Pick your poison …..

Pick your poison …

The NFL season has proven to be a great deal more than many would be willing to admit and now the consensus and debate is whether or not Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton is a deserving winner of this year’s NFL League MVP. From my standpoint , with Newton having led the Panthers to an unbeaten 14-0 season , with two games left to be played . It would take an idiot to bet against the player and his possibly leading them as only the second franchise in NFL history to go unbeaten during the NFL’s sixteen-game regular season schedule. There might well be a sense of foreboding , with the fact the last team do so, the New England , having gone 16-0 , would then fall to the New York Giants in the Superbowl .

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Ron Rivera and his coaching staff have the team playing some explosive football, with Carolina being impressive all season-long with their statistics bearing this out. Yet, this has all been a collective effort from just about every player on the roster. From the rookies to the seasoned veterans , everyone has somehow played a part in what has become a historic run for the Panthers. With two games left to the regular season schedule, it will be very interesting to see how Carolina continues to navigate their season. Singular glory asides, I believe Cam Newton would rather lead the Panthers to their first appearance and victory in the Superbowl ! Newton has performed admirably throughout the season , having set career-bests and now placing himself as a dual-threat and not what one would deem to be the NFL prototypical quarterback .

Passing league or not , the NFL is in need of a player to assume the mantel soon to be relinquished by the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees . Granted , Aaron Rodgers to my mind , has been the best quarterback in the league over the past six seasons has proven himself to be among the elite players at the position and is slowly carving out a career which will likely see him inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio upon his being eligible.

Having gotten the better of the New York Giants in their most recent game , the Panthers defeated the Giants in a close and highly contested contest . The two NFC stalwarts gladiatorial in the contest with it being highly physical. Though Carolina Panthers were victorious , the game will certainly be remembered for the thug-like antics of Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr , whose infantile behavior and lack of maturity , is showing him in a negative light. Throughout much of the game , Beckham was constantly under pressure from Panther’s defensive player Josh Norman and with the receiver having dropped a number of passes thrown his way by teammate Eli Manning, it was easy to understand Beckham’s frustration. However, what was totally abhorrent, was Odell Beckham’s attempt in trying to decapitate the Panther’s defensive back during the game.

While we all know taunting is prevalent during games between opposing players during NFL games , what is now becoming a regular occurrence. is the continued taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct. Beckham was given one-game suspension for his conduct , while Norman went unpunished for his conduct. If the league hierarchy cannot deal with such issues aggressively and adequately, then the type of behavior shown will continue to be a pattern within the game.

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will seek to keep their fourteen-game winning streak intact when they face the Atlanta Falcons in a divisional road game on Sunday evening . This is a game, which I believe will a lopsided contest favoring the road team , one which could end up rather embarrassingly for the Falcons. Though the Atlanta Falcons leads the series 27-14 with the two teams having met forty-one times over the two decades during which the contests have taken place. In their most recent meetings , it was Carolina winning both games in 2014, with Cam Newton prevailing over his divisional rival.

Matt Ryan , the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback will be expected to lead his team with authority. Something, I now believe he is incapable of doing with any degree of certainty , given Atlanta’s rapid decline this season. Thomas Dimitroff’s position as the general manager is certainly being scrutinized by team owner Arthur Blank and I also believe Ryan’s own long-term future with the franchise is in jeopardy. Granted , the Falcons have a considerable sum invested in their quarterback, who has failed to deliver when it has mattered the most and his dismal season , has only further emphasized the issues which continue to dog Matt Ryan as a player.

If there is a “ call to arms “ , which players are most likely to meet the call and lead by example ? It’s said to be the quarterbacks’ duty to lead and his teammates will likely to follow. Of late , I have a great deal of idiocy surrounding, how Brock Osweiler was meant to be the face and future of the Denver Broncos , much of this having been based one game , where Osweiler led the Broncos to a victory over a disheveled New England Patriots’ team. In the past two weeks Peyton Manning’s understudy has shown the NFL he is not yet ready to actually take over the reins from the future Hall of Fame bound player. Denver for its part , has been struggling in recent games , though their postseason aspirations are not necessarily in jeopardy. One has to wonder , if Brock Osweiler has the temperament to lead the Denver Broncos on a deep playoff run, much less Gary Kubiak being able to show real signs of coaching acumen. Kubiak’s postseason record can be best described as mediocre .

This weekend with the teams lining up for their penultimate game of the regular season schedule , it will be interesting to see the end results will be . The San Diego Chargers will kick off this part of the schedule with a divisional game against the Oakland Raiders , in a contest during which both teams will be looking for some form of salvation. Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos will have a tough game on their and quite possibly be in for a rude awakening, when they meet the Cincinnati Bengals a formidable conference foe . Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will be the guests of the New York Jets in what is likely to be seen as a “ must-win game” for the Jets. There is a very meaningful game taking place on Sunday afternoon, when the Washington Redskins take on the Philadelphia Eagles , with the victor likely in the driver’s seat concerning the destination of the NFC East divisional title. All that you might well need to concerning the division, is that it remains one of the worst in the entire NFL.

Chip Kelly as the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach has presided over the steady decline of the franchise since his being introduced as its head coach . A lone postseason appearance coming in 2013, saw the Eagles fall in the wildcard round of the NFL postseason in a game against the New Orleans Saints led by their quarterback Drew Brees.

A Philadelphia Eagles’ loss and we might as well begin to ask how long before team owner Jeff Lurie makes the decision to fire both Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman ? Clearly, the two inspire about as much confidence as a blind man playing hopscotch in the middle of a mine-field. We know stuff gets blown up , but Roseman has countenanced every dumb move made by Kelly , allowing the head coach unparalleled latitude with his decision-making concerning the team’s roster . Chip Kelly on his best day couldn’t spot NFL talent , much less coach it , if he were given the proper tools to do so. Kelly’s teams in the NFL have lacked finesse and they certainly have no propensity to play defense , but yet there are moronic fools repeatedly jumping to defense, believing him to be a very good NFL head coach. That is about as inspiring as suggesting Roger Goodell has been a great asset to the NFL as its top executive. Goodell has presided over a popular league , but he remains weak and indifferent when dealing with a litany of issues facing the NFL.

Among the top contenders of candidates for this season’s NFL Rookie of The Year , the consensus appears to be Todd Gurley , Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are the best of a really bad bunch of NFL rookies in 2015. All three have had their moments this season in the NFL, but the trio also play on very bad teams who are not even in contention for even their divisional titles much less a postseason berth . I would also throw in Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders , but again as before, he is playing on an exceptionally bad team. While I get the fact the award to reward a player for their season-long contributions achievements within the league during their rookie season. I can’t help but feel, rewarding so-called excellence when your team just happens to be bad , is nothing more than giving a child a lollipop after they have finished in the bottom-half of a Spelling Bee Competition !

Would you also like to have some cheese with your wine and continued whining ? There has to be something said when three NFL quarterbacks, having signed multi-million dollar deals have put together a string of performances this season that have you feeling depressed and the thought beyond their being overpaid, you could actually do better. Joe Flacco , Colin Kaepernick and Jay Cutler are three such quarterbacks, where the blame can be in part be laid for the abysmal seasons of the Baltimore Ravens , San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears . Obviously , all three teams will be in action during week sixteen with the Ravens taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers , the Forty Niners facing the Detroit Lions and the Bears taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All of these games given their status, should prove to be eventful and at the samepoint last season teams were in the waning moments of their respective schedules.

Head coaches in some cases are coaching with job-survival being on the line and there is no doubt in my mind , we are likely to see several coaching turnovers during the off-season. Jim Caldwell is likely on the “outs “ with the Detroit Lions and similar fates could also await Mike Pettine, Bill O’Brien , Chip Kelly , Jim Tomsula and Sean Payton . It remains to be seen whether or not , Jerry Jones will finally admit the Jason Garrett era must finally come to an abrupt end after another disastrous season by the Dallas Cowboys .

Jason Garrett will prepare the team for their road game against the Buffalo Bills , where Bills’ head coach Rex Ryan is facing an internal mutiny among his players after their lackluster season and not understanding Ryan’s often blurred coaching strategies. It seems almost nonsensical to suggest the number of stories written concerning the calls for Jason Garrett’s dismissal or calls simply for Jerry Jones to relinquish his position as the Cowboys’ general manager. The loss of Tony Romo due to injury , simply added to the Dallas’ woes for the season and essentially place the team on their current path to one of their worst finishes in franchise history in recent seasons. . Jerry Jones is unlikely to be forced to heed the calls for Garrett’s firing , as it would simply prove his mistake in hiring the incumbent head coach as the successor to Bill Parcells .

For Sean Payton and the complacency shown by the New Orleans Saints, is slowly emphasizing what we already knew , having won a Superbowl and the aftermath of ‘ Bounty-gate Scandal’ , there was nothing left in the tank and Payton’s coaching acumen was indeed slipping. Take into account the departure of several key players over the last three seasons and you now have to wonder where the Saints can now go from here . The New Orleans Saints are no longer a match for the Carolina Panthers’ and Cam Newton has to be considered the best quarterback in the NFC South , not just based on this season , but also over the past three years. His ascent while Drew Brees’ steady decline seems to be providing us with a stark reality of what is now happening within the division. Sorry Matt Ryan , but you were never going to be part of this equation as you are soft , softer than a baby’s ass a matter of fact ! Brees and the Saints will seek to redeem themselves when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend, as the two teams meet at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in New Orleans , Louisiana , on Sunday afternoon.

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As the regular season comes to a close, which teams do you feel have been a failure and which teams do you believe will be in the hunt for the Superbowl ?

Tophatal …………

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The wind beneath whose wings ……..

The wind beneath whose wings …

The NBA season is now in full swing and in the lead-up to the always important Christmas Day schedule , teams will certainly be looking to play with a great deal more consistency than with the initial start to their season.

Defending NBA champions the Golden State Warriors are certainly proving why they are the best team in the league and also have the best starting lineup by far. There is no other team in the NBA with greater depth and certainly they have the best head coach currently coaching in the game.

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Steve Kerr has experienced it all as a player , head coach and brought a sense of stability and intellect needed to a Warriors’ franchise , which it lacked under Kerr’s predecessor Mark Jackson . Add in the fact among the franchise’s front office , you have Jerry West as a consultant and an astute general manager with the acumen of Bob Myers and you can see why the Warriors remain ahead of the curve both on and off the court.

The same cannot be said for a litany teams around the NBA and that is with due respect to the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers , New York Knicks , Sacramento Kings , Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers , all of whom are simply bringing the NBA to its knees , if not lying on its back , prostrate. Simply look at their respective records within their divisions , conference and the league overall as a reason why they are and remain so bad.

When Joe Lacob and Peter Guber made the decision to buy the Golden State Warriors from former owner Chris Cohan, they sought to fix the problems often ignored by their predecessor and the front office.

Cohan, for his part , was often seen as an owner who simply didn’t care about the fate of the team during his tenure, just as long as he was able to share in the profits reaped not only by the team, but also the league in general. One has to remember , first and foremost the NBA as a brand is a major money-making business , which is presided over a group of executives whose major and primary concern has been to exact a degree of control over its brand , which makes it impossible for anyone to compete against them on any level.

The tyrannical rule seen under David Stern as the league’s commissioner, was one of complete authority, even if along the way there were buffoon-like decisions made along with a slew of mistakes and his even using race and gangster rap, as a selling point to market the NBA brand. Yet , I have been told countless times by a number of individuals , Stern was very good for the NBA. In reality, the former commissioner made use of Michael Jordan as the “tool” needed to sell the brand globally around the world . Now we are in the era of LeBron James and this league remains as popular as ever, even though there has been a marked decline in the quality of the play on the basketball court. In part , that could be down to the coaching and also the lack of real in-depth talent advancing from the college level over the past few years.

Adam Silver has succeeded David Stern as the NBA Commissioner and Silver looks to further the league’s ambition to expand beyond the North American continent. From my own perspective, while basketball might be one of the most popular sports in the world , second only to soccer. The league will be in for a hard sell in such places as Latin America , Western Europe and certain regions of sub-Saharan Africa. To date, the NBA’s most successful advances have been made in Europe and on the Asian continent , where in particular , China has been the league’s big success. A billion-plus consumers to be embraced and you cannot go wrong and then add in the fact the country’s biggest sporting export Yao Ming still remains popular in China, even after his retirement and you can understand why the NBA seeks to have its tentacles firmly around the globe. Something , I firmly believe the hierarchies of the NFL, MLB and NHL have failed yet to grasp, when it comes to marketing their brands on the global market.

The Golden State Warriors on their march to seeking a second consecutive NBA title have been blowing past opponents and leaving them in their rear view mirror. Reigning NBA League MVP Steph Curry , is having another banner year and his teammates are following his lead. Defensively, as good as they are , the Warriors can still get better and the question now on everyone’s lips , which team can inflict Golden State’s first loss of the season. At 22-0 , the Warriors are just eleven games away from equaling the longest consecutive winning streak in NBA history, a mark held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. Another five-straight wins by Golden State would see them equal the second longest mark set by Miami Heat during the 2012-13 NBA season.

In their last game the Golden State Warriors in a contest , which pitted them against the Indiana Pacers . A home loss for the Pacers in a 131-123 defeat pushed Indiana’s record to 12-9 for the fifth best record in the Eastern Conference. The Warriors’ next game will see them on the road to face the Boston Celtics , where we are likely to see Golden State improve their road record as well as against another Eastern Conference opponent.

While the Golden State Warriors are being praised for their success this season , for the teams at the bottom end of the NBA and the continued ineptitude shown. I don’t know that a great deal more needs to be said about the play of the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers , Brooklyn Nets , New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. Ineptitude this season , shall we say, is the new normal ?

Brett Brown , head coach of the 76ers, is a franchise, which is bereft of talent on the court , but even more among so the coaching staff and front office . Having recently won their first game of the season , the Sixers can rest assured no one is really concerned what they do over the remainder of their schedule, much less the idiocy of those who believe GM Sam Hinkie is building something which will be of benefit to the franchise and their long-term future. This is the sort of prevailing idiocy which is now prevalent around the NBA, with the fans and analysts alike. Once, the several of these younger players (rookies) have fulfilled their contractual obligations with Sixers , I believe a number of them will be getting as far away from Philadelphia as fast as they can, without taking a look in their rear view mirrors !

Rajon Rondo may well be resurrecting his career with the Sacramento Kings , but the team will not be going anywhere at all this season. George Karl, as experienced a coach as he is, has to be provided with a team willing to play, one which plays with a great deal of zeal. Clearly not the case with Sacramento at home or on the road this season. A six-point victory over the Utah Jazz by the Sacrament Kings may well have provided the Kings with some respite momentarily but they will be in for something of a test when they face the New York Knicks at home on Thursday evening. For the New York Knicks, this will give the Derek Fisher coached team a chance to improve their record against Western Conference opponents. While there might be a great deal which the Knicks’ fans feel they can rejoice about , at this point of the season, with a 10-12 record within the East and 2 ½ games behind the eighth placed , Orlando Magic (12-9) , is not necessarily a great place to be for a franchise , where their fans as well as the front office believe the team is capable of making the NBA Playoffs this season.

LeBron James might well be considered the best player in the NBA since his entrance as the number one pick during the 2003 NBA Draft . The ensuing years have provided the fans with just about everything they expected and a great deal more. As LeBron seeks to guide the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA title, the player seems to be making all the right commercial moves off the court , while still making a considerable salary on the court. James’ signing of a lifetime $500 million contract , further enhances his viability as the NBA’s highest-profile and commercially viable marketing asset, the league currently has. The deal with Nike Inc, will push the player’s lifetime earnings in excess of $1 billion. If the rumors are to be believed then the player could be joining his personal icons Michael Jordan and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson of becoming not only major sports’ icons , but also billionaire status .

The Cleveland Cavaliers have not proven to be as dominant as some believed they would be this season and already the team has suffered some rather embarrassing losses against opponents, which many felt were beneath them. Over their last six games heading into Wednesday night the Cleveland Cavaliers have posted 3-3 record , hardly emblematic of a team seeking to be the best within their conference. Granted, the Cavaliers do have the best record , but they have been far from dominant within the Eastern Conference. In their last game Cleveland had to overcome pesky Portland Trailblazers , who they defeated 105-100. Prior to that game, they lost a lopsided decision to the Miami Heat , while they were without LeBron James for the contest. The next game for the Cavaliers will see them take on the Orlando Magic at the Amway Arena , Orlando, Florida on Thursday , 11th December ,2015.

It would be fair to suggest there are no more than a handful of teams in the Western Conference likely to be able to derail the chances of the Golden State Warriors making a successful defense of their NBA title. Among those , I would count the Oklahoma City Thunder , Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs to be among the teams in question ! Of the three franchises mentioned , the Spurs with their depth might be the team capable of making that a reality. The fact that Gregg Popovich and RC Buford were able to pull of such a coup in acquiring both LaMarcus Aldridge and David West only adds to the fabled accomplishments of both executives .

San Antonio currently has the second-best record in the league and the conference behind the undefeated Golden State Warriors. Certainly, when these two teams meet in the first of their regular season meetings , it is likely to be one the games of the season and most definitely the game of the night, when this contests takes place. These two teams will meet four times times over the course of this season as part of their schedule, with those games being contested on the following dates, 25th January, 19th March, 7th April and the final meeting between the two taking place on the 10th April . Last season both the Warriors and Spurs put on an exhilarating display in each of the three games held as they sought conference supremacy .

Tim Duncan and his San Antonio Spurs’ teammates will next take to the court when they are due to face Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant having announced this will be his his last season in the NBA, will not be going out with a splash, but more so, on a somber note as the Lakers’ season is already imperiled due to the poor play by the entire roster and poor coaching of Byron Scott .

The only way is up , from here-on in concerning the Los Angeles Lakers, but I believe it is too steep a mountain which this franchise is incapable of climbing . simply because of the lack of intelligence shown by the team’s owners Jim and Jeanie Buss, while GM Mitch Kupchak remains clueless in his assessment of talent and how to put a competitive together. Six years on from their last NBA title triumph , the Lakers have labored in a pool of acrid mediocrity .



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What have you found to be the most impressive statistic witnessed at this point of the NBA season and do you believe the Christmas schedule will play a large part in what we could very well see over the remainder of the NBA schedule ?


Tophatal …………..



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To keep or not to keep …

To keep or not to keep …

So here we are in the aftermath of what was meant to be an exciting World Series with the Kansas City Royals winning only their second title in three decades . With the series’ victory comes the issue of having to deal with the retention of several of their high-priced and and desirable free agents . The Royals’ front office headed by Dayton Moore whose astuteness over the past seven years has been the primary reason behind the success of the Royals and in particular this season.

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With several top players now coming to the free agency market this off-season, baseball will now be in a frenetic frenzy as teams will be seeking to pick up the best of the players now available. This now has to be the case with several top-notch starting pitchers on the market with Zack Greinke , David Price and Jordan Zimmerman being the most desirable of the pitchers now on the open market.

For the likes of the New York Mets , losing contenders in this past World Series , their chance of seeking to improve, could prove to be extremely difficult , as I believe the front office will be hard-pressed to keep a number of their free agents , given the fact the Mets remain far from being stable financially .

While I have no doubt the New York Mets are a very good team , I do believe with the NL being so poor in terms of the play seen throughout most of this past season even more evident during the postseason and the errant play of the losing team . There was nothing at all to ever suggest the Mets as managed by Terry Collins was ever favored at any point to win the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. In every aspect of the game the Mets were simply outmatched and outplayed .

Among the New York Mets’ free agents this off-season are Anthony Recker, Bartolo Colon , Daniel Murphy , Yoenis Cespedes and Bobby Parnell . Murphy may well have been the Mets’ postseason hero, but it remains to be seen whether or not the front office hierarchy are willing to up the ante concerning his expiring contract and pay the player in line with what his agent may well feel he deserves. The Mets’ $120.4 million payroll of 2015, placed the ball-club in among the middle ranks of the teams , with the Los Angeles Dodgers being bogged down by their gargantuan $316.6 million of salary commitments , by far the highest in all of baseball last season.

If the New York Mets can make a satisfactory response to a likely contract demand by Daniel Murphy and his agents , then I believe it could very well lay the groundwork for the ball-club proceeding forward, as they have few alternatives at their disposal within their roster , much less within their farm system , with regard to a player who was as productive as Murphy during the regular and postseason. A great deal has been made about the acumen of Sandy Alderson and JP Ricciardi , as the two most senior executives within the Mets front office, heading up the Baseball Operations for the NL East based franchise , but in reality , this past season the team was barely challenged within their division and the rest of the NL was simply horrific with their displays during the postseason. I certainly do not believe either St Louis Cardinals or Los Angeles Dodgers would have been capable of defeating the Kansas City Royals over a seven-game stretch during the World Series ! Neither one of the two aforementioned teams were simply good enough when called upon to show their true worth when it mattered the most.

If there is hype to be found then you can count on it always surrounding the New York Yankees . Granted, this franchise remains among the most revered in baseball, but you simply cannot hide the fact since their last triumph in the World Series , this has been a franchise found to be wanting on all levels. There is no team leadership and Joe Girardi has proven to be nothing more than a manager who is unable to motivate his players , getting them to play at their highest level possible. The continued excuses to be found in print or by way of radio and televisions are from apologists for the continued mediocrity shown by the team. Even more so, has been the idiocy of those who now feel Alex Rodriguez should be commended for a great season during his comeback , after a year away from baseball due to his year-long league mandated suspension.

Rodriguez’s productivity might well be commended . but in all sincerity , given his lack of contrition, use of the press and race-baiting to create the subterfuge of his being the victim of a witch-hunt for his repeated action in violating the league’s steroid program . I believe there is little for which Alex Rodriguez should now be commended for , even if he has recently passed some of the most hallowed records in the game. Cheaters should not be rewarded for their gross misconduct under any circumstance , albeit , his penance remains something of a slap on the wrist. His return to the game witnessed, Rodriguez back to being among the highest paid players in baseball, while the front office of the organization still came across looking like complete buffoons.

The New York Yankees lacked pitching and offense throughout much of the regular and postseason . There now seems to be desires to rid themselves of players they believe to be no longer necessary to their needs , with continued speculation concerning the immediate futures of Brett Gardner and Ivan Nova. Now bear in mind Mark Teixeira was once again missing from the lineup for a sizable chunk of the regular season, while being paid over $20 million a year to remain being sidelined. Teixeira has become injury prone and of no real use to the Yankees , because of his lack of durability and being able to stay injury-free .

If the Yankees are seeking to offer up Brett Gardner and Ivan Nova as trade bait , along some players still being owed sizable sums on the remaining years of their existing contracts or entering arbitration. It simply proves once again Brian Cashman is prepared to go all-in even when the cards in his hand are not actually favorable . Try as he might , it is becoming increasingly known the Yankees’ general manager has little faith in the farm system and even less with the current roster of active players on this squad.

Having won three World Series’ titles during a six-year span , Bruce Bochy as the manager of the San Francisco Giants has to be seen as one of the better managers within Major League Baseball. Unfortunately, this past season the Giants were never able to contend within the NL West and were clearly like a capsized vessel taking in water , as they flailed about within the lower rungs of the NL wildcard race. Giants’ GM Brian Sabean might well contemplate stripping the cupboard bare as he seeks to rebuild the roster, given the inconsistency shown last season. Tim Lincecum a two time NL Cy Young Award winner is now set to become a free agent as well as having been a hero on in two of the Giants’ three recent World Series victories. While I believe the Giants would be foolish to allow the pitcher to leave , it could possibly be the move needed to be made among several others Brian Sabean is likely to make over this off-season.

Lincecum has not been the pitcher we have seen in recent years , because of niggling injuries and a lack of consistency . Yet the same could be said of several of the Giants’ players over the past two years and the very fact the ball-club is no longer one of the most feared teams within the National League. Perhaps complacency might well have set in after all of the success attained under manager Bruce Bochy or it might well have been the zeal to win was no longer apparent with the team. Either way this off-season will prove to be an eventful one for the organization.

For all of the hype and and bravura surrounding the talent of Chris Davis , I consider the player , one whose legacy will be judged by the fact even after the alleged era of steroids within baseball was deemed to be on the decline, the Baltimore Orioles’ slugger still managed to have his name intertwined with all of the other players involved in this sordid chapter within baseball. Davis was also the subject of a league-mandated suspension for the use of a banned substance in spite of his denials and pleas of innocence .

In the aftermath of a miserable 2015 season where the Orioles failed to contend within AL East . This off-season for Baltimore , will prove to be a very eventful one as the front office seeks to make a number of changes to the roster, while the managerial staff of Buck Showalter remains intact.

With Davis now set to become a free agent , there is likely to be several inquiries made as to the slugger’s availability , but with the Toronto Blue Jays’ perennial All Star slugger and multi-purpose player Jose Bautista possibly coming to the free agency market . There will be a great deal of intrigue as to how the deck of cards are likely to fall, concerning which of these two players are likely to be offered a sizable contract for their services as well as a likely destination. The Boston Red Sox are in need in a productive bat , given the team’s woes this past season and the lack of run productivity.

Jose Bautista and Chris Davis have been two of the prolific home-run hitters within the AL over the past four seasons and consistency has been the norm for the Blue Jays’ slugger in particular. Bautista could very well choose to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Blue Jays, knowing a six or seven-year $100-$150 million deal would be fair market value for a player of his pedigree.

Having made the postseason for the first time in over twenty years , the Toronto Blue Jays were expected to make great inroads in this past season ,but the team failed miserably at the the penultimate hurdle, losing the AL Pennant to the Kansas City Royals . Buoyed by baseball’s best offense , the Blue Jays during their series against the Royals lacked the bite expected, with Ned Yost and his managerial staff outmaneuvering his counterpart Josh Gibbons’ staff , while falling short of their intended goal .

With rumblings of discontent within the Blue Jays’ organization and the owners being dissatisfied with the team’s failure during the postseason. It has been the contemporary drama to unfold, with the departure of long-time general manager Alex Anthopoulos , simply bailing on the Toronto Blue Jays. Chairman Edward Rogers has not seen fit to issue a formal statement as to the reasons behind Anthopolos’ leaving , but it is rumored the executive felt it best to leave in search of other professional avenues of career advancement , than quite possibly being forced out . For now the the former executive awaits a call from a team in need of his acumen and undoubted talents .

Two years into his ten-year $240 million contract and the Seattle Mariners’ slugger Robinson Cano is now said to be disgruntled. Unhappy with his current situation within the Mariners’ organization . It would appear Cano might become the cancerous growth , liable to spread within the ball-club , eating away internally and destroying anything it touches within its path. Were that to happen , it would set the franchise back into a tailspin , where the Mariners were among one of the worst teams baseball for a considerable period of time. You would have to go back to 2001 to record the last time the Mariners won a divisional title and the last time they made a appearance in the postseason came that very same year , when they lost the ALCS 4-1 to the New York Yankees. The Yankees would go on to lose the World Series in seven games suffering defeat at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Co- World Series MVP’s were Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling , with the two starting pitchers being the primary reason why the Diamondbacks won their only World Series’ title in the history of the franchise.

If the rumors are to believed with Robinson Cano wishing to return to the New York Yankees , then the Mariners’ front office would be foolish not to acquiesce to the player’s demands even if it mean their having to pay in part the remainder of Cano’s contract. Such are the vagaries and idiocy of the guaranteed contracts within baseball, unless there are buyout clauses in place , which only tends to take place where a player opts out of the final year of a contract.

Seattle chose to hedge their bets and made Cano the centerpiece of the team , built around an aggressive policy insisted upon by former GM Jack Zduriencick , who has since been replaced by Jerry Dipoto as the new general manager of the Mariner’ franchise . The senior-most board members of the Seattle Mariners’ ownership group have presided over a decade-long reign of incompetence and negligence , both on and off the field of play. Managers have come and gone without their being any degree of consistency or any major success. Granted, the franchise has churned out All Stars and great players such as Ken Griffey Jr , Edgar Martinez , Ichiro Suzuki and Alex Rodriguez to name but a few , but the one thing missing , remains the World Series’ trophy and an AL Pennant over the last fifteen years.

It may well be something of a stretch to see Robinson Cano make a quick exit and possible return to the New York Yankees, but I believe the AL West based franchise will do their utmost to keep the player , having built their hopes around him . It would be too much of a financial loss to bear, unless they could get something of equal value in return from an interested party wishing to acquire the player.

Picture gallery . Click on an individual frame to view that image alongside an accompanying narrative.

Which player or teams do you believe will likely have the biggest impact on this off-season with their being so many trades likely to take place ?

Tophatal …. .. 2015/12/01


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