Well, the NCAA Tournament has to come a close , with the vestiges to that competition reaching a finality . Two storied programs were there the combatants in the Finals , were John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats facing the University of Connecticut (Huskies) coached by second-year coach, Kevin Ollie , a former mainstay within the NBA . With U Conn prevailing in a six-point triumph , Ollie joins a select group of coaches to have won a national title within their first three years of coaching a program . For Shabazz Napier and the leadership shown in leading his teammates to this triumph, is likely to open doors , not previously thought about in great depth , with several general managers around the NBA , likely to be showing an interest in a player , who should he declare for the upcoming NBA Draft , is likely to be taken quite high in the first round .
I am sure that the administration within Storrs, Connecticut, are truly overwhelmed at this triumph and the Huskies’ second title in the past four years , with the program’s last triumph in the Men’s NCAA Tournament coming in 2011 , when Jim Calhoun and that team triumphed over Brad Stevens and Butler . As we know, the Huskies women’s program , coached by Geno Auriemma , has been triumphant several times , with six national titles during his reign, as the coach of the now famed women’s program. Auriemma is back again as a finalist in this year’s tournament where the opponent will be a heated rival , with Notre Dame (Fighting Irish) staring across at their adjoining number one tournament seeds. That game , will be played tonight at the Bridgestone Arena , in Nashville, Tennessee,.
A week into the MLB season and there is not really a great deal to report , beyond the fact , there appears to be more money now seated ? on the disabled list , than would actually make up the payroll of the league’s lowest paid team , in this case , that privilege belongs to the Houston Astros with an estimated payroll of $44.5 million . Yet, somehow , it was the intent of Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow to field a competitive team this year , while trying to avoid a fourth consecutive season of one hundred losses or more ? I guess , Astros’ manager Bo Porter and his managerial staff were fed another boatload of “ bull” , by the executives entering the season , about the ball-club’s ambitions for the year.
With a record of 3-4 , the Astros are competing in what is likely to be a competitive AL West division this season , where the main competitors for the divisional title are likely to be the defending champions the Oakland Athletics , who in turn , are likely to be challenged by the Texas Rangers , Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners . For Robinson Cano and his hefty $240 million contract , signed in the off-season, having left the New York Yankees , for what he believes to be greener pastures. This season , is likely to prove to be a tough one for the former Yankees’ infielder, as he seeks to prove that contract. Coming off a 6-3 loss to the Oakland A’s , Seattle will in their next game face the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington , where James Paxton will take to the mound for the Mariners to face off against Hector Santiago , in what should prove to be a very competitive pitching match-up , between the two starting pitchers .
As beleaguered as the issues are for the Houston Astros are now , I am not so sure, that the team will simply be good enough to avoid another one hundred loss season for a fourth consecutive time. Bo Porter’s staff simply does not have the acumen , and there is not a player on the staff ready, to assume any type of role of leadership or be presumed to be, looked upon as a leader. Tuesday’s scheduled meeting against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Center ,in Toronto, Ontario, where Brett Oberholtzer will pit wits with his opponent for the Blue Jays’ Mark Buerhle .
It is beginning to look as if Mark Teixeira’s … career will become known for being injury prone , rather than for anything achieved on the field of play , since he was acquired by the New York Yankees to bolster the team’s roster and add to what was believed to be an already explosive lineup by way of the team’s offense. In his first season with the team in 2009, Teixeira proved to be as productive and well worth the contract , as it appeared to be at the time. The player we are told, will resume light exercise with a view to returning to the team and perhaps playing in his first regular season game by mid-April, but in all likelihood , I believe that Joe Girardi and the staff will not have their first baseman return too soon , until they believe that he is fully fit .
The Yankees’ 4-2 victory, over the Baltimore Orioles , places them atop of the AL East with a one game lead over the second placed Tampa Bay Rays (4-4) . How the season, now plays out for the New York Yankees will undoubtedly be predicated upon the play of mainstays, such as Teixeira , Derek Jeter , Ichiro Suzuki , Brian McCann , Kelly Johnson, CC Sabathia , Hiroki Kuroda , Carlos Beltran , Alfonso Soriano , Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury . The team will once again , play host to the Orioles today, when they meet at Yankees Stadium , in New York City, New York on Tuesday afternoon , where the opposing pitchers will be Wei Yin Chen and Ivan Nova .
On this date in MLB history , one of the great achievements within the game of baseball was attained , when Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hit , what was his seven-hundred and fifteenth home run (715) to move ahead of Babe Ruth in the all-time career home runs’ list. Granted, that record has since been surpassed by Barry Bonds , whose legitimacy about that mark , still comes into question, but not by the MLB hierarchy or that of the Elias Stats’ Bureau . While, there has never been a positive drug test on record to somehow negate Bonds’ achievement of the career home runs’ record or that of the single season mark for home runs. The persistent questions still lingers, about Bonds’ claims, that he never intentionally or knowingly, took what he believed to be a banned substance. In the court of “public opinion” , the now retired player’s claims, are not believed and the legal system has deemed Barry Bonds to be untruthful and indeed deceitful, with his denials and the statement offered at his perjury trial .
For Hank Aaron and the opposing pitcher on the day , when the record was broken , Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the event have been posthumously recorded . However, in the run-up and the aftermath, of Aaron , having broken the record, baseball historians have tended to gloss over the fact, the Hall of Fame inductee came under death threats , racial threats , along with the lives of the immediate members of his family being threatened by bigoted racists . Poignant, when you consider the claims being made at the time that , the nation had indeed progressed , that the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr , the integration of baseball and it being woven into the fabric of society , had indeed made the world a better place. Four decades later, those claims do not hold true , even with the nation’s first African-American President Barack Obama midway through his second Presidential term and the deaths of James Byrd Jr and Alfred Wright are seen as mere footnotes and the apathy of idiots are still within our midst , about the claims of racial bigotry has in fact ended .
We are now less than a week away from the culmination of the NBA regular season and several of the divisional races have been all but decided. In the Eastern Conference, only the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat , are the two teams apiece, to have garnered more than fifty wins. Counterparts within the West, where the San Antonio Spurs , Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers , are three of five teams to have accumulated more than fifty wins each . Somehow, one gets the feeling that in the East, theirs is a conference, where competitive basketball, which is claimed to being played, is simply an acronym for complete mediocrity .
For the New York Knicks , the past seventy two hours has seen the team play themselves into contention for a playoff berth, to once again showing the trait, that has been on display , all season long and that simple inconsistency . Their fans and the print media within the local market , may well decry the fact, the team, is now likely to miss the postseason , altogether. Yet, what else can you say, when there really has been absolutely no one willing to step up to the plate? As to this utter idiocy, that Carmelo Anthony ought to be given a worthy mention as a legitimate MVP candidate , has to be viewed with the utter contempt that the claims deserve. Anthony, has been playing on a team , that at no point during the regular season, have they led their division , nor have they strung together double-digit wins in terms of a consecutive wins’ stretch.
An eleven point loss to the Miami Heat , may well have placed the “nail in the coffin” of Mike Woodson’s players and any last vestiges of hope, that they might well have had, in gaining a playoff berth. The team’s only hopes, now rest with the Atlanta Hawks simply imploding, with six games remaining on the Hawks’ schedule.
The seismic shock waves from the Superbowl and the lopsided loss suffered by the Denver Broncos , must be seen as something of a precursor, about what we have witnessed by way of the waiving of players and the contracts lengths now being offered new contracts by their new teams . It’s pretty much safe to say, with a number of franchises, seeking to make themselves “cap-friendly” , the luring of marquee free agents , while preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft , has been the one thing , that the front office executives have been using a great deal of due diligence in some of that preparation.
Veteran quarterback , Michael Vick has now found himself a new home , having signed with the New York Jets , where he is likely to be the backup to incumbent starter, Geno Smith , whose propensity throw interceptions during a game , are as frequent, as the guests at a wedding, throwing rice to celebrate the nuptials of a just-married couple. I am not suggesting that Smith is a terrible quarterback, but he has shown no inclination to improve his game and the coaching staff of the Jets, have done little to aid the player during his rookie season. The team’s problems during the season and the fact, they were simply of no relevance within the AFC East , simply summed up the Jets’ year and the fact , they performed so poorly.
It will be interesting to see how the New York Jets do during the off-season in the build-up to the NFL Draft, as GM John Idzik , seeks to rebuild and revamp the roster, while also seeing the type of influence, that Michael Vick will provide for Geno Smith.
The waiving of running back Chris Johnson , is likely to come back and haunt the Tennessee Titans , at some point , during their future . Yet, I am not entirely surprised by the move , considering the ongoing stupidity that we have witnessed from team owner , Bud Adams , down the years. Cap issues or not , the explanation now being offered by the front office , makes about as much sense , as Sarah Palin offering up her assessment as to the country’s foreign policy or what her alternatives might be to Barack Obama’s healthcare initiative and the program that has now taken effect. Johnson , at the time of his release, was one of the franchise’s most productive offensive players, and all, but a mere handful of running backs in the NFL, have more rushing yards in the league, over the past five seasons .
With a slew of teams, now said to be interested, in Chris Johnson , many of them in need of a productive running back, to aid a franchise with a woefully inept rushing offense . Rex Ryan is said to be keenly interested in acquiring the free agent running back , but the asking price , might well be too high for the New York Jets to meet at this juncture .
Johnson and his agent, Joel Segal are likely to look for an offer, that best meets the need of the player, while giving him the chance to play for a legitimate Superbowl contender. As to where that offer is now likely to come from, will be open to a great deal of conjecture and speculation over the next few days. With the NFL Draft, just over a month away , one seriously doubts that Segal would still like to have his client unsigned, with their being some depth to the ” draft class” of running backs said to be part of this group of rushers , as well as the other unsigned free agent running backs , who might come at a less steeper price, than his own client, Chris Johnson.
“Bang the drums more loudly” , as the consensus seems to be, that the South Carolina Gamecocks’, Jadeveon Clowney , is still being viewed as the number one pick for the NFL Draft. Now, whether or not, the Houston Texans and their front office led by GM Rick Smith decide to go this route, in making Clowney that number one overall pick , will be clearly dependent upon the assessment of the player made by head coach Bill O’Brien and his staff . The Texans’ needs, as a team overall, are great and the simple thought, that the defensive player is an answer to all of their needs , is merely ludicrous and not warranting an answer, that is simple. Defensively , the secondary was a mess, throughout last season , and that fourteen-game losing streak was a clear indicator as to several of the reasons why, beyond the poor play of the often injured Matt Schaub and an offense, that has been nowhere near as explosive, as in seasons past . Yet, for all the talk of Clowney’s impact as a defensive player , one cannot help but ask, is Bill O’Brien actually willing to pass up on an array of quarterbacks in this upcoming class , that many feel might be as good and is being compared to in some circles , as good as the 2012 NFL quarterback class , that saw Andrew Luck , be taken as the number one overall pick , a grouping that I might add, that also included Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles , Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins .
Quarterbacks, may well come and go , but can a team that certainly in need of one afford to pass on the likes of Blake Bortles , Johnny Manziel , Teddy Bridgewater , Zach Mettenberger , Bryce Petty , Tajh Boyd , A J McCarron and Tom Savage ?
Picture gallery .
One way or another , Jadeveon Clowney’s fate, might not rest in the Houston Texans’ hands, but actually the perception that he created, that has been perpetuated and bought into by the press , pundits and fans, alike . I believe, he is likely to be drafted in the first round, as one of the top ten picks, taken on the day. Anything short of that , will clearly be viewed as something of a major disappointment for a player , looking to be handsomely rewarded for his collegiate exploits .
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) Kevin Ollie , head coach of the U Conn Huksies’ Men’s Basketball team is seen here cutting down the nets after his player’s triumph over Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament . Ollie in his second year as the head coach, simply had his players playing at a high level throughout the tournament , with them upping the tempo in the championship game , itself against the Wildcats . AP Photo Keith Mannix …..
(2) Shabazz Napier (13) walks the length of the court being cheered on by Huskies’ fans after the team’s 60-54 victory over John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats in the finals of the NCAA Tournament . It is widely believed that Napier is likely to declare his eligibility and enter the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft . AP Photo / Keith Mannix ….
(3) Mark Teixiera of the New York Yankees , for whom much of the 2013 season was a loss, is once again back on the team’s DL , uncertain of when his season is likely to begin in 2014. As one of the highest paid players on the roster , as well as having one of the most lucrative contracts among all of the ball-club’s players , Teixeira is afforded a luxury not often shared by a player of his stature . Getty Images / Tim Walsh ….
(4) Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his historic 715th home run which would surpass the all-time career home runs’ record (714) at the time held by Babe Ruth . Aaron hit that record-breaking home run on the 8th April , 1974 at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, in a game between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers . The pitcher on the day, who gave up the home run was the Dodgers’ Al Downing . AP / REUTERS Inc/ Pathe ….
(5) Veteran quarterback Michael Vick who was acquired by the New York Jets and signed to a one-year deal by the franchise to be the backup to incumbent starter , Geno Smith , a first-round quarterback draft pick in 2013 NFL Draft by the Jets . In his rookie season , Smith’s continued struggles were ever-present throughout the season , with their being little real evidence that his game was progressing, in spite working diligently with quarterbacks’ coach , David Lee . It remains to be seen what type guidance and influence Vick will provide for Geno Smith , as he enters his sophomore season in 2014 . If Smith shows signs of regression , then in all likelihood the veteran will be called upon the replace his young charge . AP Photo / Rod Fletcher ….
(6) Free agent running back Chris Johnson who was waived by the Tennessee Titans for cap reasons . The player who was among the franchise’s leading rushers in their history , is now said to be one of the most desired free agents now on the market . It remain to be seen where Johnson’s final destination , is likely to be. AP Photo / Phil Prentice ……
(7) Robert ‘Bob’ McNair , (left) owner of the Houston Texans , is seen here with the team’s general manager Rick Smith. The general manager , scouting department of the franchise and head coach will have a tough decision to make, whether or not, to take Jadeveon Clowney, as the number on overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft or as is being forecast by many , the organization is likely to go with a quarterback , with instate hero Johnny Manziel said to be atop of Smith’s wish-list, along with Blake Bortles , Teddy Bridgewater and the fast rising stock of Tom Savage. The Texans have never made a quarterback their top pick , over the course of the franchise’s history. Getty Images / Austin Morris ….
(8) Jadeveon Clowney of the South Carolina Gamecocks and Texas A &M’s Johnny Manziel , right . Both players , high achievers , have the wish to be taken as the number one overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. With the Houston Texans’ afforded the first pick , it remains to be seen whether or not the AFC South based franchise takes either player as that privileged first choice .
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Simply soaking up the sun while making an imprint in the sand .