A little but of understanding …
With the end of what can only be described as a truly disappointing postseason finale in the NFL ,where the Seattle Seahawks simply steamrolled their way to victory , with a thoroughly lopsided victory over the Denver Broncos . It is now being left to die-hard fans to adjudge what Peyton Manning’s legacy is likely to be in the annals of NFL history . Certainly, Manning’s postseason forays have proven to be less than stellar, in spite of his lone success with an Indianapolis Colts’ victory in the Superbowl and a Superbowl MVP award to adorn his trophy cabinet. So much was expected of the Broncos’ quarterback and his teammates in this contest, that in the end it proved to be a monumental failure for the team as a whole . As to how, this chapter will be viewed in Peyton Manning’s extraordinary career will come down to how historians are likely to record the game for prosperity.
With the off-season now beckoning , teams and their front office executives will be assessing their rosters , seeking to address their needs during this break as well as preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft. I am not going to speculate as to who the number one pick in this Draft should be and whether or not the Houston Texans as the aspirant of that pick , will go with the choice of taking Johnny Manziel to resurrect what was indeed a rather disappointing season for a team with far more expectations in 2013 than were realized . Certainly, the Texans’ front office led by GM Rick Smith under the auspices of owner Robert McNair , are fully aware as to what is needed if this organization is to rebound and have a successful in 2014, while seeking to usurp the recent dominance shown by the Indianapolis Colts under the guidance of the quarterback Andrew Luck , Chuck Pagano and his coaching staff, as they have now become the dominant force within the AFC South .
It is far too early, to begin dissecting the prospects within the NFL Draft, much less the moves likely to be made by teams during the off-season! It is best left to the fortnight prior to the week of the 22nd April event as we are likely to see teams jostle for position up and down the Draft Board , seeking to make some notable deals .
The NBA has passed its midway point and is now meandering towards the NBA All Star Break . NBA Commissioner David Stern has now stepped down, handing over the reins of power to his heir in waiting , Adam Silver , who will now seek to stamp his own identity upon the league , as his successor had previously done. Stern’s three-decade long tenure was a memorable one, with a great deal of heraldry , growing revenues , league expansion and the popularity of the NBA around the globe.
If there is said to be a major disappointment within the league this season , then it would have to be the continuing issues of both the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. Their problems have been well-chronicled for much of the season and I doubt that there can be much more that can be said as to their ongoing problems. If these two franchises are unable to get their respective “houses in order” , then both are likely to miss the NBA postseason . Inwardly, I believe both organizations are in need of a major shakeup, from their front offices , on down to the coaching staff and the teams’ rosters ! Whether or not, that happens , will be greatly determined by the positions taken by Jim Buss of the Lakers and James Dolan of the Knicks.
As defending NBA champions, the Miami Heat are seeking to repeat as the three-time champions , if they are able to pull off that feat this season. Erik Spoelstra and this Heat team as of late, are proving that the makeup of this roster , is simply not as good as the one that won a second consecutive NBA title . Poor rebounding and a breakdown in defensive assignments have seen the Heat post some unexpected losses to teams that they would normally defeat. Dwyane Wade has become an injury riddled player, whose career now appears to be on its last legs, literally. As close as Wade’s friendship with LeBron James is said to be , I truly believe, that if the opportunity came, where team President Pat Riley could off-load Wade from the roster and seek to obtain something equitable in return , in order for the franchise to pursue its ambitions. Winning may well have come easily to Riley as a coach , but in recent years , he has shown himself to be an extremely good front office executive , yet, he is now becoming somewhat of a ruthless almost Machiavellian in character , with regard to his ambition and relentless lust and pursuit, in obtaining success for this Miami Heat franchise.
If to further emphasize my point concerning the Miami Heat’s inconsistency of late, in their most recent loss , on the road to the Utah Jazz, for a great deal of the contest , not only were they outplayed , but the team showed a great deal of complacency . Spoelstra, might well be willing to suggest that the players were simply fatigued by what has already been an exhaustive fifty-game schedule at this point of the NBA calendar . Yet I would suggest to the Miami Heat head coach , that his team is not the only franchise, that has hit a roadblock at this point of the season . If anything , it is at this time, with the regular season, that we tend to see the best of the teams, and the ones in particular, who can handle not only adversity and the competitive obstacles laid in front of them . We are also able to see, how the coaches themselves, are able to handle each major problem that seems to be impeding them .
For the Miami Heat their next game will be on Tuesday evening , when they are the guests of the Phoenix Suns , where they lead their season series 1-0 . It will be interesting to see how the Heat players acquit themselves in that particular contest and whether or not, the ongoing justification that they remain the favorites to be the repeat Eastern Conference champions .
Trouble in paradise or simply, the egos of two individuals playing off one against the other? Whatever, now seems to be happening, concerning the Cleveland Cavaliers, a great deal of what we are now seeing , leads me to believe that things could get a great deal nastier, before it gets considerably better within the organization. Dan Gilbert made the decision to fire general manager Chris Grant , thanking him for his service to the franchise , but sought not to be critical of his now deposed front office executive . Whether or not, this can be seen to appease the Cavaliers’ disgruntled star Kyrie Irving, remains to be seen. Irving, himself , was also critical of the team’s head coach , Mike Brown , who in his second stint , seems to be having a far more difficult time in guiding and handling a far less talented group of players , than when he was in leading this franchise to their lone appearance in the NBA Finals , with LeBron James as that team’s best player . With there said to be growing anticipation that James is likely to opt out of his existing contract with the Heat to “test” the free agency market . The thought of the Miami Heat forward and Kyrie Irving linking up, would prove to be a salivating prospect and make the Cavaliers a formidable opponent, as well as a prohibitive favorite within the Eastern Conference for the NBA title . Inasmuch, as I believe that to be a daunting prospect, there is no way in hell, that I believe LeBron James would consider returning to Cleveland under the present conditions , with their being so much turmoil within the organization, even with everyone seemingly denying any major drama within the franchise.
As of the 8th February the Cleveland Cavaliers had a record of 17-33 , good enough for fourth place within the Central Division of the Eastern Conference . While Irving has been far in a way the team’s most effective player , the issues that have been a continuous issue for Mike Brown , has been the lack of real ball movement when in transition and the complete lack of defensive tact from the vast majority of the players on the roster. Seated twelfth, within the conference, the Cavaliers are four games out of the eighth spot, currently held by the Charlotte Bobcats (22-29) . Any chance of Mike Brown’s team being able to erase that deficit and leapfrog the four teams ahead, is I believe, far too tough a task to ask of this team , no matter how deplorable the play has come within all three divisions of the Eastern Conference.
With pitchers, now reporting for Spring Training and their teammates likely to join them in the coming days . The start of the preseason to baseball’s season begins on the 13th February and then the one and hundred-sixty two game regular season schedule which officially begins with a two-game series (22nd March to 24th March) being staged in Sydney, Australia, between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks . The major Opening Day schedule however , will not take place until the 31st March , albeit, that on the 30th March there will be a single game being played between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres .
With the Boston Red Sox likely to be seen as the early season favorites to my mind to repeat as the AL East divisional champions . Simply, from the belief, that their opponents within the division enough have not done enough to become remotely close to being as competitive as the reigning World Series champions ! John Farrell showed his managerial ingenuity last season , and to my mind , he is now one of the top-five managers in all of baseball. Fans may well love the homely and at times micro-managerial style of Joe Maddon and what he has been able to achieve with the Tampa Bay Rays . Unfortunately, that remains a franchise who chooses to operate on a shoestring budget , rather than Stuart Sternberg seeking to show some of this alleged financial acumen that is said to have made him tens of millions of dollars as a Wall St investor and commodities’ trader. The continued whining by Rays’ fans, who themselves show very little acumen when it comes to the front office dealings within this organization , is why I will continue to question their intelligence on a wide variety of issues concerning the ball-club and that of the local personalities , who continue to come up with idiotic prognosis, as to needs of the franchise beyond the on-field issues . Tampa remains a second class city, with grandiose ideas, normally afforded to a major metropolitan city. Therein, lies its biggest issue , lack of intelligence amongst its political leaders and most definitely amongst the fan-base !
The Tampa Bay Rays may well prove to be worthy adversaries to the Boston Red Sox over the course of this season , and their season-long contests could prove to be a key indicator as to how the AL East could very well play out. The New York Yankees may well have been making a big splash, with the signings of Masahiro Tanaka , Jacoby Ellsbury and slew of other high-priced free agents . It has proven to be a success and boon for the franchise over the years, and the issues that still remain for the Yankees , will be the effectiveness of their projected starting pitching lineup and whether or not Derek Jeter after a prolonged injury can return to form , and the same can be said of Ellsbury , who was brought in to replace the productivity of Robinson Cano . The loss of Alex Rodriguez is not seen as a major blow ,given his lack productivity in 2013 , but questions will arise should the team start to buckle under the considerable weight of expectations .
The New York Yankees this season , will either sink or swim, by their deeds on the field of play as their season begins . GM Brian Cashman and senior managing partner Hal Steinbrenner will once again have to justify their actions , in once again having the team’s payroll close to or on the verge of exceeding $200 million , when the intent of the front office was to be avoid being subjected to the mandatory luxury tax, for which the Yankees had to pay the league $39.5 million in 2013 . By comparison the Los Angeles Dodgers who had a payroll , a mere $9 million less than the Yankees’ commitment to their players , paid only $9.3 million as part of their obligation to the league , by way of the MLB’s now imbalanced and totally inept scheme. . On Opening Day , I fully expect that the Yankees’ team payroll to exceed $200 million, as it has done for the past four consecutive years .
After an excellent season in 2013, the Atlanta Braves having been the runaway winners of the NL East , the team simply wilted in the postseason . Fredi Gonzalez and the managerial staff were simply too lax in their approach and did nothing to hold his players accountable as they were simply dispatched in divisional round of the MLB postseason . Suffice to say , if you blinked , you would not have missed a great deal as it related to the Braves’ postseason foray .
Fredi Gonzalez and the managerial staff were simply too lax in their approach and did nothing to hold his players accountable , as they were simply dispatched in divisional round of the MLB postseason . Suffice to say , if you blinked , you would not have missed a great deal as it related to the Braves’ postseason foray . A lopsided 3-1 series’ loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the divisional series (NLDS) curtailed the Braves quest for a second World Series title.
The off-season proved to be somewhat fortuitous for Braves’ GM Frank Wren and team President John Scheurholz , as the team benefited a great deal , by way of the players whom sought salary arbitration . Granted , the loss of catcher Brian McCann was to be expected , as there would be no way that the front office would have been willing to match or make the five-year $85 million offer made to the player, which was willingly accepted by McCann’s agent , BB Abbott. The catcher becomes the New York Yankees’ first option at the position as well as providing a much-needed boost in terms of McCann’s productivity .
. Retaining Jayson Heyward , Craig Kimbrell and Ramiro Pena adds to what is already a good lineup and with a bunch of very able prospects upon which Gonzalez and the staff can look over during the Spring Training foray will be of benefit to the team. As usual the Braves have also sought to bring in non-roster invitees , to work them out and that also bodes well for the staff.
The Braves will begin their regular season against the Milwaukee Brewers in what is likely to be a very interesting game , as the Brewers are likely to welcome back their 2011 NL MVP Award winner , Ryan Braun as he suits up for the team for the first time in 2014 in a regular season game , Humbled by his suspension and his act of contrition barely convincing , how Braun conducts himself as a player will go a long way in how and if he is forgiven by the fans, for his web of deceit and lies. Clearly something, the player failed to learn from the outset, as he tried to convince us all that he was innocent of the charges originally leveled against him for using a performance enhancing drug . While , Alex Rodriguez sits out the entire 2014 season , one can’t help but wonder if we will also see a repeat performance from the New York Yankees’ player , reminiscent of his then apology to the convened press in February of 2009 at the Yankees’ training facility in Tampa , Florida .
Last season, as befits the game, there were some very great highs and some exceedingly low, lows . It is hoped that in 2014, the game of baseball, can offer the fans a great deal more than the ongoing issue of steroids and ongoing deniable culpability , of whom I believe can no longer be trusted to tell the truth . They have simply outdone their goodwill , and with the union’s lack of action even with the lack action from Michael Weiner , whose loss to the game was tragic, but his own lack of candor on the issue of PED’s is simply another reason why neither the MLBPA or Bud Selig and league hierarchy can be taken at their word to tackle the issue seriously . Yet, the commissioner with his idiocy , believes the use of instant replay within the game , is a far more pressing issue than addressing steroids and the financial imbalances that affect the game . Common sense , and intelligence has never been prevalent within the game of baseball , amongst the players , owners , general managers , league hierarchy and the game officials .
Picture gallery .
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Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – FEBRUARY 2: Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) walks on the field after the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl 48 . The Denver Broncos vs the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey Sunday, February 2, 2014. Manning’s performance in the contest was amongst the worst of his heralded NFL career either in the regular or postseason . Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post …
(2) Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and seen in some circles as the consensus # 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Houston Texans have that first pick in the draft and it is unclear whether or not they will draft the talented quarterback or seek to bolster a secondary that was amongst the worst in the NFL during 2013 . AP Photo / Richard Engell ….
(3) Robert “Bob” McNair, left , owner of the Houston Texans is seen here with general manager Rick Smith at Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas . It will he McNair’s final say , that may well be the indicator as to whether or not the franchise drafts Johnny Manziel of Texas A &M. Certainly, drafting the player would create a great deal of excitement within the greater Houston and across the state of Texas . Yet, it is felt that the team’s needs are just as pressing in other areas , without them having to risk that first pick on the mercurial college star, and then having to make a considerable financial outlay for the privilege of making him the number one pick overall. AP Photo/ Arturo Sanchez ….
(4) A bemused James Dolan , owner of the New York Knicks , brushes aside a question from a member of the convened press at the team’s headquarters at Madison Square Garden , New York City , New York . The Knicks are having an indifferent season , with Carmelo Anthony being the only player of note that is said to be productive on the team . Rick Moriarty /. Getty Images …
(5) Mike D’Antoni head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, a team who this season has struggled with injuries , indifferent play from a number of players on the roster. Currently lying in thirteenth place within the Western Conference’s fifteen teams residing there , Los Angeles now remains a long shot to make the postseason , having posted an 18-33 record . AP Photo/ Liam Walsh …..
(6) Kyrie Irving ,left , of the Cleveland Cavaliers is seen here with the team’s owner , Dan Gilbert. Irving of late , has been somewhat vocal , with his concerns and the direction that the franchise is said to be taking . The firing of GM Chris Grant may well have been done to appease and to soothe the ego of the disgruntled star, but unless the front office makes a number of major moves at the trade deadline , then the Cavaliers are likely to squander another season and completely miss the NBA Playoffs, Cleveland Plain Dealer / Getty Images North America / Chris Hansard ….
(7) Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell is seen here congratulating the team’s World Series’ MVP , David Ortiz after the Red Sox’s effortless series’ victory over the St Louis Cardinals in the 2013 World Series . Boston will be looking to make a successful defense of their AL East divisional title , AL pennant as well as the World Series . They will undoubtedly start the season as the prohibitive favorites within their division to repeat as champions . Ortiz for his part will be looking to cement his legacy as one of the franchise’s most popular players of the past twenty-five years . Getty Images / Rob Carr …..
(8) From left to right , New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi , the team’s record signing catching acquisition Brian McCann , senior managing partner and team owner , Hal Steinbrenner . Having made a big splash during the off-season to bolster the roster . New York will go into the season looking reintroduce themselves to their fans and baseball in general . The team will also enter the season with one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball at approximately $196.5 million , slightly less than last’s season’s record-breaking $228.5 million obligation , tops amongst all thirty teams , wherein, the Opening Day payroll for baseball’s franchises topped $3 billion for the first time in baseball history. This year should prove to be no different with a number of teams likely to add to their payroll commitments during Spring Training and in the lead-up to . Opening Day on the 31st March (officially). AP Photo / Steven Hines ……
(9) Atlanta Braves’ general manager Frank Wren is seen here congratulating Fredi Gonzalez , the baseball franchise’s newly installed manager , who succeeded the long tenured Bobby Cox , now an inductee in Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York. Gonzalez and his team will be looking to build upon the success of last season , although a lengthy postseason presence eluded the Braves , with them falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS . AP Photo / Chris Pendleton ……
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