Cease and desist ………..

Cease and desist

David Stern enters his last season and the NBA commissioner looking for the year to be an eventful and a fully entertaining one. He has found some cordiality and a somewhat uneven truce with the NPBA (union) , who themselves will be going through a tumultuous stage of non-stop litigious to and fro , with former Executive Director Billy Hunter . The former union leader has brought about a multi-million lawsuit against the union , Derek Fisher , who until June of this year was the union’s President . With the Los Angeles Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul having won a unanimous vote to Fisher , the union will now to forge head in seeking a calmer environment , while looking to throw out the civil suit for wrongful dismissal , slander and libel action brought by Billy Hunter . From my own perspective , I believe that the union has been acting under a veil of secrecy with regard to its actions and that was most certainly true of the former executive director . At the same time, why there seemed to be no oversight in place to monitor Hunter’s alleged actions and activities has to come into question. Yet this all will be left in the hands of a jury and a federal judge to decide what will be deemed a justified outcome. One way or another, whatever the decision made, the losing party is likely to appeal the verdict .

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As to the season itself , LeBron James and the Miami Heat will seek to add to their current legacy as the organizations seeks to win its third consecutive NBA title . Having won in 2012 and 2013 , this season the team is likely to be viewed as the prohibitive favorites to win it all. Will there be a worthy opponent and challengers coming from within the Eastern Conference ? Well that remains to the seen , but most certainly the Chicago Bulls , Brooklyn Nets , Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks , are the four teams thought to have the best chance of derailing the Heat’s hopes at this juncture. I believe a great deal of that will now come down to the coaching acumen shown by Tom Thibodeau , Jason Kidd , a first time head coach in the league, Frank Vogel and Mike Woodson .

Far too often I have read pieces, some of which have been written quite articulately , that tend to simply gloss over the importance of the coach and simply delving into which player or players matter the most in order to bring about a victory for the team . Last I looked , if a head coach did not have the strategy of a game-plan in place, more often than not, the victory being sought actually ended up in defeat. Which brings me to the conclusion , are Kidd , Vogel, Woodson and Thibodeau on the same level as Erik Spoelstra as a head coach ? After a difficult first season , the Miami Heat head coach has now come into his own and given his managerial style , a few more title wins and he could very well surpass his mentor and current Team President Pat Riley as perhaps an even better coach and motivator of players. Clearly , Spoelstra has been able to get his trio of superstars to buy into his philosophy , while at the same time, he has been able to get the supporting to come along for the ride, while contributing greatly to the success of the team . Two titles, says a great deal about the young coach, a third , fourth and may be a fifth , would raise the decibel levels even higher and place on the same plane, as perhaps the likes of Gregg Popovich , or dare one say it, Phil Jackson ? Now detractors could make the argument, that when you coaching two or even three superstars on the same team, you are supposed to win. Spoelstra, like Jackson have suffered the slings and arrows of misfortune of have lost to teams in the Finals , where the roster of players they were coaching at the time were highly favored. Yet complacency and immaturity on the part of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 led to their ultimate downfall against the Detroit Pistons . In 2011 , once again, we saw those same familiar traits with the Miami Heat , as Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks laid waste to the Heat’s ambitions that season.

In the Western Conference , we could be on the cusp of seeing the all too quick descent of the Los Angeles Lakers into a deep abyss of mediocrity. Clearly, their fans, are either that naïve or simply not educated enough to now realize that this team in its present guise , is simply not good enough to now challenge even their own neighbors at the Staples Center the Los Angeles Clippers , never mind the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder , San Antonio Spurs , Houston Rockets and dare I say it either the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets ? No amount of suggestion, that while Kobe Bryant remains a Los Angeles Lakers’ player, then just about anything is possible. Unfortunately, Bryant is now on the downside of an illustrious career and cannot be asked to continually do it all by himself . The five-time NBA champion may well have been able to do it on his own three or four years ago , but not now , on aging legs and what is in all honesty an injury riddled body, when there has been little if any support coming from his surrounding teammates . It begs the question , why does he put his body through such torture when his legacy has already been assured as one of the top-fifteen players ever to have played the game and graced an NBA basketball court ? It certainly cannot be for the money !

Lakers’ fans remain delusional, while Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss seem to be intent on ruining the legacy built by Jerry Buss and the great Lakers’ players of the past, even if that is not their original intent. My question for the Los Angeles Lakers’ fans, did you ever at any time, have any implicit faith in Mike Brown ? Do you now have, any faith in the coaching style of Mike D’Antoni ? It is not as if, he has made the practice of defense a policy of or much less an aspect of the Los Angeles’ Lakers’ game since he succeeded his predecessor. Instead, all I continue to hear is a great deal of bitching and whining from the Lakers’ fans still living in the past, who are just not willing to accept the inevitable and that this team in its present guise just is not good enough to win an NBA title, and that is in spite of the false bravado coming from Kobe Bryant. That may well prove to be a motivating factor for Bryant, but he even must now realize the truth and accept it for what it is, the window of opportunity has already been shut for this team. Can we please stop it also, with this ludicrous obsession also that in 2014 , either LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony will come in riding on a white steed to rescue the damsel in distress, known as the Los Angeles Lakers ? Idiots such as Chris Broussard , Stephen A Smith , Skip Bayless and Tim Legler are paid for their stupidity and their combined knowledge of the NBA even with their breaking stories , pose just about as much of an attraction, as a group of individuals during an act of flatulence , each of whom, have eaten several plates of baked beans . They simply begin to stink up the joint .

While Miami opens up the defense of their title , starting their season with a home game against the Chicago Bulls at the AA Arena in Miami , Florida on the 29th October , when the league opens its regular season schedule . The Bulls and Tom Thibodeau will welcome back point guard Derrick Rose who missed much of the 2011-12 postseason when in the opening round the top seeded Bulls lost their opening series to the Philadelphia 76ers . The injury shook the young point guard mentally more than it seemed to have done from a physical standpoint. Rose’s seventeen-month delay seems like an eternity to the franchise’s fans , but now that long delay will come to an end when the get to see the player and his teammates return to the court in the first of several preseason opening games in the lead-up to the Bulls’ regular season opener. . The first of those preseason games will be on , Saturday , 5th October against last season’s .. Eastern Conference Finalists the Indiana Pacers. A team that many believe will be amongst the most serious challengers to the Miami Heat this upcoming season.

The Orlando Magic this past season ended the year with a league worst mark of 20-62 , with a team that was simply out of its natural environment . First year head coach, Jacque Vaughn struggled to get any semblance of consistency out of the team throughout much of last season. Never able to maintain a lead during a game , not being able to defend with any zeal , pretty much summed up the woes of the franchise. A shake up within the front office was meant to bring about changes that would be of benefit to the franchise , but yet things remain bleak for the Orlando Magic , who now have to contend with a declining attendance and a major drop-off in its overall fan-base , as well as major corporate endorsers no longer prepared to sponsor the success starved organization . As to what this will now mean to Dan De Vos , Team President Alex Martins , GM Rob Hennigan , Charles Freeman and Jim Fritz , may well mean a concerted effort on their part to try something new. The on-court product, remains the main issue, along with the lack of veteran leadership on the roster. That team will now be placed in the hands of Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu , as the presumed leaders of the Orlando Magic. A great deal also will be asked of Jacque Vaughn and his coaching staff as they embark on their reason . Orlando will begin their schedule against the Indiana Pacers at the Bankers Field House in Indianapolis , Indiana.

In a division (Southeast) where the Orlando Magic will have to contend with the Charlotte Bobcats , Atlanta Hawks , Washington Wizards and the defending NBA champions the Miami Heat. It remains to be seen how this team will be able to contend not only within their division but within the Eastern Conference never-mind the rest of the NBA as a whole . David Stern profligates the charade that the league remains competitive , but like Major League Baseball (MLB) , it now has now become a league of the ” haves ” and ” have not’s” . A ” soft ” salary cap that no one seems to be interested in abiding by , but yet we have a group of idiots still trying to create the perception that the NBA has no real underlying issues concerning its business template .

I have never been a great admirer of Mark Cuban , who apart from being a constant thorn in the side of David Stern , he has proven to be an egotistical and narcissistic asshole . Not content with those traits, it now appears that the Dallas Mavericks’ owner is about to have his day in US Federal Court , as he seeks to prove his innocence against the charges of insider trading , and profiting to the tune of $750,000 . All of this, for an individual whose net worth is estimated to be in excess of $ 2.5 billion . It makes me wonder how the mega-rich can now survive in this day and age if three-quarters of a million dollars will prove to be that much of a loss . Not content with having mocked the US Justice Department with preceding the charges against him , but Cuban has taken upon himself to suggest that the motives behind the case has been the fact that he has been politically outspoken and critical of the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) . That last statement might well be the most ludicrous of the claims being made by self-aggrandizing and always publicity seeking owner of the Mavericks . If he wishes to prove his innocence , then do so by appearing in court , rather than continuing to make a complete ass of himself , because he is not being judged in the court of public opinion in this case. That will ultimately take place in a Federal Court , where he will be judged by a jury of twelve of his peers , with those individuals adjudicating his guilt or innocence. After-all, is that not what the Justice System is meant to be about ?

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Though the season has yet to begin within the NBA , what if anything do you believe will be the most interesting or thrilling event that is likely to take place over the course the schedule ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Former NBPA Executive President Director Derek Fisher , left is seen here at the dais, alongside Billy Hunter . The union’s former Executive Director is seeking punitive damages from the union for wrongful dismissal , libel , slander and damage to his reputation . Fisher and the union state that Hunter acted outside his parameters in establishing deals and the hiring of certain family members to maintain certain entities within the NBPA’s structure including its pension fund . There also allegations of misappropriation of union funds exceeding $250,000. All of the allegations in question have been vehemently denied Billy Hunter’s lawyers , who state that this essentially a character assassination attempt by the union . AP Photo / Brandon Jones ………

(2) Four-time league and two-time Finals MVP LeBron James will be seeking to guide the Miami Heat to the franchise’s third straight NBA title . In 2014 the player can opt out of his existing contract to become a free agent but it seems highly unlikely he is like to leave the franchise to play elsewhere . Getty Images / Robert Woods …

(3) Miami Heat President Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra are seen here celebrating the team’s 2013 NBA title series’ victory over the San Antonio Spurs . In a series that went to a seventh game , the Heat were pressed throughout the Finals by the Western Conference representatives . Spoelstra will seek join Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson as the only coaches in NBA history to have won three consecutive NBA titles . Getty Images North America / Paul Hanson …

(4) Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach Mike D’Antoni is seen here talking with players Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol during the interval of a game played at the Staples Center last season . Throughout much of the year the team struggled and with the departure of center Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets as a free agent , questions arise as to how good the team is likely to be in its present format . AP Photo / Chris Marshall ……

(5) From left to right Orlando Magic executive Alex Martins , head coach Jacque Vaughn and general manager Rob Hennigan . AP Photo / Phil Coulter ….

(6) Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban seen here polishing the Larry O’Brien Trophy after the team’s triumph over the Miami Heat . The often outspoken owner will face insider trading charges having sought to manipulate the stock price of a small tech-firm while seeking to make a profit of $750,000 from the trade . All charges which Cuban and his attorneys deny . AP Photo / Kelly Myles ….

(7) Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls . The young point guard, after a seventeen-month layoff makes a welcome return for the team hoping to contribute to Bulls’ success this upcoming season . AP Photo / Paul Mayhew ….

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tophatal ……………… 09/30/2013

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NBA news and archived stories

NBA regular season begins 29th October 2013 and 30th October 2013

NBA head coaches

NBA team payrolls ( salary cap $58.044 million) —– Top player salaries

2012-13 NBA standings (division) and conference standings

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Idle hands make for light work , so let’s get those hands doing something worthwhile .

Now that’s what I call keeping the assets perky !

I don’t want to break the bank ,simply just be able to deposit money in it

I don’t want to break the bank ,simply just be able to deposit money in it

With the NFL season about to reach the quarter mark of four games into a sixteen game schedule , the fans have already witnessed a cluster of games that one could define as being thoroughly entertaining or just extremely bad. As a fan of the NFL , I have to confess that I have not been completely surprised by what I have witnessed. There are some very good teams at present , but there now seems to be a preponderance of really bad teams and really bad coaching from the head coaches and their respective staffs. Nonetheless, this will be what the fans are asked to endure over the remainder of the season.

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There will be a Thursday night game that pits the San Francisco 49ers (1-2) against the St Louis Rams (1-2) in a conference and divisional match-up of self-styled offensive minded teams. Jim Harbaugh and his shell-shocked squad , I believe are out to avenge their week three shocking loss to the Indianapolis Colts . Bear in mind two successive losses to open their season , came as something of a shock to most analysts and fans alike, who expected this team to be atop of the NFC West and running away with the division , in spite of the rise in prominence of the Seattle Seahawks . For the moment, however, the season remains in its infancy with still a great deal to play for .

Speaking teams with real issues , it now looks as if the Josh Freeman era in Tampa , is now over, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Greg Schiano coming to the decision that the four-year starter is no longer the team’s best option to win as a quarterback. In demoting Freeman, the fans will see the introduction of Mike Glennon as the Buccaneers’ new starter at the quarterback position. As to how long this new experiment is likely to take place will be dependent upon how Glennon responds in his first NFL game as a starter in the NFL. The Buccaneers will play host to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon as this 0-3 team seeks to regain its composure and gain their first win of the season. How this all plays out will be dependent upon the mindset of the Buccaneers and the resolve shown during the game and whether or not this team can play with some semblance of cohesion .

Freeman has done himself no favors with his lackluster displays and a real lack of leadership on the field of play. Furthermore, his teammates have lost any real faith in the player , as well as the quarterback having lost his captain’s role on the team. Josh Freeman is now in a contract year , seeking to perhaps get that long-term contract that undoubtedly his agent Erik Burkhardt seeking that long-term deal . Should a trade, be a way for the Buccaneers to entertain the idea of ridding themselves of the now disgruntled Freeman, that premise could very well now be dependent upon the number of teams willing to enter into a deal with the NFC South division based franchise.

Despair , despondency , conceitedness and a great deal of drama engulfed the New York Yankees over the course of this season . The team is likely to miss the postseason , with the Boston Red Sox having sewn up the AL East as the division’s new champions and the Tampa Bay Rays , now likely to be one of the two AL wild-card representatives in the baseball’s end of season soiree . Needless to say, the Yankees’ fans may well be aggrieved that they will not be seeing the team embark attaining their twenty-eighth World Series title. Yet this off-season promises to be one filled with a great deal of melodrama and intrigue . With Robinson Cano set to become a free agent , the Yankees’ front office will have to quickly come to a decision, as to whether or not they intend to re-sign the player to long-term deal. Cano is currently represented by upstart agency RocNation Sports and their main proprietor , founder , rapper and entrepreneur Jay-z . If the rumors now swirling are to be believed, then the numbers now being bandied about would make Robinson Cano the highest paid player in the baseball , with the second baseman seeking a ten-year $305 million deal .

Courtesy of USA Today

Why Robinson Cano seeking $305 million only sounds crazy

Yankees second baseman is about to get paid.

By Ted Berg , USA Today

With the Yankees now officially out of contention, some have turned their attention toward the team’s negotiations with All-Star second baseman and pending free agent Robinson Cano.

That report produced a lot of snark, but it’s certainly true. Cano, who turns 31 in October, like almost all free-agent athletes, will seek as much money as he can get. Even if he’s personally and secretly dead-set on staying a Yankee for life, why shouldn’t he try to secure as much of that sweet Steinbrenner cash as he can in the coming decade? Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Cano did not reveal much about his plans.

“I want to take my time, go on vacation and relax,” he told the Journal News. “And then when the day gets closer, that’s when I want to sit down with my family and decide what we’re going to do. But don’t get me wrong, I love this team, you know?” The reported figure, $305 million, seems to be eliciting the most shock from baseball fans, but it also doesn’t seem terribly far off. Free agents of Cano’s caliber just don’t hit the open market at a reasonably young age very often anymore, since teams have trended toward locking up young stars to long-term contracts that buy out and add-on to their arbitration years.

After the 2011 season, a pair of slugging first basemen hit the market. Both Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols wound up with contracts worth more than $200 million. Both were coming off several successful seasons, but neither was more valuable to his team in 2011 than Cano was to the Yankees in 2013.
And since Cano’s Yankees and the big-spending Dodgers, among others, could both use a second baseman and he’s by far the best available talent, he could benefit from a bidding war.

As for those convinced Cano won’t see as much money because he’s Jay-Z’s first baseball client with Roc Nation Sports: C’mon. Jay-Z is an expert at making money, for one thing. For another, do you really think Jay-Z is going to just go in and sign whatever idiotic contract some team puts in front of him without running it by an army of advisers and lawyers? Cano plays every day at a premium defensive position and is one of the Top 10 or so best hitters in the game. He’s an extremely valuable player and he’s about to be an extremely rich one. Maybe he won’t get the full $305 million he’s reportedly seeking, but he’ll get paid.

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The New York Yankees will have some serious problems to contend with beyond the Cano issue , with the retirements of Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera , it is plain to see that this is a team that is getting up there in age and the very fact that their farm system have not produced the players sought over the past few years that consistently made this organization a perennial contender . Going into 2014 , it is how hard to see or suggest how the Yankees how they can contend, even with the resources now at their disposal . The team’s lead managing partner and owner Hal Steinbrenner is likely pare down the team’s salary of $228.3 million , an all-time high to considerably below the $200 million threshold he sought at the beginning of 2013 .

At a time, when Bud Selig is selling the fans and public alike, that baseball’s financial well-being is as healthy as it has ever been. It begs the question , if that said to be the case , then why would the Yankees as powerful and as wealthy an organization as it happens to be , why would they of all the teams , now be the ones , seeking to reduce their payroll ? Granted , we are now finding out, that owners such as Hal Steinbrenner , David Montgomery , Mark Walter and Michael Ilitch believe that the luxury tax has served its purpose , but for the most part , it has been nothing more than a tool for the hierarchy to use , penalize the big spending teams. Baseball , and specifically Bud Selig continues to live in his own delusional world of make belief and sheer ignorance , with a number of fans willing to buy into a great deal of the idiocy that he continues to sell them , with his main protagonists being MLB’s broadcast partners , notably ESPN and Fox Sports . In reality, no one should really be surprised by that at all . I mean it is not as if the two outlets in question, ever sought to question the commissioner’s haphazard handling of the steroid issue or Frank McCourt’s questionable reign as the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Nonetheless, those buffoons will continue to be, at his beck and call, being a mouthpiece for his continued buffoonery .

Salaries have continued to escalate under Bud Selig’s watch , as too have the game’s revenues , yet in the midst of this all the commissioner fails to indicate that almost one-quarter of the league’s thirty teams continue to struggle to eke out a profit without an assist being provided by way of the luxury tax sharing scheme . Now in the midst of this all, the game of baseball could very well be on the cusp of seeing its very first $300 million player . The Yankees may not feel that they are being pressured to up the ante in the Robinson Cano sweepstakes, but one thing is clear , the organization can ill afford to lose a player who is a lifetime ,300 hitter and who has been amongst the most productive players his position in baseball as well over the past five seasons. Consider also , that Cano is now in the prime of his career , and with the likelihood of Derek Jeter’s departure from the franchise not that far off , this ball-club needs a figurehead that the fans can identify with . Alex Rodriguez’s stay in New York has provided the Yankees with nothing more than a great deal of ongoing embarrassment , that is likely to be further fueled , once his appeal’s process begins , concerning the alleged use of a banned substance . Rodriguez’s image has been tainted once again and the Yankees’ name has been dragged through the mud along with the reputation that George Steinbrenner simply considered only having players with character on the roster . The now deceased patriarch must be mortified and spinning in his grave with the incompetence now being shown by Hal , Hank Steinbrenner and Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindahl . Let’s not leave out the poor showing of the team either out of this whole comedic mishap , along with the lack of leadership shown by Joe Girardi and his managerial assistants . Personally, this season for the Yankees has been in which all of the team’s detractors can enjoy , in spite of the retirement of Mariano Rivera. The game’s all-time saves’ leader , has been one of the few bright spots on an otherwise mediocre team .

The NBA season tips off on the 29th October ,2013 and all eyes will be on the Miami Heat , as they seek to repeat or Heat “three-peat” as NBA champions, as it will become to be known , should they pull off that feat during the 2013-14 season . Adding a few residual pieces to their core group of Ray Allen , Chris Bosh , LeBron James and Dwyane Wade , has quite possibly made the roster more formidable than last season’s championship winning team . Pat Riley and team owner, Micky Arison are intent on adding to their respective legacies . Meanwhile, Riley’s young protégé head coach Erik Spoelstra will seek to not only make his mark, but also add to the legitimacy that he is perhaps the best coach in the NBA and that is with due respect to both Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich .

Now while, there remains a great deal of speculation that last season’s MVP and Finals’ MVP LeBron James , will seek to opt out of the final year of his contract in 2014. It must be said, that it would take a great deal of bravado and conceitedness by the player to subject the fans to another moment of self-adornment and narcissism on his part . In the aftermath, of the staged and rather insidious piece of journalism, promoted by ESPN and the player , in his naming Miami as his chosen destination , having left the Cleveland Cavaliers as an unrestricted free agent. A second installment of that idiocy, would certainly not be in LeBron James’ best interest. Besides, James knows that he can certainly earn a great deal more by simply remaining in Miami , never-mind the fact that his off-court earnings through endorsements , simply dwarf his current salary with the Miami Heat . Financial rewards, I do not believe will play a part in this decision , should it ever take place , as I believe what now drives the player is the chance of surpassing both Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson in terms of the NBA championships won as a player. Bill Russell may well have won eleven title as a player and coach with the Boston Celtics . No one, will ever come close to matching that feat as a player. So we can now start to adjudge James on what he ow has to achieve to be mentioned in the same breath or sentence as Johnson and Jordan , as two of the best to have ever played the game or to have graced a basketball court with their athleticism . Only time will tell and the feats achieved can best tell us reality how great LeBron James is likely to become , but for the moment incessant chatter will remain as many from varying fields of the diaspora will discuss and debate the issue.

Miami, will begin the defense of its crown with a home game at the AA Arena against the Chicago Bulls and hopefully a fully recovered and rejuvenated Derrick Rose . The former league MVP was sorely missed last season by his teammates and fans alike and his presence on NBA court is far more welcomed than seeing him on the sidelines merely cheering on his team . The fans themselves, having waited long and hard for this event, will most certainly be looking to see what the talented point guard will have to offer the fans after his long absence away from the court .

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From my own perspective, it will be interesting to see whether or not LeBron James and his teammates can join a select group of teams and players to have won three consecutive NBA titles . It is a feat, that is rarely accomplished in any of the four major team sports. Yet , when it does happen , it should a feat that should be acclaimed and lauded for its uniqueness , if nothing else , because these are the feats that separate the great athletes from many of their peers and gives credence to their greatness. As to those who feel to the contrary, then by all means , use this forum to state your reasons why . Thanks as always, for the continued support of this site and its broad-based content , as it is greatly appreciated !

Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Sep 26, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) hands off to running back Frank Gore (21) for a 34 yard touchdown during the first half against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. San Francisco defeated St. Louis 35-11 . Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports …

(2) Rams’ tight end Jared Cook catches a pass that was tipped by Donte Whitner during the second quarter of a game played at the Edward Jones Stadium , in St Louis Missouri ,. The Niners would go on to win the game 35-11 , pushing their record to 2-2 , while the Rams’ record is pushed to 1-3 within the NFC West . AP Photo / Tom Gannam …

(3) Quarterback Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots talks to receivers Aaron Dobson (17), Kenbrell Thompkins , Julian Edelman (11) and Michael Hoomanawanui in the huddle during the second half of their 23-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images North America / Winslow Townson …

(4) Josh Freeman (5) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reacts after throwing an incomplete pass in the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Buccaneers’ starting quarterback is the only player at his position with a completion rate of below fifty per-cent (50 %) in the NFL with a completion percentage rate of 45.7 % and a QBR of 59.3 a which ranks the player at the bottom of the league (NFL) of the quarterbacks ranked through week three . Getty Images / Jim Rogash ….

(5) Josh Freeman (5) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws down-field against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Winslow Towson …..

(6) New York Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera acknowledges the crowd at Yankee Stadium during the eighth inning of a game played against AL East divisional rivals the Tampa Bay Rays , played on Thursday evening the 26th September . This would be the closer’s final appearance as a player at Yankee Stadium as a player for the venerable organization . Tampa would come away with a 4-0 victory . AP Photo / Kathy Willens .

(7) Fans at Yankee Stadium hold up a sign to show their appreciation of Mariano Rivera and what he meant to them and their appreciation of his career. AP Photo / Kathy Willens ….

(8) Alex Rodriguez grimaces as he watches a play from the dugout during a game played against the New Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday evening at Yankee Stadium . Rodriguez faces a very uncertain off-season , as he now awaits a verdict in his appeal’s process in front of an independent arbitrator Ken Horowitz and the allegation of his use of a banned substance , a claim which Rodriguez denies . AP Photo / Kathy Willens …

(9) Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees drives in a run and slides safely into second base with a double as Kelly Johnson (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays is late with the tag during the first inning of their game on September 25, 2013 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees’ player seeks a new long-term contract , with the figures being suggested __ a ten-year $305 million . It is of utmost urgency that Cano be re-signed by a team whose aging core now seems past their prime . As to whether or not Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman are likely to meet the demands of Cano and his agent remains to be seen, as the team owner has suggested that he would like to reduce the team payroll below $ 200 million to avoid having to pay the luxury tax . A tax that a number of team owners now feel has outlived its use , while MLB Commissioner Bud Selig still believes serves a purpose. Al Bello / Getty Images ……

(10) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat sits on the court and reacts in the second half while taking on the San Antonio Spurs during Game Six of the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 18, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Getty Images / Karl Powers …..

(11) Ray Allen (34), Dwyane Wade (3), LeBron James (6) and Mario Chalmers (15) of the Miami Heat celebrate from the bench in the fourth quarter while taking on the San Antonio Spurs during Game Two of the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 9, 2013 in Miami, Florida . Getty Images North America / Christian Petersen ….

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tophatal ….

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NBA news

NBA regular season tip-off date (three games) and 30th October 2013 fourteen games)

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By all means do take time to participate in the above mentioned poll.

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Participate in this poll also .

Hits , misses and what the hell was that about ?

Hits , misses and what the hell was that about ?

Well appreciative of the fact, for the first time in twenty-one years , a congratulatory note of applause must be displayed towards the Pittsburgh Pirates and their making the MLB post-season for the first time in that time-span. For Clint Hurdle , his staff , the players and front office , this will be a time to celebrate. Having finished second to the St Louis Cardinals in the NL Central , within that division , the Pirates will be joined by the Cincinnati Reds , for the second of the two wild-card berths within the National League (NL). The celebrations began in earnest after Pittsburgh’s 2-1 victory on Monday evening over the competitively challenged Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field , in Chicago , Illinois. Far be it for to me suggest, but both the Cubs and Chicago White Sox have been two woefully inept teams and an absolute abomination to watch over the course of this season , who have performed with such ineptitude. As to this asinine notion, that Cubs general manager Theo Epstein will be looking towards making the ball-club competitive by no later than 2015 , now seems to be in question after the failure of the team this season.

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Dale Sveum , manager of the Cubs has not been guaranteed that he will be given a contract extension, and it is unlikely that the manager will now return to the organization for the 2014 season , along with a number of members of his current managerial staff . There have been few pluses of note for the Chicago Cubs over the course of their season and for that I believe a great deal of the blame has to fall squarely upon the shoulders of Theo Epstein and what appears to be a clear lack of commitment from the Ricketts’ family , the team’s owners. There has been more money spent on the refurbishing and upgrading of Wrigley Field in recent seasons than one would like to believe. Meanwhile, Tom Ricketts’ commitment seems to be more of treating this ball-club as a bauble, rather to parade it to members of his social circle , than create a competitive professional sports’ franchise and bring back some semblance of respectability to this once esteemed baseball franchise.

For the Pirates, as they wind down their regular season schedule with five games left to play. All eyes, are likely to be placed upon their wild card round game on 1st October against the Cincinnati Reds. Now one could place a great deal of emphasis on the season series between these two teams , but to my mind, a single elimination game will be more about , which is the best prepared to deal with the added pressure .

The race within the AL for the two wild-card berths , now appears to the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians for the losing, as the two teams hold the top two spots in those standings . Yet for all of the drama to be had , this race still seems to be far from over , with the Texas Rangers , Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees , all within four games of a wild-card berth . Of the three teams now vying for that spot, I do believe that the Yankees have essentially played themselves out of contention , albeit , with Joe Girardi and his team due to play the Tampa Bay Rays in a pivotal three game series at Yankee Stadium beginning on Tuesday. It would be fair to suggest that neither team in this series, can afford a slip-up at this juncture.

. Girardi will become a manager without a contract at the end of this season , with their being no guarantee that a contract extension will be forthcoming from GM Brian Cashman or directly from senior managing partner , Hal Steinbrenner . There is the common belief that Girardi is likely to viewed as a managerial candidate for the possible vacant Cubs’ position, if the decision is made fire Dale Sveum. This off-season could be a dramatic one for the franchise, with the retirements of Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera . Compounding this even further, may well be the uncertainty concerning the immediate future of Derek Jeter , whose season was shuttered by the front office , with the short-stop placed on the disabled list . With his skills declining, Jeter only provides leadership and little else, beyond that , albeit, that at times, he can still offer momentary flashes of brilliance in the field .

Three weeks into the NFL season and we already seeing a plethora of really bad performances from a number of teams . Far be it for me to suggest , but those seeking parity in the NFL , are looking for something to hang their hats on . In reality , it is not about parity , but more to do with the caliber of the coaching of the NFL and the quality of the players drafted . Poor performances asides, having witnessed the Denver Broncos’ complete annihilation of the Oakland Raiders on Monday night , to go alongside the Seattle Seahawks’ utter surgical dismantling of the Jacksonville Jaguars , has me believing that this NFL season is likely to be filled with more lows than highs , in comparison to last season.

As Peyton Manning continues to rewrite the record books, with the player already having thrown twelve touchdown passes in the first three weeks of the season. It will be interesting to see whether or not the quarterback can surpass the single season record of fifty touchdowns , a feat managed by Manning’s contemporary , Tom Brady during the 2007 NFL season. Besides the superlatives one could use to describe Peyton Manning’s performances this early in the season , it should be noted that this Broncos’ team seems to have gotten a great deal better on both sides of the ball in comparison to last season. As to where the challenge might well come from within the AFC West and the AFC as a whole , I do believe that there is not a team at present good enough to throw down the gauntlet of meeting that challenge .

Week four , will grant the Philadelphia Eagles the privilege of trying to stop the Broncos’ unbeaten run, when the two teams meet this Sunday at the Sports Authority Stadium , in Denver , Colorado,. The Eagles’ alleged high-octane offense and rather anemic defense , are likely to meet the same fate as the Broncos three previous predecessors . Chip Kelly may well have been an offensive genius at the collegiate level , while coaching the Oregon program , but his introduction to the NFL has been painful to watch , with his ego having been deflated by the team’s two successive defeats. Whether or not, this will be a bounce back game for the Eagles or them simply being bounced all over Mile High, remains to be seen. Yet , given the ineptitude of the Eagles on defense, I am do believe that it will be the latter !

Not one for appearing naive, but I do believe that the NFL’s punishment of Vonn Miller was merely slap on the wrist , being a two-time offender of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The player sought to appeal his original four-game suspension which was upheld , but the league tacked on an additional two games , after it was revealed that Miller compromised his test samples by colluding with a lab technician to substitute another sample , as his own . Miller’s actions not only showed his disdain for the league’s rules, but also for the NFL and bringing a great deal of unwanted attention to the Denver Broncos’ organization , after a successful start to their season. Vonn Miller’s return will not take place until week seven, when the Broncos are hosts of the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium , in Indianapolis , Indiana ,. Surely, if a player is willing to go those lengths and be dishonest as well as committing an act of fraud , then should it not be within the league’s right to punish that player with impunity , rather than being soft and appearing soft on that issue ? My question for Commissioner Roger Goodell , who is he really afraid of in such an instance , the union (Players’ Union) or is it, the fans themselves ? Your thoughts , on this all ?

Three months before the NBA regular season kicks off and the biggest story of the off-season , beyond the marriage of LeBron James to his high-school sweetheart Savannah Brinson and the Miami Heat’s re-signing of Michael Beasley . That story, is the fact former NBA center and All Star, Shaquille O’Neal has become a minority stakeholder in the Sacramento Kings. O’Neil , in association , with a business associate, Mark Mastrov , founder of the health-club gym chain, 24 Hour Fitness, have purchased a 5% stake in the NBA franchise . The deal was with the full approval of team owner Vivek Ranadive , who seems to be of the belief , that the best way to bring back some pizzazz to the downtrodden franchise, would be to add some “star power ” to the ownership makeup of the organization. Perplexing as this may seem, it was not that long ago, that O’Neal described the Sacramento Kings as the “Sacramento Queens” . Unless I am mistaken, not much has changed in the subsequent seasons , since the former player made that infamous statement. The Kings have fallen on hard times, being uncompetitive, being financially mismanaged by former owners Joe and Gavin Maloof , and their siblings. Add to this whole menagerie of stupidity, was the over-inflated price paid ($535 million) for a franchise that is amongst the most poorly supported in the NBA. Yet, it has been under this sort of misleading and often surreptitious model that David Stern continues to paint the facade that the league and its teams are in the healthiest of conditions. All well and good, but it simply does not answer the question , as to the continued struggles of a number of small market teams and the financial imbalance created, with the unwillingness of the NBA hierarchy to adopt a hard salary cap.

Consider the fact, that a number of the teams within the NBA , repeatedly each season , seek to go over the league’s soft salary cap ($58.044 million) . At the same time, when posed the question , as to why a number of teams remain unprofitable , the commissioner has been quick to deflect those questions, by simply pointing to the fact of growing revenues for the NBA and an increasing presence in the global market , in terms the growing popularity of the game in Europe and the Far East. All well and good, but it simply does not answer the question , as to the continued struggles of a number of small market teams and the financial imbalance created, with the unwillingness of the NBA hierarchy to adopt a hard salary cap. I would like to think that the reason behind this , is the fact that the league believes that their current business template this all works to their advantage . Yet , I am more inclined to believe , that the union (NBPA) dictates and has the power to simply make the team owners and powers that be , simply cower in a corner , like a mouse about to be devoured by a hungry feline.

It is hard to imagine how a Kings’ team from this past season that finished with a 28-54 record within the Western Conference . A mark which was good enough for thirteenth place within the conference and only fourth place within the Pacific Division , can be considered remotely good enough to compete in the talent and offensive minded environment of the conference in question and where the King themselves were far from efficient in terms of defense . This is a team built around the somewhat mercurial talents and immature behavior of DeMarcus Cousins . Yet, the biggest issue for the Sacramento Kings is the very fact their head coach Michael Malone will be a first-year rookie , whose previous stop was the coach of Loyola Marymount University . Then you can add in the fact, that on the team’s roster itself , beyond Chuck Hayes, Travis Outlaw and John Salmons , no other member on this squad has more than six years’ experience of playing in the NBA as a professional . as an NBA player d with the Sacramento Kings, A fact which was also mirrored during the 2011-2012 NBA season. This upcoming season , what should fans of this franchise, really expect from a roster with such minimal experience?

A great deal is being asked of Michael Malone and his coaching staff for the upcoming season, something I do not believe that they are likely to fulfill , even with the added experience of Chris Mullin as a consultant to the front office led by GM Pete D’Alesandro . His experience alongside that of Mullin and even with the additional input of Shaquille O’Neal , is unlikely to prove fortuitous , immediately. The returns sought , may well come about in two to three years , if the fans can be patient enough, as the front office assesses the entire roster. To my mind , the Sacramento Kings is unlikely to become one of the first places a prized marquee free agent, is likely to seek out, to further their NBA ambitions. That was never the case over the past five seasons, and it is unlikely to be the case now . Destinations, such as, either one of the Los Angeles franchises ( Clippers , Lakers) , Oklahoma City , Miami , Houston , Chicago , Brooklyn , San Antonio , New York or Indiana would prove to be a far more appealing a destination , than the California state capitol to further one’s NBA career. Success has proven to be fleeting for the Sacramento Kings , and will prove to just as elusive now , even with the experience now gathered within the front office and the ownership group .

The NBA regular season will begin on October 29th, 2013 , with a slew of games . Yet for the vast array of fans, the season does not really get started until the Christmas week schedule comes into focus . The Kings will begin their schedule , with a home game against the Denver Nuggets at the Sleep Train Arena , in Sacramento , California. All eyes, will be focused on the Kings , as they embark upon a new chapter and era in their history. As to what the outcome is likely to , that remains to be seen , but for now , the real challenge is simply to savor the moment .

The death of former heavyweight champion boxer , Ken Norton at the age of seventy, brought back a deepening perspective of a bygone age within the sport . There are few champions , let alone great fighters from that era still alive today. Norton’s untimely passing, reminds us what is sorely lacking in the sport of boxing at present , and that is great fighters , willing to take on all-comers, simply to prove their greatness in the ring. Sadly, today’s fight game, it has become about the “ me mentality” and how much money , a fighter can now gross from one mega-title fight and with no respect for the sport itself , never-mind the ongoing incompetence of the ringside officials .

True fight fans can cling to their memories of the great world heavyweight title fights of seventies , eighties and early nineties. Unfortunately, that was not the case for Ken Norton , who some years ago suffered a near fatal crash, which brought severe head trauma and respiratory problems and a speech impediment for this once great fighter. A CAT scan of Norton’s brain , showed atrophy and severe damage to his brain tissue , brought on from years of pounding, taken to his head , undoubtedly brought on from his fight career . An illustrious career , that also saw three classic bouts with Muhammad Ali . Norton went toe to toe with some of the very best during the prime of his career, but his trilogy of bouts with Ali , are what he is best remembered for , and perhaps his now infamous love scene with British actress Susan George in the movie ‘ Mandingo ‘ . Let’s just say, Norton’s best years were definitely in the ring and not on celluloid, in a tawdry tale of slavery and masochistic sex .

Memories , fading over time for both Leon and Michael Spinks , with a rarely seen in public, Muhammad Ali. It is sad , that even with such legends as Larry Holmes and George Foreman still visible within our midst , the sport of boxing is still sinking into a morass of ambiguity and incompetence . Any suggestion that the likes of Oscar de La Hoya and his company, Golden Boy Promotions Inc , has brought back some semblance of dignity to the sport , has to be met with a great deal of ridicule and suspicion. De La Hoya has his own personal issues to deal with, beyond the fact that his company , has been a litigant in several cases , where the accusation of fraud and larceny, have been leveled against the former boxer and his promotion’s company. Needless to say, the promoter pleads innocent, to all of the allegations made against him and scoffs at the suggestion that his company has acted unprofessional.

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Picture gallery .

There were a number of interesting sports’ stories within the sports’ world this past weekend, but which event to your mind proved to be the most interesting in terms of its relevance ? Do leave a comment, as you see fit on this and anything else you believe relevant to the subject matter .

Picture and slideshow gallery details .
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(1) Gaby Sanchez , Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen celebrate the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 8-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs in a game played on Tuesday 24th September , 2013 ,2 at Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois . For the first time in just over two decades the Pirates will make their first post-season appearance , having gained one of the two available NL wild-card berths . AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast ….

(2) The Pirates’ Gerrit Cole heads to first , after hitting a two-run single off Chicago Cubs’ starting pitcher Chris Rusin , which in turn scored Gaby Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez during the second inning of the game played between the two NL Central teams on Tuesday 24th September , 2013 . AP Photo / Rex Arbogast …..

(3) Chicago Cubs’ GM Theo Epstein , foreground , is seen here with the team’s owner Tom Ricketts . Epstein who became the general manager of the Cubs in October 2011 , has presided over two years of mediocrity of an organization , that has not made a post-season appearance since 2008 , when the team went do the NLDS. This season the Chicago Cubs underperformed and will finish once again with a sub .500 record for the second consecutive season , of which the last time the ball-club had a winning season came in 2009. Getty Images / Jonathan Greene ……

(4) Players from the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate their shutout of their AL East rivals the New York Yankees , in a game played at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday 24th September , 2013. The victory inched the Rays closer to obtaining one of the two available wild-card berths within the American League (AL) . This victory has in essence placed New York pout of the wild-card race and whatever chance the team had of making the post-season but there remains two more games to be played of the current series between the two teams . In 2013 it has been the Tampa Rays who have had the upper hand in the regular season series between the two teams . It also casts doubt on the strength of this current Yankees’ lineup and heightens their vulnerabilities , showing them now to be a team on the decline. AP Photo / Kathy Willens ………

(5) Eric Decker (87) of the Denver Broncos tries to break the tackle of Brandian Ross (29) of the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High , in a game played on the September 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Getty Images ? Doug Pensinger ….

(6) Left guard Zane Beadles (68) of the Denver Broncos and left tackle Chris Clark (75) of the Denver Broncos prepare to defend the blind side of quarterback Peyton Manning (18) of the Denver Broncos as they face the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 37-21 . Doug Pensinger /Getty Images …

(7)
Shaquille O’Neal holds up a shirt with “Shaqramento” printed on it as he poses with Sacramento Kings majority owners Vivek Ranadive, left, and Mark Mastrov, in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013. O’Neal was welcomed as a new minority owner of the Kings and promised to help restore the franchise to its winning ways and mentor to Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli …

(8) Ken Norton , left, seen here facing Muhammad Ali in the third and final fight of their trilogy , which was fought at Yankee Stadium , in the Bronx , New York of September 1976. Norton felt he won the fight but it was given to Ali in a unanimous decision . AP Photo / archives …

(9) Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton exchange blows during their 1973 fight in San Diego, the first of their three bouts against one another. Ali would wind up losing a 12-round decision after Norton broke his jaw early in the fight. Neil Leifer/SI ….

(10) LAS VEGAS, NV – FEBRUARY 18: Former boxer Ken Norton arrives at the Keep Memory Alive foundation’s ‘Power of Love Gala’ celebrating Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena February 18, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event benefits the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Muhammad Ali Center. The former title-holder died earlier this month complications from heart failure and a respiratory condition . AP Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive …..

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tophatal ………. 09/24/2013

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So what went wrong ?

So what went wrong ?

I’ve read with a great deal of interest a number of articles of fans and analysts alike, who are now somewhat bemused by the Cleveland Browns’ (0-2) sudden decision to trade Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a selection of future picks . Given the start of the AFC North franchise and the very fact that the growth of the quarterback Brandon Weeden appears to be moving at a snail’s pace . It seems to give credence that the Browns’ front office are now looking to head in a completely new direction with the arrival of Joe Banner as the de-facto general manager and Head of Football Operations . Team owner Jimmy Haslam outside of owning the team, has some serious legal issues of his own still to deal with, that could be indeed far-reaching if an amicable out of court settlement cannot be reached with a dearth of nationwide plaintiffs , seeking to sue Haslam’s company Pilot Flying J for grand larceny , breach of contract and fraud .

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The fact of the matter is , with the sale of the Browns to Haslam , it seemed only natural that the new owner would deem to bring in his own people into the into executive and managerial structure of the organization . Outgoing Head of Football Operations Mike Holmgren along with former GM Tom Heckert , departed under a somewhat somber and sour note , along with former head coach Pat Shurmur , whose two-year tenure and record of 9-23 would have gotten any head coach with that type of mediocrity , fired , no matter who the hell, they might have been . Shurmur’s successor Rob Chudzinski is off to an inauspicious start with the team already having posted an 0-2 record , leaving the franchise afoot of the AFC North . And going into this weekend’s fixture with the equally abysmal Minnesota Vikings , this match-up of two win-less teams , might just be one of the worst games on the weekend schedule of the NFL during week three .

In terms of the challenges facing the Cleveland Browns, it is abundantly clear this organization and team are definitely lacking confidence on both sides of the ball. Acquiring a seasoned veteran such as Willis McGahee may well buffer the team’s offensive woes , but I do believe that the offense is at best, mediocre and the defense suffers from a lack of veteran leadership. . In my honest opinion, I believe that the Browns have simply given up on their season and are using everything within their PR arsenal to alleviate the understandable anger of their fans after this trade of Trent Richardson , who was by far the team’s best player . Yet , in this day and age, the fans should not be surprised at all , by anything a professional sports’ franchise tends to do , and then seeks to offer an explanation that simply makes no sense whatsoever . Given the recent draft choices made over the past three seasons by this franchise , there is nothing to suggest that in 2014 they are likely to make the picks that are likely to make the franchise considerably better .

Speaking of teams taking a downward slide, within the state of Florida , two of the NFL franchises residing within the state, remain win-less. The NFC South’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and from the AFC South the Jacksonville Jaguars , who are spiraling out of control, faster than a passenger aircraft in a tailspin . If things continue as they are, both of these teams are likely to finish with sub .500 records . Greg Schiano is now at a crossroads concerning his starting quarterback , with Josh Freeman’s play continually being indifferent , but if there is any blame to be apportioned, then it would have to rest squarely on the shoulders of an ill-disciplined defense and the complete lack of maturity being shown by those players. My question for Greg Schiano and the fans , if acquiring Darrelle Revis was meant to bolster the team’s secondary , is he also being asked to take on the role of a leader not only on the defense, but also for the team as a whole ? It was clearly never provided by Freeman , once seen as the future and the face of the franchise . Four years into his NFL career and Josh Freeman continues to be more of a conundrum and an enigma all rolled into one.

Seeking to avoid an 0-3 start , the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face not necessarily a daunting task, but still a tough one, when they take on the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium , in Foxborough , Massachusetts on Sunday afternoon . Tom Brady and the Patriots, have yet to find the form shown throughout much of the 2012 regular season . The Buccaneers might just prove to be, the perfect adversary for Brady and the Patriots’ offense to tee-off on, as Tampa’s secondary remains extremely weak .

. With rumors now swirling as to an apparent trade request made by Josh Freeman , which has not been substantiated , there clearly seems to be a tepid relationship between the coach and his starting quarterback. The options for Schiano , by way of a backup, are his rookie first round draft pick of this year , Mike Glennon or former Detroit Lions’ starting quarterback , Dan Orlovsky . Not as enticing an option as one might think, given the limitations of both players in a non-too familiar role as a starter in the NFL . Orlovsky’s career is best summed by saying field awareness, is not one of his most accomplished traits. In the case of Glennon , a baptism of fire at this stage of his career in the NFL , would be like leading a lamb to the slaughter.

Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick and Greg Schiano are said to be close personal friends, strange when one thinks that the famed head coach is not viewed as someone who has a wide circle of friends within the NFL . Yet, much of that may well lie in the fact that Buccaneers’ GM Mark Dominik consulted with Bill Belichick before making the final decision to hire the former Rutgers’ head football coach. Add in the fact that Belichick’s son, Stephen Belichick , now an assistant on his father’s coaching staff, played his college football at Rutgers under having been a walk on under Schiano , but originally being a member of the school’s lacrosse team , and one can well understand why that bond of friendship has been maintained beyond Bill Belichick endorsing Dominik’s choice of hiring Greg Schiano . Yet, it should also be noted that a number of players having played under the Buccaneers’ head coach are now established stars in the NFL, with one or two now on the Patriots’ roster . That friendship is likely to be put aside on Sunday, when these two head coaches square off , in one the day’s more intriguing adversarial match-ups . A loss for the Buccaneers, would indeed prove to be dire and there would likely be calls for Freeman to be removed from his starting role, based upon his performance on Sunday. At the same time , I cannot help but wonder, what this might also mean to the psyche of a team , where the head coach has himself shown, just as much a lack of discipline, as his defense is also said to lack, as well as their being, a complete lack of leadership on the team altogether.

I will say this for the Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan and his intentions to make the franchise more a family-friendly atmosphere and more welcoming not just to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ fans, but also the opposing fans who may well have traveled to see their team play at Ever-Bank Field in Jacksonville , Florida,. As I much as I admire his mission and gravitas, I do believe he would be better served, if the on-field product would be considerably better , if it is his intent to grow the team’s fan-base within the local area, as well as statewide , nationally and globally. Over the past two seasons , the Jaguars have just been a franchise aimlessly, going nowhere. The team’s quarterback Blaine Gabbert has continually struggled to find his game and it would appear that at this point, head coach Gus Bradley and his coaching staff will use this season to assess whether not the player is simply good enough to lead this team in the long-term. Given the player’s results since being inserted in his present role as a starting quarterback , having been selected as the tenth overall pick in the first round by the Jaguars in the 2011 NFL Draft . The meager returns for the franchise has to now be a cause for concern , beyond the obvious financial implications for the franchise in terms of Gabbert’s contract.

A loss , in week one to the vastly improved Kansas City Chiefs and a subsequent week two defeat, suffered at the hands of the Oakland Raiders , and the manner of those losses, must have sent a loud and clear message to GM David Caldwell, that this team simply does not possess the depth , talent or quality players needed not just to compete in the AFC South , the AFC itself , but also the NFL as a whole . What clearly is so disturbing about the Jaguars, is that the team’s defense is so bad , and that the offense , is as equally abysmal . With those type of displays, the last team that the Jacksonville Jaguars would desire to meet would be the Seattle Seahawks and their high-octane offense and their equally as devastating batting ram of a defense . Anyone who witnessed the Seahawks` dismantling of the San Francisco 49ers cannot deny that this team might now be the most balanced in the entire NFL and undoubtedly to my mind, the best team not just in the NFC , but the entire NFL, and that is with due respect to the rest of the unbeaten teams in the league . The Jaguars will have the pleasure of visiting Q-West Field in Seattle, Washington , where Russell Wilson and his teammates await their opponents like a school of sharks, ready to circle their prey, before devouring the entire carcass. I am sorry, but this could very well be a contest, where the inevitability of the result is already a foregone conclusion, before the game has even kicked off . I wonder what odds, they are now offering on the over and under, as well as the spread ?

Off to a 2-0 start , the . Miami Dolphins and their head coach Joe Philbin are likely to be the sternest test to New England Patriots o making a successful defense of their AFC East title. Philbin and the coaching staff have the team playing with a great deal of resolve through the first two games of their season.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill finally seems to have a team around him that complements his skill-set , alongside what now appears to be a very good all-round offense . Yet the Dolphins’ biggest improvement may well be on the defensive side of the ball and the fact that they are now holding opponents to fifteen points a game by comparison to last season’s 19.8 points per game . Reggie Bush’s off-season departure to the Detroit Lions , may well have come as a surprise to many ,but the running back’s unfulfilled expectations were never really met as a player with the Dolphins.

Dolphins’ GM Jeff Ireland sought to use the 2013 NFL Draft as a blueprint to improve the roster in the necessary areas of need, and using his astute acumen plied the free agency market for a number of players looking for a fresh start as well as looking to be productive . Sunday afternoon, the Dolphins will host the Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Sun Life Shark Stadium in Miami , in a meaning infra-conference game , which pits Matt Ryan against Ryan Tannehill , in a match-up of two very pass oriented quarterbacks . A victory today for Miami, over a Mike Smith coached Atlanta Falcons’ team would do a long way in signifying that the Dolphins are heading in the right direction and push the Falcons into a somewhat unlikely position of being 1-2 and amongst the lesser lights within the NFC South and NFC as a whole.

If Major League Baseball (MLB) , is said to have handled the issue of banned substances haphazardly and at times almost with utmost incompetence . Then it has to be said, that the NFL’s failure to initiate in and out of season testing for anabolic steroids and human growth hormones (HGH) is a testament to Roger Goodell’s continued incompetency and the NFLPA’s (Players’ Union) continued excuse making, as to why a policy that was agreed to, voted upon and ratified by the union in their collective bargaining agreement in 2010 , has yet to put into place. NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, has his reservations , albeit, that they are nonsensical and without merit . Smith believes that there is no full-proof test available for steroid testing or any other illicit substance mandated by the league. In reality , the union’s top-ranked executive knows that there is widespread use among his members and is simply looking save himself and that of his union, further embarrassment and an already unwanted PR image , as it relates to the NFLPA’s treatment of some of their senior most retired veterans , which has been well-chronicled down the years . In the case of Roger Goodell, he is simply too afraid to further anger the union and create an even wider impasse and situation of distrust between the two parties.

While this issue is now placed on the back-burner , much to the annoyance of the House Commerce Committee , the commissioner’s latest cause-celebre’ would appear to be, having additional regular season games be played outside North America. With an increasing presence in Europe by way of the league’s fan-base and support, as well having offices in London , Paris , Rome and Berlin. It must be said that the European Union’s 325 million population , is likely to the NFL’s next target for expansion, before looking towards the Far East and Pan Pacific Basin. Having reached saturation point in the North American market and with the advertising dollars now even less accessible, because of the growing competition and presence being provided , most notably from the NBA and Major League Baseball. Growth, outside the North American market, now seems to be the obvious choice and the way to go. Add in the very fact, that there seems to never ending dialogue that continues , concerning the establishment of an NFL franchise in Europe , and a case could be made that the commissioner will now seek to make this a reality , if he is unable to get a franchise reestablished in the Los Angeles area , the nation’s second largest ad-market .

With uncertainty said to be surrounding the San Diego Chargers’ future in the San Diego area and the organization’s dialogue with the city of San Diego concerning Qualcomm Stadium . Team owner Dean Spanos could very well come to the decision to uproot the franchise and relocate it to the more lucrative market of Los Angeles. Cases were also being made that the Jacksonville Jaguars with its low fan-base of support and lack of attendance , would be the franchise interested in relocating . That now seems to be out of the question as team owner Shahid Khan has made the commitment to remain in the city of Jacksonville, for the long-term . Khan has actually shown his commitment to that issue, by spending $15 million of his own money in refurbishing the team’s training facilities as well upgrading many of the amenities at Ever Bank Field. Although, I am more inclined to believe that the Jaguars were unwilling to break the lease agreement with the city of Jacksonville , which would bring about a steep financial penalty for the franchise , were they to break that agreement . And as asinine as it may seem, one major journalist insisted that the NFL was considering the move of actually relocating the Jaguars to the the United Kingdom , with the team playing their home games at Wembley Stadium in London , England. Would the NFL actually consider such a move ? Given the input, but more so, the right financial inducement , then just about anything is possible . Let us not forget, who we are dealing with , in terms of the NFL commissioner, as Roger Goodell is lured by the lust of money and his avarice in that context, simply knows no boundaries . If pushed, Shahid Khan could be amenable to such a proposal, with the league making it worth the franchise’s wile, , by way of an additional financial incentive and then adequately reimbursing the city of Jacksonville for the team’s departure from the city.

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Picture gallery .

What if anything , has been the biggest surprise for you as an NFL fan through the first two weeks of the NFL regular season ? In your honest opinion do you believe the league to be overly ambitious and are setting their sights too high in possibly seeking to establish an NFL franchise outside North America ? Finally , who do you believe that the league hierarchy and union have yet to initiate regular and off-season testing for anabolic steroids and HGH ? Is it a matter of the NFL not wanting to face a legal challenge in the courts by or a multitude of players , or was it simply the NFL seeking to appease the federal government in the first place ? Chime in with your thought on this and anything you believe to be of relevance concerning this subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Trent Richardson is seen here on Draft Day , alongside NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . The running back , having been drafted by the Cleveland Browns as the third overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft . One year removed from that day , the player has been traded by AFC North franchise to the Indianapolis Colts . The explanation offered by Team President and Head of Football Operations Joe Banner does seem to be filled with a great deal of rhetoric and Banner’s statement that the trade was done in the Browns’ best interest , as they seek to get better. It does seem to ring “hollow” in so many ways . As to how the fans may well about this trade , well the sports’ talk radio within the greater Cleveland has been abuzz , with many leveling their criticism at the management and team owner Jimmy Haslam, in particular , whose first year as the team’s owner has been littered with a great deal of controversy and suspicion . Cleveland Plain Dealer / Mitch Hughes ….

(2) Cleveland Browns’ Head of Football Operations Joe Banner , left, is seen here alongside team owner Jimmy Haslam . The two remain defiant by way of the decision to trade Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for future draft picks’ consideration . Fans of the Browns have called into various local radio sports’ talks shows to voice their criticism of the team owner and the front office executive , in particular . Cleveland Plain Dealer / Tucker Reeves ….

(3) Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Brandon Weeden attempt a pass during the game against the Baltimore Ravens during week two , in a match-up of the two AFC North teams, which was played at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore , Maryland on the 15th September , 2013. Weeden has struggled this season and with the loss of running back Trent Richardson , his options do appear to be limited and that is even with the signing of veteran rusher Willis McGahee . AP Photo / Patrick Semansky ……

(4) Saints’ kicker Garrett Hartley is congratulated by teammates after kicked the winning field goal during the waning moments of game that they seemed destined to lose against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was the second such loss for the Buccaneers , having suffered a heartbreaking loss to the New York Jets during week one after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalized the team allowing the Jets to make a last minute field goal to win the game . Penalties , stupidity and a lack of disciplined by Tampa’s defensive players have been a boon for the team this season . Head coach says all of the right things , but noting seems to change concerning the defensive errors made . AP Photo / Phelan Ebenhack …… .

(5) Running back Doug Martin (22) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers takes a hand-off from quarterback Josh Freeman (5) against the New Orleans Saints September 15, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Getty Images / Al Messerschmidt ……

(6) Blaine Gabbert (11) of the Jacksonville Jaguars is sacked by Dontari Poe (92) of the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at EverBank Field on September 8, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida. A game time decision will be made as to whether or not Gabbert or Chad Henne will be the starting quarterback on Sunday in the game against the Seattle Seahawks, to be played at Q-West Field in Seattle , Washington . Getty Images / Sam Greenwood ,

(7) Missouri Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabbert answers questions during a media session at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gabbert was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2011 NFL Draft and his career with the franchise has been nothing short of exacerbating and a major disappointment for fans of the team. Getty Images Joe Robbins ….

(8) Jacksonville Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan , foreground , is seen here along the team’s general manager David Caldwell . Both executives have reiterated it is their intent to have the franchise remain in Jacksonville for its long-term future . Continuously, rumors swirl that the team is likely to be relocated because of a poor fan-base and a lack of attendance for the team’s scheduled home games at Ever Bank Field in Jacksonville , Florida . Home games for the Jaguar’s regular season have been blacked out in the local area market , because of their failure to meet the league’s requirements of having sold 85% of general admission tickets within 48 hours of the commencement of a scheduled regular season game. AP Photo / Marcus Hilton …

(9) From left to right Miami Dolphins’ general manager Jeff Ireland , team owner Stephen M Ross , quarterback , Ryan Tannehill and head coach Joe Philbin . After a somewhat inconsistent rookie season in / 2012 , Tannehill now seems to have found his footing in 2013 , leading to the Dolphins for a 2-0 start and the team sits atop of the AFC East alongside the New England Patriots . Miami Herald / Matt Dominguez …..

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The last of the bad men or how the AL West has now become a no man’s land

The last of the bad men or how the AL West has now become a no man’s land

I have to admit that this baseball season has become a wistful reminder that being the biggest and allegedly the best does not always mean what it said meant to represent . In the AL East, the New York Yankees were thought to be amongst the prohibitive favorites to come away with the division . Now languishing in fourth place , it now seems that the Bronx Bombers are to miss the postseason , along with it their chance to win an unprecedented twenty-eighth World Series crown . Add in the fact that this season is likely to be the last time that we will see of the all-times saves’ leader in Mariano Rivera . It would be safe to suggest that this is not the way that the esteemed closer would like to have left the game . The team’s captain Derek Jeter now on the disabled list was only a participant in seventeen games for the ball-club in 2013. The only saving grace for the Yankees has been the recent form of slugger Alfonso Soriano . Pitching has been the Achilles’ Heel for Joe Girardi and his staff and the all too inconsistent hitting that has led to this season of discontent and quite possibly a major upheaval within the organization at the end of the year .

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For far too long, Brian Cashman has been far too reliant on overspending and the acquiring of high-priced free agents. . It would be safe to suggest that if the New York Yankees had it all to do over again , they would have changed a great many ways they went about this season , and also in dealing within the Alex Rodriguez fiasco , which has led to a testy relationship between the Yankees’ third baseman and the organization’s general manager. Baseball’s and the fans’ biggest wish, must be the non-appearance of the player and his teammates in this year’s postseason foray. Rodriguez’s appearance, while awaiting the adjudication of his appeal for violating baseball’s steroid policy, would be seen as a slap in the face of the fans but even more so, in bringing the game into further disrepute . From my own perspective, I have felt that Bud Selig’s haphazard handling of this has been the main reason there remains a great deal of ridicule of his tenure as the game’s highest ranking official . Consider a number of Selig’s predecessors , Faye Vincent , Bart Giamatti and Peter Ueberroth . Were any of the aforementioned individuals, as incompetent as the incumbent commissioner ? By all means do chime in with your thoughts on that.

Given the present tailspin of the New York Yankees, the AL wildcard race is now beginning to look a great deal like a game of ‘Texas No Limit Poker’ . Yet, no one can actually be sure, who is carrying a straight, in this game. It would be now safe to say, that this race will not have a decisive outcome until the very last day of regular season schedule. Coming off a 4-3 victory over the disappointing Toronto Blue Jays . Joe Girardi and his team will face the San Francisco Giants on Friday , in an intra-league game . However, I do believe that Girardi’s eyes will be focused on the upcoming three game series at home against the Tampa Bay Rays beginning on Tuesday 24th September . A series that will be pivotal for both teams as they each seek one of the two available AL wildcard berths . The Cleveland Indians , Baltimore Orioles , Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees are all within 2 ½ games of the wildcard berth, with the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers now atop of the wildcard berths holding down those two top spots. Care to guess, which paring from that septuplet is likely to prevail at the end of the day ?

Billy Beane , Brian Sabean and Dave Dombrowski are to my mind, are the three best general managers within the game of baseball ! Their accomplishments speak for themselves and I know that Yankees’ fans are likely to feel aggrieved by the statement made, but with all due respect, beyond the vast financial resources of the Yankees’ ball-club, can anyone point to a player who has risen up through the ranks of the organization’s minor league system that has been of considerable success at the Major League level that was drafted by Brian Cashman over the past five years ? ? Granted, the ball-club’s last title came by way of their lopsided series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009. The team managed by Girardi, was never really challenged throughout the postseason and in the championship series itself , with Hideki Matsui coming away with the World Series MVP Awards for his accomplishments in the series and postseason itself . Yet the makeup of the roster , was once again primarily made up of pieces sought elsewhere . A league-high $201 million team payroll was once again representative of what the New York Yankees seems to best and that is to create an even larger financial imbalance within the game , with an ever widening gap between the haves and have-nots within the sport.

In 2013, it was once again New York leading the pack with the highest payroll in baseball . Something I now truly believe the front office takes pleasure in parading, for everyone to know , and bear witness to, and that is in spite of the idiocy of Hal Steinbrenner , who maintained that the payroll would be no greater than $185 million for this season. Instead, with a salary obligation of $228.8 million , this ball-club simply shows no real intent to reduce their capricious financial outlay on players. The Los Angeles Dodgers , where Magic Johnson , one of the lead partners and team owner, has already gone on record by stating, “that no expense will be spared to obtain their ultimate goal” . . Well , Johnson does seem to be a man of his word, with the Dodgers’ team payroll at what they deem to be a manageable $216.6 million . If both of these teams should fail to make the World Series, I certainly believe that baseball’s hierarchy will have to ask themselves whether or not this type financial insanity within the game can be self-sustainable. The Dodgers by way of their $ 8 billion two-decade contract with Time Warner Inc is assured of financial stability as well as having the financial backing of Guggenheim Partners Inc , the owners of Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC , a wholly owned subsidiary of the world-renowned venture capital and asset management company, backed by assets exceeding $125 billion ($125,000,000,000) . Mark Walter , Todd S Boehly , Stan Kasten , Magic Johnson and Peter Guber are prepared to put their money where their mouths just happen to be . Anything, that now places the spotlight on their ball-club and lessen the glare on their AL East counterparts, has to be seen as a distinct advantage for the NL West franchise from a PR standpoint.

As those two titans of the game, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees seeks to reestablish their dominance within baseball. In the AL West , the Oakland Athletics are making a mockery of the division , but also of their divisional rivals , primarily the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers . In the case of both Mike Scioscia and Ron Washington , as the regular season slowly comes to a close , there is a distinct possibility that might well be the last time we both of these managers in their current roles . GM’s Jerry Dipoto of the Angels and Jon Daniels of the Rangers, are likely to come to decision, that it would be in their teams’ best interests to relieve the managers of their duties .

A’s GM Billy Beane over the last two seasons has been able to work wonders with this organization , working on a shoestring budget , as he has drafted prudently , acquired the usual facsimile of the players he believes can contribute to the team’s success . Meanwhile , team owner, Lewis Wolff continues to work fiendishly in trying to get a new venue built for the storied franchise , all without any assistance from Bud Selig . By contrast, the commissioner was at the forefront, in assisting not only both New York ball clubs with the building of their recent venues but also the now barely competitive Miami Marlins , whose Marlins Ballpark has become an ode to all things ostentatious , while barely registering a blip in terms of home attendance levels for their home stands against an opponent, even during their inaugural season of 2012.

With payrolls in excess of $110 million apiece for the Angels and Rangers, it was felt that Jerry Di Poto and Jon Daniels, having mustered talented teams , had the inside track on determining how the AL West would play out in 2013 . Yet all season long, from the opening day , throughout May , June , July and August , there were the A’s plugging away , notching up wins and series’ victories , while their more financially acclaimed divisional neighbors struggled . Now the Texas Rangers finds itself in the midst of a wildcard race, that it seemingly wants no part off, having provided the inconsistency often observed by teams with sub.500 records . For the Los Angeles Angels , their season has been an immense disappointment , with the lone bright spot , being the another acclaimed season by 2012 AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up , Mike Trout . Other than Miguel Cabrera , and the Orioles’ Chris Anderson , Trout is having one of the most dominant seasons of any AL player in terms of offensive productivity. A great monetary return , if you are solely basing it on a player who will be earning less than $550,000 , while many of his more celebrated teammates are earning in excess of $15 million annually, and in some cases earning that money while being on the team’s disabled list .

If Trout is said to have been a catalyst for the Angels’ offense then Yoenis Cespedes has been like a stick of dynamite that has exploded and simply sparked a great deal more offensive output than Beane , manager Bob Melvin and the coaching staff could have expected . Yet, it has been the A’s pitching that has been continuously stellar throughout much of the season . For players such as Derek Norris , Josh Reddick , Eric Sogard, Josh Donaldson , Coco Crisp , Grant Balfour , Bartolo Colon , Sean Doolittle , Ryan Cook , Jarrod Parker , Jerry Blevins and A J Griffin will now have a chance to redeem themselves, after a rather disappointing postseason appearance in 2012 . Falling to the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS in five games , led to their all to quick exit from the postseason after their surprising AL West divisional win last season .

A $71.3 million payroll amongst the lowest in the game and all seems to be right with the world in Oakland, as the A’s now seeks to close out their season on a seasonal high. An 8-6 win over the hapless Minnesota Twins , and with the two teams set to meet again on Friday . Bob Melvin’s team, and their magic number to assure themselves the AL West division crown is 5 games. At 90-63 , they will close out their current series with the Twins with a final game on Sunday at the O Coliseum , in Oakland , California . . This season and what it has meant to the fans of the organization has been symbolic of what having a great front office means for an organization. By contrast, we have the ongoing idiocy of what is now taking place with the Philadelphia Phillies , New York Mets , New York Yankees and Miami Marlins. At one time or another over the past two seasons , each of these teams, have been amongst the organizations with a $100 million payroll over the past two years . As to the actual success attained, simply judge for yourself by looking at the postseasons in 2010 , 2011 and 2012 respectively .

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While the A’s look to celebrate their AL West success , I do not believe that there is a great deal that can be said by way of the ineptitude shown by Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners . In the case of the Astros , having made the move from the NL Central to the AL West , for the second consecutive season the ball-club’s loss total has exceeded one-hundred losses . I certainly do not believe Astros’ owner Jim Crane , expected 2013 to mirror an almost exact replica of 2012. GM Jeff Luhnow will now have to not only reassess the entire roster , but also the managerial staff of the organization and the direction he believes that they should be heading in . With their being growing uncertainty also , as to the Astros’ financial stability in spite of the guarantees of Jim Crane. It remains to be seen, what now is likely to take place with the ball-club concerning its immediate and long-term future .

In the case of the Seattle Mariners , there is not much more that can be said , other than fantasy geeks seem to be enamored with Dustin Ackley , in a the similar vein that a teenage boy would be giddy in seeing a naked pictorial of a voluptuous Playboy model, unclothed . Add in the fact that the talents of Felix Hernandez are being completely wasted within an organization that is simply bereft intelligence within its front office , as there seems to be minimal talent on the field of play. GM Jack Zduriencik , says all of the right things much like a politician with a well-written and prepared response to a difficult question . Yet, when posed the question, why is it, that this team has failed so miserably under Eric Wedge and his staff . Let us say, the response from the general manager, is simply par for the course. Howard Lincoln , Jack Ellis and Chuck Armstrong , as the senior-most executives on the board of directors for the Mariners, seem unconcerned by the team’s continued failures , be it on or off the field of play. At 67-87 and eighteen games left in their regular season schedule , Seattle by way of its lack of competitiveness , has simply been an abomination for their fans at home and on the road .

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Picture gallery .

This season within baseball got off to a great start, along within the customary controversies along the way . Now one can only hope, that the postseason can provide the fans with a great deal of excitement as we await baseball’s showcase finale.

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Picture and slideshow details below

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(1) Alex Rodriguez strikes out during the first inning of a baseball game on Thursday night played at the Rogers Center in Toronto, Canada , against the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto would go on to defeat the Yankees 6-2 , further placing New York’s slide out of the wildcard race in jeopardy . However, the Yankees will be looking forward to a pivotal the three-game series against division rivals the Tampa Rays . That series kicks off in New York starting on Tuesday 24th September , 2013 . AP Photo/ The Canadian Press / Mark Blinch …..

(2) Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi cannot hide his disappointment after another inexplicable loss by the fading Yankees . Now the manager has to deal with the announcement that Andy Pettite has made it known that 2013 will be his last season , formally announcing his retirement , as he joins teammate Mariano Rivera on the sidelines. Pettite is the most successful pitcher in postseason history in terms of wins and one the Yankees’ most successful pitchers in the franchise’s history. AP Photo / Mark Blinch …

(3) Billy Beane general manager of the Oakland Athletics . Beane looks to guide the team into the postseason for the second consecutive year and a deep playoff run this season. Operating on a shoestring budget , using his acumen and drafting prudently the A’s resurgence has been one of the most entertaining stories in baseball during 2013. AP Photo / Mark Thompson ….

(4) New owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, from left, Robert Patton , Stan Kasten, Mark Walter, Earvin “Magic’ Johnson,” Peter Guber, and Todd Boehly pose for a photo at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The $2 billion sale of the team to Guggenheim Baseball Management was finalized Tuesday. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes …

(5) Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout celebrates with teammate J B Shuck after hitting a two-run homer in a game played against the Oakland A’s on Wednesday , 18th September 2013 , in Oakland , California . AP Photo / George Nikitin ….

(6) Coco Crisp of the A’s is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins in a game played at the O. Coliseum Thursday 19th September , 2013. Kyle Terada / USA Today ….

Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A’s seen here hitting one of several long ball this season for the team . The player has been the main offensive catalysts for the A’s one of the most productive offensive players in the AL and the league as a whole during 2013 . AP Photo / Mark Horne ….

(8) New manager Eric Wedge (R) of the Seattle Mariners is introduced to the media by Executive Vice President & GM Jack Zduriencik at Safeco Field on October 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. 2013 has been proven to be a disastrous season for the Mariners , with only the Houston Astros seated beneath them within the AL West . Getty Images / Otto Greule Jr …

(9) (L-R) Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, left, and owner Jim Crane chat during batting practice on before the game against the Colorado Rockies on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 6, 2012 in Houston, Texas. For the second consecutive season the Astros have lost one-hundred games in regular season and with their being some serious questions now being asked of Crane as to the team’s financial viability . All of which have been denied by the team owner , who paid $775 million in purchasing the Houston Astros from former owner , Drayton McClane . Getty Images / Bob Levesey ……

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tophatal ………… 09/20/2013

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Additional MLB stories:

Dodgers win NL West title , become the first to clinch a playoff berth

Red Sox will move closer to clinching AL East, damage Orioles’ playoffs’ chances with sweep

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MLB news and press releases

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MLB results 19th October 2013

MLB standings and wildcard standings

2013 MLB postseason schedule

MLB team salaries

This month in MLB history

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Trouble in paradise ……..

Trouble in paradise ………

College Football’s season is well under way , with schools now heading into the fourth week of their scheduling . Alabama remains atop of the AP Poll , as the number one ranked team in the nation. Nick Saban and his team survived a minor scare when they were pushed by Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M (Aggies) in a game played at College Station, Texas . Manziel proved once again, why he might just be the most electrifying player in college football at present. Far be it for me to suggest that the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner can repeat as a back to back winner of college athletics’ most prestigious individual honor .

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Amongst the collegiate football landscape, there does not seem to be any bona-fide standout nominees at present, to perhaps challenge Johnny Manziel as a repeat winner of the Heisman, , albeit that there seems to be the ridiculously over-hyped hyperbole surrounding South Carolina’s defensive tackle Jadaveon Clowney. And as good as Clowney is said to be , unless Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks are in the midst of the SEC championship aspirations, little if anything , is likely to come out of the arguments and sentiments that now surrounds the player . For the defending BCS national champions, this season has seen the showing something of an immense drop off in terms the play in comparison to last season . Granted when a program loses that many players to the NFL by way of the NFL Draft , it does become something of a boon as well as a boost to the school’s notoriety ,while adding to Nick Saban’s already illustrious legacy .

At 2-0 , Alabama’s next game will be against Colorado State (Rams) to be played in Tuscaloosa , Alabama at the cavernous Bryant-Denny Stadium. The match-up itself , will be the Crimson Tide’s home opener, and there is likely to be a packed venue to see the highly favored national champions make a statement as to their intent , of making a successful defense of their national title. For juniors and seniors such as A J McCarron , Cyrus Kouandjio , Kyle Zazakevicius , Kevin Norwood , Kenny Bell and Deion Belue , this game can be seen as an initial audition for many of the NFL’s scouts , general managers and head coaches. While I believe that Alabama are likely to be tested , I do not think it will prove such a competitive contest, wherein they are likely to be on the wrong side up an upset defeat . We tend to see that sort of complacency shown by the likes of former top-fifteen ranked Florida and their inexplicable loss (21-16) to instate rivals the Miami (Hurricanes) . Florida coach Wil Muschamp now has to reassess where the mistakes were made beyond the defensive lapses and errant plays by quarterback Jeff Driskell during this game .

. If Florida are to have any hope of regaining their momentum, then every effort will have to be made to remedy their mistakes , as their next game will be at home against SEC rivals the Tennessee Volunteers (2-1) coached by Butch Jones . The Volunteers are a team that should not all be taken that lightly , at this point of the Gators’ season . A second slip up , especially in a conference game is likely to put any chances to their own conference championship aspirations as well as an appearance in a major BCS Bowl match-up into a tailspin . Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, will be packed with two sets of intensely rabid fans showing their support for their respective programs.

The hiring of Urban Meyer to replace the now disgraced former head coach , Jim Tressel at Ohio State (Buckeyes) did not come as a great surprise ,but the coach’s demeanor since his being installed into the position, has left many people wondering how conceited Meyer has become. Beyond his criticism leveled at his former employers , Florida, it has also emboldened the coach to deny any culpability of a program that he coached for six years , where he won two national titles , but also this was a program mired in controversy, which Meyer and AD Jeremy Foley may well have clandestinely sought to cover up a great many of the misdeeds carried out by the players under his tutelage . Allegations of sexual assaults , drug use, theft , grand larceny and academic fraud , much of it unsubstantiated , but there were also clear indications that Foley had boosters intervene to smooth things over with local law enforcement and specifically with the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Department , where there was said to be misconduct by members of the team .

Meyer having taken over a program that itself was mired in its own controversy , with much of the facts coming to the fore, only after a state and federal investigation was undertaken after it came to light that several players were known to have accepted illicit monetary payments from a known felon , gambler and drug dealer. A great deal of the subterfuge was actually enacted by Tressel , to cover up his own misconduct, web of lies and deceit enacted by himself , and assistant coaches players. While this was going on, both university President , Dr E Gordon Gee and AD Gene Smith stood steadfastly by and vehemently defended the beleaguered coach as the mountain of evidence grew and was then substantiated .

The NCAA , long thought to be the moral voice of reason, saw fit to punish Ohio State, only after the somewhat ridiculous self-imposed sanctions that the program’s Athletics Department was said to be willing to impose upon itself. A mere slap on the wrist for Tressel, with the coach being given a punitive monetary fine and having to sit out a six game suspension, was prescribed by Gene Smith and sanctioned by Gordon Gee. Take into consideration that a $250,000 fine and being told to stay away from the program for six games should be deemed somewhat laughable , when you are made aware that Jim Tressel’s annual salary with Ohio State at the time was in excess of $3.5 million a year . The Infraction’s Committee’s investigation and findings, concluded that there was gross negligence on the part of the Athletics Department’s compliance office, as well as by several administrators . That level incompetency went to the very top of the school’s hierarchy and showed also the complete lack of oversight by Gene Smith in its entirety . The fact that both Gee and Smith are still in the employment of Ohio State, either should be seen as a worrying sign or the fact that Gene Smith would be true to his word and actually make the changes recommended as well accepting the academic probation , with the loss of several scholarships and the forfeiture one year of non-appearance in College Football’s postseason jamboree .

A year removed, from having undergone their sanctions and prohibited from postseason play in 2012. The Buckeyes went through their schedule unbeaten , compiling a 12-0 record with a team , filled exciting players . This season brings about new set of challenges and a chance to see whether or not Braxton Miller is in fact the real deal . With Miller having to sit out the last game in Ohio State’s somewhat lopsided 52-34 victory over the California (Golden Bears) , it was left to Kenny Guiton take over the reins and guide the team to the win . Say what you will about Urban Meyer , but I believe that it is his intent to prove this season that the Buckeyes are justifiably the number two ranked team in the country . although based upon the recent performance of Oregon (Ducks) , some might believe that the Pac 12 program should be fitting of that role, as the second best team in the nation . . Oregon’s 59-14 pummeling of Tennessee, shows that they have no intention of being overlooked in the polls that matter the most, the BCS and AP Polls . The racking up of victories and the piling up of stats seems to be the thing that generates the most votes amongst the adjudicating officials . For Ohio State their next scheduled game will be against Florida A&M in Columbus , Ohio , this upcoming Saturday , at the program’s state of the art facility Ohio Stadium .

Since succeeding Pete Carroll as the head coach of USC (Trojans) , it would be easy to suggest Lane Kiffin has under-achieved in his position as the football program’s head coach. From my own perspective, Kiffin has been controversial from the very day that he was formally announced in that role . Within eighteen months of succeeding Carroll, Lane Kiffin was already within the cross-hairs of the NCAA for having violated several minor infractions. All this , while the program was still under probation in the aftermath of the improprieties of both the basketball and football programs coached at the time by Tim Floyd and Pete Carroll . Mike Garrett , the former AD was either simply naive or was somehow collusive with many of the actions that brought the program into disrepute. With former Heisman Trophy honoree, Reggie Bush , having to return his trophy after bringing dishonor to the school. It has to be said that a great deal more was expected of Lane Kiffin as a head coach. Instead it has been one pratfall after the other , with countless apologies being proffered and the excuse of being unaware as the NCAA requirements . Much to the embarrassment of present AD Pat Haden , who in having succeeding Mike Garrett, has done his leveled best to clean up the program and bring back some respect to one of college athletics’ most high-profiled and visible names .

Last season , was far from being deemed a successful year for the Trojans , who finished with a rather average 7-6 record overall and a 5-4 mark within the Pac 12 . Suffice to say, that with expectations being high, this misstep was seen as step backwards , rather than forward. Off to a 2-1 start in 2013, the team’s first loss (10-7) came by way of Washington State (Cougars) and much to the chagrin of the local media and boosters alike. When you are said to be one of the powerhouse programs of the Football Subdivision (FBS/D1) , these types of losses will not be tolerated easily. Kiffin for his part and his coaching staff seem to be at a loss to explain another haphazard and lackluster performance by the team. With the constant rumors now swirling and calls for Lane Kiffin’s ouster, you simply now get the feeling that his days in Southern California could very well be numbered. And you can bet that those call will not waver, should the situation become more dire for the program, with university President C L Max Nikias likely to be attuned to any changes that Pat Haden might well deem necessary to make . I do however, believe that Lane Kiffin will be allowed to fulfill his obligations for the year and then a decision will be made at the end of the season, concerning his long-term future with the program. There is no denying that Kiffin can recruit , but it would appear, that he has been unable to harness the talents of his players and the get the best possible performances out of them .

Beyond the issue of the team’s defense, it has been inconsistent play of quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek , that has to be a cause for concern for Lane Kiffin and the USC Trojans .

Utah State awaits Lane Kiffin and the USC Trojans, this upcoming Saturday , in a game that they must win emphatically. The home crowd will be there at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California, to show their ravenous support. The question however, will it be all in vain ?

Jaded, condescending, conceited and complacent. All of these traits, I believe best sum up Mack Brown and the University of Texas (Longhorns) ! Granted , Brown and DeLoss Dodds seem to have a stranglehold on the entire athletics’ program and the way that it is ran . With annual revenues conservatively estimated at between $120 million to $145 million annually , this does not take into account the joint ownership of the Longhorns Network between the school and the ESPN sports and cable broadcast outlet, where the two parties share jointly in the revenues derived of the agreement . Suffice to say, that Brown’s and Dodds’ imprints were all over that deal , with the football program undoubtedly being the biggest beneficiary of it all .

Off to an inauspicious start the Texas Longhorns are 1-2 , uncompetitive and Mack Brown has taken to apportioning the team’s shortcomings on his coaching assistants , rather than accepting the brunt of the responsibility in not having his players prepared . Losses to BYU , 40-21 and Ole Miss , 44-23 , now has the boosters , fans and analysts questioning the direction of this program and even the coach’s own mindset and that of assistant coaches. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was summarily fired and replaced by Greg Robinson , but the question will remain . What happens, if the Longhorns suffer another embarrassing and lopsided defeat over the remainder of their schedule ?

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports & AP


Texas fires defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, tabs former coach Greg Robinson as replacement

By Pat Forde , Yahoo Sports

Reeling after surrendering 40 points and 550 rushing yards in an upset loss to Brigham Young on Saturday night, Texas coach Mack Brown didn’t waste any time making a change. Yahoo Sports sources confirmed what was originally reported by Orangebloods.com: Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz on Sunday afternoon.

Diaz was replaced by former Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, who was last in that role at the school in 2004. After several unsuccessful tenures elsewhere, Robinson returned to Texas this offseason as a program analyst. His presence and availability probably shortened the leash on Diaz, whose Longhorns defense last year was among the worst in recent Texas history, allowing more than 400 yards and 29 points per game.

“Our performance on defense last night was unacceptable, and we need to change that,” Brown said in a Texas release issued Sunday evening.

[Related: Mack Brown looks out for Mack Brown]

The dismissal of Diaz may only be a prelude to bigger changes if this season continues on a disappointing path for the Longhorns. Brown, who has won 151 games and a national title in 16 seasons at Texas, will be under serious pressure.

Brown told Yahoo Sports last month, “I’m not going to (be fired).” He also said he wants to coach through the end of his contract in 2020. But Brown acknowledged that his program’s performance the past three seasons – a 22-16 record, just 11-15 in Big 12 play – was not up to the standard he’s set at Texas.

Coming off a 9-4 record last year, Brown was optimistic heading into 2013 that he had his best team since going 13-1 in 2009.

“We could win nine again and be disappointed,” Brown said. “Or we could win all of them.”

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With a slew of games set for week four of the College Football Schedule , it will be interesting to see how a number the top programs fare. The Texas Longhorns will play host to Kansas State (Wildcats ) at the Darrell K Royal/ Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. That contest should give us a clear indication as to how Mack Brown will intend to ride out the rest of the season with this team and their aspirations within the Big 12 .

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Picture gallery .

Though I have not always been an avid College Football fan, I do believe the game in its purest form is one of the most exhilarating pieces of sports’ entertainment to be found on the sporting landscape . Now while we will continue to question the integrity of the NCAA and the tenure of its President Mark Emmert, I have to admit that the biggest I have within collegiate athletics at present , has been the lack of oversight and leadership provided at all levels within the college sports. Billions of dollars on annual basis, finds its way into the coffers of the NCAA and the college programs nationwide. Yet at the end of the day, there seems to be nothing tangible to show for it all , beyond the lavish and palatial venues and the continued controversies that envelopes college sports by way of corruption and unabated violations that continually takes place . What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised in this article and your expectations for this College Football season ? Your comments are greatly welcomed, so by all means chime in with your thoughts.

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(1) College Station , Texas , a fan of Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel poses near the stadium before the start of the game between the two SEC programs Alabama (Crimson Tide) and Texas A&M this past Saturday at Kyle Field . Alabama would go on to defeat the Aggies 49-42 in what was a thrilling contest , with Manziel giving an exceptional performance that saw his team come up just short in defeating Alabama for the second successive season . Getty Images / Scott Halleran ….

(2) Head Coach Kevin Sumlin (L) of the Texas A&M Aggies and Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide talk before the game at Kyle Field on September 14, 2013 in College Station, Texas . Getty Images / Scott Halleran …..

(3) Johnny Manziel (2) of the Texas A&M Aggies throws a pass as Brandon Wilson (36) and A’Shawn Robinson (86) of the Alabama Crimson Tide bears down on him at Kyle Field on September 14, 2013 in College Station, Texas. Getty Images / Scott Halleran …..

(4) Florida coach Wil Muschamp wipes his face during the game the Miami Hurricanes , a clash between the two in-state rivals played at Sun Life Stadium , in Miami , Florida . Errant plays , turnovers and inconsistent play led to the Gators’ defeat by Miami 21-16 . AP Photo / Alan Diaz …

(5) Stephen Morris (17) of the Miami Hurricanes celebrates with teammate Shayon Green (51) celebrate after a touchdown during the first half of the game against Florida played on Saturday , 7th September , 2013. AP Photo / J Pat Carter ….

(6) Devin Smith of Ohio State, out-runs Damariay Drew of Cal, as he makes his way to the end-zone for a touchdown in the first quarter of a game played in Berkley , California on the 14th September , 2013 ,.. AP Photo / Ben Margot ….

(7) Teammates Kenny Guiton (13), Devin Smith (9) and Andrew Norwell (78) celebrate another touchdown in the Buckeyes’ 52-34 romp over the Cal (Golden Bears) in Berkley ,California . AP Photo / Ben Margot …

(8) Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer , right, is seen here with the program’s AD Gene Smith . Coming off academic probation this past season , Meyer hopes to have his team challenging for a Big Twelve championship as well as the BCS national title . Currently ranked at number three in the nation behind second placed Oregon and the number one ranked Alabama , Urban Meyer knows that the road to the national title will warrant an unbeaten season . Critical of his former employers , Florida, Meyer has been courting controversy over the past ten months . AP Photo / Andrew Matthews …

(9) USC Trojans’ AD Pat Haden is seen here at the Trojans Galen Center , home to the basketball program . Haden has some real issues concerning the poor play of the Trojans’ football program and their lackluster performances this season . Lane Kiffin is now under a great deal of pressure to succeed but there are growing calls for the head coach’s removal of the football team . LA Times / Paul Garcia ….

(10) Head coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans reacts during the game against the Washington State Cougars at Los Angeles Coliseum on September 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Cougars won 10-7. Kiffin remains now under a great deal of pressure in spite of the team’s rout of Boston College in a 35-7 victory . The Trojans are 0-1 in the Pac 12 but 2-1 overall , yet they are seated at the bottom of the South division .

(11) DeLoss Dodds AD of the Texas Longhorns is seen here at the Darrel K Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin , Texas. Dodds in conjunction with Mack Brown have been the architects in the program’s joint deal with ESPN for the Longhorns Network , for which the derived revenues would be shared equally . The Longhorns’ AD will be placed under a great to deal with the now growing calls to fire the head coach of the program , calls that are significantly coming from boosters of the University of Texas . Paul Walsh / Summit Enterprises ….

(12) Head coach Mack Brown of the Texas Longhorns waits on the sideline during the game against the Ole Miss Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Oxford, Mississippi. The Longhorns’ head coach has seen the team’s season turn upside down as they are now 1-2 , and facing mounting criticism from the press and boosters alike for the Longhorns’ lackluster performances this season . Brown fired Manny Diaz and promoted Greg Robinson to become the new defensive coordinator . It remains to be seen whether not , there will be an improvement from the team’s secondary . Getty Images / Matt Shaw ….

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tophatal ………………………….. 09/19/2013

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Sheneka

Hot chic pic of the day model , Sheneka Adams .

No news is good news , unless it is happening in the world of sports …..

No news, is good news , unless it is happening in the world of sports ….

With the recent firing of Philadelphia Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel by the front office of that organization , led by GM Reuben Amaro . It should now come as no surprise that the team is likely to be in a rebuilding mode . Lackluster performances throughout much of the season and a number of injuries did not quite render this year as meaningless . Yet the question has to be asked , how damn naïve was Amaro to begin with , in thinking that he could enter the season with a roster of overpaid stars and barely anyone performing at their best ? A team payroll exceeding $165 million and projected payroll for 2014 in the region of $114 million , the ball-club will have a little more wiggle room than anticipated .

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One of the more asinine assumptions I have read concerning the franchise , has been the fact that with their television contract due to expire in 2015 , with Comcast , the ball-club is likely to seek a more valuable deal , accordingly, something similar to the two-decade almost $8 billion deal that the Los Angeles Dodgers now has with Time Warner Cable Inc . Now the last time I looked, the city of Philadelphia may well have been in one of the nation’s largest ad-markets, but there is no way in hell that the franchise will be able to negotiate a deal with Comcast that is likely to net the Phillies remotely anywhere the financial reward they hope to gain .

The person offering his opinion on this all, has no idea as to the integral business template of a concern such as Comcast, who are still having to deal with the difficulties of their loss-making concerning NBC-Universal , the broadcast and film studios outlet bought from industrial giant GE . Consider the fact, that NBC is hemorrhaging red ink by the thankful, in terms of its bottom line . Only an idiot, would now believe that Comcast would be willing to shell out as much as $400 million annually over the next two decades to a ball-club, who this season has shown the competitive zeal of a baby seal , on the cusp of being clubbed to death .

With Ryne Sandberg’s installation as the interim-manager until the end of the season , it remains to be seen whether or not his audition will prove to be successful enough whereby he is offered the position on a full-time basis, and that of multi-year contract. From my own perspective , I do believe that team owner David Montgomery should have also sought the termination of Reuben Amaro’s contract as the team’s general manager . Those who witnessed the press conference announcing Charlie Manuel’s firing , while the former manager was seated alongside the general manager , obviously were able to see the dis-ingenuity of the executive, as he in part blamed the manager also on several issues , none of which , had to do with the fact that the team’s record of 64-77 , that had them languishing third , in the NL East and barely baseball that would prove to be entertaining enough for their fans to eagerly enjoy .

With two weeks to go before the regular season reaches its culmination, the Philadelphia Phillies still lie third within the division and their being of late some resilience being shown , having gone 6-4 in their last ten games. It would be safe to say that this off-season is likely to be a tumultuous one for the organization . The biggest off-season decision, possibly for the Phillies, is whether or to bring back to being back starting pitcher Roy Halladay and of closer Jonathan Papelbon . Both have said successful careers in their chosen roles, but if the truth be known, 2013 has provided us all with an insight into what can indeed go wrong when you have an overpaid star underachieve. While not the most expensive stars on the roster , they are the ones deemed superfluous to the team’s needs.

The Phillies’ issues beyond injuries and the inconsistent play, has been the fact, that there is said to be no vocal leader, with the likes seasoned veterans Jimmy Rollins , Cliff Lee and Chase Utley and Michael Young simply going about , business as usual . Whatever sense of urgency there was said to be, certainly wasn’t being shown under Charlie Manuel and in reality , although this recent ten-game stretch has shown that when this team is ready to play, they can do so. I do believe that it is all too little and far too late . The Philadelphia Phillies are now playing for their self-respect and pride , if nothing else . Sunday afternoon, will see the team face the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ballpark , in the nation’s capital of Washington, DC . Monday, the Phillies will then host their fellow divisional rivals the Miami Marlins in a three-game series , of teams said to be heading in the wrong direction .

For the Philadelphia Phillies and the likelihood of their cash windfall in 2015 , let us get one thing clear , fans are not likely to tune in to see a ball club whose product in 2013 was horrendous , and in 2014 , there is no likelihood or guarantee that Reuben Amaro is likely to show the insight needed to get have the best possible product on the field of play . Amaro has gambled, failed miserably in 2012 and 2013, so should the fans actually expect any different in 2014 , even with stars such as Ryan Howard , Cole Hamels , Cliff Lee and perhaps a number of prospects from the team’s farm system on board ? The Nationals and Atlanta Braves are likely to get considerably better and so too might the New York Mets , if their front office can actually find a way of not aiming the gun at their own damn feet and aiming it instead at their chosen target

The hype certainly was not worth it, , as once again the sport of boxing perpetrated another massive fraud on the public . On Saturday night, pound-for-pound king , welterweight champion Floyd ‘Money ‘ Weather ‘ defended his titles against Mexican fighter Saul ‘Canilo’ Alvarez . The unbeaten challenger, it was said, would give the champion the toughest test, he was yet to have faced in his unbeaten career . Pardon me for saying this, , but since when was it feasible to produce this hyperbole over a challenger whose record is as soft as a newborn baby’s ass ? Much of the blame for this charade, lays with Alvarez’s promoters, Golden Boy Promotions and its proprietor Oscar de La Hoya . The fight’s main card and under-cards were jointly promoted by Golden Boy Promotion and Mayweather Promotions and Entertainment Inc , a company wholly owned by the fighter , that oversees his professional and business interests. Mayweather’s business partner and legal counsel Leonard Ellerbee runs the business side, with the fighter simply making sure that the revenues are simply deposited into his now sizable and growing bank account. This title fight was the second of a six-fight deal with cable outlet provider Showtime Inc (parent company Viacom) , that will net Floyd Mayweather in excess of $200 million over the next eighteen months .

The only fireworks produced in this bout was the explosiveness and rapid succession in which Mayweather was allowed to land his blows, with his challenger simply being able to land a punch of any consequence . If Saul Canilo Alvarez is said to represent what was said to be a new breed and wave of tough up and coming Mexican boxers , then I am sorry, but Alvarez should now be hanging his head in shame, because the tradition of the great Mexican fighters of years past of which this young man wishes to join , will not be happening anytime soon. For twelve rounds the challenger offered nothing of substance, as the champion came away with a majority verdict , something of a farce given the lopsidedness of the victory , that now pushes his record to 45-0 (26 KO’s) . In suffering his first loss , Alvarez will have to revisit the drawing board and assess where he went wrong in this bout. From my own perspective , he simply was not ready for a fight of this magnitude in spite of record which to my mind is nothing more than a damn paperweight ! There are octogenarians and double amputees, who have shown more life than Saul Alvarez was able to exhibit on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Casino Arena & Resort Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada. Sooner or later the Nevada State Athletic Commission will have to start vetting a great many more of these title fights, taking place within the state’s line , particular those involving Floyd Mayweather . They either need to make sure that the title holder is not fighting a cadaver and that the opponent is in fact licensed to fight not only within the state, but nationwide .

As to who Mayweather’s next big money opponent might be , after his clinical and surgical dismantling of his challenger on Saturday night . Well, let us just say, that for twelve rounds of work, the champion will take a home $41 million guaranteed before the anticipated ancillary figures are known , which could very well add a further $45 million to $55 million to his take home pay for this one bout . Premium ringside seats went for high as $25,000 , but that included one’s accommodation and a limousine for the duration of the attendee’s stay in Las Vegas . The PPV (pay per view) figures are expected to top 2.4 million buys, making it the largest in the sport’s history and then weigh in the fact, that to subscribe for the event itself, the consumer was being asked to fork over $59-95 , an extortionate fee . One can now understand why this sport is now not signaling its own death knell, but the very fact that Mayweather’s only regard beyond what he alleges will be his legacy , is simply to ” break the bank ” with each purse he now earns in terms of his fights . He has already surpassed the lifetime earnings of both Mike Tyson and Oscar de La Hoya , two of the biggest names in the sport of boxing over the last two decades and he could be well on the way to becoming the first boxer to earn in excess of half-a-billion dollars ($500,000,000) solely from ring earnings ( estimated career earnings $392 million ) .

Well so much for that high-powered offense exhibited last week by the Philadelphia Eagles in their victory over the Washington Redskins . The team’s week two schedule , a game against the Mike McCoy coached San Diego Chargers has quickly brought Chip Kelly and his players back to earth with a crashing thud . Fans and analysts alike seemed to be overly excited with what many inane idiots were trying to suggest , that this was a new era in the NFL . How quickly they seem to forget and perhaps never seem to learn . For that type of efficiency and consistency , you have a team that is said to be on the same page as the coaching staff . Sunday afternoon and the Philadelphia Eagles may well have proved to us all that reading is fundamental , because everything about Philadelphia in this game suggested that not many of the team learned the playbook . Playing against a Chargers’ team led by quarterback Philip Rivers , the Eagles were made to pay for their errors as they were upstaged at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania .

And as exciting as Chip Kelly’s play-calling may well be, someone should remind the former Oregon coach, that this is not the Pac-12 , where just about no one plays any defense . He is now playing in amongst the big boys of the NFL , where a game strategy is made up offense as well as defense . The Eagles’ veteran quarterback , Michael Vick had a career high day in his team’s defeat, but the Eagles’ defense , it appears may well remained in the locker room , because for a large part of this game they were simply nowhere to be seen .

For the moment the Philadelphia Eagles remain tied atop of the NFC East at 1-1 , but that is likely to end after week two’s results are indeed a matter of record .

For those, who might still have doubts as to how good Aaron Rodgers might just be . Consider the following, the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback through three-quarters of work in Sunday’s game threw for an astonishing 374 yards , but fell a mere twenty yards of having a 500 yards’ career passing day . The opposition in this case just happened to be the hapless Washington Redskins , who have now fallen to 0-2 , albeit that Robert Griffin III , their sophomore quarterback continues to show growth as a player and as a quarterback in the NFL . Unfortunately, for Mike Shanahan , it has been the defense that has let this team down. And the likelihood is , this continues to be the norm , then defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and defensive lines’ coach Jacob Burney , will be abruptly shown the door.

This game may well have cemented the Packers as one of the teams to indeed watch within the NFC alongside both the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks . I am sorry folks , but it is still far too early to be talking about the Dallas Cowboys as a viable contender in spite of the force-fed diatribe of Skip Bayless , Merril Hoge , Ron Jaworski and the team’s owner Jerry Jones .

Speaking of the Seahawks and 49ers , well those two teams put on a stellar display in an NFC match-up that could prove to be a precursor and dress rehearsal for the NFC championship game . If ever there was a time for San Francisco’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick to prove that last season was no fluke , then Sunday’s display by the quarterback may well have a been a real cause for concern for the player’s fans and an even greater argument for his detractors . Pete Carroll’s …. defense simply harried the Kaepernick into making errant plays , while their offense led by opposing quarterback Russell Wilson , simply shredded and picked apart the Niners’ much vaunted defense , in coming away with a clinical and lopsided 29-3 victory . Can the Seahawks now be considered the most balanced and perhaps the best team in the NFL at present ? I will let you be the judge of that , but most certainly, do offer up your own thoughts on that .

The “Manning Bowl “ this past Sunday , provided us with a chance to see a sibling rivalry, in which the elder of the two siblings , Peyton Manning has the upper hand over his younger brother Eli Manning . In Sunday’s third meeting between these two seasoned and celebrated quarterbacks to display their skills before a national audience of millions besides the over 63,000 in attendance at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Aerial display and a rushing offense, provided the fans with over 780 all-purpose offensive yards . Defense seemed to be at a minimum as the Broncos came away with their second victory of the season with a 41-23 victory to put the Broncos atop of the AFC West and Peyton Manning with a 3-0 lead in regular season games over his younger brother . As to Archie and Olivia Manning , they must have been pleased with the performances of their two sons. Whether or not, there was said to be any favoritism being shown by the parents to one son over the other, that is a question, that can be asked of the individuals themselves .

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Picture gallery .

As exciting as this sport’s weekend was said to be , there were still a great many stories that I could have touched on, but with a limited amount of time and a patronage that quite possibly would not be interested in things such as NASCAR and EPL (English Premiership) soccer , I will simply leave it to the topics covered . So by all means, do leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site as it has always been greatly appreciated!

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Phillies’ starting pitcher Tyler Cloyd seen here delivering a pitch during the first inning of a game played against the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Ballpark in Washington , DC . The Nationals would go on to defeat the Phillies in a lopsided game 11-2 , with pitcher Jordan Zimmerman of the Nationals 1 gaining his eighteenth victory of the season . AP Photo / Susan Walsh …..

(2) The Nationals’ Bryce Harper steals second, as he makes his way to third base during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Ballpark in Washington , DC. Washington would go on to win the game 11-2 . AP Photo / Susan Walsh …

(3) Deposed manager Charlie Manuel, right, is seen here alongside GM Reuben Amaro Jr . Manuel the Philadelphia Phillies’ most successful manager, was fired earlier this month and replaced by Ryne Sandberg as the ball-club’s interim manager until the end of the season . Since his installment, Sandberg has not really fared that much better than his predecessor, having post a 16-13 record . Getty Images / Nick Walters ….

(4) Saul Alvarez, right , of Mexico is here in his WBC welterweight title fight against title holder Floyd Mayweather . The champion would win in dominating fashion with a unanimous verdict and pushing his unbeaten record to 45-0 . A forty-one million dollar payday was the reward for the champion, with the likelihood that his purse could be as high as $ 80 million after budgetary costs are taken into account for the staging of the title bout at the MGM Grand Casino Resort Hotel & Casino Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada . Getty Images North America / Rick Parsons ….

(5) (L-R) Floyd Mayweather Jr. throws a right at Canelo Alvarez during their WBC / WBA 154-pound title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 14, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mayweather successfully defended his WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine titles with a unanimous verdict over his challenger . Getty Images / Ethan Miller ……

(6) Floyd Mayweather Jr. (R) hits Canelo Alvarez in the seventh round of their WBC/WBA 154-pound title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 14, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mayweather won by a majority decision. Getty Images / Ethan Miller …..

(7) Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles attempts a pass to James Casey during the game against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania . The Eagles’ defense were woefully inept as they allowed Philip Rivers and the Chargers back into this contest , as the home team dropped to their first defeat of the season . AP Photo / Matt Rourke …..

(8) Eddie Royal of the Chargers makes it into the end-zone as he evades Nate Allen of the Eagles . AP Photo Matt Rourke ….

(9) Quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers attempts a pass during the game against the Washington Redskins played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin . Green Bay would defeat their NFC rivals 38-20 to improve their record 1-1 within the NFC North and dropping the win-less Redskins to 0-2 within the NFC East and at the bottom of the division. AP Photo Mike Roemer ….

(10) Peyton Manning (18) congratulates his younger brother Eli Manning after the game between their two the teams met in a scheduled regular season game ____ the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants , on Sunday afternoon . This was the third regular season meeting between the pair of siblings , with the elder Manning having won all three contests . The Broncos defeated the Giants 41-23 to improve their record to 2-0 in the AFC West , while the Giants sit at 0-2 within the NFC East . AP Photo / Frank Franklin II …

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tophatal …… 09/15/2013

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Somewhere over the rainbow …..

Somewhere over the rainbow

Well the baseball season is now entering its final three weeks and the biggest cause for concern to my mind has to be the meltdown by the Tampa Bay Rays . A little over two weeks ago the form of this team was not in doubt and it would have been generous to suggest that they would be on the way to sowing up one of the two available berths for the AL wildcard spots . I went even so far as to suggest, that Tampa needed to secure the division (AL East) to secure a position in the postseason. Yet, who knew that a catastrophe awaited the team , whose play over their last thirty games has simply been abysmal . In the midst of this all , manager Joe Maddon , for from being troubled , remains upbeat and acting as there should be nothing at all to be worried about. For the Rays’ fans , they have to be troubled not only by the demeanor of the manager but also by the lackluster performances of the players and their laissez-faire approach to each game and series over the past three weeks .

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Another loss at home last night (Wednesday) by the Tampa Bay Rays to AL East divisional leaders the Boston Red Sox , may well have added another nail in the coffin for the Rays’ season and quite possibly their postseason ambitions. Seemingly , they have been unable to play themselves out of their slump and there seems to be absolutely no leadership being supplied by anyone on the team’s roster , much less from the manager or anyone amongst his staff . The conclusion that I have come to , concerning the Rays and their fans , is that they are extremely happy with their lot when the team is winning, but simply too afraid to be critical of the organization , when things are not going right . Chalk that all up to the apathy and simple mindset of the fans, and the continued stupidity shown by the local beat writers and television pundits in the locale who cover this MLB franchise . Ideas of grandeur, way above their station and not one clue as how to remedy what ails the ball-club on the playing field or by way of the front office hierarchy .

For a pitching rotation that was deemed to be amongst the best in all of baseball , the Tampa Rays’ staff have performed unevenly throughout much of the year . Matt Moore the pitching staff’s leader in wins , has himself been up and down, in terms of his recent performances . And the rookie, Chris Archer , although he has been something of a pleasant surprise , but it simply cannot be left to the player to be the one, upon whom the management can pin their hopes on. The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, David Price has been somewhat inconsistent and I do not believe that he is fully fit , even after two spells the team’s disabled list. Jeremy Hellickson , another mainstay of the rotation, can guarantee you the quality starts, but only if the run support is also there . Here we go again , as it relates to the Rays , if the offense is not going then the struggles are quantified even more so .

Tampa Bay will resume their current series with the Red Sox , with the final game of the trilogy on Thursday ,where a win is of the utmost importance. With the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles now playing out a highly competitive and controversial series , there is no further room to falter for Joe Maddon’s team. With a three-game series next up for the Rays, against the Minnesota Twins , away at Target Field in Minneapolis , Minnesota . It will be intriguing to see how the team acquits itself against one the AL’s more disappointing teams this season. Ron Gardenhire‘s days with this ball-club must now be numbered and no amount of excuses can be made for the team’s continued failures . . On the mound for the first game of that set, beginning on Friday, will be Chris Archer of the Rays against Kevin Correia of the Twins. Two young starting pitchers looking to make a name for themselves amongst the litany of quality pitching now within the AL .

As the AL East divisional race now plays itself out , with the Boston Red Sox now seem assured of the title , we are left with a three-horse race between the Tampa Bay Rays , Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees , seeking to become one of the two wildcard aspirants from the AL. Throw in the fact, that the Kansas City Royals , Cleveland Indians , Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics are also pursuing those berths , this all adds up for an all too intriguing and suspenseful closure to the regular season , which ends on the .final day of September .

One of the more disappointing stories of this baseball season once again, has to be the continued failure of the Los Angeles Angels. A team , built around the talents of Albert Pujols , C J Wilson and Mike Trout . And here we are, now wondering what has gone wrong for this Mike Scioscia managed team . The prevailing thought now has to be that team owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto will have to reassess the future of the team’s manager , his assistants , as well as several players on the roster and their immediate future within the organization . If Trout can be developed from within the farm system, , then why hasn’t there been other successes from within , rather than Moreno opening up his check book to make a big splash, solely to try and keep up their more renowned in-state rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers ?

Anaheim are now faltering within the AL West and likely to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive year , something that is unlikely to sit well with the owner and many of the team’s primary sponsors . At 70-76 , currently lying third within the division , the Angels are 9 ½ games out of an AL wildcard berth and it would take a calamitous chain of events, as well as the team playing some extraordinary baseball for the Los Angeles Angels to climb into that particular race. Mike Scioscia and his team will travel to Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas to begin a three-game weekend series , starting on Friday against the Houston Astros . Let us just say, that at this juncture, both teams will be playing for pride and a great deal of self-respect, with Jason Vargas of the visiting team taking on Dallas Keuchel of the Astros in that opening series’ game .

I have always maintained that the financial imbalance in terms of the payroll scales within baseball , will be the thing that will ultimately drag it to its knees , along with the ongoing issue of illegal substances being used on a widespread basis ! Purists and fools alike, are now talking about instant replay being introduced within the game , something that has been long overdue , but the MLB hierarchy remains delusional along with the vast majority of the fans, who are of the belief that the game can continue in its present structure. Creative accounting will not stop the hemorrhaging of red ink on the balance sheets of a number of teams . Add in the idiocy of those who lack the knowledge, to know that some of the small market teams around the league , who actually turn a profit , do so at the largess of the MLB hierarchy , by way the asinine luxury tax-sharing scheme . The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , are the two teams with the highest payrolls in all of baseball , within their combined total salary obligations for 2013 being just under $500 million (a half-billion dollars [$500,000,000]) . For the first time in baseball history the opening day salary of Major League Baseball topped $3 billion ($ 3,000,000,000) , covering all thirty teams in the league. Yet it should come as no surprise, to know that over one-quarter of the teams in within baseball actually struggle to break even on an annual basis.

Continuously, we hear , Bud Selig state, that the financial health of the game remains safe. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the league’s highest-ranking executive lives in a world of delusion.. And need we be reminded, that during the past six years, three teams within baseball have faced the brink of financial ruin , with two in particular ( Cubs and Dodgers) having placed themselves into bankruptcy reorganization (Chapter 11) , after the financial manipulation and mismanagement by their previous owners . All of this under the not so watchful eye of the MLB Commissioner, whose own CFO Jonathan Mariner , shows as about as much financial acumen , as the auditing accountants who oversaw the disastrous failure of the Enron Corporation . There you have it, baseball’s finest at their alleged best, showing all of the oversight of a federal governmental agency and being equally as incompetent .

If to singularly show how asinine the luxury tax sharing scheme (a fraudulent maneuver to my mind ) has become . It is now being widely reported that the New York Yankees whose team payroll for 2013 will be $ 228.835 million , will have to pay a surcharge of $29.1 million to the MLB hierarchy . Yet somehow the now $ 2 billion ($2,000,000,000) concern known as the Los Angeles Dodgers , the only other team in baseball with a payroll exceeding $200 million , will only have to pay $9.1 million back to baseball’s governing body . Somehow, these figures do not add up or make sense , no matter what the formulaic solution might be, in how the league determines the sum to be paid as a tax. Clearly, there seems to be a bent here, in punishing a team unfairly , while simply slapping the wrist of another team, whose payroll is a mere twelve million dollars less than that of the New York Yankees . Questions have to be posed to either Jonathan Mariner or Bud Selig as to the disparity in the taxes paid , with only these two teams having to pay this surcharge , albeit, that they are the only two teams to exceed the $200 million threshold . No formal statement has been forthcoming from Bud Selig or any major executive of the league’s hierarchy concerning this disparity in terms of the Yankees having to pay the aforementioned sum of $29.1 million against that of the Dodgers having to pay just over $ 9 million.

The Yankees’ own fate also seems as their regular season winds down, does seem imperiled. Though of late, they have been on a spirited run, having made up a margin of almost six games on the Tampa Bay Rays over the last six weeks in the divisional standings . A big psychological blow, came for the franchise, when it was announced by manager Joe Girardi that team captain Derek Jeter’s season would come to an abrupt end, with the player being placed on the team’s disable list . Jeter was only able to compete in seventeen games during 2013, the second lowest figure of the player’s now distinguished eighteen-year career. With the team now looking to make even greater inroads into that lead , with it now being down to a mere one game , and with the Red Sox’s lead being now down to 9 ½ games, the upcoming weekend series between New York and their heated rivals the Boston Red Sox , now takes on even greater meaning . That series begins on Friday, with Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees taking on John Lackey in the first of that trilogy of games. With Jeter likely to be in the dugout at Fenway Park , in Boston , Massachusetts, to support his teammates , it will be interesting to see how the Yankees acquit themselves in the series . At the same time , there is likely to be a great deal of speculation raised as to whether or not the front office is likely to take up the option of the $ 9.5 million that would be due to Jeter, were he to return for his nineteenth season in 2014. Teammate, Mariano Rivera , has already stated that this would be his last year , although GM Brian Cashman and senior managing partner Hal Steinbrenner are said to be pressing baseball’s all-time saves’ leader to return for what would also be his nineteenth season in the Majors. Rivera is adamant, that this would be his last season, and that it is now, his wish to spend more time with his wife, Clara and their three children.

The New York Yankees of 2013 , might just be the last remnants that we see of this team, with an aging core of players all in their mid to late thirties . Injuries, off-field controversies , unproductive segments by several high-priced individuals have all added to the drama and ongoing saga of this famed ball-club . Need we also be reminded, that Alex Rodriguez remains a part of this ongoing circus, with the player of late contributing to his team’s drive for the postseason , while seeking to appeal his now two-hundred and fourteen game suspension. That appeal process will take place after the postseason, much to the chagrin of fans and a number analysts alike, who feel that the player has made a mockery of the process , while others believe that it has been Bud Selig who has dropped the ball, in not having sought an expedited , earlier hearing , once Rodriguez made it known , that he would appeal his suspension for contravening baseball’s steroid policy . My own belief on this issue , is that Rodriguez would have been willing to take a ban similar to that of Brewers’ slugger Ryan Braun, whose sixty-five game suspension was in fact negotiated by his agent , Nev Balelo . So for the unenlightened, who felt that this was Bud Selig showing his authority and bringing down the hammer on Ryan Braun, simply think again . The commissioner may create the impression, that he wields a great deal of power, but that power is in fact limited in its parameters , as it has been the MLBPA (Players’ Union) that more of than not, has the league hierarchy and team owners , weak at the knees and falling all over the place like drunken stooges .

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Picture gallery .

With the MLB postseason set to begin on October 1st , what if anything are you as a fan, most looking forward to seeing ? Which teams do you feel will prevail in the playoff races, as the regular season now winds down ? By all means , do leave a comment as you deem fit on this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Rays’ closer Fernando Rodney celebrates the last out after the Boston Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia pops out to end the ball game played between the two teams on Thursday night at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , Florida . Tampa would defeat the Red Sox 4-3 to stop their two-game skid . AP Photo /Chris O’Meara ….

(2) Red Sox catcher Mike Napoli , right , breaks his bat during the game , as he grounds out , while Rays’ catcher Jose Lobaton looks on . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ……

(3) Red Sox DH , David Ortiz homers in the sixth-inning of the game played on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida . Although the Rays won the contest the series was in fact won by the visiting Boston Red Sox . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ……

(4) Umpire Bill Miller (26) ejects Ron Gardenhire (35) of the Minnesota Twins as umpire Dale Scott (5) looks on during the fourth inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics on September 11, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The AL Central Twins have been abysmal this season and a non-factor in the divisional race , leading to the speculation that the manager may not be returning to the organization next season . Getty Images North America / Hannah Foslien …..

(5) Los Angeles Angels’ owner Arte Moreno , left , is seen here with the team’s general manager Jerry Dipoto at Anaheim Stadium , Anaheim , California . . With the team now likely to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive season and a lackluster year in the AL West . There is the widespread belief that Moreno must come to a decision , does he retain his general , manager who over the last two seasons has committed to the organization to salary commitments in excess of $ 275 million or does he sever ties with one the league’s longest tenured managers in Mike Scioscia ? All signs point to the latter , with Scoscia likely to lose his managerial position with the Angels . Getty Images / Matthew England …

(6) Mike Scioscia (14) and Collin Cowgill (19) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim show home plate umpire Laz Diaz (63) ,where they claim Cowgill was hit by a pitch during the sixth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on September 9, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images / Hannah Foslien ….

(7) Derek Jeter (2) ,right, of the New York Yankees celebrates their win against the Oakland Athletics with teammate Mariano Rivera (42) at Yankee Stadium April 21, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Nick Laham / Getty Images ……

(8) Yankees’ lead managing partner Hal Steinbrenner , left, is seen here talking with the team’s general manager Brian Cashman . At the start of the season the organization sought to lower the payroll to conservative figure of $185 million, but with multiple injuries to Mark Teixiera , Curtis Granderson , Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Michael Pineda and Andy Pettite. The decision was made to acquire a number of players to fill the positions made vacant ,with the minimum amount of promotion of players from within the team’s farm system . An aging roster beyond the possible long-term ramifications of Alex Rodriguez’s possible multi-game suspension could prove fateful for the franchise . This off-season the ball-club will be paying to the MLB hierarchy $29.1 million as a surcharge by way of the luxury tax scheme . The Yankees’ NL counterparts the Los Angeles Dodgers , whose payroll of $216.6 million , will be paying $9.1 million by way of the same tax burden . Clearly there is something awry, with how MLB seeks formulates its system with regard the tax scheme . In 2012 the New York Yankees , Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox were all subject to the luxury tax scheme , with the teams in question paying varying sums to the league hierarchy . The scheme is meant to benefit the small-market teams around the league in assisting with their salary commitments. Yet it is commonly believed that a number of ball-clubs systematically abuse the system , with a number of owners pocketing the funds in question . Miami Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria is a prime example of someone who abused that system , in the years prior to 2012, before that organization went on an outlandish spending spree , signing several high-priced free-agents , only for the team to then falter that season finishing with a sub .500 record within the NL East that year. AP Photo/ Peter Matthews ……

(9) MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner , the league’s executive in charge of their financial operations , who oversees much of the hierarchy’s finances and audit protocols . Unfortunately , for baseball under Mariner’s and Bud Selig’s tenure, the hierarchy has failed miserably in overseeing the financial morass that now encompasses the game. AFP / Keith Parsons …….
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MLB news

MLB schedule 13th September 2013

MLB results 10th September through to the 12th September

MLB probable starting pitchers 13th September

MLB standings (divisional) and wildcard standings

MLB teams’ probability

MLB schedule (calendar)

2012 MLB postseason

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Los Angeles Angels news and the team’s active roster

New York Yankees news and the team’s active roster

Tampa Bay Rays’ news and team roster

Los Angels Angels’ remaining regular season schedule

New York Yankees’ remaining regular season schedule

Tampa Bay Rays’ schedule (remaining regular season games)

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This week in MLB history

This day in MLB history (13th September)

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Hot chic pic of the day , actress , Paula Patton .

There`s a reason it’s called the NFL , they play football or at least I was led to believe that they do ….

There`s a reason it’s called the NFL , they play football or at least I was led to believe that they do ….

Week one in the NFL did not really provide us with any overall surprises , as I believe that we all knew who the good teams were said to be in the league . Granted , no one expected the reigning Superbowl champions the Baltimore Ravens to be so lackluster in their opening game against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos . The margin of defeat , twenty-five points, told me a great deal about this Ravens` team and the experience of seasoned veterans such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are sorely missed. Yet I do believe that the Baltimore Ravens can rebound from this loss and from the lessons learned , and that the younger players on the roster will have to step up to the plate as required . You simply cannot rest on your laurels, just because you have reached the summit once ,as the secret , is to remain there , once having reached that destination and peak.

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Monday night`s double-header featuring the Philadelphia Eagles playing the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Washington , DC and the subsequent showing featured the Houston Texans and their high-octane offense taking on the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego , California. Michael Vick and the Eagles , along with head coach Chip Kelly , sent a resounding message that is likely to heard loud and clear across the NFL . That message is , there is a new sheriff in town and he means business . The two NFC East combatants put on a terrific showing of offensive productivity , with Vick and is opposite number Robert Griffin III passing for in excess of a combined 500 yards of passing offense, , with and another 300 plus yards of rushing offense from the two teams combined . The bulk of the rush offense , the advantage laid with the visiting team, the Philadelphia Eagles. .

Philadelphia came away with an invaluable 33-27 victory, placing themselves jointly atop of the NFC East alongside the Dallas Cowboys . Next up for the Eagles will be a home game against the San Diego Chargers this upcoming Sunday . For Mike McCoy and the laboring Chargers , they need to get back to winning ways after Monday night`s debilitating loss to the Houston Texans , in what turned out to be a highly entertaining game . A twenty-one point lead , carried over into the late third quarter , would prove to be not as decisive as the home team`s fans might have felt , as Matt Schaub repeatedly marched the Texans down the field to erase that deficit and to come away victorious from Qualcomm Stadium . The less said about the Chargers` defense at this juncture would be perhaps the most prudent thing to do. .

Say what you will about the Jacksonville Jaguars and its owner Shahid Khan , but any belief that he might well have had in turning things around quickly for the franchise , is unlikely to happen this season. Gus Bradley , and this team entertained the Kansas City Chiefs in their season opener and to put it politely, they laid a goose egg in a lopsided 28-2 loss . I am not saying that the two points were a gift from Andy Reid`s team , but it is the kindest thing that I could perhaps say about the Jaguar` performance this past Sunday. The travails of Blaine Gabbert have been well chronicled as the Jaguars` quarterback has struggle since his entrance into the NFL in 2011 . Not a prodigious quarterback by any stretch of the imagination but he was ill-served by then head coach Jack del Rio and his staff at the time . And not much has actually changed since del Rio`s departure , with Jedd Fisch in as the team`s offensive coordinator and Frank Scelfo as quarterbacks` coach . As witnessed in Sunday`s loss the Chiefs , the Jaguars are struggling in every facet of their game and they are amongst the least productive teams in the NFL from a defensive and offensive standpoint this early in the season .

Two years into his career and we can begin to deduce that Blaine Gabbert is a bust as an NFL quarterback . With the Mizzou Tigers , Gabbert may well have been deemed a college success , but so much hype is placed and around college quarterbacks , that when they fail in the professional ranks , fingers are actually pointed at the players themselves , rather than in a great many cases, where the blame actually lies and that is with the coaches at the collegiate level and the in the professional ranks . Granted , there have been one or two quarterbacks in recent years where the hype simply was not justified , notably in the cases of JaMarcus Russell and Tim Tebow . To my mind, neither had the propensity to learn , in spite of notations stating that both were being tutored in their mechanics by well-respected quarterback coaches prior to their entry into the NFL Draft, in the years that both were drafted . Well , as we can see , their Russell or Tebow have proven to be a success in the NFL . So let us now close the chapter on both and move on . Time demands it , and in reality , does anyone really give a damn ?

Week two may well provide the Jacksonville Jaguars with a chance to put things back on, track when they are the guests of the Oakland Raiders at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum , in Oakland , California , this upcoming Sunday . That conference game, is one of several that will pit a number struggling teams in several intriguing contests . . For the Raiders coming off their narrow four-point loss (21-17) to the Indianapolis Colts , the questions now being asked , is whether or not Terrelle Pryor is the player to be leading this team at quarterback position. Auditions during the preseason proved to be inconclusive and head coach Dennis Allen seems to be unsure what he has in the player , a future star or simply another one of a litany players that the franchised has used at the position over the past five years without any resounding success . And for the Raiders` head coach time may well not be on his side, considering the tenure of his three former predecessors on average, has lasted no much longer than two years.

Well the drama and comedic elements of the New York Jets` off-season continues with all of the idiocy one would come to expect from a franchise completely lacking in leadership both on and off the field of play . Head coach Rex Ryan now seems to be less rambunctious , knowing full well that this could very well be his last season with the organization after last season`s considerable failures . Mark Sanchez in 2012 was woefully inept and then there came all of the drama that surrounded Tim Tebow . Well with the former Broncos` starting quarterback, no longer with the Jets or with any NFL franchise , the issue became who would the front office seek to become the team`s new starting quarterback . That answer would be provided when GM John Idzik and the staff made the decision to draft Geno Smith . player a second round draft pick has shown that he may well have the skill-set but deep questions remain as to the player`s demeanor and his consistency at the position . That became a stark reality in his only meaningful action during the preseason , during the Jets` third preseason game against the New York Giants . That display was very unnerving , yet it proved to be a pointer as what fans could very well expect during the regular season from the rookie quarterback.

In Smith’s first professional regular season game he proved himself adequate but far from convincing as the heir-apparent to Mark Sanchez , but with his predecessor now out injured , the position now becomes Geno Smith` to lose . With the team also having acquired Brady Quinn as a backup , the stage I believe , is being set for the franchise to trade Sanchez at some during the season . The New York Jets have a divisional date , in what will be the first of two divisional meetings this season , when they meet the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium , in Foxborough , Massachusetts on Thursday night . With the Patriots coming off an opening day victory over another rookie quarterback , when Tom Brady and his teammates came away with a hard-fought victory over the Buffalo Bills and their rookie quarterback E J Manuel. Bill Belichick will look to start of this season with an early unbeaten run, as a way of bringing in a great deal of confidence on this revamped roster . Issues that still remain for the organization will certainly start with the team`s defense and whether or not they will be considerably better than last season . Also with the prevailing injury issues concerning Rob Gronkowski , the question will be , who will provide Tom Brady with the safe pair of hands he needs to get the Patriots’ offensive game going in 2013 ?

There seems to be this continued idiocy by the fans who are under the impression that the NFL cares about the well-being of their players . Nothing could be further from the truth and this was clearly evident in the recent settlement made between the league as defendants in a civil suit brought by 4,500 former NFL players seeking punitive damages from the NFL . NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his Chief Legal Counsel Jeff Pash may well now seek to create the perception that will see the league provide those players with a settlement figure of $765 million , far less than the $1.3 billion originally sought . In agreeing to settle, the league hierarchy avoids further public embarrassment , while not having to make public, a great deal of its somewhat surreptitious activity concerning research conducted by the league concerning the cause and effect , of blunt force head trauma , concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). For years the NFL suggested that there was no cause and effect , even in spite of their own research findings and that of independent studies carried out by world-renowned academic d institutions . Add in, the apathy of fans, who believe that the NFL has now become soft , and you can easily understand the machismo bullshit, that was sought by the literally uneducated . Veterans such as Bernie Kosar and Superbowl winning quarterback Jim McMahon are now having to live with the early onset of Alzheimer’s’ disease, chronic memory loss and a speech impediment , all due from injuries suffered from their playing careers.

Somehow I get the feeling that the NFL would like for its image and public persona to remain pristine and not vilified , as the tobacco industry was said to be for their own collusive activities concerning their product and how they misled the consumer . Well, the league is simply no different from the cigarette manufacturers. I certainly believe the league and the NFLPA (Players Union) have acted irresponsibly and now look absolve themselves of their responsibilities to their former members . Goodell and is union counterpart DeMaurice Smith would like to have you believe to the contrary . The apathy being shown by the fans on this issue is simply no different from the same fucking ignorance , they continue to show when it comes to the well-being of the members of the military , who far too often are being left to fend for themselves but yet all of the gung-ho patriotism one sees being exhibited is all for nothing in the end because they are no deeds being matched by all of that exuberance , definitely not from the public or the federal government for that matter ! .

As if to further indicate the gullibility and downright stupidity of the commissioner , consider his recent actions concerning Detroit Lions` defensive player Ndamukong Suh . In what now appears the fifth such incident concerning the player`s on field behavior concerning his play, for an illegal tackle , Suh was fined a mere $100,000 rather than face a multi-game a suspension for what appears to be ‘chop block` on Minnesota Vikings’ center John Sullivan . The fact that this is not the first time that Suh has not shown any restraint much less an act of contrition fort what does appear to be a premeditated act . It now is becoming apparently clear that neither the Lions` hierarchy , head coach Jim Schwartz or league is prepared to act prudently . A fine of this nature, is menial and a mere drop in a bucket for a player due to earn in excess of $10.3 million this season . So can someone now explain to me how this is meant to corral a player whose on-field actions and character have repeatedly come into question ever since he entered the NFL ?

Detroit came off their season opener, with a 34-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings, fellow NFC North rivals . The game itself , eventful, was filled with some exhilarating play and last season`s MVP , Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson looking to carry on where he left off from last season . This Sunday the Lions will be the guests of the Arizona Cardinals in Tempe, Arizona , in what should prove to be a highly entertaining game between these two teams . Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians will seek to gain his first victory as an NFL coach , while getting his team back on a winning track, as they seek to make inroads as a legitimate challenger within the NFC West this season . A remote possibility, should either the San Francisco 49ers or Seattle Seahawks slip up over the course of their respective schedules .

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Picture gallery .

This NFL season while still in its infancy, but already controversies are amidst within the game . Consider also , that three years in and the league has yet to instigate , an in and out of season testing for human growth hormones and this is all being done under the subterfuge of the league and union reneging on a statement made to Congress on the matter, to have that policy in place by no later than the 2011 season . So for all of this excitement of what fans hope to be an exciting year in the NFL , the league still remains an archaic and outmoded bastion of incompetence and where there is absolutely no leadership to be found . Chime in, with your comments as you see fit .

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Picture and slideshow details below . .

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(1) Broncos` quarterback Peyton Manning warms up prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens in the team’s regular season opener . The quarterback would go on to throw for a career-high seven touchdowns on the team’s 49-25 runaway victory over the reigning Superbowl champions . AP/Photo/Jack Dempsey ….

(2) Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco (5) looks to make a pass before Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers (91) makes an attempt at a tackle . AP Photo / Jack Dempsey …

(3) Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles scores a rushing touchdown in the game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Monday night . Philadelphia came away with a well-earned victory over their divisional rivals . AP Photo / Nick Wass …..

(4) (4) Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs leaves the Jaguars’ Geno Hayes (55) in his wake after Hayes’ vain attempt to make a tackle . The Chiefs beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-2 . AP Photo / Phelen Ehlenback …

Blaine Gabbert (11) of the Jacksonville Jaguars is sacked by Dontari Poe (92) of the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at EverBank Field on September 8, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida. Getty Images North America / Sam Greenwood ….

(6) Geno Smith , background , looks on as teammate Mark Sanchez takes a couple of pass attempts at the Jets` training facility . With Sanchez’s injury in the New York Jets’ last preseason game , Geno Smith was the starter in the team’s season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . AP Photo / Anthony Knowles …

(7) Pensive , but are they realists ? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell , left , and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith are seen here listening to a committee member from the House Government & Oversight Committee . That committee was convened to pose questions to both executives as to when the NFL would bring in a comprehensive testing policy for anabolic steroids and human growth hormones ., An agreement was reached . voted upon and ratified by the player representatives in 2010 . Three years later and the policy has yet to be initiated by the NFL , much to the annoyance of the committee in question , who may well seek to rescind parts of the NFL`s antitrust exemption status . Something which is said to be under serious consideration by several members of the aforementioned House Committee . Getty Images / Doug Pensinger …..

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NFL news , news from around the league

NFL standings (division)

NFL week one results

NFL Week two schedule

NFL injuries week one

NFL transactions

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Meet Kenya

It all now comes down to this ?

It all now comes down to this ?

In what has amounted to be one of the more scandalous seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) , the year`s schedule is now entering the home stretch , with a number of divisional races still up for grabs. Eagerly fought with a great deal of competitiveness throughout much of the season , it must be said that over the next three weeks the managerial acumen of the managers and their staffs will be severely tested . And a number of them are likely to come up short in failing to accomplish their desired goals.

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Of the races said to offer the most intrigue and suspense, perhaps the NL Central`s long-standing battle between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St Louis Cardinals offers the biggest surprise and the best drama overall. Who would have guessed that this off all seasons, would be the one were Clint Hurdle`s players would be the ones to offer the best story-lines to be found all season long ? Granted the exploits of the Los Angeles Dodgers` rookie sensation Yasiel Puig are still being discussed as a water cooler topic, as fans and analysts alike , are trying to make a case that Puig is now the best young talent in the game. That might well be a valuable debate and discussion that could be dealt with at a later date. As of now, while the Cardinals and Pirates match wits against each other, as both teams seek to walk away with their reputations wits intact, while seeking raise to raise the news-worthiness of the division and the teams therein.

If Yasiel Puig is said to be the catalyst behind the Dodgers` successful season so far in 2013, then Andrew McCutchen has proven to be as equally adept in grabbing all of the major headlined success attained by the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. Should the Pirates slugger and infielder lead the team to divisional honors, it could quite possibly lead to McCutchen being named the NL MVP for this season. Most certainly, his seasonal statistics are good enough to bear this out, as he ranks in the top-ten in a number of offensive categories within the National League for 2013. What could prove to be pivotal within the NL Central for these two teams will be their finals series` meeting of the season, which will be a three-game series at Busch Stadium , in St Louis Missouri , beginning on the Friday 6th September . With less than a half-game separating the clubs at the top of the division (NL Central), neither side would want to be the odd man left out, having to then to play in a one game elimination decider, as part of the wildcard round of e playoffs . So tight, is the race amongst the top NL wildcard aspirants , that things are now far too close to call.

St Louis Cardinals` manager Mike Matheny would like nothing better than to seal this series with an outright victory in all three games, but that would be predicated upon his team overcoming their recent inconsistencies, with some unwanted losses .

In NL West , where the Los Angeles Dodgers are now running away with the division under a full head of steam , the question now surrounding manager Don Mattingly is how best to reincorporate the now healthy players coming off the team`s disabled list. It is a great situation for a manager to have and whose team is said to have one of the deepest rosters in all of baseball . The pitching rotation, led by Clayton Kershaw , who is having an astonishing season , leading the Majors with a league-low ERA of 1.89 , and the question now becomes, can the pitcher lower that statistic any further ? Certainly, if Kershaw continues to pitch with the consistency that he has shown, then there is no reason to believe why he could not make that a reality. As the Dodgers forge ahead looking to increase their twelve-game lead within the division and looking to make it insurmountable. It remains to be seen how good this team can be over the remainder of their schedule . In losing the first contest of a three-game series against Cincinnati Reds , the Dodgers will now look to close out that contest by taking the remaining two games of the series, before starting a six-game home stretch of games against the Arizona Diamondbacks and reigning World Series champions the San Francisco Giants .

For much of the year, the NL East has remained a one-horse race, with the Atlanta Braves seeing little challenge if any, from their divisional rivals. So dominant have been the Braves, that team manager Fredi Gonzalez has started to assess his roster , as he seeks not only the best possible starting lineup , but also to see if any of the younger prospects looking for a late season call-up will be able to contribute to what has already been a highly successful season for the organization. Team President, John Scheurholz and GM Frank Wren have simply made available to the managerial staff the best possible players needed to make the season an outright success. Shrewd player personnel moves by way of free agent acquisitions and a policy of drafting technically sound players and then overseeing their gradual progress through their farm system has borne fruit for the organization.

What has stood out for the Atlanta Braves has been the consistency of the offense and the pitching , as well as the defensive capabilities of the team as a whole . Coming off a minor slip-up in a 2-1 road loss to the lowly Philadelphia Phillies , this past Friday , the team will resume that series , looking to avenge the defeat on Saturday and then seeking to take the series with a victory on Sunday afternoon . Standout players for the Braves this season, have been Chris Johnson , Freddie Freeman , Justin Upton , Brian McCann , B J Upton , Dan Uggla , Evan Gattis , Luis Avilan , Mike Minor , Kris Medlen , Paul Maholm and Craig Kimbrel . I would certainly like to think that the aforementioned players, are likely to be a part of the Braves` postseason roster and contributing to the ongoing success of the organization . For the moment however, it is the immediacy of controlling the obstacles in front of the team , overcoming them and moving on from there , that will clearly define what is likely to be achieved by these players.

It has been a considerably long time since the Atlanta Braves tasted the success of having won a World Series title. The year was 1995 to be exact, when the Braves and their World Series MVP, pitcher , Tom Glavine, got by the Cleveland Indians , taking the series 4-2 for the franchise’s only title in their current guise as the Atlanta Braves. While there was perpetual success under former team manager Bobby Cox , winning an unprecedented fourteen straight divisional titles , 5 NL Pennants and a World Series during a two-decade managerial tenure with the ball-club. Cox will be eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame in 2014, undoubtedly joining a list of noted Braves` luminaries under the Atlanta Braves` banner within that hallowed edifice.

Now for the remainder of the Braves` season , I am looking to seeing how this team acquits itself, as they seek another divisional title . Monday gives us a final opportunity to see the team in action , in the final game of their season long series against the Miami Marlins , in a contest to be played at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida On the mound for Atlanta will be Kris Medlin (12-12) facing off against Miami`s Henderson Alvarez (3-3, 3.95 ERA). Composure , accountability, camaraderie and teamwork will be assessed by Fredi Gonzalez and his staff in these final contests , as that will give him some type mindset as to the frame of mind of his players , before they embark on postseason play.

In the AL East , we know this to be a division where you either play hard or you will simply just fade and die. In the past few weeks the Tampa Bay Rays have gone from being atop of the division to now fighting for their very survival and a playoff berth. Joe Maddon and his staff are seemingly at odds with the fans` perception of what is actually going on and the manager`s nonchalant attitude as to the team`s continued failings and inconsistency. Not so long ago, a patron of this site and I had a brief discussion as to whether or not , the then fourth placed New York Yankees were still capable of making the postseason in spite of their off field issues and the continued disdain of Alex Rodriguez . He stated no , merely because of clubhouse issues, lack of productivity coming from the Yankees` offense and the inconsistency of their pitching . Well, three weeks later , here we are and it is the Bronx Bombers now bringing the pain and a great deal of pressure to bear upon both the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles , as to who is likely to finish second within the division and claim one of the two coveted AL wildcard berths guaranteeing a trip into the postseason .

What was once a six-game lead that the Rays had over the Yankees has now been whittled down to a mere 2 ½ games, with neither Maddon , his players or even the most vociferous of Rays` fans being able to explain the reasons why, for the team`s failings and just pointing to the fact that they are still in playoff contention . Personally, I feel that the concentration of this Rays` team should be placed on winning the division, because in a one-game playoff eliminater , the Tampa Bay Rays are likely to come up exceedingly short and on the wrong side of a heartbreaking defeat ! Coming off their still ongoing issues with another loss (6-2) , this time to the lowly Seattle Mariners , whose season has been exceptionally morbid , there is not a great deal that can be said about the team , where Felix Fernandez’s talents continue to be wasted , because the front office and board of directors are too damn cheap to spend money to put a winning product on the field and where the coaching staff have not developed any meaningful talent within the organization over the past two seasons .

The Rays will once again face the Mariners on Sunday at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington , where Matt Moore will take on Erasmo Ramirez of Seattle . Tampa can ill-afford to have too many game losses , let alone series` losses , as it comes down the final stretch of the season. The team also has four very important series coming up against the Boston Red Sox , Texas Rangers , Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees during the final month of their schedule. Those series could very well determine whether or not the Rays are part of the postseason fare . Rays` GM Andrew Friedman as been able to work miracles this season in terms the personnel moves made , but repeatedly having to do that has become tedious and all too boring . With little incoming resources by way of any major corporate endorsers, this organization becomes all the more reliant on the good graces of baseball`s hierarchy to lend it a helping hand to assist in their payroll obligations . Andrew Friedman will have to weigh up the feasibility in bringing back players such as James Loney and David Price , two experienced veterans who have contributed to the team’s success in 2013. Both are free agents in 2014 and are likely to be highly sought after by teams in need of a former Cy Young winner and a productive first baseman . Can they afford to pay either the going rate for players at those positions or will it be more of the penny-pinching that this organization has become known for in recent seasons ?

Over the next ten days we should get to know a great deal about the mindset of this Rays’ organization as they embark on the final three weeks of the regular season . Chances are that, they will either sink or swim , based upon their play over that time-span. Should the team miss the postseason , then there will be a number of questions being asked not only of the coaching staff , but of the players themselves and most certainly of the front office , led by owner Stuart Sternberg . Beyond the ongoing saga of the Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium issue the fans still have to deal with the very fact that this team has been poorly supported over its entire existence with a hardcore fan-base averaging no more than 15,000 people , but yet, baseball`s hierarchy would have us believe that with average home gate attendance of just over 18,000 , all is well within this organization. From the outside looking in, that may well be the case , but if you were to dig deeper, then you would begin to see, that is most definitely not the case.

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Picture gallery .

What if anything , are you hoping to see as the regular season begins to wind down within baseball ? Which teams do you believe to be the most capable of representing the AL and NL in the World Series ? By all means, do 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, as it greatly appreciated !

Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Los Angeles Angels’ Grant Green , right, scores as the throw to Texas Rangers catcher Geovany Soto goes wide right on a two-run double by Angels’ Andrew Romine in the fourth inning during a baseball game , Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, in Anaheim, Calif. AP Photo/Alex Gallardo …

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning during a baseball game , Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ….

(3) St Louis Cardinals` Matt Carpenter (13) is safe at second with an RBI double on the call by umpire Brian Gorman , as the Pittsburgh Pirates` Neil Walker can`t make the tag in time during the second inning of a baseball game between played on Sunday at Busch Stadium , St Louis, Missouri , on the 8th September , 2013. AP Photo / Phil Boyce …..

(4) Yasiel Puig (66) 99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers strikes out in the fourth inning giving starting pitcher Homer Bailey (34) of the Cincinnati Reds the seventh of his nine strike outs at Great American Ball Park on September 8, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Los Angeles 3-2 to sweep the series . Getty Images North America / Jamie Squire ….

(5) Evan Gattis (24) of the Atlanta Braves congratulates Alex Wood (58) after Wood scored a run in the third inning of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 7, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Getty Images / Brian Garfinkel ….

(6) Seattle Mariners catcher Henry Blanco tags out Tampa Bay Rays` Chris Giminez ,right, at the plate during the ninth inning of a baseball game on Sunday , 8th September , 2013 played at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington . AP Photo / Ted S Warren ….

(7) Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren , left , is seen here with outfielder B J Upton and team manager Fredi Gonzalez . Upton was signed as a free agent in the off-season and has provided some leadership on the Braves’ roster that also includes younger sibling Justin Upton . B J Upton hopes to provide the team with added productivity during what is hopefully a deep run during the playoffs . Courtesy of USA Today / AP Photos / Greg Jarrett ….

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tophatal …………… 09/08/2013

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MLB news and archived stories

MLB transactions

MLB schedule 9th September 2013

MLB results 6th September to 8th September

MLB probable pitchers 9th September

MLB standings and wildcard standings

MLB standings one year ago today : Divisional standings and wildcard standings

This week in MLB history

This day in MLB history (9th September)

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Atlanta Braves` news and team`s remaining regular season schedule

Tampa Bay Rays` news and remaining games on their schedule

Tampa Bay Rays` head to head meetings in 2013 and their results .

Miscellaneous stats 2013 season (Attendance) , comparisons between 2012 and 2013

It is the season to be jolly ……. or maybe not

It is the season to be jolly ……….. or maybe not

Well, on Thursday night , the NFL officially kicks off its season for 2013, where the reigning Superbowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens are the guests of the Denver Broncos at the Sports Authority Stadium /Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado. Reigning Superbowl MVP Joe Flacco brings with him a newly revamped roster to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos . The four-time league MVP is now on the cusp of further adding to his already illustrious career . Manning now sits a mere five hundred and thirteen yards from hitting the 60,000 yards` career plateau . A mark that has only been surpassed, by Hall of Fame inductee Dan Marino and the all-time career yards` leader Brett Favre , as Manning now seeks to join that illustrious list .

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Last season, the fans saw the rise of rookie quarterbacks , Andrew Luck , Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson , not only have extremely productive years , in also having each led their respective teams into the postseason . Yet, it can be said, seasoned veterans such as Peyton Manning , Drew Brees , Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers were also one of the primary reasons why the NFL was such a success. And beyond the Superbowl itself , with the Ravens winning the second title of its proud heritage, one could attest to the fact that the expectations are high are for this season for not only that organization, but also for the other thirty-one teams around the league , with each expecting a chance of getting their shot to raise the Lombardi Trophy. .

This opening game of the regular season schedule places John Fox and John Harbaugh under the spotlight, as they each seek to get their teams off to a winning start . For Peyton Manning the highlight of the Broncos` off-season may well have been the choice to make that decisive decision to obtain former New England Patriots` wide receiver Wes Welker . That player`s addition to what was already a highly explosive offense, now becomes considerably better , and one in which Manning gets to be a teammate of Welker, who has averaged over one hundred receptions a season for the past five years .

Both of these teams, the Broncos and Ravens are expected to defend their divisional titles and come away with a considerable amount of success in that particular endeavor. In the case of the Denver Broncos, within the AFC West , I certainly do not see a credible challenge coming from the Kansas City Chiefs , Oakland Raiders or the San Diego Chargers , as the Broncos seek to further enhance their dominance of that particular division . John Fox`s team is by far the best of the quartet within the AFC West and it certainly denotes the belief why a number of analysts and fans around the NFL believe why they should be considered a prime contender for the Superbowl within the AFC . I do believe that the Ravens are likely to face a much stiffer challenge however , within the AFC North , merely because of the growing confidence of Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals . A team that I believe to be one of the most dangerous in the conference altogether !

Bengals` head coach Marvin Lewis has to believe that the growth and maturity shown by his team over the past two seasons , has to be a sign that the franchise is on the right track . Coupled with another very good draft class and a number of free agent acquisitions , it will be interesting to see how the Bengals fare over the course of this season. Dalton and his teammates will open their regular season schedule on the road at Soldier Field in Chicago , Illinois against the Chicago Bears .

For the Bears` Jay Cutler now in a contract year and unrestricted free agent at the end of the season , he now must prove himself to be resolute enough after all of the major upheavals during the off-season . The retirement of Brian Urlacher was one thing, but the inexplicable firing of Lovie Smith , still does not sit well with a number of individuals around the NFL. The front office explanation for Smith`s dismissal remains idiotic and most definitely bewildering. Smith`s successor, Marc Trestmann now has to get this team into a mindset where they have to perform at the highest level possible. Yet, the biggest questions that will remain is whether or not Jay Cutler can fulfill his potential or simply remain at best, a moderately average NFL quarterback.

If Cutler is said to be under a great deal of pressure to succeed then is conference peer Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys are also in a similar position. The ten-year veteran not drafted in the 2003 NFL Draft , but was signed by the franchise and has become one of the league`s more dependable regular season quarterbacks, but a deer caught in headlights once the postseason rolls into being. Either because they are in a drug induced haze but repeatedly each season the Cowboys are viewed as a favorite for postseason play and the Superbowl itself . Unfortunately, since Romo has been the team`s quarterback , one postseason win during a decade of play for the franchise , has been all that the player has to show for his mediocre efforts. Tony Romo has his supporters, of which his biggest supporter, remains the team`s owner Jerry Jones . Yet for all of Jones` continued support and the recent decision to sign the player to a seven-year $119 million contract of which $40 million is guaranteed. It begs the question; upon what are Jones` expectations based, in offering such a lucrative deal to the quarterback? As I alluded to earlier , Romo does have his supporters, but he also has a great many detractors , many of whom are very vocal in ridiculing Tony Romo`s alleged skill-set. Personally, I find Romo to be overrated , lacking in leadership and one someone who continues to make excuses for his and his team`s own shortcomings !

The NFC East has now become a division once again where the most discerning of NFL fans can now take a real interest. The Washington Redskins came out of nowhere to surprise a number of individuals to capture the division and many , who expected if anything the division to be a three-horse race between the Cowboys , New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles . Well, the three aforementioned teams all fell by the wayside in 2012, through some lackluster play and poor coaching. If Tony Romo are to prove themselves this season to be amongst the elite within the conference and the division itself , then their play will have to be of the highest quality possible .

For Tony Romo and the Cowboys, the regular season begins with a divisional game against their erstwhile rivals the New York Giants. That contest will be played at the palatial Cowboys Stadium in Arlington , Texas , on Sunday night , in-front of a television audience of millions, between two of the NFL`s more celebrated franchises. Eli Manning will once again pit wits against a team where in recent years , he has had a considerable amount of success . Jason Garrett and his opposite number Tom Coughlin , a two-time winning …. Superbowl coach, will be looking to add to his already impressive record. . Inasmuch as Jerry Jones and his son, EVP Stephen Jones have sworn to stick by Garrett as the Cowboys head coach through thick and thin , I truly believe that this season their patience will be severely tested , if in any way the Dallas Cowboys are unable to acquit themselves on the field of play . Considering the tenures of several of the incumbent`s predecessors have been in a number of cases, considerably less than is own. I am actually now surprised that Jason Garrett has lasted as long as he as in his present position ! The likes of Dave Campo , Chan Gailey , Wade Philips and Barry Switzer have come and gone, along with their infamy and granted, Switzer was the only one of the quartet to actually guide the Cowboys to a Superbowl victory . It should be noted that the team in question was essentially built around the pieces put in place by Jimmy Johnson . Barry Switzer, may well be given a great deal of the credit , but in reality, his input when sought, may well have been minimal at best .

After what might well feel and seem like an eternity , the New York Jets have made the decision to name Geno Smith , their second round draft pick as the team`s opening day starting quarterback for the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . Add in the fact, that the franchise also acquired Brady Quinn and signed him to one-year deal worth $715,000. It now seems only a matter of time before the decision is made to jettison Mark Sanchez , after what many might now feel , has been four years of highs and lows . Consider that to be now, more lows than highs , for another lackluster quarterback from the University of Southern California . I should not really say this , but isn`t that where a number of overrated quarterbacks tend to make their exit from , to enter into the NFL , only to then disappoint ? Matt Cassel, Matt Leinart , Carson Palmer and now Mark Sanchez. On paper, their college stats are impressive, but their NFL careers to date, have been about as eye-popping as Lindsay Lohan`s acting career and Miley Cyrus` somewhat bile inducing performance at the VMA`s . Now that’s a white girl that has no ass and should not be singing or `twerking` !

With Sanchez injured in the Jets` final preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles , in a contest also marking Geno Smith`s unbelievably poor play . It now has me wondering whether or not the former West Virginia Mountaineer is as good as advertised ? And was he really the best option available of the quarterbacks available in the second round of the NFL Draft ? Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik , I believe if they had it to do all over again, would have either drafted up or simply taken another position player and then acquired a free agent quarterback . I simply do not believe that Geno Smith is yet ready to play in the NFL ! Granted, this outing against the Buccaneers could prove to be trouble-free, given that team`s still unresolved problems in their secondary and the doubts concerning the unevenness of Josh Freeman`s continually lackluster displays. A home victory would appear to be on the cards for the Jets , but it will be dependent upon which Geno Smith the New York Jets` fans will be privileged to witness on Sunday afternoon . The player many saw at the collegiate level or the player many witnessed performed so ineptly against the Eagles ? Chances are that during the game we will actually witness both.

As to Tampa`s own ongoing issues , well, let us just say that Greg Schiano has some sort of plan, which he and his current staff are currently carrying out. For all of the team`s off-season maneuvers , we are likely to see a team much like last season , where the players who lined up to be part of what was an essence an extraordinarily bad roster. Considering that for now, almost three straight years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been unable to sell out a regular season home game. I believe that streak is likely to be continued this season , for a franchise whose preseason performances and record were woefully lackluster and inept . Also what remains in doubt, is whether or not defensive back Darrelle Revis is likely to see any type of action in the team`s regular season opener against his former team. Having missed the entire preseason schedule , clearly Greg Schiano must be aware, that it is now time to have Darrelle Revis ready to resume his NFL career and justify that six-year $96 million deal , the player was signed to in the off-season. GM Mark Dominik , by his reluctance to address the media on this one fact, has now become someone whose judgment must come into question .

At best , in a division , the NFC South , where the quarterback play is likely to be of an extremely high standard , I cannot see the Buccaneers coming through their divisional games unscathed and where their conference play is likely to be just as daunting a task. A 6-10 or 7-9 record is what I envision for the team , and that is likely to be generous, given what I believe will be another difficult year for Josh Freeman ! With the Buccaneers` quarterback due to become an unrestricted free agent this off-season , it is paramount that he puts himself into a situation where he is likely to be rewarded and that is by having a solid and very productive season . Is that beyond the scope of Josh Freeman? I will let you be the judge of that ! My own thoughts on the matter are that I did not feel he was a worthy first round draft pick in 2009 by then Buccaneers` head coach Raheem Morris . Four seasons later and the player is still acclimatizing to the environment of the NFL. A steep price to pay for an organization that has not seen a quarterback of note perform for the franchise at a consistently high level in its entire existence .

The Kansas City Chiefs may well have ended the season in 2012, as the team with the worst record in the NFL . In 2013 , I believe that with the addition of Alex Smith to helm the roster at the quarterback position, along with a new head coach in Andy Reid , we are likely to see a competitive club that will certainly be looking to meet the challenge of stopping the Denver Broncos` recent dominance of the AFC West. That in of-itself may well not be enough , but given Reid`s vast experience and GM John Dorsey has seen fit to revamp the lineup , seeking a number of changes that should see the Chiefs making inroads within the NFL this season.

Andy Reid`s team will begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ever Bank Stadium in Jacksonville , Florida. And for the Jaguars coming off another disappointing season and having yet to see any real signs of progress in the game of Blaine Gabbert . It will be interesting to see what Gus Bradley and his coaching staff are likely to do , in order to get the best out of what was one of the league`s more inept offenses and defenses of last season . Jaguars` owner Shahid Khan , as ambitious as he is, as the franchise’s self-effacing proprietor , must know that he faces an extremely daunting task in turning around the fortunes of this team . They are likely to face an uphill battle, in competing within the AFC South against the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts , two teams thought to have the best chance of taking divisional honors this season.

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Certainly the build-up up to this season has seen some rather sensational stories within the NFL. Yet I can`t help but wonder what will unfold over the course of the year , as teams lay siege within their conference and divisions , with the hope of making the postseason . At the same time several head coaches within the league will be placed under the usual scrutiny one would come to expect, with the likelihood of their livelihood actually being at stake. It all makes for an intriguing and suspenseful year of anticipation within the NFL . What , if anything are you most looking forward to, as the season unfolds and which games in particular, in week one and throughout the first four weeks of the regular season do you believe will be the most appealing ? Just simply chime in with a comment as you see fit.

Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) John Fox and Peyton Manning are seen on the sidelines during a postseason game from 2012 . The Denver Broncos vs Baltimore Ravens AFC Divisional playoff game at Sports Authority Field Saturday January 12, 2013. Fox and Manning will be looking to avenge that loss in their home regular season opener against the reigning Superbowl champions . Denver is seen as the prohibitive favorite to win the AFC West this season . Photo by Tim Rasmussen,/The Denver Post …….

(2) From left to right , Andrew Luck , Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson . All three rookie quarterbacks from last season took their respective teams into the playoffs at the first time of asking , with all three being highly effective in the postseason. Getty Images / Mark Parsons …..

(3) Cincinnati Bengals` quarterback Andy Dalton (14) is seen here during a team practice session alongside head coach Marvin Lewis . Dalton has led the team into the postseason for two consecutive seasons starting in 2011 and then again 2012 . The franchise`s head coach will be looking for further progress from this team , in which we have seen the growing maturity of Dalton and teammates , Jermaine Gresham and A J Green . Getty Images / Michael Carpenter ………..

(4) Jun 11, 2013; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestmann and quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during mini-camp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

(5) Tony Romo and Jason Garrett are seen here on the sidelines during a game from last season . After a disappointing 2012 foray , the Dallas Cowboys well be looking to rebound this season by making a serious challenge within the NFC East , where the Washington Redskins will be looking to make a successful defense of their divisional title . Gerry Matthews / AP Photo …..

(6) New York Jets` quarterbacks Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez are seen at the team`s training facility . Smith, the team`s second round draft pick from 2013 will be the opening day starter for the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . A bye-line to this contest will be the return of Darrelle Revis, when he suits up for the Buccaneers to face his old team for the first time on the field of play. With Mark Sanchez now sidelined with a shoulder injury , GM John Idzik signed Brady Quinn to a one-year $715,000 deal . There now seems to be growing speculation that the Jets will seek to trade Sanchez, while taking his $8.25 million salary off the books . The former USC Trojans` quarterback signed a five-year $52.5 million deal in 2012 , of which $20.5 million was guaranteed . USA Today / Scott Patterson ….. `

(7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers` head coach Greg Schiano is seen here with the team`s defensive back Darrelle Revis . The player did not see any playing time during the Buccaneers entire preseason schedule and is likely to see limited time during the team`s regular season opener against the New York Jets at Met-Life Stadium ,in East Rutherford , New Jersey . Mark Palmer / AP Photo ….

(8) Buccaneers` starting quarterback Josh Freeman is seen here after a regular season game from 2012 . Freeman`s play has been inconsistent over the past two seasons . An unrestricted free agent in 2014 , the quarterback will be seeking a new long-term contract . GM Mark Dominik is not prepared to address the situation until the end of the regular season. Paul Dominguez / Miami Herald ….

(9) Where the white women at , with the `big junk` in the trunk ? Temptress, Miley Cyrus seen here performing with R&B crooner Robin Thicke at the VMA`s (Video Music Awards) . The untalented Cyrus now seems to be courting controversy rather than trying to enhance her talent as a singer and dancer . Talent is not something that seems to run in the Cyrus family . Courtesy of MTV/Viacom Inc .

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

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tophatal ……………. 09/04/2013

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NFL news and news from around the league

NFL standings (2013 divisional)

NFL schedule week one regular season

NFL team transactions and transactions in September

NFL standings 2012 divisional

2012 NFL regular season results and the postseason .

NFL results week one 2012

NFL injuries

NFL quarterback stats September 2012

NFL quarterback stats week one (regular season 2012)

NFL attendance (2012)

NFL Draft 2013

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Pic of the day , Denise Milani

Much ado about nothing …..

Much ado, about nothing !

With teams around the NFL now having to trim their rosters down to fifty-tree players before the regular season opening games of this year`s schedule begins on the 8th and 9th September , respectively . Coaches came away, having made some career defining, in some cases and in others, bringing about an all too abrupt end to the careers of certain players, many may well have thought would have some longevity to their careers. Amongst the players who parted ways with their respective franchises were two former Heisman Trophy finalists, Tim Tebow and Vince Young . Tebow became the talk of the town, when the New England Patriots acquired him as unrestricted free agent in March of this year.

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After the often comedic season of 2012 with the New York Jets . A number of individuals felt that this would be Tim Tebow`s last chance to catch on in the NFL , would be for the player to now make a radical change by choosing to play another offensive position . Yet , such was the reluctance of Tebow player to make that change of switching positions , believing that he could compete and make a solid contribution to a team that might be in need a player of his skill-set . Somewhere along the line, Tim Tebow should have been reminded that simply being affable does not win games in the NFL. From my own personal standpoint , Tebow has done little to convince me that he is good enough to be in the NFL , or play , any offensive position ! And in spite of the recent idiocy sown by ESPN on air analyst Skip Bayless , whose only statement , suggesting Tim Tebow was capable of playing in the league , pointing primarily to the player`s season in Denver , with the Denver Broncos , was to recycle the success attained by the team in 2011, in simply gaining a playoff berth .

For Bayless, where hyperbole has been the best way, to describe his emotional range as an analyst . He would go on further , by stating that season by Tebow, in having the highest quarterback rating for all quarterbacks in the fourth quarter of a game , meant that, Tim Tebow was not only a very good player, but someone who could win in this league. Plausible up to a point, but if one delves deeper into the case being made by Skip Bayless, you will see that Tebow`s all-round game remains an incoherent mess and that is something this on air personality failed to pose in his argument. Likewise , it is the same asinine notion or one of many I have read by proponents of the player , who somehow still want him to be given a chance in the league .

A patron of this site would suggest that Tim Tebow would have been best served by being acquired by the Jacksonville Jaguars , for the mere fact that beyond his popularity, he would have proven to be far better an option than the incumbent starter with that present franchise , in the short-term. Blaine Gabbert may not be one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, but in comparison to the skill-set of Tim Tebow , I believe he is nowhere near as incompetent as Tebow just happens to be ! Make of it what you will , but for the aberration of 2011 for Tebow, has long since passed, and he has not been able to achieve much since then, and that was abundantly clear for all to see in New England`s final pre-season game of 2013 , and the rather ineffective performance put on by the player . Unable to read defensive tendencies , Tim Tebow also proved that the alleged athleticism he is said to have, remains a myth . Repeatedly harried , making errant plays, Tim Tebow continued to show that his skill-set as a quarterback remains very poor . The player`s immediate prospects in the NFL at this juncture , are not bright and it is highly unlikely that he is or will be signed by a team as a backup quarterback.

This much I do know , this was not only an exercise in futility by Bill Belichick , where his ego got in the way of common sense , but it also proved that even in light of all of the team`s off season issues . This was merely another way of placating himself amongst the franchise’s fans after the team`s poor showing in last season`s AFC championship game , for which he must bear the brunt of the responsibility for New England`s failure against the Baltimore Ravens .

Vince Young came into the NFL , having led the Texas Longhorns to an incredible national championship triumph over the USC Trojans , in one of the more memorable games in recent BCS national championship history. Throngs of journalists salivated over Young`s play in that game and his will to win. A consensus first round draft pick , many felt it would be only a matter of time before the player would be leading a franchise into the post-season and perhaps some semblance of tangible success. The Tennessee Titans would have the privilege of making Young their first round draft pick, and the player would also have a very good coach in Jeff Fisher to advise him of the pratfalls that can be made as a young rookie in the NFL.

Yet , for all of Vince Young`s success at the collegiate level , one of the prevailing tendencies which are repeatedly on display by many of today`s NFL rookies, is their continued lack of maturity and out-sized egos . Now we also have the anal-retentive fans, who will continue to make excuses for such behavior by stating that these are young individuals. My response to that, shut the hell up , and take look at the real world, where young men and women are being sent off to war at a far more tender age than these athletes who enter unto an NFL field. They are made to grow up a hell of a lot faster , because their lives are placed in imminent danger from the moment that they first step unto a battlefield. What is it, that is being asked of an NFL player , other than to run , throw , jump and catch a damn football ?

Vince Young`s tenure with the Titans can be best described as being uneven , yet at times tumultuous, with the player being at odds repeatedly with Jeff Fisher . What may well have exacerbated that situation even further , was the apparent stupidity of team owner Bud Adams , who sided with the player after a confrontation that had taken players between Young and the team`s head coach. As to what tells you concerning the mindset of Bud Adams, I will leave you to be the judge of that! After the 2010 season , Fisher and the Titans would part ways with the franchise sliding into further ineptitude, with many questioning the Bud Adams` decision in the mutual agreement to allow Jeff Fisher to depart , with a year still remaining on is existing contract . Yet, it was clear that the head coach wanted out , and nothing to do with an organization that had lost its way , and where the team owner`s interest in the franchise was merely noticeable a great deal of the time . Adams` outside business interests , his auto dealerships and commercial real estate empire seemed to be more of an interest and importance than his NFL franchise.

Vince Young`s own future with the Titans simply descended into mediocrity during his final season with the team in 2010. It was clear , that the quarterback was no longer the player many believed him to be, leading to his being released by the Tennessee Titans in August of 2011 . One year with the Buffalo Bills followed by a further season with the absolutely lamentable Philadelphia Eagles in 2012 , pretty much summed up the reasons why this once promising player had now become a journeyman . Away from the field of player , Vince Young was said to have psychological issues , but the truth may well laid a great deal deeper with the fact the player was said to be a social user of marijuana . Having an NFL career and the use of a recreational drug simply do not mix, no matter how many ways anyone tries to spin the issue .

There may well be a franchise willing to look at Vince Young, as an option for a backup quarterback, and I believe it to be unlikely at this moment in time , but most certainly, should a team be in need of someone of his ability . Then quite possibly, his name could very well be near the top of the list . Green Bay Packers` GM Ted Thompson in the aftermath of Young`s departure has taken full responsibility, citing the fact that he and members of the front office failed to act appropriately in their handling of the quarterback , and stating that he and the front office staff made a monumental mistake in not assessing the situation better . That is either , Ted Thompson being straightforwardly honest or the executive simply seeking to apportion blame now, rather than being reminded at a later date.

As if to prove that the Heisman Trophy is no sure thing , of once having college greatness being thrust upon you , is a guarantee of success in the NFL . The 2004 trophy winner , Matt Leinart , whose lackluster career has carried about as much weight as a paper weight , having been signed by the Buffalo Bills in the last week of August , has since been released by organization . I will continue to reiterate that the USC (Trojans) program cannot produce players at the quarterback position , that are productive or considered to be a success in the NFL ! Can you name a quarterback to come out of that program over the last decade that has amounted to much in the NFL ? If you simply look down that list, you will notice that it is uninspiring, and somewhat comedic, given the `tainted` success achieved by that program under Pete Carroll . Leinart`s career in the NFL is now likely to be over , with the player likely to either end up back in Southern California or to follow the path of ending up on television, providing analysis on the college game , much like another failed Bills` predecessor Jesse Palmer .

Other notable players who were released in this past weekend`s purge of team rosters , were Robert Meacham of the San Diego Chargers. A one-time go-to target for Drew Brees , when the wide receiver was in favor with the New Orleans Saints, Meacham`s career, due to injuries and lack of productivity, has fallen upon hard times. Signed to a four-year contract in 2012 worth $25 million , a year later the wide receiver is on the outs with the Chargers , with the organization paying the player $5 million for his departure and then to take an almost $ 7 million cap hit for 2013. It would appear that the continued idiocy of the San Diego Chargers` front office continues, even after the departures of former GM A J Smith and McCoy`s predecessor Norv Turner . GM Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy either mean to carry on the ineptitude of their predecessors and simply drive this franchise into the ground or they actually have a clear path envisioned ahead, wherein, there is likely to be some semblance of success .

As to Chargers and their possible success this season , well all possible roads to the divisional title will have go through Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos within the AFC West . This much is certain, San Diego must hope that Phillip Rivers is back at his very best , but even more so , the team`s defense is actually up to the task in 2013 , because last season , there were glaring and gaping holes all over that secondary , that could not have been covered with an over-sized blanket . The San Diego Chargers will begin their regular season quest with a game against the Houston Texans at Qualcomm Stadium , in San Diego, California, on Monday night. In a match-up that provides the fans with a chance to see one of the NFL`s most prolific offenses over the past few seasons . It will be interesting to see what Mike McCoy and his coaching assistants can conjure up to stop Matt Schaub , Andre Johnson , Arian Foster and the rest of that Texans` offense .

Teams will now prepare for the opening weekend schedule , careers will be defined and undoubtedly , a number of head coaches will be under the gun to succeed . After the carnage of 2012 , where during the off-season the whirlwind of the drastic cuts made, with several coaches being given their marching orders, and this season is unlikely to be any different, as previously seen . The merry-go-round of buffoonery that has become the Oakland Raiders over the past five seasons or six seasons , with coaching firings and hires, now seems to be the norm and could very well lead us to seeing the departure of Dennis Allen , if he is unable to lead the team to any semblance of success this season . Mark Davis GM Reggie McKenzie now seem to have their dynamics and relationship down to a fine art , along with some of the incompetency shown by the duo and needlessly to some of the most inexplicable decisions rendered by the pairing. Stay tuned for more in 2013 , as we are likely to see more of their buffoonery .

To say that the Raiders have issues , would be like describing a cancer-stricken patient`s health woes as a mild affliction. Their fans are forever the optimists and while yearning for another appearance in the post-season , something that has not taken place in just over a decade , with the franchise’s last appearance coming in 2002. In the subsequent years , i draft busts , overpaying for marginal talent acquired as free agents and the firing of an assortment of head coaches , has pretty much summed up the Raiders` history in that time-span . Dennis Allen now faces a dilemma for a team that went 1-3 during the pre-season and showing very little signs of life on either defense or offense. In addition, while we`re lead to believe that we should not place a great deal of faith in the pre-season. The fact that Raiders also went 1-3 during the 2012 pre-season and then ended up with a rather diabolical regular season record of 4-12 , finishing third within the AFC West , just ahead of the marginally more inferior Kansas City Chiefs(2-14) . Is the picture now becoming much clearer, as what we are likely to expect from the Raiders this season ?

It is hard to envision how the Raiders will be able to garner any reasonable success , where their pass offense will be led by anyone of a quartet of quarterbacks , whose combined experience is a cumulative nine years in total . Terrelle Pryor , Matt Flynn , Tyler Wilson and Matt McGloin are the four players in question , who are the competing for the opening day starter`s role , with a view to holding down that position for the entire season . In addition, based on the pre-season statistics , the race is far from and definitely not that clear. Flynn and Pryor, are the two most experienced, with six and three years of service between them both, leaving rookies McGloin and Wilson as the freshmen seeking their baptism of fire .

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Picture gallery .

With Dennis Allen, yet to name his opening day quarterback , and with the team due to face the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium , in Indianapolis , this upcoming Sunday. It is imperative and paramount that the head coach come to a quick decision, rather than continuing create a situation that is of no benefit to anyone within the organization, but most of all to the fans . Your thoughts on this and anything else that you believe to pertinent to the subject matter . Simply chime in with 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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Picture sideshow gallery details below .
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(1) (FOXBORO, MA – AUGUST 29: Tim Tebow (5) of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the New York Giants in the second half during the pre-season game at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The player was released by the Patriots after somewhat of a lackluster pre-season in terms of his performances . The four-year player is now faced with a major dilemma . Does he now give up is ambition becoming a starting quarterback in the NFL after failed experiments with the Jets and Patriots , respectively ? Or does he still pursue is dream or seek to convert to another offensive role , with the ope of catching on with another NFL franchise Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images …

(2) Tim Tebow seen here at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts . Signed in March of 2013 , by the New England Patriots , he now faces an uncertain future with regard to the NFL . Reluctant to give up playing as an NFL quarterback , the player`s lack of progress in terms of his overall game is apparent for everyone to see , but the blindly loyal supporters of Tim Tebow and the rather idiotic , and odd ramblings of ESPN analyst Skip Bayless . AP Photo/ Adrian Todd …..

(3) ESPN television on hosts , Stephen A Smith , moderator Cari Champion and Skip Bayless , right . The trio appear on the cable network`s popular sports` show `First Take ` discussing some of te biggest sports` stories of the moment . Bayless forever the Tebow `apologist ` believes that the Heisman Trophy winner can still be a valuable member on an NFL franchise because he has a proven track record in the NFL . Courtesy of ESPN ……

(4) Vince Young (13) of the Green Bay Packers motions the offense to get ready for a play during a pre-season game against the Seattle Seahawks . The former Titans , Eagles and Bills` quarterback was released by the Packers` organization with the GM Ted Thompson stating that the franchise did not do enough to create a smooth transition for the quarterback . Getty Images / Larry Pennington …..

(5) Green Bay Packers` GM Ted Thompson , master architect behind the franchise`s most recent success and who engineered the drafting of Aaron Rodgers and made the decision to jettison an aging Brett Favre , when the veteran became a cancer within the organization as well as having a declining skill-set . Thompson whose decision it was to sign Vince Young as a backup to Rodgers , made the decision to cut the player at the end of the Packers` pre-season schedule . There remains a remote possibility that Young could be asked to return , but for the moment the backup position appears to be in the possession of B J Coleman . AP Photo / Rick Young ….

(6) Bills` quarterback Matt Leinart is seen here in a pre-season game against the Detroit Lions . The Bills would go on to lose the game 35-13 , with the quarterback giving an abysmal performance , going 3/11 for eleven yards in the defeat . AP Photo / Matt Long …..

(7) Robert Meachem (12) of the San Diego Chargers is seen here on the sidelines during a game . In releasing the player the Chargers will take a $6.875 million cap hit as well owing Meachem $5 million . Was the move really worth it ? Getty Images / Gary Williams ….

(8) Oakland Raiders` owner Mark Davis , left , is seen here with the team`s general manager Reggie McKenzie . A decade of futility and the franchise is no nearer to winning its division than it is to making the post-season . This season beckons and head coach Dennis Allen is unsure as who to his best option might be as the team`s starting quarterback for the Raiders` regular season opener against the Indianapolis Colts . Getty Images / Phil Parker ….

(9) Oakland Raiders` head coach Dennis Allen speaks to is young quarterback Terrelle Pryor during a pre-season game . If Pryor is made the starter for the regular season opener , then te expectations will have to be kept within a normal range for a a player who is still learning the game . The reality was , that last season although Carson Palmer helmed the team for much of the , the Raiders failed miserably , without the veteran quarterback providing little , if any leadership skills whatsoever for his teammates . AP Photo / Todd McCartney ……..

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