Not so newsworthy moments in the world of sports and then there are some that are worth contemplating
Well, after a rather lackluster display by the Miami Heat , the consensus favorites for this season’s NBA title , were summarily given a lesson in humility , and Heat power forward Chris Bosh had to eat crow. As to the whining by fans who felt that the title was the Miami Heat’s by divine right, begs the question, are they really as dumb as they tend to sound and look ? During the off-season, Heat Team President Pat Riley and team owner , Micky Arison will be left to ponder whether not paying out the ” big bucks” actually amounts to anything, when the organization was counting on making history this past postseason. Four consecutive NBA Finals , two victories and two rather embarrassing losses in which the Heat were favored both times , now leaves the league deciding, what can they do next to sell the fans by way of an image. David Stern and his successor , Adam Silver, have never been the ones to champion the less glamorous teams within the NBA and most certainly it would seem, that the only people favoring the San Antonio Spurs to win the title, were the Spurs fans themselves and perhaps the uninitiated and first time observer of the NBA.
A 4-1 series’ win and in many ways reminiscent of the Detroit Pistons annihilation of the 2004 Los Angeles Lakers , in that season’s NBA Finals . This series provided the fans of the NBA another lopsided contest , during which the game’s best player LeBron James , could not single handedly defy the odds stacked against him, while seeking pull his team out of a hole that they dug for themselves during the NBA Finals. Where the Miami Heat now goes from here is rather dependent upon the mindset of the front office led by team owner , Micky Arison and Team President Pat Riley . There is no doubt that the roster will have to be rebuilt from the ground up , with several of the players being jettisoned. One , if not two members from the Heat’s core of their Big Three are likely to be shed and the likelihood that Dwyane Wade could very well be the player seen as superfluous to the team’s needs.
The astonishing achievement of the San Antonio Spurs cannot be praised enough, with a fifth title to the franchise’s already impressive history, beyond the Spurs making the postseason for the sixteenth consecutive season. Something that has not been accomplished by another NBA franchise since Bill Russell was a member of those memorable Boston Celtics’ teams that won nine championships during an eleven-year span.
The NBA has never been truly appreciative of their teams, but the t hierarchy is now inclined to sell their superstars to the public along with the persona built up by a litany of agents, lawyers, advisers and image consultants. Unfortunately, what should be seen as a team sport has now become all about individualistic achievement , with the fans buying into the garbage being sold by the league. The San Antonio Spurs’ win of the title might not necessarily change the face of that premise but it might somehow change the landscape if only momentarily , with some fans actually getting to know what the meaning of team achievement is all about.
As the NFL off-season is summarily about the chance for the rookies acclimatizing themselves with the rigors of playing football at the professional level. The league suffered a heart rendering loss with the passing of four-time winning Superbowl coach , with the death of Pittsburgh Steelers’ legend Chuck Noll . The eighty-two year old former head coach died this past weekend and will be sorely missed by the Steelers’ fans as well as the rest of the NFL. There might not have been a more revered coach in NFL history than Noll, perhaps with the exception of Vince Lombardi , whose name adorns the Superbowl Trophy. I am sure the league as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers will find a way to commemorate Noll during this upcoming season . Pittsburgh has always been appreciative of their heroes and Chuck Noll was certainly a great deal more than that, within the steel town. He lived and breathed the game and the success attained was symbolic of what the franchise was said to be about, during his reign as the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Last season would prove to be disappointing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, within Mike Tomlin’s players failing to make the postseason with the team performing poorly within the AFC North, AFC and the league .
The Steelers’ failure was more to don with GM Kevin Colbert not seeking to bolster the team’s roster after some significant departures of several seasoned veterans. Cost-cutting by the front office might well have seemed prudent , but it severely hampered the chances of the team to be competitive last season. This off-season proved to significant for the coaching staff , front office , with Tomlin and Colbert seeking to make what they feel were the necessary adjustments needed by way of the draft and free agent acquisitions. . I truly believe that the Steelers will only go as far as Ben Roethlisberger is capable of carrying the team and in recent years the Steelers’ quarterback knows that he has failed to do at the level leading many to believe that the two Superbowl victories were not a simple aberration. Troy Polamalu, a teammate of Roethlisberger over the past few years and member of the rosters in the franchise’s most recent victories in the Superbowl, is essentially in the twilight of his career. Injuries , have begun to plague the defensive player and this could very well be his last season with the team.
It will be interesting to see how the Pittsburgh Steelers fare during the regular season ,with their preseason merely being viewed as a dress rehearsal for the team’s sojourn in 2014. Pittsburgh will being their season with a week one divisional contest against the Cleveland Browns . Cleveland for their part will want to start a new chapter afresh, even with the advent of the hyperbole surrounding their drafting of Johnny Manziel . Whether or not Manziel can beat out the presumptive starting quarterback, Brian Hoyer , remains to be seen. Browns’ heads coach Mike Pettine believes Hoyer to have the edge over his rookie teammate. Yet, with the Cleveland fans likely to be clamoring to see the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, it will see interesting to see how this duel will pan out over the course of the Browns’ schedule.
I am not one to always start shouting, ” buyers beware” ,but with the career of Josh Freeman now in complete tailspin , it is hard to imagine how Jon Gruden will z be of any real aid to the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting quarterback . While the winning of a Superbowl can add some legitimacy to a coach’s resume’, in the case of Gruden after that victory, his career simply spiraled downwards, while his ego took on gigantic proportions. Now an NFL analyst for ESPN , the former head coach spends a great deal of his time now assessing the quarterbacks recently drafted in the NFL. As to his thoughts on Freeman, well those are not publicly known. I can only surmise, Jon Gruden still believes that Josh Freeman is capable of being a starting quarterback in the NFL or quite possibly a capable backup in the league. Having been let go by the Buccaneers in late 2013 ,Freeman was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings whose passing game was definitely challenged with Christian Ponder holding down theposition as the team’s starting quarterback. Ponders’ lack of leadership and with their being very little faith in his abilities , along with a the preponderance to be injury prone, has led to not only his likely demotion, but his career possibly coming to an end with the franchise.
Josh Freeman regaining any type of form , is unlikely to see his career resumption as a starter in the NFL. He was unable to command the respect of teammates while with the Buccaneers and his later playing time with the Vikings can be best described as being mediocre.
The passing of a legend in any sport has to be met with a moment of solitude and solemnity. Hall of Fame baseball player Tony Gwynn’s death at the age of fifty-four comes not only as complete shock, but as a complete surprise to those who knew him best. He might well be viewed as one of the greatest players in San Diego Padres’ history and to my mind the greatest pure hitter of his generation and one of the top-ten in baseball history. Gwynn’s accomplishment as a seven-time NL batting champion and the player who has come closest to hitting the .400 plateau in the modern era. A feat last matched by another Hall of Fame player who was as much beloved as Tony Gwynn by his peers and his successors. Ted Williams remains among the pantheon of baseball greats as does Tony Gwynn and it seems sacrosanct to think that a game where we once applauded the achievements of Gwynn and Williams are now overshadowed by the failings and deceit by players such as Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez .
Baseball’s failure under the leadership of Bud Selig , remains a microcosm of what only bedevils the sport, but sports in general and one simply has to look at the ongoing idiocy within the NBA., NFL and the lack of leadership being shown by Adam Silver and Roger Goodell . Gwynn’s passing and the difficulties now facing the San Diego Padres is another painstaking reminder of what can happen with the continued failings of a once proud baseball franchise . There is little to suggest that the Padres can be competitive within the NL West this season and while the San Francisco Giants now seem to be running away with the division. Two months into the MLB season and the Giants are not only the best team in the NL but they are by far in a way the best ball-club in baseball , based not just on their record, but also in terms of their all-round play. Bruce Bochy’s players are playing with a great deal of intensity and with their pitching staff being remarkably consistent along with an offense that seems to be getting some timely hitting when least expected.
Coming into today’s game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington , the Padres are the losers of eight of their last ten games, while on a two-game losing streak . For manager Bud Black , his coaching staff , and the team in particular , these are some trying times for ball club now sitting in third place within the NL West just above the Arizona Diamondbacks (30-43) who have a better overall record , but from a percentage standpoint they sit at the bottom of the divisional standings. On the mound for the Padres will be Eric Stults facing off against Roenis Elias of the Mariners in an inter-league game between the two ball-clubs.
How baseball now chooses to honor Tony Gwynn’s passing will say a great deal as to how much they revere their heroes . Certainly, the Padres’ player was one of the most beloved players of his era and most definitely his induction into the Hall of Fame was justified and a worthy bestowing upon Gwynn. There have been few players who carried themselves with such grace and poise on and off the field ,while being appreciated by the fans and his fellow peers alike.
Far be it for me to suggest, but witnessing the falling apart of the Tampa Bay Rays’ season from their own self- inflicted wounds , has been very much like a child who has been repeatedly told not to place their hands upon a hot stove. Coming into the this year , there were those lauding the Rays as the best team in the AL East and the favorites to in that highly competitive division outright. Instead, we have witnessed a team playing with little consistency , lacking leadership among the playing and coaching staff . As to the rather asinine rhetoric coming from manager Joe Maddon . You simply have to ask yourself is the best he can come up with, in spite of the claims he is one of the best managers in the game of baseball. Maddon may well have been able to achieve miracles over the years , with the organization paring down salary to compete with the very best, but there comes a point where you have to ask , how much longer can this go on and how much tolerant will the fans be? It should be noted also, the Rays play at Tropicana Field , where their fan-base is marginally above 15,000 in attendance , but there remains the constant cry that they are in need of a new venue. Clearly, the front office , their fans and baseball’s hierarchy are not in a position to understand the lack of feasibility of a ball club that is far from being self-sustaining from a business standpoint . Whenever I have posed the question to a die-hard Rays’ fan about the ball-club moving to a new venue. The response has often bordered on being absolutely idiotic and nonsensical , with their giving an answer , the money is there to make this all happen.
If the owners of the Tampa Bay Rays, can barely afford to have a payroll in excess of $65 million , while remaining uncompetitive. Then what would lead them to believe that fans or should I say, the city of St Petersburg, Pinellas or Hillsborough County would be willing to make that sort of financial outlay for a baseball stadium, that would be barely filled for an eighty-one game schedule? If the MLB hierarchy are unwilling to assist the Tampa Bay Rays , then clearly the issue at hand is not simply about baseball , but it does seem to have more to do with Bud Selig playing favorites , while looking down upon some teams and their owners. Anyone care to offer up another viewpoint on that particular issue, given the fact , Selig came to the aid of New York Mets , New York Yankees and Miami Marlins in the building of new stadiums for the three organizations in question ?
The world’s biggest sporting spectacle is now under way and with due respect to the Superbowl , that specific sporting event, cannot in any way measure up to the Summer Olympics or the FIFA World Cup now being staged in Brazil. The host country , in the opening game of the tournament came away with a lackluster 3-1 victory over Croatia and England’s chances may well have been severely hampered with a 2-1 defeat suffered at the hands of Italy , in their opening game. Jurgen Klinsmann , head coach of Team USA saw his players come through unscathed with a very good win over African powerhouse Ghana . Though Klinsmann , might now feel extremely worried with the injuries suffered by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey during what was a very physical contest. Reigning champions, Spain , may well have seen their hopes go up in flames when they fell to the Netherlands in a 5-1 thrashing , that was the largest margin of defeat suffered by a world champion during the World Cup tournament.
As this tournament proceeds , we are likely to see the boisterous passion of the fans be exhibited. Behind this all, lies a country where there exists a great deal of distrust of the government and where the allegations of bribery and corruption have been revealed with the Interior Ministry and FIFA making claims that the allegations are unfounded. Unfortunately, there exists a pattern of behavior by soccer’s governing body that has become endemic within the world of sports. Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, FIFA’s President has been the subject of close scrutiny in recent years and his tenure as that body’s highest ranking executive has left him untouched by the scandals, even some of his closest allies and subordinates have been embroiled in a variety of misdeeds. Falling on the sword for your superior is one thing, but for him to also point the finger while also swinging the blade above your head , might be something different altogether . Explain that to me, if you can ?
Now Blatter has sunk the level of those, whom he believes have begun to make sport of soccer so vile , by suggesting that those who have been critical of the officiating during the tournament , are nothing more than avowed racists. That is now all we need to bring the game down to the gutter level now witnessed within the NFL and NBA. Thanks, but, no thanks !
The second golf major of the PGA season came and went without a great deal of excitement and with no home-grown player, from the US, being able to mount a credible challenge to Martin Kaymer of Germany, as he completely dominated the US Open at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst , North Carolina. Kaymer’s margin of victory had more to do with his exceptional play over four rounds of golf as his fellow competitors simply struggled . It was the German’s second major of his professional career , having won the 2010 PGA Championship , pushes Kaymer back up the world golf rankings , where , having moved seventeen places to sit in the eleventh spot of the rankings. Current world number one Adam Scott is followed by Henrik Stenson , Bubba Watson , Tiger Woods , Matt Kuchar and Rory McIlroy , rounding out the top five.
With Tiger Woods having missed the US Open , there remains mounting speculation as to whether or not he can or will make a successful return to the PGA Tour this season. Woods may well be saying the right things, while trying to remain positive ,but the issues with the player, have become his physical health and the state of his overall game .His performances this season have been lackluster and under-achieving by even his own lofty goals. With official tour prize money winnings in excess of $100 million , off-course earnings exceeding $65 million annually and estimated fortune of $600 million . I am beginning to wonder if Tiger Woods has now become tired of the drudgery of being full-time professional on PGA Tour! At the same time, his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ eighteen Grand Slam major victories , once seen as a certainty , now seems all the more distant with each passing misstep by the player, as he seeks to pass his idol.
Picture gallery .
At this point of his career Tiger Woods has proven himself to be the best player of his generation , but he will continue to be adjudged against the accomplishments of Jack Nicklaus. Unless Woods is able to surpass Nicklaus’ mark of Majors’ wins , then he will be always be thought as second best and not much else beyond that. Your thoughts on the points raised and what other sports’ stories have been of interest to you over the past ten days ?
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) Members of the San Antonio Spurs celebrate their winning of the 2014 NBA Finals after their lopsided game five victory over the Miami Heat. Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs was named the Finals’ MVP , after an astonishing Finals’ series by the player. AP Photo / Garry Heard …
(2) Peter Holt , CEO & owner of the San Antonio Spurs is seen here taking receipt of the Larry O’Brien Trophy from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver , signifying the franchise being crowned the 2014 NBA champions . This was the Spurs’ fifth win of the title in their history with all five championships victories having been coached by Gregg Popovich . AP Photo / Amy Jones …..
(4) Chuck Noll , a legendary coach who died at the age of eighty-two, having led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four of their six Superbowl victories. An inductee in the Hall of Fame , Knoll joins a hallowed group of individuals associated with the franchise. Courtesy of ESPN
(5) ESPN analyst and commentator Jon Gruden is seen here with Josh Freeman . Gruden has agreed to take the player under his wing while seeking to assist Freeman in resurrecting his game. The player a first round draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , with an uneven group of performances littering an otherwise understated career in the league . AP Photo / Rick Fowler ….
(6) .Hall of Fame player Tony Gwynn whose death from cancer has come as a shock to the baseball world . For the past few years he was rarely seen in public , with his health deteriorating from this particular form of oral cancer (parotid cancer of the salivary gland). A career .308 hitter , Gwynn’s career was littered with accolades , and his legacy with the San Diego Padres are well chronicled as are his noted feats of achievements . Getty Images North America / Ron Smith …
(7) Clint Dempsey (8) celebrates his goal after eleven seconds into the first half of Team USA’s game against group opponents Ghana . The win places the US team in a favorable position to advance to the next round , but their next two games will prove to be extremely difficult . REUTERS/UPI / Tony Harris …
(8) Jun 15, 2014; Pinehurst, NC, USA; Martin Kaymer poses with the trophy in front of the leader board during the final round of the 2014 U.S. Open golf tournament at Pinehurst Resort Country Club #2 Course. Kaymer won the event with considerable ease and was never seriously challenged < leading wire to wire throughout the tournament. Kevin Liles/ USA TODAY Sports ……..
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Scheduled matches 17th June , 2014