Trials, tribulations, a whole lot of grief and angst
In the aftermath of another not so overwhelming MLB postseason , with the Kansas City Royals winning their second World Series in the franchise’s history , things are suddenly taking on a new shape in the world of baseball. With the Winter Meetings just over a month away , several players have declared free agency , with perhaps the biggest surprise of being Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers .
There was nothing about this Don Mattingly managed team which suggested the NL West champions were in with a serious chance of winning the NL Pennant and being the National League’s representative in the World Series. Now it will be, back to the drawing board for front office representatives GM Farhan Zahidi and Head of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, as they seek to rebuild the roster through likely free agent acquisitions and their farm system .
Don Mattingly is no longer a part of the managerial staff , having agreed to mutually part at the end this postseason. While there was considerable success under Mattingly, the Dodgers’ non appearance in the Fall Classic only added to the ball-club’s ongoing woes. There can be no excuses made for the abysmal failure witnessed over the past six seasons by this organization and their having spent over $1 billion in players’ salaries during the time-frame in question.
Zack Greinke’s decision to opt out of the final year of his contract to become a free agent , will now add to the plethora of pitchers now on the market this off-season. Teams in need of very good starting pitching will be required to pay top-dollar for a number of these prized assets.
There are times within world of baseball where one has to take a step back , d simply observe the frailties within the game and among the players . New York Yankees’ starting pitcher CC Sabathia with his admittance , that he has a sobriety issue as an alcoholic, makes you wonder why an athlete would seek to ruin their career for the sake of a momentary high. Sabathia for his part , made this disclosure while on morning television , explaining in the aftermath of the Yankees’ wild-card loss to the Houston Astros , he checked himself into a drug and alcohol dependency program. Given the recent woes of Josh Hamilton of the Texas Ranger, this issue I truly believe, just happens to be more widespread within the game, than teams and front office executives would care to admit ! As for the MLB hierarchy, given the ongoing lack of a really in-depth testing program for users of banned substances , this is just another glaring headlight the game of baseball can really do without.
There have been no formal comments coming from the New York Yankees’ front office concerning CC Sabathia’s current situation and while the player is due to become Yankees’ free agent this upcoming season, it remains to be seen whether or not he is likely to be re-signed by the franchise. Bud Selig and now his successor MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred have been twirling their fingers and thumbs not seeking to work in conjunction with the MLBPA (union) on a wide variety of issues within the game. The relationship between these two entities, has become adversarial , rather than one of bipartisanship when dealing the problems within the game of baseball.
It seems hard to believe that in 2008, the Detroit Lions were win-less during a regular season , with sixteen consecutive losses on their record. The team’s statistics during the year remains among the worst in NFL history. Rod Marinelli coached the Lions at the time and along with the coaching staff and it was clear they were completely out of their depth. This season bearing a record of 1-7 and it would appear the Lions are on track to have another morbid year in the NFL. Detroit Lions’ quarterback Matt Stafford is having a season he would rather forget , while the talents of wide receiver Calvin Johnson are being wasted on a team which has showed absolutely no signs of winning a game at all this season.
Detroit’s only win of the season so far , came during their week six victory over the equally abysmal Chicago Bears as the two NFC North divisional rivals met in that particular contest. With a bye-week during week nine the Detroit Lions can rest their weary bones while preparing for their week ten contest against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin on the 15th November , 2015.
Matt Stafford’s record (2-7) against the Packers has not been a favorable one , with his last victory against this divisional rival coming in week three of the 2014 regular season. The Lions’ issues this season have come in various guises, with the defense and offense being mediocre at best.
The disarray within the Lions’ organization, particularly within the front office has led to the firing of GM Martin Mayhew and Team President Tom Lewand , but the coaching staff of head coach Jim Caldwell have been kept for now , but I expect if there are likely to be changes should the Detroit Lions fail to turn their season around before the end of their schedule. Mayhew’s firing has led to added responsibilities and a first within the NFL , as Allison Maki becomes the first woman in NFL history to hold the position of general manager for an NFL franchise. It will be a joint role , to be shared between Maki and Sheldon White as interim general manager .
Likely to be also clear, will be the impending future of quarterback Matt Stafford , a first round draft pick from the 2009 NFL Draft. Stafford , who is not due to become a free agent until 2018. Stafford’s three-year $53 million contract , with $41 million guaranteed , expires in 2017 and should the Lions seek to trade the player , they would still be liable for the remainder of his guaranteed money. Matt Stafford is not one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL in spite of the fact he has amassed a great deal of yards during his playing career. He has not proven himself to be a leader , vocal or otherwise as a player with the Detroit Lions. This I believe is what is sadly missing from this Lions’ roster , beyond the ongoing incompetency of the coaching staff !
William ‘Bill’ Clay Ford as one of the team owners of the Detroit Lions has sat idly by as the franchise has gone through a quick succession of head coaches over the last eight years . The off-season I believe will bring a great deal more upheaval within the Lions’ organization , far more than anyone might have thought possible.
It would be fair to suggest the NFC is having something of a down year, with some notable teams within the conference still struggling at the mid- point of the season. Of late, fans of the San Francisco 49ers (2-6) are decrying the fact how quickly the team has fallen off the face of the map after the successes of 2012 and 2013 . There is no denying successive postseason appearances had the Forty Niners’ fans wanting more, but a great deal of complacency set in among the play and coaching staff of former head coach Jim Harbaugh.
This season the plight of the Niners has become worse , with head coach Jim Tomsula considering the improbable with the benching of Colin Kaepernick , perhaps the best offensive weapon on the entire roster. For their part, team CEO Jed York and GM Trent Baalke have offered little or no explanation behind the team’s fall from grace. The warning signs were certainly there last season , ending with sheer embarrassment for the NFC West based Forty Niners. Off the field issues with Ray McDonald and Aldon Smith , clearly showed the franchise to be lacking in moral fiber , while it would appear everyone seemed willing to give Jim Harbaugh a pass, as things continually spiraled out of control. Harbaugh was just as much to blame for San Francisco’s woes , as Trent Baalke and Jed York. Colin Kaepernick for his part, in spite of his postseason heroics still had his stuck firmly in the clouds, beyond having signed his ludicrous contract .
Heading into their week nine contest against the Atlanta Falcons (6-2) the San Francisco 49ers will be looking to right their ship , which is still struggling to stay afloat. If Colin Kaepernick is benched in favor of his backup Blaine Gabbert, it is hard to envisage how Gabbert would be viewed as a better option than Kapernick in this contest . While I don’t believe Jim Tomsula will be fired from his position, I do think the head coach will be in the unenviable of situation of being cast as the ” real villain” of this current situation, when everyone from the front office on down has played an equal part in the franchise’s woes seen this season.
There remains a great deal of idiocy among many of the so-called sports’ fans who genuinely believe they have some insight on sports in general and in particular the NFL. Recently on a visit to sports’ site , the contributor suggested with his declining play , Denver Broncos’ (7-0) quarterback Peyton Manning was no longer capable of playing at a high level or leading a team to a postseason berth. Now given Manning’s play since joining the Broncos as a free agent in March of 2012. In the three years since the Broncos’ ascent to the top of the AFC West which has gone unchallenged by their divisional foes and again in 2015 , the team is back to its very best , starting their season with a seven-game unbeaten streak. So much for this idiocy of Manning not being able to play at a consistently high level. In their week eight game against the then unbeaten Green Bay Packers beat their NFC opponents with the utmost ease destroying the Aaron Rodgers’ led Packers defeating them 29-10 .
The defeat for Green Bay derailed their chances of an unbeaten season, while the Denver Broncos , New England Patriots (7-0) and Cincinnati Bengals (8-0) seek AFC supremacy within their conference , with the three teams still unbeaten entering into the week nine NFL schedule .
With the NBA season still in its infancy , with the majority of teams having only played six games, there is only one franchise that remains unbeaten. Defending NBA champions the Golden State Warriors (6-0) are leaving no one with any doubt, , why they won the title last season. With few changes to their core roster of last season , the Warriors have simply began from where they left off at the end of the regular and postseason. The fact they have won their first six consecutive games of this season, should not come as a surprise to anyone, even to those who still believe last season’s beaten finalists the Cleveland Cavaliers were the better team .
Reigning League MVP , Steph Curry has lit up the scoreboard in each of the Warriors’ victories and this season he already has a season-high 50-point game for the year. LeBron James may well be the best all-round player in the game, but Curry isn’t that far behind, with the shadow also of Kevin Durant also to be considered as part of the equation.
Golden State in their last game , subdued the Denver Nuggets on their way to a 119-114 victory and quite obviously the best record in the Western Conference. Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr and his coaching staff will now prepare the team for their next game where their opponent will be the Sacramento Kings in a contest to be played at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California on Saturday, 7th November ,2015.
With both New York based NBA franchises struggling at this point of the season and in all honesty, it does not come as a surprise to me at all ! The Brooklyn Nets (0-6) and the New York Knicks (2-4) have mediocre records and are struggling within their divisions as well as within the Eastern Conference. For head coaches Lionel Hollins of the Nets and Derek Fisher of the Knicks , this might be the last opportunities provided to them in their respective positions , because I feel , if both should fail this season , then there would be no alternative than their firings by Billy King of the Nets , Steve Mills and Phil Jackson of the Knicks. It is certainly not difficult to understand how bad both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks have been , when you consider the underwhelming talent on their respective rosters. The Brooklyn Nets were on the wrong side of another loss on Saturday night , coming at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks , another in a long line of mediocre performances by the Nets this season.
If the intent of Phil Jackson was bring about change since he assumed control as Head of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks. Then the change witnessed by the fans and Knicks’ fans in particular, has been a complete embarrassment for the franchise and the NBA in general . Derek Fisher and this Knicks’ coaching staff remain deep, in over their heads and Phil Jackson’s apparent acumen as a front office executive is and will remain overrated , in spite of his idiots still coming to his support , suggesting he still remains a basketball genius. As a coach yes, but in his current role , he has become an absolute joke.
Billy Donovan is now the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3) and the expectations are once again high for this team. The loss of Kevin Durant for a large chunk of last season led to the Thunder missing the NBA Playoffs by the slimmest of margins . This season Durant and Russell Westbrook will seek redemption and lay claim , they are the equal of the Golden State Warriors and among the best within their conference. A Sunday afternoon home game for the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Phoenix Suns should prove to be an interesting contest for both of these Western Conference based franchises.
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As the sports’ world meanders through the usual glutton of stories, it appears the salacious and the mundane tends to get the front page notice while the events on the field will at times take a backseat to it all.
This month in NBA history