Going for broke ……..

Going for broke

I find it simply amazing the gullibility of today`s sports fan and a belief that they seem to have that because a franchise owner (NBA) is steeped in billions . There is no simplicity to the madness, that an owner can simply spend tens of millions of dollars on talent, in seeking to gain success overnight. Rarely has that been known to happen overnight and more often than not , the franchise itself may well have lost just as much as the owner has spent in acquiring the athletes to fulfill their dreams. Nowhere has this been more self-explanatory than with the fortunes of the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat in recent years . The two franchises in question are the winners of the last three NBA titles . Team owners Mark Cuban and Micky Arison are amongst the wealthiest owners in North American sports , with their names to be found amongst the Forbes` 400 wealthiest Americans. That in of-itself, is by no means a guarantee of their alleged successes as owners of a sport`s franchise. For years, both the Heat and Mavericks toiled in the obscurity of the NBA, as other more illustrious franchises held the limelight and the glare of the spotlight before attaining the success denoted in their respective histories.

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For the Dallas Mavericks after a disappointing season , during which the team posted a 41-41 record , good enough for tenth place in the Western Conference . The front office led by GM Donn Nelson and head coach Rick Carlisle , in conjunction with Mark Cuban sought to revamp the roster of last season , in the hope of building a competitive contender for the upcoming year . What has become abundantly clear with the Mavericks` owner in recent years , was that money was of no object , as he chose to offer king`s ransom to any player willing to sign with the Texas-based franchise . At the height of the executives` capricious spending in seeking to lure some of the top-flight free agents , Mavericks` payroll was as high as $92.5 million during the 2008-09 season . As the sixth seed for that year in the Western Conference , the team would meet the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the NBA Playoffs . The Mavericks` foray in the postseason would be short-lived as they would fall to the Denver Nuggets in the conference semi-finals 4-1 .

Fueled by that loss, Mark Cuban continually spent money unwisely in the chase for that elusive first NBA title, and along the way racking up losses for the Mavericks` franchise in excess of $103 million . Now one should bear in mind also that the NBA did have a soft salary cap in place , with teams exceeding the cap being penalized under the luxury tax penalty structure. . For the teams who sought to exceed that cap , NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league hierarchy continued to sell the fans a “ bill of goods“ , knowing full well that the financial health of the league`s teams were nowhere as healthy as he was trying to suggest . Between 2009 and 2011 the league`s executive committee ( hierarchy) sought financing from major financial institutions to aid teams around the NBA , who were said to suffering acute financial problems . The sum borrowed exceeded over $515 million . At the time , NBA Commissioner David Stern stated that … “monies received by these franchises should not be viewed as a bailout , but merely a way to aid the teams overcome what had been a difficult period for the NBA in the midst of an economic downturn that was adversely affecting the country “ . So good to know that at the time the league could avail itself over of a half billion dollars ($500,000,000) , while small businesses around the country could not be facilitated with a small business loan . Your thoughts on that specifically ? From 2003 to 2011 , the NBA and its teams have received financing exceeding $2.3 billion ($2,300,000,000) and yet it would appear that the greed of the league and its owners seem almost boundless .

The 2010-11 season would see the rise of the Dallas Mavericks , as the team led by Dirk Nowitzki , would finally slay the dragon , on their way to a rather surprising Finals` victory (4-2) over the highly favored Miami Heat , who were at the time were led by their trio of NBA All Stars , LeBron James , Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh . What took place during those series of games was a testament to the strength of the Mavericks and what I believe to be the sheer arrogance and complacency of the players on the Heat`s roster . Nowitzki would come away with the Finals` MVP award and adding to his legacy as perhaps the best European to have played in the NBA during its history.

This upcoming season the Dallas Mavericks will be built around Dirk Nowitzki as the central focus point of a team looking to get younger . As to how they will fare against much younger and far more athletic rosters within the Western Conference will be predicated upon the defensive and offensive capabilities , and how they are able to play in transition . The veteran forward will be looked upon to be and provide a large part of the team`s offensive productivity, Something that the player has been able provide for the franchise over the majority of his career. And it is proof , to the testament of his game and the longevity of his career.

The NBA Draft of 2003, literally provided the NBA with a plethora of stars , that over the past decade have provided the league with one of its richest era during the NBA`s existence . If you simply peruse the list of players taken over the first two rounds , you can see undeniably, that a number of those stars players are still around and very productive within the NBA. . Granted , there were a few hits and misses made by a number of teams in the assessment of the players drafted .

Lebron James taken number one overall, by the Cleveland Cavaliers would be followed by Darko Milicic , taken by the Detroit Pistons . A pick that many believe was so stupid in the sheer gullibility and lack of thought made by Pistons` GM Joe Dumars . The pick would set the franchise back for a number of years , due to Milicic`s lack of productivity , but the Pistons would somehow come through to pull off what I believe to the biggest upsets in NBA Finals` history over the past two decades , when they simply outplayed the Los Angeles Lakers on their way to the 2004 NBA Finals` championship (4-1) .

The Miami Heat`s success in acquiring their first title was built around the premise and skill-set of Dwyane Wade and surrounding him with players complementary of his skills . Wade along with center Shaquille O`Neal , Jason Williams , Gary Payton , Alonzo Mourning , Michael Doleac , Dorell Wright and other role players . Then head coach Stan Van Gundy would be ousted from his position in 2006, as the team would go on to make that season`s NBA Finals. While the controversy concerning Van Gundy`s ouster had more to do with is souring relationship with central figures O`Neal and Wade . It was widely known, that Heat team President Pat Riley sought one last shot at winning a title as a head coach. Riley denies that Van Gundy`s ouster was anything more than his desire to return to a head coaching role. Riley would excel in leading the Miami Heat to their first NBA title along with Wade`s bravura postseason performances that would also see him garner a Finals` MVP award as the team derailed the hopes of the Dallas Mavericks that season .

Micky Arison and Pat Riley would not let team expenditure in terms of the payroll be a hindrance to what was their ultimate goal . Winning that elusive first title would prove to be profitable, but also create even bigger problems going into that off-season . From a team high payroll of $119 million and with the salary cap of $49.5 million , Miami during the off-season paid just over $70 million to the league hierarchy in luxury taxes. Teams surpassing the cap figure were imposed with the customary dollar-for-dollar penalty, as mandated under the collective bargaining agreement. . The team`s payroll would drop from the aforementioned figure to a more manageable $78.2 million for the following season , but still remaining above the league mandated cap (soft salary cap) .

A patron of this site whose business acumen as such simply revolved around zeroes and the wealth of NBA franchise owners, was of the opinion that the Brooklyn Nets merely because of having acquired Kevin Garnett , Jason Terry and Paul Pierce would be a competitive franchise with the prowess of Deron Williams , Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez . The fact that the addition of the former Celtics trio adds an additional $33 million to the team`s already bloated payroll for the upcoming season which will be set at $ 102.7 million , ranking the Nets` payroll atop of the league`s thirty teams . In the past two seasons Nets` owner Mikhail Prokorov has squandered in excess of $250 million in payroll and luxury tax fees on a franchise , whose playoff run was a single appearance last season , that ended rather abruptly in a first round playoff series` loss , with the team itself , being less than competitive , lacking in leadership and any heart , in being able to play , even a modicum of defense during the postseason . Yet somehow, here was an individual now rather vainly and I do believe idiotically, trying to extol the virtues of a team where three aged veterans will not be able to truly contribute to a roster lacking in leadership and who will now have a rather inexperienced head coach at the helm, in Jason Kidd . The Brooklyn Nets are simply an organization looking to keep up with many of their more illustrious luminaries , while simply believing tat throwing money at an issue is the ultimately the best way to solve it , without showing any real knowledge of know what it is they are doing .

In the subsequent years between the Miami Heat winning first NBA title to successfully making a defense of their second title won in 2012. The franchise has seen a number of highs and lows . None more so, than the less than celebratory departure of Shaquille O`Neal and the we ill will between the player and the organization . During the intervening years , there have been multi-million dollar losses , $140 million u in total , upheaval of the rosters and a change of coaches. Pat Riley`s protege Erik Spoelstra succeeded Pat Riley in 2008 , and the young head coach brought a about a great deal of stability and , with the players buying into his coaching style and blend of youthful exuberance .

The biggest coup for the franchise however , was Pat Riley`s engineering of the deals that would bring both LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the team , along with the re-signing of Dwyane Wade. An immediate impact could be felt on the franchise’s bottom line and that proved to be fortuitous along with the astonishing rise in attendance for the organization . Teams at home facing the Miami Heat saw an immediate attendance spike , alongside concession sales . There is a unique business principle that comes into play , something I believe that is often overlooked by inane fans, simply making pronouncements about teams and their willingness to simply spend money on a whim . If you are going to make such a presumptive statement , at least have the temerity to back it up with something more substantive , than that is a good team, simply because of the makeup of the roster and the fact that the team`s owner has a great deal of money to spend . It simply shows ignorance and even more so, a lack of understanding about the economics of a sport that is not solely about X`s and O`s.

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LeBron James, since his entry into the NBA as proven to be everything the analysts and fans believed him to be. The accolades received, have been a testament to that fact , as his game has become more well-rounded , along with a leadership ability , the respect of his peers and the growing belief now , that he could very well over the next five or so years reach the unprecedented heights of surpassing almost every feat achieved by his boyhood idol Michael Jordan . There is no denying that James` decision to come to Miami, was not only of benefit to the player, but a major part in the turnaround of the franchise and the economic impact brought to the city, but quite possibly above all, to the NBA as a whole. James as now joined the rarefied air of being mentioned in the same as breath of many of the all-time greats within of the game . Justified or not, I will let you be the judge of that ! As to the statements made within this article , do you believe that the NBA can now continue on its current course, when so many of the teams choose to ignore the league`s soft salary cap ? Also , do bear in mind that in spite of the increased values of a number of the NBA franchises , a number of the organizations have acute financial issues , wherein profitability is their greatest concern . Your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter? Chime in with a comment, as you see fit.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1) Pictured from left to right, are Miami Heat owner , Micky Arison , head coach Erik Spoelstra and team President Pat Riley. The trio celebrating the franchise`s 2012 triumph in winning their second NBA title . A feat that would be repeated again this past postseason with the Heat`s second consecutive title and third overall in the past six seasons . The Miami Heat hope to achieve their own historic three-peat by winning a third consecutive title in the 2013-14 season . The franchise is now a heavily backed favorite by the odds-makers in Atlantic City and Las Vegas , respectively. AP Photo /Bruce Moss …..

(2) Jason Kidd , left, is seen here alongside Dallas Mavericks` team owner Mark Cuban , head coach Rick Carlisle , Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki. The group are pictured just after the franchise`s triumph over the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals . Getty Images / Kim Moran ….

(3) Mikhail Prokhorov team owner of the Brooklyn Nets is seen here with former minority stake owner in the NBA franchise , rapper and entrepreneur Jay-z . The entertainer has since sold his interest in the team back to Prokhorov , having become the founder and owner of sports` management company RocNation Sports , a full consultancy sports management firm sports marketing and promotions company , managing athletes and their business portfolios . Jay`z was also licensed as a certified sports agent by the NBA, WNBA , NFL , NHL , MLB . Prokorov for his part in conjunction with team general manager Billy King in the past two seasons have spent in excess of $ 375 million on team payroll and luxury taxes for a franchise , that has yet to progress beyond the first round of the postseason since he assumed control of the Brooklyn Nets . Getty Images / Mark McNair ….

(4) Carmelo Anthony , left is seen here with LeBron James on the night of the 2003 NBA Draft . The two players were drafted in the first round by the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers respectively , with James being the number one pick overall . NBAE/Getty Images / Christopher Riggins ….

(5) LeBron James and Michael Jordan . Comparisons are now being made between the two players and their respective careers . I believe that certain similarities can be made , but on making a call upon who is said to be the better player . It should and is best left to NBA historians after the career of James has ended , and then true comparisons can be made . Matte Inc . @ copyrighted material ……..

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NB: The NBA bailout , twenty-two of the league`s thirty teams were recipients of the funds disbursed during the years mentioned .

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This month in NBA history (July) and August .

The ties that bind ….

The ties that bind ….

The toil and troubles we create and then seek to blame others for the mess created. In the world of baseball , the game`s hierarchy is now seeking to prove to the fans that they can be proactive in dealing with steroid cheats . Meanwhile, the NFL, the commissioner , Roger Goodell continues to act like a buffoon, while team owners continue to sit quietly, as players simply run amok. That being said , it is to be expected when the two unions in question the MLBPA and NFLPA are powerful enough to make the respective hierarchies in question , simply quiver in their boots .

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Much of this NFL off-season has been encapsulated by the events in New England , with the arrest of Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots . With no exact timetable set for the player`s murder trial, . he remains incarcerated , without bail and having not spoken to law enforcement in any great detail, as to the allegations of he and his two accomplices and their implication in the death of former associate Odin Lloyd . With Patriots` owner Bob Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick offering the family of the victim , their condolences as well as stating that this was a tragedy that could not have been foreseen . I would like to know what was it , that could not be foreseen as it related to the behavior of Hernandez, when it was widely known that the player had serious behavioral issues whilst in college, as well as a juvenile ? Furthermore, with the NFL hierarchy now suggesting that they will now conduct far more wide-reaching research into the backgrounds of the players drafted each season . It also begs the question, what were they actually doing prior?

The NFL pre-season is now merely less than a week away and a number of players will start their seasons in a new environment and with their new teammates. Before the actual seismic eruption within the Patriots` organization , the big story was the acquisition of free agent quarterback Tim Tebow . The fact that Bill Belichick has sought to take a flier on the player, either has more do with the coach’s ego or the fact that he truly believes that he can make a successful reclamation project out of the now infamous player. And as much as Tebow is beloved by fans and the public alike , I truly believe that this season with the Patriots will be nothing more than mere titillation, without anything of note being achieved by Tebow on the field of play.

Last season for the New York Jets can be best described as comedic in its tragedy and the very fact that Rex Ryan was lucky enough not to join the list of coaches fired at the end of the regular season . Poor 2012 performances , poor coaching and lack of leadership , all played a part in the Jets` downfall . Quarterback Mark Sanchez has now gone from being the face of the franchise to the now down on his luck and a besieged player with a great deal to prove not just in the pre-season , but most definitely in the regular season , as well. After a lackluster year in 2012 , with a string of woefully inept performances . It easy to understand why GM John Idzik took it upon himself to draft a quarterback , as well as revamping the roster from last season. If nothing else, turning over to a new page and chapter , is perhaps the best way forward for this beleaguered franchise .

For rookie quarterback Geno Smith , his being drafted by the Jets did not exactly come as a complete surprise, but what was undeniable was the player`s lack of maturity and due reverence shown for the whole draft process . Granted , Smith would then seek to defer that melodrama, by stating that his presence was not required after the first round process . Then again , the player , one of a slew of high-profiled athletes signed to the sports` management agency of rapper and entrepreneur ,Jay-z , has single-handedly gotten off to a bad start within the industry . Roc Nation Sports in conjunction with CAA Sports will now have a presence within the NBA , WNBA , MLB and the NFL . The company founder also found himself in a great deal of hot water, when it was noted that he had yet to be certified as a licensed agent by both the NFL , MLB and NBA. Yet , this is now the type damn incompetency being repeatedly being shown on an annual basis by the hierarchies in question. There are those who see these issues as being rather minor . With the matter now resolved , concerning Jay-z`s certification , it will be interesting to see the growing appetite of the entrepreneur and his agency.

Geno Smith for his part , will have a great deal to prove and with their being a growing call for the young rookie to be the starter for the Jets` regular season opener at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , rather than fans having to endure and witness the problems that repeatedly beset Mark Sanchez in 2012. It must be said, that Rex Ryan and John Idzik on the face of it , may well have a tough decision to make .

This season I believe, as it relates the fortunes of the New York Jets , will be predicated on the play of Sanchez and whether or not he can overcome is foibles of last season. Their division, AFC East could very well be up for grabs, with all four teams now in transition , vying for divisional supremacy , and no clear and distinct favorite to be spoken of. This much we were certain of , before the off the field problems of the New England Patriots hit the headlines. One might easily have suggested that they would once again have the division to themselves and with everything at their beckoning . With the upheaval from within and no apparent certainty of what the fans should expect , we could very well be in for one or two surprises, in determining the likelihood as to whether or they can make a successful defense of their divisional title . Or perhaps we could very well see the most unlikeliest of challenges coming from either the Jets , Buffalo Bills or the Miami Dolphins ?

Though his figures are not all consuming , for James Loney of the Tampa Bay Rays (62-43) , this might well be looked upon as his most productive season from a team a standpoint . Loney , along with the pitcher Matt Moore , are two of the reasons why the team has been able to keep abreast with the Boston Red Sox (63-43) and Baltimore Orioles within the AL East for much of this season . Six weeks ago , I would have been one of the first to suggest that their season might well have been over . Yet the guile, with which Joe Maddon and his staff have kept the Rays relevant and their recent run of having won twenty of twenty-tree games , has put the ball-club of not just contesting the division, but also for an AL wild-card berth .

Having taken two out of the three games recently played at Yankees Stadium against a beleaguered New Yankees` team. It must be said Tampa`s fate now rests in their very own hands . No excuses can now be made at this juncture , as to any reason why the organization cannot seek to win their second divisional title over the course of their history . The fans now seem to willing the layers on , and they are now answering those calls with their play . Pitching and defense have always been the cornerstone behind the Rays success and this season is proving to be not different .

Monday, pits the Rays against divisional rivals the Boston Red Sox , in a game to be played at Fenway Park Boston , Massachusetts. With only a half game separating the two teams at the top of the division, both ball-clubs are fully aware how pivotal and meaningful this contest is likely to be . Taking the mound for the Red Sox will be Felix Doubront(7-4, 3.78 ERA) against David Price (5-5, 3.75 ERA) .

Perhaps I am mistaken , but I was always under the impression the reason behind having a coach or manager was one of instilling into the players a love of the game as well as preparing the for the day-to-day rigors of an elongated season . Also the expectations are , that the coaches and coaching staff will be able to impart their wisdom unto the younger and less experienced players on a roster . If the allegations are to be believed , then recent incidents between Miami Marlins` hitting instructor and batting coach Tino Martinez are to be believed . Then the former Yankees first baseman`s behavior was reprehensible and beyond disgusting. Martinez is said to have lost his temper,physically and verbally assaulted several of the younger players on the team on more than one occasion .

In light of that fact , manager Mike Redmond , GM Michael Hill and team owner Jeffrey Loria , are all said to have wanted the coach to remain within the organization . It was only after the players made their views public on the matter , Martinez offered his resignation to the organization and then issued a public apology to the players and fans alike . If it took Tino Martinez over a month to take this action , to my mind, it simply showed a complete lack of respect for the players under his tutelage . Also , what should the fans and public alike make of a situation, where the front office and manager collectively , stand behind the coach after such disdainful behavior ? Then again , the Marlins are going through a pitiful season where absolutely noting has gone right for a ball-club, where their competitive level is at an all-time low, as well as possessing one of the worst records in the Majors (MLB).

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At a time when the image of baseball is said to be in tatters and with Bud Selig and the league hierarchy commanding about as much respect as one might hold for a current seated member of Congress . Is it any wonder why the fans and public alike, no longer have any faith or respect for the game`s leading officials , never mind the very fact that the players themselves lack any integrity whatsoever ? By all means, chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter as you deem fit .

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(1) New York Jets coach Rex Ryan speaks to the media at their NFL football training camp Monday, July 29, 2013, in Cortland, N.Y. The beleaguered head coach will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed this season. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …

(2) New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith throws a pass at their NFL football training camp Monday, July 29, 2013, in Cortland, N.Y. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …

(3) Tampa Bay Rays’ James Loney follows through on a three-run home run off of New York Yankees relief pitcher Adam Warren in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Friday, July 26, 2013, in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …

(4) Miami Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez looks from the dugout during a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Miami, Sunday, July 28, 2013. Martinez has resigned after players complained he verbally abused them. AP Photo/Alan Diaz …

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The sound you hear, is but the brief glimpse of baseball showing and still sowing the seeds of doubt ….

The sound you hear, is but the brief glimpse of baseball showing and still sowing the seeds of doubt

With the recent suspension of the Milwaukee Brewers` …. Ryan Braun . A great many fans within the blogging world, seem to be rejoicing and are of the opinion that baseball seems to be finally coming to its senses, with Commissioner Bud Selig supposedly leading the way. If only that were true at this juncture, because in essence, this agreement, wherein, Braun serves a sixty-five game suspension., means absolutely nothing ,as there was no admittance of guilt for any wrongdoing on his part by way his admitting to the use of a banned substance . Though, we are lead to believe by the MLB hierarchy , that this was in fact the primary reason behind the suspension.

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Ryan Braun`s agent and legal representative, Nev Balelo , worked in close conjunction with the league`s investigators and legal counsel to draw up this agreement as to his client`s suspension. As to any impending suspensions of the other players, known to be associated company founder, Anthony Bosch of Biogenesis . For now, it appears that baseball is now playing with its cards being kept firmly pressed against its chest.

From the very beginning, this situation was poorly handled by baseball`s hierarchy, and we were being given the impression that everything was closely being monitored by Bud Selig`s office and a number general managers and MLB team owners could not be trusted to carry out any kind of working options, that would prove to the public and fans alike, that baseball was in fact getting its act together. Truth be told, baseball takes its lead, by repeatedly tripping over its own feet , as it continues to look for ways to repair over a decade`s worth of damage done to its image and integrity .

This season I believe , will go down as one of the most infamous in recent history , tainted , without any real merit , and that is in spite of the stellar play we have all witnessed from many of the game`s emerging young stars . If last season could be described as the year, that Mike Trout broke unto the scene. Then this year, well at last the second quarter of the first half has been about the exploits of the Los Angeles Dodgers` young rookie sensation Yasiel Puig . Not to be outdone in the American League, there is the Baltimore Orioles` young phenom Manny Machado , a player who seems to be instinctive , with a natural flair for the game . Machado and Puig are likely to be this season`s Rookies of the Year from the respective leagues .

At a time, when baseball is trying to hang unto what remaining nobility, it has, it does not seem strange, that the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) remains as pompous and as sanctimonious as ever. An institution bereft of intelligence and integrity . Yet, somehow from within the bastion of what is an outmoded and archaic organization. The fans and public alike are meant to believe that they are the arbiters of sound judgment when it comes to adjudicating the most celebrated regular season awards . This being the very same institution that during the height of steroid era, simply, either turned a blind eye to wanton cheating , that was taking place within the game. Or their reporting of the events were clouded by their undoubted biases and downright stupidity. It may well be an annual rite of passage for the players to be named the AL and NL MVP . But in light of Ryan Braun winning the award in 2011, when it was known by the league hierarchy that the player was alleged to have failed a drug test and subject of an ongoing investigation . MLB`s leaders felt it prudent not to let the BBWAA know of its findings, and therefore the Brewers` slugger was denoted as the NL MVP recipient for that year .

A full two years after of Braun being awarded the trophy. Second place finisher, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers has voiced his concerns and believes that the Brewers player`s name should be stricken from the records as the 2011 NL MVP. I am inclined to ask at this juncture , does Kemp now feel that he should now be named the recipient of the award ? If Kemp, can now voice his disapproval of Ryan Braun at this moment in time, then why no contempt or criticism of former teammate, and fellow slugger Manny Ramirez ? A two-time violator of the league`s steroid policy, Ramirez never served the mandatory one hundred game suspension mandated by MLB. In fact, upon being notified of the league`s findings at the time , the player immediately announced his retirement from the game . Only to return, first playing in the Far East , then recently signing a Minor League deal with an affiliate of the Texas Rangers . GM Jon Daniels of the Rangers believes the player to be a good fit for the organization and that he will be of benefit to the organization and their postseason ambitions.

For Ramirez, his sojourn in the Minors for the Rangers has been somewhat understated , as he no doubt seeks a call up by the coaching staff at some point in the Rangers` future schedule . When there is said to be this much hypocrisy within the game from some its most high-profiled players , how can anyone take them seriously , much less the game itself ? Never mind that we also have the continued apathy amongst many of the on air radio and television personalities who cover the game of baseball. Not to be left out of this, are the ever endearing anal retentive fans, who one minute call for changes to be made, but somehow cannot be succinct enough to explain the type of changes that they would like to see made within baseball as a whole .

Courtesy of ESPN & Associated Press

Kemp: Ryan Braun should lose MVP

TORONTO — Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who finished runner-up to Ryan Braun in voting for the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player award, thinks the suspended Milwaukee Brewers slugger should be stripped of the honor.

Braun finished with 388 points and 20 first-place votes, to 332 and 10 for Kemp. Major League Baseball attempted to suspend Braun following a positive test that October for elevated testosterone, but the penalty was overturned by an arbitrator who ruled Braun’s urine sample was handled improperly.

Braun agreed Monday to a 65-game suspension for unspecified violations of baseball’s drug rules and labor contract.

Asked Tuesday whether the award should be taken away from Braun, Kemp responded: “I mean, yeah, I do,” pausing and adding, “I feel like it should be, but that’s not for me to decide, you know?”

Kemp said people feel “betrayed” by Braun.

“I’m disappointed,” Kemp said. “I talked to Braun before any of this happened, we had conversations and I considered him a friend. I don’t think anybody likes to be lied to and I feel like a lot of people have felt betrayed. That’s not just me, that’s the whole Brewers organization, a lot of his teammates. I think a lot of people feel that way.”

Jack O’Connell, secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, said the award vote was final.

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Bud Selig for his part , has tip-toed around the issue of this latest fiasco and the apparent stupidity of his office in paying for documentation from the offices of Biogenesis , suggests to me, that he is taking advice of any kind from a litany of like-minded buffoons . It begs the question, can he in all good conscience, believe that a number of the cases he will present against suspected players , can proceed ahead with any real veracity , if in fact a player seeks to challenge the league`s authority and how they went about collecting a great deal of the information now said to be in their possession ?

From my own perspective, Matt Kemp may well believe that he is saying all of the right things , and that if anything , he feels it is something the fans and in general, as well as the public, are likely to agree with his sentiments. As I alluded to earlier, if his criticism of Ryan Bran can be so concise, then why no criticism of Manny Ramirez ? Baseball`s code of silence amongst its players, is no different from that of the Thin Blue Line line of law enforcement and their police officers . You do not `rat ` on your buddies , and you do not level acute criticism of them either . What comes next, after this saga and the apparent friendship between these two prolific players, remains to be seen .

If things cannot get any worse for the New York Yankees (54-48) , then what is now said to be taking place off the field of play for the AL East , fourth placed team , has all the makings of a bad dramatic episode now going hideously wrong . Derek Jeter remains sidelined and the team`s highest paid player , Alex Rodriguez , remains the scourge of the game as well their being a heated , and now some might deem it to be an irreparably damaged relationship between the player and team GM Brian Cashman .

Rodriguez , hoping to finally to come off the team DL , was placed back on that list after it was revealed that he had a slight quadriceps tear . Not so , says the third baseman , revealing that he was ready to play and to contribute in any way that he can to aid the team . Somehow , this might not be the what Rodriguez had envisaged for himself tis season . Yet in light of the fact that his name is the most recognized of those players associated with the Biogenesis scandal. Either Brian Cashman and his fellow executives are looking for either a graceful way to push the player out of the door , or they may well seek a legal recourse to actually send him packing, if Bud Selig is unable to summarily do so, with a long-term suspension . Over the past eighteen months Alex Rodriguez has proven to be more of a thorn in the side of the Yankees` organization than he has been of an asset to the ball-club .

With the Yankees having now acquired their former outfielder Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for cash for right-handed pitcher Corey Black . This could prove to be a harbinger of things to come as it relates to Alex Rodriguez`s immediate and long-term future. Soriano, keen to reassert himself as one of the game`s most prolific and hitters and productive players , had several enjoyable seasons with the Yankees` organization before being traded to the Texas Rangers in February , 2004 , in a trade that would send Alex Rodriguez New York bound . Now having come full circle, the two players will now reunite as teammates , but for how long ?

Earlier in the season Lonn A Trost , CEO & Chief Legal Counsel to the New York Yankees spoke with Brian Cashman as well as with senior members of the Steinbrenner family about the possibility of voiding the four remaining years left on Alex Rodriguez`s contract. The player is owed $104 million , and it was recently noted that he had in fact taken out an insurance policy to indemnify against himself against future loss, in terms of earnings. As to whether or not this constitutes and covers the possibility of his being suspended and how such a claim would be met , without any details being made public . It is hard to envisage how a claim would be honored by an underwriting insurance company. The decision was made to proceed ahead, with Rodriguez still under contract and a member of the Yankees` roster .

On the field of play, the Yankees have been struggling, losers of six of their last ten games and they are now 6 ½ games out of a seeding, for an AL wildcard berth. Too soon to count them out ? Well dependent upon who you might well be listening to . There are those , who believe that the AL East is still up for grabs . While the naysayers, are of the opinion that an aging roster , injuries and inconsistent pitching have been the main reasons for the New York Yankees` woes this season . I believe it is all of the above , along with this constant idiotic belief that they can simply spend their way out of trouble . I guess a burgeoning $235 million plus payroll can at times paint a rosy picture , no matter how dire a situation might be .

A three-game home series against the divisional rivals the red hot Tampa Bay Rays(60-42) , starting on Friday , will pit CC Sabathia against the Rays` Jeremy Hellickson , and could go a long way in telling us whether or not New York has the grit to tough it out and make a fight of the remainder of this season . Anything sort of a series` win against the Rays , and it could very well spell the beginning of the end for the ball-club for the season .

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Picture gallery .

From your own perspective, are you disappointed in the way tat the baseball hierarchy has dealt with this latest scandal (Biogenesis) ? And what are your opinions concerning Matt Kemp`s disapproval of Ryan Braun being allowed to keep is 2011 NL MVP Award ? Do bear in mind, that the Los Angeles` Dodgers` player did not voice is concerns with regard to Manny Ramirez . Finally, your thoughts on the latest drama concerning the always controversial Alex Rodriguez ? Chime in with your comments , as you see fit .

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1) Matt Kemp , left , of the Los Angeles Dodgers is seen here with Ryan Braun prior to a Spring Training during game against the Milwaukee Brewers Friday, March 30, 2012 at Camelback Ranch-Glendale in Phoenix, Arizona .Kemp has been critical of Ryan Braun and the fact that the 2011 NL MVP award winner remains recognized as the recipient of the award for which the Baseball Writers Association of America have stated that the result will stand . © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2012 …

(2) Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers is seen here signing autographs for the Dodgers` fans . The player has simply been sensational this season for the team , which has seen the ball club rise to second place within the NL West . Much of the credit goes to Puig and his offense as well as times, some sensational defensive plays . Getty Images /Mark Strong …

(3) Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles , has been one of the primary reasons that the third placed Orioles have been in contention within the AL East for much of the season ,albeit that teammate Chris Davis has received the bulk of the team`s headlines for much of the season . Machado is amongst the top offensive players in the AL leading , the league in doubles . AP Photo / Phil Kelly …………..

(4) New York Yankees` GM Brian Cashman , left, is seen here with Alex Rodriguez , as the player answers questions posed by the convened press at the Yankees` headquarters, at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida . Rodriguez was answering questions concerning his then use of anabolic steroids dating back to his playing days between 2001- 04 _______ then playing for the Texas Rangers . A strained relationship between Cashman and the Yankees` third baseman has now cast a great deal of uncertainty over Rodriguez`s future with the New York Yankees` organization. NOAH K. MONROE / THE STAR-LEDGER @ copyrighted material all rights reserved .

(5) Former New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers` manager Joe Torre , now a SVP of MLB Operations, is widely considered to be one of the leading candidates alongside , Rob Manfred to succeed Bud Selig as the next MLB Commissioner . Selig is due to step down as commissioner , as early as February of 2014, when his current contract is due to expire . After a two-decade long career as baseball`s highest ranking executive , Selig`s sometimes confrontational and unconventional style of leadership , has as become the antithesis of what is now needed within the game , in its upper echelons of leadership and management . NY Times/ Jorge Vargas ……

(6) A sense of foreboding as words uttered concerning Ryan Braun by Bud Selig, came back to haunt him . Getty Images North America /Rick Carlson ….

(7) Bud Selig foreground, stands at the dais as he formally makes the announcement that the 2013 MLB All Star Game will be held at Citi-Field , home to the New York Mets , in Flushing, New York . Also pictured are second from the left New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mets` senior managing partner and co-owner Fred Wilpon . AP Photo / Rajiv Singh …..

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tophatal …………… 07/27/2013

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MLB news and archived news

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MLB results 25th July 2013

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This month in baseball history

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New York Yankees news and press releases

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SI model Selita Ebanks

I will paint you a picture and you can tell me how you would like the story to end …

I will paint you a picture and you can tell me how you would like the story to end

Training camps are now underway in the NFL , with a number of teams now in full swing as to mandatory workouts with rookies and seasoned veterans already in camp. Headlines around the league have been bleak, with players now becoming part on law enforcement blotters for all of the wrong reasons .

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Not to be left out of it all, there have also been two high-ranking Denver Broncos` executives who fell afoul of law enforcement for two DUI misdemeanors and who now await some sort of action to be taken. The matter was dealt with rather swiftly by the Broncos` Head of Football Operations , with John Elway placing the two individuals in question on administrative leave without pay, pending the outcome of the law enforcement investigations. Unlike the rather laughable actions taken by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has simply sat back and watched the NFL placed into further disarray by his lack of authority and complete inaction . The league might well be able to rebound from this latest mea-culpa , but with the likelihood of a media circus surrounding the upcoming homicide trial of New England Patriots tight-end Aaron Hernandez . I am not so sure that this is the staple that the league wants to be part of any time during part of its regular season schedule .

Away from the menagerie of player misbehavior, there have been one or two notable moments. Reigning Superbowl champions the Baltimore Ravens saw the retirement of defensive stalwart Ray Lewis , the departures of Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin as well as other roster changes that could either lead to the Ravens again being a contender to successfully defend their title or perhaps, simply fall from grace, as we have been accustomed to seeing of recent champions over the past few years . In all likelihood, it all makes for a great premise to be rolled out within the AFC North this season .

As to the expectations for the Baltimore Ravens , the questions likely to be raised are. Can Joe Flacco show the form witnessed during the postseason , as he guided the team to the franchise’s second Superbowl triumph in its young history . The quarterback, having excelled in postseason play , was able to garner a lucrative contract that in terms of guaranteed money is the fourth highest NFL history. Also, with the departures of such seasoned veterans, are the team`s young rookies and sophomore players able to step up to the plate for head coach John Harbaugh and his staff ? The Ravens` exhilarating Superbowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers and the fact that team owner Steve Biscotti and GM Ozzie Newsome can feel vindicated in assembling a roster and building a franchise , that is now amongst the most well-respected organizations in the NFL .

The preseason for the Ravens will be a situation where John Harbaugh can get to acclimatize himself with his new look roster in light of the off-season player-personnel upheavals . Games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week one of the exhibition schedule to be followed by the Atlanta Falcons , Carolina Panthers and St Louis Rams will act as a precursor for the rigors of what should prove to a fairly tough regular season schedule for the reigning Superbowl champions .

As an ardent fan of the NFL I am not expecting a great deal out of the preseason , as I find the whole exercise a futile effort on the part of the league hierarchy and team owners to excoriate even more money out of the fans for meaningless games, that simply plays no part in the makeup of the regular season . Rising ticket and concession prices, to go along with what at times has come to be rather bland product, does now seem to be alienating some fans , without us having to delve into the behavioral issues of the players and the total lack of urgency being shown by Roger Goodell and the NFLPA (Players` Union) to address the situation head on .

Call me naïve, but every time I hear the Dallas Cowboys` owner Jerry Jones talking about the expectations for his franchise each upcoming season. I tend to wait with bated breath, just to see if he will suddenly fall down from having drank far too much alcohol in giving his State of the Cowboys` speech on an annual basis . Each season for the past decade the expectations have been continually high. And repeatedly the Cowboys have never failed to disappoint with their continued ineptitude . Could this season be any different for the franchise, often described as America`s Team ? I will leave it for you all, to be the judge of that !

The off-season for the Dallas Cowboys saw the departure for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan , who was ultimately being blamed for the team`s defensive woes last season . Ryan`s replacement is the aging Monte Kiffin whose prior place of employment upon his return to the NFL was to aid his son, Lane Kiffin in turning the USC Trojans into a lackluster and perennially defensively mediocre program for a number of seasons during his foray back amongst the collegiate ranks .

One of the more comical aspects as to the Cowboys` off-season was the very fact that Jerry Jones sought to extend the contract of the often overrated Tony Romo , whose playoff career reads like a horror story from a Bram Stoker novel . One playoff-win was somehow enough to garner Romo a seven-year $119.5 million deal , of which $40 million is guaranteed , inclusive of a $25 million signing bonus . Which begs the question, is Jerry Jones now printing his own money , beyond the lucrative and extortionate deals he has been able negotiate with various sponsors ? As profitable and valuable as the Dallas Cowboys` franchise is said to be . There has to come a time when common sense must prevail from within this particular organization . Alas, there seems to be no signs of that even with the rather asinine insistence and notion of some fans and NFL analysts alike, who seem to be under the impression that Romo is an elite, if not a top-ten quarterback in the NFL .

Tony Romo has continued to spend more time making excuses for team losses racked up during his tenure than he has shown in is continued lack of effort in terms of all-round leadership ability . Other than the Chicago Bears` …. Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals , could there be a more overrated and under-achieving quarterback currently playing in the NFL ?

A tepid 8-8 season in the NFC East , once again summed up the plight of the Dallas Cowboys in 2012 , in spite of the coaching indecision of Jason Garrett , who continues to flounder under the weight of expectation and the ongoing implicit faith being shown in him by the league`s most self-absorbed and rambunctious owner .

The front office of the Cowboys having parted ways with a number of players that the coaching staff and Jones in particular, felt were superfluous to the team`s needs . This year`s draft and a number of free agent acquisitions were the basis for bolstering the roster for the upcoming season. Inasmuch, as I believe that Jason Garrett will have his eyes on the divisional games within the NFC East . His first priority must be the preparation of is players on what will be a do or die season for many of these players and I believe undoubtedly for the head coach himself ! Jerry Jones has been known to tolerate a great deal as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Yet I seriously doubt that he finds the bitter taste of losing as harmonious as he would be in winning, and winning on a consistent basis . The franchise’s last playoff win came in the wildcard round of the 2009 postseason . And since then, the cupboard has been essentially bare .

I am not one to point to conspiracy theories behind a franchise’s high s and lows . One is, either to make your own luck , or if you are unable to do so, simply fly by the seat of your pants. In the case of the Dallas Cowboys over the past decade, it has been the singular-minded belief of Jerry Jones , that as team President and general manager , he can do no wrong in either role . What has become abundantly clear however , is that Jones` mistakes have been paramount in the failure of the franchise to be successful in terms of the on-field product of the Cowboys . More misses than hits in recent years, concerning the draft and overpaying for players who have been somewhat unproductive for the team in recent years , are glaring examples reasons why the team has failed abysmally. With the preseason being no indicator of what is likely to place during the regular season . All that is left to do , will be for Jason Garrett and his staff to assess the merits of a revamped roster and how best to equip themselves for the upcoming season .

A week one opening regular season schedule for the Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants, could prove prophetic for both franchises, as each looks to regain their swagger. For Eli Manning and the Giants, after last season`s 9-7 divisional second place finish and squandering numerous chances to make the postseason . This divisional match-up might just be the test to they need to gauge themselves against an opponent where their contests have always proven to be very competitive .

So to avoid indictment and further embarrassment to himself the franchise he purchased and the NFL as a whole. Cleveland Browns` owner, Jimmy Haslam has agreed in principle that his company Pilot Flying J Inc will pay the rebates (several million dollars) due to clients , rather than facing a federal indictment and a trial . The fact that Haslam agreed to this all , after at first, denying any culpability on his part , even in the advent of several Pilot J executives and mid-level managers being fired , among those , several who suggested that Jimmy Haslam was privy to the fraud being perpetrated . It would appear all along, the Pilot Flying J proprietor, did indeed have something to hide . What might be even more unpalatable over the course of this whole sordid mess ? The NFL hierarchy and its Board of Governors approved the sale of the Cleveland Browns` franchise while the Criminal Division of the US Justice Department was conducting an investigation into the business dealings of Haslam`s company . Suffice to say, not a great deal of due diligence was being used by Roger Goodell and the in-house investigators and financial experts used in such instances . It begs the question, if the NFL can be so lax in such procedures, and then what else are they also incapable of doing so incompetently?

What also has come out of this , is a class action lawsuit filed in the US District Court by twenty-five national trucking companies , seeking punitive damages from Jimmy Haslam and Pilot Flying J Inc . It would appear that this will not be the last that we will hear on the matter should there be a trial. The Browns` owner insists that the franchise is not for sale . Yet , it is my belief that should this situation become even dire , there will be calls amongst the NFL`s Board of Governors to force Haslam into an unwanted sale or in all likelihood the league itself, taking over the day-to-day operations of the franchise . Even with this action by the Browns` owner , it does appear likely that the US Attorney overseeing the case for the US government will press ahead, seek an indictment and then proceed on to a trial . This paints another bleak picture for the image of the NFL and specifically amongst the team owners . Far too often they old themselves up as captains of industry , yet in reality, their business practices in and outside of the NFL ranks, are akin to that of a racketeer or Mafioso Boss. Il Capo dei Capi (Boss of Bosses) .

The Cleveland Browns, coming off a 5-11 season (2012) and a last place finish in the AFC North , will be looking to rebound from last season . A great deal of that will be predicated upon the play of quarterback Brandon Weeden and how the player seeks make up for a rookie season filled that was with highs and lows . A chance of a sophomore breakout year could be expected , but it will be predicated upon the weapons available for the quarterback . For second-year head coach Rob Chudzinski and his staff , this year might well be the opportunity they seek to prove that 2012 was something of an aberration .

On both sides of the ball , last season proved to be an immense struggle for the Cleveland Browns. There is no doubt in my mind that Chudzinski has sought the upgrades he believes necessary by way of the NFL Draft and free agent acquisitions to improve both the offense and defense . If those solutions are dealt with adequately, then there is no reason to believe why the Browns cannot create some sort of competitive edge for themselves within the AFC North and AFC in particular

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Picture gallery .

The off-season of the NFL has proven to be rather unsavory for a number of reasons , without their being any type of proven leadership being shown by anyone within the league hierarchy or from the union (NFLPA) for that matter . Yet, we are now to believe that the league can continue to withstand the continued type of adverse publicity without any type of criticism being leveled at the brand , its leadership and all that is said to represent ? By all means, do leave a comment as you see fit concerning anything you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) FILE – In this June 27, 2013, file photo, former New England Patriots NFL football tight end Aaron Hernandez stands during a bail hearing in Fall River Superior Court in Fall River, Mass. The legal problems of current and former SEC players _ from ex-Florida and NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez to LSU’s Jeremy Hill _ has cast a negative light on the league that has won seven consecutive national championships. Coaches in the conference say they have to weigh a player’s talent vs. trouble in or out of the locker room. AP Photo/Boston Herald, Ted Fitzgerald …

(2) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco warms up during practice at the NFL football team’s practice facility in Owings Mills, Md., Tuesday, July 23, 2013. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky ….

(3) Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh speaks during a news conference after practice at the NFL football team’s facility in Owings Mills, Md., Tuesday, July 23, 2013. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(4) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo throws a pass during NFL football training camp, Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in Oxnard, Calif. AP Photo/Gus Ruelas …

(5) Dallas Cowboys` head coach Jason Garrett , left is seen here with team President & general manager Jerry Jones at the team`s practice facility in Arlington , Texas . Jones believes that the team will be rebound from a rather lackluster season in 2012 , during which the franchise missed the postseason for the third consecutive year , having finished third within the NFC East , behind the high-flying Washington Redskins (10-6) , eventual divisional champions . Getty Images / Chris Walker …

(6) Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is one of the NFL`s newest owners having bought the Cleveland based franchise in 2012 . In recent months, Haslam and is company Pilot J Flying Inc have been under investigation by the Criminal Division of the US Justice Department for failure to pay trucking company clients nationwide rebates amounting to millions of dollars . Haslam denies any wrongdoing on his part , but several senior executives fired by the owner have stated that Jimmy Haslam was party to the massive fraud perpetrated against the clients . Those clients have since filed a civil suit against Pilot J Flying , in US District Court in Tennessee , seeking unspecified and punitive damages . For his part, the Cleveland Browns owner has stated categorically that the franchise will not be put up for sale , in spite of this latest controversy . AP Photo / Matt Carr ……..

(7) Browns` quarterback Brandon Weeden, who is shown leaving the field after an off-season workout in Berea, Ohio, has been working to improve his footwork. Weeden leads Browns` quarterback depth chart made up of himself , veteran Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer . The Browns will be looking to make a serious challenge within the AFC North this upcoming season . They start their regular season, with an opening home game against the Miami Dolphins in all an all conference AFC duel . AP Photo / Brendan Sykes ………

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tophatal ………………

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NFL team payrolls ……………. Salary cap will be raised from $120.6 million to $123.65 million for the 2013-14 season .

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Hot chic pic of the day actress & model Melyssa Ford

Money makes the world go around , but in the NBA world it does help , just as much as it hinders

Money makes the world go around , but in the NBA world it does help , just as much as it hinders …..

No amount of pontificating can hide the fact the NBA off-season was of no real surprise to fans around the league . Certainly, the expectation around this environment was that there would be a great deal of player movement with contracts being bought out, as well as new deals being negotiated after a flurry of free agent movement and their being some rather rewarding deals for a number of players in question . Teams said to be showing a great deal of interest in a number of the premiere free agents , were either able to get their man or they were not . The fact of the matter is, , many of these franchises simply had to make do with what was at their disposal. The biggest misnomer at present , it appears that from all of the reading I have done within this forum is the very fact that fans are of the belief the general managers and team owners can simply go out this off-season and spend capriciously on players as they hope to bolster their team rosters .

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One of the biggest falsehoods does appear to be , and certainly was overlooked by a patron, who seemed to be under the impression that teams simply exceeding the NBA`s soft salary cap could simply go about bypassing that edict without any real fear of any major repercussions . As true as that may well seem , at the end of the day , it does go a great deal further than simply affecting the economic landscape of the league . The Los Angeles Lakers this off-season will have to pay the league hierarchy in excess of $31 million in luxury taxes , having gone over the soft cap by the aforementioned figure. Bear in mind that the cap was set at a figure of $58.044 million . It is all well and good to make assumptions about what teams are able to do , but if you are not prepared to delve deeper and make a case as to the pros and cons for your argument . Then, it simply does not make sense to proceed with that premise . To merely suggest that because a team as a billionaire owner and that they can afford to throw money at an issue, simply states nothing by way of making one`s case .

Of the three highest spending teams of this past season , the Miami Heat , Los Angeles Lakers , Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks were amongst the top ten franchises with the largest team payrolls . Granted , those franchises do reside in the top twenty-five largest ad-markets in the nation , thereby by realizing advertising revenue not often gleaned by their much smaller counterparts . Yet, herein, lies the caveat and misnomer that has been repeatedly sold to the fans and press in general by David Stern . The NBA commissioner has said , that the league as a whole, is on a sound economical footing by way of its revenues , but he has shown no proof of that in terms of his teams` profitability , or the fact that the league`s finances have never been opened up to public scrutiny . Are we to take David Stern at his word, when he makes such pronouncements or would you rather see the evidence for yourself ?

One of the things I do not believe that fans are genuinely are aware of , is how the salary cap actually works and what is actually allowed by way of its structuring . Teams seeking to exceed the cap, are penalized, a dollar for dollar amount for each dollar they go over the soft cap and the likelihood of any changes, are now a certainty. Now one should now bear in mind, that the league will be increasing that figure for the upcoming season, from $1-00 (one dollar) to $1-50 for every dollar over the cap , and that is most certainly based on whether or not that salary cap figure is raised . So for a team , now with a payroll of $ 85 million , the luxury tax that would be paid for this past season would be $27 million . If coming into the 2013-14 season , a team`s payroll still exceeded that cap figure , and was in line with last season`s payroll , then their upcoming luxury tax liability (burden) would be raised by an additional 50% over their previous season`s figure. Therefore, for a team, with a prospective payroll of $105 million , the tax burden would be just over $70 million. For a number of the larger franchises that figure may not seem a great deal to be worried about , but for a mid to small-market team whose revenues are at best minimal , it can eat into their bottom line (profits) .

The assumption that teams are able to manager their finances and be profitable can be built around certain premises . Personally , I would like to believe that the owners and general managers are indeed business men with actual acumen . Yet, that is by no means true, and that a case can be made that the league has allowed many of its franchises to actually skirt many of the basic rules of accounting to meet their own financial goals . Rules, that were they applied in a proper business environment , within the public sector would have the IRS , SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) and US Justice Department subpoenaing those very same corporate entities .

Now a great deal was made of the fact that Dwight Howard left the Los Angeles Lakers to sign with the Houston Rockets , taking far less money than what would have been likely offered by his former team (six-years ___ $120 million) . Well, given the fact that Howard`s performances with the Lakers throughout much of their season was certainly nondescript in nature , and the very fact that he and Kobe Bryant were never once on the same page . It should not really come as a great surprise concerning the player`s abrupt departure . Lakers` fans may well be lamenting the departure of a player who in essence, never really fit into the team`s system of play , or that head coach , Mike D`Antoni was never really sure of the role he wanted of the center .

Overtures from the Lakers` front office led by Mitch Kupchak and team President Jim Buss , pretty much showed how desperate the franchise was said to in seeking to retain an unhappy player , in Dwight Howard. Personally , I believe that if the executives within the front office were not intelligent to see that for themselves at first glance , then it simply indicated the naiveté shown by both Kupchak and Jim Buss ! Where the Lakers now go from here is anyone`s guess at this juncture .

Money may well be of no object to a Lakers` organization rich in its history and still beloved by fans across the NBA panacea. That being said, the future remains uncertain, especially when one bears in mind that Kobe Bryant`s presence with this franchise is at best no more than two years at the most. This somewhat asinine talk, especially amongst NBA analysts who seem to be insisting that in 2014 the Los Angeles Lakers will make a serious bid to lure one of the marquee free agents to the city of Angels.

Cap friendly or not, it seems highly unlikely that LeBron James would seek to leave Miami to make for the lure of the West Coast . Image is everything and then again it can mean absolutely nothing, but James` legacy is already set, given his astonishing career so far. Of the other upper echelon free agents, the only other player that would perhaps fit the parameters sought for the franchise , might well be Carmelo Anthony . Yet, here again, we have a player who seems to fit in with the New York lifestyle and seemingly, the fans there, have made the player feel welcomed . Never mind the fact that he remains the cornerstone of what Mike Woodson and GM Glen Grunwald seek to achieve in bring the New York Knicks their first NBA title since 1973 .

The New York Knicks for their part have made the moves that team owner , James Dolan must believe will make the franchise a force to be reckoned with this upcoming season . To my mind, I believe that the team under-achieved last season , as a great deal more was expected of the players . As to the idiocy of observers, who felt that the Knicks were simply great . Then my question for them would be, explain to me the team’s lackluster and downright insipid performances in the postseason ? The fans and media within New York City expected a great deal more than they observed from the team .

Coming into the 2013-14 season , it remains to be seen whether or not this team in its current guise will be able to surpass the efforts of last year . Mike Woodson knows that a great deal is expected of the franchise in spite of the disappointments of last season. . The additions of Metta World Peace and Andrea Bargnani may well add some stability of what can be best be described as uneven defensive unit from last year. With the core of the roster primarily built around Carmelo Antony , Tyson Chandler , J R Smith , Chris Copeland and Iman Shumpert . It should be very interesting to see whether or not the team will be able to get the better of Eastern Conference titlist and reigning NBA champions the Miami Heat .

Call me naïve, but whatever is now said to be going on inside of the head of Brooklyn Nets owner` , Mikhail Prokhorov . It now seems to becoming abundantly clear that he is prepared to win by almost any means necessary . It would appear that last season`s Brooklyn Nets payroll of $89 million , and the team`s failing during the postseason was not enough to subside his yearning taste to win . With the acquisition of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce , along with a rookie head coach in Jason Kidd and entirely new coaching staff . It would appear that this time around, Prokhorov will be intent on breaking the bank , as the franchise seeks to win their first NBA title . A luxury tax payment of $31 million for the past season alone , may well seem like a drop in the bucket for the Russian billionaire , whose estimated fortune comes in at around $13 billion , placing him in the upper echelons of the world`s 200 wealthiest individuals .

Courtesy of Forbes Magazine

Can Brooklyn Nets Wrestle New York From Knicks With Record $180 Million Team ?

By Kurt Badenhausen , Forbes Staff

The Brooklyn Nets shocked the NBA last month when the team swung a trade with the Boston Celtics to acquire Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. The trio arrives in New York with championship rings, 25 combined All-Star game appearances, MVP and Sixth Man of the Year awards, as well as countless other accolades. The group was introduced Thursday at a press conference at the Barclays BCS +2.11% Center. Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov made a surprise appearance after jetting in from Moscow and he made it clear what his expectations are. “I will [only] be proud when we win the championship,” Prokhorov said. “For me there is only one place: First place.”

Prokhorov has his sights set on the championship trophy, but he still has to get by the New York Knicks on and off the court. The Nets closed the gap in both areas with their NYC rivals last season. The Knicks, owned by Madison Square Garden Co., finished first in the Atlantic Division and the Nets were only five games behind. The Nets were 14 games back during the 2011-12 lockout season.

The move to Brooklyn dramatically improved the team’s financial fortunes. Attendance jumped 53% last season at ticket prices 50% higher than the Nets’ last year in New Jersey. The Nets moved from last in the league in attendance to 16th. TV ratings increased an NBA-best 210% last season for Brooklyn game on the YES Network.

Despite the huge improvement on financial metrics, the Nets still lag the Knicks in terms of their fan base. Ratings for Knicks’ games on MSG–up 71% as the team captured its first division crown in 19 years–were more than triple those of the Nets. Despite the hoopla surrounding the opening of the Barclays Center, the Nets still had empty seats during games and played to a 95% 97% capacity for the year. Most elite teams in big markets, like the Knicks, sell-out every game. The Knicks are riding a three-year sell-out streak at prices twice as high as Brooklyn. The Knicks led the NBA’s ranking of merchandise sales last season and forward Carmelo Anthony had the top jersey. The Nets ranked fourth with their new black and white color scheme (the rankings are skewed towards NYC teams since they are based on sales at the NBA Store on Fifth Ave and NBAStore.com).

The Nets already have topped the Knicks in one area for next season. Las Vegas has the Nets odds to win the 2014 NBA Championship at 12/1 after the Boston trade and addition of free agent Andrei Kirilenko, versus 22/1 for the Knicks.

Prokhorov is taking unprecedented steps with his payroll this year to reach his championship goal. The team’s payroll will likely clock in around $103 million, including Travis Outlaw who was amnestied (the Nets must pay Outlaw’s $4 million salary, but he does not count for luxury tax purposes). The payroll is not a record, but the league’s new, more punitive luxury tax will result in a tax bill of close to $80 million. The $180 million team breaks the record set by the Knicks in 2005-06 when they had a $126 million payroll and $37.2 million in luxury taxes (the final payroll cost was reduced when the Knicks received $16 million in insurance money for Allan Houston who retired due to injury).

Prokhorov’s spending is reminiscent of Paul Allen’s run 10 years ago with the Portland Trail Blazers. Allen racked up $81 million in luxury tax bills over two seasons between 2002 and 2004. His 2002-2003 team had a payroll and tax cost of $157 million as he chased a championship (the Blazers lost in the first round of the playoffs). The Trail Blazers did not have the revenues to meet the huge payrolls. Allen racked up massive losses and the team’s arena entered bankruptcy in 2004. The team lost $85 million during the 2002-03 season by Forbes’ count in our annual look at the business of basketball.

The Nets are potentially headed for similar losses for the 2013-14 season. On top of the $180 payroll/tax cost, the Nets will spend in the ballpark of $65 million to run the team and operate the Barclays Center, and that does not include the interest on the debt to build the arena. Only the Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers had revenues of more than $200 million last season. The Nets say they have sold $3 million in season tickets since the announcement of the Boston trade, but even with an extended playoff run, they are unlikely to hit $200 million in revenue. Prokhorov’s losses will likely top $50 million this year. Prokhorov, like Allen before him, can certainly afford it. They are the two richest owners in the NBA worth $15 billion (Allen) and $13 billion (Prokhorov).

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The Nets` inaugural move last season into their new , the palatial Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York does add luster to the franchise`s image . As to the on-court product , well that is built upon the premise and predication that fans are willing to see the skill-set of Deron Williams , Joe Johnson , Brook Lopez , Gerald Wallace and Marshon Brooks to go alongside the seasoned veterans Garnett and Pierce .

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It seems ridiculous that anyone would be of the impression , simply because a franchise has a billionaire owner who is willing to spend money , it creates the perception that the owner is quite prepared to carry on losing come what may . The Brooklyn Nets in the past three seasons have paid in excess of $120 million to the league hierarchy in luxury tax fees , without even having a sniff of the NBA title within their proximity . And when one bears in mind the franchise’s profitability is comes into question , because of the wayward spending because of a burgeoning payroll . It does beg the question, if teams are not prepared to grow organically by way the talent they draft or by prudent acquisition via trades. In reality, are the only means left ________ is it to simply to go out and spend tens of millions of dollars , with no apparent guarantee of success ? Your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent . Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) HOUSTON, TX – JULY 13, 2013: Dwight Howard (12) is introduced as the newest Rocket by Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander and coach Kevin McHale . Dwight Howard smiles while he speaks with the media on July 13, 2013 at The Toyota Center Houston, Texas. The center left the Los Angeles Lakers as an unrestricted free agent to sign a five-year $ 88 million deal with the Rockets` franchise . A deal engineered by GM Daryl Morey with the seal of approval coming from team owner Leslie Alexander . Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images …

(2) LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 28: Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers, sidelined due to an injury, looks on from the bench as his teammates play the San Antonio Spurs in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on April 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images …

(3) NBA Commissioner David Stern , left is seen here with Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver , as they answer questions posed from the convened press . Silver is due to succeed Stern as the next NBA Commissioner in February 2014 . The succession will put an end to Stern`s almost tree-decade long reign , during which the NBA`s presence has become a global phenomenon and a multi-billion dollar enterprise with offices in Europe , Latin America , the Far East and Sub-Saharan Africa . The league`s largest growth areas in the past decade have been in China and Southern Africa . Zimbio & Getty Images North America / Bryce Mitchell …

(4)New York Knicks` Tim Hardaway Jr ., left, looks to drive against New Orleans Pelicans’ Brian Roberts in the third quarter of an NBA Summer League game , Friday, July 12, 2013, in Las Vegas. Hardaway was the Knicks` first round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft , and also the son of former NBA star Tim Hardaway . AP Photo/Julie Jacobson ..

(5) New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (7) tries to drive past Indiana Pacers’ Paul George (24) during the first half of Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Indianapolis. AP Photo/Darron Cummings …

(6) Brooklyn Nets players, from left, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry , pose for photographers with their new jerseys during an NBA basketball news conference, Thursday, July 18, 2013 at Barlcays Center in New York. The Nets introduced the trio they acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer ….

(7) Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd, left, Kevin Garnett, second from left, Paul Pierce, second from right, and Jason Terry, right greet team owner Mikhail Prokhorov, center, as he arrives at an NBA basketball news conference, Thursday, July 18, 2013, at Barlcays Center in New York. The Nets introduced their newest players, Garnett, Pierce and Terry, whom they acquired in a trade with the Boston Celtics. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer ….

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tophatal …………….
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NBA news and archived stories

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NBA free agents (2013) and free agents in 2014

Sell me on it , or whatever the hell else, is actually possible

Sell me on it , or whatever the hell else, is actually possible

In the end, it comes down to being an art form , how the game is played and the rules it is played by . At present it would appear that baseball and football is being played to a different set of rules without either hierarchy noticeably caring about the overall ramifications . MLB Commissioner Bud Selig in a passionate plea stated the case that he would not be rushed into a situation where he makes a decision into the possible suspension of many as twenty to forty Major League Baseball players . Thereby, quite possibly affecting the seasons of the teams were the players currently play. By contrast, team owners and general managers have yet to voice their concerns over the dilemma that is likely to be created . When as many as twenty players are likely to face a lengthy mandate suspension and without the team owners voicing their concerns , it simply shows the mindset within the game present , after more than two decades of calculated cheating taking place, wherein these owners shared lavishly in the spoils, by way of the tens of millions of dollars & that were reaped during that time span . If that were not enough , we also had the downright stupidity of fans , who came out with the rather ridiculous notion that the game of baseball should in essence, suborn cheating and the use of steroids within the game . Personally, I wonder if this would happen to be the very same idiots , who would condone the selling of hard narcotics (heroin & crack cocaine) to children by drug dealers outside school grounds ? The simple stupidity and complete lack of intelligence of the sports` fan nowadays is just beyond belief !

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In the aftermath of the MLB All Star Game , teams will now resume the second half of their seasons , now under not so much pressure , with Bud Selig revealing in part that , he has not yet come to a decision where suspensions will be imposed upon the players associated in the Biogenesis scandal . There now seems to a clear disconnect between reality and what is morally and ethically right, and how Selig now oversees Major League Baseball. In what appears to be the game`s highest ranking executive , caving into the whims of the owners and Players` Union (MLBPA) . Bud Selig is now seems to be showing that he does in fact have a yellow streak running down is spine . A man, who does not possess the courage, to carry out his own convictions, while appearing to create the perception, that he does have things under control. If anything, he believes that is legacy and tenure, is one that has kept the game intact , as he seeks to step down from his current role in 2014 . To my mind, his departure cannot come around soon enough ! If nothing else, tis decision further demeans the season and it also allows these players to further profit financially from their misdeeds . And it looks if baseball is once again out kick itself in the ass and still come out smiling as if noting has actually happened .

Courtesy of Bloomberg News

Bud Selig’s Dopey Pursuit of Baseball Juicers

By Johnathan Mahler , Bloomberg News

Major League Baseball has put off its plans to suspend players linked to the Biogenesis doping scandal. Instead of announcing the punishments right after the All-Star Game, as anticipated, suspensions are now expected to come sometime next month. By the time all of the appeals and arbitration hearings have taken place, we could be eating turkey and watching football.

Biogenesis is the South Florida anti-aging clinic run by the now infamous sketch-ball Tony Bosch. The news earlier this year that it allegedly provided human growth hormone and other banned substances to a number of major leaguers has brought Commissioner Bud Selig to the brink of handing down baseball’s largest collection of suspensions since the 1919 Black Sox scandal .

I suppose it’s a good thing that Selig has decided a little more due diligence is in order before he makes history on the back of a cooperating witness who makes Brian McNamee look like a stand-up guy. The problem is that baseball has already declared the players in question guilty. The investigation is not a quest for justice; it’s part of a protracted negotiation with the players union that’s almost certain to end with players being suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs without any positive test results or credible evidence of their guilt.

How could this happen? Because Selig desperately wants revenge on Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez; it’s as though their continuing freedom from punishment is personally mocking him. More generally, he wants desperately to avoid being remembered as the commissioner who not only allowed baseball’s steroid scandal to take place but also failed to bring it to heel. All of this desperate desire hasn’t just clouded Selig’s judgment; it has completely overtaken it.

The dubious manner in which baseball has handled its “investigation” — buying documents and filing suit against the aforementioned cooperator in order to enlist him into service — is bad. But the ramifications of actually following through with this farce may be worse.

I’ve never seen any opinion polls on this, but at this point I’d bet that most baseball fans are a lot less bothered by the possibility that particular players are using PEDs than they are by the commissioner’s obsession with ridding the game of them. The existence of performance-enhancing drugs in the game of baseball remains such a big deal partly because the game of baseball continues to insist on making them such a big deal. To the extent that baseball fans do care about players using PEDs, the Biogenesis case is, at bottom, an acknowledgement that the game’s drug-testing regime doesn’t work. Suspending players in the absence of positive tests doesn’t prove anything so much as the fact that baseball has failed to bring this whole steroid thing to heel.

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Insomuch, as the All Star Game was meant to have some meaning. In light of the fact that we had participants associated with the ongoing scandal. To my mind , the event was demeaned by their being allowed to play . Besides, the whole voting process just happens to be one big joke to begin, with it being noting more than a popularity contest .

Friday , sets the ball rolling, as to the resumption of the season, with a number of divisional races seemingly up for grabs . One of the early questions that could very well be answered will be whether or not the Pittsburgh Pirates can stay in close contact with the St Louis Cardinals and somehow deprive them from winning the NL Central . Clint Hurdle and his staff must now wrestle with the demons of the past, that has repeatedly seen the Pirates fall by the wayside , leaving their fans with a great deal of angst. With Pittsburgh resuming its schedule with an away game against the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati , Ohio, It will be interesting to see how prepared Hurdle`s players will be , as they take on a divisional rival .

For Mike Matheny and the St Louis Cardinals , they now seem to be the best team in the National League , which is reflected in their record (57-36) and their 7-3 run in their last ten games . Since assuming the role as manager from Tony La Russa . The young manager seems to have found his footing amongst his peers and he does seem to be getting a great deal of respect from some of the more experienced managers around the league. . I would certainly like to think that Matheny is in the running for NL Manager of The Year Award , but much of that I believe will be predicated upon the team finishes the season and quite possibly , whether or not they do end up winning their division . And one of the primary reasons behind the Cardinals` success this season , has been the all-round effort of the team in terms their pitching and offense , of which they rank amongst the top in National League as well as MLB overall. Leading the way for the team from an offensive standpoint are , Carlos Beltran , Allen Craig , Yadier Molina , Matt Holliday , Matt Carpenter and David Freese . As usual a dependable pitching staff also has a role to play. With seasoned veteran Adam Wainwright , Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook , Jaime Garcia and Tyler Lyons leading what might just be one of the best starting lineups at present in the Big Leagues . It would be remiss also not to include the efforts of the team`s closer Edward Mujica and the terrific season that he is said to be having , with 26 saves .

Next up for the St Louis Cardinals will be a home game against the lowly San Diego Padres to be played at Busch Park , in St Louis , Missouri. On the mound for the Cardinals will be Jake Westbrook , who will be facing the Padres` Jason Marquis . . The Padres will be looking to put the first half of their season in their rear view mirror , as they still remain deeply rooted at the bottom of the NL West with a 42-54 record . In a division, where four of the five occupants are no better than a .500 record . The Arizona Diamondbacks leads those occupants with a mid-season mark of 50-45 (.526) . All of this, is all the more bewildering because fans seem to be excited over the recent resurgence of the Los Angeles Dodgers(47-47) , who are still playing .500 ball in spite of the heroics of their rookie sensation Yasiel Puig . Am I actually missing something here concerning a ball-club with an almost $220 million payroll who were expected to contend for divisional supremacy and a great deal more ? As things now stand, if the Dodgers do fail to win the division or gain one of the two possible wildcard berths . Then in all probability, the entire managerial staff is likely to be shown the door by team President Stan Kasten , with GM Ned Colletti joining beleaguered manager , Don Mattingly .

For the Los Angeles Dodgers the second half of the season must begin anew , with several of their players who have been on the disabled list due to return to the lineup. The influx of that experience , along with the exuberance provided by Yasiel Puig, could go a long way in determining whether or not this team ultimately has what it takes to succeed . They will begin with a three-game series against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ballpark in Washington , DC , starting this Friday . Taking the mound for the Dodgers will be Ricky Nolasco against the Nationals` starting ace Stephen Strasburg , in what is sure to be a highly entertaining game .

Strasburg is now in the final year of a four-year $15.1 million deal and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season . The Nationals and in particular GM Mike Rizzo , and team owner , Ted Lerner , know that the organization can ill-afford to lose a player of Stephen Strasburg`s status , who along with Bryce Harper , are viewed to be the cornerstone of the Nationals` long and short-term future. Strasburg`s agent , Scott Boras is likely to drive a hard bargain , as he seeks to get the maximum deal possible for his young client , who is deemed one of the league`s brightest young pitching prospects .

In the AL , for much of the first-half of the season , the topic of discussion has been the play of the Baltimore Orioles` ….. Chris Davis and the fact that he leads the Majors in home runs (37) . Doubters , believe that a player , who for the first time in 2012 hit more than thirty home runs, is now projected to hit sixty-three for this season . My own belief, is that Davis will fall short of that target , while being in the running for the AL MVP . These doubters may have the inclination that Davis` own feats are mirroring that of former Orioles` player Brady Anderson, who in 1996 hit a career-high fifty home runs for the season. Prior to and subsequent to that year, Anderson had never reached that career peak in home runs. The common belief was that he may well have one of the common beneficiaries of steroid use . Albeit, that he never tested positive, once baseball`s steroid testing policy was introduced and then initiated. As to the testing protocols themselves, I still believe them to be archaic and still susceptible to cheating ! Chris Davis continues to profess his innocence, but the player as never once been critical of is players known to have cheated , or spoken publicly on the recent Biogenesis scandal and the spate of players now embroiled the game`s latest controversy .

Baltimore`s own ambitions this season, appear to be making the AL East division less of a two-horse race and more of a three-way suspenseful thriller, as they, the Tampa Bay and Boston Red Sox vie for divisional supremacy . The New York Yankees (51-44) , with the game`s biggest payroll , currently sits in fourth place within the division, just ahead of the last placed Toronto Blue Jays (45-49) . The Yankees` troubles notwithstanding , their constant belief that throwing money at a problem will be the best solution to an issue , seems to have cast doubts now on the prospective chances of the team actually gaining a post-season berth. They are already 6 ½ games out of first place, behind their heated rivals the Boston Red Sox . New York Yankees` manager Joe Girardi is under immense pressure to succeed , whereas , the team`s fans , ever more loyal , seemingly oblivious it would appear , as to the ball-club`s ongoing issues on an off the field of play .

Derek Jeter`s long-awaited return for his first start of the season was short-lived, as the player re-injured himself in his first game back . And beleaguered third baseman Alex Rodriguez , having come off in season surgery , is now toiling in the Minors , waiting for the call-up and thereby seeking to justify the $32 million salary he is due this season . Over the past three seasons there is nothing to remotely suggest Rodriguez`s contributions to the Yankees merits his outlandish contract or salary . Yet, this continues to be the all too asinine philosophy that baseball continues to live under with the owners and general managers believing that this type of business mantra serves it best .

New York will be the guests of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts over the next three days, starting on Friday. The two opposing pitchers will be Andy Pettite of the New York Yankees against Felix Doubront of the Red Sox. . And these series have always been highly entertaining, no matter what the environment might be for these two historic franchises .

Baseball continues to use creative accounting to hide many of its financial woes, which in essence, came about with escalating salaries and this constant need for general managers try to outdo one another in escalated bidding wars, for players who in recent years have failed to live up to the consistency expected . A clear case in point, can be made with the likes of, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran , Johan Santana , Josh Hamilton, Vernon Wells , Alfonso Soriano , and Barry Zito . Yet, through his own short-sightedness Bud Selig continues to maintain , that in large part, baseball remains a viable concern for the majority of the league`s teams. If only that were true, and baseball`s financial records were opened up for close public scrutiny. Unfortunately, that will never be the case, as long as the owners have their way and they are afforded antitrust exempt status by the US Congress .

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In light of what you have witnessed during the first half of the season, what if anything are you most looking forward to ? Which teams or players do you believe will have the biggest impact during the second half of the MLB schedule ? Finally, are of you of the opinion that Bud Selig simply made the decision to postpone any suspensions until after the upcoming season , because pressure was brought to bear upon the hierarchy by the owners and players` union ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , whose indecision over suspending players involved in the Biogenesis scandal does seem to have demeaned the season and its remaining schedule . The MLB hierarchy , it is being reported has purchased documentation from parties of the now defunct South Florida supplements` company Biogenesis . In doing so , this does compromise the league`s ongoing investigation and its integrity. It must now be said that this sort incompetency should have been expected from baseball`s governing body and the lack of actual common sense and intelligence coming from anyone within baseball`s upper echelons . AFP/Thomson News Agency / Christian Asher ……

(2) National League’s Yadier Molina , right, of the St. Louis Cardinals, helps American League’s Robinson Cano , of the New York Yankees, off the field after he was hit on the knee by pitch from National League’s Matt Harvey, of the New York Mets, during the first inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game , on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, in New York. AP Photo/Matt Slocum …

(3) American League’s Mariano Rivera , of the New York Yankees, poses for photographers after the MLB All-Star baseball game, on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, in New York. Rivera was named the game’s MVP. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …

(4) American League’s Joe Nathan , right, of the Texas Rangers, is congratulated by American League’s Salvador Perez , of the Kansas City Royals, after the final out in the ninth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game, on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, in New York. The American League defeated the National League 3-0 . AP Photo/Matt Slocum …

(5) Mike Matheny is seen here having just been formally introduced as the manager of te St Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium , in St Louis Missouri,. Matheny succeeded Tony La Russa and has guided the team to the top of the NL Central with the ball-club having the best record in the National League . The Cardinals` manager is seen in some circles as a potential NL Manager of The Year . Getty Images / Paul Pearson …

(6) Bryce Harper , left , is seen here alongside teammate Stephen Strasburg . Both players in their first four seasons with the Washington Nationals have become All Star selections , as well-being fan favorites around te league as well with the Nationals` organization . It remains to be seen whether or not te duo will be around together long enough to guide the Washington Nationals to their first World Series title . Harper and Strasburg are both clients of mega-agent Scott Boras , a man known to drive a hard bargain with executives around Major League Baseball . AP Photo /Clark Marshall ….

(7) New York Mets` pitcher Johan Santana is seen here with manager Terry Collins after the player threw a no-hitter against the St Louis Cardinals in the Mets` 8-0 victory over the NL Central team on the 1st June 2012 . In recent years, Sanatana`s career with Mets has proven to be something of a major disappointment with the player having spent more time on the DL (disabled list) than he has been on the playing field for the New York Mets` franchise . The pitcher is currently the highest paid player on the Mets` roster , further underscoring the current mentally of the front office and of former GM Omar Minaya who signed the player to what can best described as an utterly stupid and undeserved deal (six-year $137,500,000) . AP Photo/ Paul Davis ….

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tophatal ……… 07/18/2013

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MLB news

MLB press releases

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MLB schedule 19th July and probable starting pitchers (07/19/2013)

This month in MLB history

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MLB team salaries 2013

Make a believer out of me ….

Make a believer out of me

The NBA off-season has been filled with blood , sweat and tears , as teams have gone about bolstering their rosters with a plethora of high and low-profiled free agents . Said to be the biggest acquisition of the off-season, Dwight Howard`s none too surprising departure from Los Angeles to Houston, drew a few jeers, snickers and some laughter . I believe it further proves that Howard simply cannot function in the glare of the spotlight or lead to a team to any measure of success. Now, it must be said that this was indeed a bold move on the part of the Houston Rockets ` GM Daryl Morey . A move approved by team owner, Leslie Alexander and head coach Kevin McHale . The beleaguered center joins a talented team , led by James Harden and point guard Jeremy Lin . It will be interesting to see how the newly revamped Rockets will fare against many of the top ranked teams within the Western Conference as well the rest of the NBA this upcoming season.

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If you are going to play by the rules, then do so and not act under the pretense of not fully understanding the cap responsibilities or that a team cannot add incentives to a player`s tat circumvent cap restrictions . The Brooklyn Nets, in a deal to acquire unrestricted free agent Andrei Kirilenko , sought to add incentives by way of a back-door method , clearly in violation of NBA rules . However , when this all came to light, it would appear that Nets GM Billy King and team owner , Russian investment tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov backed off the original elements of that deal.

The signing of Kirilenko to a one-year mid-level $3.1 million contract seems all the more baffling when you consider that Kirilekno earned $10 million in 2012. It has to be said, that mid-level deals are prevalent within the NBA and are part of its inner workings . Yet, one has to consider also the signing of the player will push the Nets` payroll for the upcoming season to in excess of $103 million, far in excess of the current league soft salary cap of $58 million . By that measure, were the cap to remain at its current level , the Nets would have to pay a luxury tax of $45 million for the 2013-14 seasons. Given the vast resources at Prokhorov’s disposal, and his estimated wealth of $13 billion , making him by far in a way the league`s richest owner . Beyond wanting success , it would appear that the mantra for the billionaire , is by any means necessary , no matter what the cost .

The Brooklyn Nets having also acquired aging veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce , are a team being built to contend and quite possibly win this upcoming season. The stars were brought in to bolster what appears to be very good roster on paper , but somehow, during the post-season they failed to live up to expectations. I simply believe that beyond Deron Williams , Brook Lopez and an enigmatic Joe Johnson , there does not seem to be a great deal to this team.

The Nets` newly installed head coach Jason Kidd and his coaching staff will be hard pressed to get this team playing at a level , consistent enough to place them on par with the likes of the Miami Heat , New York Knicks , Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers … within the Eastern Conference . Kidd , with a wealth of experience as a player , now has to corral the talents of a team , that at best, can be described as having under-achieved in 2012 . Yet, the new additions to the roster can either create false hope or become a cohesive unit good enough to take on all-comers . Next season should provide us all with the answers we seek . The rookies drafted by the franchise will learn a great deal from their head coach , a former player still revered by his peers and fans alike , for his work ethic and brilliance on a basketball court .

With the pre-season to the NFL opening , less than three weeks away , so much of the news that as encompassed the league has been about the arrests of not only a number of players but also senior executives from an NFL franchise . It would appear that the NFL is now also becoming associated , not only with the athletic feats of the players on the field , but what they now seem to be capable doing off the field , as it relates to breaking the law . From misdemeanors to capital murder , no stone seems to have been left unturned , in terms of the crimes committed. In the midst of it all , NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and is union counterpart DeMaurice Smith remain as quiet as docile church mice. It is now pretty much safe to say, all of the piety and pomposity from bot of these executives have begun to alienate the fans , just as much as the narcissistic and deviant behavior of the players . I mean , how else can you explain their silence and their being no sense of outrage ? In reality , the less said by both, perhaps the better off we all are, because at this juncture , neither Roger Goodell or DeMaurice Smith can be taken seriously in terms of their respective roles within the NFL !

We are all aware as to the off-the field issues faced by the New England Patriots with the arraignment and indictment of Aaron Hernandez on a charge of felony first degree murder, as well as , possibly being a complicit accomplice in two unsolved homicides . A second Patriots` player, corner-back , Alfonzo Dennard was arrested on a DUI charge , but the defensive stalwart of the team`s secondary now knows that if he is charged with this particular criminal act , he faces a double whammy , because as a two-time offender , with another sentence due to be served for assaulting a law enforcement officer. Alfonzo Dennard`s fate may not only rests in the hands of the justice system , but also at the behest of team owner Robert Kraft, who has now witnessed the franchise`s name and reputation being dragged through the mud.

Often thought to be one of the better ran organizations around the NFL . In the past two-and a half weeks the New England Patriots` franchise has gone from being the pride of the NFL , to an organization now more known to harbor deviants and miscreants . Are the Patriots in need of a makeover at this juncture ? And here am I thinking, the biggest drama to be had for the franchise, was the signing of Tim Tebow and the speculation , as to where he stood on the team`s depth chart behind Tom Brady. Less about that, and now more about , what the hell can the organization now do to regain its composure and raise its profile back to an acceptable status ?

With Hernandez now being held without bond , the likelihood of his trial not taking place until late into the season or quite possibly in early November or late December . One could attest to the fact that head coach Bill Belichick now faces a real dilemma . The team`s other tight-end tandem of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, of which the latter , is still recuperating, having undergone back and arm surgery . Those challenges asides, the likes of Julian Edelman , Danny Amendola , Stevan Ridley will be asked to step up to the plate in order for the offense to remain formidable and potent . While we are all aware as to the troubles on defense for the Patriots . I do believe that this season the team in its present guise will be able to make some giant strides It is unclear whether or not he can be a willing participant in the Patriots` preseason schedule as well as the regular season opener for the team. As things now stand, with all of the trials and tribulations now surrounding the Patriots at present . It now brings the franchise a great deal closer back to the pack within the AFC East . Yet, by no means should we entirely count out New England , who have made the division their own personal domain over the past decade .

One year wiser and with an influx of talent by way of the draft as well their free agency acquisitions , we should be able to see New England raise their standing as a defensive presence . Last season`s woes , during the regular and post-season were a nightmare , most notably so, were the team`s failings in the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens . Joe Flacco was instrumental in dissecting the defense and making it look extremely mediocre . Then again, during the post-season , which teams did the Ravens` quarterback not make look ordinary from a defensive standpoint , as he and the Ravens marched on the Superbowl ?

Personally , I have never placed much faith in the NFL pre-season as those games are primarily staged for the purpose of assessing draft picks and veteran acquisitions seeking to make mark for their respective teams. If anything , what I am looking forward to seeing, is how the New England Patriots will fare through the first four games of their regular season schedule . As I believe that will be a true indicator and test as to how the team will fare over the course of their season . Those games will be against in week one , the Buffalo Bills , week two , the New York Jets , week three , Tampa Bay Buccaneers and finally in week four , the Atlanta Falcons . If they can come out of those four games with a 3-1 mark , then it is my belief that the team can win the division as well as having a winning record , with no more than twelve games being good enough to win the AFC East outright.

Baseball has begun its mid-season showcase with their All Star Game festivities . Meanwhile, a giant cloud has been cast over the game that is likely to cause a major upheaval within baseball and for the remainder of the season . Bud Selig`s lax stewardship of the game has seen its image deteriorate , alienating the fans and in many cases a mass withdrawal in attendance for a number of teams, with a decline for a number of games. . The fact that the names of several major stars have been linked to the scandal plagued South Florida firm Biogenesis and its now indictment of owner , Anthony Bosch .

The landscape of the divisional and wildcard races will be severely altered should MLB carry out their measures of suspending these players for as many as one hundred games . The commissioner has simply been living in a delusional vacuum over the past decade . And even with adopting what he believes to be the strictest testing policy in all of professional team sports , baseball still remains plagued by steroid cheats, and there has not been a damn thing done by the league hierarchy to abate the problem. The rescinding of Ryan Braun`s suspension in 2012 , simply was proof of that , with Bud Selig being overly critical of the arbitrator who presided over the case . Selig would have been better off level is criticism at the testing facility who mishandled the player`s test samples . Yet, this was something ignored by this buffoon , who continues to make a complete ass of himself as baseball`s highest ranking executive .

As great a spectacle as the event is meant to be , it will mean nothing in the end, whichever of the two leagues prevails in the game on Tuesday night at Citi-Field in Flushing , New York . Baseball placed itself in this predicament , simply because they are afraid of and to deal with the power of the MLBPA (union) . And the very fact that many the game`s high-profiled stars have seen fit to stand idly by , as the game is besmirched by fellow players , who simply have no wish to abide by the rules of the game or its tenets of a sport with a now tainted image.

Baseball was privileged to have its second no-hitter of the season , as Tim Lincecum pitched a complete game in the San Francisco Giants` victory over the San Diego Padres in a lopsided 9-0 win on Saturday afternoon . The fact that the Padres would rebound from that loss to defeat the Giants the following day with an astounding 10-1 victory , tells you how diabolical the NL West division just happens to be this season . There is a scarcity of great baseball being played within the division in spite of the recent run by what appears to a resurgent Los Angeles Dodgers . Much of that has come down to the heroics of their rookie phenom Yasiel Puig . Tim Lincecum can now add a no-hitter to his already impressive resume` as being a two-time Cy Young winner with the Giants as well as a two-time World Series champion with the ball-club.

At 43-51 , the defending World Series champions now find themselves 9 ½ games out of the wild-card play and some 6 ½ games out first place within the division . One could point to the fact that injuries have played their part in the woes of the Giants , but a great deal of the team`s dilemma has come from inconsistent pitching and a woefully inept offense . Bruce Bochy and his staff will now have to muster all of their guile if the team is to have any chance of playing themselves into contention and the possibility of winning their third World Series title in four years.

As the praise is now being heaped upon the shoulders of Chris Davis and his play this season for the Baltimore Orioles . I can`t help but wonder how the purists can overlook the achievements of Raul Ibanez . As a forty-one year old, the Seattle Mariners` slugger has recorded his tenth consecutive season of fifteen or more home runs alongside at least fifty runs batted in . All but a select few players at that age,have achieved that feat , and a number of those in question were destined for the Hall of Fame .

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Picture gallery.

While no one questions the fortitude of Ibanez , doubts have come into question concerning Chris Davis` record breaking season in terms of his home runs tally , which leads the Majors with at thirty-seven home runs . Personally , I have long-held the contention that ever since Barry Bonds obliterated the single season home runs` mark , nothing is out the realms of being possible, as it relates to such feats ! possibility . Davis may well continue to deny any wrongdoing on his part , but I have yet to hear the player himself, be even remotely critical of his peers associated with the era of steroids and cheating. So make of it , what you will .Your thoughts on this, and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter ?

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tophatal ……. 07/15/2013

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(1)Dwight Howard, center, poses for a group photo with, from left, Yao Ming , Ralph Sampson , Hakeem Olajuwon and Elvin Hayes after he was introduced as the newest member of the Houston Rockets during ceremonies at Toyota Center on Saturday, July 13, 2013, in Houston. The free agent officially joined the Rockets with a news conference and public rally. AP Photo/ Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool …

(2) Dwight Howard smiles as he addresses a press conference where he was introduced as the newest member of the Houston Rockets during ceremonies at Toyota Center on Saturday, July 13, 2013, in Houston. The free agent officially joined the Rockets with a news conference and public rally. AP Photo/ Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool ….

(3) In this Jan. 11, 2013, photo, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko (47) drives past New Orleans Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu during a basketball game in New Orleans. A person with knowledge of the deal says the Brooklyn Nets have agreed to a contract with Kirilenko. The person, speaking Thursday, July 11, 2013, on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced, says Kirilenko has accepted the taxpayer’s mid-level exception worth about $3.2 million. The contract includes a player option for the second year. AP Photo/Bill Haber ….

(4) Alfonzo Dennard leaves a Lincoln Nebraska Courthouse, with his attorney , having been found guilty of assaulting a law enforcement officer in Lincoln, Nebraska . YNETH ROBERTS/THE JOURNAL-STAR/AP

(5) San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum is bent over as water hits the crowd of Giant players celebrating Lincecum’s no-hitter over the San Diego Padres in a baseball game in San Diego, Saturday, July 13, 2013. Tim Lincecum has thrown his first career no-hitter and the second in the majors in 11 days, a gem saved by a spectacular diving catch by right fielder Hunter Pence in the San Francisco Giants’ 9-0 win against the last-place San Diego Padres on Saturday night. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi …

(6)Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Davis follows through on a two-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in the third inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Baltimore. It was Davis’ 37th this season. AP Photo/Gail Burton …

(7) Seattle Mariners’ Raul Ibanez (28) doubles in a run as Los Angeles Angels catcher Chris Iannetta looks on in the fifth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Seattle. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson …

(8) Raul Ibanez (28) of the Seattle Mariners hits his second home run of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the seventh inning at Safeco Field on July 12, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. Otto Gruele Jr/Getty Images ….

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Failure to launch, the growing idiocy within sports and amongst the fans

Failure to launch, the growing idiocy within sports and amongst the fans

As Major League Baseball and the NFL find themselves at their lowest points in their recent histories, respectively. I can`t help but wonder, why the vast majority of fans remain so gullible and downright stupid ! In the NFL, in the past ten days we have seen the arrests of Aaron Hernandez for capital murder, with quite possibly additional charges likely to be added to his indictment . A second, New England Patriots` player, Alfonzo Dennard has been arrested for DUI and resisting arrest . To add the league`s already tarnished image , we now have two front office executives from within the Denver Broncos` organization also being arrested for DUI and failure to stop at the scene of an accident . Yet, within the midst of this all, there has been a failed response from the New England Patriots and that of the NFL hierarchy led by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell .

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From my own perspective, since Goodell`s ascent into the league`s highest executive position, I have found his tenure to be an unmitigated disaster ! His lack of communicative skills , autocratic rule and a failure to understand the rule of law are but a few of the reasons why I believe he is ill-equipped to carry out his role as commissioner . Granted , a great deal as changed within the game since he succeeded Paul Tagliabue , but it would appear that the incumbent has failed to learn anything from his predecessor. Meanwhile, the NFL team owners must be decrying the fact that Goodell has remained silent on the current state of affair within the league and recent arrests. Not that the owners such as Jerry Jones , Robert Kraft , Stanley Kroenke , Daniel Snyder , Jeff Lurie or their peers are prepared to speak openly on the growing discord and the behavioral issues of the players within the NFL . It is also asinine of the fans to try to make comparison in terms of percentages of arrests amongst players in the entirety of the league, in comparison to the populace as a whole . The athletes/players are in the public eye and under scrutiny constantly , and with twenty-four a day news cycle. We should expect that at every turn, athletes` movements and decisions are being constantly monitored .Last I looked, hardened or petty criminals, were not subject to the interests of the paparazzi or prime-time news or sports` broadcast outlets . The media , sports hierarchies and agents build up these athletes not necessarily for failure , but somehow the likes of Aaron Hernandez, Rae Carruth , Donte` Stallworth , Josh Brent and Leonard Little have found a way fail and at the same time bring their own images and reputation into disrepute . The NFL and may well continue to survive, but at what cost to its overall image ?

Now while the legal process must be played out concerning Aaron Hernandez , a great deal of conjecture , speculation and debate will begin as to the reasons why Hernandez has been implicated in a homicide and why was it that with all of the player`s prior troubles were all overlooked . This was not done , by the New England Patriots, but also the NFL, but more importantly by Urban Meyer , Jeremy Foley and the University of Florida . Surely, winning , at all costs , does not mean , you take under your wings, a person whose character as a juvenile was already under, suspicion, and question . Yet, these are the things, which are now being ignored at the professional level, as well as at the collegiate level of sports . Granted , one can subscribe to the fact, that everyone is deserving of a second chance and that we as a nation , look to give offenders another chance to redeem themselves . Somehow, this was all lost on Aaron Hernandez , and the athletics department of the University of Florida .

Baseball will now enter the second half of its season as of next Thursday , but it could be said that the first half of its season has been filled with one or two surprises . For a while, it looked as if the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking to surprise us all, by making a spirited run at winning the NL Central . Now, it looks as if Clint Hurdle`s Pirates are about to make that customary swoon into an oblivion, that we have all become accustomed to seeing over the past few seasons . Do I believe that this team has what it takes to take down the likes of the Milwaukee Brewers , Cincinnati Reds and St Louis Cardinals within their division ? Well, dependent upon what we have seen from the Pirates as of late , they may well have a better than even chance . However , given what we have all witnessed from the Pirates over the years , the answer in the end would have to be a resounding and emphatic no !

Funnily enough , Bruce Bochy , the manager of the NL: team for the All Star Game was placed in a position where the Pirates , who as of four days ago , had the best record in baseball , but the players from their team included on in the NL roster , were not amongst the active starters for the mid-season showcase event . Pardon me for saying this, but if having the best record in the league means not a goddamn thing. Then why all of the hoopla over this event, with the downright fastidiousness of the fans calling for players, but with no than thirty or forty games under their belts to be included in a voting process that is simply nothing more than a popularity event ? The only thing that make this whole premise all the more asinine, were if the if the rules applied to the reality show American Idol , were adopted for the mandates needed to be included on the All Star Game rosters . Better yet, why not adopt the rules of Miss USA Beauty Pageant and have the players answer questions of note on specified subjects ? Please note, foreign-born players, would not be subjected to stereotypical and racially motivated questions built around certain biases .

Yasiel Puig has been voted off the island , having not made the roster for the NL team . Now let the inane ranting begin , because fans want to see the young stars grace us with their presence and athletic abilities . Would this be the very same fans , who in spite of the mounting evidence of the past decade plus of rampant steroid use within the game , are now calling for changes to be made by baseball`s hierarchy ? Don`t get me wrong, while I have been impressed with the skill-set shown by Puig , as he has been on a tear with the Los Angeles Dodgers . Let`s not fool ourselves into thinking, were it not for the lackluster production from their more high-profiled stars , the player would not have been called up and become a starter this season . Furthermore , the moment Yasiel Puig goes into a distinct tailspin, do not be surprised if he were to be demoted . With a payroll , now in excess of $230 million . Don Mattingly and his managerial staff can ill-afford to have this season become a monumental bust . And it certainly is not the reason why managing partners and team owners , Mark Walter , Todd Boehly and Magic Johnson spent $2.15 billion to be seen as an afterthought at the season`s end . A roster, filled high-priced stars and the biggest story concerning the franchise this season, just happens to about a young Cuban exile .

Winners of eight of their last ten games , the Los Angeles Dodgers now stand a game and a half behind the division leading Arizona Diamondbacks (48-44) within the NL West , and a further 4 ½ games out of a wildcard berth within the National League. The division itself has been one of the poorer performers in all of baseball throughout much of the season . That is simply because, so many of its inhabitants, have hovered around the .500 mark , in terms of their respective records . If that is not an overall bad indictment of how mediocre the baseball being played has been during the first half of the season . Then clearly , the fans of the teams in question could very well be privileged with seeing a great deal worse during the second-half of the schedule . The Dodgers` next scheduled game will be against the Colorado Rockies at Dodgers Ballpark , in Los Angeles , California , this Friday , between the two divisional rivals .

Away from the Yasiel Puig drama , could there be anything more comedic and disastrous to find out that baseball as once again found itself involved in even more melodrama ? Steroids, rears and raises its ugly head , and again the story is nothing new . Ryan Braun , Alex Rodriguez and Nelson Cruz are three of the central figures involved in the latest escapades of “As The `roids Turn“ . This time fans, to top it all, a two-time drug offender , we should now feel privileged to know has returned to the game . Albeit , that Manny Ramirez , is now playing in the Minors, with a Texas Rangers` affiliate , and to date , Ramirez`s crimes have gone unpunished in true sense of the word . The next time I hear an idiot, calling for changes to be made within the game . The only thing I will be asking , is what fucking changes do you want to see made and by whom ? Because to date , all the said changes made in the game by Bud Selig with regard to a steroid testing policy , still has not deterred players from cheating .Selig has been hog-tied , by the MLBPA (Players` Union ) because of their unprecedented powers ___________ which seems to be something these so-called fans seem to be completely ignorant of, because of their plain stupidity. A fifty-game suspension , a one hundred-game suspension and even the threats of a lifetime ban , have not deterred players from cheating at the Major or Minor League Level and that is in spite of the claims made by Bud Selig .

Braun having met with league investigators concerning his alleged association with Anthony Bosch of South Florida supplements` company Biogenesis , has been totally uncooperative , refusing to answer any questions posed by the investigators . Yankees` third baseman Alex Rodriguez is due to meet at the New York headquarters of Major League Baseball on Friday to answer questions . It remains to be seen whether or not the player will be cooperative or like Braun , he will seek to not answer any questions . Given what we already know about the player , who has yet to suit up for the Bronx Bombers this season . My question is , will he be calling on his now infamous cousin Yuri Sucart , to see if he is willing to once again take one for the team , as in Team Alex . In 2010 , in that rather inane act of contrition, that was very unconvincing. Rodriguez went on to suggest that the steroids he used from 2001 to 2004 , were supplied by his cousin , who obtained the performance enhancing drugs from a pharmacy in the Dominican Republic. In fact all of the statements made by Alex Rodriguez on that day, were a complete lie . Yet in the midst of it all, the press and the New Yankees` front office bought into the tale of remorse and regret of the now disgraced player , never once conducting their own in-depth investigation into the matter. The same must be said of Bud Selig , who in the aftermath of it all , went on to suggest that the matter was close and that he wished Rodriguez well . Yep, that`s baseball`s commissioner for you , a complete bumbling buffoon and one monumental pain in the ass !

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At a time when neither the hierarchies of baseball or football has a real leg to stand on , it does seem strange that fans are now looking for ways to make sense of it all , while also seeking out answers as what can best be done to stop the irreparable damage that has already been caused . Consider the fact of the steps taken by the respective hierarchies over the years on the litany of issues faced . Then ask yourself the following , are either of the sports better off now , than they were perhaps five years or even a decade ago ? Both Roger Goodell and Bud Selig have a great deal of work to do in convincing the fans that they actually know what they are doing and that they are leading their respective sports along the right path ? Your thoughts on this and anything else you may well feel is pertinent to the subject matter ? Chime on in with a comment .

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(1) FILE – In this Jan. 20, 2013 file photo, New England Patriots corner-back Alfonzo Dennard walks along the sideline during the second half of the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, Mass.Dennard has been arrested and accused of driving drunk in Lincoln where he once starred as a Nebraska defensive back. Lincoln police say 24-year-old Dennard was pulled over southeast of downtown Lincoln just before 2 a.m. Thursday, July 11, 2013. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(2) In a photo provided by the Douglas County (Colo.) Sheriff’s Department, Tom Heckert , the Denver Broncos’ new director of pro personnel, appears in a photo after he was arrested on June 11, 2013, and charged with driving under the influence and careless driving. Another Broncos executive, Matt Russell, was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of driving under the influence. AP Photo/Douglas County Sheriff’s Department …

(3) Matt Russell , the Director of Player Personnel for the Denver Broncos is seen here on Draft Day for the franchise as he and members of the scouting staff and front office personnel go over their draft determinations . Russell is the second of two Broncos` executives to ave been arrested in the past ten days for a DUI . Team owner Pat Bowlem and Head of Football Operations John Elway have yet to determine how both Matt Russell and Tom Hekckert ought to be punished for their alleged offenses . AP Photo / Tim Paul ….

(4) Pittsburgh Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez watches his single that scored a run , off Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Tommy Milone during the third inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, July 10, 2013. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar ….

(5) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez runs after a hit during the first inning in his second rehab game with the Charleston River Dogs in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Rodriguez was put out on the play. Alex Rodriguez will meet league officials on Friday to discuss is association with Antony Bosch and his supplements` company Biogenesis . The player is said to be one of as many twenty prominent figures in the game named in documents , in which Bosch states he supplied with performance enhancing drugs , as well as, several banned substances prohibited by Major League Baseball. The MLB hierarchy has stated if there is substantive evidence to prove the players` guilt, then they are likely to be banned for as many as one hundred games . Rodriguez , the game`s highest paid player would likely miss the rest of the Yankees` regular season and the postseason . AP Photo/Chuck Burton …

(6) National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) greets NFL Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw (R) as Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig looks on before testifying to the US House Subcommittee on Commerce- Trade and Consumer Protection about the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports on Capitol Hill February 27, 2008 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee also heard testimony from officials from the US Olympic Committee , National Thoroughbred Racing and the US Anti-Doping Agency. Getty Images North America / Chip Smodevilla …..

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tophatal …….

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Hot chic pic of the day Sharon Leal .

Shut the fu#k up and let me finish !

Shut the fu#k up and let me finish !

It is something of a distressing time in the world of sports, as the legal ramifications of Aaron Hernandez’s legal menagerie along with his two accomplices, simply reaches all too low levels of what is now seen as a sordid and all too compulsive situation. The NFL has once again been punched in the eye and stomach , though the game is not yet down for the count . Unfortunately, the league hierarchy , team owners and union (NFLPA) simply have not learned a damn thing after this latest incident . So, it would be remiss not to say that there will be another event that will undoubtedly capture the fans and nation`s attention at some point in the future . It will be interesting to see what steps if any will be taken by Roger Goodell and the teams , as things begin to play out . The legal aspects of to this case , are not all that difficult to figure out as it relates to the defendants and how the attorneys for both sides will seek to portray the events leading up to the death of Odin Loyd .

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Certainly, the statements now being attributed to New England Patriots` owner Robert Kraft do seem rather petulant and infantile; when one considers that, the franchise drafted the now disgraced Hernandez in 2010 . The front office was simply drooling over the talented player, out of the University of Florida . Gators` head coach Urban Meyer, was said to be pleased with the player`s promotion to the NFL ranks . Yet, what it did, was to hide a deep underlying trait of deviant behavior, by several players on the Gators` roster from that season . It was also the willingness of Meyer`s staff and that of AD Jeremy Foley to completely turn a blind eye to the misdeeds of Aaron Hernandez and others over the course of Meyer`s reign , as the coach of the football program.

The fact that Robert Kraft is now seeking to suggest that e and the Patriots` organization were duped by Aaron Hernandez and the player`s agent , simply speaks to the inane stupidity of the NFL , the owners and the front office staffs around the league . At what point were the staff of Bill Belichick and GM Nick Caserio not aware of Aaron Hernandez`s prior entanglements with law enforcement and what sort of in-depth background checks were actually in place and used by this now once reputable franchise ?

As an avid New England Patriots` fan , now watching the inner most revelations , now coming to the fore and placing an even bigger blight on its image as well as that of the NFL. It was one thing to see the idiocy of the management in allowing the team`s most productive player over the past five seasons, when Wes Welker was allowed to leave. Yet, here was Robert Kraft, once again seeking to apportion blame elsewhere, because of the inane stupidity shown by Nick Caserio and the coaching staff.

Tom Brady , the franchise’s best player since 2001, took it upon himself to free up $9 million in cap space in order to allow the Patriots to retain the well-respected wide receiver. Alas, Welker sought to sign with the Denver Broncos and become an additional weapon for Peyton Manning . Now while a great deal was made of the Patriots acquiring Tim Tebow, which if anything, was more of a sign of desperation rather than an act of necessity . And this preposterous belief that Tebow , as a player given his resume` would be of benefit to a franchise such as the Jacksonville Jaguars , purely because of his popularity in the state of Florida, is simply asinine ! Tim Tebow, as a draw anywhere, is like to going to the circus simply out of curiosity . The novelty will soon wear off, as it will, concerning the under-achieving quarterback, even if he has Josh McDaniels as his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks` coach . In all honesty , Tebow could very well ending being one of the biggest busts in NFL history , and that is with due respect to the likes of Heath Shuler , Tim Couch , Vince Young , JaMarcus Russell , Akili Smith and Carson Palmer .

As to the upcoming season for the Patriots from their preseason schedule to their opening day regular season game , it will be interesting to see how this newly guise team will fare . At best , I cannot see the Patriots surpassing season`s 12-4 record/ and then the clarity of their play in the postseason , until what turned to be a disastrous showing against the Baltimore Ravens , where the opposing quarterback, Joe Flacco was simply at his very best . Flacco and his teammates , in that second-half display laid siege on a Patriots` defense that has been the franchise’s weakness over the past four seasons. If the team once again sows its fallibility, concerning its secondary is once again on display in spite of free agent acquisitions and their 2013 draft class could very well be a determining factor as to how things will play out for the New England Patriots.

If ever there was a moment for a college football coach to simply shut up and either tell the truth, rather than come across as a buffoon . Then clearly, Urban Meyer now seeking to distance himself from much of the trouble created during his tenure of the Florida Gators` football program . Meyer, suggested that a great many of the issues and incidents that took place, which saw numerous arrests , allegations of cheating , team rules` violations , and the criminal infractions , were all said to have taken place off campus, or as he denotes beyond the reach and scope of the campus authority . Perhaps, it is me , but Meyer is now taking liberties, in seeking to disparage his former employer . Having succeeded Jim Tressel at Ohio State , a program where Tressel was a conduit some of the most serious program and NCAA violations in recent collegiate athletics . The fact that Buckeyes AD Gene Smith and university President Dr. E Gordon Gee stood steadfastly by the then beleaguered and disgraced coach shows the type aloofness and malevolent corruption that is widespread and rampant across the landscape of college sports . Tressel repeatedly lied to the school’s trustees, as well as to Smith and Gee to the misdeeds of the players under his jurisdiction. .

E Gordon Gee, for his part, has been critical of anyone he deems beneath the Ohio State program . And it has been Gee`s ongoing itinerant and all too embarrassing tirades that could very well see him removed from his post as the school’s top administrator .

Does anyone now truly believe that the NCAA has the wherewithal to clean up almighty mess ? NCAA President Mark Emmert is seemingly powerless to actually do anything noteworthy as collegiate athletics top administrator, while seeking to strengthen the structure of his institution .

Well, the talk of the NBA world, has been the departure of Dwight Howard from the Los Angeles Lakers as an unrestricted free agent to sign with the Houston Rockets . Team owner, Leslie Alexander pulled out all of the stops along with head coach Kevin McHale , GM Daryl Morey and James Harden . The fact that the center made the decision to leave Los Angeles , is more than indication that Howard , did not fit on a team where he simply was not sure of his role under Mike DAntoni , head coach of the Los Angeles` franchise . To further emphasize , what even the most docile of Lakers` fans were simply unwilling to admit , has been the testy relationship between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant . Anyone who failed to acknowledge that fact , clearly chose to ignore the dichotomy between the two players. Bryant has been often described, as an egotistical, selfish and narcissistic individual who simply cares about no one but himself . That may well be true, but how would you describe Dwight Howard and the perception that fans now view the player under ?

James Harden , will now be joined by Dwight Howard, on a team that this past season , was one of the most explosive offenses in the league . Harden, further emphasized his growth as a player, while it can only be suggested that the player was sorely missed on an Oklahoma City Thunder team that fell short of expectations during the postseason . Kevin Martin , considered a serviceable player, it was clear that his insertion unto the team showed how sorely missed James Harden was said to be. Martin was not able to emulate the scoring prowess shown by the player he replaced, and to my mind, Thunder GM Sam Presti , erred, . when the player was allowed to leave the franchise prior to the start of this past season .

The Houston Rockets are well placed this upcoming season to make a solid run and perhaps be seen as one top contenders within the Western Conference . As to the financial commitment made by the Rockets may to their newest acquisition , it could very well be seen as one of the more ostentatious deals made in the NBA during this off-season.

At this point of the season , baseball will soon be celebrating their mid-season showcase event. The 2013 MLB All Star Game will be held at Citi-Field in Flushing, New York, with a New York crowd looking to celebrate in a big way. The talk seems to be whether or not the Los Angeles Dodgers` …. Yasiel Puig should be on the NL roster . While having an outstanding season , it does seem somewhat ridiculous that fans are calling for Puig`s player`s inclusion after a mere thirty-three games. Impressive stats , being what they are , but when assessing a Dodgers` team that as of Monday night , at two games under .500 with a 43-45 mark , good enough for second place in the NL West . The real issue now facing the team is whether they can win the division and guarantee themselves a postseason berth . It is clear , that after last season`s disappointment , Don Mattingly and his managerial staff may well be on the clock , before a decision is made concerning his future. It will be now, or never , for Mattingly and this high-priced of stars , and how they seek to redeem themselves .

Two years ago, the Milwaukee Brewers` Ryan Braun celebrated winning baseball`s biggest regular season individual honor in winning the NL MVP . Braun , a multiple All Star, and the best player on a Brewers` roster , for a franchise, that views the player as a homegrown hero . Ryan Braun`s name was associated with the stain of steroids , and from what appears to be the utter stupidity shown by the testing facility , in not properly storing the player`s test samples. Braun was able to escape a suspension. An arbitration hearing upheld Ryan Braun`s appeal to have his fifty-game for a first time offense. All along, in pleading his innocence, Braun felt that his actions paved the way the hearing to go his way, and to show that baseball was simply on a witch-hunt, as well over-reaching with their powers . A mere two years later, Braun, Alex Rodriguez , Nelson Cruz and a slew of other players are the focus of another investigation of rampant steroid use within the game. Once again, Bud Selig and his office , comes across looking like bumbling buffoons .

The claims made by the MLB commissioner, that baseball , has the most stringent of testing policy, is proving to be a fallacy . And with the latest admission by Biogenesis proprietor and founder Antony Bosch , that has supplied as many as sixty players with steroids , as well several other performance enhancing substances , does beg the question , what is it that baseball itself , is not doing ? And why is it , that they have failed so miserably to stem the tide of steroid abuse not only at the Major League Level but also at the Minor League Level , where the use of PED`s is even more widespread ?

Braun in the accompaniment of his agent Nev Balelo and an attorney , met with the investigators from MLB to discuss whether or not he ad at any time been supplied steroids or any other prohibitive substances banned by the league hierarchy . The player was said to be uncooperative, refusing to answer the five questions he was initially subjected to . When a further question posed as to his known association with Tony Bosch , Braun was once again unresponsive , and subsequently left the MLB headquarters , again, with his name being under a cloud of suspicion . Of the thirteen players, said to have met with the league`s investigators , eleven , are said to have initially cooperated , in answering some of the questions posed . As to what this may well mean , once the ongoing investigation reaches a finality . One can only speculate as to the course of action that may well be considered and taken , should Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy members believe it appropriate to suspend these players for any length of time . The suspensions being considered are in the region of between fifty games to one hundred games , but it is rumored that the league would like to send a clear and strong message with a one hundred-game suspension , that would be the starting point for any punishment rendered . Any such penalties, are likely to wreak havoc upon the teams where many of these players are now assisting in their ball-clubs` title hopes . From my own standpoint , Bud Selig has simply dragged his feet with this process , albeit, that the US Justice Department is also investigating Bosch and his now defunct company . That being said , with the already haphazard handling of previous cases by the Justice Department in this specific arena , and that of baseball . My own misgivings, are that we are likely to see new levels of incompetency , beyond anything yet shown by Bud Selig and his minions .

New York Yankees` third baseman Alex Rodriguez is likely to meet with the league`s investigators prior to mid-season break for the All Star Game . Rodriguez undergoing rehab, has yet to make an appearance this season for the still struggling Yankees . The consensus seems to be , if the player is met with a 100 game suspension , then in all likelihood , his career with the franchise is likely to come to an abrupt end , with the front office , quite possibly seeking to void the remainder of the approximately $104 million still owed to Alex Rodriguez.

Given Rodriguez`s proclivity for being less than truthful. I truly believe that he too, will be uncooperative in this investigation , while still trying to proclaim his innocence in terms of any wrongdoing . As if we needed a reminder as to his first go-around concerning the use of PED`s . This now seems to be a dance that the fans have become accustomed to seeing , while we are not too sure what the outcome may well be . Bud Selig is now seeking to regain a great deal of power lost to the union . Yet my response would be , what the fuck does the MLBPA (union) care to begin with ? I mean, it is not as if they have at any time, sought to be at the forefront of ridding the game of illicit substances , in spite of ambiguous collective bargaining agreement .
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(1) Mike Davies, right, of Norfolk, Mass., wears his New England Patriots Aaron Hernandez football jersey one last time while waiting in an exchange line outside Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, July 6, 2013. Fans may trade an Aaron Hernandez jersey with his name on it they purchased for one of another player on the NFL team. The team released Hernandez after he was arrested for allegedly orchestrating the death of Odin Lloyd. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer …..

(2) Fans wait in a checkout line inside the New England Patriots store at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., after exchanging their Aaron Hernandez football jerseys, Saturday, July 6, 2013. Fans may trade an Aaron Hernandez jersey they purchased for one of another player on the NFL team. The team released Hernandez after he was arrested for allegedly orchestrating the death of Odin Lloyd. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer …

(3) New England Patriots` owner Robert Kraft , left , is seen here with Aaron Hernandez at the team`s training facility in Foxborough , Massachusetts . The player was cut by the franchise after he was arraigned and indicted in the murder of Odin Lloyd. The owner in his first public statement , stated that he felt duped by Aaron Hernandez and was saddened for Lloyd`s family and their loss. Yet when pressed on the issue as why the player was drafted by franchise in 2010 , even after it was noted that the Hernandez had been plagued by off-the field issues concerning alleged criminal behavior. Kraft was not responsive in answering the questions posed . AP Photo / Chris Cameron ….

(4) Ohio State Buckeyes` football coach Urban Meyer is seen here addressing the convened press . Meyer seeking to deflect any negative chatter directed towards his being concerning and is handling of off the field issues of the players while at the University of Florida . The two-time winning national championship coach went as far as to suggest, that the players` behavior were not his responsibility and a great many of the incidents that took place were beyond the scope of the faculty and the athletics department . Getty Images / Paul Ross …

(5) Dwight Howard , left , is seen here with his new teammate James Harden . The two players will provide a formidable front-court for the franchise . Howard signed a four-year $88 million deal with the Houston Rockets . MMI Inc.

(6) Alex Rodriguez . left , and Ryan Braun are two of the central figures in the latest saga of steroids now seemingly raising its head once again within the world baseball . Braun met with the league`s investigators and the player was uncooperative with the investigators and the questions posed. Rodriguez is due to meet with the league officials on Friday , and it is not known how the third baseman is likely to respond . @ copyrighted material …. MLB.com MLB Properties .

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Latina actress Nadine Velazquez

Are we there yet ?

Are we there yet ?

This might be one point of the year that in terms of the sporting landscape the world simply has nothing to really offer . Granted , one can point to other outside events beyond the four major professional team sports in North America . In Europe , the Tour de France has now started and that rancid stench that will continue to emanate across from France over the remaining seventeen days fifteen days of the event might be enough to induce regurgitation of one’s meal . The sport of cycling remains in tatters as to its image , with its international governing body , the ICU (International Cycling Union) still at a loss , as to how to abate the rampant and widespread cheating that still remains within the sport .

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Lance Armstrong still remains a pariah , as he continues to skirt the real reasons why he chose to cheat by using steroids as well as EPO and several other illicit substances . As to what was meant to be an in-depth interview with media maven and mogul, Oprah Winfrey . Well that bile inducing bilge , was about as noteworthy as Clint Eastwood’s appearance at the Republican National Convention , when he stood on stage , asking questions of an empty chair that suggested he was questioning Barack Obama . Well if that is what it takes the GOP , to be seen as enlightened and a party of the inclusive ____ good luck to them . Personally , I am looking for someone and a party that is keenly aware as to how to deal with many of the issues that still beset this country and not a bunch of clowns from either party , simply paying lip service and giving us sound bytes on what they believe that the electorate needs to hear .

The Tour de France is sport of cycling`s premiere event , with only the World Championships and the Olympics having as much prestige . Yet it is the classic French endurance event that brings in widespread acclaim and undoubted wealth for the winner . However , considering that Alberto Contador , Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis , three of the most recent of eight winners of the event , have in some way been caught up in the less savory and most corrupt revelations and side of the sport . Landis and Armstrong had their names stricken from the record books , as to the list of winners of the event . Contador , for some reason still remains a competitor in the sport and is a contestant in this year’s event , though he is not seen as an overall favorite .

As a Brit , I know how painful it is to watch tennis at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club at Wimbledon each year ! It has been almost eight decades since an Englishman has raised the Men’s Singles Trophy denoting a native-born winner . Fred Perry won the last of his three-straight titles in 1936. And since then , no other male player from the United Kingdom has come remotely close to producing a home-grown champion . This year’s hopes rest with the Scot , Andy Murray , who as the reigning US Open and Olympic champion , will have the nation , soundly supporting his efforts . Now, if Murray should make it through his semifinal meeting with Jerzy Janowicz , he will have the dubious privilege of having to meet the number one ranked Novak Djokovik in the Men`s Finals . All odds favor the Serbian whose run through the tournament has been nothing short of amazing . By Sunday afternoon , we may well witness Djokovik adding to his already impressive resume` , as he seeks to rewrite the history books and place himself amongst the modern-day greats of the Open Era.

The United States does not have single male or female representative left , in either the Men’s or Women’s Singles Tournament. Something I believe , that will sternly that will need to be addressed by the USTA (United States Tennis Association) and how they assess the structure and system now in place . Serena Williams has been the most dominant player in Women’s tennis for just over a decade , but as her career has now reached its apex . There is no telling how long the desire will remain for the fourteen-time singles Grand Slam winner . With her amassed wealth estimated $100 million fortune , and outside business ventures , those scenarios could very well be a driving force that sees the thirty year old step away from the sport sooner , rather than later . On the men’s side of the equation , there is not a great deal that could lead one to believe that there is a future Grand Slam winner amongst the best male players in the United States . The highest ranked in the world rankings , is Sam Querrey at number nineteen , and his run at Wimbledon was somewhat short-lived and about as scintillating as being hit in the face by a wet rag , as he succumbed to the unseeded Bernard Tomic in five sets .

The UFC will kick off UFC 162 , with a co-headline event that will see reigning middleweight champion Anderson Silva defend his title against Chris Weidman . For the Brazilian jujitsu practitioner this will be the twelfth defense of his title, as well as seeking his seventeenth consecutive win inside the octagon . All feats are now UFC records and the primary reason by Silva is considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in mixed martial arts (MMA) . As a practitioner (karate & muy-thai) and proponent of MMA , this is now the primary reason why I believe that mixed martial arts has simply left the sport of boxing in the dust . It has now become far more popular as a genre and participant sport , with an ever-increasing demographic, as well as now drawing a large following amongst females . Granted, , with the rise of females fighters such as Ronda Rousey , Jessica Andrade , Liz Carmouche , Alexis Davis and Germaine de Randamie . It is now easy to see why UFC President Dana White finally succumbed to admitting females within the UFC fold , as well creating the bantamweight division weight class for women . Rousey is currently the unbeaten UFC champion within that weight class .

Saturday night’s main and under-card a, provides the most discerning fans of the sport, the chance to see some of the best practitioners of this fast growing sport into the public domain . From my own perspective, I do not believe that Weidman will provide all that stern a test for the champion , simply because of the challenger`s inexperience and the lack of real quality opponents that he has faced over his short career within the UFC ! Silva for his part , has toyed with his opponents , simply making a mockery of the division and the lack of overall talent within the middleweight division . Anderson Silva is not, and has not been thoroughly challenged by any of his opponents over his last sixteen bouts . Those who believe to the contrary , simply point to an instance were that has actually been the case and then point out , what the end result tended to be .

The Mandalay Bay Hotel Resort & Casino Complex , in Las Vegas , Nevada , will be the scene for this latest extravaganza being staged by Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta , as owners of UFC. What started out , as merely a tough man contest where differing fighting styles were pitted against each other , by the respective fighters , has now become a multi-billion dollar global concern , presided over UFC by the Fertitta brothers, in conjunction wit Dana White . In a little more than a decade and a half , from UFC 1 to now , UFC 162 , this sport has become more respectable and more disciplined , in terms of safety issues, than anything shown by the international governing bodies of the sport of boxing . Subsequent events have now become regimented with a greater emphasis being placed on the safety of the fighters . Furthermore , with the misuse of steroids being part of the sports` panacea , MMA under the UFC banner has become one the few sports were their initiative beyond suspending for a first offense , they are also penalized monetarily by the UFC hierarchy and are subject to further punishment in the states where the sport is sanctioned in North America . Can the same be said , with regard to baseball , basketball , football or hockey ? Most definitely not ,when you consider the intransigence shown by the respective bodies , especially under the auspices of Bud Selig , David Stern , Roger Goodell and Gary Bettman .

Baseball has reached the midpoint of its season and a number of teams , I believe can be counted out of contention as it relates to their postseason ambitions . It is pretty much safe to say that barring divine intervention from up on high, the New York Mets (35-47) , will once again be on the outside looking in . Recent results or not , J P Ricciardi and Sandy Alderson can already begin to think about next season , while getting rid of the dead weight on the roster . Far be it for me to suggest , but if it were possible to jettison Fred Wilpon , his son, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz . I for one , believe that we would all breathe a sigh of relief and so too might the majority of the fans within baseball ! One could also preface that, by saying the same thing for baseball`s hierarchy , because under Bud Selig , let us put it succinctly , not everything he as touched , has actually turned to gold . Selig`s imprint on the game has been akin the AIDS` virus and its virulent spread across the globe , specifically on the continent of Africa and in the Far East Asia where it still remains a scourge .

Matt Harvey may well be having a terrific season for the Mets , but beyond his contributions and that of David Wright . It is pretty much safe to say that there is not a great deal that can be taken away from the season as a positive for the franchise , much less by way of the managerial acumen of Terry Collins and his managerial staff . Coming off a 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks the Mets have a mere handful of games before Citi-Field in Flushing, New York, hosts the 2013 MLB All Star Game and all of the festivities we are accustomed to witnessing at the mid-season that is associated with the showcase event .

New York`s next game will pit them against the Milwaukee Brewers (34-50) in a match-up between two desperate ball-clubs seeking redemption at this point of the schedule , after performing poorly through the first half of the season. The rest of the way should prove to be really interesting over the remainder of the MLB schedule .

Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds now has the unique distinction of being the only pitcher in the last decade to have pitched two no-hitters . The fact that he was able to achieve this feat inside the space of eighteen months is all the more surprising . Albeit , that for much of this season in terms of pitching heroics , the buzz has simply been about Matt Scherzer (13-0) of the Detroit Tigers and his phenomenal start to the season , in going 13-0 with a . fourteenth consecutive victory not seemingly out of the question. No-hitters and perfect games are the Holy Grails for a big-league pitcher, and for them to have their names etched in baseball immortality, is not something , that can be taken away or denied. Granted in the age of skepticism and the very fact the game of baseball has been unable to get rid of steroid cheats , makes the fans not necessarily admirers of many of today`s achievements by the players. Especially, when we know that the league hierarchy and the union itself, has done little to rectify the plague that has become widespread within the game . For those of you in doubt , then simply be aware of the fact that over almost two hundred players have now been embroiled in the abuse of steroids covering the game of baseball , covering the Minor League as well as in the Majors . Yet Bud Selig , team owners and Michael Weiner of the MLBPA have simply not offered any explanation for these statistics and the very fact that cheating still remains a blight on and to the game . There still remains the apathy of the fans and analysts alike , which is not unusual, when in large part neither shows a preponderance of showing any damn common sense concerning the issue .

To make things even worse , as it relates to an already tarnished image within the game . The Texas Rangers` GM Jon Daniels signed …. Manny Ramirez , a two-time steroid offender to a Minor League contract . Ramirez who escaped the wrath of a mandatory one hundred game suspension by immediately retiring , then went off and parlayed his services to the highest bidder by playing baseball in the Far East . Now having returned to the game , he has been welcomed back with open arms , as if his actions were never of any consequence . Daniels in a public statement ____ stated, `that taking a flier on Ramirez was well worth the risk`. What I would like to know , is how the ownership group of the Texas Rangers feels that this is in any way beneficial for their image much less of benefit to the game , which is still in a state of disrepair ? Any thoughts on that, at this juncture ?

? Baseball , but for its own stupidity , simply cannot get out of its own way or the repeated pratfalls that it constantly tends to make .

It may not have come as a surprise , given the recent upheavals amongst the coaching fraternity within the NBA . Yet the hiring of Brad Stevens to succeed the nine year tenure of Doc Rivers , may well have taken the whole world by surprise . Stevens who coached the Butler Bulldogs for six successful seasons and then on to two successive NCAA Finals Tournament appearances in 2010 and 2011. . That may well been the sort of composure and coaching acumen that impressed the Boston Celtics` front office staff , led by team owner Wyc Grousbeck and GM Danny Ainge to hire the young college coach . We know the nature of the NBA , where the mindset is to win , now , and along the way place a competitive product on the field of play . With the departures of Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers and the trades tat sent Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets . It would appear that the rebuilding process for the Celtics is now underway. To my mind this maneuver is simply two years too late . Doc Rivers over the last two seasons may well ave been somewhat disgruntled with the direction tat the franchise may well ave been heading in , but it did not seem to negate his intent , tat saw him re-sign with the Boston Celtics , a contract for a three-year extension , paying approximately $ 18 to $20 million over the period in question . Somehow, I get the feeling tat Doc Rivers was simply blowing smoke up everyone`s ass , as to his own discomfort , and $20 million was just a nice way of easing the pain .

Stevens may well bring in his own coaching staff , but a great deal of what may well transpire , will come out of the relationship fomented and built up with Celtics` point guard Rajon Rondo , which will be pivotal the success of the franchise and its long-term future . The team`s draft class and their subsequent transactions may well bring about the success sought , and in light of the cap space created , the franchise will be one of the teams that could be an ideal destination for one of the marquee free agents seeking to make that organization a legitimate contender.
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Given Boston`s poor showing in the postseason in their first round loss to the New York Knicks summed up a rather lamentable season for one of the league`s most prestigious franchises .

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At this point of the year, what if anything do you most look forward to by way of the sporting calendar and the events that may pique your interest ? Simply chime on in with a comment as you see fit .

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(1) Tejay Van Garderen of the United States riding for BMC Racing looks on prior to stage two of the 2013 Tour de France, a 156KM road stage from Bastia to Ajaccio, on June 30, 2013 in Bastia, France. The 100th edition of Le Tour de France commences on the island of Corsica and ends July 21 in Paris. Doug Pensinger /Getty Images North America …

(2) Jan Bakelants of Belgium and Radioshack Leopard celebrates as he crosses the finishing line to win stage two of the 2013 Tour de France, a 156KM road stage from Bastia to Ajaccio, on June 30, 2013 in Ajaccio, France. Getty Images / Bryan Lennon …

(3) Andy Murray of Great Britain embraces Jerzy Janowicz of Poland at the net after their Gentlemen’s Singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2013 in London, England. Getty Image Europe /John Finney …

(4) Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a backhand during the Gentlemen’s Singles semi-final match against Jerzy Janowicz of Poland on day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2013 in London, England. John Finney / Getty Images Europe …

(5) Chris Weidman , seen here speaking with the convened press concerning his upcoming UFC middleweight title about against champion Anderson Silva . The two will square off in the octagon this Saturday at UFC 162 at the Mandalay Bay Complex , in Las Vegas, Nevada ,. MMA Fighter @ copyrighted material …

(6) Anderson Silva , UFC middleweight champion , left , is seen here facing off against challenger Chris Weidman in a pre-fight photo promotion at the Mandalay Bay Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada . Silva is a clear favorite in this record-setting title defense against his less experienced opponent. Getty Images / Matt Berger …

(7) Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws to a Toronto Blue Jays batter during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 3, 2013, in Toronto. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette …

(8) CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 5: Pitcher Homer Bailey (34) of the Cincinnati Reds and catcher Ryan Hanigan (29) of the Cincinnati Reds are presented with lineup cards by Manager Dusty Baker (12) of the Cincinnati Reds to commemorate Bailey’s second career no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants two nights earlier before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Great American Ball Park on July 5, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images ….

(9) Jon Daniels whose decision to sign slugger Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal has raised a few eyebrows around Major League Baseball. The Rangers` front office executive believes the deal well worth the risk and of benefit to the Texas Rangers organization . Getty Images / Elise Amendola …

(10) Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge , left, speaks alongside new head coach Brad Stevens , right, during a news conference where Stevens was introduced Friday, July 5, 2013, at the NBA basketball team’s training facility in Waltham, Mass. Stevens twice led the Butler Bulldogs to the NCAA title game. He replaces Doc Rivers, who was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. AP Photo/Josh Reynolds …..

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Think you can handle the truth ?

Think you can handle the truth ?

With the world said to be aghast, because another high-profiled athlete finds themselves on the wrong side of the law . I for one , would like to know why it is the fans and the public are showing their surprise ? I mean , athletes have always thought themselves to be above the law , and not to be held accountable at all for their actions . The NFL much like the other four major professional team sports have all been caught with the customary stigma , when the professionals there, have been embroiled in some sort of controversy . Aaron Hernandez may well now be implicated in three homicides , but there was already a disturbing pattern of behavior associated and established with the now former New England Patriots` tight end dating back to his pre college years . Yet, this was all ignored at various points during of the player`s athletic career, collegiate and within the professional ranks. And along the way, we have seen the hypocrisy of the various bodies and coaches who have presided over the player`s career . So now we are looking for answers to questions that most psychologists would explain not only as dangerous deviant behavior , but also as something that was ongoing , that would reach a boiling point and come to a head .

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At the same time I have yet to read anyone suggesting that the NFL and Players` Union , ever seeking to deter or better yet , seek of ways to curb the excess and grossly dangerous behavior of its players . Does anyone actually remember the actions of Donte Stallworth and his repeated lies to the press and prosecution , concerning the tragedy in of the case of the vehicular manslaughter death of a South Florida citizen ? Stallworth , got behind the wheel of his $ 175,000 vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.143 , almost twice the legal limit within the state of Florida . Not only that, but the Patriots` wide receiver tested positive for marijuana , which both he and his lawyers claimed, played no part in the death of 59 year-old Mario Reyes , a father of four . The case against Stallworth was straight-forward , but somehow , the course of justice was perverted by the State Attorney`s Office , with the player only serving a twenty-four days of what was meant to be a thirty-day sentence . Am I missing something here ? Were this, simply a civilian as a defendant , I am certain that having been found guilty , or willing to take a plea agreement, as was the case here , at a minimum that individual would now be serving no less than five years in a case of vehicular manslaughter . The public expects more from its public officials, as well these athletes , but instead , they are placed on a pedestal by the press and fans alike.

Well , as of now, I find this whole situation to be to be not only repugnant , but also repulsive !

A patron of my site recently suggested that the country as advanced racially and socially to the point where are at a point , were we should no longer be overly concerned with race in terms of equality . Well, unless he has been living under a rock, the country remains extremely divided along racial lines . And that is now being played not only in the court of public opinion but also right in-front of our very eyes , as the trial of George Zimmerman takes place in the city of Sanford , Florida , in the death of seventeen-year old African-American , Trayvon Martin . Considering that in the past eighteen months within the state , this is as such, is the eight such instance, where the use of the `stand your ground law has been used as a crux for the slaying of an unarmed victim , were the victim has been someone of ethnic ethnicity . I would like to know, are we as a society , still depraved ? The answer I believe to be yes, and empathic yes , I might add ! The criminal case has begun to capture the nation`s attention, while also showing that the legal establishment within the state is and remains extremely mediocre . The prosecuting and defense attorneys, are pandering and posturing for the cameras, rather than seeking to establish any semblance of the truth. A simple microcosm of a mediocre societal system will be played out in-front of our very eyes over the ensuing weeks . Then at the end of it all, we can assess whether her or not, if justice has been served .

With the free agency status of NBA players able to declare their eligibility declare their status as of 1:00 AM tonight . It will be interesting, to see which players will seek to ply their trade elsewhere . If the rumors are to be believed , then it seems all but certain, that Los Angeles Lakers` center Dwight Howard will leave the franchise and seek a new home for his talents . Personally , I am of the belief that Howard, beyond not being entirely happy with his sojourn in the city of Angels, his relationship with the team`s best player Kobe Bryant , was severely tested . Lakers` head coach Mike DAntoni , to my mind , is not someone I believe is capable of corralling a cast of characters , such as in the makeup of this Lakers` roster . The team`s play throughout much of this past season was lethargic and unconvincing . And those who were of the belief that gathering the talents of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to play alongside Kobe Bryant would make the Lakers a legitimate playoff contender and championship caliber team were clearly misguided , if not stupid .

With several teams said to be vying for the Lakers center`s services , it is hard to assess where would be the best fit for a player who over the past two years has simply failed to live up to expectations . Long thought of as being the best center in the NBA , I am not so sure that those claims can still be justified at this juncture . yet these are merely my observations and no one else`s. Howard lacks leadership skills , maturity , but most notably when placed under a great deal of pressure , he simply fails to deliver .

This past season the NBA salary cap was held steady at $58 million , but with their being a growing view that a number of the big-market teams who would like to see that figure raised . It seems inconceivable, that is likely to happen, if the league hierarchy would raise keep the luxury tax rates and salary cap above their existing levels . A dollar for dollar or $1-50 per dollar surcharge, would certainly impede the teams over the league`s current soft salary cap , and it would certainly lead to a contentious situation between the parties concerned . So unless the league, team owners and union (NBPA- Players` Union) can come to some sort of compromise , then that scenario is unlikely to take shape . And given how contentious the relationship has been between the NBPA and league hierarchy, I certainly do not believe , that we are likely to any changes come about overnight . Concessions would have to be made on all sides . As of this moment, the Players` Union remains highly distrustful of team owners and of David Stern , in particular . The latter , who prides himself on being the voice of reason for the NBA . Anyone who has witnessed the commissioner`s autocratic rule , will know that Stern is very much like an immature child , who if things simply do not go his way , he is likely to pick up his toys , cry off , while seeking to apportion blame elsewhere .

One can already see the teams that are likely to be encumbered with monstrous payrolls this upcoming season , unless those franchises seek to get rid of the dead weight on their respective rosters . Leslie Alexander , owner of the Houston Rockets along with head coach Kevin McHale , James Harden , GM Daryl Morey , have met with the player and his agent Dan Fegan . However, there are several other meetings scheduled for Howard and Fegan over the next few days before a formal announcement is made as to the player`s desired destination . Dwight Howard can seek to obtain a maximum contract from any of the vested parties , a contract most certainly make the player amongst the highest paid players in the NBA , and most likely at the position in the league . Ultimately, whatever the destination of Howard , I do believe that the center will be in a for a rude awakening , as he seeks to resurrect his career. . A six-year contract paying Dwight Howard between $118 million to $125 million , does seem inflated for a player who has no proven signs of leadership , and has often been known and witnessed , to simply give up , when adversity stares him directly in the face . I have never been truly enamored with Dwight Howard as a player , as I find him more often than not , to be a mere caricature and a cartoon character , showing almost infantile like behavior for an athlete described as one of the best players in the NBA. A formal announcement is likely to be made by the player by no later than the 10th July, 2013 .

Just like The Jefferson`s , it would appear that the Brooklyn Nets are seeking their own deluxe apartment in the sky . The fact that team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov and GM Billy King have seen fit to acquire both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Boston Celtics , in exchange for a two first round draft picks (2013 , 2014) and monetary exchange , might bode well for the besieged franchise . In an effort to take the glare and shine off their conference rivals the New York Knicks . This maneuver could either lead to the franchise’s undoing or at the end of the day , be seen as spectacular , if not a genius move engineered by King . Given the disarray shown by the team during the postseason . it is clear the Nets need to be installed with leadership ability . It clearly has not come from Deron Williams , in spite of his eight years in the NBA . If Williams has not learned that trait by now , then there is no certainty that he ever will , in spite of his many supporters . There is a definite reason why the likes of Steve Nash , Chris Paul , Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo are viewed as figureheads on the teams were they play . Granted, the same can be said of Williams , but he has never been a player who it is said , has led by example or in fact , instilling that eagerness to win . Yet somehow, all of the plaudits and vocal accolades heaped upon the Nets` point guard simply cannot deter the fact that he has in essence, become the face of a player who is in fact a prima-donna ____ very much a self-absorbed athlete and `coach-killer` . I would countenance that by saying , this is the image of so many players around the NBA , that has now become the norm , rather than the exception to the rule .

With Jason Kidd having recently retired , after a successful career in the NBA , the future Hall of Fame player , was recently introduced as the successor to PJ Carlisemo . No coaching experience , but a wealth of insight on the game, from his playing days, this could very well be the wrong scenario for the league`s newest head coach to embark upon a coaching career. It has to be said Kidd`s start will be a baptism of fire more tan anything else . Egos on the court of play and having to deal with a no-nonsense owner , I believe will be far too great a task for the Nets` new coach to deal with ! Garnet , Pierce and Kidd in terms of their respective careers have served the NBA combined for the better part of three decades. Whether or not , Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Deron Williams can coexist, while taking instructions from Jason Kidd remains to be seen , but it will create an interesting dynamic as to the environment within the Nets` environment and locker room at game time . Kidd has stated that his coaching staff will be made up of the best possible talent available . So , I guess Jason Kidd knows of the obstacles he now faces, as he now embarks upon a new phase of his NBA career .

If there is one thing that we have to be aware of when it comes to the NBA , its it is that much like their counterparts in Major League Baseball , the NBA`s team owners are just as capricious and ostentatious . Baseball , reportedly prides itself on being fiscally conservative , but that is the farthest thing from the truth . Especially , when Commissioner Bud Selig is not known for transparency , much less be willing to have the game`s finances be opened up for public scrutiny . It should serve as a warning to the fans, but somehow it simply does not , because in large part , the vast majority of these fans would be unable to fully comprehend even the mildest financial principles that the teams operate under , much less be able to explain how the league`s luxury tax system actually works . The same premise also holds true for the NBA , and the bile that David Stern continually sells to the public en-masse as to the overall health of the NBA .

To further expand on the nonsensical whims of the NBA , and the fact that team owners and general managers believe that it is best to simply try to outspend their rivals . This past season the Brooklyn Nets with a payroll of $89.583 million , ranking it amongst the highest within the league . From an economic standpoint , given the gravitas of Mikhail Prokorov and the uninhibited manner under which he operates the Nets . It should come as no surprise that the franchise will have to pay a $31 million surcharge , with the organization having exceeded the league`s soft salary cap of $58 million for this past season . A large portion of the Brooklyn`s payroll was tied up in the salaries paid to Deron Williams and Joe Jonson . As to evidence the naiveté and sheer absurdity tat the NBA continues to operate under , Johnson`s contract still calls for the player to be paid another $67 million over the next tree seasons. All this , for a player whose presence the court for his team was barely noticeable this past season , during the regular and postseason .

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Picture gallery .

No grandstanding , no standing on ceremony , the next chapter in the LeBron James` quest to be rightly or wrongly be called The King or Great One , will take a new approach . James knows that the comparisons are already being made to his idol Michael Jordan . Personally , I feel it best to make such comparisons once a player`s career is over . Then we can truly judge as to the perceived greatness and attributes of the players in question . Making comparisons by way of age or shall we say what was accomplished by a certain point of their respective careers does not give one a true gauge on what could ultimately transpire down the road . What I am fully aware of , is that during this postseason , LeBron James put on array of performances that allowed the Miami Heat to defeat the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals , thereby guaranteeing the franchise`s successful defense of their title . As an avowed fan of the game, though not necessarily of the player , I acknowledge and congratulate LeBron James on his success ! . If anything, as the league now seeks to make new inroads in terms of its global presence , it will be James who becomes the face and persona of the NBA . Hopefully , David Stern can see what he has in front of him as a marketing tool and simply not make a damn mess of things , as he has been known to do and then to apportion blame elsewhere for his own mea-culpas. Your thoughts on this all and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter ?

tophatal ………………

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Shayanna Jenkins, middle, fiancée of former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez, is escorted by attorney Janice Bassil, left, and an unidentified attorney after a bail hearing in Fall River Superior Court Thursday, June 27, 2013 in Fall River, Mass. Hernandez, charged with murdering Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-pro football player, was denied bail. AP Photo/Elise Amendola …

(2) Aaron Hernandez accomplice Carlos Ortiz appears in court and is arraigned for his role in the murder of Odin Lloyd. Ortiz had relatives that denied his involvement and he teared in court on June 28, 2013. Photo : Twitter/AP ….

(3) Donte Stallworth is seen here accompanied by his attorneys in July 2009 , as the jury renders a verdict of guilty in his vehicular manslaughter trial in the death of Miami native , fifty-nine year old Mario Reyes , a father of four. The player was given a thirty-day sentence , but served only twenty-four days in jail , after a plea agreement reached with the district attorney . Stallworth would also see the suspension of his license and was placed on five years probation . An out of court settlement was reached with the Reyes` family , with Donte Stallworth having to pay the Reyes` family $2.5 million . Public outrage was vented at Miami Dade State Attorney , Katherine Fernandez-Rundle as to the leniency of the sentence and for her office negotiating a plea agreement which in essence brokered this abhorrent deal , subverting the pursuance of any real justice . Miami Herald / Ignacio Chela …..

(4) Defendant George Zimmerman in the Sanford Courthouse, Sanford , Florida during his trial for manslaughter in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin . Judge Debra Nelson has already caused a stir with her ruling that the audio of the apparent incident cannot be used as evidence in the trial of what she stated was insufficient technology available to disseminate and clarify the voices of the defendant and victim . Unless I am mistaken , the technology the judge questions , is used on a daily basis by not only Federal Law enforcement agencies but numerous state agencies around the country for the use of , and in monitoring and surveillance . Incredible , the level of incompetency that is already being shown in the trial`s infancy by the prosecuting , defense attorneys, as well as the presiding judge . AP / NY Times / Craig Ross …..

(5) Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers is seen talking to the convened press after the team`s first round loss the San Antonio Spurs having been swept 4-0 in the first round of the NBA Playoffs . Howard is now an unrestricted free agent and in what appears to be a last-ditch effort attempt by the Lakers` hierarchy , GM Mitch Kupchak , team owner , Jim Buss have pleaded with the center to remain with the franchise . Also throwing himself into the mix , is Hollywood A List actor Jack Nicholson , a die-hard Lakers` fan , who sent a personal message to Dwight Howard . Courtesy of SI ……

(6) Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King , left , is seen here with the team`s new head coach Jason Kidd , himself a former with the franchise . Also new to the new organization will be aging veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce . Billionaire team owner Mikhail Prokhorov is hoping that the experience of the trio can bolster a team that failed to live up to h is own lofty expectations this past season . Getty Images / Elsa Amendola … .

(7) Miami Heat players laugh as they watch highlights of center Chris Bosh, right, Monday, June 24, 2013, during a celebration for season ticket holders at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. Other players from left are: Shane Battier, Juwan Howard, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis. The Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 in Game 7 to win their second straight NBA championship. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee …

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NBA news

NBA transactions

NBA free agent eligibility status

Brooklyn Nets news

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Los Angeles Lakers news

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From left to right , Tricia Helfer , Grace Park & Katie Sackhoff .