surfaced , while failing to notify the board of trustees of the continued and growing problems surrounding the project including , that there were also actions of fraud by those said to be at the center of the allegations. It has now led to an investigation which will be carried out by the state’s Attorney General George Jepsen , at the behest of Governor Daniel Malloy . And all of this is now happening twelve years after this project first came into being , which would suggest to most conspiracy theorists that something was awry . What the fuck!

Courtesy of USA Today

Digging into the past of NCAA President Mark Emmert

The man entrusted as the NCAA’s moral compass is seen as both a deft manager with politician-like savvy and a self-serving salesman who escapes blame when scandal visits.

By Brent Schrotenboeur , USA Today

INDIANAPOLIS – Six years after Mark Emmert left his job at the University of Connecticut, the governor of Connecticut ordered an investigation into a massive construction project on campus that had been ravaged by scandal, including more than $100 million lost because of mismanagement.

To find out where things went wrong, the investigators looked at old papers of Emmert, who once supervised the project as UConn’s chancellor. They soon found a bombshell.

DOCUMENTS: Take a look into Emmert’s past

Memos from 1998-99 showed that Emmert and two other top UConn officials knew about the construction project’s big problems then, but failed to disclose them to the school’s board of trustees or the state legislature.

The other two officials ultimately resigned after being placed on leave. The third — Emmert — went on to become president of the NCAA.

“There is absolutely no question that he was briefed on the magnitude of the problem three years into it,” Jonathan Pelto, who co-chaired the investigation for Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell, said of the findings. “He was in a position to blow the whistle and didn’t.”

COMING WEDNESDAY: How Mark Emmert has stirred up the NCAA during his tenure

Gov. Rell called the fiasco “an astounding failure of oversight and management .”

It had no bearing on Emmert. By the time the problems were found, he was long gone, having become chancellor at LSU in 1999. Connecticut officials said their efforts to question him about his role in the matter were unproductive.

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There are those who have suggested that Mark Emmert has brought back some of the integrity lost by the NCAA and collegiate athletics overall. I would beg to differ , as this simply more evidence a system that remains broken and where the Presidents and Chancellors as well as the athletic directors on the university campuses across the country have no wish to repair , because as long as that gravy train of , money arrives on time , and continues to meets their expectations , they simply could not give a shit , if Mark Emmert were a homicidal maniac or a damn child predator and pedophile .

The recent firing of Rutgers’ Men’s Basketball coach Mike Rice either has to be one of the most half assed decisions ever rendered by a person in a position of power . The school’s AD Tim Pernetti now states that insight he erred in not firing Rice earlier after repeated and misconduct by Rice against his players over the past three seasons dating back to 2010. If you have not seen the viral scenes since shown over the internet , the abhorrent behavior of the coach , and his repeated verbal and physical abuse of the players bordered on being psychotic and malevolent in its depravity . Throw in, the homophobic and racial epithets used by the coach and now asinine apology , indicates , Rice’s face saving exercise was insulting . And there are those who are of the belief that socially and racially that this country has made such great strides as how it views minorities and transgendered and homosexuals are still treated equally? Perhaps those who take a view to the contrary should take a look at the displays of Mike Rice and then come back with a comment .

Courtesy of ABC News

Fired Rutgers Coach Mike Rice to Receive $100K Bonus

By Kevin Dolak

Fired Rutgers coach Mike Rice is due a $100,000 bonus from the university for the 2012-2013 basketball season, a payout he would not have received had he been sacked when the tapes of his tormenting his players came to light in November.

The New Jersey school fired Rice, 44, Wednesday amid a quickly unfolding scandal that began when ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” aired footage of the coach’s pushing players in the chest, grabbing them by their jerseys and yanking them around the court. Rice could be heard screaming obscenities and gay slurs at players, including “f–king f-ggot” and “fairy.”

Rice earned $622,500 in 2012 and, as part of his deal, receives bonuses for winning games and graduating players. The $100,000 bonus results simply from his completing last season, as stipulated in his five-year contract, The Associated Press reported.

WATCH MORE: Coach ‘Deeply Sorry’ for Kicking Players

The school will pay the bonus because it’s contractually obligated to do so, Athletic Department spokesman Jason Baum told the AP.

It’s unclear whether the university is also obligated to pay for the remaining two years of his contract. He has not had a winning season in his three years at Rutgers.

The sudden firing of Rice has also led to calls from faculty, lawmakers and activists for further investigation into the school, and possibly more firings of the school’s top brass.

A group of 13 members of the university’s staff have called for the ouster of the school president, Robert Barchi, this morning, according to ESPN. In a statement released Wednesday, Barchi said he was informed of the video showing Rice’s actions in November, but did not personally view the footage until Tuesday, the same day it aired on ESPN. Barchi announced Rice’s firing Wednesday.

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Really ? Was Rice unto a new style of Dodgeball ? Ni##ga and Fag#ot Fairy Dodgeball ? Mind you , no Klan members took part in this exercise in cheap thrills an utter fucking stupidity . I wonder why ? Perhaps Rice didn’t have their number on speed dial ?

Rutgers’ President Robert L Barchi is now under a great deal of pressure to fire Pernetti , after his poor handling of this whole sordid affair . Tim Pernetti’s original maneuver of fining Rice $75,000 and a suspension of three games, obviously , had done nothing to alter the mindset Mike Rice’s continued behavior , even after , having those penalties levied against him , as he continued to chastise and assault his players physically and verbally . Once again , showing that for all of the testosterone driven fucking bullshit within sports, when it comes to common decency , there was none evident from anyone within the coaching staff of Mike Rice , much less amongst the faculty of the school. And while everyone now seems to be appeased by the coach’s firing , one could ask the question , why was such behavior tolerated to begin with and why did none of the players from years past not make the public , aware of this , rather than this all coming to the fore by way of several scenes being posted on the internet and there now being the evidence of the records retained by Tim Pernetti and made public for mass consumption .

With Barchi’s position now coming under pressure and calls being made within the New Jersey legislature for his removal . This whole episode could become even more dramatic and controversial than it has already been , with the ramifications being far-reaching and possibly altering the landscape of the Rutgers’ athletic program for years to come.

Sexism , racism it still exists , screw “ Title IX “ and what it’s said to represent ! In the aftermath of the firing of Bev Kearney as the coach of the Texas Longhorns’ Women’s Track program . A program that Kearney molded into being one of the best in the nation , having guided them to six NCAA titles during her tenure . The coach was fired , after having a consensual relationship with a student . At the time Bev Kearney , a divorcee , knew that her actions would be questioned and that character would come under scrutiny. However, what one should take into account while this all played itself out , a similar premise was also being played out with Major Applewhite , an assistant coach with Mack Brown’s coaching staff of the Longhorn’s renowned football program. If an initiative such as Title IX is meant to level the playing field for women within the landscape , then when it comes to morality , then why should it not be on an equal footing there as well ?

Applewhite for all of his acclaim, his actions , also entered into a consensual relationship with a student and also a graduate assistant , while at the time being married . The second of the two marital affairs , took place while his wife, Julie Applewhite was pregnant with their first child . Ho hum , you might say , but herein lays the idiocy of what has taken place . While Kearney was fired, for her relationship , Applewhite was promoted by Mack Brown to an assistant head coach. In amidst this idiocy and blatant act of sexism , comes the comedic analysis of Longhorns’ AD DeLoss Dodds and his comments, that Bev Kearney’s actions brought the Texas Longhorns’ program into disrepute . If that is the said case , then what do you believe his view of Major Applewhite’s actions were to said to have been ? Well , you’ve guessed it , Dodds has offered no comment , concerning the assistant coach , but if anything, he has probably congratulated the former Longhorns’ player , patted him on the back , and told him to “ keep on sowing “ and plowing “his wild oats” amongst the coeds on the Longhorns’ campus .

Kearney , under advisement , has spoken with several members of the legal fraternity, with a view to suing the state educational institution, and the possibility of seeking to being reinstated to her former position. However, with the faculty now circling to protect themselves , Dodds and Longhorns’ President William “Bill” Powers have sought to protect themselves and the university from any legal action by now suggesting that Bev Kearney kept her actions hidden and lied about it when first confronted . A claim , which Kearney completely denies and stands by to this day , in the aftermath of the new claims being made by Bill Powers and DeLoss Dodds.

I firmly believe that collegiate athletics has now become a cesspool of corruption at every level from conferences on down , starting with the faculty members through to their athletics directors , coaches , compliance officers , on down to the athletes themselves . Granted , as the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments winds down , with the nation in awe of both events. Don’t at all be fooled by the displays of sportsmanship and camaraderie being put on show. At the center of it all, are the millions of dollars to be reaped by the institutions in question are front and center for the participants in question.

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Picture gallery.

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Picture and slideshow details below for your perusal .

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;(1) Mark A. Emmert, president of the University of Washington, speaks during a news conference after being announced as the president-elect of the NCAA, in Indianapolis on Tuesday, April 27, 2010. AP Photo/AJ Mast ….

(2) Dr. Myles Brand who preceded Mark Emmert as the President of the NCAA , collegiate athletics governing body that governs at the apparatus sports for the nation’s institutions of higher learning across the country . AP Photo / David Pearson ….

(3) Nevin Shapiro said this photo was taken during a basketball fundraiser in 2008, in which the booster donated $50,000 to the program. . From left to right are men’s basketball coach Frank Haith , Shapiro and University of Miami president Donna Shalala . Shalala is holding Shapiro’s donation check. Haith has since been succeeded as the Canes’ basketball coach by Jim Larrinaga who guided the team to the Elite Eight in this year’s NCAA Tournament . The Canes’ football program is now under an investigation by the NCAA’s Infraction Committee . The investigation is now mired in a great deal of controversy with haphazard investigation procedures and claims of falsification of evidentiary records by the investigators , some of whom are said to have a known association with incarcerated felon Nevin Shapiro, who is now serving a multiyear sentence in a federal penitentiary . AP/REUTERS / Ephraim Moralez ….

(4) Mack Brown head coach of the Texas Longhorns’ football program is seen here alongside his assistant , Major Applewhite . Brown’s assistant promoted within the staff hierarchy was embroiled in two consensual relationship with students at the University of Texas . Senior faculty members DeLoss Dodds and Bill Powers have come to the defense of Applewhite , in light of his actions , albeit , that , they were not so courteous when it came to resolving a similar issue with women’s track coach Beverley “Bev ” Kearney . Courtesy of Longhorns Network @ copyrighted material ….. all rights reserved .

(5) Beverley “Bev” Kearney . coach of the six-time NCAA national champions of the University of Texas women’s track team . Kearney was fired from her position by Longhorns’ AD DeLoss Dodds for her involvement in a consensual sexual relationship with a student. Getty Images North America / Christine Parsons ….

(6) DeLoss Dodds , the athletics director of the University of Texas athletics program . Courtesy of Longhorns Network

(7) Mike Rice the now disgraced former head coach of the Rutgers basketball program. Rice was fired by AD Tim Pernetti after the resultant viral stream of the coach verbally and physically abusing his players . These actions have been taking place for a period of three years , during which Rice used racially and homophobic insensitive derogatory remarks to attack his players . Pernetti for his part has now admitted that he erred on the side of caution in not first firing the coach back in 2010 when the first of these incidents occurred , fining the coach a sum of $75,000 and suspending him for three games . New Jersey Star Ledger / Matthew Stiles ……….

(8) Mike Rice and Tim Pernetti are seen here after Rice became head coach of the basketball program . Since being fired, Rice has issued a less than contrite apology for his insensitive remarks directed at his players . New Jersey Star Ledger / ……….

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Tophatal ………………. 04/04/2013

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NCAA

We’ll start with the sublime and then move on to the ridiculous . Oh sorry we’re talking baseball , so it remains ridiculous

We’ll start with the sublime and then move on to the ridiculous . Oh sorry we’re talking baseball , so it remains ridiculous

By Tophatal , 2nd April , 2013

So yesterday , marked the official Opening Day as such , for the majority of teams within Major League Baseball . Many of those games just happened to be, noted rivalries between of many of baseball’s most heralded teams. At Yankees Stadium , the New York Yankees’ played host to their heated AL East rivals , the Boston Red Sox . And if the events are anything to go by , then the Yankees , are about to have a long an arduous season . We knew that the team’s pitching was likely to be suspect , but who could have imagined that the offense would be so anemic ?

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Slideshow .

For the Yankees’ Opening Day starter , CC Sabathia , I suspect that this was a game , that the left handed pitcher would rather forget . Decidedly more so , given the meager run support , given to the player by his teammates during this game .

With the Yankees not set to play again until Wednesday , when they will resume their series against the Boston Red Sox. Tuesday becomes a rest day , during which Joe Girardi and his coaching staff can assess the damage done , as well as the psyche of his players. Granted , excuses can , and will be made, that the team has a litany of injured players on the DL . Yet in no way , should that really be an excuse for an organization , where losing is simply seen as unacceptable .

One thing that there can be no denying , and it is now, the false bravado of the New York Yankees , and the very fact that their window of opportunity to add the mantel pieces for Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera , in terms of additional silverware by way of a sixth World Series title , is now becoming narrower by the year. This season , will be the last for Rivera , the all-time saves’ leader within baseball and one of the most prolific pitchers of any era in baseball history .

On the mound, on Wednesday for the Yankees , will be Hiroki Kuroda , facing off against Clay Buchholz . Should the New York Yankees start the season at 0-2 , there will be no need to start the alarm bells as of yet , but , should they lose four or five consecutive games open the start of their season , then look for Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi , seeking to make some not so drastic changes , if only stave off the criticism of the front office and their continued failure to develop talent from within their farm system over the past several years . Strangely enough at a time, when senior managing partner and team owner , Hal Steinbrenner sought to pare down the team’s payroll . The franchise simply resorted to what they do best, and that is to simply buy their way out of a bad situation. How else, can one explain the idiocy of acquiring an unproductive malcontent such as Vernon Wells ? Wells is still owed $42 million on the final two years of an extortionate and exorbitant seven-year $126 million deal , originally signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008 . . Chances are , Wells , will simply be counterproductive , or he may well surprise the naysayers by contributing greatly to the Yankees’ fortunes over the course of the season.

Call me naïve , but if you’re looked upon as the presumptive leader on a team , then should it not be incumbent on that player to act accordingly , rather than presenting themselves as something of an immature blowhole ? Evan Longoria has become a bona-fide star within baseball , but I am not so sure that he is simply capable enough handling any real adversity , let alone , leading the Tampa Bay Rays to any tangible success . However, comments attributed to the Rays’ third baseman , in which he came across as an imbecile , in being critical of his former teammates , BJ Upton and James Shields . Longoria tried to suggest that neither player was on board , with the Joe Maddon’s managerial style , or the fact that they knew how to handle the adversity of the team’s consistent misfortune of losing on a regular basis before the franchise’s recent run of success . Unless , I am mistaken , you win and lose as a team and not simply single out players whom you believe to be giving a less than convincing effort .

Evan Longoria is lucky enough to now be richly rewarded by the Rays, having signed a multiyear deal that gives him $105 million and the safety net of six years guaranteed income . Unfortunately, his former teammates were not so lucky , having to go elsewhere to seek their fortunes , because plainly put , the Rays are an organization that will continue penny-pinch in order to remain competitive as well as being financially viable . Something that the franchise has not been able to achieve without the advent of the baseball hierarchy’s archaic and asinine tax sharing revenue scheme , that penalizes teams with payrolls in excess of $150 million , by taxing them on a prorated basis as much as 25% of that nominal figure , which is then disbursed for the league’s small market teams , which is allegedly determined on their fan-base and the market in which they are domiciled , based upon the Nielsen’s ratings and their market research . Which begs the question why was it from 2004 through until 2011 , the Florida Marlins, soon to become the Miami Marlins were afforded this luxury ? When for those intervening years , team owner Jeffrey Loria and his sidekicks , David Sansom , Larry Beinfest and Michael Hills , plead poverty as to the franchise’s resources , only for the ball club to go out on an exorbitant cash spending spree in 2012 on acquiring high-priced free agents , that saw the team’s payroll become a bloated $125 million boondoggle that culminated with a sub . 500 record (69-93) within the NL East and a last place finish within the division that season . This season we will see the Marlins resort back to the ways old with a sparse payroll , which will be amongst the lowest in all of baseball , with a team salary of $44 million in salaried commitments based upon known records .

I don’t believe that this beleaguered Marlins’ franchise will have any tangible success within the NL East this season ! Rookie manager Mike Redmond and his staff will have a hard time to get this team contending with the division and against their heated divisional rivals domiciled there .

As to the Tampa Bay Rays and what the season has in store for Joe Maddon and his players , will rest primarily upon the effectiveness of the team’s pitching and their leadership shown by their 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner , David Price . If he, along with Jeremy Hellickson , Roberto Hernandez , Alex Cobb can spearhead what is said to be the best . pitching staff in the Majors , then there is no reason to believe why they cannot be a major force to be reckoned with . And in spite of the managerial ingenuity shown by Joe Maddon , unless Longoria can show that he has the leadership skills , the Rays could be in for a long an arduous season .

The team’s home opener on Tuesday afternoon , pitted the Rays against divisional rivals the Baltimore Orioles , who under their erstwhile manager , Buck Showalter , will be looking to get the team back to their excellent highs of last season . Joe Maddon’s players in front of a sellout crowd at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida would come away on the wrong side , of a rather lopsided 7-4 loss to the Orioles. However , the two teams are scheduled to meet again , twice more in games scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday , at the team’s home venue , in St Petersburg.

It would be remiss, to suggest that Sandy Koufax is not one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history . The former Dodgers’ great statistics speaks volumes to a prolific career and the accolades won . Koufax was given the privilege of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ opening game of their schedule , played against the San Francisco Giants , played at Dodgers’ Ballpark , in Los Angeles California . On the mound for the Dodgers, in this match-up of two well-respected NL West franchises , we had Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain . Kershaw since his drafting by the Dodgers in the 2006 MLB Draft , his career has been on an upward spiral, from the minors on through ,

In recent seasons , Kershaw has been amongst the very best performing pitchers in the National League , but this oh so early comparison , to a legend , such as Sandy Koufax, is simply asinine , and in many respects, insulting to both players . If Kershaw can maintain the current pace as to the success attained , then there is no reason not to believe why he cannot become a future inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame , but for now , the comparison to the legendary left-handed pitcher becomes nonplussed, and not of any real significance .

Dodgers’ owners , Magic Johnson , Mark Walter , Todd Boehly , Peter Guber , and team President , Stan Kasten , will certainly look to assess the performance of this team over the course of the season . There is no denying , that coming after the failings in 2012 , a great deal more was expected of this high-priced assembly of stars . It’s one thing to accumulate a roster of players , reward them in some cases , with astronomical salaries , but if there’s no cohesion on the field of play , then surely, that will be equated with a lack of success .

For the Dodgers, in 2013 , it will be “do or die “ and according to Magic Johnson , “ no expense will be spared on or off the field of play as this ball club seeks to win a World Series’ title” . Take into account that it has been twenty-five years (1988) since the Los Angeles Dodgers won the last of their five World Series titles . To be a part of that particular equation in 2013 , the Los Angeles Dodgers will have to be a truly dominant team , led by their erstwhile manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff.

Not yet ready to throw out the baby with the bath water , but , if I hear one more damn prognostication about the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates , and the expectations for both ball clubs this season , I am likely to let loose with several bits of profanity ! Has there ever been two more misguided and lackluster baseball franchises , who continue have you salivating with excitement , one minute , only to disappoint the next ? With the exception of the ongoing woes and the misguided maneuvers of the Chicago Cubs , I truly believe that the Pirates and Royals, are now , the two most inept franchises in all of baseball ! simply, look at the records of the Pittsburgh Pirates and that of Kansas City Royals , as evidence of that over the past decade and a half . Not to be outdone mind you , in recent years , it could be said that the Seattle Mariners should be equated amongst these misguided and mismanaged baseball franchises ,

A strong could be made that David Glass , Bob Nutting and Howard Lincoln as the owners or senior managing partner in the aforementioned triumvirate of teams , have simply obfuscated their responsibilities , in seeking to make the Royals , Pirates and Mariners a resounding success financially , as well as competitively . That being made , much of this , all comes down to how the ball club seeks to go acquiring their talent , by way of the MLB Draft , free agency trades or simply promoting from within their respective farm systems . Yet when it is all said and done, it comes back down to money , and about those teams that have it and those that don’t . Are they willing to spend , or are they not willing to do so ? I will leave that for you all to be the judge of that, as it all in reality , comes down to a matter of conjecture and bear analysis by way of the teams’ actions.

In many respects I believe that this season , will be about the teams expected to succeed, being under more pressure to do so, more than ever before , along with their respective managers . Perhaps, the three managers, with the greatest need to succeed will be , Mike Sciocsia of Los Angeles Angels , Charlie Manuel of the Philadelphia Phillies , and Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers . Sciocsia , along with team owner, Arte Moreno and GM , Jerry DiPoto , have once again gone off to the races , having acquired outfielder, Josh Hamilton to go alongside a highly explosive offense headlined by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols and a pitching staff , with a proven ace , in , Jered Weaver. That being said , the Angels’ fall from grace last season within the AL West came as something of a shock , because of the inconsistency of the hitting and pitching at the most inopportune of moments. A repeat of that in 2013 , and their season could simply implode without having put up much of challenge against the rest of their divisional rivals and those primarily within the AL .

Jim Leyland has a great deal going for him as a veteran manager , beyond the respect of his peers and players he has managed over the course of his career. However , what cannot be denied , is the very fact that he and the Tigers have come up too short , more often than we could care to remember. Detroit being manhandled by the San Francisco Giants last season (4-0) in the World Series , was enough to have left us all somewhat squeamish . Pitching awful , offense , simply mediocre , and beyond that , there is not much else that needs to be said , after that sorry chapter .

At some point during this season, we will see the Phillies simply cave , and fall apart. This team is littered with All Stars , but what it appears to lack is a vocal and inspirational leader on the field of play. Clearly , Charlie Manuel cannot be seen as the voice of reason , much less a motivator , when needed . This, is a team, that either flies by the seat of its pants , blowing hot and cold. Injuries asides, they will either sink or swim by the merits of their deeds , on the field of play. With the amount of money sank into the pitching staff , and in particular for Cole Hamels . I would like to think that the Phillies’ front office is likely to get a sizable return on that investment at some point in the season, preferably deep into the postseason ! Squandered opportunities and a lone World Series’ triumph in 2008 , in essence , just happens to be all that the franchise , has to show for the recent success over the past six years . The clock is now ticking for Charlie Manuel and front office executive, Reuben Amaro Jr .

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Picture gallery .

With the first week baseball almost in the books , what if anything do you hope to see in the first five or six weeks of the baseball schedule ? Which teams, if anything , have you been most impressed this early in terms of the season’s infancy? Chime in, with your thoughts, as you see fit .

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Slideshow and picture gallery details below .

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(1) In this photo combo of file photos, Jay-Z, left, watches an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Jan. 27, 2013. New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano sits in the dugout during a spring training baseball game in Tampa, Fla., on March 28, 2013. Cano plans to switch agents from Scott Boras to a new company formed by musician Jay-Z’s , Roc Nation and CAA Sports . AP Photo/Reed Saxon, left, and Kathy Willens ….

(2) New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) greets Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) at an opening day baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Monday, April 1 , 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens ….

(3) Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia gestures to the pitcher as New York Yankees’ Kevin Youkilis reacts after a seventh-inning strikeout stranding two runners in an opening day baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Monday, April 1, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(4) New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia .. delivers in the first inning at an Opening Day baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Monday, April 1, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(5) New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is on the disabled list, walks gingerly on the field after doing an interview before the Yankees’ spring training baseball game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, March 26, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(6) Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) throws out Baltimore Orioles’ Brian Roberts after making a diving stop during the fourth inning of an opening day baseball game Tuesday, April 2, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays would go on to lose the game 7-4 with a rather poor offensive output coming from the Rays’ hitters and inadequate effort from the team’s middle relievers . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …

(7) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – APRIL 02: Outfielder Adam Jones (10) of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates his team’s 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays during the Opening Day game at Tropicana Field on April 2, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

(8) Baseball Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax is seen here on Opening Day , having just thrown out the ceremonial first pitch to start the Dodgers’ season and their game against reigning World Series champions the San Francisco Giants on the 1st April , 2013 . The Dodgers would go on to defeat the Giants 4-0 , but their in their subsequent game , the roles would be reversed with the visitors exacting revenge at Dodgers’ Ballpark , in Los Angeles , California with a 3-0 victory . Getty Images / Chris Hughes ….

(9) Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw , left, rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the San Francisco Giants during the eighth inning of a season opening baseball game in Los Angeles, Monday, April 1, 2013. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong …

(10) A “near perfect game ” . Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish is greeted by his teammates as he leaves the game after surrendering a hit in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, in Houston. Darvish pitched eight and two-thirds perfect innings before giving up a hit to Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez in the Rangers’ 7-0 win . AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool …

(11) Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia (14) shakes hands with Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker at the start of a major league baseball game , Monday, April 1, 2013, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/Al Behrman ….

(12) Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel is seen here congratulating his starting pitcher Cole Hamels during a game . Hamels and the rest of the team’s high-priced pitching staff will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed after the team’s inconsistent showing in 2011 and 2012 . Manuel and GM Reuben Amaro will be under a great deal of pressure as well as certain members of the team for the ball club to succeed this season , as the front office seeks answers for the franchise’s woes as of late . AP Photo / Paul Harmon ………

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Selena  Star

Adult entertainer , Selena Star

Selena Star/

Selena could definitely be the ” teacher’s pet ” . Hey. I wonder if she takes ” dictation ” ? Answers please , if you dare ?

It’s not your grandfather or father’s game of baseball ……………….

It’s not your grandfather or father’s game of baseball

There now seems to be a quiet solemnity arising as baseball nears its Opening Day on Sunday, 31st March . And on Easter Sunday, representing one of the holiest days, within Christendom, it should be noted, that the game still has its difficulties , the most obvious being, that the league hierarchy has yet to find a way extricate itself from a mess of its own making, as it relates to the never-ending saga of illicit steroid use by its players . At the center of it all , will be whether not Bud Selig will use the full extent of the law and seek legal action against the South Florida medical establishment Biogenesis , in seeking obtain documentary evidence as to the list of players associated with Biogenesis’ clients, their manufacturing and sales of PED’s and anabolic steroids . Amongst the players named in these documents are Alex Rodriguez , Ryan Braun and Melky Cabrera .

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In the midst of this all, one of the game’s most revered and beloved players , will be celebrated on film when Hollywood will release the biopic “42 “ , starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford , in a film based upon the life of Hall of Fame inductee , Jackie Robinson and his introduction into and the desegregation of baseball.

Official trailer for the movie “42 ” released by Warner Bros Pictures Inc

Alas, from Robinson’s introduction and his vilification by fans and contemporaries alike , it would appear that the game of baseball is still bereft of intelligence , a great deal of bigotry and complete accountability and leadership among the game’s hierarchy and players remains, a reminder as to why it has fallen from its once historic heights. And while many will counter with the fact that Branch Rickey’s brave social maneuver changed the face of sports and the social fabric of the country . One could counter that as the biggest misnomer and the very fact that the race remained socially , economically and racially divided . Doubt my word ? Consider the fact that the US military was not “fully integrated” and then desegregated until eight years after the end of World War II . Cause for concern don’t you think , considering the rather banal and idiotic claims , repeatedly being made by sociologists and historians down the years ?

Courtesy of New York Daily News

Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and other players linked to Biogenesis will have to speak with Major League Baseball investigators
Baseball officials have been investigating players’ ties to Florida anti-aging clinics since last summer, when the Daily News first reported that Giants star Melky Cabrera had tried to avoid a 50-game suspension by claiming a dietary supplement sparked a positive drug test

By Michael O’Keefe and Christian Reed , New York Daily News

Alex Rodriguez and other players linked to Biogenesis will still have to speak to Major League Baseball investigators in the near future, even if they could be called as witnesses in the lawsuit MLB filed last week against Anthony Bosch’s now-defunct anti-aging clinic.
Baseball’s investigators will interview players tied to Biogenesis shortly after the season begins next week, sources told the Daily News.
“I don’t think the lawsuit will prevent the interviews from going forward,” one source familiar with MLB’s Biogenesis investigation said.
MLB filed a civil suit in Florida state court on Friday that accuses Bosch and several business associates of “tortious interference” in contracts between baseball and its players by supplying players with performance-enhancing drugs.
Baseball officials have been investigating players’ ties to Florida anti-aging clinics since last summer, when the Daily News first reported that Giants star Melky Cabrera had tried to avoid a 50-game suspension by claiming a dietary supplement sparked a positive drug test.
An associate of Cabrera’s, Juan Carlos Nunez, was banned from MLB clubhouses after he admitted that he created a fake website for the product. Nunez worked for Cabrera’s agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, whose Brooklyn-based ACES is among baseball’s most prominent agencies.

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From my own perspective , I have always felt that baseball’s hierarchy has been disingenuous , along with the players and its union (MLBPA) ! The so-called stars within the game have failed to speak publicly about their contemporaries’ misuse of steroids and the cheating scandal associated with the misuse of the illicit substances in question. To make matters worse , Bud Selig’s handling of this whole tragic episode has bordered on being completely comical and without scope or any common sense . It should be noted however, with Selig stepping down from his office in 2014 , it is hoped that his successor will bring about some much-needed changes within the games at various levels. Pardon me for saying this , but if the likes of Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and Buster Posey will seek to remain silent while the union and league hierarchy simply continue with their charade , that they are cleaning up the image of the game of baseball, then they can kiss my ass ! Why continue to put up with their diatribe, when they cannot simply be honest with themselves ?

As the game continues to mire itself also with the façade that it remains financially solvent , we should remind ourselves of the fact that it still continues with their rather banal and “ asinine tax sharing “ revenue scheme which Bud Selig believes will level the competitive playing field. In actuality , nothing could be further from the truth , especially when it comes to the likes of the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates , who have not between a hair’s breadth of making the postseason in the past two decades . Yet somehow, their fans remain in hope, that thing will change in the foreseeable future . Well considering their play during last season and over the past two decades , the chances of either team being in with a chance of making the MLB postseason 2013 , seems even more remote than ever before .

Before the season comes into being , baseball has begun with an array of off-season moves , but more so the never-ending escalation in player salaries . The Detroit Tigers and their 2011 MVP and AL Cy Young winner , Justin Verlander , has been rewarded with a seven-year $189 million contract extension . Tigers GM , Dave Dombrowski and team owner, Michael Ilitch felt it beneficial and prudent extend the player’s contract , rather than losing him to free agency. Granted , with Ilitch’s vast financial resources , it should come as no surprise that the owner would seek to retain the team’s best and most valuable player. And if Verlander can reproduce the form shown over the past five seasons , then there is no reason why one shouldn’t assume that he and the Tigers can’t be a part of the postseason foray .

If there is a manager that will be under a great deal of problems , it most certainly will have to the Los Angeles’ Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly . A star laden roster, with many of those players being multiple time All Stars , undoubtedly well rewarded and amongst the best in the game financially. And that in of-itself might not be enough to satisfy long starved Dodgers’ fans , but moreover the executives of the ball-club who paid an astonishing $2.156 billion for the franchise, while it went through bankruptcy proceedings and reorganization . For lead managing partners , Magic Johnson , Todd S Boehly and Mark L Walter , Peter Guber , these are not wealthy entrepreneurs, who simply make a sizable investment merely for show , as they seek to make profit from their foray into professional sports’ franchise ownership . And with the continued rumors that the Dodgers’ ownership group through sports’ affiliated subsidiary may well seek to make an all-out $8.5 billion for AEG Worldwide Inc , the sports’ concession conglomerate owned by billionaire , Philip Anschutz , a member of Forbes ‘ 400 wealthiest Americans . If this unsolicited bid were to take place , it gives the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership group, properties such as a minority stake in the Los Angeles Lakers , Los Angeles Galaxy , the branded properties of the O 2 Arenas , globally , Nokia Theater , Ticketmaster , Walden Media , Staples Center , part ownership in several teams now competing in MLS soccer . If anything , the Dodgers’ owners intent , will be on the team and their wish in on taking > on the San Francisco Giants , their dominance within the NL West and stymie their chance of repeating again as divisional champions , as well winning the World Series for a third time in five years. And it’s pretty safe to suggest that Giants’ owner Larry Baer , GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy will be looking to prove that the success of last season isn’t something of a fleeting episode that should and will be easily forgotten.

If there is said to be a player, who has to be viewed as the leader of this Dodgers’ lineup , then that might well be Matt Kemp . Although, many would deem it that Adrian Gonzalez is more fitting in that role . There is no doubt that the team’s offense is among the most productive in the NL , and it will be interesting to see whether or not this roster can replicate the form shown in 2012.

With a solid pitching rotation , the Dodgers could be looked at as one of the better positioned ball clubs within the NL this season that could very well make a spirited run with a view to the postseason. And among the pitching staff , perhaps the player with the most to prove will be Zack Greinke , whose career if anything has been understated , albeit , that he was an All Star and Cy Young award winner in 2007 with the Kansas City Royals . In reality, Greinke’s career, can be best described as being sporadic and spotty to say the very least . Whether or not he can be at the forefront of a staff that also includes Clayton Kershaw , Josh Beckett , and Hyu Jin Ryu .

The Dodgers will start their regular season sojourn, with a three game home series against the San Francisco Giants at Dodgers Ballpark in Los Angeles , California. Game one on Monday evening. And in what should be an entertaining series’ opener , this should have all the makings of an eventful year for both of these famed ball clubs.

In the AL and specifically the AL East , the consensus appears to be that the Toronto Blue Jays have to be seen as the presumptive favorites to at least win the division outright. I am not so sure that on the face of it , the team can be seen as legitimate contenders , merely because on appearance alone the New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are said to have taken a step back , primarily because off-season moves and injuries . The Baltimore Orioles , I believe will remain a force to be reckoned with , within the division, but the Rays will have the best balanced roster , of any of the teams within the AL East. What does stand out, with Joe Maddon’s roster of talented players , just happens to be the fact the their starting pitching will remain amongst the best not just within the AL but within MLB in general . What is apparent , with the loss of James Shields and Wade Davis , Maddon is still lucky enough to know that there is a great deal of depth to his staff and the team pitching , in general. If the Rays can come out of the gate fast , with series of confidence building wins and build on that momentum , then there is no reason not to believe why they cannot be part be part of the postseason spectacle, in what fans believe , is amongst the best in team sports .

Granted, run production has always a been real issue with the Tampa Bay Rays ,but if James Loney , well as Evan Longoria , Yunel Escobar , Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist may need to show that they are capable of leading this ball club to the undoubted success sought by the ownership group led by Stuart Sternberg , Matthew Silverman with the personnel experience of Andrew Friedman , who , I believe has been the brains behind the success of the franchise along with Joe Maddon’s managerial acumen . The less I hear Sternberg and Silverman bitching and whining about the Rays’ lack financial wherewithal and the lack of support from the municipality and county governments in coming to their aid with regard to a new venue . It becomes clearer to me that this ownership group simply has no goddamn idea what it takes to run a successful professional sports’ franchise. Sternberg’s alleged business acumen as a financier and commodities’ broker has become a fairy tale and a myth . Stuart Sternberg and Matt Silverman have indicated to me, that they are mere children in a room filled with men . The city of Tampa and St Petersburg have become renowned for having owners of their professional sports’ franchises who have become disengaged and so fucking clueless, as to what is needed to make their teams a real success and have a loyal fan-base ( average attendance , Rays, Lightning , Buccaneers) . And that has now become a reality for the Rays , Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the continued idiocy shown by the respective ownership groups.

As the season progresses it will be interesting to see how the teams s acquit themselves over an arduous 162 game schedule . Given what we all witnessed in 2012 and the play of the teams over the course of the season. Whether or not we can have a revisit of many of the highlights we all witnessed , with games , where many of them were close victories. Undoubtedly many of us will also be looking forward whether or not the sensational rookies we witnessed such Mike Trout , Yoenis Cespedes , Bryce Harper and Yu Darvish . Of this year’s rookies , several are likely to make some solid contributions for their teams this season , and we are likely to see that come to fruition with several of these players , namely Wil Myers , Jurickson Profar , Gerritt Cole , Billy Hamilton , Carlos Correa and Shelby Miller .

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Given the issues in 2012 during which we saw the best and the very worst within the game , in terms of what now appears that never-ending saga of steroids rearing its ugly head . It now looks as if all of the claims being made by Bud Selig that the hierarchy is doing the very best to clean up its image is now nothing but a comical joust by the commissioner . Mandatory off-season testing has yet to become a reality and the prolific and rampant use of steroids and PED’s now seem to be more widespread than ever , especially at the minor league level . Something that Selig simply glosses over repeatedly . As if we should have expected anything else to begin with ?

What if anything do you hope to see come out of this baseball season and which team or teams do you believe will be a major surprise during the regular and postseason ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit , and once again thanks as always for your continued support of this site .

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below.
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(1) The tainted face and continued shame of baseball arises once again , with the names of Ryan Braun , Melky Cabrera and Alex Rodriguez . All three players’ are named in documents of the South Florida medical establishment Biogenesis as recipient of steroids sent to their homes as part of a paid consignment . In 2012 Cabrera sat out the mandatory 50 game suspension when he was in the hunt for the NL MVP race . Rodriguez is currently sidelined with an injury , having undergone off-season hip surgery . Ryan Braun through his agent , Nez Badelo has suggested , that his client is completely innocent of the charges currently being leveled against him , and that he was merely a paid up consultant and endorser of the supplements produced by the company . Miami Herald …….

(2) Right , actor , Chadwick “Chad ” Boseman in the role of Jackie Robinson is seen in conversation with Dodgers’ general manager Branch Rickey , the role played by veteran actor , Harrison Ford . The movie entitled “42” , a biopic of the Robinson story , is set for release on 12th April , nationally , in theaters across the country . AP Photo / Donald Hurley …

(3) San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey hits a single against the Oakland Athletics during the second inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game , Friday, March 29, 2013 in San Francisco. AP Photo/George Nikitin ……

(4) Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, right, looks at team president, CEO and general manager Dave Dombrowski during a news conference after a spring baseball exhibition game on Friday, March 29, 2013, in Lakeland, Fla., where Verlander talked about his new seven-year, $180 million contract . AP Photo/Carlos Osorio …..

(5) Los Angeles Dodgers starter Zack Greinke delivers a pitch in the first inning of an exhibition baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday, March 30, 2013. Greinke starts the season as one of the highest salaried and paid players on the Dodgers’ roster . It should be noted that the Opening Day payroll for MLB's thirty teams will for the first time exceed $3 billion ($3,000,000,000) , with the Yankees now leading the pack after their recent acquisition of Vernon Wells , supplanting the Dodgers’ $213.5 payroll for 2013. AP Photo/Christine Cotter …

(6) Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon addresses the media before an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Thursday, March 28, 2013, in Sarasota, Fla. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio ….

(7) Jurickson Profar (13) of the Texas Rangers signs autographs for fans before the spring training game at Surprise Stadium on February 22, 2013 in Surprise, Arizona. Getty Images North America /Christian Petersen …..
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By Tophatal

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