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. .
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 .
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 .
(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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Teams’ postseason stats : Teams’ stats summary (postseason)
Team stats’ offense
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