Keep it sweet but not necessarily stupid , because it’s baseball

Keep it sweet but not necessarily stupid , because it’s baseball

Baseball (MLB) enters its final month of the regular season in September , with a number of divisional races still undecided. Teams said to be in the drivers’ seat will have to play at the highest level possible until the end of the season if they are to win those divisions outright. Likewise, it will be the same for those ball-clubs seeking to gain a wildcard berth in what is now beginning to look like very tight race within each league , the AL and NL.

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Of the more surprising races, it is the AL Central where the Kansas City Royals might well be the most exciting team to watch since the All Star Break and their rise up the division to now lead the swooning Detroit Tigers . For the defending divisional champions this has been a season of missed opportunities in spite of certain injury issues and the retirement of former manager Jim Leyland , which should in no way detract from the work done by Brad Ausmus and his managerial staff in succeeding the well-respected manager. However, in light of that fact, it has to be said Ausmus’ inexperience might well be one of the reasons with the indifference seen in the Tigers’ play this season. Justin Verlander has not been totally dominant, Max Scherzer has not reproduced the form that led to his being named the AL Cy Young Award winner in 2013 . Certainly, the rest of the pitching staff , have failed to deliver as and when needed.

The Detroit Tigers’ offense led by two-time reigning AL League MVP and Triple Crown King , Miguel Cabrera while having his usual productive season might well be on the outside looking in, when it comes to the regular season individual awards as Mike Trout seems on the verge of succeeding the Tigers’ slugger as this year’s MVP. Statistically , there has been little to choose between the pair , but Trout’s all-round play and defensive capabilities have edged Cabrera this season. Besides, Mike Trout has led the Los Angeles Angels to what might be their best season in the AL West in a number of years , as they seek to replace the Oakland Athletics as this year’s AL West divisional champion. No mean task, considering the success of the A’s in 2012 and2013 within the division. If the Tigers are to have any chance of securing a place in the postseason their best bet, remains winning the division because the likelihood of a wildcard berth places them in a precarious situation because of the competitiveness of the teams vying for the two berths available in the American League.

Coming off a 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees at Comerica Park in Detroit Michigan , Brad Ausmus and his team will again face their opponent on Wednesday in a resumption of their series, as the Yankees seek to make ground on the Baltimore Orioles who lead the AL East. Mike Sciocsia will lead the Angels in a home game against the Miami Marlins at Angels’ Ballpark in Anaheim, California. A lopsided and thoroughly deserving victory on Tuesday afternoon gives credence to why Sciocsia’s team has been so dominant this season against their opponents from both leagues. Henderson Alvarez of the Marlins will seek to avert another loss by the visitors as he faces Hector Santiago of the Angels.

There is no denying the Chicago Cubs have remained in a never-ending slump that has become synonymous with sheer misery for their fans. A century of mediocrity cannot adequately explain the woes of the baseball franchise , even with their infamous NLCS series against the Florida Marlins in 2003 . While Steve Bartman’s name will forever live in infamy but the apportioning of blame on one idiotic Cubs’ fan was not the only reason for the team’s demise in the series. The Chicago Cubs repeatedly had chances to close out the series in game’s six and seven, but their ineptitude was there on show for their fans. Eleven years later, it were as if nothing has been learned by the organization, even with a change in ownership .One can seek to debunk a myth or myths, but in the case of the Cubs, what you see is what you get.

Tom Ricketts and his family have sought spend millions to bolster this ball-club’s roster over the years, all to no avail, while bringing in wunderkinds Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein to head the Cubs’ front office . This season for the franchise has nothing short of disastrous as they seek to dig themselves out trouble within the NL Central, where they currently find themselves firmly rooted at the bottom of the division while having one of the worst records within the National League as well as baseball in general. Rick Renteria and the managerial staff of the Chicago Cubs will be certainly looking to assess the members of the team as the season winds down, while also assessing the younger talent within their farm system. Inasmuch, as Theo Epstein was very much the architect of the Boston Red Sox’s success and their two World Series’ wins in 2004 and 2007, an immediate turnaround was never on the cards for Cubs after the years of mismanagement and neglect by a succession of front office executives . Epstein and Hoyer, now seems to be adding to the mess rather than trying to clean it up.

The financial resources for the Chicago Cubs remains vast, beyond a loyal fan-base , sellout crowds for home games played at Wrigley Field , ownership of their own cable sports’ broadcast network and resources of Tom Ricketts and his family. Chicago may well be winners of seven of their last ten games with a four-game winning streak , but the fact of the matter remains this is not a team built for consistency and long-term success. The Cubs’ most recent victory over divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Reds another , team languishing and with no chance of challenging within the NL Central, will see them face the Reds on Wednesday afternoon , before closing out the series at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio on Thursday afternoon. Wins are imperative for the Chicago Cubs in each of the contests in question and it will be interesting to see how Jacob Turner will fare when he faces Mat Latos of the Reds today , in one a series of games on the MLB schedule for the 27th August .

If there was a miscue then I must have missed it all, as the Philadelphia Phillies and their season spins completely out of control. Ryne Sandberg was brought in to bring a sense of semblance , consistency but above all real passion for the game. It was clearly lacking last season with Charlie Manuel , whose final year in charge was simply a body mess with the carnage of 2013 strewn all over Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania . A team that has failed to produce , while having a bloated payroll , is once again exhibiting the very same traits , even with something of a revamped roster . Sandberg has been unable to change the identity of this team, while several of the veterans on the roster have become all too complacent and nonchalant in their play .With almost $170 million committed this season in salary commitments , which ranks the Phillies with the fourth highest team payroll in all of baseball , with only the Los Angeles Dodgers , New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers with larger commitments. The question has to be, what is the mindset within the Phillies’ front office as led by GM Reuben Amaro Jr ?

The Philadelphia Phillies will play host to the Washington Nationals , who hold a comfortable lead in the NL East over their rivals within the division . For Sandberg’s last placed team remains on a precipice waiting to be nudged over and another defeat is likely to make the scenario a reality . On the mound for the home team will be Kyle Kendrick facing off against Doug Fister of the Nationals . A game which will likely tell us a great deal about the ambitions of the two teams right now . From my own standpoint, I believe Reuben Amaro will have to gut the team and simply start afresh jettisoning a number of the high-priced impending free agents rebuilding from the ground up abandoning what has been organization’s belief in paying an exorbitant salary merely to keep the services of a player. Ryan Howard , Cole Hamels , Cliff Lee , Jimmy Rollins and several others in this lineup, have not performed up to expectation, while being rewarded a ridiculously idiotic sum for their menial returns on the season.

Robinson Cano’s departure from the New York Yankees led many to believe the player would be doomed in seeking to make the Seattle Mariner his destination in 2014. Yet for all of the criticism leveled at Cano, his being used as a pawn in a rather idiotic game cat and mouse with the Yankees’ front office by his agent Jay-z , founder of the upstart sports’ management agency RocNation Sports ,may well have worked out for the best. It does seem as if Cano , RocNation and the Mariners are indeed happy. Robinson Cano wanting to be rewarded with a multi-year , six-figure deal rumored to be $300 million over ten years was somewhat impudent but in the end , his contract with the Mariners does seem to reflect the player’s worth to the team . He certainly has not disappointed over the course of this season while he remains in the upper echelons of the AL batting statistics and is likely to seen as a viable candidate for the AL MVP this season.

The Mariners remain in the playoff hunt and merely need to play consistent baseball over the remaining thirty-one games of their regular season schedule to tie up one of the two available spots in order to be an AL wildcard entrant . Though the team was on the wrong side of a 12-4 shelling at the hands of the Texas Rangers , Lloyd McClendon and his managerial staff realize they merely have to seek a collective effort from the players to get the job done. Robinson Cano, wasn’t simply brought in solely to provide an offensive bat, but also to lead the team as a seasoned veteran. With an off-day on Thursday , the Seattle Mariners will have as their guests at Safeco Field the Washington Nationals in the first of a three-game series beginning on Friday 29th August . Taking the mound for Seattle will be Felix Hernandez against Jordan Zimmerman of the Nationals, in what is likely to be a highly competitive pitchers’ duel between the two starting aces.

Twenty-game winners were common place in baseball and this season it seems that for the first time in several years MLB might be without a starting pitcher reaching a win total of twenty games or more at the end of the regular season. The last time a starting pitcher failed to reach the plateau in question was in 2009, when the Cy Young Award in the AL and NL went to Zack Greinke and Tim Linecum , respectively. This season the leaders in the respective leagues, Max Scherzer in the American League , while reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw leads the National League. Kershaw remains heads and shoulders above any other pitcher in baseball at present and has been for the past two years without a doubt. He has proven to be dominant enough and it is with good reason why the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office have seen fit to reward him with such a lucrative contract making him one of the highest paid players in baseball, in terms of salary and contract value . By contrast Justin Verlander might well be having something of a less productive season than we are accustomed to seeing from the Tigers’ starting pitcher, but he and Felix Hernandez remain among the best pitchers in the American League and have been for several years. However, this season, what we have seen in terms of the pitching in baseball , may well come down to lack of run support provided to the pitchers and the tendency of middle relief and closers to become more of a tool within the game, sometimes leading to lessening of the results for the starters.

There is a very good reason to believe Clayton Kershaw could very well be a back-to-back winner of the NL Cy Young Award , again with the Dodgers’ pitcher being the best player on the team’s pitching staff and best player on the team by far , without delving in into his salary . Kershaw will be looking to win the award for the third time in of his career , having won in 2011 and 2013 . The AL candidates from this season are likely to be taken from among these list of pitchers , Chris Sale , Felix Hernandez ,Max Scherzer , Rick Porcello, Scott Kazmir, David Price and Greg Holland .

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Picture gallery.

This weekend’s schedule within baseball will be highly interesting with games and series likely to be pivotal to the teams’ seasons . It was pretty much the same issue at this time last season within the game . Your thoughts on baseball and what are you hoping to see over the remainder of the season?

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(1) MLB’s thirty teams entered the start of this season with a view to be part of the playoff picture with their ultimate goal, being to win the World Series. Last year’s champions the Boston Red Sox have struggled in 2014 , currently lying at the bottom of the AL East division without a chance of making the postseason.

(2) Ned Yost manager of the Kansas City Royals has his team riding high within the AL Central having led for a greater part of this month having held unto the lead without a great deal of difficulty during August . Yost and the team will be looking to win a divisional title and make the playoffs for the first time in almost two decades. AP Photo/ Mark Watson …

(3) Detroit Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus is seen here with Tigers’ assistant and infield coach Omar Vizquel have seen the team lose sight of their seasonal goal in winning the AL Central and gaining a postseason berth . The team is now fighting for a playoff berth among a list of very competitive AL wildcard candidates . Getty Images/ Chris Horner …

(4) Chicago Cubs’ Head of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein ,left, is seen here with the team’s owner Tom Ricketts . Once again the Cubs have struggled with their being little sign of competitiveness shown by the team this season . Chicago finds itself rooted at the bottom of the NL Central. AP Photo/ Cathy Hurst …

(5) Ryne Sandberg manager of the Philadelphia Phillies is seen here in the dugout speaking with team pitcher Cliff Lee , foreground. An inauspicious season , high payroll and diminishing returns has led to an inept year for the franchise . Matt Glover / UPI …

(6) Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners who spent the first seven years of his career with the New York Yankees , but left the team in December of 2013 to join the Mariners, signing a ten-year $240 million deal . This season Cano has been productive for the team , leading them in several offensive categories . AP Photo / Sean Williams …

(7) Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is having another spectacular season for the team and leads the NL in ERA and wins . The player is seeking to win a third Cy Young Award , joining a select group of players with three or more wins of baseball’s top individual pitching honor . AP Photo / Mel Whittaker …

(8) Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox might just be the best thing about the ailing AL Central franchise this season . A possible candidate for the AL Cy Young Award , it is unlikely that he will win the award playing on a team with a losing record , while being uncompetitive throughout this season. Matt Hart/ UPI …

(9) Max Scherzer , left and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers are seen here at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan , during a regular season game . With the addition of David Price to their roster the Tigers now have three AL Cy Young Award winners in their lineup . Currently engaged in a series with the New York Yankees , the team does need to win the series to keep up the momentum, while leading the list of AL wildcard candidates. AP Photo/ Richie Curtis …

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Born to be bland or simply being bland ? ………

Born to be bland or simply being bland?

If there has been one thing I have learned in the past few weeks, it has been the sheer apathy, stupidity, gullibility and complete lack of understanding of the American public and sports’ fan in general. Case in point, remains the real outrage in the death of Missourian teenager Michael Brown . While the teen’s death was tragic and the outrage by residents valid, their behavior was less than beneficial for their community at large. In the case of the Ferguson Police Department and their lack of professionalism, could be seen in the fact, the changing stories concerning the suspect’s death as it emanated from the agency after Brown’s at the hands of a six—year veteran of the force.

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Now with the federal government interjecting themselves in the midst of this tragedy , it begs the question, if they and others are so angered by this, then why no outrage in the other two hundred and fifty-four deaths to have taken place over the past eighteen months nationwide at the hands of a member of law enforcement ? In many of these cases , the alleged suspects were unarmed , but somehow this is all overlooked by those seeking to point out law enforcement is often being placed in an impossible situation.

From my own perspective this also comes down to the experience of the police officer and his training . Placing these officers in a training incident is completely different from what actually takes place in life. Speaking as a ten-year veteran of the British Royal Marines, where I faced armed and unarmed suspects while on active duty, it all came down to specific training and the having the help of my fellow comrades around me at the time. While I valued them being at my side, I have no doubt Officer Darren Wilson regrets the death of Michael Brown but what may well now begin to incense those within the city of Ferguson is the $250,000 raised in support of the officer . One has to wonder, where and what will be the intent in the use of these funds? ? While this whole debacle plays out, consider , in the city of Ferguson where its demographic makeup of fifty-six percent African-American , the number of officers on the city’s Police Force with a minority background is less than two percent . of its real makeup. Race has played a part in this whole melee and those who view to the contrary are clearly without a clue . Incidents such as this are on in the increase not on the decline , if only one would care to see these incidents as and when they arise.

As baseball is on the cusp of entering the final two months of its regular season schedule , a number of teams are seeking to enter the divisional and wildcard races wanting to gain a berth in the postseason. In 2013 , we saw from the play of the Boston Red Sox and what a team is capable of doing when actually playing as a team. John Farrell, the Red Sox’s manager was able to catch their opponents off-guard as the postseason got underway in 2013, with the team then going on to win their third World Series title in the past eight years .

It has surprised me to see how far the fall from grace within the AL East the reigning World Series’ champion and their season has spiraled completely out of control. GM Ben Cherington now seeking to gut the team’s roster with the departure of several mainstays from last season’s championship winning team. You simply have to ask, how could things have gotten this dire without their being any sense such a dilemma could have been placed within our midst. Of the departing players, perhaps the biggest surprise was the decision to send Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics , whose ambitions will have been strengthened with the addition of the pitcher.

Boston’s woes have been twofold this season but in reality , what has plagued the team has been the lack of leadership from anyone on the roster this season. Even a seasoned veteran such as David Ortiz has been rarely noticeable , with Ortiz having something of mundane season in comparison to his exploits in 2013 and during the postseason, where he would end up being the World Series’ MVP after his offensive onslaught against the St Louis Cardinals during the series. , At 56-74 , firmly rooted at the bottom of the AL East the Boston Red Sox are losers of nine of their last ten games, stemming back to their last victory over the Houston Astros, their equally inept AL counterpart , whose own season, is one mired in mediocrity .

The Boston Red Sox’s loss to the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park in Boston Massachusetts , on Sunday afternoon was simply one more indicator of what has been wrong with the team all season long. I fear they will get no respite when they take on the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday , when the two teams meet at the Rogers Center , Toronto , Ontario. On the mound for Boston will be Clay Buchholz when he faces off against J A Happ of the Blue Jays. In all likelihood , John Farrell and the coaching staff will use the remainder of the season to assess the team and their younger players hoping to make an ongoing contribution to the organization with a view of being given a full-time position on the starting roster in 2015.

Baseball has always been proud to boast its history and the very fact it was the very first professional team sport in North America to be integrated. The historic day on which Jackie Robinson took to the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers may well have changed history , in the aftermath of Branch Rickey’s social experiment . Yet here lies the hypocrisy and even less significance of the event , the game and its owners at the time, . still had no wish to have an African-American umpire officiate a Major League Baseball game . Acceptance of Robinson or not , baseball still remained in the dark ages even with Robinson’s feats during his rookie season with the Dodgers.

It would be an almost two decade long wait , before fans would actually witness an African-American official umpire officiate a Major League Baseball game , when Emmett Ashford would be afforded the honor and privilege of the historic milestone. On the 9th April 1966 Emmett Ashford made his official debut as an MLB umpire where he would remain an active official for five years before being asked by then Commissioner Bowie Kuhn to take an advisory role and take to official speaking engagements as a way of luring more African-American officials to the game. In the decades leading up to Ashford’s being made an umpire , the thought process was that Ashford and many of his peers were simply not equipped to officiate a baseball game. Common place thinking within the league hierarchy and with many of Kuhn’s predecessors and the Caucasian players at the time, felt African-American umpires lacked the intellect to officiate a game much less go through and meeting the qualifications needed. . Speaks volumes as to the ongoing hypocrisy within baseball and how historians have chosen to simply record the game’s history , simply leaving out the more distasteful events within baseball’s history at the time .

The NBA at this moment in time might have two of the biggest prima donna athletes within its realms, with Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers . Both players are coming off disappointing seasons , with Bryant being of little help to the Lakers and their season , which floundered and was submerged in the depths of mediocrity . For James his departure from the Miami Heat could not have been quick enough , after his and the team’s disappointment of being totally embarrassed by the San Antonio Spurs in a rather lopsided NBA Finals . The fact of the matter remains , the Miami Heat of this past season was simply a pale shadow of the team which successfully defended its 2013 NBA title . Exposed like the Emperor without new clothes , some of the more asinine prognosis from fans alike , were as if, those offering up their summations simply had their lips firmly pressed against the ass of LeBron James, without looking at the players he was surrounded by this past season and their lack of real productivity during the regular and postseason .

LeBron James having returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers will have a new supporting cast and coaching staff at his disposal. Make no bones about it , David Blatt may well be the rookie head coach , but in reality , he will merely be a conduit for James’ ongoing ambitions and little else beyond that. This is a major gamble on the part of the team owner Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers’ organization , as anything less than a playoff berth with the NBA title thrown in for good measure will be seen as a failure by analysts and fans alike. Having been made the prohibitive favorites by the odds-makers in Las Vegas as well as by the NBA pundits , there will be even more pressure being placed upon the shoulders of LeBron James this season than ever before. No doubt there will be some Miami Heat fans who would like to see him fail this season , whereas, others will be thankful for the success he brought to the franchise during his four-year stay . Yet, for all the success and publicity which came with James’ tenure, it now places the Miami based franchise right back at square one, with a team that is likely to be on the decline. Dwyane Wade is no longer able to play at a very high level , given his age and declining skill-set, but somehow he will be asked to lead what in essence will be a very average roster in spite of the coaching acumen of Erik Spoelstra .

Kobe Bryant is now in the waning years of what has been a magnificent Lakers’ career, albeit that he may well never be thought of as the greatest player in the franchise’s greatest players . He certainly has to be viewed as being among the top-ten players in Lakers’ history but where he might belong on that particular ladder will be a matter of debate for years to come. . Now while I believe an athlete should be paid what he or she believes they are worth, there comes a time where common sense has to prevail when it comes team payrolls and the outlandish salaries one now tends to find within the NBA and baseball in particular. Nowhere else can find athletes on this scale being rewarded for doing so little. Doubt my word, then simply look at the make-up of the payroll scales within baseball (MLB) and basketball at present. Bryant in a recent interview , stated he believed many of the marquee players within the NBA are undervalued in terms of their salaries. Last I looked, neither Joe Johnson or Amare’ Stoudemire could be considered elite players within the NBA , but the two remain among the highest paid players in the league and on the rosters of their respective teams, the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks .

Bryant in a recent interview granted with members of the press, in a statement at the time which was overlooked remains under the impression players are greatly undervalued by the NBA and specifically their organizations . Forgive me for saying this but Bryant’s two-year $48.5 million deal signed with the Los Angeles Lakers might well feel a pittance to the player, but what he has failed to notice in a time of economic blight the majority of NBA fans would find his whining an absolute insult and very narcissistic. His annual salary currently tops all NBA players in the league and is five hundred times the median income of an employee in the US workforce. Take into account Bryant earns considerably more from his off the field activities by way of commercial endorsements and his annual income tops $45 million a year . Somehow, I hardly feel that members of the Bryant household are starving , without actually acknowledging the player’s estimated $250 million fortune . It is at times like this , one has to wonder if Bryant actually shows any common sense when making such a statement , without the reporter granting the interview coming up with the claim Kobe Bryant’s statement is representative of many of his peers .

Bryant is no longer the best player in the NBA , nor does he actually hold a great deal of sway among his peers . Granted , he has now become one of the league’s elder statesmen , but do you believe Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs would have the temerity to have made such a statement to a member of the convened press? I think not ! This is all about Kobe Bryant wanting to heard , because over the past season he was rarely seen on-court due to his injury laden season and even if he were on the court , I seriously doubt his presence would have improved the outcome of the Lakers’ season given the team’s poor play all-round over the course of their schedule.

Byron Scott succeeds Mike D’Antoni as the Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach and while Scott has the blessing of former players Magic Johnson , James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , their sentiments will mean very little as the Lakers embark upon this season . A revamped roster , totally different from last season’s lineup will be what Scott and his coaching staff will have to work with . A divisional title is definitely out of the question this season, given the strength and depth of talent on the Los Angeles Clippers , but there might well be a remote possibility of the Lakers contending for a playoff berth in the Western Conference if they can play with a great deal of consistency over the course of this upcoming season.

Twenty-four seven remains the NFL news’ cycle and the primary reason it has surpassed MLB, NBA and NHL as the most popular professional team sport in the country. The league feeds its fans even with the remotest of tidbits, merely to keep them insatiable and interested in the game even when things are at their most dire in the NFL. Granted , a number of the league’s ills have more to do with the incompetency of the hierarchy under Roger Goodell’s uninspired leadership . The boorish behavior of the players both on and off off the field of play without delving into the criminal antics of a number of the franchise owners around the NFL. I will continue to question the play within the NFL and their reasoning behind a preseason which means absolutely nothing and where the league feels it necessary to still charge full price for an exhibition season , where very little matters in the order of things. Hyperbole surrounds several of the rookies drafted this off-season and in particular the Cleveland Browns’ rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel is still proving he has yet to mature as an individual , while his play on the field has been far from scintillating. Nevertheless , the idiotic calls are already upon us for Manziel to be the team’s opening day quarterback in week one of the regular season .

Cleveland will have one of the easiest schedules in the entire NFL this season with their only having to face two playoff teams from last season , in the Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints . As to those who believe Johnny Manziel is now ready for his professional debut and curtain call in a regularly scheduled NFL game. I would hasten to add, given the woes of the Browns in 2012 and 2013 with Brandon Weeden at the helm as the Browns’ quarterback , it would be in the fans’ best interest to have the rookie sit on the bench for the moment. Those within the media still yearning to see Manziel center-stage will be the first to rip him apart should he prove to be a monumental bust.. Very little has been made about the player’s lack of maturity and leadership skills since his entry into the NFL, but here we are , and boneheaded assholes are now calling for Johnny Manziel to be made a starting quarterback in the NFL .

Manziel will likely get his chance at some point during the season but it will be ultimately be predicated upon the play of Brian Hoyer and the thought process of Mike Pettine and the Browns’ coaching staff .

As if their drafting of Michael Sam was not about to bring a great deal of attention to the St Louis Rams , the knowledge their starting quarterback Sam Bradford will be lost to the team for the regular season, having torn his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) will be a big blow to the ambitions of Jeff Fisher and the organization. Bradford’s career in the NFL has seen its fair share of ups downs . More downs than ups and the likelihood of his NFL career now abruptly coming to an end without his achieving a great deal during his tenure.

With teams now having to make roster cuts bringing their rosters down to seventy-five players, before final cuts at the culmination of the preseason , where the final fifty-three man rosters will be set . It seems imperative Jeff Fisher will be looking to obtain a seasoned veteran quarterback or perhaps make a trade for a backup player at the position . The alternatives for Fisher in terms of the Rams’ current depth chart , provides very slim pickings , if it is your wish to have your choices being made from the following list of candidates , Shaun Hill , Garrett Gilbert and Austin Davis . Somehow , I do not believe they are likely to make an opposing defense quiver in fear as to explosiveness of the Rams’ offense be it on the ground or through the air . Fisher believes Shaun Hill has the experience to lead the team throughout the season , but I believe the player’s lack of in-depth experience and play in general makes it all but a certainty, the Rams will seek a trade for a quarterback with proven ability .

With rumors now percolating Jeff Fisher may well approach the Philadelphia Eagles as to the availability of Mark Sanchez , there seems to be no rival of questions and assumptions that can be made concerning the Rams’ present situation . It would be unlikely Chip Kelly or anyone from within the front office of the Eagles would seek to trade Sanchez , with his being the only experienced backup on the team’s roster to replace Nick Foles should the incumbent starting quarterback go down to a prolonged injury. St Louis will open its regular season schedule against the Minnesota Vikings at the Edward Jones Dome Stadium in St Louis , Missouri on the 7th September , 2014. This should prove to be an interesting contest between two teams seeking reset their goals in 2014.

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this article and do you believe baseball , basketball and the NFL are in the places they need to be , in light of the ongoing issues nationwide ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Michael Brown Sr and Leslie McSpadden listen to a speech as they await the funeral of their slain son , Michael Brown , shot by a Ferguson City Police officer . Brown and McSpadden have asked that the protests be kept at a minimum also asking for quell to the violence that has taken place in the small suburb. AP Photo /Charlie Riedel …

(2) Officer Michael Brown of the Ferguson City Police Force , a six-year veteran , took the life of teenager Michael Brown, an alleged suspect in a theft from a convenience store in the city of Ferguson. Missouri . Brown’s death and the anguish caused has led to rioting and violence with the state governor , Jay Nixon and local civic leaders calling for peaceful demonstrations , rather than the lootiy=2014> d acts of theft being witnessed in the aftermath. AP Photo/ Michal Bennett …

(3) Michael Brown , was college bound, but somehow his death, has led to the nation once again being embroiled in the issue of race relations , crime and the lack of training among many of the nation’s police agencies . AP/REUTERS/ Thomas Charles ….

(4) Brock Holt tags out Seattle Mariners’ Kendrys Morales, left, at third base after Kyle Seager reached on an infield single in the first inning of a baseball game in Boston, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. Boston Red Sox’s 8-6 loss led to the Mariners sweeping the series 3-0 , further adding to Boston’s embarrassingly inept season . AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

(5) David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox has been unable to lead the team with the same amount of dexterity shown in 2013 , leading many to believe if the player is still capable playing at a truly competitive level when facing real adversity on a team which is said to be floundering. AP Photo/ Paul Matthews …

(6) Emmett Ashford , first African-American umpire signed by the major leagues, confers with California Angels’ Manager Bill Rigney at Palm Springs, Calif., on March 13, 1966 as the Angels played the Chicago Cubs. Ashford was making his first appearance as a plate umpire between major league teams. He was signed from the Pacific Coast League at the close of last season. AP Photo/George Brich …..

(7) Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers in what is likely to be his last professional season in the NBA continues to make waves . Unfortunately, as one of the league’s elder statesmen , the player believes he can speak for many of his peers . AP Photo / Chris McIntyre …

(8) Sam Bradford is escorted from the field during a preseason game played against the Cleveland Browns . The quarterback is likely to be lost to the Rams for the remainder of the preseason and the entire regular season schedule . A severe blow to player whose career in the NFL seems to have been injury riddled in recent years . USA Today / Rick Osentoski ….

(9) St Louis Rams’ quarterback Sam Bradford sits on the sidelines of a regular season game played against the Dallas Cowboys . The player’s career now seems to be threatened after suffering another tear of his anterior cruciate ligament , the second such injury suffered by Bradford to very same knee injured in 2013 . AP Photo/ Mark Miller …

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How about ” getting busy “ in all of Busy Philipps’ business ?

 

There comes a time when someone has to step up to the plate ….

There comes a time when someone has to step up to the plate

The NFL regular season has yet to get underway , but yet the speculation has begun about which teams and in particular their rookie quarterbacks will indeed be placed into the lion’s den during week one of the upcoming regular season. Far be it for me to suggest, but with instantaneous success being the insatiable wish of the fans as well as the organizations, a great deal of pressure is now being placed an incoming player to succeed right off the bat. Easier said than done, yet this situation is not only common place within the NFL , but also in the NBA . There the immediacy of success now is more ravenous than within MLB and the NHL.

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We are already witnessing a great deal of speculation on whether or not the play of Johnny Manziel this season has been good enough to beat out Brian Hoyer for the starting role for the Cleveland Browns’ as the team’s quarterback for this upcoming season. Head coach Mike Pettine has made it abundantly clear the role is up for grabs , but wishes to see competitiveness between the two players for the position. Given the woes of Brandon Weeden during his miserable tenure , it is easy to understand why there are likely to be some misgivings about who the starter should be.

The Browns now, are 0-1 in the preseason and face the Washington Redskins on Monday night, in what will be the last of the week two preseason games for the 2014 2014 preseason schedule. Both Hoyer and Manziel are likely to see some playing time during the game along with the starters , backups and players vying for a roster spot on the team. Cleveland’s draft class beyond Johnny Manziel was not overly impressive, but Pettine along with his coaching staff will be looking for a greatest amount of effort from his players.

Cleveland will begin its regular season schedule against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania ,. The AFC North divisional contest will provide one of several highlights at the opening of this regular season. . While Browns’ fans may well be long to see the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner , I believe Manziel will have to curb his yearning for the spotlight and simply get on with earning the respect of his teammates and those around the NFL in general , in spite of his well-chronicled talent.

Johnny Manziel might not have been the top quarterback taken in this most recent NFL Draft when many of the protagonists and NFL analysts categorically stated he was a consensus top-three or top-five pick of the current crop of players drafted . The fact he fell so far down in the pecking order might have well have had something to do with the player’s lack of maturity , image and the hype surrounding Manziel was not at all justified . At some point during the season, we are likely to see how he is likely to fare, should Brian Hoyer fail to ignite this Browns’ team.

Blake Bortles is being viewed as the player Gus Bradley needed all along to make the Jacksonville Jaguars’ pass offense more credible than it has been under Blaine Gabbert since his career began in the NFL with the AFC South based franchise. Years of ineptitude with Gabbert, cannot hide the fact what a complete waste his drafting by the Jaguars was said to be. The alternatives at the quarterback position last season were very poor indeed and was perhaps one of the main reasons why the team fared so badly in 2013. Gus Bradley can only hope that Bortles can improve on those menial figures during the regular season and bring about a resurrection in the team’s fortunes. Though the preseason is not meant to be a big deal for teams, the Jaguars have gotten off to an inauspicious start around a revamped roster, led by Blake Bortles , his rookie teammates and a new influx of free agents to the roster .

A preseason record of 1-1 has the Jacksonville Jaguars sitting comfortably within the league standings in the NFL. A narrow margin of defeat to the Chicago Bears , may not have proved to be conclusive . Though it seems to be enough of an indication as to where the teams stand, while pointing out also, both of these franchises do indeed have a long way to go, before either are seen as a credible threat within their respective divisions and conferences. If the Jaguars are to have any chance of success this season within the AFC South and bringing about the halt in the dominance of the Indianapolis Colts within the division , then Blake Bortles and his teammates will have to prove they are more than worthy challengers to Andrew Luck and the Colts. Luck since his ascent to the professional ranks. has shown why he is one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL , having posted an impressive playoff record so early in his NFL career.

As a number one overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft , Andrew Luck as the heir-apparent to Peyton Manning, has himself become the face of the Colts’ franchise and in some respects made the departure of Manning less painful for the fans. He has brought a great deal of leadership and maturity to the role as the team’s quarterback and is likely to have a distinguished career with the organization, barring any long-term injuries . With the Browns due to host the Indianapolis Colts in week fourteen of the regular season, in a game to be played at the newly renamed First Energy Stadium (formerly Paul Brown Stadium) , in Cleveland , Ohio, this contest should prove to be of great interest to the fans if the opposing quarterbacks are Andrew Luck and Johnny Manziel.

As optimistic as fans of the Houston Texans are likely to be with their drafting of Jadeveon Clowney where the player, seen as a lynch pin of the team’s defense alongside JJ Watt . A 2-14 season gave the Texans the worst record in the NFL in 2013 and it is highly unlikely we will see a major improvement in the Texans’ record and their standing within the AFC South this season . The Indianapolis Colts remains the team to beat within the division and will be considered the prohibitive favorites for the divisional crown in 2014. Head coach Bill O’Brien in succeeding Gary Kubiak , is being asked to re-energize a franchise who last season were far from being competitive, where their defense was among the worst in the NFL. Take into account the woes of Matt Schaub , whose departure from the Texans was expected, but it remains to be seen whether or not he can somehow turn around the continued misfortunes of an Oakland Raiders’ organization still searching for answers in just about every aspect of their game.

I believe both the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders are likely to struggle this upcoming season in spite of the expectations of their fans and the respective organizations. It will be asking a great deal of both Bill O’Brien and Dennis Allen to seemingly turn around teams, who last season were an anathema to NFL and within the AFC. The Oakland Raiders will begin their schedule against conference opponents the New York Jets, where Geno Smith will lead the team in what will be an interesting contest. On the sidelines for the Jets, will be backup quarterback and seasoned veteran Michael Vick, whose career is now on the downside of what can be best described as something of a major disappointment. Houston’s regular season opener, will a contest against the Washington Redskins at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas,.

With each passing season, the folly of the Dallas Cowboys continues with team owner Jerry Jones and his front office continually having high hopes for a franchise which over the past decade has failed to deliver. Tony Romo whose tenure as the team’s quarterback has been well-chronicled and criticized for the lack of success. A great deal of the blame cannot only placed upon the shoulders of Romo , but also the incessant stupidity shown by Jones in many of the Cowboys’ recent draft picks , free agency acquisitions , but overall, his willingness to overpay for small talent in the belief the compensation is justifiably due. The Dallas Cowboys may well be the most valuable and profitable NFL franchise, but what has been abundantly clear , is the lack of success and their not having been a playoff appearance for the franchise since 2009. An NFC championship appearance last came in 1995 , when they won the last of their five Superbowls . Since then, the meager showings for the Cowboys has shown the depths of mediocrity for this franchise , still viewed in some circles as “ America’s Team” .

The NFC East and the preseason standings there, will not be riveting as often the case, with the division being over-hyped by way of the alleged frenetic competitiveness. In reality, the four inhabitants have proven to be a complete monstrosity in terms of the results witnessed last season and the records of the four teams within the division. No longer can the NFC East be considered the best or most competitive division in the NFL, an accolade I now believe rightfully belongs within the NFC West , where all four teams must have to be considered among the very best the league has to offer , especially after 2012 and 2013 in terms of the standings for the seasons mentioned.

Two games into their four-game preseason schedule and I believe the Dallas Cowboys’ record of 2-2 is likely to be a true reflection of this Jason Garrett coached team ! There now seems to be more bodies among Garrett’s coaching staff , with their being little coaching acumen than there appears to playing talent on the Cowboys’ current roster. Needless to say , Jerry Jones and the staff have once again hyped up a draft class and their free agency acquisitions with all of the bravura , one would come to expect of an under-achieving NFL franchise over the past five seasons.

The two consecutive preseason losses in week’s one and two to the San Diego Chargers in lopsided defeat , 27-7, which was followed by a loss at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 37-30. Both scores do not bode well for the Dallas Cowboys, even if we are told the preseason is not something we ought to place a great deal of veracity in. Dallas’ two remaining preseason games will see them as the guests of the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium , in Miami in week three , to be then followed up by their final contest against the Denver Broncos at the newly renamed AT& T Stadium in Arlington , Texas. I am not about to suggest the Cowboys’ final record will be 0-4 or 1-3, but if that were to be the case , I would not at all be surprised! Jason Garrett remains somewhat a clueless head coach and his indecisiveness, along with Tony Romo’s lack of leadership ability will continue to be one of the prevailing factors behind the Cowboys’ continued mediocrity. Dallas and the San Francisco 49ers will kick off their regular season schedule in an all NFC contest , is likely to be one of the more entertaining games opening up the regular season.

Eli Manning has two Superbowl winning appearances to his name , while being the younger sibling to his Hall of Fame bound elder brother , Peyton Manning. Granted, Eli’s two wins to Peyton’s sole victory and inexplicably last season’s lopsided defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks , has many wondering if the pair of brothers are now on something of a downward slide in terms of their respective careers. I believe Peyton Manning’s legacy is secure and he is likely to be viewed as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Eli, if he is to attain the status of being thought of as one the best players of his generation and most certainly one of the best in the game since his being drafted in 2004 . In what will be his eleventh year in the NFL this season , the New York Giants’ quarterback will have a great deal to prove to the Giants’ fans as well the fans in general of the NFL. Last season might well have been one of the worst on record for the player , not just in terms of his game but also for his team and their divisional record under head coach Tom Coughlin .

Questions are now surrounding Eli Manning’s ability as a leader of the New York Giants and the continued validation he believes his status decrees. From my own perspective, the Giants’ issues last season stem from the fact the front office made numerous mistakes in terms of their draft and their trades meant to bolster the roster. The 2014 draft class of Odell Beckham, Weston Richburg, Jay Bromley, Andre Williams, Nat Behre , Devon Kennard and Bennett Jackson will be asked to contribute immediately this upcoming season with Beckham likely showcasing his wide receiving skills to complement one of the areas where there was said to be a lack of productivity for the Giants last season.

While the New York Giants are unbeaten in the preseason, posting a 3-0 record at this point , their final contest of the schedule will be a game against the New England Patriots, where both teams are likely to be fielding their starters for the last game of their preseason schedule. I have no doubt Tom Coughlin would like to see the team’s unbeaten run remain intact , seeking to gain some semblance of consistency as they enter the regular season. For the New York Giants that particular test will come in the first Monday Night Football game of the regular season when they match wits with the Detroit Lions at Ford Field , in Detroit, Michigan,.

It would be fair to suggest the Minnesota Vikings have not had a quarterback of note in several years. Yes, there was the nondescript tenure of Brett Favre and the belief his presence would lead to the Vikings being able to land their very first Superbowl title. As we all witnessed, the player’s incessant belief he was a one-man band able to bring about the impossible brought about Minnesota’s demise in the 2009 postseason , where they would fall to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC championship game , in what many believed was one of Brett Favre’s worst playoff performances of his celebrated career. Errant plays by Favre were among the litany of mistakes made by team on the day, as Drew Brees and his teammates would prevail in the contest.

The era of Christian Ponder as a quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings came and went without anyone actually noticing a thing while he was on the field for the franchise. Injuries may well have plagued his tenure, but it would be correct to state Ponder never fully acquitted himself and he never fully gained the confidence of his teammates during the time-span in question. With the Vikings, having drafted Teddy Bridgewater, it is clear the front office see the rookie as their immediate and long-term future. Now comes the hard part for Bridgewater and it is to prove the faith being shown in him by the organization is more than justified. The belief is likely to be, the rookie will be lined up as third on the depth chart behind Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder , but in reality , Cassel is not that much of an upgrade over Ponder , and his own play for the Vikings has been questionable , when asked to lead the team with any semblance of consistency.

The Minnesota Vikings are one of the eight remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL, before the league enters week three of preseason schedule. Mike Zimmer will take his team into Arrowhead Stadium where they will play the Kansas City Chiefs , in Kansas City , Missouri,. ,. All three Vikings’ quarterbacks are likely to see some playing time over the remainder the team’s two remaining scheduled preseason games, but I believe the starting role for quarterback’s starting position will be whittled down to the final paring of Teddy Bridgewater and Matt Casssel. Christian Ponder will likely be the on the outside looking in, wondering what might have been.

As guests of the St Louis Rams , the Minnesota Vikings take flight as they open their regular season when the two teams meet at the Edward Jones Stadium in St Louis , Missouri on the 7th September , 2014. Jeff Fisher and the Rams will be looking for winning start to their season as Sam Bradford gets the chance to simply show fans of the franchise he is capable of leading this team in spite of the uneasy faith there appears to be in the player’s abilities. Bradford has been ill-served by a front office , which has done little to surround him with a team or a coaching staff capable of winning until the arrival of Fisher and his becoming the head coach of the franchise. .

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As the NFL preseason enters the final two weeks of its schedule , what do you believe has been the biggest storyline during the NFL’s exhibition season? Also for sixth and seventh round picks from this most recent NFL Draft , do you believe many of these players are likely to make and NFL roster as a regular season starter? Bear in bear in mind , there are widely growing reports , Michael Sam is struggling to make inroads , in gaining a roster spot even on the depth chart of the St Louis Rams’ playing staff? Your comments are more than welcomed , so by all means chime in with your thoughts.

Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) From left to right, NFL rookie quarterbacks , Blake Bortles , Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater . The trio of players were all drafted in the first round of this past NFL Draft . Getty Images / Richard Morris ….

(2) Chuck Pagano head coach of the Indianapolis Colts , who in his first two seasons as franchise’s coach has led the Colts to two consecutive playoff berths. AP Photo/ Adam Roberts ….

(3) Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts the number one overall pick from the 2012 NFL Draft in a draft class rich in quarterback talent from that year. Luck in his first two seasons has led the Colts to two consecutive postseason berths under head coach Chuck Pagano . Getty Images / Matthew Ward

(4) Eli Manning (10) of the New York Giants is met by Giants’ Head Coach Tom Coughlin after their 24-20 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 28th , 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This season both Manning and the head coach will be under a great deal of pressure to deliver . A divisional title and a playoff berth are said to be of the utmost priority for the franchise. Getty Images North America/ Alicia Witt …

(5) Mike Zimmer head coach of the Minnesota Vikings seen here addressing the convened press at the team’s headquarters. AP Photo / Ian Desmond …

(6) Christian Ponder (7) of the Minnesota Vikings who has only posted one winning season with the franchise as the team’s quarterback. AP Photo / Andrew Donovan …

(7) Tony Romo (9) of the Dallas Cowboys is seen here with team head coach Jason Garrett . The pair have yet to taste the postseason as a head coach and quarterback tandem , with Romo’s postseason record being simply mediocre in his starting role as the Cowboys’ quarterback . AP Photo/ Amy Frost ….

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Big

Shaking her moneymaker .

No stigma attached here, it’s the NBA and how they continue to do things …

No stigma attached here, it’s the NBA and how they continue to do things …

The NBA finally has a new owner to join their ranks after the league hierarchy’s Board of Governors and owners approved the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft Chairman and billionaire , Steve Ballmer . Sold for the unprecedented sum of $2 billion , Ballmer now acquires a franchise in the need of an immediate makeover . If you thought the end of the league’s own problems concerning franchise stopped there concerning the Clippers and the ongoing litigation process being played out within the legal system. Adam Silver and the league hierarchy are now counter-suing Donald Sterling , former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Sterling Family Trust for unspecified and punitive damages in causing irreparable damage and harm to the league’s image. Unless I am mistaken, the inaction of Silver’s predecessor , David Stern as the then commissioner and his continued failure in severely reprimanding Donald Sterling for his reprehensible behavior , has led the league to its present predicament.

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Donald Sterling’s own pending litigation against the NBA will set out to show the league stepped outside their boundaries, in seeking to expel him from the NBA ownership fraternity and show their own actions were against their own bye laws and mandates. In the midst of this all, Adam Silver, the league hierarchy and the union itself, have shown a great deal of hypocrisy, with their pontificating about the misdeeds of Donald Sterling, while excusing the equally reprehensible behavior of other owners and in a number of respects, players themselves. Now we come full circle and the league seeks to place itself above-board and beyond reproach. Unfortunately, the league’s handling of this whole spectacle has been an unmitigated disaster and a complete mess . Speaks so highly of this league being , one said to be image conscious and one capable of dealing with damage control. I think not!

Steve Ballmer, as the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers has promised to do everything possible within his power to provide the organization the means necessary to bring about success for the franchise . No doubt Clippers’ head coach and President of Basketball Operations Doc Rivers will welcome the comments attributed to the team owner. Also, Ballmer, as a way of paying the assistance provided by Rochelle Sterling in the sale of the franchise , has awarded the former owner’s estranged wife with two titles , one said to honorary and the other likely being done for publicity purposes. She will be officially be made the Clippers’ number one fan , as well as holding the position as an Executive Emeritus . Somehow in light of Rochelle Sterling’s lack of action with her husband’s actions from the outset and that he now stands to benefit financially from the sale of the team ,profiting to the tune of $1 billion in Ballmer’s purchase of the franchise. This all might be looked on with a great deal of cynicism, while the league itself still has to look at the fact some remnants of the Clippers’ ownership will still remain with Rochelle Sterling’s association with the franchise.

This upcoming season within the NBA apart of the off-season tumult where the biggest story was LeBron James’ departure from the Miami Heat to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers , sent a seismic shift within the Eastern Conference, as well as perhaps now creating the perception the Cavaliers are now the best team in the conference. Pending the acquisition of Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the Cavaliers’ number one draft pick Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett . There might well be some validity to the claims, but I do believe the Chicago Bulls have a great deal more depth than Cleveland and I sincerely doubt that you can still discount the Miami Heat out of the equation. The conference itself continues to remain a boon for the NBA, with the level of play having been on the decline for several years in spite of the talent level on display.

For the Los Angeles Clippers having to play in the shadows of their more famous neighbors and inhabitant at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , might now be a thing of the past, with the all too abrupt decline of the Los Angeles Lakers. The only saving grace for the Lakers might well be the fact Kobe Bryant remains a member of the team, but even that may not be enough to stave off what may well another horrific year for the franchise. Doc Rivers for his part, will look to further emphasize the Clippers’ resurgence and add to the Lakers’ misfortunes. With Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan providing the bulk of the Clippers’ offense this past season , the team for this upcoming season will be viewed as one of the better rosters within the Western Conference and competitive enough to be considered a likely contender within the conference.

The meetings between the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers this season should prove to be quite entertaining affairs, with the Pacific Division of the Western Conference being up for grabs , if the Lakers can find some semblance of competitiveness among their players . The first of their scheduled contests between the two teams will take place on the 31st October with the NBA having just entered the first week of its eighty-two game schedule . Kobe Bryant and new head coach Byron Scott along with a revamped roster , will undoubtedly be looking to place the franchise’s woes behind them. Scott having succeeded Mike D’Antoni will be under no illusion what is expected of he and his coaching staff this season. I believe if he can get the best out of his players they are quite capable of being just under a .500 team , winning at best, no more than thirty-five to forty games this season. A great deal of this will be predicated on the health and play of Kobe Bryant , but perhaps even more so when it comes to his teammates , even with a newly revamped roster to complement the All Star.

With all of the hoopla which surrounded LeBron James decision, it should be noted a great deal of the Miami Heat’s failure came from the fact , James was not ably assisted by his teammates during the NBA Finals in their thoroughly lopsided series’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Heat protagonists were so blinded by their own stupidity in not seeking to: look at the innumerable flaws on the team. Heat President Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra could not have seen the inevitable, but the signs were clearly there to be seen, by those who only had to look at the demeanor of LeBron James throughout much of the regular season but in particular during the series against the San Antonio Spurs. The Heat’s demise has led to questions being asked not only of the franchise and organization , but also of LeBron James and his intent. It is pretty much safe to suggest the very first meeting of the season between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat will be filled with drama and intrigue, as many will be seeking to make something out of the contest.

Dan Gilbert as the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers will seek to bury the past and start afresh in terms of his relationship with LeBron James. Certainly, he seems to be going about this in the right way, having brought in a new coaching staff led by David Blatt and the wheeling and dealing in the acquisition of seasoned veterans to complement the current roster , much to the satisfaction of James and teammate Kyrie Irving . Whether or not this will lead to a divisional title , deep postseason run and ultimately an NBA title in his first season as the returning Prodigal Son remains to be seen. The excitement has already began to build within the city of Cleveland, as expectations are indeed high for this franchise over the course of the season. The Cavaliers’ regular season will begin with a home game at the Quicken Loans Arena , in Cleveland, Ohio, against the New York Knicks led by Carmelo Anthony .

I will say this for Phil Jackson , in spite of his ego , he still remains one hell of a coach, albeit, along the way, a great deal of his success can be attributed to the fact he was not asked to assemble the teams in question, where he won his record eleven NBA titles as a head coach. Having the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen already in place with the Chicago Bulls was a great deal of help while providing a certainty of success. Secondly, who can argue with the fact, while with the Los Angeles Lakers having Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal , perhaps among the top ten players in Lakers’ history was not once again further guarantee of multiple titles for the organization. Granted, the final pair of titles won by the Los Angeles Lakers, were won with a make shift team , lacking the renowned center. However, it should not in any way diminish his accomplishments as a head coach. Jackson’s return to the NBA as the Head of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks has more to do with James Dolan’s wish to no longer be seen as the NBA owner without a clue. The Knicks’ mediocre record of the past ten years , has more to do with Dolan’s lack of continuity within the front office of the organization and a penchant for acquiring head coaches simply lacking the acumen as a head coach. The proof has been there for all to see with the list of coaches to have held the position over the past decade.

Carmelo Anthony’s wish to remain with the New York Knicks and signing a record deal with the franchise secures his long-term financial future and provides the Knicks with sense of continuity. The hiring of Derek Fisher to succeed Mike Woodson brings in someone who is likely to have the respect the players on the team . Fisher’s coaching staff headed by Kurt Rambis . With hindsight, the moves made by the Knicks during the off-season might well seem perplexing, but their acquiring Jose Calderon, Quincy Acy and Samuel Dalembert should prove to be more of a competitive lineup, than the team which made the NBA Playoffs in 2013 . The Knicks’ foray in the postseason would come to an abrupt and decisive end , in their conference semi-finals’ loss to the Indiana Pacers.

This season the Knicks will have to prove they are more than simply an offensive minded team, often seen last season terms of their play. Defensively, they were mindlessly inept , as seen in their results and final divisional standings. It will be interesting to see how the Knicks acclimate themselves through their first fifteen to twenty games under their new head coach Derek Fisher. New York’s first game of the regular season will be a true test of the mettle of this Knicks’ team against the Chicago Bulls, then to be followed by their visit to the Cleveland Cavaliers , where LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will get to test their wills . Strangely enough, the rumors were being circulated it was James’ wish to join up with Anthony as teammates, but alas, it was not to be. Cap issues , would certainly have burdened a team seeking to have the pairing lead their roster.

Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder was a deserving winner of the NBA League MVP Award and perhaps one of the most popular winners of the accolade of the past decade. However , with his Durant’s singular success , the fact his team was unable to make another deep run in the NBA Playoffs of this past season, is another reminder why the NBA now has to have teams, with at least a pair or trio of superstars to > lead their rosters. No disrespect to Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook , but his play has to be more consequential and productive all round , if the Thunder are to have any chance of prevailing in the playoffs .

Durant’s recent comments, that his future in Oklahoma is by no means a certainty. will likely be a wake-up call for team GM Sam Presti and the ownership group if it is their wish to keep the franchise’s best and most popular player. His departure would likely lead to decline in the Thunder’s ambitions and play, but these are now the issues a lot of teams face in the NBA, as they seek to keep their stars, particularly those teams thought to be in a small or medium size market. Kevin Durant will become a free agent in 2016 , where he is likely to be the marquee player of free agent class on the market at the time. It is either up the ante and resign the player or simply allow them to go elsewhere as they seek a desired contract and success. Hard to question a player’s desire in such an instance, but at the same time one has to question what one might believe to be loyalty to a franchise.

Scott Brooks as head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder knows this is likely to be the last of the few opportunities, he has left to bring home an NBA title to a fan-base , who believe they are deserving of such an award. Fans of the Thunder are among the most knowledgeable and raucous in the NBA , making the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, one of the most imposing environments in the NBA for an opposing team. If you doubt that fact, then simply look at the Thunder’s attendance record , home results (68-14) of the past two seasons to realize what an opponent has to face as an adversary of the Thunder.

Sam Presti’s off-season acquisitions and the NBA Draft should once again make this Oklahoma City Thunder team one of the prohibitive favorites within the Western Conference, but once again all roads are likely to lead through the San Antonio Spurs as they seek to make a successful defense of their NBA title. The intense rivalry between the two teams over the past four years, will be renewed, with the first of their series’ meetings taking place on Christmas Day at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas,. It may well be the case, where nation’s eyes are averted elsewhere, when the Miami Heat take on the Cleveland Cavaliers, as LeBron James will be making his first return to Miami since the decision was made to leave his former team. Will a warm welcome, await James or will it be sour grapes among the Miami Heat fans?

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Picture gallery .

During this NBA off-season which incident or storyline do you believe might well have had the most adverse effect on the league? Also, which team or player do you believe will be the most exciting to see over the course of the upcoming season?

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(1) Steve Ballmer , left, former Chairman of Microsoft is seen here with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at a Los Angeles Clippers’ game played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Ballmer’s $2 billion bid was approved by the NBA Board of Governors , after intense legal wrangling within the California Justice System between Rochelle Sterling , estranged wife of former team owner Donald Sterling . Both will share equally in the sale price proceeds of the deal , which is the largest in NBA history . AP Photo / Chris Miller …

(2) Los Angeles Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers is seen here with the team’s point guard Chris Paul . The pair hope to see the Clippers make a successful defense of their Pacific Division title as well as making a deep playoff run in the postseason. Rivers as the de-facto general manager and Head of Basketball Operations will be hoping the off-season acquisitions and draft class are good enough to make the team a real contender this season . Getty Images / Mary Carpenter …

(3) LeBron James seen here in Hong Kong on a promotional visit , will be hoping to become an immediate success with the Cleveland Cavaliers this upcoming season. Season tickets are being sold at a record-setting pace by the franchise and all signs are, the Cavaliers will be among the top supported teams in the NBA this upcoming season . Something which has not happened since the player’s last season with the franchise in 2009. AP Photo/ Ken Cheung …….

(4) New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher is seen here with Phil Jackson, a SVP & Head of Basketball Operations for the franchise. Fisher in what will be his first season as a head coach will be looking to emulate one his peers Jason Kidd who was able to lead the Brooklyn Nets to the NBA Playoffs in his first season as the head coach of the Brooklyn based NBA franchise. Kidd’s subsequent and untimely departure from the Nets , has led to his taking over as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks . AP Photo / Hank Moss …

(5) Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder is seen here with the team’s head coach Scott Brooks . The pair are hoping to make even bigger inroads this upcoming season, where their eyes are on the prize , in the hope of winning the franchise’s first NBA title as the Thunder. Getty Images/ Amy Harper …

(6) Members of San Antonio Spurs celebrate at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas after their crushing game five and series’ deciding win over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals , for the franchise’s fifth NBA title in the past eighteen years. Gregg Popovich has coached the Spurs to each of the titles in question, making him one of the most successful coaches in NBA history. AP Photo / Henry Cusack …. .

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Perky

Always revealing and then some .

The fault lies in their play, but you could also say the stars …….

The fault lies in their play, but you could also say the stars …….

Inasmuch as I love the game of baseball , I have to admit this might be one of the worst seasons on record in recent history. The AL East is barely recognizable and the level of play in what is said to be the best division in baseball has been truly dire. Defending World Series’ champions, the Boston Red Sox have now become an afterthought as the season has progressed. Say nothing of which, a great deal is being made out of a rivalry between the Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays , which resonates about as much as a rancid piece of cheese that has been left out for days on end, merely sticking up the joint. Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles merely have to play .550 baseball or better to have the division sewn up for themselves and thereby win their first AL East crown in over a decade.

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If the Baltimore Orioles were to falter, then the likely recipients of their fall, would likely be the Toronto Blue Jays , whose play this season has been moderate though not overly inspiring. John Gibbons and his managerial staff , have a team that appears to be on the cusp of achieving something special this season, but a great deal of the success they are seeking will be dependent on the play of many of their seasoned veterans on the team’s roster, as well as the coaching acumen shown by Gibbons and his staff. The Blue Jays will be the guests of the Seattle Mariners when the two teams meet on Monday afternoon, with Drew Hutchinson taking the mound for the visiting team against Felix Hernandez of the Mariners. The game itself could provide us with something of a precursor as to the ambitions of two teams wishing to remain in the midst of the wildcard hunt if not their respective divisional races .

Buck Showalter and his team , will play host to the New York Yankees at Camden Yards , in Baltimore , Maryland on Monday afternoon. For the Yankees, their season now seems to be fading fast , as too are the hopes of team captain Derek Jeter and the team making the MLB postseason. For Joe Girardi , this might well have been a season where injuries may well have played a part in his team’s faltering , but in large part it has come down to the lack of productivity from his pitching staff and the inconsistency of the offense of the players. Jeter in his twentieth and final season with the franchise , may well go down as of the Yankees’ greatest players and given the ball-club’s achievements and their captain’s own astonishing career , it must be said, his departure from the game of baseball will be seen as the end of an era.

Hope springs eternal, but year in and year out the Tampa Bay Rays have simply promised more than they can deliver for their forlorn fans. In spite of the idiocy of some among the Rays’ fan-base, who will continue to make excuses for a front office which now seems devoid of real creativity. The recent trade of All Star pitcher David Price put an end to any chance the Rays might have had for the postseason. Price, being traded to the Detroit Tigers gives the AL Central based team a leg up on their divisional rivals in their chase for the division, while the Rays themselves continue to languish at the mid to lower end of the wildcard contestants .

Six and a half games out of the wildcard placing and the Tampa Bay Rays remain a long shot for one of the two AL berths. Consistency remains the key , but this team has not remained consistent in terms of winning series much less winning games over the course of the season, when needed . All of the enduring optimism from Joe Maddon cannot make up for the fact this remains a very average team in spite of claims at to the depth of their pitching. As good as the rotation may well seem to be, you simply cannot discount how woefully inconsistent their offense tends to be. Whatever leadership is said to be on the team , no one can seem to point to a vocal leader, certainly not Joe Maddon with his ongoing whimsical anecdotes and the same can be said of their all too less than knowledgeable fans. Excuses are now the norm from almost every quarter when it comes to the organization, be it from the local media, the fans or from members of front office and their ongoing cries of either disillusionment, or the simple fact they have become defeatist. Whining from the likes of players such as Chris Archer simply amplifies one of the ongoing issues within the organization and the lack of a competitive spirit.

If there is one manager within baseball who is expected to succeed this season , then it would have to be Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels . With a team that is said to possess one of the strongest lineups in the AL from a batting standpoint, there should be no reason for the Angels to falter this season. Everything Scioscia and his staff have asked for, has been granted by team owner Arte Moreno and GM Jerry Dipoto , along with a six-figure payroll for a team which now has the best player in the game among its lineup. If there are doubters as to the talents of Mike Trout , then I would gladly like to hear the arguments from those who think to the contrary ! ! Albert Pujols may well command the respect of his peers within the game, but the Angels are now Trout’s team for him to lead and his teammates willingly follow his lead.

If the Los Angeles Angels are to have things their own way, then they will have to overcome what is proving to be a very competitive and resilient Oakland Athletics’ team , who are not yet ready to relinquish their dominance of the AL West , much less the defense of their divisional crown. The two teams this season have proven to be highly combative in their seasonal meetings with the A’s currently holding a lead in those contests (6-3) in 2014. The most recent contest between the two divisional rivals, ended with an emphatic 7-1 mauling of the Angels by the A’s at Anaheim Stadium , in Anaheim, California on the 11th June.

Three-and-a half games separate the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angels within the AL West , but Mike Scioscia’s players seem to be in the driver’s seat in terms of the wildcard berth at present by virtue of a better record than their two closest rivals the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners . Tuesday pits the Angels against the disappointing Philadelphia Phillies , with CJ Wilson on the mound taking on Jerome Williams , when these two teams meet at Anaheim Stadium. The Tigers will face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates with the opposing pitchers being Robbie Ray against Edinson Volquez of the Pirates , in a game being played at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ,. Seattle will square off against the Toronto Blue Jays , with J A Happ looking to improve on his 8-6 record for the season , when he opposes Chris Young at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. All three contests should prove to be interesting and highly competitive given what is likely to be at stake , at this point of the season.

It doesn’t seem so long ago, where fans thought of the Texas Rangers as an organization likely to succeed at the highest levels of the game. Hall of Famer and Rangers’ great Nolan Ryan held sway as a senior executive within the organization , but then wheels on the Texas juggernaut became deflated and then suffered a large puncture. Ryan was made the scapegoat for the ball-club’s ills , but in many respects it was simply the arrogance of the franchise , starting with the front office , down through the managerial staff and several of the players , some of whom are no longer with the organization. GM Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington are now left holding the bag , as the team now wades through a season of sheer mediocrity. The Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies now share the worst records in the entire Major Leagues, a sad indictment of two teams showing little ambition this season.

In all likelihood, this will prove to be Ron Washington’s last season with the Texas Rangers , because it seems highly unlikely he will be asked to return for next season. The team has become listless , uncompetitive , totally lacking in leadership both and off the field of play. Having assumed the contract of Prince Fielder in a trade that simply made no sense whatsoever , the Rangers have now burdened themselves with an unproductive slugger whose prime came and went at least three or four years ago . As to what this indicates about the mindset of Jon Daniels and the ownership group of the Rangers is anyone’s guess , but clearly, this was a catastrophic blunder on the part of the organization in acquiring the player from the Detroit Tigers.

Fielder has been limited to forty-two games this season, having been placed on the sixty-day disabled list(DL) , likely to miss the rest of the season and undergoing neck surgery. Injuries asides, which has plagued the Rangers for much of the year, it has been a lack of leadership all-round which has played its part in the team’s lousy play and record (46-71). If Texas are to now any real signs of life, then their current series against the Tampa Bay Rays which resumes today when the two teams meet at the newly renamed Global Life Park in Arlington , Texas. Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays will face opposing pitcher Nick Tepesch of the Rangers in what should prove to be a riveting pitchers’ duel.

If the Texas Rangers are to avert a disastrous season then series such as the one being played against the Tampa Bay Rays will have to be won decisively and the consistency has to be maintained over the remainder of their schedule. Ron Washington’s long-term future is now intertwined with his team’s play, and if failure is to play a part in the ongoing drama now unfolding, the manager is likely to become a managerial casualty during the off-season along with several other possible candidates around the game of baseball.

Call me naïve, but I believe the NL Manager of The Year is likely to be Matt Williams of the Washington Nationals . Williams seems to have managed to achieve the impossible, having his team play with a great deal of consistency while keeping at bay the Atlanta Braves , Miami Marlins and New York Mets out of contention for the divisional crown in the NL East. In his first season as the manager of the Nationals, it now looks as if the incumbent manager has been able to do what his predecessor Davey Johnson failed in doing and that is getting a team mixed veterans and youth to believe in themselves. A great of the credit has to go to Matt Williams and his managerial staff , the faith shown in the staff by the ownership group and GM Mike Rizzo . The Nationals’ billionaire owner Ted Lerner and his partners are certainly intent on bringing a World Series’ title to the ball-club and are ready to do whatever it takes to achieve the goal.

Matt Williams and the Nationals will be seeking to make their first postseason appearance since the 1981 MLB postseason and the team reaching the NLCS and their 3-2 series’ loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. With a four-game lead over the Atlanta Braves within the NL East and Fredi Gonzalez’ Braves looking nothing like reigning divisional champions, it has to be said Washington now has the division practically sewn up. The high-flying Nationals will take their show on the road, when they meet the New York Mets at Citi-Field in Flushing , New York, in the first game of their three-game series against their divisional rivals. Doug Fister of the Nationals takes the mound for the visitors against Rafael Montero in a pitching contest between two of the NL’s best young pitchers. It will be interesting to see how the season now pans out for the Washington Nationals where star players Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg will be seeking to make their mark over the remainder of the season for the team.

Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper were first round draft picks by the Washington Nationals in 2009 and 2010 respectively, with both players now seen as major reasons why the team is now having some semblance of real success. Yet, until the ball-club itself has made a deep run in the postseason with the pair in question contributing to the success , what we have witnessed so far, are the players living up to the expectations first seen as collegiate players and then within the Nationals’ farm system before their debuts in the Big Leagues. MLB agent Scott Boras will no doubt be making sure both of his clients are likely to be handsomely rewarded when their existing contracts are due to expire. Boras has certainly made his presence known among the general managers around baseball , where he has proven to be a thorn in the side of these front office executives. His zealous representation of some of baseball’s most high profiled and highest paid players by way of their contracts and salaries , has been a major reason why their remains a financial imbalance among the haves and have-nots within baseball .

Some of the individual regular season awards will be hard to decide but I believe we could well see repeat winners for a number of the top prizes. Clayton Kershaw seems to be an odds on favorite to repeat as the NL Cy Young Award winner, and in the AL, the award is being fiercely contested by Chris Sale , Felix Hernandez , Rick Porcello and Jon Lester . League MVP in the AL is Mike Trout’s to lose, albeit, many believed he would have been a worthy winner of the award in 2013, only for the voters to go with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. Though this season both Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano are staking valid claims as worthy candidates, but Trout’s all-round presence and contributions have greater weight than either of his competitors for the award.

NL honors for League MVP is not a foregone conclusion, but Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Morneau , Yasiel Puig , Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton are making solid claims why they should be atop of everyone’s list for the award. The rookies and their debuts within the AL and NL will simply be about the impressions made and how dynamic they happen to be. Hard to believe however, Derek Jeter during his playing career, having won the AL Rookie of the Year Award , was never afforded the prestige of winning the AL MVP. The AL Manager of The Year Award , I believe will come down to Buck Showalter of the Orioles, Bob Melvin , Ned Yost and John Gibbons, should he be able to pull off of the improbable and lead the Blue Jays to a divisional win in the AL East.

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Picture gallery.

As baseball enters the final third of its season what has impressed you the most in terms of the teams’ play or that of a player’s? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit, on this and anything else you believe to be of importance.

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell , left, is seen here with David Ortiz. This season the Red Sox have been abysmal , showing little competitive spirit within their division ,lying in fifth and last place within the AL East , often described as the toughest division in all of baseball . AP Photo/ Dave Walsh …

(2) A pensive Buck Showalter looks on from the dugout during a regular season game being played by the Baltimore Orioles . Getty Images North America / Steve Jones …

(3) Jays slugger Jose Bautista , right, is congratulated by manager John Gibbons after hitting a walk-off single in the 10th inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday 22nd May 2013 . After a slow start, Bautista is posting better numbers, but the Jays need him to start producing the way he has in the past . This year the Toronto Blue Jays are definitely looking like divisional contenders . within the AL East while seeking to make inroads on the Orioles’ lead within the division . REUTERS/ Mark Blinch ….

(4) Los Angeles Angles’ GM Jerry Dipoto ,left , is seen here with Mike Trout center and team manager Mike Sciocsia . Trout was the recipient of the Jackie Robinson Award as AL Rookie of The Year. Trout has been spectacular for the Angels over the past three seasons leading the team in a number offensive categories. AP Photo / Mark Daniels …

(5) Texas Rangers’ manager Ron Washington left is seen here with GM Jon Daniels . The team has failed miserably this season and with Prince Fielder limited to forty-two games , now on the sixty-day disabled list . The Rangers are mow mired in mediocrity , while having one of the worst records in all of baseball. A great deal of the failure has been attributed to Daniels’ capricious off-season moves via the free agency market and several other far-reaching trades, saddling the team with Fielder’s exorbitant contract . AP Photo/ Jack Marshall …

(6) Washington Nationals’ manager Matt Williams greet Bryce Harper at the end of the game , where the Nationals were victorious in a home contest played at Nationals’ Ballpark in Washington , DC . AP Photo/ Garry Mason …
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Ewa Sonnet who always provides us with pleasurable and pleasing images .

More of Ewa, will always be a pleasure .

Don’t bother with the platitudes just bring on a dose of reality …………

Don’t bother with the platitudes just bring on a dose of reality …………

Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour , now s have an image problem to deal with beyond the fact golf’s most high-profiled player is likely to be lost to the Tour for a several weeks. Tiger Woods’ career has been derailed in recent seasons by his own behavioral issues and by recurring injuries, most notably his back. This season, it has been injuries which have plagued the player’s year and his play , leaving many in doubt , whether he can reach the heights where he was once golf’s most dominant player and a certainty to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of eighteen Major Grand Slam wins. Nicklaus’ feat might now seem out of reach but the PGA all-time career wins on the Tour does seem attainable for Woods, if he can regain a degree of fitness and form.

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As the PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, cannot be happy with the fact he has suspended Dustin Johnson for a six month banishment , while the player undergoes rehab for a substance abuse problem, which has been determined to be cocaine addiction. Now don’t get me wrong, but my question is , since when were golfers known to be the “bad boys “ of the sports’ world , never mind their partying like perverted rock stars? I guess after the sexual peccadilloes of Tiger Woods , Johnson’s actions had to be expected. If not Dustin Johnson, then who would be the next high-profiled Tour golfer to be caught in a web of lies , deceit and sexual intrigue?

Courtesy of Fox News

Dustin Johnson failed drug tests, fooled around with tour player’s wife, report says

Reports of drug use and sleeping with other tour players’ wives have followed in the wake of Thursday’s announcement by pro golfer Dustin Johnson that he is taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour.

Golf.com cited an unnamed source who said Johnson failed three drug tests in the past five years, including a positive test for marijuana in 2009 and two positive tests for cocaine in 2012 and 2014.

The PGA is not required to make public any player suspensions that result from positive tests for recreational drugs.

The same report also said Johnson “had a sexual indiscretion with at least one wife of a PGA Tour player.”

A rep for the tour did not respond to Golf.com’s request for comment.

Following the report, Fox Sports reporter Robert Lusetich tweeted that Johnson was known to have slept with not one, but two tour players’ wives.

Not a huge secret either that #DustinJohnson had affairs with 2 wives of PGA Tour players. One broke up the marriage.

— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) August 1, 2014

Johnson became engaged to Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, in August, 2013. He issued a statement Thursday that addressed his hiatus from the tour.

“I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced,” he said. “By committing the time and resources necessary to improve my mental health, physical well-being and emotional foundation, I am confident that I will be better equipped to fulfill my potential and become a consistent champion.”

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Now if the allegations concerning Johnson are indeed true, his philandering with the wives of many of the players on the PGA Tour does leave the player in an untenable position in terms of his relationships with his peers. As to what this also indicates concerning the behavior of a number of the Tour professionals does leave a great deal to be desired as well as the wholesome tradition Tim Finchem tries to sell to the public. With over $260 million in official prize money on the PGA Tour, as well as a further $60 million in unofficial prize money , by way of unofficial tournaments that remains in part, a bevy of the schedule, golf remains one of the most lucrative sports by way of the on course earnings afforded their professionals.

The PGA Tour much like the NFL , MLB and NBA , has created a charade of wholesomeness , that in no way could they have maintained , which their respective hierarchies tried to keep up the perception, while conning the fans and public alike their sports remained above reproach. Fact of the matter remains, golf has always been shrouded with some very dubious distinctions of which its greatest was and still remains racism , lack of diversity, and the ongoing bigoted and archaic values within Augusta National , home to The Masters . Only recently, have we seen the change in attitude of members of Augusta and even now, there still seems to be an aversion to real change within that bastion of male chauvinism and bigotry. Before Tiger Woods’ ascent to the top of the world rankings as well as winning fourteen Grand Slam Majors and seventy-four official PGA Tour wins. The last African-American golfers of note on the PGA Tour were Lee Elder and Calvin Peete. Perhaps, this was merely the PGA Tour’s lack of social response or the very fact they felt, the issue did not need to be addressed.

With Tiger Woods’ descent, the rise of Rory McIlroy might well have provided the PGA Tour with a real superstar the sport is now sorely missing. Phil Mickelson does not seem to be the player thought to be ready to lay down the gauntlet and in proving to be a real adversary for Tiger Woods. Bubba Watson appears to be all too robotic in his approach , character and the very fact he does not seem to be a real major draw on the Tour in spite of his career. Jordan Speith’s rise up the world rankings and Fedex Cup standings has simply afforded him a great deal of attention within the print media but until he notches that first real big win on the PGA Tour, he will be merely seen as another wunderkind, thought to be the heir-apparent.

Rory McIroy’s wire to wire-to-wire win of The Open at Hoylake and his most recent win of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational , simply emphasizes why he is now the best golfer on the planet . His world number one ranking , reinforces that fact and his dominance of the game comes at a time when golf is really in need of a genuine superstar and not a robotic character-less prototype thrown up on the PGA Tour , as the next American golfer that will dominate the game.

Dustin Johnson’s suspension and Tiger Wood’s recurrence of a back problem now leaves incoming USA Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson at a loss as to the possible replacements are likely to be , to fill out his twelve man roster for this biannual team competition featuring the US against the best Europe has to offer in terms of the European Tour players. With golf, having now become a global game , the two main tours are the PGA and the European Tour . Europe may well be made the presumptive favorites for the upcoming competition, set to begin on the 23rd September through to the 28th September at Gleneagles Golf Course , Gleneagles , Scotland. Paul McGinley as the European team captain will have a bevy of talent with a group of players made up of Major winners, regular competitors on the European Tour, as well as on the PGA Tour. . The bragging rights and unique distinction of this team competition, makes it one of the most anticipated and talked about sporting events in the world at the time of its scheduling. With Europe looking to take back the Ryder Cup trophy, this September, all eyes will be on Gleneagles , Scotland, once this competition gets underway.

Having won three of the four legs of the Majors which make up the career Grand Slam . Rory McIlroy would like nothing better than to join what is really a select list of golfers to have achieved that feat. Jack Nicklaus , Tiger Woods and Gary Player are three of the group of players to have achieved the feat, with Nicklaus’ eighteen Major wins heading the list of Grand Slam victories. It should be noted the tally would have been far greater for the Golden Bear , when you consider the number of runner-up finishes (second place) he tallied in the Majors over his illustrious career. The Green Jacket of The Masters is the one Major victory McIlroy now seeks to join the illustrious group in question, but this Thursday , with the start of the PGA Championship at the : Valhalla Golf Course in Louisville, Kentucky. The young Irishman will get the chance to win his fifth Major title and second in succession within a calendar year, should he prove victorious in taking the PGA crown. The odds might not favor McIlroy, but who is likely to really challenge him at this juncture, given his present form ?

Misery , sorrow , call it what you will, but the belly aching by the fans who saw the fall from grace of the Miami Heat was enough to make your stomach turn. You had the sheer idiocy of fans suggesting an ailing Dwyane Wade merely had to turn up for the postseason and barely lift an eyelid and the Heat would have swept their way to victory over the San Antonio Spurs . In reality, I know what makes the North American sports’ fan really tick, it is their inane stupidity and lack of real knowledge, only knowing to spurt real absurdities to make themselves sound knowledgeable. LeBron James was afforded as much aid by his teammates in this past NBA Finals as a gunshot wound victim would be given aid , had it been a Band Aid to cover a wound to the abdomen that was still bleeding profusely. Where was either Dwyane Wade or the ” overrated” Chris Bosh in these Finals ? I will tell you where , no fucking where to be seen , and yet the excuses as to the Heat’s demise were still forthcoming. Let’s put it this way , with the dumb ass lack of intelligence being shown by LeBron James’ apologists such as Stephen A Smith and Chris Broussard , I really wonder how the NBA has any real legitimacy with regard to the print media much less the lack of frigging intelligence shown by some fans !

With LeBron James now deciding to pull up sticks and make his way back to Cleveland and bringing a forgiving smile by rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers , all may well be right in the NBA world once again. Throw in for good measure , Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert seems to have had a change of heart about the player he once called self-centered, arrogant and disloyal. One might now ask , what must James now do to make the fans in Cleveland really happy ? An NBA title in the first year of his return will not be happening, even if based on the premise of the Cavaliers trading away their 2014 NBA number one draft pick , Andrew Wiggins to acquire power forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves .

Dan Gilbert, GM David Griffin and new head coach David Blatt , believe the acquisition of Kevin Love can best bolster the team roster, making them a legitimate contender within the Eastern Conference . While likely the case, I believe it too early to make such a presumption, not when you have a Chicago Bulls’ team led by Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah , reigning Defensive Player of the Year and the addition of a still productive veteran Pau Gasol. In the Bulls you have a team coached by the best coach in the NBA yet to win a title, by the name of Tom Thibodeau . Chicago can be considered a real threat and with Rose fit though not yet in real game shape , he is already proving to be his old self in terms of leadership skills, which have been on display while a member of the USA FIBA squad for the upcoming World Cup tournament. And with the injury suffered by Paul George of the Indiana Pacers during a team scrimmage, Rose’s place on the final team roster for the tournament seems assured. If he can merely find some of the form shown when he became one of the youngest players ever to win the NBA League MVP , then one has to look at the Chicago Bulls as a prohibitive favorite within the Eastern Conference this upcoming season. From a defensive standpoint the Bulls are one of the best teams within the conference and the league itself and might just be the most balanced team in the Eastern Conference with the addition of Pau Gasol.

The shakeup within the NBA caused by LeBron James’ defection to the Cleveland Cavaliers did not have desired effect one might have thought. Carmelo Anthony remained with the New York Knicks signing for more money , as if there was any real doubt , he would have left their offer on the table ? Phil Jackson will now seek to bolster what is still a very under-achieving team , with Amare’ Stoudemire still remaining a part of an equation , where his lack of productivity and bloated salary becomes more than an eyesore and afterthought. As to the reasons why Knicks’ fans seem so reassured , might have more to do with the choice of Derek Fisher to succeed Mike Woodson as the team’s head coach than it has to do with the Knicks’ 2014 draft class . Not exactly thrilling, but for the Knicks, anything which takes the spotlight off the organization’s incompetence has to be seen as a positive .

The Miami Heat’s loss of LeBron James has Pat Riley running to the hills , seeking to repair the damage done . During the season Riley essentially stood pat , not seeking to bolster a roster that was flawed in so many ways. Yet , there were fans and analysts alike enamored and in awe of a team playing in a weakened , mediocre division and conference . If any of them , simply took the time to look at what was happening in the Eastern Conference and its divisions, they would have noticed how dire the situation had become was simply ongoing from previous seasons . Instead, it was all about the greatness of LeBron and this team seeking to win back to back to back NBA titles. When you have a product which has become so putrid and bile inducing, as witnessed in the Eastern Conference, with fans are lauding over it as something spectacular , you simply have to wonder what might be going on inside their minds as well as that of the NBA hierarchy? Outgoing commissioner David Stern was lauded by owners and his peers as being a savior of the game, but his apparent willingness to overlook litany of behavioral issues of Donald Sterling and Rich DeVos , shows the former commissioner being an ass, as well as dubious and duplicitous in the league’s ongoing problems . Stern is to the NBA, what the Tea Party is now proving to be for the Republican Party, more of a burden, rather than a considerable boost .

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli , Kawhi Leonard and their teammates showed us what team work was all about during the finals and their clinical dismantling of their Eastern Conference opponents. Leonard showed us why Gregg Popovich had so much faith in the three-year starter in the league. He has matured into a dependable and solid player , likely to be the centerpiece of the Spurs’ future upon the retirement of the franchise’s Big Three of Duncan, Ginobli and Parker. Leonard’s winning of the Finals’ MVP Award was more than justified as he led the Spurs, showing signs of maturity beyond his years, as well as the fans witnessing his great all-round ability during the series. Could the same be said of anyone on the Miami Heat’s roster with the exception of LeBron James ?

In winning their fifth NBA title under Gregg Popovich , the San Antonio Spurs have proven themselves to be league’s most recent NBA dynasty. Something fans were quickly tying to anoint the Miami Heat with , after two titles and four appearances in the league’s showcase finale , during LeBron’s tenure with the franchise. Greatness, is normally afforded to teams and individuals who have achieved something special, but in the midst of the James’ saga, fans were seeking to anoint the player as the rightful successor to Michael Jordan . LeBron James while epitomizes determination , has become self-centered, less charismatic than the brand his handlers suggest him to be. Throw in the ongoing signs of immaturity, petulance and you have yourself an immature superstar, seeking to be in spotlight at all times , with the media there, simply to build him up into something he really is not.

Becky Hammon formerly of the San Antonio Stars of the WNBA and the Spurs’ affiliate within that particular league. In a notable first within the NBA, Hammon will become the first female to be a lead assistant coach in the NBA joining the coaching staff of Gregg Popovich. Also joining Popovich’s roster of coaches will be Ettore Messina whose vast experience and success in Europe cannot be discounted. The Italian brings with him an impressive resume’ in European club basketball. Hammon’s playing career in the WNBA makes her one of the game’s best players in the league’s history, where she is in the upper echelons of WNBA career statistics beyond the success achieved with the Stars. Whether or not her experience and career resume’ can equate with success , the Spurs and her gaining the respect of the male players remains to be seen over the course of this upcoming season. So far, she has the respect of the Spurs’ head coach and many of her counterparts on the Spurs’ coaching roster.

The NBA remains a bastion of male camaraderie , in spite of the league having the WNBA offshoot where women are afforded the chance to show off their skill-set within the game but unfortunately there too as well as within the league (NBA) itself there remains few opportunities for real advancement as a head coach much less as a league front executive.. So much for the hypocrisy of the motto of the NBA _______ the “ NBA Cares “ . This is a league so devoid of leadership and integrity, the only thing that seems to matter, is the amount of money annually pouring into their coffers.

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Picture gallery.

With the news of Dustin Johnson’s suspension by the PGA Tour and it being the most serious reprimand of a PGA Tour player , do you believe the Tour can survive its image taking such an adverse hit ? With the NBA preseason still a few months away but with the league itself still in a state of turmoil caused by ongoing litigation between Donald Sterling and the NBA, what do you feel will be the final outcome to this whole saga? Finally, what are your thoughts concerning how LeBron James left the Miami Heat after four seasons of substantial success ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) PGA Tour Chairman Tim Finchem . The chairman has a great deal to worry about concerning the PGA Tour’s image after the suspension of Dustin Johnson after his having failed a drug test for the third time . Johnson tested positive for cocaine but further allegations have surfaced suggesting he had slept with the wives of a number players on the Tour . AP Photo / Barry Mitchell …

(2) PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson who has taken a prolong leave of absence from the Tour schedule to deal with what he says are personal medical issues. A spokesperson for the Tour issued a public statement , noting Johnson has been suspended for a third failed drug test , having tested positive for cocaine use. Further allegations , yet to be substantiated , suggest he has also slept with the wives of several players on the Tour . Getty Images / Gary McAdams ….

(3) US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson is seen here alongside Tiger Woods . Woods hopes to make a full recovery in time to compete in the Ryder Cup for the USA . His standing among the ten players in the FedexCup standings would not make Tiger Woods an automatic choice . Only the top ten players are automatic choices , with the captain then having the discretion to fill out his twelve man roster with two more players to make up his team. Getty Images North America / Chris Woods ….

(4) Rory McIlroy seen here holding the Claret Jug having won the The Open at Hoylake , in Liverpool , England , this year . McIlroy led from wire to wire , never once being seriously challenged by any of his competitors in the tournament . He also recently won WGC Bridgestone Invitational in commanding style , placing himself back atop of the World Golf Rankings as the number one player in the world . Rory McIlroy now heads into Lexington , Kentucky and the Valhalla Golf Course , hoping to add the PGA Championship to his list of career achievements as well his Grand Slam tally in terms of victories . Getty Images / Harry How ….

(5) LeBron James meets young fans in the town of Akron , Ohio , recently having returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The return of the Prodigal Son to the franchise where he began his career in 2003 , will begin anew with a revamped roster , new head coach and coaching staff led by rookie head coach David Blatt . Getty Images / Hugh Davis …

(6) Becky Hammon formerly a player with the San Antonio Stars will now become a lead assistant on the coaching staff of the San Antonio Spurs . Hammon brings along a wealth of experience as a player in the WNBA , where she was a multiple WNBA All Star . AP Photo / Michael Proffitt ….

(7) Ettore Messina one of the most successful coaches in European club basketball history , having won four Euroleague titles . Messina and Becky Hammon will be joining the coaching staff of the San Antonio Spurs . Both assistants already have impressive starts to their careers with the franchise , bringing praises from head coach Gregg Popovich as well as from several players on the team’s roster. AP Photo/ Dean Jones ….

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Nikita Valentin . I just love what she does for this setting !

Nikita with some whipped cream and strawberries thrown in for good measure .

For your consideration ………

For your consideration ….

It is that time of year once again where pundits are out making their prognostications for the upcoming season within Collegiate Football as well as the NFL. Given the fact both institutions continue to fail their fans consistently, albeit , a number of idiots are clamoring for the latest piece of idiocy from the NCAA and BCS for an empaneled body to come up with a format in deciding a playoff system to decide a national champion at the FBS Level . Claims are continually being made format as now being described cannot work , but what really likes at the heart of this all is actually the disbursement of revenues as divided up between the major conferences making up the BCS system. If the fools who continue to bitch and whine cannot see it for themselves , then they are as dumb as they look.
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Slideshow.

NCAA President Mark Emmert remains in a position of power but his lack of understanding of so many issues within collegiate athletics, truly belies his lack of intelligence. Emmert and senior members of his institution, remain slow in enacting safety measures that protect female victims from on campus sexual assaults , without the colleges themselves actually being proactive in such measures. The statistics are there to bear this out and it has been a damning indictment of a number of major college campuses up and down the country , including Florida State , home to last season’s BCS national champion and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston , himself the subject of alleged rape incident , where he remains the only suspect. Winston’s legal representatives have repeatedly changed their story concerning their client’s guilt, without one having delve into the player’s other off the field issues, where he was charged in the theft of grocery items stolen from a prominent Florida grocery store chain. Jameis Winston’s apology wore thin, when you consider the player had the means to pay for items stolen but somehow this has been all overlooked by the press and Seminoles’ fans alike without the favoritism shown the player by the Tallahassee Police Department after this latest incident.

In the preseason polls , Florida State are ranked number one after their unbeaten season in 2013 and narrow victory in the national championship game. Quarterback Jameis Winston will be looking to fortify his status as a likely first round draft pick and being taken as the top passer in the draft. Unfortunately, this was not the case for the Seminoles’ Heisman Trophy predecessor Johnny Manziel when he was taken down in the depth charts of passers picked in the 2014 NFL Draft . Whether or not the decision came by way of the player’s attitude or simply because general managers around the league failed to be impressed by his Combine Workouts, has as much to do with the never-ending stories within the print and television media. Reporters and NFL analysts alike simply clamored for anything related to the Texas Aggies’ quarterback , even when the stories were innocuous and mundane.

Manziel will have to prove himself as he looks to impress staff of the Cleveland Browns as well as their fans and the press alike. Whether or not he can beat out Brian Hoyer for starting role during the preseason and enter the regular season as the starting quarterback on the team remains to be seen. The franchise has a great deal vested in Johnny Manziel , because his success will play a great part in the furtherance of their ambition of the franchise and owner , Jimmy Haslam who remains beset by his off-field ongoing legal problems . Mike Pettine head coach of the Cleveland Browns seems to be convinced his rookie quarterback shows all the signs of maturity since joining the franchise, but there will always continue remain doubts about Johnny Manziel’s maturity and leadership skills. While the player has admitted his mistakes as a college player, upon entering the ranks of the NFL and its bright lights , it would seem he has learned absolutely nothing from his collegiate experience and the problems which followed him there. Needless to say, with all of the negative publicity which has followed the NFL recently the league can ill afford more negativity to follow while the league hierarchy continues to make a complete ass of itself with their asinine statements. Never mind the fact we now have apathetic fans and professional pundits alike showing their own stupidity with their lame ass comments concerning these recent events.

From my own standpoint, in spite of their draft and off-season acquisitions , I do not believe the Cleveland Browns will prove to be a major contender within the AFC North or the conference this upcoming season. There are still too many issues on the roster which have not been fully addressed and Brian Hoyer is being asked to do way too much based on minimal experience of playing time in the NFL. How this is meant to equate with the team being viewed as legitimate divisional or playoff contender , does seem far-fetched. Cleveland will open their regular season with a divisional game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania when they are the guests of the Pittsburgh Steelers . That contest should prove to be very interesting for two teams seeking to bounce back after a somewhat horrific season in 2013. A win is of utmost importance for both franchises, as they each seek to get 2014 off to a rousing start .

While the NFL tries to dig itself out of an ever-deepening hole, through their own sheer stupidity and by the encouragements of idiots such as ESPN’s on air analyst Stephen A Smith . One has to counter the impression being created by this league , it is indeed in touch with the fears of women, who are the victims of assault. Roger Goodell continues to show how out of touch with reality he remains , while Smith showed what a contemptible asshole he just happens to be. Furthermore, with some male fans using the analogy of being politically correct and freedom of speech to excuse the act of Ray Rice’s behavior , while ignoring the very fact this widespread behavior is now almost rampant within the NFL, with the league hierarchy itself , doing very little to punish the players themselves , who are guilty of acts such as spousal abuse or battery . Never mind the fact , the NFLPA (union) as led by Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has said very little publicly about the abusive behavior of his members, but yet we are led to believe this league values the support of female fans? Nothing remains further from the truth and it will continue to remain that way, as long as the NFL continues to ignore the repeated wake up calls by such incidents being repeated by its players.

The ACC this season will look to reaffirm its status as a top program in college football. While the BCS title win by Florida State may well support the claim, I believe the power within collegiate football rests in the SEC by way of the litany of top-flight programs within the conference. Nick Saban and Alabama will be looking to reaffirm its position within the conference, while the Florida Gators and Wil Muschamp will be looking to show his players will be playing with a great deal more consistency than shown in 2013. September 20th should prove to be a very interesting date on the collegiate football calendar when Florida meets Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium .

Week one of the college football season and programs within the FBS will begin their preamble to decide a national champion. With so much being at stake the Florida State Seminoles and Jimbo Fisher seeking to make a successful defense of their national title. I firmly believe the task will be beyond the team, because it is so difficult to win back to back titles within the game. The Seminoles will begin their defense against the number seventeen ranked Oklahoma State (Cowboys) in what may well prove to be game all about offense , with some defense thrown in for good measure. The SEC itself remains a formidable powerhouse in terms of the teams within the conference and the competitiveness there as witnessed over the past two seasons.

Will this season’s champion come from within the SEC? Well that remains to be seen, but all paths to another national championship are likely to pass through the conference.

Two national titles has a way of legitimizing a coach’s resume and credibility , but the cloud under which Urban Meyer left the Florida Gators , only to return to the coaching ranks of college football to head to the program at Ohio State (Buckeyes) has left an unpalatable taste in the mouths of Gators’ fans. Meyer in no uncertain term has been critical of his former employer, most notably suggesting he was not to blame for the behavior of a number of players who ran afoul of the law as well violating NCAA rules. What might be even more asinine when taking the former Gators’ head coach’s statement , is the very fact he was extremely lax in reprimanding many of the players, most notably Aaron Hernandez whose legal troubles in the NFL have been well chronicled. Meyer succeeded Jim Tressel whose career with the Buckeyes, while having brought about a great deal of success , the latter years proved to be extremely controversial and extremely distasteful, with their being a lack of honesty from Jim Tressel , his coaching staff at the time , and the culpability of AD Gene Smith and former university President Dr E Gordon Gee.

Urban Meyer and his team will have a great deal to prove this season and in Braxton Miller lies the hopes of the Buckeyes over the course of their schedule . Miller is likely to be among the top contenders for his year’s Heisman Trophy , if his play remains consistent and at an extremely high level . Ohio State will begin their season against Navy, in what is likely to a lopsided contest between the two teams. The Big Ten Conference and the Buckeyes’ schedule as usual, remains as soft as a baby’s ass, but Ohio State fans will seek to overlook the fact.

While I have never been truly enamored with college football , I am beginning to feel in watching the games, I am merely witnessing a somewhat mediocre version of the NFL in all of its alleged glory, with even greater pretentiousness within this environment. Like the NFL, college football above all else, is a money-making behemoth with their being little to show for it all at the end of the day , by way of the alleged benefits for the student athlete. The NCAA and conference commissioners continue to live in the “land of make belief” , with no one ever addressing the real issues now ravaging this sport and the collegiate athletics in general. Mark Emmert remains clueless, while carefully treading water, as he recently accomplished, when questioned by a congressional committee concerning the safety of women on college campuses who are the victims of sexual attacks. Emmert’s responses were in many respects, very much like the recent idiotic statements attributed to Roger Goodell and the NFL’s Assistant Chief Legal Counsel Adolpho Birch . Clearly, all three individuals, do not understand the debate as it now currently exists and the ongoing issue of violence against women by male athletes . The NCAA , NFL and those presiding over collegiate athletics , along with the universities have a long way to go before they can convince female fans much less sports’ fans in general. The issue of on campus violence against women , the issue of the player misconduct in the NFL, and the issue of spousal abuse remains a dire result of the inaction by the NFL and the hierarchies mentioned.

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Picture gallery.

In the lead-up to the NFL regular season what are you hoping to see from the teams during the preseason ? Do you also believe the college football season will be extremely competitive?

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Picture and slideshow details below.
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(1) The BCS national championship trophy for which the 125 FBS programs will contest their competitiveness to be anointed national champions . UPI ….

(2) 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is seen here with Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher as the two celebrate their national title victory over Auburn . AP Photo/ Michael Burton …..

(3) Cleveland Browns’ quarterbacks Brian Hoyer (6) and teammate Johnny Manziel (2) are seen here during the team’s preseason practice. Head coach Mike Pettine hopes to see a valid contest between the two players , who are hoping to succeed former starter and now Dallas Cowboys’ backup quarterback Brandon Weeden . AP Photo/ Michael Walsh…

(4) Ohio State Buckeyes’ head coach Urban Meyer left is seen here alongside the team’s quarterback Braxton Miller (5) . Miller is being viewed as a likely candidate for the 2014 Heisman Trophy . Getty Images / Harry Howe …

(5) Bryce Petty of Baylor (Bears) will be hoping to lead the team to even greater success this season . Petty an impact player for the Bears in 2013 , seen as a consensus first round draft pick for the 2015 NFL Draft . Getty Images / David Moss …

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And you think the view from up there is amazing ? Try being down here .

It’s about that time of year again, where stupidity is front and center, as MLB makes all of the right and wrong moves

It’s about that time of year again, where stupidity is front and center, as MLB makes all of the right and wrong moves

If there is one thing I have become accustomed to , it is knowing that baseball and their fans are a fickle bunch of individuals. If nothing else, the league itself as well as the hierarchy beyond their being a lack of leadership. MLB simply cannot get out of its own way when it comes to making repeated pratfalls, but as of late, the NBA and NFL, have somehow sought to show they are no fools when it comes to making complete assholes of themselves either. Your simply have to read the latest headlines to see what has recently taken place within the NBA and NFL for clarification of the very fact.

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The divisional races within the AL and NL are heating up with many of the teams in contention now seeking to bolster their respective rosters. There will be some takers , some shakers, but most of all , a number of losers. The Philadelphia Phillies with their $160 million payroll have been one of the biggest disappointments of this entire season, with the managerial staff and the players themselves at a loss to explain their season’s woes. Philadelphia seem to be unwilling to even put up a fight within the NL East against their divisional opponents never mind the rest of baseball overall. As winners of four of their last ten games , it is hard to suggest how the Phillies can fight their way out of their quagmire, with Ryne Sandberg in first season as the Philadelphia Phillies’ manager struggling to make sense of the team’s troubles this season. A 6-0 drubbing of the equally dismal New York Mets may well have provided Sandberg and his managerial staff with some respite , but the front office cannot be entirely happy with what they have witnessed from the team over the course of this season.

Phillies’ joint general managers Reuben Amaro Jr and Pat Gillick are likely to make some drastic cost cutting moves, while seeking to pave the way for next season. Out of the postseason hunt as well as a divisional race, it only makes sense for the organization to simply implode the team and trade-off needless pieces. Certainly, the two executives are likely to listen to reasonable offers several players thought to be likely targets for teams in need of some pitching as well as a productive bat. At the top of the list might well be pitcher Cole Hamels along with his teammate Ryan Howard, albeit , I now feel no Phillies’ player is likely to off the table given the plight of the franchise and what they seek in return. The Phillies’ farm system is said to be a very good one , but I get the impression neither Gillick or Amaro are yet ready to anoint anyone there, ready to be called up to the Majors. Philadelphia will resume their series with the New York Mets on Wednesday afternoon at Citi-Field with Kyle Kendrick taking the mound for the visiting team against Zack Wheeler of the Mets in a National League contest .

As an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves, my biggest disappointment was to see the team falter under a great deal of expectation during the 2013 MLB postseason . Fredi Gonzalez and the Braves easily won the NL East with a least of effort and the belief was after years of false hope they were indeed ready to return to the wondrous heights of success achieved under former manager Bobby Cox . With Cox now inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame this past Saturday, alongside five other distinguished members , it would be fascinating to see Braves perhaps make a spirited effort to make another return to the postseason in honor of the franchise’s most distinguished manager.

This season the Braves have not lived up to or shown the form many had expected, with the Washington Nationals now perhaps seen as the presumptive favorites to take the NL East with first-year manager Matt Williams having a great deal of success with his team . Braves’ GM Frank Wren , if it his intent to have the team make the postseason, then there is the possibility he might well seek to bolster the lineup by making several changes by way of a trade or demoting a member of the starting lineup by bringing up someone from within their farm system. Consistency has been the thing lacking with the Atlanta Braves over the course of this season where their longest winning streak being nine games and a losing streak of seven games. If the team are to be viewed in any way, as a credible contender for the NL Pennant much less the World Series then Fredi Gonzalez will have to get his players playing with a great deal more zeal than has been shown through the first half of the season. BJ Upton , Aaron Harang, Mike Minor , Julio Teheran , Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis , Justin Upton and Ervin Santana will have to prove to the fans and public alike they can be viewed as one of the teams to beat within the NL during the second half of the season.

Atlanta will renew an old rivalry when they are the guests of the high-flying Los Angeles at Dodgers Ballpark over the next two days , with the first game taking place on Wednesday afternoon. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the two contests will be, as the Dodgers are seeking to fend off the challenge of the San Francisco Giants, with the two teams contesting the divisional supremacy within the NL West . For Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly , this might well be the last chance he will be given to take this team deep into the postseason. With a payroll close to a quarter of a billion dollars , the common thought in most circles are that , managing partners Magic Johnson , Peter Guber and Mark Walter may well have given the manager their blessing , but one more misstep could lead to his ouster as the manager of this highly paid team. Players Matt Kemp , Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier are just three of the names being bandied about as the organization seeks to bolster the lineup . Kemp, Crawford and Ethier trade bait might have seem highly improbable a month ago, but such are the ambitions of the Dodgers , that nothing now seems off the table in terms of fulfilling those ambitions. I firmly believe the greatest pressure rests squarely upon the shoulders of Don Mattingly and his managerial staff to succeed, but as usual, the players are not seen as the last resort for failure, yet , it has always been the manager who is left to be seen as the culprit, when all else fails.

Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti may have initially been blessed with an enviable task of presiding over the task of assembling this team under the watchful eye of team President Stan Kasten , but I cannot help wonder, if either executive thought winning a World Series for this baseball club would prove to be so difficult. Last season’s failure in the NLCS was so embarrassing , but a twenty-five year absence from the showcase finale itself, has proven to be equally undermining for the organization as well. I have no doubt there will be some takers for the talents of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, because this has simply been the way the game of baseball has tended to run.

It has been a long time since a current World Series’ champion has fared so badly in the defense of their title. Yet witnessing the fall from grace of the Boston Red Sox this season has proven to be so embarrassing and unexpected. This team has failed to show any life whatsoever and it is hard to point out one positive aspect to the Red Sox’s play over the course of this year. I am not about to suggest John Farrell is an extremely bad manager, but it would seem beyond the aspect of his having caught just about everyone off-guard during the postseason, 2014 has been littered with surprises by way of the lack of enthusiasm being shown by the Red Sox players. It were as if they are ready to rest on their laurels, with the evidence of 2013 being the measure of their success. David Ortiz seems to be a shadow of the player witnessed in the postseason , when he won the World Series’ MVP . Likewise the same can be said of many of his teammates from that roster who still remain current members of the Red Sox lineup.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has a great deal to think about concerning the immediate and long-term future of the franchise. Rumored to be on the trade block are pitchers Jon Lester , John Lackey , Burke Badenhop and a number of outfielders on the roster. Fire sale, might one ask ? The Boston Red now are not the Red Sox old ,who between 2004 through to 2010 were so dominant , but then came the era of Bobby Valentine before things got turned upside down. Valentine’s subsequent firing led to John Farrell’s introduction as the manager with a World Series’ title coming in his first season as the manager. The expectations for this season were high, but the reality has been one of abysmal mediocrity and little evidence to suggest the players are motivated to turn things around. I have no doubt in my mind this team will be imploded with several mainstays from last season being jettisoned , with John Farrell and the managerial staff looking to the farm system and acquisitions as the ball-club looks to the future.

It is also that time of year again and the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays wait with bated breath concerning the next episode concerning the franchise come the trade deadline. All Star and Cy Young Award winner David Price is once again the scene of a number of speculative rumors concerning his future. Joe Maddon has been saying the right things concerning the player and his wish to see him be retained, but in all probability with this franchise, simply not willing to pay the player his worth , it would be in their best interest to seek the best offer available for one of the AL’S best pitchers. Claims as to Price being a top-five pitcher in baseball are vastly exaggerated, but what would we come to expect of the Rays’ fans to begin with , much less fans who claim to be in the know concerning the game of baseball?

It would be fair to suggest the Tampa Bay Rays have failed to deliver on all counts this season their record is simply another indication of that reason. No more continuous excuses of the organization being paupers, because it is now time to put up or simply shut the hell up , once and for all. The continued apathy of the fan-base has played an even bigger part in this dilemma of the continued belief, the team has always been good enough to contend . An AL pennant and a sole appearance in the World Series and all of a sudden, the Tampa Bay Rays were considered “world beaters” . Well their fall back to earth has been quick and the organization has been exposed as one of aimlessly heading nowhere, where their sole assets are the acumen of Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon. Beyond that, there has been very little to suggest the Rays can be considered perennial contenders, much less lacking real leadership among the playing staff . If anyone can point to their being a vocal leader on the roster, much less the player leading by example , then I would like to hear or see the name of the player in question be mentioned and the reasoning behind the choice in question?

Yet with the news revealed today (Thursday) at the trade deadline, a decision was made to trade David Price to the Detroit Tigers , this further emphasizes that the franchise has now given up on their season and are now looking ahead to their long-term future. It may not be too long, before they are likely to contemplate trading away Evan Longoria who in many respects has been nothing more than a figurehead for the baseball franchise and little else beyond that. When and if such a scenario should happen, it will be interesting to see how this is played out and viewed by Rays’ fans within the area as well as nationwide.

The Rays’ first game without their Cy Young Award winning pitcher will be a contest against the Los Angeles Angels in a match-up to be played at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida. How the team performs in this game could tell us a great deal about the determination of the players over the second half of the season. A divisional title is out of their reach and only the implosion of several of the teams ahead of them in the wildcard standings would be of benefit to Joe Maddon’s players and their chances of making the postseason. Beyond that , I do not believe there is much more that needs to be said !

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Picture gallery .

In your honest opinion who do you believe benefits the most at this time of the year in terms of the trades made within baseball ? Is the teams giving up a major impact player on their roster or the recipients of the transactions in question? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you believe to be of importance with regard to the subject.

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Philadelphia Phillies’ GM Reuben Amaro Jr is seen here with team manager Ryne Sandberg as the tow watch members of the team in the outfield during warmups prior to a Spring Training game . This season for the Phillies has been an unmitigated disaster with the team barely competitive within the NL East or the NL wildcard standings . Some major decisions are likely to be made concerning the future makeup of the roster as it enters the second half of the season. AP Photo/ Paul Garnett …

(2) Tony Gwynn Jr of the Philadelphia Phillies was released by the franchise at the trade deadline in what was seen as the first of many moves likely to be taken by the organization between now and the end of the season. Gwynn’s father , Tony Gwynn Sr a seven-time NL batting champion and Hall of Fame inductee died earlier this year from cancer. AP Photo/ Sandra Potter ….

(3) Emilio Bonifacio of the Chicago Cubs was traded by the organization to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday afternoon. For the Cubs simply another milestone in another recent lackluster season for the ball-club. Getty Images North America/ Hugh Perez …

(4) Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly is seen here alongside the team’s batting instructor Mark McGwire as they look on from the dugout during a game played at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles , California earlier this season. With a bloated $241 million payroll, high expectations await the franchise over the remainder of this season . Failure and some major decisions are likely to be made by team President Stan Kasten and GM Ned Colletti . AP Photo/ Ben Thompson ….

(5) Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester who was dealt by the team to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes . Boston appears to be unloading a players with a view to lowering their payroll while placing an emphasis on their farm system for the future and actively seeking out bargains by way of productive players who can aid them in their task ahead. AP Photo/ Chris Charles …

(6) BOSTON, MA – JULY 29: David Price (14) of the Tampa Bay Rays smiles after he gives up the second hit of the night, a home run , to rookie Brandon Snyder (23) of the Boston Red Sox in the 6th inning of a game played at Fenway Park on July 29, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts . Price was dealt by the Rays to the Detroit Tigers , in what has to be considered another sad chapter in the franchise’s history in their turnover of star players, dealt away . Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(7) Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch left and team GM Dave Dombrowski are seen here addressing members of the press during a preseason meeting concerning their thoughts on the season. Dombrowski and Tampa Bay Rays’ counterpart Andrew Friedman engineered the trade that brought David Price to the AL Central contenders and may well have strengthened their position to keep that divisional title. Getty Images/ Kent Turner …

(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ player Evan Longoria is seen here with Rays’ senior executives , GM Andrew Friedman , Matthew Silverman and senior managing partner Stuart Sternberg . After a great deal of consultation between the trio and manager Joe Maddon the decision was made to send David Price to the Detroit Tigers. Fans will get their voice to show their approval or disapproval of this deal when the team plays host to Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels this Friday at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida . AP Photo / Dave Mason …

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MLB free agents

MLB standings and wildcard standings

MLB schedule three days at a glance

MLB probable pitchers

MLB results

This week in MLB history and on this day in baseball .

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And today’s double-header will be headed by Julie’s assets .


Nor even my “kicks” ever looked this good !