Building blocks …………

Building blocks …………

The New York Giants’ disappointment of last season can be best summed up, by the erratic play and suggestion that the team’s quarterback, Eli Manning played for much of the year injured , thereby hampering any progress that Tom Coughlin and his coaching staff hoped for. Manning for his part, the two-time winning Superbowl winner and Superbowl MVP , simply suggested that his play was simply no worse than his detractors would imply. Apart from the player’s injury , the offense was under par , with a running game, that was woefully inept, with the underlying current being an average passing attack. The Giants’ front office during this off-season, sought to rebuild the roster , after the loss of a number of players to free agency . With attrition came the addition of new faces as the franchise now seeks resurrect their fortunes after a nonplussed 2013 , during which the fans witnessed the team’s malaise and the Philadelphia Eagles capturing the NFC East division.

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Often described as the best division in the NFL , the NFC East, if anything, it was one of erratic plays from the quartet of teams, albeit , that the Eagles took the division. The trio of the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and New York Giants were not much of a challenge within the NFC and even less so within the rest of the NFL. Criticism of Tom Coughlin in some circles was without merit , even if the common belief, is that when team fails, the blame should rest squarely on the shoulders of the head coach. Coughlin led the franchise to their two most recent triumphs in the Superbowl, each time getting the better of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots . For the Patriots, the Giants have become their Achilles’ Heel in recent postseason contests and number of their regular season meetings.

New York’s preseason schedule , will be one, where Tom Coughlin can assess his roster and specifically the draftees from this year’s 2014 NFL Draft class. If the Giants are to have any chance of competing within the NFC, then they will have to play at a high level. Eli Manning also will have to recapture the form, that placed him among the elite quarterbacks within the NFL, having surpassed elder sibling Peyton Manning , in terms of Superbowl victories. While the elder Manning’s most recent appearance ended disastrously , with the Denver Broncos having succumbed to the Seattle Seahawks in what some have described as one of the most lopsided contests in Superbowl history , that ended with the Seahawks pummeling the Broncos into submission, 43-8 . While, it would be idiotic to suggest, that the two best teams in the NFL, meeting in the league’s showcase postseason event , ought to provide the fans with the best contest possible. That match-up, was a rather innocuous affair, with Pete Carroll’s Seahawks not being challenged at any point during the game.

The departures of Osi Umenyiora and Ahmad Bradshaw in recent years , along with a slew of players who were part of the pair of Superbowl triumphs , I believe have played a part in the Giants’ demise, with their replacements being unable to fill the gaps left in various areas of the team’s defense and offense !

If there was said to be any area that the New York failed , it might well have been that beyond Eli Manning’s lack of athleticism and quickness, it was the failure of the offensive line protecting their quarterback in several of their games last season. Manning’s statistics, do not, belie that fact, nor was the propensity, for the number of false starts , fumbles and interceptions witnessed .

In terms of the New York Giants’ draft class , was somewhat, a mixed blessing , with not necessarily rave reviews , but in some circles there is a the belief that players such as Odell Beckham, Weston Richburg , Jay Bromley and Andre Williams, will provide that needed lift for the franchise, as they head into the regular season . New York, will open their season, with an away game , at Ford Field in Detroit , Michigan, when they face Matt Stafford and the Detroit Lions. Jim Schwartz and his team, are coming off another disappointing season , when many felt that the Lions could be looked at as a serious contender within the NFC. Unfortunately, several of the players on the roster did not read the script and their efforts effort over the course of the season were extremely poor by anyone’s standards. If recent encounters between the two teams are encounters are anything to go by, then this contest should be extremely entertaining , or it could very well end up being, a monotonous bore .

Where, to begin, the continued woes of the Dallas Cowboys have been well chronicled, so much so , that the news’ items and stories could be turned into plausible Hollywood script, that in some circles might have the making of a blockbuster movie. Alas, there has not anything blockbuster-like, in the repeated pratfalls of Jerry Jones’ franchise over the past eight years. If Tony Romo were the lead character in this piece of movie magic , the critics would be giving his performances during that time-span “the thumbs down “ , along with his supporting cast of characters. And if that were not enough, Jones would not be even nominated in his role , as the producer of this ongoing mess and the continued incompetence shown by head coach Jason Garrett . Off putting as this might be, it is now becoming increasingly comedic to comprehend how the general manager could in all good conscience, sign Romo to the deal that made the player among the highest paid quarterbacks within the NFL , when the quarterback’s postseason career can be best described as being mediocre.

If Tony Romo hasn’t the skill-set to lead the team during the postseason , albeit , that during the regular season , the praises heaped upon the ten-year veteran seem to be justified . I truly believe, that he is over-rated, lacking the leadership skills sought to win a Superbowl and that is with due respect to the franchise’s Hall of Fame and Superbowl winning quarterback Roger Staubach . The elder statesman of the Cowboys’ history, has described Tony Romo, as the player who gives this franchise the best opportunity to win a Superbowl. Age is a wonderful thing , but I cannot help wonder, if Staubach has not suffered one hit too many, during his playing career, to come up with that ridiculous assessment of Romo’s talent !

A season, where 8-8 , just about summed up what the Dallas Cowboys were all about in 2013, with the excuses simply pouring in, once the quarterback suffered a season-ending injury, missing the final game at the end of Dallas’ schedule. Kyle Orton was given the privilege of starting that contest as Tony Romo’s backup in the home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Orton remains on the Cowboys’ roster , providing some semblance of experience , to a position, where I now believe there remains a great deal of uncertainty . Tony Romo may well have undergone off-season back surgery, to repair a bulging disk in his lower back, but Jerry Jones , in his infinite wisdom, felt it prudent to acquire free agent quarterback Brandon Weeden . That player’s, NFL career, while with the Cleveland Browns was simply lackluster and foreshadowed exactly why, that particular franchise, was destined to go absolutely nowhere, during his tenure .

The Cowboys’ preseason schedule , will give Jason Garrett the opportunity to assess his revamped roster , of which the changes have been considerable . The decision to let go of All Pro Defensive player DeMarcus Ware might well have come as a shock to many outside the Cowboys’ franchise, as Ware was one the most productive players for the Dallas Cowboys over the past eight years, along with tight-end Jason Witten . However, his banishment from the organization was short-lived, with his finding a new home with the Denver Broncos. That decision alone, has me questioning Jerry Jones’ reasoning , albeit, that he stated that his choice to let go of Ware had nothing to with the player’s cap value to the team last season or for the upcoming year . It might well have been that Jones’ decision had more to do with the wish to go with younger players and in needing to look long-term, in the direction, that he felt his franchise was heading .

The draft class for the Dallas Cowboys provides the team, with a chance to rebuild in several areas, especially where, last season the NFC East based franchise had one of the poorest performing secondary’s in the entire league. Defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin will have a great deal to prove this season , as he seeks to improve the Cowboys’ ranking defensively, from a last place finish in 2013 into a top-five defense for 2014. If the team is unable to improve , in that one category , then there is no way that the Dallas Cowboys could be seen as a legitimate contender for the Superbowl (SB49) , much less , even be considered good enough to challenge for the NFC East divisional title. Too early, to be thinking that far ahead for an event that will be staged at the University of Phoenix Stadium, in Phoenix , Arizona ? Well, all thirty-two teams, have that as a target, but, there are only two berths up for grabs, in the NFL postseason showcase event. The Seattle Seahawks had their eyes on the prize and never seemed to falter, at any point during their postseason schedule in 2013.

Dallas will play host to the San Francisco 49ers at Cowboys Stadium (AT&T Stadium) , in Arlington, Texas , in a game that is likely to tell us a great deal about both teams and their aspirations for the upcoming season . Tony Romo, as he takes that first snap will be looking to have an injury-free season , while trying add to his menial postseason career . Personally, in spite of the weapons placed around the player, I still do not believe that he has the tenacity or the mindset to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a Superbowl victory ! Am I likely, to be proven wrong, with my summation on the team’s ambitions and their likelihood of achieving that goal? Well, given their recent record in the postseason, of which their last appearance came in 2009 , ending in a lopsided 34-3 defeat against their conference rivals the Minnesota Vikings . Tony Romo’s performance, in that contest, was not a memorable one and was among the worst of his NFL postseason career.

With the first pick, in the 2014 NFL Draft , the Houston Texans began the rebuilding process for this forlorn franchise. Fourteen successive defeats, in 2013 and one could well understand the reason , why there was a great deal of ridicule surrounding the Texans and the inability of Gary Kubiak and his coaching staff to get the best out of this team . Jadeveon Clowney was seen as an impact player , game changer and how he acts in tandem with JJ Watt may well mean success for the franchise or failure over the course of this season. Whether or not, he can be viewed as the best defensive player drafted, will be dependent upon his play, but also, the level of maturity shown by Clowney and whether or not he follows the example of his more seasoned teammates . The hyperbole and superlatives that surrounded the player during his collegiate career , might well have been justified, but what he was capable of doing for South Carolina under the tutelage of Steve Spurrier , will be uniquely different once he steps unto an NFL field for the very first professional game of his NFL career. There have been many great defensive players that have preceded Clowney in the past and his wish to be seen as a natural successor to the likes of Bruce Smith , Ray Lewis , Jevon Kearse and Rod Woodson , could very well lead to the rookie succeeding or failing by his own merits.

Gary Kubiak’s firing, led to the hiring of Bill O’Brien to succeed the beleaguered former head coach . O’Brien brings a keen footballing mind, along with a no-nonsense approach. Yet, his greatest obstacle, might well be finding a quarterback capable of leading this Texans’ team with the sureness he seeks and where that player , is not likely to be a liability for his teammates. With four quarterbacks now on the roster, ally vying for that starter’s job , it will be interesting to see which of the quartet, is likely to be given that role for their regular season opener , against the Washington Redskins at the Texans’ Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas on the 7th September , 2014. Tom Savage , Case Keenum , T J Yates and ten-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will be given every opportunity during Houston’s preseason schedule to prove to Bill O’Brien, that they are worthy of consideration, for that starting role. Yet, there remains continued speculation, that the head coach will seek to acquire the Patriots’ backup to Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett , a player well-known to Texans’ head coach. Fitzpatrick, given his experience, is likely to be viewed as the favorite to win that position outright , having been a starting quarterback in the NFL , but his record has not been overly impressive over the course his career. The quartet of games, that make up the preseason schedule for the NFL’s teams, will be seen as something of precursor for the regular season . Bill O’Brien will lead his Texans in the first of their preseason contests against the Arizona Cardinals , looking to gauge as a starting point, how his team might well fare and then look to make any changes needed, as he may believe necessary.

The NFL Draft might well have given us a great deal of melodrama , with it being the most watched draft televised event in recent NFL history . Johnny Manziel’s over-hyped presence, among the quarterbacks available, ignited and then subsided , when we realized, that he was not about to become a top-five or top ten pick of draftees taken in the first round . Now comes the unfortunate side, to Manziel’s future, he was drafted , by the Cleveland Browns . We have seen from this particular franchise over the past six seasons, their issues, are so widespread, that “Johnny Football” , will not be able to resurrect the fortunes of the Browns, working miracles , in terms of his now well-chronicled displays for the Texas A&M (Aggies) .

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Teams are now holding their OTA’s (organized training activities) with a view to getting their rookies acclimatized the routines of the NFL, as well as having them within their training camp environment . What player or players, among this year’s draftees are you most looking forward to seeing, during the preseason, as well as the regular season? In addition, which team do you believe might well have been among the lucky, in terms of their draft class ? Chime in, with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to relevant to this topic .

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(1) New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin talks to quarterback Eli Manning before the Giants’ NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, in Chicago. An understated season in 2013, left the Giants and their front office were left searching for answers, with questions being raised concerning the quarterback’s abilities this past season. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….

(2) Osi Umenyiora of the Atlanta Falcons is seen here addressing the convened press , as the player answers questions , having been recently been acquired the Falcons , with head coach Mike Smith believing that the player’s presence will bolster their defense as they seek to overcome a disastrous 2013 season. AP Photo / Paul Wilson ………

(3) Wide receiver Odell Beckham of the New York Giants is seen here with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Draft Day . The player was the twelfth overall pick in the first round when he was taken by the NFC East based Giants . The team hopes that the player will provide a much-needed boost to their receiving game this upcoming NFL season. AP Photo / Bill Benson …..

(4) Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo (9) is seen here with team owner Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones , senior front office executive within the organization . Coming off an injury , the quarterback underwent back surgery in the hope that the procedure will aid the player , who missed the final game of the season in 2013 for the franchise. Getty Images / Ricky Mason …..

(5) Defensive lineman and number one overall draft pick, Jadeveon Clowney , center , is seen here alongside team GM Rick Smith , left and head coach Bill O”Brien , right , as the player gives his first public interview to the convened press at the team’s facility at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas . The Texans are hoping that Clowney provides a solid defensive tandem alongside JJ Watt . Getty Images North America / Tim Abrahams ….

(6) Cleveland Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine, far left, is seen here with two of the team’s draft picks from the 2014 NFL Draft . Second from the left is Justin Gilbert , along with quarterback Johnny Manziel and team General Manager Ray Farmer . AP Photo / Paul Prentice ……

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These are on her rack , but I would prefer, that they rest my block !

A gift , that just keeps on giving !

No quick takes just a take …….

No quick takes just a take

The NBA postseason still remains a mess , with the clouds still hovering over a rather unsavory episode that neither the press or the fans fully comprehend . Instead it has been the constant apathy among both parties, that continues to be clear as everyone tries to make sense of Donald Sterling’s comments and the fact the NBA hierarchy chose not to reprimand the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner for his prior actions. This whole incident, has cast a giant shadow over this entire postseason , where the quartet of teams now remaining and now playing in the Conference Finals must now be wondering if there are likely to be any other events likely to overshadow the postseason , as it meanders towards a conclusion.

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With the Eastern and Western Conference Finals now taking shape , it is becoming clear that the defending NBA champions the Miami Heat are going waltz their way towards a third consecutive Finals’ berth , with their opponents the Indiana Pacers , having all but given up in making the series an actual competitive contest . The first game of the Eastern Conference Finals was won by the number one seed, with the belief being that Frank Vogel’s players were ready to avenge last season’s Conference Finals’ loss , but within the space of five days this Pacers’ team has fallen back down to earth and have shown the competitive nature of a docile cat afraid of their own shadow.

Now up 3-1 in their series, LeBron James must now be relishing the fact, that he and his teammates are now five wins away from securing a third consecutive NBA title.

If the contest in the East is said to be lacking in drama, then game three has breathed life into the Western Conference Finals with Serge Ibaka’s presence for the Oklahoma City Thunder and their contest against the San Antonio Spurs. Ibaka’s presence has given renewed energy to the Thunder , who now seek to overcome a 2-1 deficit , where a pivotal game four contest tonight , will tell us a great deal about the makeup of this team and whether or not they are indeed capable of defeating a Spurs’ team looking to make a quick return to the NBA Finals and seeking to avenge last season’s loss to the Miami Heat.

The coaching merry-go-round has begun in earnest with Steve Kerr having shunned the overtures by Phil Jackson to succeed Mike Woodson as the head coach of the New York Knicks . If that situation was not as asinine as it now looks , consider the fact that for the second time in four years Mike Brown has been fired by Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and that particular organization. I am beginning to feel that Gilbert , has little acumen, when it comes to owning a professional sport’s franchise , much less knowing what it is needed to make that an outright success ! As for this idiocy , that LeBron James would seek to rejoin that franchise to play alongside Kyrie Irving now makes about as much sense as James joining the Sacramento Kings because in being paired with DeMarcus Cousins would make that particular franchise a legitimate contender for an NBA title.

As if the comedic travails of the Cavaliers were not idiotic enough as they now seem to be , in conjunction that with of the New York Knicks , then consider the ongoing idiocy now unfolding within the front office of the Los Angeles Lakers . Anyone now believing that the Lakers would now be a desirable destination for anyone seeking to further their NBA coaching career either has to be delusional or a downright idiot to believe that the franchise under the auspices of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss has any inherent idea about what they are actually doing. These past two seasons alone, should prove to anyone with an ounce of common sense that a great deal of intelligence is lacking within the alleged acumen of both front office executives. Mike D’Antoni’s resignation and the next fallout with his actions , speaks volumes about the sense of unrest , that there was said to be within the Los Angeles Lakers as a franchise this past season. Beyond the team being uncompetitive , excuses in part could be made for the absence of Kobe Bryant , but the team was lacking heart and there was never any leadership forthcoming from the coaching staff or seasoned veterans on the team’s roster . Buss’ search for a successor to D’Antoni , is now likely to be a long drawn out protracted process that is likely to be speculated upon by an ever-growing circle of fans and observers alike.

Well, so much for the NFL Draft , the expectations thereof and the first round of the process, befitting the idiocy of the hyperbole and drama that surrounds this annual event, now becomes one of the teams now looking to sign their draftees to their rookie contracts. If that was not enough, the one player where a there was said to be great deal of scrutiny of and where he would likely be picked, still draws a great deal of news , for all the wrong reasons . The Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel seems to be drawing as much undesired attention to himself without yet having proven himself worthy of the stories now unfolding .

Manziel’s maturity level was continually questioned throughout this NFL Draft process and it may well have led to what many believed was the justification his being drafted so low . From being thought to be the likely first quarterback taken in the Draft , the player was taken as the twenty-second overall pick by the beleaguered Browns , who were in search of a passer for more competitive than the now departed Brandon Weeden than many of the quarterbacks to have filled the position for the franchise over the past eight seasons . As to why Johnny Manziel would feel it necessary to be seen in Las Vegas at a UFC , albeit , that it was on the weekend , but with the player and his agent trying to suggest, that the party and “Playboy Image” was said be surrounding Manziel was nothing but a creation by the press and his detractors , in no way should be seen as a detriment about his skill-set as a player. Those issues, may well be overlooked, if the rookie can lead the Cleveland Browns to a successful season in 2014. For head coach Mike Pettine and his coaching staff , their futures as well as that of the Browns’ fan-base, will be looking to the young rookie to bring about what they feel to be some long and overdue success to a franchise, that has seen very little success over the past decade.

Johnny Manziel will be given every opportunity to display his craft over the Browns’ preseason where he is likely to share a great deal of the playing time with the team’s likely starter Brian Hoyer . Though on the team’s depth chart , Manziel is likely to be seen as third in that role behind Tyler Thigpen , with a fourth alternative being Connor Shaw. Cleveland’s opening regular season schedule , begins with a week one contest at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania, against their AFC North rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers on the September 7th , 2014. Manziel, as the Heisman Trophy winner , undoubtedly has a great deal of expectation to live up to and without the other added distractions, the player must now prove his detractors that he is indeed capable of leading this franchise to some semblance of success, while also displaying the skill-set we all witnessed during his collegiate career with Texas A&M and his tenure with the program.

I am sick and tired of hearing repeated and the most banal of excuses, about why a team that becomes hamstrung by injuries cannot compete during the MLB season. Unless, that the players lost to the roster represents more than one half of their front-line starters , then there should be no reason for the constant whining of the fans. And therein lies the idiocy recently and claims concerning the under-achieving Tampa Bay Rays and a team that was said to have the best pitching roster within the Majors , as well as being capable of winning ninety to ninety-five games this season. A languid start has seen this team fall short of what many felt that Joe Maddon’s playing staff were capable of achieving at this point of the season , albeit, the Rays compete in one of the most competitive divisions in all of baseball . As contentious as the AL East is known to be , several of the teams there can now be judged and now be said to be under-achieving, including the defending World Series’ champions the Boston Red Sox , who now find themselves rooted at the bottom of the division , eight half games behind division leaders, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Toronto for its part, coming off a rather lopsided victory over the Tampa Bay Rays , were never thoroughly tested at any point , during the game played at the Rogers Center , in Toronto , Ontario , on Sunday afternoon . If the Rays are said to be a flawed team , then this contest against the Blue Jays , gave the fans every reason to see why , with their being mental lapses throughout the game, both competitively , as well as mentally . The two teams are set to meet again on Tuesday afternoon , with Alex Cobb of the Rays facing the Blue Jays’ Mark Buerhle in what should be a very good pitching contest .

Call me naïve, but I have always felt that “spending big “ , does always necessary means a team will , ” win big “ , when it comes to the World Series ! Case in point , has to be , both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , as this season’s two biggest spending teams by way of their payrolls. This season alone the two ball-clubs will combine to surpass almost 20 % of the over $ 3.1 billion that will be committed in team payrolls , with several of their players being among the highest paid in the game by way of their annual salaries or the contracts or contract value .If that is not an ongoing indicator about how out of whack the game of baseball has become, by way of the economic imbalances . Then I for one , would like to hear a concise explanation from any baseball fan, who now believes that the game can be self-sustainable with the ever-increasing contracts among the top teams , while their mid and small-market counterparts, are left in their wake !

In 2013, both the Dodgers and Yankees were atop of the spending pile , in terms of payroll commitments , with only the Los Angeles’ based franchise making the postseason , where they fell to the St Louis Cardinals in a rather lopsided NLCS Pennant Series. Out-managed and outmaneuvered by a stealth Cardinals’ team in the series , that Don Mattingly, as the manager of the Los Angles Dodgers, will be under even greater pressure and scrutiny to take this team further into the postseason this year , than he was able to do in 2013. That stinging failure, still lingers deep within front office of the Dodgers, with owners Peter Guber and Magic Johnson among the partners showing their concern , as to the team’s failings this past postseason.

In a division where now, three of the four teams are above .500 , the Los Angels Dodgers find themselves 4 ½ games behind the hard charging San Francisco Giants , who themselves have the best record in baseball with a 33-19 mark . Now in spite of Josh Beckett’s recent superlative outing in pitching a no-hitter in the team’s 6-0 trouncing of the Philadelphia Phillies . I still believe that the Dodgers will be hard pressed to equal their feat of last season , in running away with the NL West divisional title . It will indeed, take a great deal more than the Dodgers’ pitching , of which the rotation is plentiful in terms of their starters , if the team is to be truly successful this season . The effort will have to be collective one , with the offense being the primary emphasis , if Don Mattingly’s players are to obtain their first World Series’ appearance in over twenty-five years , with that feat being accomplished in 1988 , with their 4-1 triumph over the Oakland Athletics .

The Dodgers followed up that victory over the Phillies , with two positive results against the Cincinnati Reds . Those teams will meet again on Wednesday the 28th May at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles , California , with Homer Bailey (4-3) taking the mound for the Reds against his NL counterpart Clayton Kershaw (3-1). As the Dodgers go this season, so rests the fate possibly of Don Mattingly’s long-term future with the ball-club , with the likelihood, that the team’s failure might well lead to his ultimate dismissal . However, his leading the franchise to that long-awaited World Series’ triumph would certainly cement his legacy in the annals of Dodgers’ postseason history , as being one of the few managers to have led the ball-club to a series’ victory in baseball’s showcase finale.

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The sports’ world is forever in search of stories that will whet the appetite of the fans and generate the debates , discussions , call them what you will. For the most part, without those tidbits to actually to nibble on, there is simply nothing to lure us in and to keep us galvanized on the events taking place at any given moment . What recent events, have piqued your interest in the world of sports and has there been a sports’ story , that you feel that has in some way been over exposed in terms of its coverage ? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit on this and anything else you feel to be relevant.

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(1) MIAMI, FL – MAY 26: Frank Vogel of the Indiana Pacers looks on against the Miami Heat during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 26, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The Pacers face the Miami Heat in a pivotal Game Five , on the brink of elimination from this season’s NBA postseason with a 3-1 deficit now staring them in the face. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …

(2) Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket over Indiana Pacers forward David West (21) during the second half of Game 4 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals playoff series, Monday, May 26, 2014, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Pacers 102-90 . AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ……

(3) Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first quarter during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 27, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This series is now tied at two games apiece (2-2) with the Thunder having overcome a 2-0 deficit . Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images …

(4) Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder look on in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 27, 2014 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City,Oklahoma. Getty Images / Andrew D Bernstein ….

(5) Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner Dan Gilbert ,left, is seen here with Mike Brown , center and team GM Chris Grant . Brown was fired for the second time during his second stint with the Cleveland based NBA franchise . Likewise , Chris Grant was not given a contract extension by the Cavaliers with his being succeeded by David Griffin , who has now has sole responsibility for player personnel decisions as well as seeking a new successor to fill the vacant coaching position. AP Photo/ Gary Mason …..

(6) Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns is seen here on NFL Draft Day , having just been selected by the franchise , where he is likely to be third on the team’s depth chart . Manziel has been the center and focus of news’ media attention in recent weeks , but over the past weekend the player was seen at UFC event in Las Vegas Nevada , in the lead-up to the Browns’ OTA’s (organized training activities) , with many questioning his willingness to be team player and shying away from the constant glare which he seems to seek out at almost every opportunity. Erik Burkhardt , Manziel’s agent , has suggested , it has been the press seeking out his client, rather than the player placing himself in front of the media . In a recent turn of events, a lawsuit has been filed against Johnny Manziel by an unnamed victim . claiming sexual harassment in which the plaintiff is seeking $25 million in damages . Burkhardt claims that the lawsuit is frivolous, without merit and will be challenged within the Florida courts , where the suit was originally filed. AP Photo / Martin Jones ….

(7) Toronto Blue Jays’ Adam Lind celebrates a home run with third base coach Luis Rivera , left, during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim ……

(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ Alex Cobb reacts after getting hit by a ball from Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Reyes during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim ……

(9) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the ninth inning during a game in which he threw a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers won 6-0 . Getty Images North America /Hunter Martin ….

(10) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammates after throwing a no-hitter during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers won 6-0. Getty Images/ Hunter Martin …….

(11) Starting pitcher Josh Beckett (61) of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammates after throwing a “no hitter” against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Beckett became the first MLB pitcher to throw a “no-hitter ” this season, joining select group of players to have accomplished the feat in baseball history. Getty Images /Hunter Martin …..

(12) From left to right , seen are Peter Guber , Stan Kasten , Mark Walter and Magic Johnson , who make up part of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ senior managing partner and ownership group for the Los Angeles’ based franchise . The ball-club was purchased for a record-breaking sum of $ 2.156 billion in 2013 , making it the largest purchase in North American sports’ history for a professional sports’ franchise. AP Photo / Matt Peters ….

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Aches and still the growing pains of a league that remains out of touch

Aches and still the growing pains of a league that remains out of touch ………..

It is a strange time in the world of sports with the NBA Board of Governors now seeking a hearing, during which the league hierarchy and team owners will convene a meeting , during which, it is believed a unanimous decision will be made, to force the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers by the team’s beleaguered owner Donald Sterling. For all the false bravado, now being shown, by the NBA and their newly installed Commissioner, Adam Silver . The belief that now would be the time, to seize control of an episode in league history, that has come as a complete embarrassment , not just for the NBA , but also the teams , union , players and front office executives within the game in general. It begs the question, why now the proactive stance , when it was widely known across the league of Donald Sterling’s behavior and his views , never mind that within the Orlando Magic organization , the antics of Rich DeVos still goes unpunished but yet apathetic and idiotic fans believe that the Clippers owner’s actions warrants severe punishment. Personally, I have never had any faith in a league hierarchy , where the leadership tends to gloat , with regard to its alleged power. While in reality, it continues to allow the most egregious of actions to go unpunished, with the only thing being yearned for by the NBA, is the continued lust for money , and not a great deal much more beyond that.

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The NBA Postseason has brought about a not too distinctive change or turn of events, Conference Finals within the East and West , has left us with the four best teams in the league, that gives us a repeat of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals , where the Indiana Pacers are playing host to the defending NBA champions, the Miami Heat . Out West, the San Antonio Spurs will provide the setting at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas , for the first two games of their best of seven-game series against the Oklahoma City Thunder . Scott Brooks will have done without Serge Ibaka , whose injury in the team’s series against the Los Angeles Clippers , will force the center to miss the remainder of the NBA Playoffs. As a big a blow as that might seem to be , one would be foolish to write off the Thunder , knowing that League MVP and Oklahoma’s best player in Kevin Durant , appears to be a man on a mission this postseason. Idiotic criticism of the charismatic and gifted player, bordered on sheer stupidity by several writers who cover the NBA, with some questioning Durant’s killer instinct.

A postseason within the NBA, that has already led to a fair share of melodrama now seems to have hit its stride. The firing of Mark Jackson by the Golden State Warriors’ hierarchy has led to former Phoenix Suns’ front office executive Steve Kerr rebuffing the overtures of Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks, with Kerr agreeing to a five-year $25 million deal with the Western Conference franchise. As to what this might suggest about the ongoing drama within the Knicks’ organization , will lead to ever-growing speculation. The longer that situation continues , it would seem the less likely Carmelo Anthony will come to a decision in remaining with the franchise.

Jackson and the New York Knicks will need to act with a great deal of urgency , as they seek to hire a successor to Mike Woodson , whose abrupt firing was not totally unexpected , given the well-chronicled failures of this team over the past season. Inasmuch, as everyone appeared to be of the belief that Phil Jackson’s insertion within the Knicks’ front office would lead to some semblance of discipline within the organization . The former Chicago Bulls’ first task will be to deal with a roster that is simply laden with some terribly exorbitant contracts and group of largely under-performing players. As to what this says about the previous front office executives brought in by team owner James Dolan to deal with the player personnel decisions for the Knicks. One can either judge Steve Mills , Donnie Walsh , Isiah Thomas and Glen Grunwald, as being a considerable success , while holding the position of general manager of the New York Knicks. Each, has made a colossal mistake during their tenure , perhaps none more so than Isiah Thomas , who at one point, held dual roles, as the head coach and Head of Basketball Operations, while splurging tens of millions of dollars in salary , for players who simply lacked a competitive nature .

All the bravura in the world , cannot hide the ongoing incompetency within the New York Knicks’ organization and the lack of foresight shown by James Dolan. Steve Mills was thrown in at the deep end at the beginning of the season , wherein , he was being asked to work miracles , while working in close conjunction with a coaching staff that simply lacked the aptitude to lead or having the acumen to coach. Beyond the play of Carmelo Anthony , there was simply nothing on display to believe that the Knicks would have been a legitimate contender within the NBA at any point this past season . Phil Jackson has a great deal on his plate, as miracles are being expected , with fans believing that the former Chicago Bulls’ coach can bring about the success he first achieved with the Bulls and then in his two stints with the Los Angeles Lakers . It is my belief that this off-season the roster of the New York Knicks will be totally revamped with several players likely to be jettisoned at the wayside, while seeking to rebuild through the NBA Draft and free agency .

It will be interesting to see what transpires over the coming weeks with the New York Knicks and how Phil Jackson deals with his having been spurned by Steve Kerr and the offer of coaching the Knicks. As to the available candidates , who are likely to be keenly interested in the vacant position. There might have been a time, when such a vacancy might well have been viewed as one of the premiere coaching positions within the NBA, but given the uncertainty of the franchise’s future and the less than forthright approach of Carmelo Anthony and his long-term future with the Knicks. I firmly believe, that Jackson and the organization will be in for some rough times ahead. No amount of presumptive speculation, about who the New York Knicks will be able to acquire can hide the fact that this particular franchise remains in state of complete disarray.

Far be it for me to suggest, but Mike D’Antoni’s resignation of the Los Angeles Lakers was long overdue or be seen as a further sign of Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak being at odds with the head coaches that have coached the team over the past two seasons. Mike Brown’s short tenure , was blissfully erratic and D’Antoni’s tenure, will be viewed , as an outright disaster, with his teams during his coaching stint , failing miserably at every juncture, with no progress whatsoever being made in terms of their play. Excuses will invariably be made, about team injuries, there being no leadership and the very issue of the Lakers, not having drafted anyone in the past three years that has been consistent or productive enough, to aid the franchise along the way.

In having one of their worst seasons in recent Lakers’ history , their finishing with a record of 27-55 does not belie the fact about how bad this team was said to be. Granted, Kobe Bryant was lost to D’Antoni and his coaching staff for much of the past season . It does still beg the question, how could anyone actually believe, that an aging Steve Nash playing alongside Pau Gasol , Chris Kaman , Jodie Meeks , Nick Young , Kent Bazemore , Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly could be seen as a legitimate contender within the Pacific Division of the Western Conference Conference remains a mystery , just as much as it was an enigma ? Another coaching vacancy remains up for grabs and I am not so sure, that the current situation within the Lakers’ organization is any better than that of the New York Knicks ! Bryant is at the end of an illustrious career , with no more than a year at best , where he can look to equal the feat of his idol , Michael Jordan in winning a sixth NBA championship and championship ring . At this point , I firmly believe that the title won by the Lakers in 2010 , will be the last that we shall witness from this venerable franchise for several years to come !

If you are going to pay in excess of $500 million for an NBA franchise , you had better be sure that it is a sound investment . Inflated prices are indeed driving up the values of NBA teams around the league . The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are deemed to be the only three teams in the NBA said to be valued in excess of $1 billion (1,000,000,000) . That being said , as much as Adam Silver might be able to take comfort in that fact , you cannot overlook that the profits of a number of franchises are indeed unacceptable and in some cases, one could view as being precarious . Silver’s predecessor , David Stern always suggested that the franchises within the NBA were some of the most viable in all of professional team sports. If only, the former NBA Commissioner could be believed when extolling those statements to the fans , public and journalists alike. Stern has been able to sell the public a great deal of garbage , that has been bought and paid for by the fans repeatedly over the years , with some fans actually believing his idiocy and actually seeking to defend the now retired former league executive . Apathy does necessarily have its privileges , but there are some fans , who do somehow feel privileged to be apathetic and gullible.

Vivek Ranadive , may well feel, that having purchased the Sacramento Kings, he may well have been seen as the savior of the franchise . Certainly, Sacramento City Mayor and former NBA player, Kevin Johnson , viewed the change in ownership from the Maloof family to the software entrepreneur as something to be relished. Now with the season having ended and the Kings sojourn , being uncompetitive and their troubled star DeMarcus Cousins continuing to be more of a distraction and a headache without showing any real signs of maturity. It is becoming extremely difficult to see how the team in its guise can be viewed as a legitimate contender for an NBA title.

Throughout much of the season DeMarcus Cousins ran afoul of not only the officials during the Kings’ regular season , but he also proved to be a constant irritant among the coaching staff and front office hierarchy . Monetary fines and league mandated suspensions did little to curb the attitude of the troubled star. I was once told by patron, that maturity and attitude simply did not matter concerning an athlete, just as long as they could play. I beg to differ , because the player’s actions in terms of temperament and attitude are a direct reflection of how a fan or fans, perceive the player and at times, a franchise, itself. Cousins for his part, while aware of his souring image seems unapologetic and a great deal of this I believe comes down to his college career while under the tutelage of John Calipari , during the player’s tenure at Kentucky (Wildcats) . Calipari, has always been a coach, whose attitude was simply about winning, while the players under his tutelage simply ran amok, by way of their off and on-court troubles. There has been a reason why , during his collegiate coaching career , several of the programs have come in for a great deal of scrutiny by the NCAA , with a number being cited for infractions of failing to follow NCAA rules and regulations. One has to question how in such instances , it has always been the athletes and program that have to be sanctioned and punished, when there have been clear cases where the coaches themselves , have been just as guilty of the transgressions , that are said to have taken place .

Michael Malone’s rookie season as head coach, was simply one of his finding a way to navigate through the competitiveness of the Western Conference , with a team that on the face of it, would have trouble throughout the season , without ever showing any real signs of progress. As to what the future now holds for the Sacramento Kings will be entirely predicated upon the ambition of Vivek Ranadive and GM Pete D’Alessandro and whether or not they feel that the franchise can survive, while having DeMarcus Cousin as part of those ambitions. Whatever the decision, made by the front office executive and team owner, will hopefully be of benefit to the franchise , rather than having a player, who has proven to be a constant detriment to the Kings , while offering little signs of leadership or maturity.

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As the NBA Conference Finals begin to take shape, do you believe that the four teams left at this stage of the proceedings, provide the best possible match-up , that the fans and league hierarchy could have sought ? Also, with the issues, now facing the Sacramento Kings and their troubled star DeMarcus Cousins, how do you feel that the franchise can best solve the problem? Leave a comment as you see fit, on this and anything else that you feel may well be relevant to the subject.

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(1) Donald Sterling , the beleaguered owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, who in his first public interview with CNN reporter Anderson Cooper , since the uproar and outrage at his racial remarks , has since further alienated himself , with his criticism of Magic Johnson and what he now states was meant to be an innocuous remark about members of the Jewish faith . There has not really been an act of contrition by Sterling for his prior actions. AP Photo / Getty Images / Harry How ….

(2) Alex Martins of the Orlando Magic is seen here with team owner Rich DeVos at the franchise’s home venue the Amway Center in Orlando , Florida ,. DeVos may well prove to be the next team owner who finds himself in the cross-hairs of the NBA hierarchy, albeit, that would prove to be somewhat prophetic and comedic, given the fact, that after repeated homophobic remarks prior to the recent outcry of the actions of Donald Sterling , DeVos has yet to feel the wrath of the NBA. AP Photo / Keith Marshall …..

(3) Boris Diaw (33) of the San Antonio Spurs drives on Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first quarter in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 19, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. The Spurs would go on to defeat the Thunder in a lopsided victory to take a 1-0 lead in their best of seven games conference finals’ series . Getty Images / Ronald Martinez . …..

(4) Golden State Warriors GM Bob Myers is seen here with the team’s newly installed head coach Steve Kerr . The former Suns front office executive and NBA television analyst , snubbed the overtures of Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks to accept the position with the Warriors and a five-year $25 million contract. Getty Images / Paul Walsh …..

(5) New York Knicks’ President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson is seen here with noted movie director and fervent Knicks’ fans Spike Lee . Jackson whose offer to Steve Kerr , to succeed Mike Woodson as the head coach was turned down , with Kerr choosing instead to accept the vacant head coach’s position with the Golden State Warriors. This off-season the Knicks’ senior most personnel executive will also have to deal with and placate his star player Carmelo Anthony , by proving to Anthony that it will be his intent to bolster the team’s roster by way of free agency acquisitions and the upcoming NBA Draft . With little wiggle room because of the salary cap ,. Jackson will be forced to seek the trade of several players or simply buyout their contracts , where the case maybe , leaving the franchise in non too enviable position overall . Getty Images / Marco Pantari ….

(6) EL SEGUNDO, CA – NOVEMBER 15: Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak , left, and coach Mike D’Antoni speak at a press conference introducing D’Antoni as the new Los Angeles Lakers head coach beneath a display of Lakers championship trophies on November 15. 2012 at the Lakers practice facility at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California. This past off-season , D’Antoni handed his resignation to the Lakers’ hierarchy led by team owner Jim Buss Mitch Kupchak, which was accepted by the executives. No definitive reason has been given by Mike D’Antoni , but it is widely believed that he did not have the full backing of the Lakers’ playing staff led by Kobe Bryant . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ….

(7) ) Vivek Ranadive, owner of the Sacramento Kings . is seen here with Sacramento city Mayor Kevin Johnson. After a tumultuous tenure with the Maloof family as owners, during which Gavi and Joe Maloof over the past seven years have led the franchise through an uncompetitive time-span . AP Photo / Paul Russell …..

(8) DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings whose troubled career within the NBA has been well chronicled . Getty Images / Paula Mason ….

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It takes a village to raise a child, but several idiots, have simply ruined the image of the NBA …..

It takes a village to raise a child, but several idiots, have simply ruined the image of the NBA …..

The NBA Postseason still remains overshadowed, by the fallout, from the ongoing Donald Sterling “affair” . Yet, it is not enough, that fans are now suggesting the self-serving actions of V Stiviano , makes this whole episode all the more sordid . The idiocy to my mind, remains the apathy among idiotic fans, who somehow remain fu#king delusional, when it comes to race relations in this country and merely view because the twice elected bi-racial Barack Obama as President of the United States , makes the environment and that of the issue of race a bygone issue.

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Stiviano, is not the person, who issued the words of bigotry, nor was she the person, whose repeated actions of racial intolerance , were repeatedly highlighted over the Los Angeles Clippers owner’s three decades of ownership of that particular franchise . Somehow, this has been overlooked by the press , fans , but most of all by former NBA Commissioner David Stern , who himself held that position as commissioner during a similar time-span. If the fans are simply not intelligent enough, to look at these facts and sense that there is indeed something wrong not only with Donald Sterling’s hideous actions , then what does it also suggest , their not questioning the inaction of the former NBA Commissioner, in seeking to reprimand the now suspended Clippers’ owner ? Where is the alleged intelligence and intellect that David Stern is said to have, beyond the ongoing hypocrisy that still remains within the league, among the league hierarchy , team owners and the executive committee of the NBPA (Players’ Union).

The first round of the postseason, gave us one or two surprises, but not really anything that one could point to as a major upset. The Chicago Bulls’ falling to the Washington Wizards in their opening series , may well be one of complacency, as much as it could be about the Hawks simply grabbing the opportunity to derail the hopes of Tom Thibodeau and his players during the NBA Playoffs. Chicago’s failure has pretty much left the Bulls’ front office in a state of apoplexy and dismay , but one cannot help but ask , did John Paxson and GM Gar Forman make a monumental mistake when they sent Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the now the departed and under-achieving Andrew Bynum ? I firmly believe, that had Deng remained with the Bulls the outcome of this series might well have been much different in its result .

Having made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals , the Washington Wizards now find themselves facing the brink of elimination, seeking to erase a 3-2 deficit against the Indiana Pacers . Tuesday night’s lopsided twenty-three point victory over the number one-seeded Pacers may well have given their fans some respite. Yet, I believe that Frank Vogel and his playing staff will be looking to stop the bleeding and close out the series when its resumption takes place on Wednesday night , with game six at the Verizon Center in Washington , DC,. If Randy Wittman can encourage his players to successfully defend on their home-court , then game seven could provide for a thrilling finality to a series where the heavily favored Pacers have been exposed as something of a fraud throughout much of these series of contests .

The Miami Heat as the two-time defending NBA champions are simply easing their way through the postseason . Never truly tested by the Charlotte Bobcats in their first round series’ match-up , their conference semi-finals’ contest against the Brooklyn Nets is proving to be equally un-challenging against a Nets’ team that in reality, has more going for it , in terms of their multi-million dollar payroll than they have, for their playoff performances this postseason. While many, might well be impressed with Jason Kidd’s rookie season as a head coach . Let us not forget , that the Nets are playing in the Eastern Conference and a division where the basketball being played can be best described as being redundant , if not downright embarrassing . Yet, this is the type of garbage , that David Stern has presided over the within this conference, for the past several years , where idiotic fans , would still suggest that the now retired NBA Commissioner, was in no way responsible for the level of play on display for the fans to witness.

Stern’s imprints have been all over the league than most would care to acknowledge and apathetic fans, simply have no idea as to the level of mediocrity that he has tried to suggest has been entertaining , while also assailing the public at large , with the fact the league’s revenues have been on the rise . I guess when you can cajole your broadcast partners into paying for an inferior product and still make money is another “ virtue” of American “capitalism” .

LeBron James and his Heat teammates , will be looking to close out their series and then await the winners of the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards’ contest in the Conference Finals . A repeat of last season’s conference championship contest for the best part, might well be what the fans will yearn, as the Pacers seek avenge that significant series’ loss . When the Nets play host to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York , we are likely to see the Heat march on to their third consecutive appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals in the past five seasons. As for the Brooklyn Nets, their outlandish $ 102.3 million payroll and the idiocy of fans, who believe that money and style over substance can equate with success in the NBA. Ask yourselves the following , at what point, was there ever any chance of the Nets being even remotely seen as a likely favorite for the NBA title, much less being seen as a legitimate contender for the conference title ?

As Donald Sterling continues to make a complete ass of himself, seeking the public’s empathy and sympathy . The franchise that he has been force to relinquish control of still continues to march on this postseason . The Los Angeles Clippers in their match-up against the Oklahoma City Thunder , now find themselves on the brink of elimination in that series’ contest , down 3-2 and League MVP , Kevin Durant and his teammates now looking to book their place in the Western Conference Finals. The Clippers’ players cannot be viewed as the “villains of the piece ” , because of the idiocy of the franchise’s owner , but in reality , it would set a bad precedent were the Los Angeles Clippers to advance to the conference finals and even the NBA title contest , with this all being seen as something of a benevolent reward for Donald Sterling’s egregious conduct .

Sterling, in his first publicly televised national interview showed very little by way of an act of contrition but quickly tried to point out to his host and interviewer Anderson Cooper , he was not a racist , was misunderstood , with his statements being taken out of context and his philanthropic work within the greater Los Angeles area community in recent years, had been of benefit to minorities and their well-being. One could liken that to the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Belsen ” concentration camps” , being a great thing among the Jews during World War Two (WWII) and the only harm being done, was the smoke from the stacks that rose into the skies above and into the environment. One of the more pointed moments of the interview during this interview was Sterling’s criticism of NBA great Magic Johnson , with the disgraced owner questioning the altruism of Johnson and what he had for those within his own race . Perhaps, Donald Sterling was not aware has built up a portfolio of companies under this Magic Johnson Enterprises , which employs over 15,000 nationwide and through his charitable foundation assists at risk youth , placing them in educational programs as well as providing paid up college scholarships for minorities.

Magic Johnson Enterprises, also provides internships for college graduates in a variety of areas , as these businesses encompass the following areas of commerce , commercial real estate , residential real estate , insurance , finance , music , business entertainment , hospitality management and auto dealerships, within his corporation .

It should also be noted that the Magic Johnson Foundation the charitable arm of Magic Johnson Enterprises has raised tens of millions of dollars to aid in AIDS’ research , but yet , Sterling comes up with a dumb perception that Johnson has done little for his own race ? The pertinent question , one ought ask of Sterling at this point , are you that much of an ass as you appear on television, as you are in private ?

Donald Sterling remains a pompous moron and those who purport to remain fervently behind someone when those espousing such views , think nothing of it and then hide behind this “ idiocy of freedom of speech “ without taking into account human decency or common sense or respect of others . It has been this type of bigotry that remains common place within American society , while idiots try and hide behind this continued ” bull#hit” of ” political correctness” . If fans do not comprehend what the meaning of common courtesy and having respect actually means, without the now known incompetency and lack of action shown by David Stern and the NBA in general. Then the continued mistrust of the NBA will continue, among some fans , public, with the apathy of the media who cover the league remains on show.

While the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, continue to contest their series, the conference semi-finals within the Western Conference pits last season’s NBA Finalists and conference champion, the San Antonio Spurs against the Portland Trailblazers . For Blazers’ team owner , billionaire Microsoft co-founder , Paul Allen , as he seeks to add a second professional team championship to his mantelpiece. As the owner of the Seattle Seahawks , Allen was privee’ to witnessing the franchise win their first Superbowl , with their demolition of the Denver Broncos in Superbowl XLVII (SB47) . Trailblazers’ owner , Paul Allen , knows it would take an incredible effort by his team to overcome the wily guile and experience of the formidable Gregg Popovich and his incredibly talented team , led by Tim Duncan , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli . The aforementioned triO, have played an ever-present role in steering the Spurs to great deal of success over the past decade . This past year marked the sixteenth consecutive season the franchise has obtained a postseason berth in the NBA Playoffs, but yet , little is made of such an amazing achievement , either by the NBA hierarchy or that of the print media in general. Instead, they would rather continue to cover under-achieving teams such as the New York Knicks and the vastly overrated Brooklyn Nets. I guess, when these are the basic staples for the NBA beat writers and columnists in general , accomplishments and feats achieved by the Spurs on appearance seem trivial and where the journalists and analysts who cover the league for a living gloss over those feats.

All season long the Spurs were overlooked, as many felt the Western Conference would be the Oklahoma City Thunder’s by design and right . Thunder GM Sam Presti has assembled a very good team for head coach Scott Brooks to have under his tutelage, as the players made on another season onslaught to prove that they are among the best in the league . A second placed finish by way of their conference record , might well have been seen as something of a disappointment ,but the players had their share of inconsistent performances that led to that conference mark . In their divisional race , there was not much of a challenge for Kevin Durant and his teammates , as they ran away with that particular contest winning their division with ease. Durant , won the regular season League MVP award , dethroning LeBron James , a four-time winner of the award, along the way in with his acceptance speech showing a great deal of humility and reverence towards his Thunder teammates but paying a special tribute to his mother and younger sibling.

If there was said to be one significant off-court to this NBA calendar year , then it was provided by Kevin Durant and his acceptance speech and not the idiocy surrounding Donald Sterling or the self-congratulatory and some might even believe it narcissistic proselytizing in the stepping down of David Stern as the NBA Commissioner. It also seems somewhat asinine, to know the league hierarchy and owners have decided to give upon Stern, the honor of Commissioner Emeritus for his three decade tenure as the commissioner. In light of the recent events , I feel that it is an accolade not befitting an individual, who at every instance has sought to promote himself above the league, along with his autocratic style of leadership. As pointed as this remark may well be , one cannot overlook the issue where the former commissioner did not use due diligence in reprimanding Donald Sterling for his known prior bad acts and now one has to also question his motives in not having also dealing with Richard DeVos of the Orlando Magic and his repeated behavior , concerning his homophobic remarks .

The NBA, like its NFL counterpart, have inferred they are tolerant and socially aware, but the actions the owners of the NBA and NFL and respective unions simply belie that fact . Meanwhile, the apathy of the fans and media remains intact, with their ongoing stupidity and complete lack of understanding of recent events within both leagues.

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As the NBA Playoffs meanders towards its finale , it will be interesting to see how the league tries to placate the ongoing ire of the fans , as they seek to deal with Donald Sterling . The on-court contests have done little to silence the ongoing debates still taking place and the lack of real action having been taken by the league hierarchy under the leadership of newly installed commissioner , Adam Silver. As David Stern’s deputy for the last seven years , he too remained silent while the antics of Donald Sterling and Richard DeVos were well chronicled , but the ongoing idiocy remained with the league, as well as the downright apathy of the fans who sought to paint David Stern as the NBA’s savior . If nothing else, Stern ran with the ball up and down the court , simply painting a rosy picture of a league , that had underlying issues that he failed to deal with adequately and with any degree of real authority . That to my mind , shows the complete imbecilic incompetency of the NBA and the image that they have often sought to portray ! Your thoughts on this and more, simply chime in with a comment

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(1) Beleaguered NBA team owner Donald Sterling seen here in his first public interview on the CNN magazine program AC360 hosted by Anderson Cooper questioned the motives of his paramour V Stiviano , while also seeking to be critical of the NBA and former Los Angeles Lakers’ great Magic Johnson. Sterling remains somewhat delusional , believing his behavior was not racial intent and that he is misunderstood by the media and public alike . Yet for more telling were his comments about the former Lakers’ player and that of his being afflicted with the HIV AIDS’ virus and his contention that Magic Johnson has done little to aid the African-American community at large . Clearly , Sterling was unaware of Johnson’s philanthropic efforts over the last two decades and the fact that his companies employs over 25,000 individuals indirectly nationwide, many of whom are from minority backgrounds . Picture appears courtesy of CNN.com ……..

(2) Outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern, left, is seen here with his successor Adam Silver , who became the league’s highest ranking executive at the beginning of this past season , during which Silver has been asked to deal with a number of ongoing issues beyond the yet to be resolved drama surrounding Donald Sterling . AP Photo/ Chris Robinson …..

(3) George Hill (3), Lance Stephenson (1) , Paul George (24) and Roy Hibbert (55) of the Indiana Pacers watch from the bench in the fourth quarter of the 102-79 loss to the Washington Wizards in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Getty Images North America / Andy Lyons …

(4) (L) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat and (R) Mario Chalmers (15) of the Miami Heat react after the final whistle following their victory over the Brooklyn Nets in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 8, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The Heat would close out their series in Game five with an emphatic win over the Nets winning their conference semi-finals’ series 4-1 . Getty Images / Chris Trotman ….

(5) Tim Duncan , left of the San Antonio Spurs and LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trailblazers contest a rebound during a game in the Western Conference Semifinals between the two teams played at . San Antonio led the series 3-1 in the best of seven-game conference semi-finals series of games . The Spurs won conference semis decisively , beating the Trailblazers in game five and will now meet the victor of the series between the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder . Getty Images / Scott Palmer …………

(6) Kevin Durant (35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder is fouled by Blake Griffin (32) of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 13, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Getty Images North America / Ronald Martinez ……

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It’s not Rocket Science , so why turn it into something it is not ?

It’s not Rocket Science , so why turn it into something it is not ?

Was there really any doubt that the Houston Texans were not going to make Jadeveon Clowney to the number one pick in the 2014 NFL Draft ? The South Carolina Gamecocks’ linebacker was a consensus top pick among general managers , analysts , draft geeks and even those, who were not even intense football fans. It is pretty much safe to suggest, that had Texans’ GM Rick Smith chosen to forego the choice of Clowney , then there would have been a number of questions raised concerning the inner workings within the front office of the AFC South based NFL franchise. We all know what Clowney brings to the table as player, even where there have been questions concerning his maturity level.

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The first round of the Draft played out with a little drama, but the greatest surprise of the night might well have been the fact , highly praised Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had dropped to become the twenty-second pick of the first round , when he was taken by the offensively challenged Cleveland Browns , who were most definitely in need of dynamic passer and someone who could bring back fans to Paul Brown Stadium , in Cleveland , Ohio. Brandon Weeden’s short stay with the franchise was not a memorable one , with the quarterback rarely achieving anything of note during his two-year stay with the franchise. Whether or not Manziel can engineer something of a rebound will be completely dependent upon how quickly the player can acclimatize himself to the rigors of playing in the NFL . Head coach Mike Pettine is likely to use his rookie quarterback throughout much of the Browns’ preseason schedule and then into the regular season .

Johnny Manziel will also have to prove his doubters wrong , many of whom believe that the player because of his size, will not be an overall resounding success in the NFL . My take on it all, we will never know, until Manziel steps unto the turf and makes that first successful pass and his then being able move on from there. One game , is such a small step to take , but it could end up being the first of many , to the level of success that is likely to be achieved . Well, that will be dependent upon the player, his teammates and the coaching staff of the Cleveland Browns.

If the shock of Johnny Manziel not being taken as the first quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft was not enough of a surprise. Then Blake Bortles being the first passer announced, was stunning, given that , the UCF Golden Knights’ passer plays in a newly established conference where the play is still being assessed , are the teams that now make up the American Conference . Blake Bortles has been placed in the not too enviable position, being asked to succeed Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars and to lead that franchise to some semblance of success.

Gabbert’s tenure , as the starting quarterback, for that particularly moribund franchise, can be best described as being mediocre , if not downright incompetent. Yet for some reason, it was felt that he still offered the best opportunity possible for the Jaguars to win throughout much of last season . Jacksonville’s year-end record was enough to suggest that they are nowhere near where they needed to be and quite possibly team owner , Shahid Khan may well be overreaching and overly ambitious, in suggesting the team would be capable of winning a Superbowl title within five years of his taking ownership of the franchise . The owner now entering the third year of his tenure and I would to think, that Khan’s strategy and plans are now being revised.

Teddy Bridgewater was the second quarterback taken behind Blake Bortles and he too , will be asked to succeed another failing quarterback , in Christian Ponder , whose tenure with the Minnesota Vikings has been a unique failure , beyond the incompetency shown the successive general managers of the franchise and the very fact that Zygi Wilf’s efforts in recent years , have been strictly been about strong arming the state legislature in Minnesota to finance the building of a $ 1.4 billion venue for the franchise , further endangering the state’s precarious financial situation , where they now have a burgeoning deficit and a number of municipalities are having to choose to cut much-needed services within their communities or simply seek bankruptcy reorganization protection. This is now a situation that several cities around the country are now facing, as they are being asked by the hierarchies of the NBA , NHL , NFL and MLB to finance what those bodies claim are newly required venues , while the revenues and profits within football , baseball and basketball are now on the rise . In the case of hockey , Garry Bettman and his teams still find themselves behind the “black ball “ , as well as between a rock and a hard place .

Bridgewater may well be just what is needed for the Vikings and for the team’s long tenured running back , Adrian Peterson , a player of Teddy Bridgewater’s ability could be the make or break decision for the franchise’s most revered player over the past six seasons . It has long been rumored, that Peterson would have sought a trade, if the front office was unwilling to bolster the Vikings’ roster . The departure of Jared Allen may well have been seen as a prudent move, but I cannot help but feel that GM Rick Spielman still has not done enough to make the team in its current guise a legitimate contender within their own division, much less the rest of the NFC as well and the league , itself !

The Minnesota Vikings will open their regular season schedule with a game against the St Louis Rams at the Edwards Jones Dome Stadium in St Louis , Missouri . on the 7th September , 2014 . As what we ought to expect , could very well be determined by what we are likely to witness by the rookies on show that day, when these two teams face each other .

With the first two rounds of the NFL Draft now having passed, the remaining four rounds now become about , teams simply doubling up by way of players they now feel perhaps, may well meet a need , in terms of a third or fourth depth choice on their respective rosters.

Offensive players were said to be in abundance in this particular NFL Draft, by way of the running backs and wide receivers said to be in play. I have no doubt, that players such as Sammy Watkins , Mike Evans , Marquise Lee , Odell Beckham and Kelvin Benjamin will find their way onto the rosters of teams who are in need of very good receivers . The same can be said also , for the running backs seeking to make their mark in the NFL this upcoming season and whether or not they are capable of taking advantage of the situation that they are likely to be placed in. The first running back taken in this particular draft, the Ohio State Buckeyes’ rushing sensation Carlos Hyde , albeit, that there are those who believe that there were number of players at the position with far greater productivity than Hyde has shown over the course his career. Yet, clearly Jeff Fisher , the St Louis Rams’ front office and the Rams’ coaching staff saw something in the player that they believe will be to their advantage , as they set about their season in 2014 , with their preseason and regular season schedule . Hyde will no doubt, be given every opportunity to prove himself a worthy successor to many of the franchise’s great running backs in recent years , most notably the Rams’ all-time leading rusher, Steven Jackson . A tough act to follow indeed, but Jackson no longer part of the franchise, and their being little power to the franchise’s rushing game last season , something is needed to reignite the team and Carlos Hyde may well be the player, in this case.

Trent Baalke , general manager of the San Francisco 49ers , having seen the franchise’s failed attempts in recent years, to add a sixth Superbowl trophy to the Niners trophy cabinet and to bring some joy back to the faces of the fans. Well, the front office executive , is now seeking to stock his team roster, with an abundance of offensive players by engineering a number of trades without yet , delving deep into the NFL Draft. The additions of Brandon Lloyd and during this draft process, in obtaining Buffalo Bills’ receiver Stevie Johnson might on the face of it seem a debatable risk , but clearly, Baalke , team CEO Jed Yorke and head coach Jim Harbaugh believe the moves worth taking. San Francisco’s divisional rivals the Seattle Seahawks reached the pinnacle of NFL team success in winning their first Superbowl , by bulldozing the highly rated Denver Broncos and along the way making five-time League MVP and Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning seem like a rookie in his third Superbowl appearance , in what has been one of the great NFL careers of recent years within the league.

Baalke fully realizes, that the NFC West has now become by far the best division in the entire NFL , with the likes of the San Francisco 49ers , Seattle Seahawks , Arizona Cardinals and St Louis Rams now jockeying for divisional supremacy. Take into account also the caliber of the quarterbacks within the division and you can now understand why that claim is now justified beyond the overall play of the quartet of teams in question. .

Colin Kaepernick the Forty Niners’ starting quarterback has proven himself to be a worthy successor to Alex Smith , who himself, now appears to have made a name for himself with the Kansas City Chiefs . Kaepernick’s failings , if there are said to be any, may well be derived from the fact that he comes across as too brash and arrogant . Yet, he cannot be faulted for the team’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Superbowl XLII(SB47), a game that still remains clouded by the incompetency of the league and host site, the New Orleans Superdome , home to the New Orleans Saints . That debacle still has not been explained adequately by the league office , in spite of the post-game comments made , to the resounding success in the staging of the event . A showcase for the NFL’s biggest game of the season was something of a shambles, with the organizing committee fully aware of the ongoing problems concerning site’s electrical infrastructure and an hour-long interval, as repairs were made to the electrical power generator supplying power to the Superdome.

Over the past two seasons , the New England Patriots have proven themselves to be the class of the AFC East twice succeeding to defend their divisional title, but it has been their postseason forays in 2012 and 2013 , that have many questioning whether or not Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have lost their “magical touch” when it comes to the postseason. The window of opportunity for both to add a fourth Superbowl title to their respective resumes’ seem to be slowly closing , in spite of Brady’s ongoing zeal to seek perfection with each postseason game , and the performances thereof. The Patriots’ quarterback remains one of the most successful passers in postseason history, over the past fourteen years and his three Superbowl victories are unmatched by any of his peers currently playing.

Tom Brady has never been outspoken or demonstrative in making demands of the Patriots’ front office , having placed his trust in the coach , the coaching staff and GM Nick Caserio to do what is in the best interests of the franchise. This draft could very well be the one, where the organization chooses to load up on both sides of the ball , while also availing themselves of the best available free agents on the open market . Caserio has sought to be prudent, in terms of the cap room , in the buildup to the NFL Draft and once the contract negotiations begin for the rookies, you can be sure that he will drive a hard bargain with their respective agents , representing those clients.

Finally , all of the gloating and self-righteous hypocrisy of the NFL remains on show , with the league’s drafting of its first openly gay player. Michael Sam will become of a member of the St Louis Rams , having been drafted in the sixth round by the NFC West based franchise. Head coach Jeff Fisher in addressing the issue , has stipulated that he does not want the actions of organization of the Rams to be the sole focus of this season. Also, he has stated, Sam will be made available to the press to discuss his place on the team and not the social relevance about his sexuality and what this all means to the NFL . Yet , for all of this hyperbole, to the importance of the decision by the Rams , one simply hide the fact the league remains not only homophobic , but it has to be said there still remains a great deal of racism hidden and obviously open in the aftermath of the Richie Incognito “ affair” within the Miami Dolphins’ organization .

In the aftermath of his being drafted by the Rams , Michael Sam was given a congratulatory kiss by his partner of several years , when Vito Cammisano , kissed the player on live television, with countless millions watching nationally and millions more globally . Now, while there has been some public outrage, about the act, and the fact there may well have been children watching the NFL Draft. It begs the question, if children can witness hours of gratuitous violence, during prime-time hours on national or syndicated programming, never mind the fact they also witnessing acts of war where victim’s global conflicts are sometimes being shown. Then why now, of all the situations possible, is there such outrage to the act of Sam kissing his partner ? Political correctness or not , unless one can either be respectful one’s right to freedom of expression , but dare I say it, show an ounce of common decency , rather than allude to the fact that this country remains without an ounce of bigotry . Those espousing such beliefs simply have no goddamn idea in actuality , concerning what is happening in the real world , much less realizing that times have changed , be it for the better or the worse . Common decency and respect ought to overshadow , intolerance and bigotry . Obviously, there are fans of the NFL , who remain ignorant and bigoted , while trying to behind some falsehood created in their own psyche .

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Picture gallery.

Do you believe there were any major surprises, during this NFL Draft? Which teams in your opinion may well have pulled off a coup, in terms of the players drafted and likely to be seen as a legitimate contender for the Superbowl this upcoming season?

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Picture gallery and slideshow details below .
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(1) Jadeveon Clowney of the Houston Texans is seen here with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodel , after the defensive line was taken as the number one overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft by the Texans. Getty Images / Loyd Carr ….

(2) Jadeveon Clowney makes his arrival for the 2014 NFL Draft alongside his Mom, Joseanna , to the prelude for the night’s events . AP Photo/ Dinesh Patel ….

(3) Johnny Manziel , thought to be everyone’s consensus pick as the first quarterback taken in this draft , the player was taken as the twenty-second overall pick by the Cleveland Browns. Team GM Tom Heckert hopes that the Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner can show the type of form that made him one of the dynamic players at the collegiate level during his tenure with the Aggies . AP Photo / Tom Johnson ….

(4) Blake Bortles is seen here with Roger Goodell . The player was taken as the first quarterback in the draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars and is deemed the likely successor to Blaine Gabbert whose tenure with the franchise has been somewhat sporadic and uneven since being originally drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft by the AFC South based franchise. AP Photo/ Tom Johnson …….

(5) Teddy Bridgewater now of the Minnesota Vikings . The former Louisville Cardinals’ quarterback will be hoping to make a successful jump from the collegiate level to the NFL ranks for the Vikings’ organization. AP Photo / Phil Devlin …..

(6) Michael Sam is seen here in a congratulatory embrace, as he shares a kiss with his partner Vito Cammasino after the announcement was made that the SEC Defensive Player of the Year had been drafted in the sixth round by the St Louis Rams . Sam is the first active and openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL . As to whether or not this will be met with a “seal of approval” by ardent Rams throughout this season remains to be seen , but that first preseason home game , as well as regular season contest , should prove to be an indication , as to whether or not the fans will be supportive of Michael Sam. Already those within and outside the NFL have begun to voice their disapproval of the player’s embrace and the kissing of his partner on live television. Courtesy of ESPN @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …………

(7) Michael Sam is seen here addressing members of the convened press as takes questions concerning his thoughts on the upcoming NFL Draft. Sam was taken in the sixth round of the Draft by the St Louis Rams and hopes to be a productive member of the team as they embark upon their season in the NFL . AP Photo / John Pettite ….

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It’s not the journey itself, but the first step taken that tends to be the hardest

It’s not the journey itself , but the first step taken that tends to be the hardest …

By Tophatal ……

The first month of the baseball season is now in everyone’s rear view mirror and the divisional tables now, show the teams that are playing with a great deal of resolve . Biggest issue so far on the schedule season, has been the health of so many players already being down injured , with the Los Angeles Dodgers already seeing their starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw being on the team’s disabled list and the team being able to find a rhythm of consistency without having their high-priced starting pitcher and his arm. It is pretty much safe to say that the managerial staff of the team will not solely be reliant on Kershaw, but their entire pitching roster. The team has started off fast, right out of the gate , but now find themselves 2 ½ games behind the San Francisco Giants (21-12) and the Colorado Rockies (21-14) in the NL West . As competitive as the division is likely to be , I do believe that Don Mattingly will be under even more pressure this season, than he was in 2013 , when the team made the postseason only to falter in the NLCS in a lopsided series’ loss to the St Louis Cardinals . Managing partners Magic Johnson , Mark Walter and Peter Guber , along with team President Stan Kasten are likely to believe that baseball’s highest salaried team will be able to get over the hump this season and for the Los Angeles Dodgers to make their first World Series’ appearance in twenty-six years ,

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Slideshow .

Wednesday afternoon pits the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game , in the nation’s capital, when they face the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ballpark in Washington DC. One the mound for the visiting team, will be seasoned veteran Dan Haren as he faces off against Nationals’ starting ace Stephen Strasburg in a match-up of two of the National League’s top pitchers . Strasburg has been one of the reasons, why the NL East based team has been off to a pleasant start , with the expectations for franchise for this season, said to be high on all fronts. Clearly the disappointments of 2012, left something of bitter taste in the mouths of the fans, as well the organization in general, when a postseason berth , it was felt was clearly within their reach, if not the division itself.

For Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten it will be a homecoming of sorts as he was once a front office executive for the DC based franchise . While the Nationals have sought to bring some relevance back to DC by way of baseball, it must be said that their fortunes have also been tied to fate of the Washington Redskins in recent seasons. The NFL franchise has itself, seen something of a rise back to relevance , but their 2013 season, can be best described as a major disaster , with a lack of competitiveness of the team and the later firing of head coach Mike Shanahan and the front office not willing to extend the contract of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan .

The fact that the Redskins have since hired Jay Gruden to succeed Mike Shanahan , can either be seen as an act of desperation or one of genius , based on Gruden’s alleged success as a coordinator in the NFL , as his career is said to have flourished in that attempt. . This may well be the risk that Bruce Allen and team owner , Dan Snyder feels is relevant, if the Redskins are to succeed after the woes of last season, which saw a last place finish within the NFC East division.

As impressive a start to the season that the Milwaukee Brewers (22-13) have to their calendar , while leading the NL Central . There remains still the ongoing controversy of the team’s All Star slugger Ryan Braun and his return to the game after his league mandated suspension . Braun has slowly played himself back into the consciousness of the public at large, while still looked upon some circles as a pariah and a cheat. As the NL MVP , an award that many feel that Braun should have been stripped of, but the hypocrisy of the BBWAA still remains, along with the sheer gullibility of the MLB hierarchy under Bud Selig . Ryan Braun’s actions, in not only lying to the press and public alike , about his use of a banned substance, spoke to the fact that baseball’s testing protocols, the use of an independent laboratory and a failure of proper oversight , continues to the show that the claims of Bud Selig, that baseball has the sternest testing of all the four major professional team sports, does not pass the test. Though it is still early in the season , MLB is carefully watching the actions of the players , in the aftermath of Alex Rodriguez’s a year-long suspension and the now disgraced player’s actions in seeking to sue baseball’s hierarchy. The MLBPA under its new Executive Director Tony Clark , has done little to suggest that he and his members are acutely aware of their actions as it relates to the use of performance enhancing drugs .

The Milwaukee Brewers own ambitions for this season will be severely tested by their counterparts within the NL Central , perhaps with the exception of the Chicago Cubs , who continue to flounder , even with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer still clueless about what it will take to make the team actually competitive and a legitimate contender within their division much less the rest of the National League . Three years into his tenure and Epstein still has not assembled a managerial staff worth a damn , let alone an on the field product by the way of a team that plays attractive and entertaining baseball . A three-game losing streak and only victorious in four of their last ten games and it is hard to explain how anyone can suggest that the Cubs are in with a chance of being viewed as a viable candidate for the NL Pennant , something that they have not been a part of in several years. Eleven years on, from their infamous pennant series against the Florida Marlins , there are more than goats and idiot named Steve Bartman that have run amok at Wrigley Field , as team owner , Tom Ricketts and his family seem hell-bent on carrying on the tradition of seeing this once revered organization remain the laughing-stock of baseball.

As if to further emphasize the morass of the Chicago Cubs , they succumbed to their crosstown rivals the Chicago White Sox in a game played at US Cellular Field in Chicago , Illinois , on Wednesday afternoon . The two teams will meet again on Thursday with the same venue in play for that contest , which is likely to have the same result based on the evidence of Wednesday . On the mound for the Cubs, will be Jake Arrieta as he faces off against his opposing number Scott Carroll .

It takes a great deal for a baseball club to have three consecutive seasons of losing at least one hundred games . Yet somehow, the Houston Astros have managed to achieve that feat with effortless ease . Coming into 2014, not only were the Astros seeking to avoid further embarrassment., but team owner Jim Crane had begun what is likely to be an ugly legal fight with broadcast partner CSN Houston and the broadcaster’s decision to file for bankruptcy . Crane also names Drayton McClane , the former Astros’ owner in his lawsuit, claiming that the two , sought to hide the gravity of the ball-club’s dealings with the broadcaster and that the duo also, hid many of the financial obligations CSN had with McClane, that allowed the former franchise owner to profit to the tune of some $65 million , prior to the sale of the ball-club. CSN Houston’s parent company Comcast Inc , have stated that the intent will be to file for bankruptcy, because the outlet remains unprofitable, even though the cable outlet has the proprietary broadcast area rights for games of the Houston Rockets as well games for the Astros and several collegiate events.

From my own standpoint , I believe that Jim Crane simply salivated in wanting to own an MLB franchise and the lure of Bud Selig’s tempting offer of $125 million in paid expenses , for the franchise to move from the NL Central West at the end of the 2012 season to the highly competitive AL West was to good an offer to refuse. Due diligence, clearly was not used by Crane in his purchase of the Houston Astros and the team’s record since their move between the two divisions, seems to be just as disastrous as the sale now appears to be , beyond the franchise’s ongoing woes on the field of play .

Thirty-four games into the season and the Houston Astros are now projected to lose one hundred and eight games , winning only fifty-four on their one hundred sixty-two game regular season schedule. It has been that type of futility that the fans have now come to expect while in attendance at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas, along with a pared down team payroll and a proliferation of excuses from Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow . . It should come as no surprise that the Astros’ front office and managerial staff coaching staff continue to believe that the team remains competitive in spite of having a league low team payroll of $44.985 million and one of the worst records in all of baseball. The Astros’ 3-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan was simply another reminder why the baseball club remains a blight on the game and why there has to be a consensus among the owners , union and league hierarchy , that there either has to be a hard salary cap or contraction within the game leading to perhaps the subtraction of at least four teams .

There may well be opponents for contraction within baseball , but with teams such as the Houston Astros , Chicago Cubs , Kansas City Royals , Miami Marlins and of late the Minnesota Twins continuing to be uncompetitive . A decision will have to be made, to the direction that Major League Baseball should take , by using a number of determining factors based on support , a team’s viability without being aided by the luxury tax and finally their competitiveness . League revenues may well be increasing , with much of that coming from the renewing of television contracts , whereby the broadcasters are being asked to pay more for what on the face of it, appears to be a deteriorating on the field product.

If this is the year that the Tampa Bay Rays are to take advantage of what is said to be a weak AL East division, which I do not believe it to be ! Then this would be the season, in which Joe Maddon and his team ought to be taking advantage of their inhabitants within the division . Instead, the Rays find themselves rooted at the bottom of the AL East looking up at the Toronto Blue Jays , Boston Red Sox , New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles , who currently lead the division . Maddon’s team, based on their pitching rotation , is said to be the best in the Majors , though that is clearly not the case now .

The Rays were on the wrong side of a 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida , where Buck Showalter’s players showed why they are leading the AL East . It is games such as this , that Tampa do need to win , if they are to be considered legitimate contenders for the AL Pennant as well as the World Series , a title that the franchise has yet win, but made their sole appearance in baseball’s postseason showcase finale against the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2008 World Series , which resulted in a 4-1 series’ loss . The two combatants will meet again today, with David Price taking the mound for the Rays against the Orioles’ Ubaldo Jiminez . Thursday’s contest should tell us a great deal about both teams , as well as how they are likely to fare over the course of the season.

In the aftermath of the fallout that has taken place within the NBA concerning that particular league’s action in dealing with Los Angeles Clippers’ owner , Donald Sterling with his being banished and fined $2.5 million for his inflammatory racial remarks , which were delivered in private between Sterling and number of acquaintances . It has now become an issue, where the other major professional teams sports will now have to take a deep dark look at how they themselves, deal with the issue of race , and that of their owners’ behavior around and away from their respective sports. Bud Selig, before had to deal with the antics of Marge Schott , the former owner of Cincinnati Reds and her racially insensitive remarks. In truth , Selig, like Adam Silver , was slow to act , given the prior bad acts of Donald Sterling , and the issue of race , in spite of the recent idiocy of the NAACP in wanting to give Donald Sterling their highest civic honor , a Lifetime Achievement Award .

Donald Sterling was well-known to have the views now shown to the public, by the airing of his comments, as they went viral over the internet , and the later interview granted by his girlfriend , V Stiviano . I do believe, that Sterling’s views are his alone and any punishment meted out will not stifle the issue of racism or bigotry and their growing elements within the sports’ environment ! While Donald Sterling’s views, are likely to be shared by a number of his counterparts, within the NBA , NFL and NHL. Yet, they have simply chosen to keep those comments and views to themselves, rather than their being aired in public. Better to be prudent , than making a complete ass of yourself, while tarnishing not only the image of the franchise you own , but also the brand and the image of the NBA. Something that the newly installed commissioner is not going to tolerate, having assumed his position and thereby looking to stamp his own authority on the sport he is likely to preside over for the next decade or more.

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Picture gallery.

Through the first month of the baseball season, what do you feel has been the biggest surprise overall ? Also, do you believe that baseball’s hierarchy, is likely to keep a careful watch on the behavior of their teams owners, in light of the fallout witnessed in the NBA ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Washington Nationals Adam LaRoche connects for a two-run single against Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Dan Haren during the first inning of a baseball game , Wednesday, May 7, 2014 in Washington. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais …

(2) Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throw against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 7, 2014 in Washington. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais …..

(3) Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun , presently present on the team’s DL , but hoping to make a quick return to contribute to the Milwaukee Brewers’ efforts this season . AP Photo / Matt Hamlin …..

(4) Chicago Cubs’ Head of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is seen here with team GM Jed Hoyer , with the newly installed executive given charge to rebuild the organization, under the auspices of his superior, Epstein. It has been some considerable time since the Cubs made a postseason appearance and the organization’s record has been abysmal since that last foray . Getty Images / Phil Carson …

(5) Houston Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow is seeking to resurrect the fortunes of the franchise that has fallen on hard times over the past eight years, but a great deal of the ball-club’s recent misfortunes does appear from the continuing indecision of team owner Jim Crane in raising and then paring down the team’s payroll while seeking to make the organization financially viable . AP Photo / Paula Warren

(6) Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (31) delivers to Tampa Bay Rays’ Matt Joyce during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 8, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tampa would go on to lose the game 3-1 suffering their third straight loss, all to their divisional rivals the Orioles . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….

(7) Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria (3) lines an RBI single off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 8, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Rays’ Desmond Jennings scored on the hit. Catching of the Orioles is Caleb Joseph. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….

(8) Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig poses with the winners of the Hank Aaron Awards , (best overall offensive performer of 2004), Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants and Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox, before Game 4 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals on October 27, 2004. In the aftermath of the Donald Sterling affair within the NBA , the commissioner may well now take it upon himself to discuss with team owners , concerning their conduct and their issuing of statements with regard to their personal views , when in a public setting, where it directly involves the game and its image . AP Photo / Jason Black ……

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With the NFL Draft merely around the corner , continued speculation is mounting , which player is likely to be taken number one overall. The Houston Texans have the privilege of taking that first pick, but with GM Rick Smith recently making the comment that he would be interested in giving up that first choice to trade down , to get a substantially more picks , because of more value lower down , within the first round. While the boldness of that statement is somewhat brash , you cannot deny that the Texans are taking an immense risk, in making such a decision of moving down in the draft, with the general consensus, being that there are several good players to be taken in the first round among the top-ten likely picks. If the 2012 NFL Draft, was anything to by , then Smith could very well be unto something.

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The fact of the matter was , in richness alone, the picks of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson panned out a great deal more than anyone could have expected , with regard to those particular choices, and for their respective teams. I am not about to suggest that this year’s crop of players will not live up to the expectations, but if anything , there has been more hyperbole over the likes of Johnny Manziel , Jadeveon Clowney , Blake Bortles , Teddy Bridgewater , A J McCarron and Sammy Watkins without anyone being absolutely sure, that these players can take the next step necessary in becoming accomplished players in the NFL. This NFL Draft is likely to produce a number of surprises from the standpoint, that the general managers , while making a number bold announcement statements, simply have no real idea , how things are likely to pan out, until the first five or six picks are made , as part of this whole draft process.

The NFL preseason kicks off the 2014 schedule , but those first four weeks of exhibition games , will grant the fans, of seeing some old and new faces by way of the free agents who have found new homes and the rookies looking to make a name for themselves , while forcing their way onto unto their teams’ roster. The New York Giants and Buffalo Bills will have the privilege of unveiling the 2014 season with the Hall of Fame game, which will be played at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park , New York on the 3rd August , 2014 . The death of Bills’ owner Ralph Wilson has led to the speculation that the family will now seek to several all ties with the franchise that Wilson has owned since the franchise’s start. It should be noted, that up until his death, Ralph Wilson was one of the longest tenured owners in the NFL’s history , as well as being one of its most respected voices. Now with the realization, that he will no longer be there , fans and analysts alike , will be looking to a new face to represent this franchise. Among interested parties, now wishing to own the franchise, it has been reported that real estate billionaire and television personality Donald Trump has made it clear , that he is indeed serious about buying the franchise and is willing to pay a substantial sum for the privilege of owning an NFL team. Second time around for the billionaire , after his brief and well chronicled career as an owner in the USFL .

Trump almost single-handed brought about the all too quick demise of that fledgling organization, with his all too bold and ambitious ideas , at a time when the NFL , was struggling to stay afloat. But for his impudence, all too bloated ego and wanting to challenge the league head on , the billionaire brought about the self-destruction of the USFL , with it having to declare bankruptcy. In the aftermath of it all, Trump still believes himself and his fellow owners to be the victors in a battle, that they never really stood a chance of winning , simply because the NFL was better organized and more business-like in their operations, because , the USFL would rather put on a show , with the level of football being played, not being on par with their adversary of the day.

If Donald Trump is granted ownership of the Buffalo Bills, having made a successful purchase of the franchise , it will be interesting to see what changes if any, are likely to be made. He has always, been known to be his own man, making the decisions that are not always said to be in the best interests of the parties involved. Yet, a shakeup is certainly needed within a Bills’ organization, that has not a postseason appearance in the NFL since 1999. Hard to believe, that it has been over twelve years, since that the franchise last tasted a postseason victory, let alone an appearance. Such have been the lean times for this organization , with a turnover in the coaching staff , that would have you believe that there was a turnstile in the head coach’s office.

Current Bills’ head coach Doug Marrone and his coaching staff coming off a 6-10 season, that found the team at the bottom of the AFC East division and will face a daunting task in 2014, with first having to step through the minefield known as the NFL Draft and then having to acclimatize himself with what is likely to be a newly revamped roster of veterans , rookies and holdovers from last year. With that in mind, his first duty will be to get players from this draft, while seeking use the time available during the preseason to be better acquainted with all of his players and to assess their value overall. It is by no mean an enviable task for the head coach or GM Doug Whaley , as they undertake, to right, what has been a rudderless vessel, over the past ten years. The disappointment of last year obviously did not sit well with the Bills’ fans or the team in general , but there now seems to be a sense of urgency within the organization , knowing that for many, with the advent of a change in ownership , things could very well be radically shaken up. However, before one can speculate , we have to deal with the reality of the here and now and that is , the team in its current guise, will have to be far more competitive than it was last season, on all fronts .

If the Buffalo Bills were said to have issues last season , then it had more to do with the fact, the team never found a consistent rhythm, all season long. For quarterback EJ Manuel , one hopes to see bigger strides made over the course of the season and certainly a great deal more efficiency and a cut-down in the number of fumbles and interceptions. The offense itself will be led by C J Spiller and Fred Jackson , will be bolstered by the addition of a rookie wide receiver if the rumored reports are anything to go by in terms of Doug Whaley’s immediate draft needs for the team. It is my own belief that , Whaley , the front office and coaching staff will approach this NFL Draft prudently, taking the best player available at the positions needed to make the Bills a more all-round competitive unit .

While one should not, place any emphasis, on the preseason , for some coaches, it does act as something of a guide , to the preparedness of their team for an arduous sixteen-game regular season schedule. It will be no different for the Buffalo Bills and their regular season schedule , where their encounters against divisional rivals, the Miami Dolphins , New England Patriots and New York Jets , whom they will meet twice over the course of their season, will tell undoubtedly tell us a great deal concerning the makeup of the team , as well as their encounters within the conference and out of conference games. . Buffalo will open up their week one schedule playing the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago , Illinois , on the 7th September ,2014. That contest against Jay Cutler and his teammates should prove to be interesting , as Bears’ head coach Marc Trestman , looks to have his team ready to make an all-out assault on winning the NFC North . A task last achieved in 2010, when they won the division and went to the postseason that year , where their failure was truly exposed in exposed in the NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers , a contest where we found out also , that Jay Cutler has no real taste for adversity or losing , never mind his complete lack of leadership skills , but he is the highest paid player in the NFL , by way of his contract .

While I believe Jay Cutler to be a moderate NFL quarterback , I do not consider him to be among the elite players within the league playing the position. Furthermore, in light of his postseason woes in 2010 , it simply showed a great deal more than anyone would have believed that quarterback was capable of , in terms of his lack of leadership and his unwillingness to accept that he played a major part in Bears’ loss to the Packers in that conference title game.

The Cleveland Browns and the Brandon Weeden ” era” with that franchise, quickly came to abrupt end , without the player or organization gaining anything tangible out the now ridiculous exercise. The fact of the matter was , Weeden was at the stage of his career, where his being drafted and then expecting to become a starting quarterback in the NFL , and still be treated as rookie, was as ridiculous a premise and that he was said to be a once promising player in the New York Yankees’ farm system . If he was unable to make it in baseball , it sure as hell, would not be as great a stretch to believe that the daunting task faced in the NFL would end up being a complete failure. Yet, there were those espousing the fact, as a starting quarterback in the league at the age of twenty-nine , would indeed find his niche and be an outright success . Weeden possessed, none of the traits, one would expect of a player coming into league at this late a stage , where bringing astute play ability would lead to success for the Cleveland Browns . Yet, somehow that was the belief of GM Tom Heckert and the team’s irascible owner Jimmy Haslam , who gambled and lost , when they drafted the quarterback in 2012. Weeden, now finds himself on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster , somewhere between a rock and a hard place in terms of determining his slot on the team’s depth chart for the position as a backup to staring incumbent , Tony Romo , whose playing days are almost certainly coming close to an end, given the recent events and his coming off a serious back surgery procedure. One more year of the rigors of the NFL schedule , is likely to curtail his career with the Cowboys, the only team he has ever played for the in the league.

With Brandon Weeden’s departure, the Cleveland Browns have somehow seen fit to give former Tennessee Titans starting quarterback Vince Young another chance to reignite his career in the NFL . Young , whose journey in the league, has been well chronicled made the preseason roster of the Green Bay Packers in 2013, only to be let go by GM Ted Thompson , who would then publicly apologize for what he now says was a major blunder on their part , in releasing Young after he showed a great deal of poise during the preseason . Some you win , some you lose and one might suggest, that given the Packers’ displays last season , the fact, that they failed so miserably . It would be easy to suggest, that Young could have perhaps brought a little more diversity to the team’s offense last year . Then again, if the Packers are said to be having little faith in Aaron Rodgers , hell must be freezing over or Rodgers , simply was not that good for much of the season for Green Bay. Care, to take a shot at answering that question, as it relates to the Superbowl winning quarterback ?

I believe that the Green Bay Packers will be one of the contending favorites within the NFC this season for the Superbowl , with the all likelihood of the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers being well-placed to now renew what has become one of the rivalries in the NFL of recent years .

For Vince Young, this may well be the last chance for the player to resurrect the last remnants of a career , that has failed to live up to the hype, after giving one of the most riveting performances ever seen in BCS national championship game. As a member of the Texas Longhorns’ team that beat the ” highly favored ” USC Trojans led by Pete Carroll and where Reggie Bush was simply seeking to add to what we would soon find out was a tarnished collegiate career , suborned by a great deal of deceit and lies , of which many believe that Carroll was not only a known participant , but may well have suborned much of the deceit, that took place on the campus , with then AD Mike Garrett , turning a blind eye to it all .

It is quite possible that Vince Young will see some playing time, during the preseason with the Cleveland Browns , to the likelihood of his making the team and the very fact, there still remains doubts concerning his maturity level at this stage of his career. The chances of the veteran being on board for the Browns’ opening regular season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers , could either prove to be a boon or a blessing for the still beleaguered quarterback. The financial outlay being made by the Browns, is not one that will join a great deal of dismay among fans of the NFL or analysts themselves, however , if Young , should prove to be an outright success , then you can bet that a number of the on air personalities will be looking to take some credit, by suggesting that they still believed that Vince Young still had the potential be a success in the NFL .

Quarterbacks are now deemed, the essential piece to any team, just like the centerpiece to a jigsaw puzzle is deemed to be the most important piece of a puzzle. Yet, without that vital cog, a team cannot do to the best of its ability or the puzzle will not be seen as a finished piece of work. In many ways, one could suggest that was the difference in some ways in the play of Russell Wilson and the elder veteran five-time League MVP quarterback Peyton Manning in last season’s Superbowl and the emphatic victory of the Seattle Seahawks over the now bewildered Denver Broncos. Any doubt, as to the clinical decisiveness of that win , can be determined by the result , 48-3 , in favor of the Seattle Seahawks. I would dare say, that if Peyton Manning had it to do all over again, that would not be the way that he would like to have seen another career-defining moment come to a crashing end against second-year quarterback, with barely any postseason experience outplay the more seasoned veterans and future Hall of Fame inductee in the NFL’s biggest showcase finale. In 2014 , may well be the last chance for Manning to make his way back to another playoff appearance and most certainly the chance for the Broncos to win their third Superbowl title , having made five postseason forays , with two title wins to the franchise’s, both when current team Head of Operations and its most famous player John Elway led the Denver Broncos to those memorable triumphs. Elway , himself , must be hoping that the present incumbent at the position can lead the franchise to another Superbowl appearance , but this time with a different outcome.

At this stage of his career, I truly believe that time might not now be on Peyton Manning’s side ! The chance to win was most certainly last season , when the team had the rest of the league at its mercy , unfortunately , for the Broncos the Hollywood script writers did not forward a copy of the script with the preordained ending, suggesting that the AFC West based franchise would be victorious. Instead, the Seattle Seahawks came in with their own rewrite and blew the dreams of the Broncos and their fans into smithereens u. The Broncos’ schedule affords them a chance of making the postseason , but I believe that even with the changes made to the team’s roster in comparison to last season , their chance of that repeat appearance does seem slim , but to discount Peyton Manning would be a dangerous thing to do, given the player’s eagerness to prove his detractors wrong. Something, that he has been able to do over the course of his famed career .

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What thoughts, if any, do you have concerning the points raised within this article and how do you see the events of the NFL Draft playing out given the needs of a number of teams around the league this upcoming season ? Comments on this topic are more than welcomed and thanks as always for your continued support of this site and the insightful comments therein.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Houston Texans’ owner Robert ‘Bob’ McNair ,left, is seen here alongside team general manager Rick Smith , as they walk the sidelines at Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas , home to the AFC South domiciled NFL franchise . Smith suggests , that the franchise is amenable to trading down and forgoing the # 1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft . The speculation has begun and though it seems unlikely , the feeling remains , that the general manager , if the right offer is made , would actually trade down and give up the number one overall pick . AP Photo / Gary Hughes …

(2) From left to right , Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson . All three players were part of the 2012 NFL Draft , of which the trio led their respective teams into the postseason in their first try as well-being productive in their rookie season . The Seahawks’ quarterback is the first player of the 2012 quarterbacks class to have led his team to a Superbowl appearance , with Seattle’s 48-3 trouncing of the Denver Broncos being one of the biggest highlights of the NFL season in 2012 . Getty Images / Philip Raoux …..

(3) The late Ralph Wilson , former owner of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. Wilson’s family is now said to be willing to divest themselves of the ownership of the franchise , which has been in their tenure since the franchise’s start . Billionaire real estate tycoon and television personality Donald Trump is said to be showing a keen interest in buying the NFL franchise. No timetable has yet been set for the proposed sale , it is believed , Trump is willing to pay in excess of $1 billion for the privilege to own the NFL team. A far cry from his experiences in the defunct USFL , during which he was an owner of one of the franchises in that particular league . Getty Images North America / Steve Davis ……

(4) The often controversial and self publicizing billionaire Donald Trump , who is said to be keen to succeed the late Ralph Wilson as the new owner of the Buffalo Bills. There are said to be several interested partners willing to buy the team from Wilson’s family , with the obvious league hierarchy approval being the final obstacle to either deter or approve such a deal . AP Photo / Chris Howard …..

(5) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) great each other after their NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys won 23-20 in overtime. Formerly adversaries , the two will become teammates in 2014 , with Weeden being the backup to the Cowboys’ starting quarterback . AP Photo/Sharon Ellman ……

(6) Vince Young (10) of the Cleveland Browns is seen here during a mini-camp session , where the veteran will be seeking to impress the Browns’ coaching staff and head coach Mike Pettine with his understanding of the offense while seeking to be part of the team’s lineup for the upcoming NFL season . AP Photo / Matt Archer …..

(7) Denver Broncos’ owner , Pat Bowlen , Peyton Manning and the team’s Head of Football Operations John Elway , himself a former player and Superbowl winning quarterback with the franchise. This season the Broncos’ front office will be hoping that Manning can lead the team back to the postseason and make an attempt winning the Superbowl. Something not achieved by the franchise since the 1998 NFL season , where they won Superbowl XXXIII (SB33) defeating the Atlanta Falcons in a lopsided victory 34-19 . AP Photo / Mike Mitchell ………….

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You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink , but you can make it take dump all over the place and still try come up smelling of roses …….

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink , but you can make it take dump all over the place and still try come up smelling of roses …….

Once you get beyond the hypocrisy of the biggest news’ story out now , one begins to realize how asinine not only the media tends to be but also, the fans in general. While, NBA Commissioner , Adam Silver is to be commended on his stance in the lifetime ban given to Los Angeles’ Clippers’ team owner , Donald Sterling . The question remains, if Silver can prove to be that decisive in making his decision , then why was David Stern during his tenure as the NBA Commissioner, that decisive , when prior bad acts by the now disgraced owner , were well chronicled and known to various media outlets as well as to the NBA hierarchy ? It has been this sort of hypocrisy, that has epitomized his tenure as the highest ranking executive and has become synonymous with a league , that no longer has any credibility.

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With that in mind, it should also be noted , that Silver himself, is not without blame , as he has served as Stern’s deputy for several years, before his elevation to his current position as the NBA Commissioner. As to the now public statements, forthcoming from the likes of Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban and Orlando Magic Chairman Dan DeVos , throwing their weight of support behind Silver’s position of the banishment of the besieged , beleaguered and now disgraced owner. Once has to ask, where were their voices of outrage and disapproval concerning Donald Sterling’s prior bad acts of racial bigotry, beyond his documented legal woes with the US Justice Department ?

With Donald Sterling’s lifetime banishment, what now becomes the bone of contention, is what will be the next step, that can be taken by the league hierarchy, if as suggested , the Board of Governors , made up of the league’s thirty-two team owners , are seeking Sterling to relinquish control of the franchise he has owned for the past thirty-two years. Having bout the team in 1981 ,for a mere $12 million , he has seen the Clippers’ value appreciate, where its estimated value is in excess of $500 to $650 million , based on current market value . It is likely hard to the hierarchy to force the issue of the team being sold , even if the league manages to garner twenty-five of thirty voted needed to force such a sale. In all likelihood, Donald Sterling may well seek to stymie the process by proceeding to challenge the legality of the league’s maneuver by seeking a legal recourse within the US Federal Court and the justice system . Other than that, Adam Silver’s alternatives are , for the NBA to take full control , purchasing the Los Angeles Clippers and with the league having full control in the day-to-day running of the Western Conference based franchise.

It is my belief, that Silver, will seek out and vet, what he deems, are suitable suitors interested in buying the now controversy ravaged Los Angeles Clippers. Currently , there are known to be two interested parties, movie and music mogul David Geffen of SKG , the movie studio headed up and owned by Steven Spielberg , Jeffrey Katzenberg and Geffen, himself. Another suitor, is said to be, Los Angeles’ based real estate tycoon and billionaire developer , Rick Caruso . Rumored interest from former NBA player Magic Johnson would run counter-culture, given Johnson’s, long-established relationship with the Los Angeles Lakers , where he played his entire career. Yet, in light of his recent criticism of the organization, its lack of direction and the very fact that, GM Mitch Kupchak and principal owner , Jim Buss , are seemingly now at a loss to explain the direction that the franchise is now said to be heading in. I do not believe that Johnson or his partners with the Los Angeles Dodgers , are likely to show any interest, in owning the Clippers !

The Washington Wizards’ clinical dissemination of the Chicago Bulls , in a rather lopsided 4-1 series’ defeat , has the Eastern Conference fifth seed , making their first appearance in the conference semi-finals. Leading the way for the Wizards, was their back-court headed up by Bradley Beal and John Wall , who a duo , simply played their way in the Wizards’ folklore, with their postseason displays for the team , throughout the series. Chicago’s 75-69 home-court loss at the United Center , in Chicago , Illinois, might well have been the most disappointing low-light of the Bulls’ regular and postseason foray. For head coach Tom Thibodeau , what might be deemed a gallant effort during the regular season , now represents absolutely nothing for the franchise, after so much promise was shown during the latter part of the season and the team’s improbable run to the postseason. Now the tough questions , will have to be asked of the Chicago Bulls’ front office . and the desired direction that Gar Forman and Head of Basketball Operations , John Paxson will take the franchise.

It is widely believed, that Paxson will make an all-out assault , in acquiring highly prized free agent Carmelo Anthony , who has yet to make a concrete decision concerning his own future and whether or not , it lies in remaining with the New York Knicks or pursuing his future elsewhere. Chicago will likely amnesty and relieve themselves of the contract of veteran power forward Carlos Boozer , to make that whole scenario a reality and therein signing Anthony to a long-term lucrative contract at a later date . All signs, seems to point to the fact that, the New York Knicks’ forward would be willing to take less money , to play for a legitimate title contender , which now , the Knicks are not , with their situation being a current mess , in which Phil Jackson , will now have to engineer through the debris created by the financial morass of the contracts assigned to under-performing players now on the New Knicks’ roster . Jackson, will have to use all of his persuasive abilities to convince Carmelo Anthony, that he is able to rebuild the Knicks’ roster around his now disgruntled superstar. I am of the opinion, that the New York Knicks are not only a mess , but the clear lack of due diligence by James Dolan , has led the franchise, into what has become an almost irretrievable situation. At best , this franchise, is at least, two or three years away, from being a legitimate title contender for the NBA championship .

If there is one thing to be said about this NBA postseason , it has been one that has been full of surprises beyond the drama provided by the idiotic antics of Donald Sterling and clear actions of the league hierarchy , as they have sought to absolves themselves any responsibility from reprehensible and absolutely downright boorish behavior of the disgraced NBA owner. Inasmuch , as there has been praised heaped upon the shoulders of Adam Silver , one has to wonder why there has been no real criticism of his predecessor , David Stern ? No one but Stern, is likely to answer that particular question , but considering the ego of that particular executive , I think in all likelihood , he would rather shy away from being broached on the matter !

We are now a month n the MLB regular season schedule and it would seem, that for the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins , theirs is a season , that already seems to be mired in complete mediocrity . Far be it for me to suggest, but with the Astros already firmly rooted at the bottom of the AL West, the likelihood of the team being able to lift themselves to challenge for the divisional title and to challenge the Oakland Athletics , would seem as likely as Bud Selig , now having a “second wind” and deciding, that now would be right time for the reinstatement of Pete Rose , with his made eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Rose is unlikely to be inducted at this juncture , unless the Veterans’ Committee decided to show some altruism and allow the , all-time hits’ leader entrance into that bastion of baseball greatness . As to the prevailing fortunes of the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins, all that one would need to understand , is that this season , Bo Porter and his team are seeking to avoid a fourth consecutive season of bearing one hundred losses .

In the case of the NL East based Marlins , team owner , Jeffrey Loria continues to pull the wool over the eyes of the city of Miami , the fans , while being allowed to do so by the MLB Commissioner , who has allowed the Marlins’ owner to continue his web of deceit and lies with reckless abandonment , without their being any questions being raised, in criticism of Loria’s actions or that of the league hierarchy’s office, itself

The Houston Astros, coming off a 4-3 loss to the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas, where on the mound , the losing pitcher for the home team was Josh Fields (0-3) , leads me to firmly believe that this organization will be in for a long and arduous season ! As gritty and determined, as the Astros might have appeared in this contest, it was clear that the Nationals simply had the upper hand , all along . The two teams will meet again at the same venue, where Jordan Zimmerman (1-1) will take the mound for the Nationals against Brett Oberholtzer (0-4) , in what should prove to be an intriguing contest on Wednesday afternoon , in a slew of games scheduled for the day.

Mike Redmond was thrown into the lions’ den, when he was asked to succeed Ozzie Guillen as the Marlins’ manager and then asked to get this team playing with a great deal of resolve. Guillen’s antics asides, it has been the lack of foresight shown by the front office , that has led to numerous problems for the South Florida based franchise, that has been barely supported as a baseball-club, since the opening of Marlins’ Ballpark in 2012 . Suffice to say, lack of support, woefully inept performances , with the exception being, the continued maturity being shown in the play of Giancarlo Stanton and 2013 Rookie of the Year, pitcher Jose Fernandez . It pretty much safe to suggest , that the team’s failure this season , will actually lead to the gutting of this roster by GM Michael Hill as another face saving exercise by this inept front office , while Jeffery Loria’s incompetency as an owner and his lack of business acumen continues to shine through. Miami’s 9-0 win over the Atlanta Braves , was the team’s best victory of what has been a somewhat desolate first month of the season for the team. Their record of 12-14 bears this out, as has their standing in the NL East and baseball overall. As I alluded to earlier, failure for the Miami Marlins and the rebuilding process starts all over again.

Wednesday afternoon , the Braves will meet the Miami Marlins, at Marlins’ Ballpark , with Aaron Harang taking the mound against Nathan Eovaldi of the Marlins , in what should be viewed as a great pitching contest. Harang, will be looking to prove that his start to the season for the Braves , is no flash in the pan , with the pitcher more than justifying his worth beyond his salary . There is no doubt, that if the Atlanta Braves are to be truly successful this season, then it will be must the offense led by siblings BJ Upton , his younger brother Justin Upton to be consistent over the course of the year, with Dan Uggla , Evan Gattis , Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman playing their part to go alongside a pitching roster that has greatly improved with the signing of right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana , with what he has brought to the table with his experience. It has been the Braves’ pitching along with an NL low team ERA that has the Braves’ weathering the storm, while leading the NL East with the division’s best record.

The introduction of Robinson Cano as the spark , that was seen to be able to ignite the long dormant Seattle Mariners , may well take some time before the fans come to appreciate the former New York Yankees’ star. Years of being on the outside looking in, still has not changed the rigors of not having made a postseason appearance in several years , last dating back to the 2001 postseason and the ALCS of that year. Since those heady days , it has simply been downhill all the way for the franchise and that is in spite of the years of Kenny Griffey Jr , Alex Rodriguez , Randy Johnson and Ichiro Suzuki , all likely Hall of Fame players at some point in the future, albeit , that there will be many who question the right of Rodriguez to included , let alone, his name being mentioned on the venerable list of Hall of Fame inductees .

Cano will be under a great deal of pressure this season to prove the financial commitment made to him by the Seattle Mariners. The player’s departure from the New York Yankees was not taken all that lightly with the fans of the venerable ball-club, when he sought to be overly critical of the organization , stating that he felt disrespected that they were not ready to offer him a long-term deal. Robinson Cano’s agent , rapper and entrepreneur , Jay-z of RocNation Sports , the fledgling sports and artist and entertainment conglomerate co-founded by the artist , was originally quick to suggest that his client deserved a contract that would make him among the highest paid players in baseball , along with deal, he felt was worthy of Cano’s stature. I am not so sure that either Brian Cashman or Hal Steinbrenner would have felt entirely comfortable with an eight or ten-year deal that would make a financial obligation of $300 million to the former Yankees’ player. Given the New York Yankees’ current commitment and the fact that several of their players are now among the highest paid in the game of baseball and Hal Steinbrenner’s wish to pare down team payroll to avoid paying the luxury tax. It has to be said, that the right decision was made by the front office to allow Cano to become free agent during the off-season. Ten years , $240 million and the long-term commitment by the Seattle Mariners now seems to have made both Robinson Cano and his agent extremely happy with the final outcome .

Seattle’s 6-3 victory over the New York Yankees on Tuesday, at Yankees Stadium , in New York City, New York, was Robinson Cano’s first visit back to New York to face his former team. It is pretty much safe to say, that he was not welcomed with open arms like a prodigal son by the Yankees’ fans. . A great deal of faith has been placed in Robinson Cano by the front office and specifically the Mariners’ Board of Directors , who believe that the player is the man needed, to take the team deep into postseason. I would hazard a guess, that a great deal more than Cano’s exploits will be needed, if the Mariners are to make their first postseason appearance since 2001.

With the month April , having seen the teams go through their schedule , from here-on in , through May and June , were are likely to see the ball-clubs find some type of consistency to their game . If anything, it will not be until late August, before we are likely to see, the real “pretenders” and likely contenders are said to be, as they seek to be viewed as contenders for the World Series. Is it possible that we could see a repeat champion this season ? Well dependent upon the mindset of the Boston Red Sox and John Farrell’s players, it could make for an interesting year within the game.

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Off the diamond , in light of the drama now unfolding within the NBA and the revelations about Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers and what appears to be the selective behavior of the league hierarchy concerning statements attributed to Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos , it will be interesting to see how Bud Selig and his office will seek to address any misgivings that he too , might have about a number of the team owners and their own behavior , as it relates their perceived beliefs and how they are addressed publicly. It is pretty much safe to say , with baseball having shot itself repeatedly in the foot over the past decade , another “black eye” because of an owner’s stupidity would be the last thing that the commissioner would like to deal with at this juncture , given his poor communicative skills and having to repeatedly try to clean up the game’s image , which given his pass record, has been an abysmal failure ! Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to this topic, as you see fit.

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(1) Donald Sterling , the now besieged and beleaguered owner of the Los Angeles Clippers has been banished by the NBA hierarchy from having any association with the franchise that he has owned since 1981. Beyond the lifetime ban , Sterling was fined $2.5 million , a small price to pay for the billionaire , with an estimated wealth of $2 billion. Asides, from his now well publicized racial taunts , the owner is facing a backlash from a number of his peers , the team’s corporate sponsors , as well as from some high profiled current and former NBA players . Somewhat hypocritical , when one considers the repeated utterances from a fellow franchise owner in , Rich DeVos of the Orlando Magic , whose homophobic statements, are now once again coming to light , and with nothing mentioned by Adam Silver or from his predecessor David Stern and their inaction concerning DeVos . AP Photo / Keith Thomas …..

(2) Former Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard talks with Magic owner Rich DeVos during the NBA All-Star Game at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, Sunday, February 26, 2012. DeVos has been recently cited as another NBA owner who should be targeted for disciplinary by the NBA for what is said to be some very unsavory comments made about the gay and lesbian community. Somehow , even after those statements came to light the league hierarchy saw fit to let the Orlando Magic owner’s comments go unchallenged or with any type of public statement coming from the NBA head office. In other words , David Stern , felt it only necessary to step into the fray , if tat the end of the day he could come be seen in some positive light , Devos’ comments clearly angered the gay and lesbian community but the former commissioner did not feel it was worth his time to address the matter or reprimand the owner in any way . Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT …..

(3) Chicago Bulls’ GM Gar Forman is seen here with the team’s Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson in discussion at the United Center in Chicago , Illinois ,. With the Bulls suffering a humiliating first round series’ loss to the Washington Wizards in the NBA Playoffs , the front office executives will face some tough decisions concerning the roster during this off-season . AP Photo / Matt Harper ……

(4) Film and music mogul David Geffen is rumored to be one of two interested parties wishing to buy the Los Angles Clippers. Geffen is a co-founding partner of SKG Dreamworks , alongside Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg . Joining the film executive in his bid will Larry Ellison , founder of software company Oracle and Oprah Winfrey, who originally issued a stern denial concerning her interest in owning a sports’ franchise , before being approached by her close personal friend David Geffen. If the sale of the Clippers were to take place , with it being approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors , then David Geffen would also be the first openly gay owner of an NBA franchise . REUTERS/ Ingrid Moore ….

(5) Jose Fernandez (16) of the Miami Marlins is seen here celebrating with teammate Giancarlo Stanton after the team’s 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies in a game played at Marlins Ballpark ,in Miami, Florida , on the 24th August , 2013. If the Marlins are to be a real threat within the NL East this season , then it will be incumbent upon both of these players to have a successful season for the team as a whole. Mike Redmond and his coaching staff are certainly hoping that will be the case. AP Photo/ Paul Forbes …..

(6) Atlanta Braves’ catcher Evan Gattis is seen here in a game played at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia,. Gattis is now the team’s full-time catcher with the departure of Brian McCann this past off-season to the New York Yankees as a free agent. GM Frank Wren was not willing to match the five-year $80 million deal offered to the veteran , giving Gattis to show his worth this season and meeting those as sought by the front office. The catcher has proven to be everything that the staff believed they were getting in drafting the player in 2010 . Getty Images North America / Jim Ross …

(7) Seattle Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik is seen here with Robinson Cano and manager Lloyd McClendon are seen here at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington after Cano’s acquisition by the franchise, who signed him to lucrative long-term contract. Cano now has to prove his worth, as the Mariners seek to make their first postseason appearance since the 2001 ALCS. In the later years, Seattle’s record has discouraged and drawing the ire of the fans due to the lack of progress and ambition by the organization. AP Photo / Keith Pettit …..
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