A hard rain is going to fall ….

A hard rain is going to fall ….

Sunday 1st September and baseball will enter the final month of the regular season with two divisional races set , in terms a winner . It would be pretty safe to say, that barring a major catastrophe both the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers look to be certain winners of their respective divisions . For the reigning World Series champions the San Francisco Giants , this has been a lamentable season , where nothing seems to have gone right for Bruce Bochy , his staff and the team . Injuries , inconsistent play from many of team`s top players took its toll on so many of the stars , that it could very well lead to some tough decisions being made in the off-season by GM Brian Sabean .

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For Don Mattingly`s Dodgers , this was a team that I felt would be left for dead a little over six weeks ago . Yet quite the opposite happened , with the Los Angeles putting together an astonishing run , where Los Angeles rolled off forty-two wins out of a possible fifty game stretch , to put themselves back in the hunt for the NL West title . Mattingly could very well come away with this season`s NL Manager of the Year award , if the adjudicators have any common sense . At the same time, the inspiration for this remarkable stretch run , all came down to the call up of Dodgers` outfield sensation Yasiel Puig .

At present the team with the best record in baseball, is by no means a clear indication that they are the best team currently playing . Yet a case, can be made that the two best ball-clubs now reside in the National League .. And beyond all of the ongoing controversy surrounding both Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez , baseball has repeatedly shot itself in the foot, and still carries on , as if nothing had ever happened . Never-mind the utter conceit shown for the fans by the game`s hierarchy and team owners . With Bud Selig continuing to remain the very public face of the game , with a number of rather inane and idiotic edicts , it should come as no wonder why many still remain distrustful of the league hierarchy and its overall leadership.

The AL East, long believed to be the standard-bearer for some of the best baseball to be played, has this season become a complete paradigm , with the painstaking mediocrity shown by John Gibbons` Toronto Blue Jays and the continued perils of Perils of Pauline as portrayed by the New York Yankees , with the continued excuses being made for that team`s woeful ineptitude, alongside Alex Rodriguez`s effusiveness and his wish to be seen as a victim, even in light of the continued evidence showing him to be an habitual liar and a cheat. Within this particular division, for much of this season it has been left to the Baltimore Orioles , Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays to provide the fans with a great deal of the entertainment to found . Yet, bearing in mind, as to what I believe to be a tarnished season within baseball, where there have been very few positives either on or off the field. The fans can only take what is now said to be on offer by the teams within the game, and as things now stand, it is not that great a deal .

The New York Yankees will host the Baltimore Orioles for a weekend series , in which Joe Girardi`s players will be looking to make up ground on the third placed Orioles , who themselves are vying for one of the two AL wildcard berths available for postseason play. Buck Showalter , is sure to have his players prepared for what is likely to be a highly contested series over the next three days. The first of the triumvirate of games will begin on Friday , with the Orioles` Miguel Gonzalez taking the mound against Yankees` starting ace CC Sabathia . AL East division leaders the Boston Red Sox will host the laboring Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park , with Robin Ventura`s players somehow looking to derail the Red Sox`s divisional hopes and what in essence has been a memorable inaugural season for the team’s manager John Farrell. His managerial acumen, has somehow managed to steady the ship with the team`s veterans and younger players buying into Farrell’s managerial style after the disaster witnessed last year under Bobby Valentine. The second-placed Tampa Bay Rays within the AL East , has for much of the season remained in close proximity of the division’s leaders , themselves having held the lead before a momentary lapse, led to their falling from the top of the division. Rays’ manager Joe Maddon would like nothing better than to lead the ball-club to their second divisional title in the franchise’s history , with GM Andrew Friedman having to operate on a somewhat meager budget , as he seeks to make the team competitive .

Tampa currently sits, 2 ½ games adrift of the Boston Red Sox (79-56) and only a half game ahead of their weekend opponents the Oakland Athletics in the wildcard standings. These two teams will meet , knowing that there is a great deal on the line for both ball-clubs , as each vies for a playoff berth. David Price will meet Jarrod Parker at the O Coliseum , in the first of three games to be played at the venerable venue in this series .

With a 6 ½ game lead over their nearest rivals in the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers are hoping to make up for a very poor 2012 foray in the postseason . Jim Leyland will once again seek redemption , by taking the division and then look to meet, whomever their first round opponents may well be . GM Dave Dombrowski has gathered together a team that should be good enough to win the AL pennant , but herein lies the caveat , the Tigers in their present guise know how to win in the regular season but the postseason in recent years has been their Achilles’ heal . The Tigers will play host to the Cleveland Indians in and what should prove to be a very interesting series , with Zach McAllister on the mound for the Indians against Rick Porcello of the Tigers.

Last season’s AL MVP Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and baseball’s most recent Triple Crown winner looks on course to repeat as MVP. Granted , the seasonal home run crown is beyond his reach , with the Orioles’ Chris Davis leading the MLB (league) and AL with forty-seven home runs to his name. If Detroit is to have any real success this postseason , then it will certainly not just come down to the competency of the offense , but also the tenacity shown by the pitching staff led by Justin Verlander , Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello .

I will give credit , where it is due ! And granted, there have been very few positives to come out of this season , beyond the play of a number of very good rookies . Yet in the midst of this baseball season , how can we continue to overlook the poor play and bad teams that still exist within the game ? New York Mets’ fans are probably now hoping that 2014 will be a great deal brighter than a lamentable 2013 season , where the ball-club’s brightest hope rests squarely on the shoulders of their pitcher Matt Harvey . Shuttered for the remainder of the season , because of an arm injury , there was not much that one can really say, was inspiring about the team’s play , beyond Harvey , himself. As to the idiocy of their fans that the team will be competitive next season . That would be like suggesting that after Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMA’s , we can now seriously take her as a talented individual . Anyone who witnessed Cyrus’ somewhat titillating act , will know that beneath the surface, there lies a very untalented individual and yes , the same can be said of the New York Mets.

Given the recent lack of progression of this Mets’ organization on the field of play , even with the alleged front office talents of Sandy Alderson and JP Ricciardi . The real issue with this ball-club , has been the very fact that they hog-tied themselves with some burdensome contracts that are tied to several players who are close to or essentially past their prime or in some cases are no longer with the organization.

As baseball seeks to find its champion for this year , I must admit that overall, this has to be looked upon as a season of disappointment and one wherein, once again, all of the main parties concerned have let another golden opportunity slip from within its grasp to clean up its image . Instead, fans are looking at an issue of instant replay being adopted for 2014 as a positive for the game , without ever acknowledging baseball still remains in a quagmire of deceit , , lies and delusions of self-importance. There seems to be no indignation from the union (MLBPA) as to the dishonor brought to the game by the continued cheating by the players , and not one prominent team owner has stepped into the fray to question how Bud Selig and the league hierarchy have dealt with the issue. Needless to say, things are likely to remain the same, because baseball`s commissioner, is simply averse to any real change , unless it is a change that would begin to show him in some form of a positive light . As commissioner , he chooses not to tackle the issue of the financial imbalances within his sport, while denigrating certain owners as being unimaginative and lackluster. Unfortunately, Bud Selig has never really taken the time to question his own actions in all of this and his own failings as being someone, who has not led with authority .

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The future of baseball on the face of it, does not appear bleak , but if the truth be told, its future is not as bright as some might believe it to be , even with the ascent of a number of young players coming to the fore. Leave a comment on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter and thanks as always for the continued support of this site.

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tophatal ……………………………… 08/30/2013

Picture and slideshow details below

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(1) Miami Marlins third baseman Placido Polanco (30) leaps above third base to catch a throw from catcher Jeff Mathis as Atlanta Braves Freddie Freeman (5) slides safely beneath him after a wild pitch during the fourth inning of a baseball game at Turner Field in Atlanta on Aug. 30, 2013. John Amis / AP Photo ….

(2) Adrian Gonzalez (23) of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by Yasiel Puig (66 )after hitting a two-run home run against the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium on August 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Jeff Gross /Getty Images North America ….

(3) San Francisco Giants` GM Brian Sabean , who this off-season will have a number of issues to deal with , concerning this Giants` team , their lack of consistency and productivity in 2012 , as well the impending free agency status of a number of players on the roster . AP Photo / Mark Perry ….

(4) Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, center talks with Jose Molina (28) and James Loney (21) in a baseball game against the Houston Astros Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Houston. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan …

(5) The Detroit Tigers` Torii Hunter (48) is seen here alongside teammate Miguel Cabrera in a game played at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, against the Oakland A`s on Wednesday , 28th August 2013 . AP Photo /Paul Sancya ………..

(6) MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred , left, is Bud Selig’s right-hand man, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll become baseball’s next commissioner. Selig continues to try and put out fires or the continued embers from past flare ups that he thought resolved . Due to step down in 2014 , there is no clear linear successor to the present MLB Commissioner and with their being calls for an outsider to succeed Selig , it seems unlikely that the hierarchy and team owners are willing to heed those calls at all . Getty Images / Rich Carmichael …….

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MLB news

MLB schedule

MLB results 29th August 2013

MLB probable pitchers

MLB standings and wildcard standings

MLB team salaries

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This week in MLB history

This day in MLB history

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Jeny Romero . Comes courtesy of King Magazine

A coalition of the weak and the stupid !

A coalition of the weak and the stupid !

I may well have missed something in light of the recent statements made by Secretary of State John Kerry that he and the President, Barack Obama believe that Syria poses an imminent threat of stability to the Middle East well as its own citizens there in the country , after evidence was found that President Bashar al Assad`s forces, have been using chemical weapons against the civilian population, as well as opposition forces in the uprising that has been ongoing in the country for the past two years. The evidence was clear for all to see, but somehow , it has taken the snail`s pace activity of the US government and its rather asinine intelligent efforts, and some two years to coming to this conclusion, as to the gross criminality in the behavior of Al Assad`s military ? It should really come as no surprise, considering the US`s continued inactivity, while there was ongoing mass genocide taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan , as the West chose to close its eyes, while such atrocities were taking place .

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During, a decade-long era of ceaseless violence, America literally stood by and did absolutely nothing, simply because that region bore no strategic importance to the United States. Yet, given the lack of a cohesive foreign policy and the dogma that encompasses the country`s full understanding of the global threats, beyond what it deems to be Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It is becoming increasingly clear, that this administration like previous administrations before is simply devoid of expertise where it is needed most when it comes to the Middle East .

It now seems that Kerry`s formal statement is meant to be a warning to the Syrian government that the United States and its allies will not tolerate the actions of the Syrian military , the inner workings of Bashar al Assad`s crack squad of covert operatives and its continued use of chemical weapons, in order to suppress what is now in essence, civil war taking place in the country . `We will no longer tolerate ` ? Two years of bloodshed, and the estimated loss of some 80,000 lives and the US will not tolerate Syria using chemical weapons. Over one million lives were lost in Darfur, from the genocide taking place there, as President Omar al-Bashir used to The Janjaweed (Men on Horseback), Sudanese Army to bring terror and terrorize and as part of his ethnic cleansing , in killing Christians, as well those in opposition to his rule of the country of Sudan . Omar al-Bashir was once described by former President George W Bush , as a man of conviction and of deep faith. Somehow, I get the feeling that when the former US President made that statement, he may not have been completely cognizant of what was going on in the region at the time. Albeit, that the statement came after a meeting between the two heads of state , while Bush was in office, during his second term.

This country can now ill afford to enter into a third military conflict in just over a decade , under the pretext of a humanitarian effort, when the real truth is like his predecessor , for Barack Obama , the strategic reality here is simply a matter of the West and its allies creating an even bigger imprint in the Middle East and perhaps gaining access to Syria`s oil reserves . The lessons to be learned from the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have not been heeded, in spite of the loss of over 5,000 lives and in excess of some 240,000 military services members wounded, at the cost of over $1.77 trillion (cumulative).

President Barack Obama , along with John Kerry , Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel , General Martin Dempsey JCOS, NSA Director Gen Keith B Alexander will now have to strategize as what militaristic options are viable. With UK Prime David Cameron having issued a public statement in the House of Commons that Britain is prepared to act unilaterally to protect the Syrian people from the wanton intent of the country`s dictator to suppress their democratic freedoms. Ad nausea, it now looks as if Cameron is also now prepared to follow in the footsteps of a former predecessor Tony Blair , as he marched locked in footstep with George W Bush, as he declared military action against Iraq, under the premise of following UN article 1441 , which did not give full military action for the invasion of that country in 2003. The resolution simply called for, use of military force should Saddam Hussein pose an imminent threat in the region, in particular to Israel and many of the West`s allies in the Middle East. At this juncture, it now begs the question , to whom does Bashir al Assad now pose a threat to, other than his own people ? Any type of joint action, sanctioned by the UN or not , is likely to be met with a great deal of opposition by the American public as well as the population of Britain. No matter how closely tied the two countries are said to be , the explanations now being offered up by Barack Obama and David Cameron will not be enough to drown out the likely antiwar sentiment that is likely to be heard from those opposing military intervention or quite possibly all-out war in Syria.

It certainly will be interesting to see which countries are likely offer a broad-based support of America and Britain , as both will undoubtedly seek a resolution from the UN Security Council and the likely input that will be made by known Syrian supporters on the Council , China and Russia , who are both permanent seated members of that particular council. . Russia remains Syria`s largest armaments` supplier as well as having oil drilling rights in the country through a number Russian based petroleum companies . The Middle Eastern nation is also one of Russia`s largest trading partners in the Arab world. So it should not come as a surprise , were the Russian to seek to veto any vote taken by the Security Council for a preemptive strike to be taken by a coalition force. Russian President Vladimir Putin has now become a thorn in the side of any perceived bilateral relationship between the United States and Russia. And with the growing reluctance by the Russian nation to expel NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden , it would be indeed correct to say that the relationship between the two nations is now close to an all-time low. Any chance that Vladimir Putin obtains to further embarrass his American counterpart is seen as a plus by the Russian President.

One of the more unappealing parts of the UN Security Council , remains the very fact, that once any two permanent member seeks to veto any action to be taken , everything becomes null and void . China`s own position may well be, now more closely tied to the other three permanent members of the UNSEC. Chinese President Xi Jinping has become market oriented with regard to his economy, which is now the world`s second largest, with an estimated $ 9.6 trillion GDP, but it should be noted that the Chinese nation is the largest holder of US sovereign debt ($2.455 trillion). What may well now take place within the United Nations will be predicated upon the cases that will be made by the US ambassador Samantha Power and UK ambassador / Philip Parham , UN ambassadors to that international body , if the argument is not laid out by either David Cameron or Barack Obama , personally , at the UN headquarters in New York City.

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The geopolitical issues are not unfounded , when one considers how any such action is likely to be viewed in the Arab world along with the possible economic costs , in terms rising gas prices , as well as possible terrorist reprisals by entities favoring Islamic fundamentalism. One has to wonder if either David Cameron or Barack Obama have seriously thought over the implication of their actions and the likely outcome . Should Bashir al-Assad be overthrown and toppled, then, who will the West seek replace him with ? Lessons, to be learned, indeed . Your thoughts on this all ?

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(1) President Barack Obama ,left, and Secretary of State John Kerry are seen here disembarking from Air Force One. Kerry now seeks to make the case that the US should intervene in Syria after the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian military against the civilian population in the Middle Eastern Country. AP Photo/ Mark Shaw ….

(2) President Bashir al- Assad of Syria , who succeeded his father Hafeez al Assad upon his death, to lead the country. The incumbent leader, denies claims now being made in the West that chemical weapons have been used by the Syrian armed forces against the civilian population as well as against the Syrian opposition in what is seen as a popular uprising against the Baathist led ruling party in Syria. The country`s only publicly known ally in the outside world would appear to be Russia , who also happens to be one of Syria`s main trading partners, as well the country`s biggest military armaments` supplier . AFP/ REUTERS/ Paul Ross …

(3) Sudanese President Omar al Bashir seen here on an official to visit Beijing China . Although the country as now been split into entities with the Muslim led North and the Christian based South. There still remains a great deal of friction between the two countries . The Sudanese leader is looked upon in the West as a war criminal , but neither the European Court or International Court , or UN Court on Human Rights have seen fit to bring charges against al Bashir. AFP/ Getty Images/ Frank Mitchell …

(4) David Cameron , left , is seen here with Barack Obama at the White House . The two leaders are seeking a UN resolution that will grant them the grounds to launch a preemptive strike against Syria . Also being sought would be a `no fly zone ` throughout the greater part of the country , as well as over the nation`s capital of Damascus. REUTERS ……….

(5) Vladimir Putin greets his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping . The two leaders could very well now be at odds, as how best to deal with the current issue in Syria . Both China and Russia have a great deal to lose , with both countries having heavily invested in the country . Adam Ross / The Guardian UK …..

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🙂

tophatal …………. 08/29/2013

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The world`s leading petroleum exporters ….. (source of information US Energy Information Agency)

I told you so !

I told you so!

Now into week three of the NFL preseason and a troubling trend has already began to arise and that now is the number of season ending injuries that have been suffered by a number of players around the league . With teams, now having to trim their rosters to seventy-five players, by no later than 4:00PM Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday afternoon . Coaches around the league must be praying that they can enter the first full week of the regular season with fifty-three able and fit bodies. Between Tuesday and the final week schedule of preseason games , the final cut will be made as to the final roster are for the NFL`s thirty-two teams .

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Several teams have been presumptuous enough to make their first initial cuts , with no real outright major surprises. However, in light of that , it was with a great deal of comical relief that I read of the signing of Matt Leinart , the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner by the Buffalo Bills . I can only assume that with Kevin Kolb having suffered another concussion , the fifth of his career. Leinart was brought by head coach Doug Marrone to provide an able backup for the team`s presumed starter and first round draft pick E J Manuel . From my own perspective seeing Matt Leinart being taken as a first round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft , to now becoming a journey man quarterback in the NFL , all in an astonishing five years , has been truly astounding .

Another of Leinart`s contemporaries from that season`s draft, was former Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young . The once troubled player seems to have rededicated himself , gotten over his psychological disorders and found his way back into the good graces of the league. Young was able to beat out Graham Harrell , to become the backup quarterback to Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers , for the upcoming season . Now whether or not, Young will get to see any regular season playing time , will ultimately be left to Packers` head coach Mike McCarthy . Mop up duty in the latter part of a game, is better than, no duty at all.

Now we can now all attest to the idiocy of what took place with the New York Jets in 2012 . A disastrous season for the team and their complete failure to live up to the fans and organization`s expectations . Head coach Rex Ryan was even bold enough to make the prediction that the team was good enough to win the Superbowl . Well, no such guarantees this season , and it might well be prudent to add that Ryan`s position is now under a great deal of scrutiny by the general manager John Idzik . Truth be told, a great many of the outside observers felt that the coach should have been relieved of his duties, along with his entire assistant coaching staff. Instead, the only person amongst the staff to have been let go, was the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano .

Tim Tebow`s departure from the New York Jets , came as no great surprise, with the player being given relatively little playing time with the team during the regular or preseason in 2012. If anything, the circus sideshow and the indulgence of the New York print and television media in showing their complete stupidity, simply added to the comedic elements of the Jets season, along with Rex Ryan`s own self-indulgence and exuberance. Throw in the fact that the team`s starting quarterback Mark Sanchez became a walking nightmare, more prone to being a liability rather than an asset , and it was easy to understand why 2012 had to be looked at as a disaster for the franchise.

Having witnessed Mark Sanchez’s failures in 2012 and regression as a player, the front office came to a decision that the drafting of a quarterback was necessary , if the team was to succeed in every aspect of its offensive game. As to who that quarterback should have been, did come as a surprise, when it was finally made. Geno Smith was said to be the most accurate of the college quarterbacks declaring their eligibility for the 2013 NFL Draft , but the opinion that he was the best fit for the New York Jets will now come into question. While Smith gave solid performances at West Virginia , questions were raised concerning his maturity level and leadership skills. If there is one thing that we have come to know about the NFL and it is that, above all, beyond the quarterbacks` skill-set , their greatest attribute has to be to be the ability to take command and lead. I certainly do not believe that Smith possesses any of the traits in question ! Does he have the capability to learn ? Well that will be dependent upon the player`s willingness to listen and at the same time learn from the mistakes made by Mark Sanchez not only as a player, but the very fact that the incumbent starter, now seems to genuinely lost the confidence of his teammates , as well the coaching staff and front office . This much is certain, if Mark Sanchez is made the opening day starter for the Jets` regular season , then his reign will be entirely predicated upon his performances and the number of wins attained by the team. Anything sort of that, and he is liable to be demoted and in all certainty see his NFL career taking an abrupt change, to the point of him now becoming backup or a journeyman around the league.

Geno Smith for his part has done himself no favors with his lackluster displays during the Jets` training camp or in his first preseason start in a starting role for the team. In a game against the New York Giants . The rookie quarterback lacked composure, became errant in is throws and lacked the accuracy needed to advance the team down the field. Three interceptions (before the end of the third quarter) and a safety does have a way of making a player look bad and blotting out whatever positives were said to have come out of the game for Smith . Granted , the New York Jets came away with a narrow victory in overtime , where the only positive thing one might say, is that Matt Simms can actually throw a pass. Mark Sanchez came on during the game, was injured and casting another doubt about his ability and whether or not he should still be made the opening day starter in week one .

Inasmuch as I am an avid fan of the New England Patriots and with all of the drama that has surrounded the organization during the off-season and preseason . The fact of the matter is, head coach Bill Belichick and GM Nick Caserio will have a lot riding on this season . I still believe them to be the best team within the AFC East and were they are most likely to be challenged by the Miami Dolphins , if form actually holds true . The departures of Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead were meant to be offset by the acquisition of Danny Amendola . Yet Amendola is no Wes Welker , and no amount of backtracking by the head coach and owner Bob Kraft can defray the fact that they made a monumental mistake in allowing the player to leave . Tom Brady may not have voiced his displeasure, but having given up personally , $9 million for the team to pursue re-signing of the utility wide receiver, . how can Belichick now come back state that the reason for Welker`s departure had nothing at all do with money ? As to this idiocy that the receiver and the head coach did not get along, if Wes Welker was able to endure all of Belichick`s foibles and idiosyncrasies in five years of playing for the Patriots . Then what could have happened in 2012 to really have allegedly soured their relationship ? Much ado about nothing, and in reality simply the press not being intelligent enough to actually do their jobs intelligently to begin with !

The loss of Aaron Hernandez , now under indictment, having been charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd , as well as several weapons` charges, leaves the New England Patriots without its entire leading tight-end receiving corps of last season . Factor in also , that Rob Gronkowski is unlikely to return before week five of the regular season . And it easy to understand why there is now even greater concern for this Patriots` team and what the fans ought to expect this upcoming season . Fueled by a group of young receivers as well as a very talented running back in Stevan Ridley , the offense of the New England Patriots will be asked to reproduce the form shown in 2012. Easier said, than done, and it is unlikely to be the case where the team in its current guise will be able to surpass those achievements.

Tim Tebow, remains an enigma, with the player stating simply, that he will try his best to contribute to the team . Pardon me for saying this, but that sounds like a player with a defeatist attitude and who knows that his time is running out , to prove himself to be a valued member of the Patriots` , much less a contributor to this team on any level . I certainly do not believe that Tim Tebow has done anywhere near enough to remain a member of the Patriots` fifty three man roster, going into the start of New England`s regular season schedule ! And it remains debatable whether or not he is likely to remain a part of the team as of Tuesday afternoon`s deadline for teams to cut their rosters to seventy-five players . What is likely to happen , will be Tebow making the team`s practice squad and not much more beyond that . Merely calling it , like I see it!

If there is still such a thing, as fool`s gold as it pertains to the NFL. Then simply look no further than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and unabashed stupidity now being shown by the local beat writers in the franchise’s market-place . Ric Brown , a writer of some note within the Tampa Bay area and who covers the NFL franchise for The Ledger , a Polk County paper. Brown continues to sing the praises of the team and most notably the Buccaneers` beleaguered quarterback , Josh Freeman . The Buccaneers at present are 1-2 in the preseason and although the schedule does not mean a thing, one should consider the fact that Freeman has continued to struggle in the starting role as the team`s quarterback . The player is in a contract year , becomes a free agent in 2014, and will no doubt be seeking to gain a long-term contract from the Buccaneers` organization. GM Mark Dominik and head coach Greg Schiano , no doubt wary of the player`s issues will be reluctant to offer Freeman the type of contract he and his agent Erik Burckhardt may well be seeking .

The Buccaneers obviously seeking to make even greater inroads in the NFC South during this season , will be in for a tough time , in what is sure to be one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL . The three other divisional occupants are certain to have gotten better and from an offensive standpoint , it could well be the Buccaneers who are the weakest of the quartet made up of themselves , the Atlanta Falcons , Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints . Though Tampa Bay came away with a 17-16 win over the Miami Dolphins, in what turned to be an unevenly paced game . Once again, it was Josh Freeman casting doubts in everyone`s mind, as to the makeup of his psyche as an NFL quarterback. Ric Brown tried to suggest that the Bucs` incumbent starter is learning and has made great strides in terms of his overall play. The statistics simply do not bear this out from the game or for much of the preseason concerning Freeman.

If there is another issue a that most definitely needs to be dealt with by the Buccaneers` coaching staff . Then it is the continued non-appearance this preseason of the Buccaneers` defensive back Darrelle Revis . I understand that the player has yet to regain full game fitness, but to have him sitting on the sidelines garnering further rust, adds noting to what Greg Schiano believes it is that he is doing to protect the player or the alleged monetary investment , albeit that Revis was signed to a six-year $96 million non-guaranteed contract . Acquiring the player was one thing, but then to sign him to such a deal, based upon the supposition that he passed a team physical and then not having Revis suit up at all for a play in the preseason , simply makes no sense whatsoever and only adds to the lack of credibility of Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano concerning this issue . Revis , himself does not seem overly concerned by this as of yet , but clearly there has to be some sort of frustration setting in for a player whose last regular season game came in September , week three of the 2012 regular season , in a Jets` 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Revis would be lost to the New York Jets for the rest of season to a quadriceps` injury having only been a starter in two of the team`s sixteen regular season games from last season.

Greg Schiano and the Buccaneers will be the guests of the New York Jets, when the two teams meet at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford , New Jersey in their regular season opener . Darrelle Revis will hope to be a starter against his former team. As for the two opposing quarterbacks, be it Josh Freeman against either Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez , it is certain to be an interesting season for both signal callers , as each seeks to take their respective teams to postseason glory .

This season a number of milestones are likely to be reached by a number of players seeking to add to NFL history as well as their own respective legacies . New Orleans Saints` quarterback Drew Brees needs only 4,081 to reach the 50,000 career yards` plateau . Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos having already accumulated 59,487 career passing yards , needs a mere 413 to pass 60,000 yards for his career , with only Dan Marino and Brett Favre now ahead of him in the career passing yards` total amongst quarterbacks. Manning and Brees are the active number one and two leading passers in the NFL in terms of career yardage , with both likely to be Canton bound , having met the criteria upon their respective retirements, for induction into the Hall of Fame . Yet, I believe that for both Brees and Peyton Manning, the singular achievements are only the bye-products of individual success, as each would prefer to lead their respective franchises to another Superbowl victory .

Away from the field of play in the NFL, as the league enters the final week of the preseason. The 1,000lb gorilla in the room remains and that is the league`s yet to be adopted policy of in-season testing for human growth hormones and steroids . The league hierarchy and NFLPA (Players` Union) remain at odds on the issue, even though it was agreed to, voted upon and certified by the union in their last collective agreement in 2010. NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and union President Dominique Foxworth have become avuncular, when questioned on the matter, simply that until there is an uniformed testing protocol in place, that is totally in accordance with the league and union`s agreement, they cannot proceed in a positive direction . NFL Roger Goodell , in his continued vein of appearing even more of an imbecile than we already know him to be, issued a statement proclaiming that it would be his intent to see some form testing, beginning with recently retired players and then proceed to begin the active testing of current players in the league. It is this sort of stupidity, why the NFL commissioner and the union itself, cannot be taken seriously on any issue that relates to the safeguard of its members .

At the same time in Congress, both the House Commerce Committee and House Government Oversight Committees seemed nonplussed by the responses of the league and union , after both bodies issued statements to each of the legislative committees that a policy would be in place no later than 2011. It now 2013 , and we have yet to see any concrete evidence that the NFL will ever get around to begin testing for either HGH or any form anabolic steroids, banned under the league`s policy. Even more worrisome is the very fact that the NFL is now holding up MLB (baseball) as what they wish to avoid in a case as it relates to the gathering of evidence for use against a player charged with violating the league`s policy . If the league (NFL) is now seeking to use the ongoing incompetency of baseball as an excuse , then it simply shows another sport`s hierarchy completely lacking in credibility .

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(1) Buffalo Bills quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The veteran quarterback was injured during a preseason game against the Washington Redskins , suffering a concussion and is likely to miss number of the Bills` initial games of their regular season schedule . AP Photo/Gary Wiepert …

(2) FILE – In this Aug. 13, 2012 file photo, Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Leinart (7) passes against the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif. Free-agent quarterback Leinart signed with the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. AP Photo/Tony Avelar ….

(3) Vince Young (13) of the Green Bay Packers is seen here rushing for some additional yards in a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks played Lambeau Field , in Green Bay , Wisconsin . The player was signed by the Packers as the immediate backup to Aaron Rodgers . AP Photo / Marty Cousins …..

(4) New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) reacts to an injury during the second half of a preseason NFL football game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J. He left the game with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. AP Photo/Julio Cortez ….

(5) New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) reacts after throwing his third interception during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ….

(6) DeAndre Levy (54) of the Detroit Lions forces a second quarter fumble during a run by Brandon Bolden (38) of the New England Patriots during a preseason game at Ford Field on August 22, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. The Patriots would go on to lose the game 40-9 against the Lions. Getty Images /Gregory Shamus ….

(7) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by Detroit Lions defensive end Jason Jones (91) in the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. AP Photo/Rick Osentoski ….

(8) Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is sacked by the Patriots Brandon Spikes in a preseason game played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts ,. New England came away victorious in a 25-21 victory against the Buccaneers . Freeman was erratic in the game and followed up that performance with a sub-par showing against the Miami Dolphins in a remarkably average preseason game . Freeman has been inconsistent throughout much of the preseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . Getty Images / Paul Simmons ….

(9) Buccaneers` defensive back Darrelle Revis , center , is seen here alongside GM Mark Dominik ,left and team head coach Greg Schiano . Revis has remained sidelined for the past year recovering from a quadriceps` injury. The player has yet to play a minute of the preseason for his new team and is likely to be used sparingly in the Buccaneers` final preseason home game against the Washington Redskins . Once again , the game will be blacked out , for televised coverage in the local area market , due to remarkably low ticket sales .

(10) NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth, left is seen the Players` Union Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. The union and league hierarchy are now in something of a contentious battle as to what type of testing protocol should be in place for the league`s mandatory in and out of season testing for anabolic steroids and human growth hormones . Having agreed to begin testing for the substances as part of the collective bargaining agreement in 2010 . Neither side has yet to instigate a start , much to the annoyance of two federal committees during which bot NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith agreed that a policy would be in place by no later tan 2012. Three years later and tat policy as yet to be initiated .

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tophatal ________ 08/26/2013
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NFL news

NFL results preseason week 3

NFL transactions

NFL schedule preseason week four

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NFL regular season week one

Feds watching ……………

Feds watching ……….

Well baseball`s season having been encompassed by an ongoing steroids` scandal that now even Bud Selig actually wants no part of , along with the executives who oversee the game, is now looking to wind down its regular season. After a schedule that began on the 31st March 2013 , we are now one hundred and twenty-nine games into the season , with a mere 33 games left before the schedule reaches its finality. Not all of the divisional races are completely known in terms of an outright winner , but it would appear that barring a major catastrophe the Atlanta Braves are likely to be the runaway winners of the NL East . Now not wanting to disparage the other contestants within the division but their challenge to the Braves this season , has bordered on being downright abysmal, if not insulting to the fans of the game.

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At 77-49 , the Atlanta Braves currently possess a fifteen game lead over their closest rival within the division , the Washington Nationals (62-62). With the Philadelphia Phillies having fired manager Charlie Manuel , who has subsequently been replaced by Ryne Sandberg as the ball-club`s interim manager until the end of the season. It remains to be seen, how the team will fare over the remainder of their schedule. Sandberg knows , that this well be the best chance to prove himself to GM Reuben Amaro and the ownership group , that he is a worthy successor to the deposed Manuel . As to the fact, that the team has performed so poorly, with a high-priced roster of overpaid stars , this off-season is likely to be a tumultuous one for this franchise and how they will seek to remedy the issues that have befallen the team. Certainly, Amaro will be looking to off-load a number of the free agents , who the staff will have deemed to be unproductive. In all likelihood , the front office will assess their farm system , promoting from within and pursue not so expensive free agent assignees.

The Phillies will face the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Ballpark, in Philadelphia on Thursday . That game itself, will pit Chad Bettis of the Rockies against the Phillies` Kyle Kendrick . For the Rockies this has been something of an unproductive season , where they are now languishing in third place within the NL West , behind the high-flying Los Angeles Dodgers , leaders of the division followed by the Arizona Diamondbacks .

Fredi Gonzalez and the Braves will take their talents on the road to face the St Louis Cardinals , who are in something of a dog-fight , as they seek to chase down the Pittsburgh Pirates within the NL Central , one of the surprise stories of this MLB season . . Taking the mound for the Braves will be Paul Maholm facing off against Joe Kelly of the Cardinals. This will be one of the more interesting pitching duels of the day within baseball . Atlanta faces something of a minor dilemma with the recent injury to Jason Heyward , with the player being struck on and suffering a broken jaw during a game against the New York Mets at Citi-Field in Flushing , New York. The cause for concern, beyond the player`s return to the team`s DL , was the very fact that in the lead-off spot for the Braves` offense. Heyward had been hitting .364 over his last eleven games for the team along with an on base percentage of .404 and a slugging percentage of .659 , with three home runs and five runs batted in. Yet, the player`s defensive ability was also one of the things that Fredi Gonzalez and his staff had come to rely on during that time-span. The Braves` manager is likely to platoon his playing staff to make up for the loss of Jason Heyward.

Beyond the itinerant stupidity, that we have already seen displayed by baseball`s hierarchy . Is it not enough that we now have to deal with the hypocrisy of the players themselves as it relates to issue steroid abuse within the game ? So much has been made of the recent incident during the game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees , where the Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster struck Yankees` third baseman Alex Rodriguez with a pitch. Yankees` manager Joe Girardi vented his anger, and was removed from the game by the officials . Dempster, was subsequently punished by the league drawing a fine and handed a five-game suspension . Call me naïve , but given the controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez at present , baseball has just taken a step backwards in terms of its action against the pitcher . Albeit , that is being stated that Ryan Dempster has been at the forefront of players speaking out against the use of steroids within the game . To my mind, that has got to be the biggest crock of fecal matter within the game of baseball altogether , much like the idiocy of Matt Kemp`s rather childlike uttering , as it related to the now suspended Ryan Braun . The entire baseball fraternity of players, have remained silent for all too long , and only now are they voicing their displeasure , solely because of the fans` and public`s anger over the issue . As to Red Sox slugger, David Ortiz coming out in support of Rodriguez after Dempster`s actions during the game. Need we be reminded that Ortiz`s name was amongst the one-hundred and four players named in the now infamous `Mitchell Report` of players , who reportedly tested positive for a banned substance ? How soon we all forget , most notably David Ortiz, himself .

As the fourth placed New York Yankees of the AL East seeks to make inroads into the leads held by the Boston Red Sox , Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles ahead of them within the division. It is interesting to note, that beyond the off-field drama that concerns the team , and what is now said to be a lukewarm relationship between GM Brian Cashman and the team`s now unpopular third baseman , Alex Rodriguez . There have been few bright spots to the team`s season, and one of those occasions, came last night . Ichiro Suzuki would add to his already impressive resume` by record by claiming his 4,000 hit in baseball, and granted 1,278 of those hits were recorded playing in the Japanese League (JBL). Yet whichever way you look at it, it is still an astonishing feat by this MLB All Star . Twelve years into what has been one of the great careers in baseball by a Japanese born player , and for any player over the past decade. Ichiro has notched up some incredible feats. His 2722 hits, during his now storied MLB career, places him third amongst active players , only behind Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez , respectively. That figure also places him in fifty-ninth place among the career hits` leaders . Combined however, his 4,000 hits, would only be supplanted by Hall of Fame enshrined Ty Cobb and the . all-time career leader in that specific category , Pete Rose .

The game in which Ichiro Suzuki notched that historic 4,000 hit came against the struggling Toronto Blue Jays , with pitcher R A Dickey , being the player unlucky enough to be part of history . Alfonso Soriano broke open this showdown , but the night obviously belonged to Ichiro , as the team romped to a 4-2 victory over their slumping AL East rivals and further sending the Blue Jays` season into an abyss of sheer mediocrity , from which there now seems absolutely no escape .

New York, is now a mere ½ game behind the third placed Baltimore Orioles within the AL East, but their thoughts must now be firmly placed on the second placed Tampa Bay Rays , who hold a five game lead over the Bronx Bombers . A three game series between these two teams to be played at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida, with the opening salvo taking place on Friday , is sure to be a raucous affair. This might be one of the few times this season where the Rays will actually have a sellout for all three days. And with all three scheduled games due to be televised nationally, this series does promise to be filled with fireworks, as well as undoubtedly , the Rays` fans looking to give Alex Rodriguez a less than salutary welcome at their venue. Taking the mound for the Rays on Friday will be their young pitcher Chris Archer who will face Yankees` starter Hiroki Kuroda . Pitching will be the key to this series , as well dependability from both offenses .

The season series between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays have been fairly close affairs this year, with Joe Maddon`s team holding a slight 7-6 edge in their meetings so far in 2013. There are three more scheduled contests between the two dueling divisional rivals that will take place take place during the final month of the regular season , from the 24th to 26th September at Yankee Stadium , in New York City , New York . There is no denying that Joe Girardi and his players know how important this series just happens to be , in spite of all of the off the field issues . Likewise , Joe Maddon , must feel that any kind of misstep that allows the New York Yankees to inch closer to the Rays in the divisional standings as well as the wildcard picture , places and even greater burden upon his team , whose recent record of late, has been a model of inconsistency .

For much of the Rays` season it has been James Loney leading the way , yet there have been some valued contributions from other players on the team . This off-season there is no doubt in my mind that once again for this troubled franchise , it will be a matter of cutting their expenditure to meet their needs . A patron of my site, who is an avid supporter of the Rays` organization points to the fact that the ball-club is a profitable entity. Yet what he continues to overlook is the very fact that the Tampa Bay Rays would not be a profitable concern, were it not for the fact the organization is continually reliant upon baseball`s hierarchy to provide them with an assist by way of the luxury tax. For GM Andrew Friedman , who as been able to work wonders on almost a shoestring budget in terms of the team payroll and being able to acquire players who have proven to be productive, gives credence to his acumen as one of the better general managers within Major League Baseball. I truly believe that both Friedman and manager Joe Maddon are the most valuable assets within the Rays` organization , bar none ! .

The recalcitrant shown by senior managing partner , Stuart Sternberg is now beginning to grow thin along with his continued whining and the most ridiculous of statements that can be attributed to him directly , Beyond knowing that he will never have the full support of Bud Selig, in aiding the franchise to obtaining a new ballpark . Fans in recent weeks have listened to Sternberg readily admit, that teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees having large payrolls , is actually good for the business of baseball . Now unless Stuart Sternberg has not been taking note as of late, at least one-quarter of the teams within the game continue to struggle from a financial standpoint , with many in a similar position if having to rely on the good graces of league to provide them with an assist to actually stay afloat . All this, from an individual, who is said to have made is fortune in the field of the commodities` market as a managing partner of a brokerage firm ?

I firmly believe that the vast majority of the owners within baseball are not completely in touch with reality, very much in a similar vein as Bud Selig remains in the dark , as to real issues that have brought down the game of baseball, where it has now become a complete laughing-stock for all of the wrong reasons ! If the commissioner now believes that his latest edict of instant replay to be initiated in 2014, is the best that he can now offer, while the issue of steroids within baseball runs amok at not only the Major League Level, but also remains a troubling issue in the Minors , then clearly , it is now time baseball`s Board of Governors to start considering their options for a noteworthy successor to the incumbent commissioner . It would be in their best interest to look completely outside of the game for someone with fresh and progressive ideas, rather than someone who is simply willing to tow the line of a group of owners, whose only concerns seems to be greed and offering the fans a somewhat mediocre on-field product .

While Bud Selig continues at large to run around like a headless chicken , it also troubling to note that once again , it has been left to the US Justice Department to try and rid the game of individuals such as Doctor Anthony Galea , Victor Conte and Anthony Bosch. Unfortunately, even after their eventual demise, be it through their imprisonment or simply being exposed as a fraud. There is likely to be someone else to take their place, with the MLB hierarchy simply sowing no vigilance as to the impending and growing dangers within their midst . Baseball has now become so damn incompetent , mirroring what we continue to witness each day with the federal government and their own incompetency, there. Feds watching and not much is really being done at the end of the day !

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(1) Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton , second from right, is congratulated by pitching coach Roger McDowell , left, and manager Fredi Gonzalez , second from left, as he is followed into the dugout by Paul Maholm , right, after hitting a two-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, in St. Louis. The Cardinals would defeat the Braves 6-2 . AP Photo/Jeff Roberson ….

(2) St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Joe Kelly throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, in St. Louis. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson ….

(3) Philadelphia Phillies’ Michael Young , left, is cheered by teammate Carlos Ruiz after making the game-winning run on a hit by Domonic Brown during the ninth inning of a baseball game to defeat the Colorado Rockies 5-4 , Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson ….

(4) The Philadelphia Phillies’ new manager, Ryne Sandberg, is greeted by Chase Utley, right, before the start of action against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Friday, August 16, 2013. RON CORTES, MCT ….

(5) New York Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki, of Japan, follows through on a single for his 4,000th career hit in Japan and the major leagues, during the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, in New York. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …

(6) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez tosses his helmet after he was called out at first for the third out in the bottom of the fourth inning with two runners on-base in a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(7) FILE – In this Feb. 24, 2012 file photo, Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun speaks during a news conference at spring training baseball in Phoenix. Braun stood on a spring training field and proclaimed he was innocent of using banned testosterone. Braun has finally admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs during his NL MVP season of 2011 . The suspended Milwaukee slugger said in a statement released Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, by the Brewers that he took a cream and a lozenge containing banned substances while rehabilitating an injury. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong …

(8) BALTIMORE, MD – AUGUST 21: Adam Jones (10) of the Baltimore Orioles is greeted in the dugout after hitting a solo home run against the Tampa Bay Rays in the third inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 21, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Orioles won, 4-2 . Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images …

(9) BALTIMORE, MD – AUGUST 21: Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58) of the Tampa Bay Rays is relieved in the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 21, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images …

(10) ST. PETERSBURG – AUGUST 13: Infielders (L – R) Yunel Escobar (11) and James Loney (21) of the Tampa Bay Rays relax during a pitching change against the Seattle Mariners during the game at Tropicana Field on August 13, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(11) From left to right, Tampa Bay Rays` managing partner Stuart Sternberg , Matthew Silverman , GM Andrew Friedman and the team`s manager Joe Maddon. The executives and manager were pictured at Tropicana Field in 2008, when the team won the AL pennant and were the league`s representatives in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies . They would subsequently lose the series in a lopsided fashion 4-1 . This off-season the managing partners will face some tough questions by way of the team`s payroll and whether or not to reduce or increase it, dependent upon the resources available . The organization still seeks help from Bud Selig`s office in seeking a new venue , and the commissioner has been reluctant to help the franchise. Further exacerbating the situation , has been Bud Selig`s repudiating remarks, calling the team`s owners unambitious and the local municipalities uncompromising . Courtesy of Tampa Bay Times/ Keith Connolly …..

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tophatal ………….. 08/22/2013

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MLB news and news from around the league

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2 Chainz … feat`g Pharrell ………. `Feds watching`

A season to behold or not ………… make a case ?

A season to behold or not ………… make a case ?

Well not much to report as week two of the NFL preseason will come to a close of tonight with the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Washington , DC. For the Redskins , the talk has been whether or not the team`s sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin III and his head coach Mike Shanahan are on the same page in terms of the player`s recovery from knee surgery and is now back to full health . Shanahan does have cause for concern, because the loss of Griffin before the regular season has started , would be a devastating loss for a franchise that rebounded to have a very successful season , having won their division (NFC East) and making a playoff appearance . Undoubtedly, the fans will be expecting a great deal more in 2013 as the franchise looks to improve and prove that last year was no mere aberration.

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Griffin and his backup Kirk Cousins were able provide the Redskins with the type of offense offense that was lacking for so a ref= many years with the franchise. And with an effective running game provided by running back Alfred Morris . It does give credence to the fact that this team should be considered as one of the more credible franchises good enough within the NFC to be thought of as a serious contender for the Superbowl . Coming off a narrow 22-21 victory over the Tennessee Titans during which Washington exhibited no more than an adequate number of plays , giving Mike Shanahan and his staff a chance to assess a number of his starters as well as the young rookies acquired in the NFL Draft and a number of free agent acquisitions . By my own estimation, I believe that the Redskins will most certainly have to show a great deal of improvement in the team`s defense . It was a problem all season long for the franchise, giving up on average 377 yards per game ranking the team twenty eighth overall of the league`s thirty-two teams in 2012 . If that issue can be rectified, then we could very well see the very best of the Washington Redskins in 2013 .

For those young Redskins` rookies now seeking to make in impact , the preseason will be the chance for them show their worth to the organization as a whole . Aaron David , Jordan Reed , Phillip Thomas , Chris Thompson , Brandon Jenkins , Baccari Rambo and Jawan Jamison are seen as the players seeking to make that a reality. With games against the Buffalo Bills at home on the 24th August , before closing out their preseason exhibition against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa , Florida . The reigning NFC East champions would like nothing better than to close out their preseason on a winning note .

Mike Shanahan and his Washington Redskins will begin their regular season with a divisional clash against the Philadelphia Eagles , in a match-up that will be of vital meaning for both teams . In a televised Monday night game , it will be interesting to see who the starting quarterback will be for the Eagles , after what appears to be something of a season of mixed fortunes Chip Kelly`s contestants for the position for the opening day starter. There is seasoned veteran Michael Vick looking to answer the question , as to whether not he is still capable of leading a team, or second year player Nick Foles , who when called upon, has proven himself to be comfortable in the role as an NFL quarterback of note .

Chip Kelly can ill afford to start off this season with any type of indecision concerning his roster , after the upheavals that took place in 2012, leading to the departure of former head coach Andy Reid . Also , with Vick`s indecision , lack of leadership, but most of all, Reid`s insistence that his veteran quarterback was the best option in leading the team, was a clear indication as to how dire the situation was said to be. A 4-12 season with a fourth place finish in the NFC East pretty much summed up a disastrous 2012 for the Philadelphia Eagles . As to what the fans can expect of the team this season, will very much be predicated upon what the head coach can get out of his players by way of an all-out effort .

There is a continuing enigma surrounding the Chicago Bears` quarterback Jay Cutler . Often called a franchise caliber quarterback , this Pro Bowl player to my mind, has fallen far short of expectations . And in no way can Cutler be viewed as a leader , much less a player thought to be in the prime of his career or as one of the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL , since his entry into the league in 2006 , when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos as the eleventh overall pick in the first round that year . Though the Bears narrowly missed qualifying for the postseason in 2012, the continued knock against Jay Cutler has been the fact that his talents, belies his will to win. Excuses continue to be made for a player that remains amongst the highest paid players at his position in the NFL .

Sooner or later , it will be time for Cutler to either put up or simply shut up . This is a contract year, for the quarterback, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2014 and . It will certainly be interesting to see how Jay Cutler acquits himself this season for the Chicago Bears as the team seeks divisional supremacy over their rivals.

The Bears` 33-28 defeat of the San Diego Chargers for rookie head coach Marc Trestman was the baptism of fire for the well-respected former coordinator . Trestman replaces fired former head coach Lovie Smith . As to the reasons for the dismissal of Smith by Bear` GM Phil Emery , the explanations seem vague and somewhat ambiguous, to say the very least. Now while I believe the Chicago Bears to be a very good team , mainly because of a defense that has always been tenacious , and known for getting at an opposing quarterback and for their takeaways . It remains Cutler`s inconsistency to perform at a high level , and anemic passing offense that remains a blight for the team.

Marc Trestman and his coaching staff will have a great deal assess during this preseason , before the Bears embark upon their regular season schedule . Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte remain the main emphasis of an offense which I have already described as anemic after last season`s efforts. With the Bears being the guests of the Oakland Raiders in a game to be played at the O Coliseum in Oakland , California, as part the week three preseason schedule . A number of the Bears` starters and several players on the team`s depth chart are expected to see some playing time against Dennis Allen`s Raiders team . In what should prove to be a test of two teams looking to make some real inroads , as each seeks to raise the level of their play, in the build up to their regular season openers .

Chicago’s regular season opener will be against the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field , in Chicago , Illinois,. For the Bengals and Marvin Lewis , this may well be the year in which this team can make even further strides, after making the postseason for the last two consecutive seasons . Andy Dalton remains one of the unheralded young quarterbacks to have been drafted in the NFL over the past four seasons . It has been his play that has spawned the resurrection of this franchise during the time-span in question. Dalton`s performances in conjunction with the play of A J Green and Jermaine Gresham , that have been one of the more pleasant surprises in watching the Bengals , and the trio could very well prove to be a mainstay of the franchise for years to come .

It would be fair to suggest that for the better part of his career Brian Urlacher was a mainstay of the Bears` defense . A future Hall of Fame inductee, the player was not re-signed to a contract extension this off-season . Rather than seeking to play elsewhere in spite of is anger at being discarded by the only organization he has ever played for. Urlacher formally announced his retirement and is likely to be hired by one of the major broadcast or cable networks to provide his analysis and insight on the game .

It is not inexplicable to understand how a team such as the Detroit Lions can go from being a franchise on the rise in 2011 to a club that simply regressed in 2012 ending that season with 4-12 record within the NFC North . One could say that the abrasiveness of head coach Jim Schwartz and the lack of leadership from Matt Stafford played a part in the elements of a dismal season last year . Granted, a prolific offense remained on show last season, with the Lions averaging over 400 yards of offense per game , third only to the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints . Yet, what those three teams had in common was a porous defense that simply could not stop any type of offense challenge thrown against them under any circumstance.

Matt Stafford for is part, in 2012, simply put up gaudy numbers in terms of total yardage in a season , throwing for over 4900 yards , failing to break the 5,000 yard threshold by a mere thirty-three yards. The tandem of Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson would however, go on to break the single season receiving yardage mark , once held by Jerry Rice , a record (1,848yds) that withstood assaults for seventeen years , until it was surpassed in 2012 , with Johnson`s mark of 1,964 yards. While I am not against the singular achievement of an individual in a team context, I do believe that you win and lose as a team ! Those feats, while exemplary, mean absolutely nothing if at the end of season , all that the team will be remembered for , is finishing with a sub 500 record and firmly rooted at the bottom of your division. I can categorically state that both Matt Stafford and Calvin Jonson would have traded their single season achievements, if it guaranteed the Detroit Lions a berth in the 2012 postseason !

Jim Schwartz and the Lions were lackadaisical in their 24-6 lopsided defeat to the Cleveland Browns , in a game that we know not to be meaningful . Yet, it gave cause for concern, as the Lions` defense seemed to overly complacent , missing several assignments during the contest . Once again, bringing into question, whether or not Nick Fairley and Ndamokung Suh can been seen as the lynch pins of this defense for the long-term sustainability of this franchise ? ? Certainly during the regular season both of these players should be capable of raising the level of their game, yet it remains somewhat doubtful, if Sunday`s game is anything to go by. Given the respective salaries of Fairley and Suh, I would hate to think that both contracts have been a complete waste !

The acquisition of Reggie Bush gives Matt Stafford another weapon out of the backfield, as well as a running back, who when capable, is usually productive . But I can`t help but wonder, if Bush at this stage of his career is still motivated enough to produce at the highest level possible !. In New Orleans and Miami , he simply failed to meet the expectations sought and it is quite possible , that he may well fail here with the Detroit Lions . Yet only time will tell, and the actual hunger of the seasoned running back to make a return to the postseason and show the world what he is actually capable of doing .

Detroit will begin its regular season schedule with a game against divisional rivals the Minnesota Vikings and reigning league MVP Adrian Peterson . Ford Field in Detroit ,Michigan, is likely to be packed to rafters for a divisional match-up that pits two of the NFC`s more robust teams. Leslie Frazier , head coach of the Vikings, will be hoping that starting quarterback Christian Ponder can lead this team with a great deal of authority and maturity over the course of the season. The NFC North is likely to be a division that sees the Green Bay Packers quite possibly making a successful defense of their title under head coach Mike McCarthy and his singular minded quarterback Aaron Rodgers . All roads to the division, may have to pass through Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin,.

Stanley Kroenke , in an article in the magazine Sports Illustrated , has been described as the one of the most powerful men in all of North American sports . Granted , unimaginable wealth , as a member of Forbes` 400 List of Richest Americans . does bring along its privileges and notoriety . Kroenke`s sports interests through his Kroenke Sports Enterprises owns the St Louis Rams , Colorado Avalanche , Colorado Rapids , Arsenal FC of the Premiership (EPL) as well as the majority stake owner of Dick`s Sporting Goods chain. Of late, there has been mounting criticism of Kroenke and his ownership of the English soccer team. However , it should be noted that his original overtures to buy an initial 15% of the team, was warmly welcomed by the board members . In gradually raising his stake in Arsenal over an eighteen month period to above 28%, Stanley Kroenke was legally obliged to inform the London Stock Exchange of the raising of his stake in the soccer club , as is required by UK law, when there is intent to mount a bid to purchase a publicly listed company. .

Yet , Kroenke`s wish to own a majority stake was not about to take a backseat , as he has seen fellow prominent North American sports` franchise owners enter into the English soccer market over the past several years snapping up teams , primarily to maximize their investment . Franchise values for North American sports` teams are on the rise and their values are far greater than that of their British and European counterparts. Yet those values, are not appreciating as fast as those across the Atlantic. Now while the NFL , MLB , NBA and NHL do have a global presence. By comparison, soccer simply dominates the global scene as the most popular sport on the planet . It has been this realization that has led to John Henry of the Boston Red Sox , Stanley Kroenke , Malcolm Glazer and Shahid Khan to now take aim in purchasing a number of the top teams in the Premiership .

The regular season opener in the Premiership, saw Arsenal entertain Aston Villla at their palatial home of Emirates Stadium , in North London. The game itself, would be a humiliating event for the hosts, as the team was simply outclassed 3-1 in what turned out to be a very lopsided affair . Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger was left at a loss for words , as to the reasons behind his side`s defeat . The fans responded, calling for the head of Stanley Kroenke and the very fact , that since his installation as the club`s owner , very little has been done to improve the team`s roster by way of acquiring any major players .

I am not about to suggest that Kroenke`s tenure of the soccer franchise will be short-lived , but I do believe that if as he states , it is his wish to bring some success to Arsenal . Then his first act, will be to open up is pocket , rather than creating the perception that he is simply another North American sports` franchise owner , simply being a predator, on the loose seeking to make a monetary profit from is investment , while not seeking to make that team a competitive entity. Lessons have obviously not been learned from the disastrous ownership of Liverpool FC , which was placed into receivership (UK bankruptcy proceedings) after then owners Tom Hicks and Ken Gillette simply laden that club with a mountain of debt . With the team, now debt-free, and under the ownership of John Henry and his Fenway Sports Management Group , the soccer club is now in a much better financial standing and considered to be contender for major domestic and European trophies over the course of the season .

The St Louis Rams are stuck in division , where two of the NFC`s best teams from last season now reside. It would pretty much safe to say that the NFC West will remain a two-horse this year between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks , with the Rams and Arizona Cardinals , likely to be left on the outside looking in . St Louis has started off its preseason schedule under a cloud, having gone win-less in their first two games . Starting quarterback , Sam Bradford now entering his fourth season as a passer in the league, is slowly acclimatizing himself to the rigors of the game. Unfortunately, for the player , coaching upheavals instigated by the front office , have not created a great working environment under which Bradford can operate in his role. Jeff Fisher , having succeeded Steve Spagnuolo , as the Rams` head coach, will now seek to reinvigorate the attitude of this team while also seeking the input of his young quarterback.

Rams` EVP & COO Kevin Demoff and GM Les Snead , working in conjunction with Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff have drafted the players they feel can best complement a roster that must now strive to make a great deal of improvement in 2013 . Closing out their preseason schedule with wins against the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens would be the best way place themselves in the right frame of mind, with the regular season a little over two weeks away. Sam Bradford has to now take command and prove himself a leader of this Rams team.

At its core, this is an extremely group of players that Jeff Fisher will lead into this season , with but a mere handful of players with more than five years of NFL experience . As to what that indicates by way of what Stanley Kroenke seeks to do in terms of the expenditure made by way of the team`s payroll, can be best summed up by the events now taking place across the Atlantic with his other sport`s interest there , Premiership soccer club , Arsenal . Kroenke may well have made is billions by making some very shrewd in investments and by way many of the outside interests of Kroenke Sports Enterprises, not concerned with the professional sports` teams. Yet no one can deem to think it possible that the Rams can seek any type of success when you have an owner , who would rather rest on his laurels, by way of the teams acquired and the ancillary services provided by is company, without there now being any type of tangible on-field success to show for it all .

St Louis will kick of its regular season schedule with a home game at the Edward Jones Dome Stadium in St Louis , Missouri , against the Arizona Cardinals led by Carson Palmer and their highly respected wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald . Both teams will be looking at this match-up as a real test of their competitive acumen, as well seeking to obtain first blood in the first of their two divisional meetings in 2013.

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Picture gallery .

This NFL season could very well have a great deal in store for the fans . In light of all of the adverse news that the league has been encompassed with as of late, as a fan of the game, I am hopeful that the teams are able to provide us with the best entertainment possible ! Your thoughts, on this all, simply offer up a comment as you see fit.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details .
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(1) Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (5) runs away from Washington Redskins linebacker Darryl Tapp (54) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, in Landover, Md. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(2) Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) listens to the play calls on a radio while on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, in Landover, Md. The Redskins defeated the Steelers 24-13 . AP Photo/Nick Wass ….

(3) Redskins` head coach Mike Shanahan speaks to his young quarterback Robert Griffin III . The player taken, was the team`s number one draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft , and has proven to be an team immediate success with fans and the entire organization , with the rookie putting up exemplary numbers in his first full season in the NFL, in 2012 . AP Photo / Patrick Masters ……

(4) Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick, left, is tackled by Carolina Panthers defensive end Wes Horton during the first half of a preseason NFL football game , Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Matt Rourke ….

(5) Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton , left, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick meet after a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 14-9 . AP Photo/Matt Rourke ….

(6) Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin (99) sacks San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during the first half of the preseason NFL football game , Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Chicago. Rivers loses the ball which was recovered by Bears safety Major Wright on the play . AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast …..

(7) Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) gets sacked by San Diego Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget (94) during the first half of the preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Chicago. AP Photo/Jim Prisching ….

(8) Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush (21) runs away from Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Desmond Bryant in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Cleveland. The Browns defeated the Lions n 24-6 . AP Photo/Tony Dejak ….

(9) Calvin Johnson (81) left is congratulated by teammate , Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions . The Lions` wide receiver would surpass Jerry Rice`s single season receiving yardage mark of 1,848 , set in 1995 , on his way to setting a new record mark of 1,964yards last season . Johnson believes that he is capable of surpassing the 2,000 receiving yards` mark. Yet, singular achievements while glorious, means absolutely nothing, when the team is not winning games . As evidenced with the Lions` menial record of 4-12 and a last place finish in the always competitive NFC North . AP Photo / Greg Goulding …..

(10) Stanley Kroenke , majority stakeholder in the famed North London Premiership soccer club , Arsenal FC , is now under siege after the team`s inauspicious start to the 2013-2014 season in the Barclays Premier League (EPL) . The team lost 3-1 to Aston Villa in rather humiliating fashion . Leading many to believe, that Kroenke is simply disinterested in the success of the team but more concerned over its value and the very fact that it is also one of most profitable soccer clubs and professional sports` franchises in the world . Arsenal fans are outraged with the entire board and its unwillingness to spend money to bring in new players . The soccer club has a number of lucrative deals that nets , in excess of $ 250 million annually . In is private life it should also be noted that Stanley Kroenke is married to Ann Walton-Kroenke , daughter and heiress of the late Sam Walton , founder of the Walmart chain of stores, the world`s largest retailer . The Guardian UK / Nigel Armstrong ….

(11) Head coach Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams watches from the sidelines alongside defensive tackle Kendall Langford (98) and quarterback Sam Bradford (8) during the game against the Washington Redskins at Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri. Getty Images North America /Jamie Squire ……..

(12) Carl Jenkinson of Arsenal tackles Fabian Delph a of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League(EPL) match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2013 in London, England. Villa would go on to defeat Arsenal 3-1 in the Gunners` opening game of the 2013-14 Premiership season . Getty Images Europe / Clive Mason ….

(13) Theo Walcott (left) of Arsenal avoids Antonio Luna of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2013 in London, England. Getty Images Europe /Clive Mason ….

(14) Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Manchester, England. Getty Images Europe/ Alex Livesey …….

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tophatal …………………… 08/19/2013

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Chicago Bears news

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Premier League (EPL) official home site and EPL news

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NFL news and news from around the league

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Hot chic image of the day Katee Owen .

People who live in glass houses

People who live in glass houses

People who live in glass houses should not be throwing stones . Well, I do not live in a glass house , but I am going to throw a rock at this issue . Major League Baseball and its hierarchy led by Commissioner Bud Selig , have now drawn the ire of the fans, with many showing their disgust in the way that the commissioner has handled the latest controversy to sully the ongoing image of baseball . Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees remains an obstacle in how many now view the game and its legitimacy. Of the thirteen players named in baseball`s case, embroiling them in the Biogenesis ` scandal` . It is Rodriguez, who remains the lone holdout, in not wishing to accept a suspension for his alleged involvement violating the league`s performance enhancing drug policy. The player continues to plead his innocence, of all of the allegations made against him. Meanwhile, the Yankees` organization , obviously embarrassed, remain at a loss as how best to resolve the matter, while not seeking add to their financial burden concerning the now beleaguered third baseman .

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Slideshow .

In the latest turn of events Alex Rodriguez has hired one of New York city`s most prominent criminal defense attorneys , Joe Tacopina , to be a part of his legal defense team to defend him in his upcoming appeal , which will be a tribunal appeal held in front of an independent arbitrator. Now while this is not a criminal trial , each side will be allowed to present their case to the arbitrator , whose decision will be final and binding . Rodriguez, is unlikely to take the stand in his defense, with his attorneys presenting their case, on behalf of their client. Tony Bosch, founder of Biogenesis will be the main witness on behalf of baseball (MLB) in the presentation of their case against the player.

Now dependent upon what you might read into the addition of Joe Tacopina to Rodriguez`s legal defense arsenal. The presumption of guilt, must be weighing heavily against the player , in which he has now added a criminal defense attorney to an already heavy-hitting legal team made up of several high-profiled litigators. . At stake, is not only Alex Rodriguez`s livelihood, but also, his very future within the game. If the league`s case is upheld , then in all likelihood Rodriguez`s career in baseball would most certainly come to an abrupt end . There is no way that any team within the game is likely to sign the player, were he made to sit out the entire 2014 baseball season, as well several games into 2015. Two hundred and eleven games, were meant to be the sum total of the player`s suspension, that would cost him in excess of $36.5 million in lost income, by way of his salary over the time frame in question . Sitting out an entire year and then seeking to make a return adds insult to injury given the fact that Frederic Horowitz , the adjudicator presiding over the case sees Alex Rodriguez`s act as one of premeditation as well , as his ongoing deceit.

As the game`s highest paid player , Alex Rodriguez has been lucky enough to have signed two multi-year deals, paying him on each occasion in excess of $250 million . The two teams involved in both of these transactions were the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers . This season, it must be said, that the Rangers do seem to be faring a great deal better than their AL East counterparts. And though as of late , with Alfonso Soriano is having exceptional two-game stretch , where he has been more productive for the New York Yankees , than he was, in his previous fifteen games for the Chicago Cubs , from whom he was acquired earlier on this month . Rodriguez is trying to up the ante , in terms of his value to the Yankees, as he seeks to resume what has been an extremely controversial and troubled career over the nine years .

In March of 2010 , Alex Rodriguez admitted his use of performance enhancing drugs, after years of denial to the press and MLB hierarchy alike. The fact that since that admission of guilt, the player`s name has been twice associated with the use of a prohibitive and banned substance , but not until 2013 , has Bud Selig seen fit to take direction action against the player , in spite of the mounting evidence and his continued denials over that time. What has also been very troubling during this whole comical saga mishandled by Major League Baseball, has been the very fact that the commissioner did not seek to expedite a speedy tribunal hearing. Instead, it has been Rodriguez seeking the input of the MLBPA (union) , who having filed the player`s appeal , will also assist him in his defense.

I get the feeling that the Players` Union, seems to be more concerned with their members, than it is for the purity of the game . In our midst at present, I do believe that we now have the most despised player within the game of baseball ! Rodriguez , may well seek to use whatever excuse, to placate himself from another calculated misstep , that has now seen him fall from grace for a second time within four years. Major League Baseball, for its part , allows the player continue with his career pending the appeal process. If the player is found guilty , then the question becomes, results obtained by the New York Yankees during the formal announcement of the player`s suspension up until the time of arbitrator`s verdict , will they be allowed to stand , if it has somehow cost a potential AL wildcard aspirant a chance of making the postseason ? Those opponents should have every right to feel aggrieved that Alex Rodriguez has been allowed to play.

A preliminary appeal date for Alex Rodriguez` hearing has been not been set , and all likelihood the appeal`s process is unlikely to begin until after the end of the regular season and quite possibly not until after this year`s World Series. Very much in line with what the player no doubt set out to achieve in getting a chance to play in the postseason and being able to contribute to the Yankees` endeavors ,should the team actually make it that far. The Yankees` third baseman , has tried to set himself apart from many of his peers. As a teammate , who is always willing to help the younger members of the team and assist them in any way possible. Yet, the facts do not seem to bear this out , and if the rumors are to believed , his relationships with a number of Yankees` players is said to be strained and often lukewarm. Clearly the relationship between Alex Rodriguez and general manager Brian Cashman must now be at an all-time low . The most recent dust-up between the two, led to an unsavory incident that made the sports` pages of every major newspaper in New York city , with the player being made the villain of the piece, and being castigated by many of the journalists and op-ed contributors, as well as by many of the sports` fans, who sought weigh in with their own opinion of the latest scandal to hit the New York Yankees` organization , further tarnishing its image.

Courtesy of CBS Sports.com

Weiner: A-Rod’s appeal won’t be done until season is over

By Dayn Perry, Baseball Writer

More A-Rod: A-Rod, 12 others suspended | Heyman: A-Rod to appeal | Impact on Yanks

As noted, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez intends to appeal his 211-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, and he’ll remain on the active roster and eligible to play until his appeal is heard and ruled upon.

And that brings us to this comment from MLBPA head Michael Weiner :

There’s a very clear implication here, and the implication is that A-Rod will play the entire remainder of the 2013 season. That’s significant, of course, because the Yankees are in the playoff race, and A-Rod, even at age 38 and with two surgically repaired hips, has the potential to give them a substantial upgrade at third base.

As CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman noted earlier on Monday, the time-frame of the appeals process is as follows:

The evidence is said to suggest Rodriguez bought or used steroids in 2010, ’11 and ’12. However, all of it will be heard at a hearing certainly within 20 days; the JDA actually calls for the “panel to convene a hearing as soon as practicable and, absent good cause show, no later than 10 days after grievance is filed.” With only one case presumably to be heard, perhaps the hearing could be expedited.

Baseball’s arbitrator, Fredric Horowitz, will then have 25 days to render a verdict.

And by the sounds of things, you can certainly expect A-Rod’s appeal to be a vigorous one. First, here’s A-Rod’s official statement:

“I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process. I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by my side through all this.”

And now here’s Weiner’s:

“We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately under the Basic Agreement. Mr. Rodriguez knows that the Union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously. We must revisit the JDA’s confidentiality provisions and consider implementing stricter rules for any breach.”

And finally, A-Rod’s attorney, David Cornwell :

“It is regrettable that the Commissioner’s office has taken this unprecedented action. Major League Baseball has gone well beyond the authority granted to its Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement. Consequently, we will appeal the discipline and pursue all legal remedies available to Alex.”

For the time being, get used to seeing A-Rod in the Yankee lineup.

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At 62-58 , currently lying fourth within the within the AL East , the New York Yankees are nine games behind division leaders the Boston Red Sox (72-50) and a . mere six games behind the two leading wildcard seeking candidates within the AL, who are the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A`s . Yet the ball-club would also have to leapfrog the other three teams also seeking one of the two available berths. And given the play of the Baltimore Orioles , Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals , this could prove to be too tall a task to ask of the New York Yankees. And that is in spite of the latest chain of events concerning the inspired play of Alfonso Soriano. . On Thursday, in the final game of their trilogy against the Los Angeles Angels , New York would become unglued , going down in an 8-4 loss , in a game marked by a lack of consistent pitching and the sudden silence of the Yankees` offense in terms run production ,albeit that the team collected fifteen hits in the defeat .

With a three game series , set to begin on Friday, against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park , in Boston, the New York Yankees will be looking to old rivalries , while seeking close the gap on the AL East divisional leaders. Taking the mound for the Yankees will be Andy Pettite (7-9,ERA 4.62) against Felix Doubront (8-5, ERA 3.66). The New York Yankees do need to win this series, if they are to have any hope of narrowing the margin between themselves and the teams ahead of them in the wildcard standings. I do not believe that the divisional title is within their grasp and with the Orioles and Rays seemingly with a tight grip on their places within the AL East . It now becomes game, of which team is now liable to crack under pressure , as we approach the final month of the regular season schedule .

With the career of Derek Jeter now winding down , the very public face of this Yankees` franchise will now become a vacuum . Certainly, Alex Rodriguez cannot fill that role , albeit that he was looked upon by team`s owners as being the individual to become the heir-apparent to Jeter in that role . Add in the fact that if Rodriguez while an active player on the roster were to break the all-time career home run record , of which he now leads all active players in that specific category . It would simply add one more feather in the cap of baseball`s most illustrious franchise . That now seems to be something of a remote possibility and if anything, a feat that would be looked upon rather dubiously , dubiously, given that the current holder of baseball`s most heralded record remains a pariah within the game.

Barry Bonds` departure from baseball was looked upon as a blessing and a curse , because a Pandora`s Box was opened up to a seedier side of the game , that not even Bud Selig can now close with any measure of success. Any thought that the game of baseball has been able to clean up its image in terms of two tainted decades of rampant cheating, can now firmly be placed alongside the Black Sox scandal as one of the most self-destructive periods and things to have happened in the game`s history. The remnants of the Biogenesis debacle will remain with baseball for years to come and will not be easily forgotten, because of the deceit , and depth of depravity shown by the players embroiled in this controversial chapter of baseball history . Revisionists will seek to rewrite this episode, as being something of a faded memory. Yet, records will show how rampant an epidemic, the use of performance enhancing drugs had become, along with the names associated with the scandal .

Robinson Cano remains a fan favorite amongst the New York Yankees` fans , and with very good reason . The player embodies what the franchise is said to be about, in terms of the players steeped in tradition long associated with the history of ball-club. However, with Cano set to become a free agent at the end of this season , there now seems to doubts setting in, as to whether or not he will remain with the only organization he has ever played for in the Big Leagues. The six-year , $57 million deal, signed by Robinson Cano in 2008, comes to an end this season. There now seems to be a growing reluctance by Brian Cashman to sign the player to a multi-year deal that would most certainly make him amongst a the highest paid players on the New York Yankees` roster. Now represented by RocNation Sports , a company founded by rapper and entrepreneur Jay-z in conjunction with CAA Sports . Cano is the highest profiled athlete signed to the artist`s fledgling sports management company, and now looking g to make inroads in all four of the major professional team sports, as well pursuing acquiring fighters within the UFC as well as boxing. The rapper also known as Sean Carter , would like nothing better than to have his client sign a deal that would not leave an imprint of his success in this new endeavor , but also garner further attention for RocNation Sports, with the hope of luring other dissatisfied athletes to his company .

The New York Yankees certainly do need Robinson Cano , with an injury riddled and an aging roster, no longer what it once was. Losing Cano to free agency would be a devastating blow for the organization. A career . 308 hitter , Robinson Cano and his representatives know that there would be a willing number of suitors looking to pay for his unique services. It would not be out of the realm of possibility that the player could sign with another team willing to acquire him at the right price . With the vast resources available to the New York Yankees , a decision will have to be made quickly, during the off-season . Because there is no doubt in mind, that Jay-Z will have begun to shop around his client`s services the moment he becomes an unrestricted free agent. A seven or ten-year contract, for no less an asking price of between $220 million to $245 million, does not seem out of the question or truly exorbitant, given the payrolls of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, respectively. Yet, it has been baseball`s unwillingness to deal with its financial imbalances , that now seems to be leading it even closer to a precipice , where in due course, it will undoubtedly take that foreseen plunge over the edge .

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In light of what you have read in this article, do you believe that any decision rendered by the arbitrator presiding over Alex Rodriguez`s appeal will be the right verdict ? Or are you of the opinion that baseball`s continued failure to be proactive and have more even more oversight in the monitoring and testing of the players for performance has been a monumental and miserable failure , even with the advent of this latest scandal ? Should the New York Yankees miss the postseason , who should bear the brunt of the responsibility for the team`s failure this season , Alex Rodriguez , Joe Girardi or Brian Cashman ? Finally, were Robinson Cano to leave the Yankees` organization as an unrestricted free agent, would it matter at all to you where he ultimately landed ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, in New York.. In another turn of events , it is being claimed that the player or a member from his inner circle leaked information that implicated both Ryan Braun and his Yankees` teammate Francisco Cervelli in the Biogenesis scandal . The claims are made in a soon to be seen episode of the CBS news magazine program ` 60 Minutes ` but was first revealed in print by Yahoo Sports . AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(2) Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference following baseball meetings at the Otesaga Hotel on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Cooperstown, N.Y. AP Photo/Mike Groll …

(3) New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart (19) congratulates left fielder Alfonso Soriano after the Yankees’ 11-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in a baseball game , Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, in New York. Soriano had seven RBIs in the game. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(4) Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig checks his watch before a news conference following baseball meetings at the Otesaga Hotel on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Cooperstown, N.Y. Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz stands at right. With the league hierarchy and owners coming to an agreement that instant replay will now become more widely used within the game in 2014 , it now remains to be seen how and when the hierarchy, will also reach a compromise, as to a more stringent form of testing, for performance enhancing drugs with even more oversight. The commissioner at present, seems noncommittal on that lone issue , still insisting that baseball does have the most stringent testing protocols of the four major professional team sports . AP Photo/Mike Groll ….

(5) Defense attorney Joseph Tacopina shows a video as address the jurors during closing arguments in the fatal boat crash trial. Anthony DiGilio the boater accused of killing another boater and injuring two others in on trial in Toms River. DiGilio, a 33-year-old construction worker and electrician, is accused of speeding and then fleeing the scene of the accident. Charged with one count of vehicular homicide and two counts of death by vessel, DiGilio faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Friday April 19, 2013 . Patti Sapone/The Star-Ledger ….

(6) Robinson Cano , left, of the New York Yankees is seen here signing an agreement with rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z , founder of RocNation Sports , The full consultancy and sports` management company now represents the player after he fired his former agent Scott Boras . In recent months the entrepreneur and businessman has been busy in building his stable of sports` clients, having added the WNBA`s Skylar Diggins , Geno Smith , quarterback for the New York Jets and Seth Jones of the NHL`s Nashville Predators . Getty Images / Aaron Curry ….
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tophatal ……..

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Wendy Fiore . Always seeking to make your day feel a great deal better ..

Push or pull ?

Push or pull ?

The NFL pre-season began with the Hall of Fame game between the Miami Dolphins and the erstwhile Dallas Cowboys . That game along with the series of games that were presented as part of the week one schedule of the preseason , gave the fans a chance to look at the rookies and newly acquired free agents on the various teams around the NFL . From my own perspective , I have never placed much store in the exhibition games that act as a precursor to the regular season . Granted , for a number of players now under a great deal of pressure , it now becomes a matter of making the grade now , or losing their starting role to a young rookie or a seasoned veteran .

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While much of this off-season has been encompassed by the disturbing news with the arrest of former New England Patriots` tight end Aaron Hernandez for murder, and with further news now suggesting that the player`s fiancée Shayanna Jenkins may well have aided Hernandez and his two accomplices by disposing of the weapon used to murder the victim , Odin Lloyd , a former acquaintance of the couple . It does now beg the question , what more can now unfold as far as this tragedy is concerned ? The real tragedy in all of this beyond Hernandez’s alleged guilt or innocence. It is the very fact that neither the NFL hierarchy or the NFLPA (Players` Union) seems to be prepared to address the situation of player misconduct .

At a time when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should be seeking input not simply from the coaches , but also from the team owners and the union itself . It would appear, that the commissioner`s mindset is elsewhere. Adding to the whole unsavory issue , is the recent announcement by NFLPA President Dominique Foxworth of his wish to see the voting process for the NFL Pro Bowl changed , in order that there is more of an input from the fans and with the whole process itself, to be worked out in the form of a fantasy draft . If this is what Foxworth, now believes will elicit the fans` attention and at the same time add to the allure of the end of season event. Then clearly, it is time to do away with the game, which seemingly has no meaning whatsoever , other than to add monetary gain for the players, in terms of their contract incentives. The game itself, by way of television viewership, is almost a non-starter , and in terms of game attendance. Well, let`s just say, other than the scenic value of Honolulu , Hawaii. I seriously doubt that the opulence of the event outweighs a meaningful regular season game! Yet, this is now what the fans have come to expect from the NFL and its avowed greed .

With the return of Sean Payton to the coaching fraternity of the NFL and with all of the drama that surrounded the New Orleans Saints` Bounty-gate scandal . It would appear that the franchise is now back on an even keel . That being said , Payton knows that he and his coaching staff will remain under the watchful eye of the league hierarchy and its officials . The players embroiled in the saga have either retired or returned to the game, looking to aid their respective teams. For Saints` quarterback Drew Brees , this will be a season of redemption for himself, his teammates , but above all, for the Saints` organization and a way of renewing the faith of club`s fans as well as that of the NFL fans in general .

Now one could subscribe to the fact that the punishment meted out by the league for the heinous infractions , were somewhat laughable, when one has to consider that the Saints might not well have been the only team practicing such a scheme . It is just the fact that they were the ones to be caught and punished , for what in essence, was a sheer act of stupidity and something that could have proven to be extremely dangerous and reckless on the part of the players who were willing participants in this all . As I have previously mentioned in an earlier article within this site . Were one of the league`s marquee players, the victim of one of the hits executed by a Saints` defensive lineman . Would the rest of the NFL have been so quiet and noncommittal in voicing feint disapproval ? For a team that has much as $ 100 million invested in .a player and that franchise’s success . The risk to reward ratio would simply have gone up in smoke . Yet the utter ridicule, shown by a number of fans over the whole saga of Bounty-gate, was almost incredulous and beyond belief .

Payton`s return to the Saints` franchise along with that of GM Micky Loomis , after their suspensions , now gives team owner Tom Benson the satisfaction of seeing several key pieces back in place. The hard part for the organization, is now rebuilding its tarnished image , albeit , that fans in the Crescent City never lost faith in the New Orleans Saints , but their disdain for Roger Goodell was clearly evident . The commissioner, was seen as a villainous scourge who sought to do harm to the franchise . It has to be said, that those fans do have a point , when one considers that the accusations concerning the scandal were known the league hierarchy as far back as the 2010 NFL season , but had been in execution by the Saints franchise in 2009 . Which begs the question, if this was known to the commissioner and his fellow executives at the time . . Then why not immediately conduct an investigation into those allegations, rather than leaving the issue untouched for almost three years ? To date , no one from inside the NFL`s headquarters has answered a question, as to the reasons why they failed take immediate action concerning into the allegations, and deal with the matter at the time. . Is there really anyone, who truly believes that Roger Goodell has performed competently as the NFL commissioner ? Your answers, please?

The New Orleans Saints kicked off their preseason schedule with a 17-13 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs , in a game that was symptomatic of what we have all come to expect of the NFL preseason as a whole . Starters were in for a few series and then it was left to the backups to simply fill in , and to try and make a name for themselves. As for those who have now become a part of the Saints` supporting cast by way of the draft and free agent acquisitions . Sean Payton and his staff are going to be well-served by a number of those players . Yet perhaps, their biggest concern, will be how good the offense is likely to be . Pierre Tomas and Mark Ingram will be asked to shoulder the load jointly in terms of the rushing offense . With Brees` potency as a prolific passer . There too, the team is once again likely to make great strides based on last season`s performances and the likelihood that the quarterback will be looking to surpass many of last season`s personal accomplishments, as he looks to further cement his name in the franchise’s record books .

If there is one thing that we have come to know concerning the New Orleans Saints , it is that the team is best happy when it as a lead and then seeks to protect it. However, a frailty of the Saints, has been the very fact that the defense has not always been proficient enough to always meet the needs of Sean Payton. Kenny Vaccaro , John Jenkins and Rufus Johnson were the defensive players drafted by the franchise , with a view to bolstering the NFL`s most porous defense in 2012. It will also be interesting to see whether or not seasoned veterans such as Darren Sproles , Marques Colston , Broderick Bunkley , Kenyon Coleman , Patrick Crayton , Jabari Greer and Zach Strief can provide the added leadership already shown by Drew Brees , as the Saints seek to challenge for NFC South divisional supremacy, as well as the ultimate goal of winning a second Superbowl to add to the franchise’s lone success in 2010. For Saints` tight end Jimmy Graham this also could very well be the season where we see the player make even greater strides, as he also looks to supplant himself atop of the list as one of the game`s best young players at the position in the NFL.

Coming off that victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Saints` next preseason game will be against Oakland Raiders at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana , on Friday , during which , there will be four games scheduled on each of the following days , Thursday, Friday and six on Saturday , as part of the week two schedule of the preseason . That match-up against what remains a beleaguered Raiders` franchise should prove to be a rather interesting contest .

The NFC South this season, I believe will be a truly competitive division . Seeking to make a successful defense of their divisional title will be the Atlanta Falcons . Mike Smith’s Falcons, after their abrupt dismissal from the postseason will be looking to rebound in 2013. Against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game as a highly favored favorite , as Matt Ryan and his teammates would succumb to Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers in an epic match-up of two very good young quarterbacks.

Ryan may well be able to rebound from last season , but it the continued knock against the Falcons, has been that they have been unable to get the job done when it matters most , and that is during the postseason . The week one regular season contest between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints could prove to be very enticing and amongst the very best of the regular season during the opening week`s schedule for 2013. The series between these two franchises have always proven to be highly competitive and will remain so, while they possess two very good quarterbacks calling the plays for their respective teams . And in Drew Brees and Matt Ryan , we do have two of the very best currently playing today .

It would be fair to suggest that Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers have proven to be a major disappointment of the past four seasons . During the off-season with the dismissal of Norv Turner and A J Smith . Managing partner and owner Dean Spanos sought to reset the Chargers organization. The departure of Smith and Turner were not seen as a major surprise . Yet, Norv Turner sought to vent his frustration with how he felt that he had been mistreated and led to believe that he would be returning for the 2012-13 season . Turner`s firing and the hiring of rookie head coach Mike McCoy , resets the scales and of course the situation now becomes about how much time will the new incumbent be allowed to get things back on track .

Things remain acute for this franchise and the very fact that there remains constant rumors as to whether or not the Chargers will seek to relocate from their present location to the greater Los Angeles area . And clearly with overtures having been made , there is no doubt in my mind that the Spanos family will consider every option available to them as it relates to the San Diego Chargers` long-term viability and profitability . Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego , California , remains an archaic and outmoded relic not really suitable to host an NFL franchise. The city of San Diego has sought to retain the NFL team within its locale, but even with a number of upgrades and minor renovations to the stadium . I do not believe that those maneuvers alone, will be enough to secure Chargers` retention for the long-term. Los Angeles remains a viable proposition, with a much larger demographic and a more of a disposable income amongst the populace in comparison to San Diego.

Spoiler alert for this season concerning the ambitions of the San Diego Chargers and their possibly derailing the hopes of the Denver Broncos in making a successful defense of their AFC West title ? There is a chance that premise could arise , but on paper alone the Chargers as a team, I do not believe that they are a good enough to match to bring about a synopsis where that would now arise during this season . The two scheduled divisional meetings between these two teams for this year may well prove me wrong , but I seriously doubt it ! Weeks ten and fifteen are the due dates when the Colts and Chargers will resume their divisional rivalry for the year.

The San Diego Chargers will begin their regular season schedule against the Houston Texans and their high-powered and prolific offense led by Matt Schaub , running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson . If the Chargers are able to get off to a good enough start against their conference rivals , this could prove to be a very competitive contest between the two teams.

Chargers` GM Tom Telesco and the . coaching staff have gone about revamping the roster during the off-season , with bring what they believe to be capable and athletic rookies to complement a team , along with the customary platoon of free agent acquisitions . Philip Rivers remains the San Diego Chargers` best player and their best hope to win under the current climate . Yet for some reason over the years since being drafted in the 2004 NFL Draft . The player has struggled not because of his own deficiencies , but from the mere fact that the front office has never truly gone about complementing his skill-set with the players necessary to fulfill Rivers` ambitions and that of the organization as a whole . Your thoughts on this all and anything you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter as it relates to this article . By all means, feel free to leave a comment as you see fit .

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(1) Frisco, Texas, mayor Maher Maso , left, presents a street sign to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones , center, and his son, Stephen Jones , after a new conference announcing the new home of the Dallas Cowboys headquarters Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, in Frisco, Texas. Frisco officials overwhelming approved a $115 million deal to build the team headquarters and a practice facility in the Dallas suburb. The agreement will end the Cowboys’ four-decade relationship with Irving, most likely in 2016. AP Photo/LM Otero …

(2) 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 ……

(3) DeMaurice Smith (L) executive director of the National Football League Players’ Association laughs at a comment made by Baltimore Ravens corner-back Dominique Foxworth (C) during a news conference July 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. The NFL players and owners are set to agree on a labor deal and end the current lockout. Getty Images / Rob Carr …

(4) Head coach Sean Payton and Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints on the sidelines during play against the Carolina Panthers at the Louisiana Superdome on November 8, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ronald Martinez / Getty Images …

(5) Chargers` CEO Dean Spanos , left, is seen here with team head coach Mike McCoy, center and starting quarterback Philip Rivers . McCoy succeeded is predecessor , fired former coach Norv Turner in January 2013 . Also departing , was former general manager A J Smith. Tom Telesco , takes over from Smith with a view to bringing new-found success to an impoverished franchise . AP Photo / Carl Roberts …..

(6) Tom Telesco(left) is seen here with San Diego Chargers` owner Dean Spanos . The newly appointed general manager is seeking to restore the Chargers` image and making them a success this upcoming season . Getty Images / Keith Montrose …..
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Wale` …………. `Love hate thing ` ` from the upcoming CD entitled Self Made

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Hot chic pic of the day actress Bianca Kaljich and below model and actress Melyssa Ford

Engine, engine , number nine ….

Engine, engine , number nine ….

The little engine that could and did . Now while all of the rage this season in baseball has been to simply lay siege to the ongoing stories concerning the Biogenesis fallout . Baseball has seen one or two positives by way of the play of the teams . Fans have been fortunate , well at least those in attendance to have witnessed two no-hitters and a near perfect game earlier in the season with the Texas Rangers` ….Yu Darvish . A mere four weeks ago , it was the ascent of the Los Angeles Dodgers as they recovered from an indifferent start , to having risen up the NL West standings, to become the dominant team within the division, with all of the talk being about their rookie sensation Yasiel Puig .

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Well , on the senior circuit of the National League the Dodgers are not the only story to be relished, as the most dominant team in baseball right now, are the Atlanta Braves in the NL East . Some fans have been rather idiotic enough to be talking about the all too momentary ascent of the Pittsburgh Pirates within the NL Central . The team has been far too inconsistent , and wherein at a moment`s notice they are beating teams that they should be defeating, but yet, when challenged by a divisional rival , they seemingly crumble than for no apparent reason, other than being mediocre .

Chasing, a season high fifteenth consecutive win of the season. Atlanta Braves` manager Fredi Gonzalez , has his players playing with a high level of intensity and as a team , nonetheless. Justin Upton seems to be fitting into his role , having been acquired by the franchise in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks . Elder sibling and teammate, BJ Upton , though off to an indifferent start , now seems to be settling in and contributing on the field , while proving to be something of an inspirational leader to the younger players on the roster.

Looking to further extend their lead within the NL East over their closest rivals the Washington Nationals. Atlanta will now look to inflict even further pain upon the beleaguered Miami Marlins, for whom this season has been a total catastrophe and a nightmare for rookie manager Mike Redmond . As to whether or not he remains in his current position along with his managerial staff , will be left to the decision-making team of David Samson, Larry Beinfest and GM Michael Hill. The two teams will meet on Saturday afternoon, at Turner Field (Fulton County Stadium) in Atlanta, and then again on Sunday afternoon, as a finale to their current series.

Undoubtedly, the biggest success this season for the Braves has been their pitching , with their front-line starters leading the way . Mike Minor the team`s leader in wins has been one of the primary reasons behind Atlanta`s efforts along with a supporting cast of Julio Teheran , Tim Hudson , Paul Maholm , Kris Medlen and the mesmerizing NL saves` leader Craig Kimbrel. It would be remiss to merely to suggest that the Braves are simply proficient by way of their pitching alone . The team`s offense have had their moments to shine with Justin Upton spearheading that lineup of power and run productivity .

If the Atlanta Braves are able to withstand the remaining challenges within the their division and the rest of this season . Then it is my opinion that they will have to be seen as one of the clear favorites for the NLCS pennant. They are certainly good enough to win it, but a great deal will be predicated upon team health and whether or not they can keep this current momentum going . Fredi Gonzalez has proven to be a very good manager, although he has been often criticized , as not being tough enough on his players . Yet I believe, that his managerial style is conducive to the current environment and the very fact that he has been able to get a great deal out of this team, seasoned veterans as well as many of the younger players on the roster. Gonzalez I also believe will be amongst the leading candidates for the NL`s Manager of the Year. Others who ought to be considered , Don Mattingly , Clint Hurdle , Mike Matheny, Dusty Baker and Kirk Gibson. These are the only serious candidates worth considering for the award. It may well come down to which of these managers does the best possible job of leading their team into the post-season . And record-wise or not, at present, to determine a winner might just be too close to call.

I will not delve deeper into the issues of Ryan Braun`s suspension and that of eleven of the thirteen possible players named by Bud Selig in the fallout from the latest drug smeared scandal to have hit baseball . Other than to suggest, that if Tony Bosch of Biogenesis and his statements given to the US Justice Department under a subpoena, are to be believed . Then the commissioner and baseball`s hierarchy are indeed hiding something from the fans and the public in general . Bosch, now under indictment for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, stated that as many as sixty players were implicated in a web of deceit , lies and cheating . Yet somehow, MLB can now only come up with only thirteen names. Either my math seems to be off,but there remains forty-seven names still unaccounted for and something that the league hierarchy may not wish to tell us . Your thoughts on that all ?

Baseball this season, has been clouded in scandal , and no matter how one now wishes to address the matter , there are not that many positives that can be taken out of 2013 , even with the stellar play of the game`s up and coming young stars . With a league hierarchy that seems to be non-combative and passive in dealing with scandal . Team owners , who are simply driven by greed and a union that seemingly would rather see the status quo remain , as is . Less we forget also, many of the players who have been non participants in the steroid abuse , yet they have continually remained silent, unless offering up some witticism ,and even when pressed to give a statement . Far too many of them, have simply come up with something that is either hypocritical or simply too banal or idiotic to be deserving of a response . Matt Kemp needs to keep his damn mouth shut and remember that in 2010, he was playing alongside an avowed steroid cheat named Manny Ramirez . Being critical of a former friend , just because you now have displeasure of his cheating and the fact that you finished second to Ryan Braun in the 2011 NL MVP vote , now makes you look as an individual, jealous of that loss. If you can be openly critical of Braun, then why no criticism, of your former teammate , Manny Ramirez ?

As baseball enters the final quarter of its season , what if anything has been the biggest disappointment for you as a fan and what do you feel as brought you the most pleasure overall in terms of the teams` play or that of individual players ? By all means do leave a comment on this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter. Do feel free to peruse other baseball pieces and sports` related content within this site by clicking on the links provided below .

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(1) Texas Rangers` starting pitcher Martin Perez , right, is congratulated by catcher Geovany Soto (8) after defeating the Houston Astros 6-1 during a baseball game , Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, in Houston. AP Photo/Patric Schneider …

(2) HOUSTON, TX – AUGUST 09: Yu Darvish (11) of the Texas Rangers talks with pitching coach Mike Maddux during a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 9, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …
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(3) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor (36) works in the second inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Atlanta, Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013. Atlanta won 9-4 . AP Photo/John Bazemore …

(4) Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman , center, celebrates with his teammates after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Atlanta, Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013. Atlanta won 9-4 . AP Photo/John Bazemore ….

(5) Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton and Dan Uggla (26) hug after winning 5-0 against the Miami Marlins to keep a 14-game winning streak alive during a baseball game at Turner Field, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Tulis ….

(6) Atlanta Braves` GM Frank Wren is seen here with the team`s newly appointed manager Fredi Gonzalez . The incumbent succeeded Bobby Cox whose legend looms large over the Braves` organization . Gonzalez took control as the Braves` manager in 2010 and in subsequent seasons there has been a gradual improvement in the team`s play, along with newly acquired players becoming a part of the success . AP Photo /Matt Gray ….
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Chic pic of the day , actress Eva Mendes .

When good men fail to act or take action , then evil will always prevail ….

When good men fail to act or take action, then evil will always prevail ….

It should come as no surprise that Alex Rodriguez has filed a grievance against the MLB hierarchy through the MLBPA (Players` Union) in seeking to have his suspension overturned, with his appeal going in front of an independent arbitrator . This matter further prolongs what has already been a painful episode for the game of baseball . Meanwhile, fans are offering either the most reasonable of solutions or making some of the most asinine statements possible . Even the most anal retentive within this domain are offering up solution, as why not simply let the players carry on using whatever illicit substances they want . And it is for this lone reason, why I believe this country should no longer get the respect, it simply feels it deserves from the outside world ! When you have that sort of unintelligent and asinine reasoning being made as an argument , it shows a complete lack of understanding of the situation and furthermore, it shows ignorance and stupidity . Hell , the country simply does not deserve anything, by way of respect from the outside world, given its present economic climate and some might rightfully agree , a government and an administration , simply devoid of intelligence and any real leadership .

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Rodriguez`s appeal will be presided over by an independent arbitrator, whose decision will be final . From my own perspective , I believe that the MLB hierarchy has handled this whole matter with the aptitude and incompetency of an impaired driver behind the wheel of a vehicle careening down a highway at a high rate of speed, that is about to plow into a group of innocent bystanders. With a pending appeal process, Alex Rodriguez will be allowed to play for the beleaguered New York Yankees , who now find themselves in fourth place within the AL East and falling further behind divisional rivals the Boston Red Sox , Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles . The third baseman`s stats , since his return this season from hip surgery , one could suggest, has been anemic . Not that any assistance provided by the player would not be welcomed,given the plight of this team under Joe Girardi and his staff this season .

The Yankees` next game will be a home series (three games) at Yankee Stadium , starting on Friday, against the Detroit Tigers of the AL Central . On the mound for the home team will be Ivan Nova , as he faces off against Rick Porcello of the Tigers. As to how the home team fans will show their approval of the beleaguered Rodriguez remains to be seen , but if it is anything like the cat-calls and boos received , in the somewhat hostile environment of US Cellular Field in Chicago against the Chicago White Sox , when the Yankees last played . Then, Alex Rodriguez could very well be in for a torrid time in-front of his hometown fans.

As simplistic as this might sound, with all of the criticism justifiably leveled at Bud Selig. My question remains , if the commissioner is due any criticism , then has none been aimed towards the team owners , players not participants in the steroid cheating , who have remained silent, but most of all the members of the mainstream press who now seek to make themselves out as saviors of the game ? MLB broadcast partner ESPN is perhaps, one of the most guilty members of the media, who have sought to remain all too silent , never once being critical of the league and the way that they have governed the game of baseball . Now as this story becomes part of the news` cycle of featured sports` stories . Here we have all of the major networks and cable sports` outlets relentlessly giving us their synopsis`s and diagnosis as to how this all may very well end.

Baseball`s history as been littered with controversy, infamy , and perhaps now, one of the most unsavory episodes in its entire existence . Alex Rodriguez proclaims his love of the game, which he has been a part of for almost two decades , while seeking also to become a role model for young kids. Yet, his continued lies and seeking to apportion blame elsewhere for problems of his own making, paints a picture of a self-absorbed narcissistic and amoral individual . The player remains a poor excuse for someone , who at one time was viewed as one of the best players of the late nineties and of the last decade. An all too sad an indictment of a wasted talent and a player , who has now become a pariah.

With the release of the movie `42` , starring Chad Bozeman and Harrison Ford. This film was meant to give us a realistic and true portrayal of the life of Jackie Robinson and his integration and introduction into the Major Leagues. Beautifully made, the acting and ensemble cast gave the audience something that could very much believe by way of Hollywood finally getting something right by way of a very realistic portrayal of one of the major and unsavory times within baseball , and one in which baseball historians tend to gloss over with alarming regularity . Each year, baseball rolls out its Jackie Robinson Day to commemorate that historic event of the Hall of Fame player`s first game in the Big Leagues .

In what can only be described as a depraved act of stupidity and racial animus , perpetrators daubed, defecated upon and vandalized statues of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese outside the stadium of the Brooklyn Cyclones , in Brooklyn, New York state . The outrage now seems to be widespread amongst the New York community, but particularly amongst the Brooklyn residents and those old enough , who fondly remember both Robinson and Reese ,as close teammates. Why this happened, is of no great surprise, given the depravity and how heinous the act just happened to be. What is of surprise, is the very fact that no one from within the MLB`s headquarters, has voiced their outrage or issued a public statement on the incident. Well, that should not really come as any great surprise, given the fact that baseball`s own failings in recent years, concerning their recent initiatives to bring back baseball within the inner cities and specifically amongst minorities.

Courtesy of the New York Daily News

Jackie Robinson statue defaced with racist slurs, swastikas outside Cyclones park, News offers reward

The Daily News is offering $10,000 for information leading to the coward that scrawled hate speech on the Jackie Robinson statue outside MCU Park in Coney Island.

By Thomas Tracy, Nicholas Wells and Richard Schapiro , New York Daily News

A despicable act of vandalism sparked a chorus of outrage Wednesday after swastikas and racist slurs were found scrawled on the iconic Jackie Robinson statue outside the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium.

A manager at MCU Park in Coney Island stumbled upon the defaced statue about 8:30 a.m., just hours before thousands of kids showed up at the ballpark for Camp Day.

Among the hate-filled messages written in black marker on the monument of Robinson and his Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese were: “Hile (sic) Hitler,” “Die N—-r” and “F–k Jackie Robinson and all N——s.”

In a bid to help cops catch the hate-filled coward, the Daily News is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

Investigators were poring over surveillance video Wednesday night.

The desecration drew fiery denunciations from a slew of politicians and former baseball stars — including one of Robinson’s last living teammates, Ralph Branca.

“I have no idea why anyone would do that,” Branca, 87, told the Daily News. “The statue signified a great moment in American history.”

RELATED: LUPICA: HATEFUL DEFACING OF JACKIE ROBINSON STATUE A CRIME AGAINST ALL

Sen. Chuck Schumer, in a surprise visit to the site, lashed out at the perpetrator.

“I hope you’re punished for what you did because what [you] did put a dagger in the heart of what America is all about,” Schumer said.

“That there are still people who don’t understand what Jackie Robinson stood for in his grace, and his strength and the beautiful person he was and to try and deface him, defame him by defacing this statue is just an act of . . . it’s beyond words to me,” he added.

Photos of the defaced statue obtained by The News show an image of a swastika above a Hitler reference and the word “N—–s” scrawled twice on the base, just above the inscription detailing the monument’s significance.

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Bud Selig`s tenure can be best described as self-created pratfalls,with the man himself , looking to take credit for anything that remotely might show he and the game in a positive light. Over the past two decades , there has been very little that the commissioner can really point to, as a real positive. Now, in light of the Biogenesis scandal and the incident that took place in Brooklyn. It is extremely difficult to imagine,how anyone would now try to suggest that this season can in any way, be seen as a positive .

Racially motivated or a simple act of vandalism , this incident and how baseball, and law enforcement , now seek to address the matter, will go a long way , in how the public will view the game in the aftermath of the most recent events to have taken place. As to the perpetrators of this crime,it is hoped, that they will have the decency to at least show some contrition for their actions. Yet, that might now be too much to expect, given the fact , that there are idiots, who will also seek take advantage of this act, to further a rather insidious cause .

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Baseball is filled with a great deal of hypocrisy, with much of it coming from the players themselves and their own selfishness . Furthermore , a great deal of tat is actually countenanced by the lack of expediency shown by Michael Weiner as the executive director of the MLBPA , who himself, has been less tan forthright, as to the actions of his members, specifically those embroiled in this latest chapter of cheating. And there still remains the fans who are passionate about the game, but who are gullible enough to actually believe that the players actually give a damn, about whether or not their teammates or others are cheating. Case in point , Derek Jeter might just be the most respected player in the game along with teammate, Mariano Rivera . Yet, for all of the controversy that has beset the game and that still casts a giant over baseball.When have you ever heard either player, come out and be openly critical of the players known to have cheated or even voiced their concerns and how now dangerous a path that the game seems to be taking , in terms of the adverse image and bad publicity ? Answers please , if you can ?

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(1) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez leaves the dugout to take batting practice before a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Chicago. AP Photo/David Banks …

(2) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez signs autographs before a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, in Chicago. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast …

(3) New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter arrives at Petco Park for the Yankees inter-league baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Diego, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi …

(4) In a scene from the hit movie `42` Branch Rickey portrayed by Harrison Ford pleads with Jackie Robinson (Chad Bozeman) to have patience and simply display his skills and vent his due anger into the game and not against those who are taunting him with derogatory racial epithets. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved

(5) A worker covers the base of the Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese, where vile slurs written in marker could not be removed from the stone Wednesday. AP Photo / Neil Miller

(6) A portrait of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ infielder Jackie Robinson in uniform from about 1945. Hulton Archives / Getty Images …

(7) The Daily News is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of those responsible for the hateful graffiti scrawled on the Jackie Robinson statue (shown here before the despicable act). Associated Press …

(8) Racial slurs have scarred the Jackie Robinson statue outside MCU Park. So racially offensive were many of the remarks daubed on the effigy , that it took workers several hours to clean and restore the statue to its former being . Associated Press ….

(9) The Brooklyn Dodgers’ Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson chatting in dugout at Yankee Stadium in 1947. The two players and teammates ,became firm friends , and both are enshrined in baseball`s Hall of Fame , in Cooperstown , New York . New York Daily News / Ed Jackson ….

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Dimmer and dumber

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Dimmer and dumber …….

Dimmer and dumber

Now we have it folks, the growing apathy of the North American sports` fan. Where , they are more concerned about player misconduct , cheating in various sports, than they are about the fact, that young military servicemen and women , being sent off to war , are returning home psychologically damaged , and being barely given any assistance at the state or federal level (VA – Veterans` Administration) upon their return. I forgot to point out, those not traumatically damaged, do end up coming home, in body bags. Now, is that not a shame ? When situations such as that come into play , it is either through apathy on the part of the fans or the fact that they just simply do not care . Patriotism, one minute , due apathy, the next . From my own standpoint, I believe it to be a great deal of both ! If you can suggest otherwise , then please feel free to do so succinctly .

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Major League Baseball(MLB) now finds itself at a crossroads for this season , as either Bud Selig now stands firm or he can choose to cave to the power of the players and their union (MLBPA) . I have never found baseball`s commissioner to be a highly intelligent individual to begin with! So any thought that he might now be on threshold of doing something simply amazing or unheard of, is simply nonsense . The fact of the matter is , Bud Selig marches to the beat of a drum that only he can hear . The fact that fans are now under the impression that he is finally getting something right. My question for them would be , point to at least three instances, where an edict by Bud Selig has actually been to the overall benefit of the game ?

The Biogenesis scandal actually broke , not because of an in-depth investigation by national daily paper , but from the sheer intense work done by a small municipal newspaper (Miami Times) based in South Florida. The fact that the national dailies and television media did not jump onto the story sooner , simply points to the fact that those particular interests are not always driven by the news itself , but simply , by profits alone . The more salacious and outrageous a story , the more likely it is, to become a part of the news` cycle and actually create the interest sought . I mean who really cares, that as many sixty-five baseball players (Bosch`s own figures) are in fact cheating, by using illicit substance to enhance their performances. Have we not heard this all before , and what was the final action taken by baseball`s hierarchy?

New York Yankees` third baseman Alex Rodriguez and his lawyers will now seek to fight and protect his already tarnished name , because the player feels that any prolonged suspension rendered by the league hierarchy will be unjust . Rodriguez maintains his innocence, in the allegations that he was supplied with illicit substances traced back to the company of Anthony Bosch , Biogenesis , which essentially has become the epicenter of the latest scandal that has now bedeviled and rocked the game of baseball .

Courtesy of USA Today

Nightengale: A-Rod’s early, ugly verdict in court of opinion

By Bob Nightengale, USA Today

CHICAGO – New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, speaking deliberately, and even emotionally at times, Monday called the past seven months a nightmare.

Judging by the reaction of the crowd that swarmed U.S. Cellular Field to see his first game of the season, Rodriguez’s nightmare is just beginning.

SUSPENDED: A-Rod and the dirty dozen

Rodriguez was vociferously booed by the fans when merely walking to home plate in his first plate appearance, and the boos remained incessant, growing even louder when he singled, with fans screaming and taunting him. It only worsened as the game continued.

“It was a hard day today, that’s for sure, a long day,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been crazy. …It was good for me to get the first one behind me.

“For me, personally, I just want to get back to playing baseball. I just hope there’s a happy ending somewhere in there.”

Such is life now for Rodriguez after being suspended earlier Monday for 211 games and then immediately appealing the largest penalty ever levied against a player for performance-enhancing drug use.

In all there were 13 players suspended in a day of sweeping and dramatic punishment meted out by Major League Baseball, eclipsing the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal for throwing the World Series as the most players suspended at once for off-field activities. Teams with World Series aspirations lost players for virtually the remainder of the season, including Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers and Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers who agreed to 50-game bans.

Yet, Rodriguez, the biggest star, with the biggest paycheck, who plays on the biggest stage, easily dwarfed the others.

Rodriguez, defiant to the end, is the only player who appealed his suspension. The decision is not expected to be rendered by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz until at least November, players union chief Michael Weiner says.

“I’m fighting for my life,” Rodriguez said. “I have to defend myself. If I don’t defend myself no one else will.”

The images of each of the suspended players will forever be tarnished, but no one will suffer more than Rodriguez, who like Lance Armstrong, Ryan Braun and many more before him appears set to deny accusations until all avenues are exhausted.

“I know what people are going to say,” Rodriguez told USA TODAY Sports in July. “They’re going to say, ‘This is a bad guy. This is an evil guy. He’s a prima donna. Look what he’s done.’

“Sometimes, you just want to say, ‘Uncle, already.'”

The boos and taunts were vicious at times during the game, with 3,200 tickets sold Monday to voice their opinion of Rodriguez, but he refused to listen, choosing instead to hear the cheers from the visiting Yankees’ fans.

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Arbitration in front of an impartial adjudicator is likely to bring about some of form of justice. Something, I believe may not be completely to everyone`s satisfaction . Rodriguez is unwilling to answer any questions concerning his possibly transgressing the league`s substance policy , as was clearly the case last night, when several questions were repeatedly posed by convened members of the press. Alex Rodriguez`s deflected responses , were , that this was not the time or place to be answering the questions concerning his use of an illicit substance . Once again , begging the question , if the player is still proclaiming his innocence , then why is he not willing to set the record straight by answering the questions posed ? Having already been caught in a lie, in his now infamous interview with former news` anchor Katie Couric on the CBS news` magazine program `Sixty Minutes`. I seriously doubt that Alex Rodriguez would once again subject himself to public ridicule by trying to plead his case by giving another bile inducing interview that simply served as to his continued dishonesty, lack of integrity , while seeking public empathy . Rodriguez says he has a great deal of respect for the game but is actions simply show that to be the complete opposite .

Personally , I believe that this Biogenesis` matter has been haphazardly handled by the league hierarchy and any belief that the US Justice Department headed by Barack Obama`s pet poodle , Eric Holder, that his agency would also being going after these players , having broken the law , now seems to be completely out of the question. Very much in the similar vein that Obama , himself , had promised that the agency would be going after many of the individuals who acted gregariously within the financial sector that caused an almost cataclysmic catastrophe within the financial sector , specifically the mortgage industry. To date, not one senior executive within that sector has been arraigned, indicted, or prosecuted on any major felony charge, coming out an investigation jointly by the Justice Department and FBI . In addition, here again , I do not expect the Justice Department to follow suit in going after an MLB player. Incompetency within Major League Baseball seems to be no different that we have now become accustomed to seeing within the Federal Government and most certainly by various agencies within the current administration of this sitting US President .

Rodriguez and his attorneys will seek place the emphasis on baseball going outside its parameters , while also seeking to state that they are not acting in accordance with the current collective bargaining agreement reached between the union (MLBPA) and MLB. A weak premise I believe , but certainly if used to their advantage, it could very well make Bud Selig and the hierarchy , come off looking like a bunch of buffoons . I certainly do believe that Alex Rodriguez would have been willing to accept a suspension similar in length to the one that sent Ryan Braun away for sixty-five games . Yet , herein lies the caveat and premise behind the league`s wish . They (MLB) failed to act back in 2010 , when the player first admitted his use of a banned substance . Furthermore, less than six months after his well-publicized admission, Alex Rodriguez`s name would then again be associated with steroids and the now jailed Orlando medical professional, Dr Anthony Galea . At that time, Rodriguez along with Tiger Woods and several other athletes, prominent within the NFL , NBA and baseball were mentioned in documents , in the possession of the US Justice Department, as having been treated by the aforementioned doctor . Woods willingly cooperated with law enforcement at the time , answering their questions without any fear of prosecution .

For Rodriguez , his stance remained that his name and association with Galea , was strictly professional and was nothing more than as a patient of the doctor. I rather at this juncture believe pigs are able to fly and that Paris Hilton does indeed have the intelligence to become a member of MENSA , than having to believe anything uttered out of the mouth of Alex Rodriguez, as it relates to his career and now dubious achievements !

Baseball`s season has been devalued any belief that the actions now being taken, will now bring back some sense of normalcy to the game , has to be viewed as being completely asinine.

On the field of play the New York Yankees have been woefully inept for much of the season . Injuries may well have played a part , but no more so than for other teams around the league . In the case of the Yankees however , their fans as always, believe that the team should be given pass , because of who they are and the very fact that as usual , the use of their vast resources , means that they are always in contention . Alex Rodriguez may well be back and now playing in the Minors , but if Alfonso Soriano can find a way to at least be productive . I certainly do believe that Joe Girardi at the insistence of GM Brian Cashman will have the team`s highest paid player remained benched, quite possibly for rest of the Yankees` regular season schedule . The testy relationship between the front office executive and the All Star player has been nowhere near as cordial as one believe Alex Rodriguez is trying to suggest . Yet , were it not for the stupidity shown by Cashman and the Steinbrenner family . At the insistence of Lonn A Trost , Chief Legal Counsel to the Yankees` franchise . This matter concerning Alex Rodriguez`s career with this ball-club could have been resolved long ago . When it first came to light of the player`s association with Biogenesis , Trost stated, that the organization, had it seen it to do so , they were in a position to void Rodriguez`s contract . The opposing view was taken by Brian Cashman and senior managing partner Hal Steinbrenner , with the player remaining a part of the playing staff , for now .

Having the best record in baseball does not necessarily mean that you are indeed the best team in the game . Alas , there are those who would suggest , because the Pittsburgh Pirates do appear to have that honor . Then they are to be lauded for that very fact and their play during that period and the resilience shown. Granted , the team has been fairly consistent for much of the season , seated atop or near the top of the NL Central , while facing a stiff challenge from the St Louis Cardinals . Yet to my mind, as of late , the best team has to be the Atlanta Braves , Boston Red Sox , closely followed by the always surprising Tampa Bay Rays .

The Pirates for their part will be looking to keep that momentum going and they are scheduled to face the Miami Marlins at PNC Park , in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania , on Tuesday afternoon . A beleaguered Marlins` team that simply has nothing left to play for , but their pride and self-respect .

Atlanta as of late , has been on an extremely hot streak , having won their last ten consecutive games , the hottest current streak in either the AL or NL . The team`s play has been proven to be good enough to open up a 12 1/2 game lead in the NL East , the largest such divisional lead in the Majors at present . One can place that on being, the division has been extremely weak and the very fact that neither , the Philadelphia Phillies or Washington Nationals have really sought to challenge the Atlanta Braves over the course of this season .

The Braves will be the guests of the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ballpark , in Washington , DC, on Monday afternoon . On the mound for Braves will be Mike Minor against the Nationals` ace Stephen Strasburg . This pitching match-up should prove to be one of the better games on the day`s schedule , between two of the National League`s best young pitchers .

I do not believe we will be able to see a concerted and sustainable effort from Clint Hurdle`s Pirates over the remainder of the season . If history tells us anything about this ball-club over the past decade and a half , it is that they easily disappoint , having always teased their fans into believing that they are able to make a concerted effort to make the post-season . Something that has not been achieved by the Pittsburgh Pirates in almost two decades and counting. Should the Pirates make it to their first post-season berth since 1992, it would eradicate one of the longest such streaks in baseball . Certainly, a wish that all of the ball-club`s fans would no doubt like to see come to fruition. The onus will now be placed squarely on the shoulders of Andrew McCutchen , Pedro Alvarez, Gerritt Cole , Russell Martin , Starling Marte , Francisco Liriano and Jason Grilli to pull this team through.

There is little to choose between the three worst teams in baseball, other than to say ` better luck next year ` . The Houston Astros (36-74) , Chicago White Sox (40-69) and the Miami Marlins (43-67) a , were all teams playing at a substandard level , which is clearly reflected in their records as of the 5th of August . For team owners , Jerry Reinsdorf , Jeffrey Loria and Jim Crane , this now becomes a matter of making decisions that could sweeping changes amongst team personnel and the managerial staffs , should tings now remain as they are at season`s end. For Bo Porter, Robin Ventura and Mike Redmond , this might a season that all three managers would simply rather forget . All three owners are self-made millionaires, each wealthy in their own right . Yet, along the way, they have made some major mistakes. I believe the biggest mistake of all , was actually made by Crane , himself, in bowing to the wishes of Bud Selig, by agreeing to change divisions for the Houston Astros ,

In moving from the NL Central to the AL West , simply placed the franchise a in far worst position than I believed anyone within the organization could have envisioned . However , the deal brokered by Selig in allowing Crane to purchase the franchise at a whopping $775 million price tag , when the league hierarchy , then added in a further $165 million to the franchise , to cover the cost of the relocation and to aid the ball-club for the next four years. These are the sort of deals that simply shows how out of touch with reality the game just happens to be , as it relates to its own financial prosperity . Frugality within some circles of the game, still remains taboo , while for some teams , the mere chance of being a recipient of almost $200 million would be like a gift from the Gods . Not that the luxury tax recipients do not see their good tidings as such, because without it, at least fifty percent of the teams would face a harsh and stark financial reality . The big market teams continue to prosper from a financial standpoint , while their much smaller counterparts are left to almost fight amongst themselves for the scraps left at the table .

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(1) An inured US soldier is given medical assistance by emergency personnel after an IED explodes causing the combatant to lose his lower leg . Hundreds of US military personnel have lost limbs or have been paralyzed or lost their lives to these improvised explosive devices during the length of both wars in Afghanistan and Iraq . Survivors having returned are usually treated at US governmental facilities , but far too often they become forgotten and tend to slip through the cracks of what has now , become an all too archaic and bureaucratic system > known > as the Veterans Administration (VA) . Yet that is in spite of a multi-billion dollar budget and what now appears to be an incompetent and uncaring governmental agency. Unfortunately , legislators within Congress far too often only pay these men and women lip service during an election cycle . AP/REUTERS/ Christian Patterson …

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Corpsman carry a wounded Marine to a Chinook 46, April 7, 2004, as the number of U.S. Marines killed in a five-hour house firefight in Ramadi on Tuesday . Such conflicts between coalition forces and the enemy does bring a a high toll on both sides of a battle and during war . David Swanson/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT

(3) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, right, talks during a news conference before the Yankees play the Chicago White Sox in a baseball game at US Cellular Field in Chicago on Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. Rodriguez was suspended through 2014 and All-Stars Nelson Cruz , Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games apiece Monday when Major League Baseball disciplined 13 players in a drug case, the most sweeping punishment since the Black Sox scandal nearly a century ago. AP Photo/Charles Cherney …

(4) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez gets a hit in his first at bat against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning in a baseball game at US Cellular Field in Chicago on Monday, Aug., 5, 2013. AP Photo/Charles Cherney …

(5) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, bottom center, signs autographs at U.S. Cellular Field before a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, in Chicago. Rodriguez was suspended through 2014 and All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games apiece Monday when Major League Baseball disciplined 13 players in a drug case, the most sweeping punishment since the Black Sox scandal nearly a century ago. AP Photo/Paul Beaty …

(6) From left to right are New Yankees’ team President Randy Levine , GM Brian Cashman , team manager Joe Girardi and Chief Legal Counsel Lonn A Trost. The four were gathered at the team’s stadium after the formal signing of reliever Rafael Soriano . Trost earlier in the season advised his fellow executives that the ball-club would be within their right to rescind the contract of Alex Rodriguez . However, Brian Cashman in conjunction with Hank and Hal Steinbrenner took an opposing view , with the player being retained by the franchise . AP Photo / Mike Gardner …

(7) Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) waves to fans after getting a 5-1 complete game win over the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game in Pittsburgh Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …

(8) Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton (8) rounds the bases for a solo home run as Washington Nationals relief pitcher Tyler Clippard, second from right, walks around the mound during the eighth inning of a baseball game at Nationals Park, Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, in Washington. The Braves won 3-2. AP Photo/Alex Brandon …

(9) Houston Astros` owner Jim Crane , left is seen here with the team`s general manager Jeff Luhnow . The Astros are on pace to finish with the worst record in baseball for the second consecutive season , but could avoid that fate if they are able to surpass both the Chicago White and Miami Marlins . Getty Images North America / Johnathan Prescott …
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No fool like an old fool …….. this is the NFL

No fool like an old fool …….. this is the NFL

Well the NFL begins its season with the Hall of Fame enshrinement game this weekend , that will then lead into the preseason and then lead into a string of games , formally opening up the NFL preseason . I do not put a great deal of store into the preseason, albeit , that coaches and executives will be assessing their new draftees as well as their respective acquired free agents . And while much of this off-season has been encompassed by the arrest and detainment of Aaron Hernandez , on the murder charge of a former close acquaintance , Odin Lloyd . It must be said , that the NFL as a year-round source of entertainment and information, remains the abject scene of incompetency we have known it to be for several years now , ever since the ascent of Roger Goodell into the commissioner`s role , as the league`s highest ranking executive.

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As if to further exacerbate the league`s already tarnished image. It now has to deal with the rather inexcusable and inexplicable behavior of Philadelphia Eagles` wide receiver, Riley Cooper`s racial tirade against an alleged antagonist, during an altercation at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Cooper was said to have been behaving belligerently when approached by a security official at the venue during a Kenny Chesney concert . The player and the security professional exchanged words, before Riley Cooper went on his racial barrage threatening to fight every ni#ger there at the venue .

In what appears to be a less tan contrite apology, “ tweeted “ some forty-eight hours later. Cooper explained , that his actions and behavior were due to the fact that he had been drinking and was at the time, extremely intoxicated . To my mind it is a poor excuse from the player and if anything, his actions were truly indicative of his feelings at the time of this rather unsavory and unfortunate incident . With over seventy-two percent (72%) of the NFL`s makeup being African American and many of Cooper`s teammates on the Eagles roster , also being of the same ethnicity . I have to ask myself , first off , what the hell was the player thinking ? And secondly, is he simply that naive and stupid, to think that he could have got away with that type of behavior without it going unnoticed ? Do bear in mind also, that the scene of the incident, also happens to the home venue of the Philadelphia Eagles. So now , not only has Cooper caused a great deal of embarrassment to himself , but he has also heaped a great deal of unwanted publicity to a franchise going through transition , while at the same time their being a great many questions not only about the team , but also its first year head coach Chip Kelly . Suffice to say , GM Howie Roseman and team owner Jeffrey Lurie will have a great deal to contemplate concerning Riley Cooper as well as the ambitions of the franchise for this upcoming season .

The Eagles` front office looking to save themselves further embarrassment, have since fined Riley Cooper an undisclosed sum and have also sent the player into to a sensitivity training course . Pardon me for saying this , but a mere monetary fine and a psyche course , encompassing sensitivity and allegedly teaching a person about etiquette , is too little , too late . If Riley Cooper, is simply not intelligent enough of an individual, to realize that his actions were indeed stupid and infantile. Then, it now sends a clear message as to the type of unintelligent individuals now in the NFL , never-mind that the player just happens to be another one of the products from the University of Florida (Gators) football program where Cooper and Aaron Hernandez were teammates and who played under the head coach, Urban Meyer . It now seems ironic that both players drafted in 2010 , now find themselves at the forefront of unwanted publicity , for all of the wrong reasons .

Cooper`s recent act of contrition, seems to be falling on deaf ears as to its sincerity. Meanwhile, several of his Eagles` teammates have come out openly in support of the now beleaguered and troubled wide receiver. How this must all sit with several of the player who happen to be of African American descent, may well be best represented by comments of the Eagles` quarterback Michael Vick , who stated “ it was time to move on and turn over a new leaf in this chapter “ . Vick`s younger sibling , Marcus Vick , took the opposite view, by going on notice , issuing a $1,000-00 bounty for anyone prepared to take out Riley Cooper on the field of play during the season .

I guess for Marcus Vick , he is unable to escape is own foibles and peccadilloes, in terms of his own career as a collegiate athlete? The younger Vick sibling`s past as a college player, was littered with controversy and went and in and also in terms of the troubles of his now elder and more widely known sibling, and his less than dignified past as it relates to his troubles with law enforcement .

With the resurgence of the Washington Redskins and the expected return to competitiveness of the New York Giants after an understated season in 2012 . It will be interesting to see how Chip Kelly`s Eagles will fare in 2013 , especially against their noted divisional rivals. Add into this all , the never-ending drama that always surrounds the Dallas Cowboys , and the NFC East could either prove to be a season of a comedy of errors or a season for fans to truly relish. Given the propensity of Cowboys` owner Jerry Jones to make bold predictions and the propensity of Tony Romo to simply implode in moments of undue pressure . I am inclined to believe that the fans are likely to be treated to a little of both over the entire regular season schedule !

The Eagles will start their season with an away game against Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins to be played at FedEx Field in Landover , Maryland . Last season`s two eventful divisional games between these two stalwarts of the NFC , with the Redskins coming away victorious in both divisional encounters were endemic of the division as a whole . Both losses signaled the turning point and the end of Andy Reid`s reign in Philadelphia, as the Eagles` longest serving head coach. Reid`s blinding loyalty to Vick and the very fact that the veteran quarterback`s declining skill-set did not seem to deter the much maligned coach that was indeed time for a change at the position. A 4-12 season and three straight losses to end the year, pretty much summed up 2012 for the Philadelphia Eagles and the firing of Andy Reid . To state that this came as a surprise , would have to be looked upon as comical . Yet, it seemed a sad way for the coach to depart after all of the success attained by the franchise during his reign . As to what the future holds for Eagles under Chip Kelly remains to be seen and whether or not Vick can recover from a disastrous season in 2012 .

The Minnesota Vikings and their running back Adrian Peterson provided the league last season with an astonishing experience . Peterson single-handed made us all, as NFL fans sit up and take note , as he sought to break the single season rushing record (2,105 yards) . The fact that the player came within eight yards of breaking Eric Dickerson`s mark recorded in the 1984 season , is enough to remind us all how astonishing the feat remains and that it has taken almost three decades for anyone to come remotely close to surpassing the feat . This season however, I believe that Peterson`s concentration will be set more on casing after team glory , rather than the sole purpose of singular personal achievement . Granted , should the player get off to an extremely fast start and is able to average just over 131.5 yards per game over the Vikings` first six games , then all bets could very well be off , as the reigning league MVP sets out once again an improbable journey of trying to break one of the league`s most cherished and recognized records .

The NFC North this season could prove to be logjam , with all four teams , the Chicago Bears , Detroit Lions , Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings , all looking to be in the thick of things , in what should prove to a very competitive division . In spite of the departures from the Packers` roster during the off season, and what I believe to be some prudent acquisitions as well as a very good draft class . This division, once again , will be the Packers for the taking and to do with as they please. If Mike McCarthy and his coaching assistants can remedy the woes of the defense , then there is every reason to believe that they can repeat as the divisional champions .

Weeks eight and twelve will see the two divisional meetings between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings in 2013. Yet , I believe the most attractive match-up on the Packers` schedule is likely to be their opening game of the year against the reigning NFC champions the San Francisco 49ers , which will be played at Candlestick Park in San Francisco , California on the 8t September, 2013. It could very well be the most attractive of the regular season games to be played on the opening weekend of this NFL season . This game will pit the Niners` young and mercurial quarterback , Colin Kapernick against one of the league`s very best passers , in Aaron Rodgers of the Packers . While I believe San Francisco to have a slight edge, as on paper, they do appear to be the better balanced team . As we know, this is a new season, with teams seemingly focused on putting last year in their rear view mirror, as they seek to start anew .

I will say this for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers` GM Mark Dominik , he is certainly looking to make a name for himself amongst his peers within the NFL. Last season was a compendium major mistakes in terms of draft picks , personnel decisions as it related to free agent acquisitions . Yet above all, the one constant remains the lack of progress made in the game of quarterback Josh Freeman . Four years in and Freeman has yet to have a truly standard bearing game or string of games , that Buccaneers` fans can point to and say “ wow “! Josh Freeman knows that this season may well be the last chance for him to prove himself to be good enough to be thought of as a starting quarterback in the NFL . The doubts have definitely begun to set in concerning the player and I firmly believe that Greg Schiano`s patience is growing thin with the young signal caller and passer .

There is no doubt in my mind, that if Freeman shows any signs in the lack of confidence in is game and the belief of his teammates that he is the player to lead this unit. Then it is quite clear, that the decision will be made to trust rookie quarterback Mike Glennon into to the role, as the starter on this team . The saving grace for the Buccaneers in 2012, was the growth and maturity shown by Doug Martin , who simply exploded onto the scene in his rookie season for the franchise . Freeman will be given his chance during the preseason to show the fans that he is game ready and ready for the rigors of the regular season. He is likely to play several series in each of the four exhibition games . The first of the quartet of those games will be against the reigning Superbowl champions the Baltimore Ravens . As I alluded to earlier, I do not put a great deal of emphasis on the preseason, but I do believe that for Josh Freeman , this game be a make or break for him , based upon his performance and the confidence shown .

For the Buccaneers , a great deal will be predicated upon their season and how they are likely to fare against divisional rivals the Atlanta Falcons , Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints . At best , I can see the team going no better than 3-3 within the NFC South , before taking aim against the remainder of the opponents on their 2013 regular season itinerary . The first of those games will be against the ongoing troubled and thought to be newsworthy New York Jets in game to be played at MetLife Stadium , in East Rutherford , New Jersey . Encounters between the two teams are not often memorable , with the last three meetings , being something of a none event for the parties concerned . If fully fit , then Buccaneers` defensive player Darrelle Revis will get the first chance to meet his former team, since being acquired in a highly publicized trade , as Mark Dominik opened up the vault and made a big splash to obtain the Pro Bowl caliber corner-back.

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In light of the recent behavior of NFL players , do you believe that the league hierarchy bears a certain a certain amount of responsibility in how those players conduct themselves on and off the field of play ? And do you believe that the Players` Union (NFLPA) should be working in conjunction more closely with the NFL in such matters ? Also, what if anything, are you most hoping to see from the preseason ? Finally, which team or teams do you believe could provide the biggest surprise of the regular and quite possibly the postseason ? Do leave a comment as you see fit , and thanks as always for the continued support of this site , as it is greatly appreciated !

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(1) In this Sunday, July 28, 2013, photo, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper pauses during the NFL football team’s training camp in Philadelphia. Cooper has been fined by the team for making a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert that was caught on video, leading him to say he’s “ashamed and disgusted” with himself. The video of Cooper making the slur surfaced Wednesday, July 31, on the Internet. AP Photo/Michael Perez ….

(2) Eagles` wide receiver Riley Cooper receivers speaks to the convened press , while seeking to offer his apologies in what he claims was an altercation that took place at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , between himself and an African American male at a Kenny Chesney concert . The player who claims he was intoxicated at the time, when he used several derogatory racial epithets in his encounter in what turned out to be a security personnel member at the venue . Cooper first `tweeted` an apology on Twitter before the viral altercation went live over the internet , having been seen by several hundred thousand viewers in the past few days . The Philadelphia Eagles seeking to distance themselves from the player have fined him and undisclosed sum and he as since been sent into a sensitivity training seminar . Teammates are said to be rallying around Cooper , offering him their support. As to how this will be viewed by other players around the NFL remains to be seen . AP Photo / Paul Castellano …

(3) Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback Michael Vick (7) is seen here alongside is younger sibling Marcus Vick , himself a former college quarterback who had somewhat of an undistinguished career while at Virgina Tech , where he was dismissed from the program in 2006 . In the aftermath of the Riley Cooper incident , Marcus Vick has offered a $1,000-00 bounty for any NFL player willing to take out Cooper during an NFL game preseason or otherwise. The elder Vick , sibling , has been quick to distance himself from is brother`s ridiculous statement , coming out instead, to offer his own support of his now besieged teammate , Riley Cooper . Getty Images / Mark Frasier …..

(4) Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson hands a football to his son Adrian Jr. at the end of practice at NFL football training camp, Monday, July 29, 2013, in Mankato, Minn. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall ….

(5) There is no quarterback controversy , but the embers are beginning to reheat as Tampa Bay Buccaneers` quarterback Josh Freeman once again comes under a great deal of criticism after a lackluster 2012 season . The player is seen here alongside head coach Greg Schiano during a game played against the Carolina Panthers at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte , North Carolina , in a 2012 regular season meeting game between the two teams. The Buccaneers would go on to defeat Carolina 27-21 . Getty Images / Paul Ammon …..

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NFL news

NFL transactions

Hall of Fame Game ….. Miami Dolphins away to the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium , Arlington , Texas . Saturday , 4th August , 2013

NFL schedule 2013 preseason week one

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2013 NFL Draft

2012 NFL standings (divisional)

2012 NFL standings (conference)

2012 NFL schedule regular season and postseason

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Hot chics pics of the day , rapper and entrepreneur , Trina

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