Same old story, just another day …

Same old story , just another day ….

The big story coming out of the world of sports was the decision made by the IOC President Thomas Bach and the Executive Committee not to issue an automatic ban for the Russian delegation heading to the Rio Olympics beginning next month. The decision has caused a great deal of dismay among other members countries , because there was clear evidence the Russian Olympic Federation knew that numerous athletes due to represent the country had been embroiled in a massive scandal , with their having tested positive repeatedly for banned substances not only in violation of the IOC rules, but also in contravention of the WADA standards. Bach , for his part, the decision made was simply done as a way of not punishing athletes within the Russian delegation deemed to be clean. There appears to be a double-standard in place by the IOC and the hypocrisy not withstanding , this remains an institution of questionable morals and principles.

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It has long been held the International Olympic Committee (IOC) operates under its own set of rules , offers very little transparency , along with corruption being rampant at all levels of the governing body. Brazil as the host nation has spent tens of billions of dollars to host the 2016 Olympic Games , while its own government undergoes severe changes , claims of massive corruption , a stagnant economy and need we be reminded of the ongoing threat of Zika Virus , as well as the possibility of a terrorist attack being staged at these games ?

From my own perspective, I do believe the right decision would have been the complete expulsion of the Russian Team from the games in Rio ! The excuses coming from not only Russian Olympic Federation as well as the country’s President Vladimir Putin have been asinine at best. Yet at the end of the day , a great deal of the blame for this morass lays squarely on the shoulders of the IOC.

Major League Baseball is now entering the final quarter of its regular season schedule and there is still a great deal to play for within a number of divisions . Granted , a number of teams have failed miserably this season and now we have the looming situation of the trade deadline with several ball-clubs looking to off-load players after a an un-competitive season. Rumors are now swirling that the New York Yankees might be major sellers on the market , with Aroldis Chapman being among a number of the players GM Brian Cashman might seek to move. Add in the fact two of the highest paid players on the Yankees’ roster have under-achieved this season and you could well understanding the reasons why Cashman would want to also shed Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira from the lineup. Due to receive a combined $45 million in 2016 and owed in excess of $80 million on the remainder of their respective contracts. It is easy to conclude why now might be the right time get rid of both Rodriguez and Teixeira . Neither player has lived up to the expectations sought and have not provided any type of veteran leadership for this team. Likely to miss the postseason in 2016 after a rather lackluster display with a wild-card round loss to the Houston Astros in 2015 . There are likely to be some major upheavals with the New York Yankees during this upcoming off-season.

Having won a World Series’ title managing the New York Yankees, Joe Girardi might also now be on the hot seat , as I believe the front office will view the franchise’s recent lack of success has a great deal to do with the lack of managerial acumen shown Girardi and his staff since the ball-club’s triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009 with a 4-2 series’ victory . Coming off a weekend series’ schedule against the San Francisco Giants , Joe Girardi will now have to seek some consistency as they round out their schedule for the month of July. The New York Yankees will begin three-game road trip against the Houston Astros , starting Monday 25th July at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas. Michael Pineda will be on the mound for the Yankees as he faces Dallas Keuchel of the Astros. Winning the series will be imperative for New York if they are to have any chance of resurrecting their season. It is my belief this would be the right time for baseball’s most successful franchise to start rebuilding again from the ground up , assessing the quality of their players within the farm system beyond their never-ending quest to continually overpay for free agents or make the sort of idiotic deals the New York Yankees have come to be known for in recent years .

If the New York Yankees are said to be in need of success then consider the situation now facing the Los Angeles Dodgers . The franchise in the past four years have committed to paying out over $1 .2 billion in salaries during the time-frame in question. To the dismay of baseball purists , the fact there is this belief, money can buy success , the Dodgers remain an intense study as to how asinine this exercise can be. This season the Los Angeles Dodgers remain by far the highest salaried team in the game of baseball , outstripping their closest rivals by a considerable margin. Managing partner Mark Walter and his associates within the front office have to be dissatisfied with the performances of the team this season. Struggling to keep apace with the San Francisco Giants within the NL West , the Dodgers are now in something of a dogfight for a wild-card berth within the NL. Manager Dave Roberts and his managerial staff will be preparing the team to face the Tampa Bay Rays at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles , California on Tuesday afternoon. Chris Archer of the Rays will be starting pitcher for the visiting team when he faces Bud Norris of the Dodgers. If nothing else , this should be a guaranteed win for the home team as their games against the Tampa Bay Rays have tended to be lopsided affairs over the past eight seasons.

It’s now or never for the Los Angeles and a case can be made that several of the players on this roster , their jobs are most certainly at risk. It remains to be seen what changes could be made by GM Farhan Zaidi and Head of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman . Both of these Dodgers’ executives would like to move away from the often capricious decision-making seen with former GM Ned Colletti not longer the team was brought the present owners in 2012 . Colletti was given cart-blanches do whatever it took place a competitive team on the field of play. The Los Angeles’ most recent postseason mishaps are now well-chronicled and was an indication as to the bloated ideas seen within the organization at all levels, along with the ongoing complacency seen .

With a little over two weeks before the NFL kicks off its preseason the usual amalgam of new surfaces and once again player misconduct rears its ugly head alongside the ongoing woes of Johnny Manziel . Considered a major NFL bust and it is easy to understand why this Heisman Trophy winner failed miserably at the professional level . Manziel was overrated, lacked maturity and certainly lacked the skills needed to be a successful quarterback in this league. Johnny Manziel’s former team the Cleveland Browns now appears to be in safe hands after the franchise acquired Robert Griffin III to helm the team at the quarterback position. I am not so sure what to expect of the Browns this season , but I feel they are likely to improve on their showing of last year. The Cleveland Browns’ preseason schedule , merely a warm-up for their regular season foray will certainly be interesting.

Marshawn Lynch announced his retirement from the NFL , having fulfilled a professional ambition , winning a Superbowl title. The running back’s success with the Seattle Seahawks has been well-chronicled . Seattle will likely enter the season as the prohibitive favorite to win the NFC West , with their biggest challenge quite possibly coming from the Arizona Cardinals within the division . As with all regular season contest these two divisional adversaries will meet twice over the course of the regular season , home and away . Opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Carson Palmer will be tested in each of these contests . The first meeting between the two NFC West combatants will take place during week seven at University of Phoenix Stadium in Tempe , Arizona on 23rd October , 2016. Their final meeting of the regular season will be week sixteen at Century-Link Field in Seattle Washington , when the Seattle Seahawks will play host to the Arizona Cardinals.

The departure of Marshawn Lynch will undoubtedly leave a void within the Seahawks’ organization How they compensate for this loss will be dependent upon what Pete Carroll may well feel needs to be done to replace a player of Lynch’s caliber. There is depth on the roster and what appears to be a number of players eager to fill the role of starting running back for the team. Richard Sherman a teammate of Marshawn Lynch is unconvinced of his the running back’s retirement , but Lynch remains adamant his decision is final and that his eight years in the NFL are enough.

Tom Brady w ill not seek to appeal the Federal Appellate Court ruling which upheld his four-game suspension , clearing the way of his back-up Jimmy Garopollo to lead the New England Patriots through their first four games of the regular season. Meanwhile , Brady’s contemporary, the recently retired Peyton Manning has been cleared by the NFL of any alleged wrongdoing of his having used a banned substance . The facts of the league’s investigation are unlikely to be made public , but there will continue to speculation as to whether or not the NFL wished to make an example of Brady , while giving Manning the benefit of the doubt. Over the last decade and half these two quarterbacks have come to represent the face of this league , with the pairing having won six Superbowls , six League MVP’s and four Superbowl MVP’s .

While I believe was guilty of deception , I do not believe the league hierarchy had substantive evidence to fully prove their case , with much of the evidence built around hearsay , rather than factual and physical evidence. Also , it seemed somewhat suspicious that the league’s Chief Legal Counsel Jeff Pash was not called to give evidence in the original arbitration case on behalf of the NFL.

Of late the NBA has found itself embroiled in a mess of its own making. Four prominent NBA players have suddenly believe it right to be socially conscious. Dwyane Wade , Carmelo Anthony , LeBron James and Chris Paul now taking a stance against gun violence and the deaths of not only law enforcement officers , but also civilians. These deaths have now become cannon fodder for both Presidential candidates , who seem intent for the most part, to make use of the grieving families’ misfortune, without offering up any type of solution themselves. It would not be so bad , but there now seems to be no implicit faith in either the FBI , the Civil Rights’ Division of the US Justice Department much less Barack Obama during the waning days of his Presidency. Obama is lame-duck President , offering nothing decisive by way of leadership , merely offering up rhetoric and pragmatic statements on socioeconomic issues involving African-Americans. For these four stars now offering up their own stance on the issue of gun violence , it is somewhat laughable, considering over the past five years hundreds of lives have been lost, but now with law enforcement running amok , this issue has now become a racial morass, widening with each passing moment.

Following in line with what we have seen within the NBA , the WNBA in recent days, fined several players on the Indiana Fever , an undisclosed sum for their having worn black T-shirts stating “Stop The Violence” , prior to an NBA game. Lisa Borders , President of the WNBA has since rescinded the fines , with their being public outrage from fans and analysts for the actions taken by the league hierarchy. The self-righteous pomposity of the NBA seems to have found its away across to the WNBA , with their being equal amounts of bombastic pomposity and incompetence to be seen within both leagues. Adam Silver who succeeded David Stern as the NBA Commissioner, has chosen to remain silent on the latest national controversy, yet this was the very same league , who two decades ago sought to use the genre of gangsta-rap as a marketing tool to lure in the urban youth of America. Less we forget, the imagery often associated with the music form in particular , was gang violence , but somehow this must have been lost on the NBA hierarchy as well as the players’ union (NBPA) .

NBA great Michael Jordan has now began to chime in on not only the Black Lives Matter’s campaign , but also the stance being taken by the league’s players. Somehow , I would take more of an interest , if I were really sure that Jordan was in fact serious with his intent ! The billionaire owner of the Charlotte Hornets may well have raised millions through his charitable foundation to aid the need of under-privileged youth across America , but yet, while at the height of his playing career , not once was this icon ever vocal on a social issue of any importance. Not even when it was associated with his biggest corporate endorser Nike Inc , whose business as well as labor practices have come under close scrutiny from Human Rights activists and non-governmental agencies across the globe.

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Repetitive motion appears to the cycle of news not only within the world of sports, but also on the national scene as a rather disturbing trend continues unabated . What thoughts if any , do you have on the points raised within this article ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and

Tophatal ….. 2016/07/25 08:43 pm

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The Long Walk Home or Is It To Nowhere ?

The Long Walk Home or Is It To Nowhere ?

While there appears to be apparent apathy , indifference and now the fomenting of xenophobia in recent weeks either being perpetuated by the media , political candidates as well as on both sides of the political aisle. The fact of the matter remains , with the recent stance being taken by NBA stars after the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement officers . I have to ask if their actions are not too little , too late , given the fact these atrocities being perpetuated by law enforcement officers. Personally , I believe after the impassioned statement made by actor Jesse Williams , the athletes were shamed once again into taking a stance ! From my own standpoint , I find far too many of today’s athletes are self-indulgent, with their greatest concern being, personal success, how much wealth they can amass, how much money can they earn by way of endorsements and how they are perceived by the public by enlarge.

When you have the likes of Floyd Mayweather bragging about the money he can earn in and outside of the boxing ring ,while still believing himself above the law and then see the ongoing hypocrisy of today’s NBA stars and realize the fact they measure up so poorly in comparison to many of their predecessors when it comes to dealing with and protesting social issues. I have to question their actual motives and whether or not there is genuine altruism on their part !

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The retirement of NBA star Tim Duncan after nineteen-years of unprecedented success with the San Antonio Spurs , brings to an end one of the truly great careers in recent league history. Duncan , a five-time NBA champion , three-time Finals’ MVP , two-time League MVP and fifteen time All Star leaves the NBA and there will definitely a large void left to be filled on the Spurs’ playing staff . The acquisition of Pau Gasol may well go some way in filling Tim Duncan’s shoes , but I get the feeling as good as Gasol just happens to be , he may well never be able to replace a superstar of Duncan’s stature. The Spurs’ power forward who along with Kobe Bryant recently played their last seasons in the NBA have brought about an end to a two-decade span during which both of these players were truly dominant at their respective position and among the best of their generation.

Gregg Popovich who drafted Tim Duncan , has the greatest respect for the player he believes has been the franchise’s greatest asset during his tenure with the San Antonio Spurs .

Over the years , hierarchies behind sports such as baseball , basketball and football have carried a truly poor image when it comes to addressing the issue of social injustice never-mind the issue of race relations. While idiots continue to suggest Barack Obama has done more to create a greater divide in the chasm of race in the country. I have to ask the question , what the hell do those morons think was happening during the Civil Rights’ era and the early twentieth century , when African-Americans were not afforded the right to vote , have equal access to an education , much less be able to use a public restroom without being attacked ? Now within the Justice System many of the alleged advances made by way legislation within Congress and now within the US Supreme Court , are now being repealed or weakened , to make sure the oppressors will always have the upper hand.

MLB will resume the second-half of its schedule and you now have to question if many of the big-spending teams are capable making a genuine run to the postseason, much less be in with a chance of winning their division. Speculation appears to be mounting the New York Yankees will be dumping salary and unproductive players faster than leaves descending from trees during the Fall. Team manager Joe Girardi has seen his players under-perform and having no real chance of winning the AL East . Over their last ten games as of the 14th July the Yankees are 5-5 with their last victory coming against the Cleveland Indians on the 10th July . The New York Yankees will begin a weekend series against divisional rivals the Boston Red Sox where both Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz are having excellent seasons for the Red Sox. Season series between the two teams have become what many of us have expected from two franchises looking to make sense of their season. Steven Wright of the Boston Red Sox will be on the mound when he faces Michael Pineda of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York on Friday evening.

Michael Pineda is thought to be one of the players are willing to trade prior to or at the trade deadline. Desperation has become the new normal within this Yankees’ organization as the front office is steeped in failure with another abysmal season coming into focus. Having made the postseason in 2015, their stay came to an abrupt end suffering a wild-card loss to the Houston Astros . In 2016 there has been no sense of urgency from this Yankees’ team whatsoever and no excuses should be made concerning injuries suffered to any of their front-line starters .

If the New York Yankees are said to be struggling then this season at this point of their schedule has to be seen as one hell of a triumph for both the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers , the two teams with the best records in their respective leagues. San Francisco will be meeting the San Diego Padres in a road game , while the Rangers will be facing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois .

As the saga continues , it might now be time for Tom Brady to bow out gracefully , rather than continue to his futile effort to prove his innocence. Brady’s latest setback in the never-ending episode of Deflate-Gate has taken on every twist and turn. However, with a Federal Appeals Court ruling that his four-game suspension be upheld , the player’s only alternative is to petition the US Supreme Court to hear his case as a final act of binding arbitration . The New England Patriots’ quarterback has been fighting relentlessly to prove a point, while the league hierarchy has simply seen public opinion move further into their corner.

There will not be a great financial loss for Tom Brady , should he decide to sit out the four games mandated by the NFL , as the player renegotiated his contract for this upcoming season which would see him being paid a base salary of $1 million dollars for the upcoming year. Brady’s signing bonus of $13,000,000 would go untouched by the league. Somehow , I believe every scenario which would could have been planned for, was dealt with by the player’s representatives as well as the NFLPA (Players’ Union) .

New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft remains livid as to the latest outcome and I somehow feel his relationship with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will become more strained and great deal more testy. Kraft was among Goodell’s biggest proponents to succeed Paul Tagliabue to the position as the league’s highest ranking executive. Now with the relationship almost untenable , I do not believe there can be any scenario where the two executives can ever be viewed as close confidantes. Head coach Bill Belichick will now seek to have Jimmy Garoppolo ready for the season with the backup quarterback being given a lot of reps during training camp , the preseason and of-course through the first four games of the Patriots’ regular season schedule . If the team can go at worst 2-2 , then it can be considered a success to the start of their season.

Tom Brady’s likely return would come in week five when the New England Patriots are due to meet the Cleveland Browns led by their new quarterback Robert Griffin III , in a game to be played at First Energy Stadium (Paul Brown) in Cleveland , Ohio on October 9th , 2016,.

Through two rounds of the British Open , Phil Mickelson has a one-shot lead at the Royal Troon Golf Course in Troon , Scotland. Mickelson skirted history during the first round of the tournament , when he shot a sixty-two (62) for a nine under-par (-9) , a record for the first round in the Open . Whether or not ‘ Lefty’ as he is lovingly known can win this Grand Slam major , as usually this tournament , considered to be the toughest of all the Majors , tests the wills of the competitors over the final two rounds.

With over $80 million in career prize money , five Grand Slam tournament victories , Phil Mickelson needs only the US Open to notch a career Grand Slam , while also having won forty-two times on the PGA Tour. His career is considered to be one of the best over the past two decades , but the long-held contention that he would prove to be a formidable rival to Tiger Woods has never materialized on the Tour. Granted, Woods’ own career has been in a steady decline over the past three years and while he still remains popular , his is no longer considered to be the best golfer in the world .

The UFC garnered some negative as well as positive coverage over the past ten days. On the negative side UFC President Dana White had to announce for the second time . former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones had been suspended , having tested for a banned substance. The suspension was recommended by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) and a two-year ban was the recommendation of the panel. Jones has the right to appeal the suspension , but the train of thought among many analysts of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is that his career might well be over. Jon Jones and those within his inner circle have vehemently denied any wrongdoing , but his explanation wreaks of inaccuracies . Furthermore , his coming forward with such a tepid excuse of not knowingly taken a banned substance after his first infraction, leaves a lot to be desired. The positive news emanating from the UFC was the sale of the organization for a reputed $4 billion to WME/IMG , making Dana White , Frank Fertitta III and his brother Lorenzo Fertitta extremely wealthy men. All three will still retain a minority stake in the company , with White being retained in his current position. What this now means for the organization and any further expansion remains to be seen, as the new owners survey their latest asset and acquisition.

UFC’s most recent event UFC 200 was not all thrills and spills with the main card , having been decimated after the announcement of Jon Jones’ suspension in the lead-up to his challenging Daniel Cormier for the title he once held. Cormier had to take on Anderson Silva in a non title fight, while the top bout featured Miesha Tate losing her Women’s Bantamweight Title to Amanda Nunes in surprising fashion . Add in the comical return of the overrated Brock Lesnar and you could say the ” circus was back in town ” . Now we have the comical elements of the WWE now entering its ranks , with the organization now pushing more for the idiotic antics often seen in professional wrestling , rather than the UFC seeking to make its mark and inroads into the base once held by boxing .

Floyd Mayweather , gone and so too has Many Pacquiao , with both boxers calling quits , after almost two decades a piece in the sport of boxing . Their super-fight turned out to be a monstrous bore , with fans being overcharged to witness two boxers whose contest came at least five years after both fighters were no longer at the pinnacle of their respective careers. Boxing has now become a lackluster sport , still controlled by major promoters Bob Arum , Don King and Oscar de La Hoya , The latter entered the sport as a promoter after a classic career in the ring. Instead , all de La Hoya seems to be offering the fans are promises which have yet to be fulfilled.

On Saturday night Deontay Wilder will make a defense of the Heavyweight title when he defends his crown for the fourth time when he faces Chris Arreola in defense of his WBC crown . This is not a fight I believe fight fans will be relishing, given the challenger’s lackluster record over his past six fights . Arreola often comes into a bout out of shape and unwilling to fight , in spite of claims he possesses a knockout punch. Wilder will be fighting in his hometown of Birmingham , Alabama at the Legacy Arena , where there will be a sell-out crowd for the defending champion and heavily backed favorite. I expect Deontay Wilder to make another successful defense of the heavyweight title before seeking out a much sterner opponent for his next defense. The thinning of the herd within the division lessens the chance of his meeting a credible challenger . Tyson Fury has his long-awaited rematch coming up as he defends the versions of the titles he now holds , when he meets Wladimir Klitschko . The Ukrainian fighter is hoping to rebound after his astonishing loss to the English-born fighter last year in what was seen as one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history.

Boxing longs for an undisputed heavyweight champion , something which we have not seen in over a decade and it should also be remembered , currently there are no undisputed champions in any of the weight categories of the sport. We have a litany of alphabet organizations governing the sport and none seem to be in unison , seeking to make boxing more engaging for the fans or competitive with regard to the title fights being staged.

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I am being continually told , how far this country has come in the past two-hundred and forty years since its founding and specifically since the end of the American Civil War. The so-called advancements made, have been played out on a battlefield of hate, greed, corruption , cynicism , a great deal of racism and xenophobia . It is certainly being played out in the current political arena on both sides of the political divide. The things which allegedly made America great, are no longer being seen and the country itself , has lost the respect of its closest allies. Only a fool will try to suggest the contrary. The country has to be shamed into doing what is morally right and more often than not has been reactive rather than being proactive. Yet it seeks to be the moral beacon of light for the rest of the world . There is a great deal the country still has to learn and the biggest lesson of them all , has to be the respect of others as well as preserving its own dignity. Something which seems to be lost among its political leaders, athletes and dare one say even among its populace ?

🙂

Tophatal …. 2016/07/15

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Save It For Another Day ….

Save It For Another Day …

OK, so the country is in a state of shock after the events of the past seventy-two hours and I am of the belief , you cannot change a country, when the mindset of the political leaders remains ambivalent , rhetorical and pragmatic . The United States of America no longer remains the Land of The Free , but it has become about the have’s and have not’s . No other country on the earth judges its people than by the wealth amassed and the power one has by the fortune amassed. From my own standpoint , I no longer wish to make any type or real observation concerning the country , because I know in essence, things are unlikely to change , no matter who takes power at the highest levels of political office .

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In the world of sports , the NBA’s off-season has taken shape with a spate of transactions and the ongoing stupidity exhibited by analysts such as Charles Barkley and Stephen A Smith . The duo have taken things to a new level of such idiocy with their statements concerning Kevin Durant’s departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors . How little they seem to remember , when it came to the orchestrated and embarrassing performance by LeBron James , when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat and where James would lead the Heat to two of their three NBA titles while he played for the franchise. Rather than address the fact , the NBA is no longer about team success , but more so about singular titular achievements of the league’s superstars. The fans of the NBA now have to put up with the utter bull$hit exhibited by individuals (Barkley and Smith) who clearly want to proffer up idiotic opinions, with the belief they will be listened to with a great deal of clarity and real intellect.

Dwyane Wade’s shocking departure from the Miami Heat to join the Chicago Bulls was more of a jolt , than Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder. Heat Team President Pat Riley has played footloose and fancy-free over the last six seasons conjuring up the success for their franchise. Yet, his plan had to unravel , because the financial burden for the Miami Heat had become too much to bear. Wade for his part sacrificed professionally as well as monetarily in order to facilitate the wishes of the front office executive Yet at the end of the day , as we all know the NBA has been nothing more than a business , with team success being secondary in nature and nothing more than a bye product of it all.

In reality the league (NBA) has become entity without any heart , soul or real competitiveness, where they are no longer any great team rivalries , player rivalries or in-depth skill-set. There are but a handful truly great players in the NBA , with the coaching also being rather mundane, if not pedantic , bordering on being less than average.

Away from professional basketball , Major League Baseball is on the cusp of taking its mid-season break for the events of this year’s All Star Game being held at PETCO Park , home to the NL’s San Diego Padres . Teams are still vying for divisional supremacy as well a vital playoff berth within each league. Of late things have slowed up for the Chicago Cubs who at one point had the best record in all of baseball. That mark now belongs to the San Francisco Giants who are bring pressure to bear on their divisional rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers whose gargantuan payroll dwarfs so many of their rivals within the NL West as well as the rest of MLB . Over the last ten games played , the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays have been the two best teams in baseball , with each compiling an 8-2 record . Though it is not reflected in their divisional standing within the NL East or the AL East where they sit several games behind the respective divisional leaders.

Coming off their last contest the Toronto Blue Jays were 5-4 winners over the Detroit Tigers in a game played the Rogers Center in Toronto , Ontario. The two teams will face each other again on Friday evening , with the Blue Jays seeking to inch closer the Baltimore Orioles , who currently lead the AL East . In the case of the Philadelphia Phillies , it has been a lack of consistency throughout much of the season which has led to their faltering behind the Washington Nationals and New York Mets within the NL East . Thursday’s embarrassing loss to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver Colorado , proved to be something of a setback for this Phillies’ team , but they will get the chance to rebound from the defeat , when they meet in the resumption of their regular season series this Friday.

At this point last season , the standings within the game gave us no real indication as to how the postseason would play out for the participants . I certainly believe the last month of the regular season will play a part in what we could very well expect during the postseason foray for the teams. For now, the fans will prepare as the All Star Game festivities get underway , with the beginning of the mid-season showcase starting with starting with the Celebrity All Star Game on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s Home Run Derby , with the pinnacle being Tuesday’s big event of the whole showcase. The AL and NL rosters for the game might well have been filled with surprises , but when you consider this is nothing more than love-fest , which comes courtesy of fan voting , rather than on the merits of the accomplishment of the players up to this point of the season. Then there are bound to be a number of grievances from various arenas covering the game of baseball. Yet at the end of the day, the fans simply want to be entertained, while seeing a very competitive contest from the best players the game has to offer.

What should have been one of the biggest promotions in UFC history with the scheduling of UFC 200 , will now turn into something of a nondescript spectacle. One of MMA’s biggest stars, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones has been forced to withdraw from his proposed Light Heavyweight title bout against reigning champion Daniel Cormier . Jones has tested for a banned substance and a mandatory two-year suspension by WADA comes strong on the heels of the fighter just returning to the octagon having tested positive for cocaine after his having originally defeated Cormier in defense of the title he had to relinquish . Jones has pled his innocence stating that he could have only tested positive having taken a prescriptive medication for which he wasn’t aware was among the list of substances banned by the UFC. Plausible or not , Jon Jones has become the unwanted face of the sport because of his past offenses in and outside of the octagon. Jones , alongside Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey , are the three biggest draws in the sport , which at present is truly bereft of a breakout star, given the fact in recent months, each of the three fighters mentioned suffered losses professionally in the octagon or their reputations have been sullied with some negative press, because of actions outside the sport. UFC President Dana White , whose avuncular style and dictatorial leadership of the UFC has drawn negative reviews , is now pressed in having to deal with another damaging blow the sport.

Criticism from many circles concerning the UFC’s business dealings with contracted fighters signed to the company are not misplaced , in spite of claims to the contrary by White , and UFC’s owners , Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta . UFC 200 will still be staged , but the main attraction on the card will mark the return of former Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar who will face Mark Brown , while Miesha Tate will defend her Women’s Bantamweight title against Amanda Nunes . Daniel Cormier is likely to be tested in his bout when he faces off against Anderson Silva the former UFC Middleweight champion. These three bouts will highlight the main card for the evening’s events staged at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas , Nevada on Saturday , 9th July, 2016. If nothing else, UFC needs a shot in the arms after all of the negative publicity surrounding the Jon Jones debacle as well as the uncertainty concerning Conor McGregor’s future within Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The Irishman seems unfazed by the antics of the UFC President , knowing full well the UFC needs him more than he needs the sport. Contract obligations asides , his staged announcement and walking away from sport was nothing more than hyperbole.

Brock Lesnar’s return will certainly give us something of a comedic spectacle, given the fact his reign as the former champion was short-lived . All-American or not , Lesnar has limited skills as an MMA fighter , where his greatest strengths are his wrestling and physique.

Serena Williams will be looking to add to her twenty-one singles’ Grand Slam titles when she faces Angelique Kerber of Germany in the Ladies’ Singles Finals at Wimbledon. Kerber , defeated Williams to win the Australian Open in Melbourne , this past January, depriving the American of her chance to equal Steffi Graf’s modern era Open record of twenty-two Grand Slam singles’ titles. Serena Williams will enter the Finals at Wimbledon as an overwhelming favorite , but I believe Angelique Kerber is not to be underestimated ! Williams is by far the best player of her generation and among the top-five female players in the history of tennis, but it is difficult to suggest she is the greatest female player of all-time. Her career record while outstanding , would pale into comparison when measured against the likes of Martina Navratilova , Steffi Graf , Billie Jean King and Margaret Court .

If Serena Williams fails in her quest on Saturday afternoon , it will not be for the lack of trying , but questions will certainly once again be raised where she ranks within the pantheon’s of the women’s game should she falter again , at the hands of Angelique Kerber.

The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil are just over month away and while IOC President Thomas Bach assures the world at large everything is OK. What cannot be hidden from the public , is that the country remains beset by political scandal , has an outbreak, which many believe Brazil cannot contain , in spite of assurances from the nation’s Health Ministry and the WHO (World Health Organization) . While I believe the ‘Zika Virus’ outbreak is a real cause for concern, my greatest fear, is that Brazil and its security apparatus will be unable to handle a terrorist attack . The whole world will be watching the biggest sporting spectacle to be staged each quadrennial and I have to admit , I will be fascinated to see many of the events unfold. Team USA will seek forge unity , trying to unite a nation divided by racial and economic divides , while idiot politicians and members of the media seek to suggest the nation is more unison, when it faces its greatest adversity. Nothing could be further from the truth, as there remains a perpetuation of xenophobia fomented in the bigoted rants of political commentators , Presidential candidates and even idiot members of the populace , who know little of the nation’s history, much less the reality of the real world .

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Recent tragic events , which we have now borne witness to via media resources, reminds us why very little has changed in the US over the last six decades, much less since the nation came into being. All men are not created equal and they are certainly not treated fairly under the law. Anyone with an iota of intelligence can see that for all sense and purpose the United States remains divided along racial and socioeconomic lines. It is the way in order to keep the status quo as is, with those in power , controlling the wealth and suppressing the freedom of others, specifically those who are of an ethnic background.

Tophatal …………. 2016/07/08

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