Red state , blue state ….

Red state, blue state ….

So here we are at a historical moment in the nation’s history , as Donald Trump upset the status quo to become the nation’s forty-fifth President (elect) having easily defeated Hillary Clinton for the highest political office in the land. The surprise concerning the result, did not only come from the fact Clinton’s campaign was no lethargic, but also failed to appeal and gain widespread support across the nation. From my own standpoint, having to choose between the lesser of two evils, when the candidates involved . have been described as two of the most despised candidates in the nation’s history, has played a large part in the divisiveness seen during the entire Presidential campaign. Now that this is all over, the nation can now seek to heal the wounds , but I guess , the losers having seen their candidate so handily defeated, will now begin to question what and why things went so badly.

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In the world of sports the fallout has already began in the world of baseball . Having won a memorable World Series , the Chicago Cubs will now seek to bolster their roster, while also rewarding a number of their players who played a part in the team’s success during the regular and postseason. Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon and his managerial staff are to be commended on a spectacular season. Who knew that the ball-club’s one hundred and eight-year old curse would come to such an emotional end ? World Series MVP and veteran player Ben Zobrist exemplified the Chicago Cubs’ never-say die attitude throughout the postseason. Maddon may well have caused palpitations among the Chicago fans with some of his game decisions , but the fact they panned out and the team was victorious in defeating the Cleveland Indians says a great deal about the ingenuity of the manager and the faith of the front office in Joe Maddon’s abilities.

While the Chicago Cubs are still riding high, another baseball’s revered franchises now seems to be returning to ways of old. The New York Yankees after a disastrous season seem to be intent on making a big splash during this off-season , with general manager Brian Cashman possibly willing to spend as much as $100 million or more to acquire key players he believes will be of benefit to the team . There is no denying the Yankees’ weakness was their pitching , with only Masahiro Tanaka proving his worth among the starting pitchers . The relievers on the roster were barely average and clearly the many needs of the Yankees during the off-season go way beyond just pitching. New York’s offense was very inconsistent and many of their high-priced offensive players showed a lack of real productivity when it mattered most. I don’t believe Cashman will be given the go-ahead to spend capriciously, but I do believe Hank Steinbrenner and Hal Steinbrenner will see it as only fitting the ball-club seeks to be as competitive in the market as many of their big-market rivals such as the Los Angeles Dodgers whose payroll for the upcoming season is likely to remain above $200 million .

Teams are now looking to shed players who will be placed on the free agent market which is likely to cause something of a major frenzy. Many of baseball’s biggest and most prominent agents will be seeking to get the best possible deal for their respective clients. Rumors are also flying around, with the Detroit Tigers possibly being among the biggest sellers , seeking to off-load two of their biggest stars , Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera . The thought of GM Al Avila considering such a move is unlikely to sit well with the Tigers’ fans, but I do get the feeling team owner Michael Ilitch has become dissatisfied with the lack of postseason success . If he is pressing the front office executives and managerial staff to make these bold moves , I do not believe it will sit well with the fans of the Detroit Tigers. The ball-club’s failure at the highest levels of the game has more to do with the lack of consistency needed rather than blaming the players.

This past season Detroit’s failure came from their not being competitive in a number of tight games and manager Brad Ausmus’ questionable decision-making during several vital games. The failure to win the AL Central and even gain a postseason berth laid with the managerial staff more than anything else. Should both Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander be traded , both players will come at a very high price , given their respective market-value.

Like any other previous MLB off-season there will continue to be a frenzy within the market, with teams scurrying to get the best players available. Will your team be one of those profiting from these transactions ?

Should there be cause for concern at this stage of the NBA season ? Unless you happen to be the Philadelphia 76ers , you might as well say it’s business as usual . Not much has changed since the end of last season and the beginning of this season with the Sixers still looking lamentable in just about every facet of the game. Only the New Orleans Pelicans (0-8) currently have a worst record than the 76ers at this stage of the season. With both teams yet to record a victory, it will be interesting to see which the duo will be the first to join the rest of the league’s twenty-eight teams to have recorded a win. Brett Brown head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers will have his team in action on Wednesday night when they face the Indiana Pacers in a game being played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Arena in Indiana , Indianapolis .

The New Orleans Pelicans will not be in action until Thursday 10th November when they tip-off against the Boston Celtics in a road game against their Eastern Conference opponents .

Since his abrupt and somewhat unexpected departure from the Miami Heat , it is has been rumored the relationship between Dwyane Wade and Heat President Pat Riley had become very animated , with few cordial words being exchanged between the duo. Considering the ongoing PR nightmare concerning Miami’s decision to jettison Chris Bosh , one has to wonder if there’s any truth to the fractured relationship between Riley and the three players , who have been instrumental in bringing the Miami Heat their last two NBA titles. Coincidence or conspiracy , it does seem strange within the space of two years , LeBron James , Bosh and Wade are no longer part of the Miami Heat playing roster . Financial hardships notwithstanding, I find it extremely hard to fathom the incompetence shown by Pat Riley and there being no apparent input or formal statement coming from team owner Micky Arison .

As of the 9th November the Miami Heat posted a record of 2-4 , placing the franchise near the bottom of the East Conference. In their last game the Miami Heat fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a twelve-point loss on the road , losing 97-85 , with Russell Westbrook continuing his amazing season . On Thursday , Dwyane Wade with his teammates on the Chicago Bulls will visit the American Airlines Arena in Miami , Florida , for Wade’s first game at the venue , since signing with the Bulls as a free agent during the off-season. Wade will be looking to inflict even more pain on his former team , while placing the Chicago Bulls to be in a very good position at this early stage of the NBA season , which is still in its infancy . The game will be seen as either vindication for the release of Dwyane Wade should he play poorly and the Chicago Bulls lose the contest, but should Chicago be victorious , then there are likely to be questions asked of Pat Riley , the coaching staff of Erik Spoelstra and the entire front office . Wade remains one of the Heat’s most beloved and popular players in franchise history .

At point will the fans of the New York Knicks realize Phil Jackson and the entire front office are selling them a bill of goods with no value ? This Jeff Hornacek coached team has become an embarrassment so early in the season , that it is not unreasonable to believe the Knicks are likely to be a sub .500 team at the end of this regular season .

Jeff Hornacek has a team which remains inconsistent at home as well as on the road and there appears to be no real signs of change in terms of their play . Acquiring both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah was meant to provide the team with a great deal more competitiveness on both ends of the floor . In their last game the New York Knicks were tested in their fourteen-point victory over the Brooklyn Nets , previously to which, they fell to the Utah Jazz , 114-109 , with both games being played at Madison Square Garden , in New York City, New York . Next up for the Knicks will be a game against the Boston Celtics , a match-up likely to test both of these Eastern Conference teams.

The Western Conference has always been considered to be the better of the NBA’s two conferences. Teams there tend to be far superior to their Eastern counterparts. I also believe there happens to be far more talented players within the West , altogether and that is even with the four-time League MVP LeBron James’ heralded exploits over the course of his career . Two games currently separate the top-five teams within the Western Conference , with the Los Angeles Clippers (7-1) leading the way with the best record among them all . Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers has seen his team rise to the occasion with the play of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul being one of the primary reasons why the franchise has been so successful up to this point of the regular season.

Doc Rivers will see his team in action when the Los Angeles Clippers will be in action on Friday night when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder . It will be one of the top games being played on the night .

It came as no real surprise when Luke Walton was named as the head coach to succeed Byron Scott , after Scott’s dismissal by the front office . Walton was the lead assistant to Steve Kerr , head coach of the Golden State Warriors , whose record-breaking season in 2015 came to an abrupt end in the NBA Finals and their series’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers . The Los Angeles Lakers have gotten off to an inauspicious start to their regular season schedule. While the fans may well be expecting wins , Luke Walton simply seeks a steady improvement from his players and their willingness to accommodate his strategies.

The heady days are now long gone where the Los Angles Lakers were perennial contenders or winning back-to-back titles . Kobe Bryant’s retirement after an astonishing career with the Lakers , has become a precursor to a new chapter in the franchise’s history. With the Buss family still the primary owners of the club, it will be interesting to see how they herald in this new beginning. Their have placed their faith in the acumen of Luke Walton, his coaching staff to lead and the players will now have to respond . Whether or not the fans will have the patience to endure what is hoped be to the learning process of the playing staff and its growth, remains to be seen .

It is not yet clear who should be seen as the vocal and team leader of this Los Angeles Lakers’ playing staff , but all signs seem to pointing in the direction of Lou Williams . The veteran presence of Luol Deng should provide some leadership , but I believe it will take a great deal more than just Deng’s leadership to ensure any type of real success . Williams and his teammates were in action on Thursday night when they faced the Sacramento Kings and made a spirited comeback for a decisive victory over their conference rivals in the West. Luke Walton had to be pleased by what he witnessed from his team and their performance . It bodes well for the Los Angeles Lakers’ next game when they tip-off against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie Center in New Orleans , Louisiana on Saturday , 12th November , 2016 .

Picture gallery and by clicking on an individual frame you can view the picture along with the accompanying narrative.

The divisiveness and rancor seen from this political season , as evidenced with the Congressional and Presidential election , hasn’t yet spilled over into the world of sports , but there is an underlying element in the behavior of the personalities involved. At times it can be and lead to “ win at at any cost” and then in the aftermath, you seek to clean up the mess , though not necessarily in the best way possible .


MLB news

MLB transactions

NBA news

NBA standings

NBA results 9th November

Results for 10th , schedules for 11th , 12th and 13th November

NFL news

NFL week ten schedule

NFL standings (divisional)

NFL standings (conference)

USA Today news politics

Tophatal ………… 2016/11/09


Author: tophatal ...........

An avid sports' fans that's all !!!!!

111 thoughts on “Red state , blue state ….”

  1. One month into the NBA seasonal schedule and you could say there have been no real surprises. Some idiots , were already beginning to write-off the Golden State Warriors , because they’d slipped out of the starting gate of their first eight games , but low and behold last season’s beaten NBA Finalists once again , have the best record in the NBA while the mediocre Eastern Conference is simply about a one-man band of the Cleveland Cavaliers leading the way over what we already knew was a conference truly bereft of depth and dearth of talent.

    Needless to say, the New York Knicks (8-9) continue to disappoint and it should come as no real surprise considering how bereft of coaching talent the franchise continues to be. While LeBron James and his Cavaliers’ teammates run away with their division as well the conference it is pretty much safe to say the rest of the participants are simply playing cannon fodder as to who will be their whipping post in the playoffs.

    Last night’s results in the league provided little real insight into the play of the teams. The Los Angeles Lakers having suffered a seventeen-point loss on the road to the New Orleans Pelicans . Lakers’ head coach Luke Walton in his first full-time professional coaching position , is still assessing his lineup and how to get the very best out of his players. Somehow , the Cleveland Cavaliers succumbed to the Milwaukee Bucks , losing to their opponent 118-101 . Perhaps the most surprising result of the night came in the San Antonio Spurs’ loss to the Orlando Magic in what can only be described as one of the worst performances by the Spurs at this stage of the season.

    NBA news

    NBA results 29th November

    NBA schedule 30th November

    Tophatal ………


  2. Opening up of week thirteen of the NFL season and now things begin to wind down in the league. The Thursday Night Game will feature Minnesota Vikings (6-5) playing host to the Dallas Cowboys (10-1) . This is a game vital to the chances of the Vikings as they need a victory to further their cause of a wildcard berth in the NFC . Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo might well get some playing time in this contest having been cleared to play, but it is my belief Dak Prescott will be the starter for Dallas in this contest.

    There are several games on this weekend’s schedule with playoff implications and they are of vital importance for the teams in question. One of the games which certainly piques my interest has the Carolina Panthers (4-7) with their slim postseason hopes looking to derail the chances of the Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1) . Also , in a game of two bottom-feeders , we have the Chicago Bears (2-9) playing host to the San Francisco 49ers (1-10) . After this game , I do expect a decision to be made by Niners’ officials as to whether or not head coach Chip Kelly is retained in his position for the remainder of the season. It has been abundantly clear , Kelly brought nothing to the table by way of coaching acumen as the franchise simply fell apart at the seams.

    Chip Kelly’s tenure in the NFL has been abysmal to say the very least and that is even with many of docile supporters , suggesting his presence has been of benefit to the league . Now there appears to be mounting speculation Kelly is ready to make the jump back to collegiate football , possibly rejoining Oregon (Ducks) .

    Courtesy of CBS

    Chip Kelly reiterates he’s not interested in returning to college football, Oregon
    The current San Francisco 49ers coach may still have ties to Oregon, but doesn’t plan on returning

    By Chip Patterson

    Update : Chip Kelly has spoken to someone at Oregon this week, just not about replacing Mark Helfrich. In fact, Kelly says he reached out to Helfrich, his former offensive coordinator, this week after he was fired by Oregon. According to ESPN, Kelly stood by his comments from earlier this month in saying he is not interested in returning to college football.

    Original Story Oregon has fired Mark Helfrich after going 37-16 in four years and taking the Ducks to the College Football Playoff National Championship in 2014. The school made a move after the Ducks’ worst record (4-8) in a season since 1991, a fate that was sealed with a 34-24 loss to Oregon State in the Civil War on Saturday.

    Oregon athletics director Rob Mullens and the decision makers involved in the search are wading into uncharted waters. Ever since Rich Brooks was hired prior to the 1977 season, the Ducks have handled each coaching change by promoting the offensive coordinator to head coach. Brooks retired, Mike Bellotti stepped up. Bellotti retired, Chip Kelly stepped up. Kelly left for the NFL to coach the Philadelphia Eagles and then Mark Helfrich was promoted.

    Oregon has not announced its plans for the search — colleague Dennis Dodd has a list of potential candidates — but you can bet that Kelly’s potential return to Eugene will be a talking point during the week. Kelly went 46-7 in his four years as the Ducks’ coach, finishing in the top-five every year from 2010-12. Mullens should certainly call Kelly (or his representatives) about the job, just in case, but odds are that conversation will end quickly.

    Click on link to read in full.

    The York family as the primary owners of the San Francisco 49ers have simply been negligent in their presiding over the franchise , which has been painfully devoid of leadership since Eddie DeBartolo was stripped of the team’s ownership. In the ensuing years there has been little achieved which has been of note. Even their appearance in the Superbowl ended in absolute misery with a loss to the Baltimore Ravens .

    NFL news and schedule for week thirteen

    NFL team injuries

    San Francisco 49ers news


    Tophatal ……………………


  3. The month of December will be critical within this still infant NBA season . Results from Thursday’s games put some perspective into how the season has been playing itself out . Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors suffered surprising defeats on the night , with Cleveland falling to the Los Angeles Clippers . Golden State succumbed to conference rivals the Houston Rockets in a very high-scoring game , where defense appears to have been misplaced .

    NBA results 1st December


    Tophatal …..


  4. In what has been described as his least productive season in the Major Leagues , it looks as if former NLMVP and outfielder Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates is now being actively shopped around the league. McCutchen who is due to be paid $14 million for this upcoming season is known to be unhappy with the stance now being taken by the organization. After a rather disappointing season by the Pirates , one could blame the team’s failings on the players as well as the managerial staff .

    Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates .

    Courtesy of

    McCutchen to Nats talks appear to heat up

    By Adam Berry of

    PITTSBURGH — The Pirates are still considering deals involving Andrew McCutchen, the face of their franchise, as the Winter Meetings draw near.

    Pittsburgh has previously expressed a willingness to engage in discussions about McCutchen, and that has not changed. The Pirates remain involved in free-agent and trade talks on several different fronts, a club source said Wednesday amid multiple reports they’ve taken a more active approach toward dealing McCutchen. Clubs are asking about the five-time All-Star and 2013 National League MVP, and the Bucs could be persuaded to part with him — but only for the right offer.
    • Hot Stove Tracker
    Still, there was more Hot Stove smoke around McCutchen than usual, with several reports suggesting McCutchen could be dealt next week during the Winter Meetings. The Pirates center fielder “might be the most likely to go” of baseball’s high-profile trade targets, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported. Yahoo! Sports added that the odds of McCutchen returning to the Bucs in 2017 are “dwindling.”
    “I’m under contract with them, right? That’s the way I’m looking at it,” McCutchen said at the end of the season. “I don’t align the stars. I’m not the person that controls all that. I don’t do that. It’s all in God’s hands.”
    Talks with the Nationals have heated up, according to’s Jon Paul Morosi, with Washington wanting to complete a deal before Friday’s contract-tender deadline, because acquiring McCutchen would move Trea Turner to shortstop, leaving no spot for Danny Espinosa, who could then be non-tendered. The Pirates are seeking contractually controllable starting pitching. Joe Ross and Reynaldo Lopez would fit that shopping list, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported.

    Click on link to read this article in full

    From my own perspective , I believe it was way too much to ask of Pittsburgh to compete not only within their division against a Chicago Cubs’ team which was by far the best in all of baseball , but also when viewed from the perspective the Pirates were not built for the long-haul. Certainly, there was no depth to the lineup and clearly the team’s offense and pitching were not up to par.

    If the decision is made to trade Andrew McCutchen , then there could be a monumental backlash against the front office and in particular a backlash aimed directly at team owner Robert Nutting .

    Pirates’ owner Robert Nutting .

    The Pittsburgh Pirates are not one of the wealthier teams in all of baseball and neither are they among the most profitable . The Pirates’ attendance levels are among the most meager in the game.

    Pittsburgh Pirates news

    MLB transactions (December)

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ transactions November and December .

    Tophatal ………..


  5. Week fourteen in College Football should provide the fans with several games of interest this weekend. Yet perhaps the biggest ongoing story in the world of College Football happens to be the dismissal of Charlie Strong as the head coach of the Texas Longhorns . Embattled through much of the season , Strong has been made the scapegoat , for which the Longhorns had no long-term planning during the waning of Mack Brown’s tenure as head coach of the program. Countered with the calls of racism concerning his firing the Athletics Department of the Longhorns now have a public relations’ nightmare on their hands. Long seen as a bastion of football success as a powerhouse program , the comments concerning racism has hit at the core of the University of Texas. It remains how this will be addressed by the faculty and University President Gregory L Fenves .

    Texas will not be in action this weekend having finished with a disappointing 5-7 record within the Big 12 Conference . Succeeding Charlie Strong is Tom Herman who is faced with a tall order this off-season , by way of recruiting talent as well as assessing the needs of this current roster .

    NCAA Football news (FBS) and schedule


  6. Teams are now digging in fast as they try and seek to make the trades which will set them in good stead for next season within Major League Baseball . There’s mounting speculation that a blockbuster trade is in the works involving one or two prominent big league stars. We already know the Pittsburgh Pirates are intent on listening to trade offers for their All Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen . Clearly after their recent forays in the postseason without much success , the Pirates now feel it’s best to move in another direction completely. Pittsburgh’s farm system is good , but not great and unless the front office and managerial staff are on the same page . This franchise is likely to regress to the point where they were one of the worst performing teams in all of baseball.

    One team , where I do believe there is likely to be some movement , has to be the Los Angeles Angels . Team owner , Arte Moreno cannot withstand another season of disappointment , while manager Mike Scioscia and the managerial staff have been repeatedly been given passes over the past eight years at least. Coming off another non-appearance in the postseason with the Angels’ last appearance coming in 2014 when they lost to the Kansas City Royals in the ALDS .

    Mike Trout having won his second ALMVP in the last six seasons , has proven himself to be the best young player of his generation and perhaps the the best all-round player in baseball at this moment in time. Certainly he remains the primary reason to watch the Los Angeles Angels at home or on the road. Trout’s statistics for this past season was one of the primary reasons why the player won the ALMVP Award and unquestionably he has now become the vocal leader of this Angels’ roster .

    Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.

    If there was said to be a real weakness concerning the Angels, then their Achilles’ Heel must have been the team’s pitching . Consistently over the last two months of the Angels’ regular season schedule the team failed miserably to acquit themselves. The Los Angeles Angels rounded out their schedule with a loss and a victory over the Houston Astros ending with a record of 74-88 for a fourth place finish in the AL West . GM Billy Eppler has several decisions to make concerning the free agents on the roster and whether or not it would be beneficial to re-sign these players to long-term deals. I fully expect Billy Eppler to be a major player during this off-season as he seeks to bolster the roster !

    Angels’ GM Billy Eppler (left) and team owner Arte Moreno.

    MLB news

    MLB transactions (November) and December

    MLB free agents

    Projected team payrolls for 2017

    Tophatal …………..


  7. So here’s what we do know , the Florida Gators will be a twenty-seven point underdog when they face Alabama in the SEC championship game being played today . While I believe the Gators to be a good team , they’re being overestimated if they believe, they are capable of pulling off the upset over the nation’s best all-round team . I fully expect Alabama to outplay Florida on their way to a lopsided victory ! Offensively , the Florida Gators have struggled to put points on the board and score rushing touchdowns.

    NCAA Football and schedule

    Last season’s schedule and results

    Tophatal …………


  8. As we enter the month of December, it will be very interesting to see how the NBA teams fare during this month, Last night’s results sprang one or two surprises .

    The Cleveland Cavaliers suffered their fifth loss of the season , as they Z fell to the Chicago Bulls on the road , losing 111-105 .

    Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t fare too well as they were pounded by the Toronto Raptors in a very embarrassing and lopsided thirty-three point loss , 113-80 .

    Strange to see that only rookie Joel Embiid has been able to maintain a double-digit scoring average , while his team the Philadelphia 76ers have one of the worst records in the entire league . This season smacks to the incompetence seen by this team and the lack intelligence shown by the coaching staff as well as the front office . There is no leadership on or off the court by way of the acumen shown by this Sixers’ franchise .

    In their last ten games played , the Philadelphia 76ers are 3-7 with only the Dallas Mavericks having a worst record (1-9) over the same stretch of games .

    NBA news and results

    NBA schedule

    NBA player stats leaders and the rookie stats

    Tophatal …..


  9. After the war effort began in Afghanistan and Iraq , noted four-star general and Secretary of State Colin Powell made the statement , ” you break it, then you buy it ” . Well , this season as with it inception the ill-devised College Football format and its system has been bought hook ,line and sinker. It is indeed broken, because from its inception, the whole process was ill conceived and not thought out. Even with a panel of adjudicators made up of individuals from in and outside of the game , one could still see the idiocy behind the premise of the new system.

    Unfortunately , there was a craving for something new, but those who actually sought change , had no real idea as to what they really wanted . We still have the idiotic premise , that everyone with six wins or more is entitled to a Bowl appearance . This season we also had the Big Ten Championship Game being played between two teams who were not really considered legitimate contenders for the conference title , never mind the fact the number two-ranked team in the nation and a member of the Big Ten , Ohio State was not considered worthy of playing for the conference title.

    What fans are now left with is a mess which no one seems to have an idea how to resolve while the format will undoubtedly remain the same , even with a little tinkering taking place. The power behind this new system , still lays in the hands of five major powerhouse conferences and it is all based on money rather than the spirit of competition. Just because a you label a pig a sow, it doesn’t make it so . Yet , this is what we’re now seeing with the new format within College Football at the FBS Level to determine a national champion .

    Tophatal …………


  10. So once again seasoned veteran slugger Carlos Beltran is on the move having signed a one-year , $16 million contract to join the Houston Astros . This past season Beltran found himself playing for a variety of teams without producing anywhere near career or season highs . Having joined the Houston Astros , it will be interesting to see what Carlos Beltran can add to a team which failed so miserably last season .

    From my own perspective Carlos Beltran is well past his prime and though his $16 million price tag might seem reasonable , this once again indicates the numerous reasons why baseball is need of a hard-salary cap for its teams. Though the Astros had a winning record (84-78) , it simply wasn’t enough to be in contention within the AL West or for a wildcard in the postseason . This move engineered by GM Jeff Luhnow with the blessing of Astros’ owner Jim Crane . Houston’s postseason appearance in 2015 , was the first in several years and was thought to be something positive for the franchise . Prior to that Houston’s last postseason foray came in 2005 . That year they would make an appearance in the World Series where they would face the Chicago White Sox . Swept in four games the series was never really that competitive .

    If the Houston Astros are to be competitive next season then the current roster will have to be a great deal stronger than now perceived on paper. Houston’s farm system has some very good players , but it remains to be seen how productive they can be at the Big League Level . When the Astros begin their regular season schedule in 2017 the team’s season opener will be against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas on 3rd April , 2017. The first three months of the season will likely provide a read , on how good the Astros might well be in 2017.

    Houston Astros news

    Tophatal …….


  11. Possibly their most effective offensive player , but with the news that Rob Gronkowski will be missing from the New England Patriots’ starting lineup for the rest of the season , leaves Bill Belichick and the coaching staff with one less offensive weapon on the roster . Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady has lost one of his best receiving targets of the past five seasons.

    When the New England Patriots take the field to face the Los Angeles Rams at Gillette Stadium , Foxboro, Massachusetts, it will provide Tom Brady another chance to improve on his incredible record against the Rams. The only loss suffered by the quarterback to the NFC based Rams took place during Brady’s sophomore season in 2001 .

    New England’s receiving and rushing corps made up of Martellus Bennett , Danny Amendola , Julian Edelman , LeGarrette Blount and Matt Engel will likely provide the weaponry needed to make this contest beyond the St Louis Rams’ reach. I certainly don’t believe the Rams are good enough to derail the Patriots’ regular or postseason ambitions .

    New England Patriots news


    Tophatal ……………..


  12. Heading into Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens , the Miami Dolphins had been one of the hottest teams in the NFL with the Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill being one of the best passers in the league over that stretch. Unfortunately , on the day when everyone expected big things from Tannehill and his teammates , the player would disappoint , as the Miami Dolphins had their most embarrassing loss and display of the season on their way to 38-6 rout by the Ravens. Elsewhere , with both the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles having lost in their respective games this weekend, the Dallas Cowboys clinched the NFC East divisional title as well as having made the postseason with the best record in the NFC . A first-round by and the Cowboys will await the winners in the divisional round of the postseason. The Giants found themselves on the wrong side of a road loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers , losing 24-14 . In the case of the Eagles , they could not muster up the strength to even play a competitive game against the Cincinnati Bengals on their way to a crushing 32-14 defeat .

    It would be safe to suggest the Jacksonville Jaguars are indeed a very bad team ? Another humiliating loss and you have to wonder if Gus Bradley and the entire coaching staff will be retained at the end of this season ? Blake Bortles had another embarrassing display , which has pretty much summed up his and the Jaguars’ season without any further explanation being needed.

    What else needs to be said about the inconsistency shown by the New Orleans Saints and the lamentable season had by the team ? Drew Brees is no longer confusing us all , with throwing for large yardage while the Saints continue give their fans chronic displays of incompetence . Sunday afternoon was further evidence of that fact as they fell to the Detroit Lions by the score of 28-13 .

    NFL news and week 13 results

    NFL standings (division) and conference standings

    NFL playoff picture (projected)

    NFL week fourteen schedule

    Tophatal ……….


  13. Over the past three days the NBA has seen its fare of results amusing or otherwise. The Los Angeles Clippers seemed to have hit a bump in the road . In their most recent game the Clippers fell to the Indiana Pacers , 111-102 in a contest played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California .

    The Dallas Mavericks are still struggling to make sense of their season . Rick Carlisle has seen this team squander games , leading them to having the worst record in the league . Dallas’ next game will be against the Charlotte Hornets being played at home on Monday night .

    NBA news

    NBA results 4th December

    NBA standings

    NBA player stats and rookie stats

    NBA team stats (wins) , points’ differential

    NBA stats team scoring and team defense

    This month in NBA history

    On this date in basketball

    Tophatal ……………


  14. The New York Yankees in a rush to shore up what indeed was a very weak roster from last season have acquired free agent slugger and former St Louis Cardinals’ player , All Star and outfielder Matt Holliday . The player was signed to a one-year deal with the ball-club in the hope in he can bolster what was a very pedantic offense this past season . The real weakness for the Yankees in 2016 was their pitching and failure to maintain leads during a game .

    Matt Holliday’s position on the roster for the upcoming season is likely to be as a DH , but more importantly , he will have to be productive if the New York Yankees are likely to have any chance of winning the AL East . It is becoming abundantly clear team general manager Brian Cashman , the front office and managerial staff have very little faith in the farm system in spite of the awareness of shown by young players such as Aaron Judge , Tyler Austin and the highly- prized Gary Sanchez .

    Yankees’ outfielder and possible DH , Matt Holliday.

    When the New York Yankees begin their regular season schedule in 2017 , it will be interesting to see how the team will fare over the course of the season. Manager Joe Girardi knows a great deal will be expected of the players and it is imperative they get off to a fast during the month of April . Their first game of the season will be against the Tampa Bay Rays on the 2nd April at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida .

    MLB is in need of a truly dominant team which can perform consistently at a high standard from year-to-year and not tail off as has been seen recently.

    There has not been a repeat champion in baseball in over a decade . When the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015 , it was felt they could remain dominant , but that clearly wasn’t the case as they were not built to last in spite of the claims made by analysts and Royals’ fans alike. I do believe however , Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer as the lead front office executives of the Chicago Cubs have gone about things the right way which as a result did pay off with their series’ win over the Cleveland Indians . The Cubs have a great deal of depth on their roster , while being managed by Joe Maddon and his tremendous group of managerial assistants . Chicago is not afraid to spend the money , but they will do so prudently , knowing their farm system remains one of the best in all baseball , while also having the knowledge there are several players in their AAA system ready to step up to the plate when called upon to do so.

    MLB news

    MLB transactions

    New York Yankees news


    Tophatal ……….


  15. The final seedings are now known for the > Bowl Games and which teams are seen as the viable candidates for the national championship in College Football . Other than the idiocy of Ohio State (Buckeyes) being denied the chance to play for the Big Ten Conference Championship which was the only controversy for this season , the panel of arbiters seemed to have gotten things right. It was somewhat idiotic to deny the Buckeyes the chance to play for the conference title, leaving a lopsided game to the played between Penn State and Wisconsin . Both teams are Bowl eligible and will be playing one one of the nondescript games which rounds out the postseason within College Football.

    The four teams seeded to play in the semi-finals are Ohio State taking on the Clemson Tigers , while the number-one ranked Alabama will face off against Washington (Huskies) with both games being played on 31st December , 2016.

    NCAA Football news

    Tophatal …………..


  16. Week thirteen within the NFL is now in the books with the Monday Night Game having taken place between the Indianapolis Colts(6-6) who pounded the New York Jets (3-9) into submission on their way to a 41-10 rout of their conference rivals . This loss could force the Jets’ front office into doing the unthinkable by firing the head coach Todd Bowles . Bowles cannot be blamed for a team which has been lackluster all season long . In week fourteen the New York Jets are scheduled to meet the San Francisco 49ers (1-11) on the road in a game between two of the worst teams in the entire NFL .

    Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles.

    The New York Jets will most certainly have to clean house among their roster , shedding a number of high-priced free agents . What is abundantly clear is the fact Ryan Fitzpatrick is overpaid and has not lived up to his contract . Fitzpatrick is not due to become a free agent until 2017 . It will be interesting to see which teams will be interested in the seasoned veteran at this stage of his career .

    NFL news

    NFL results (week thirteen)

    NFL standings (divisional)

    NFL playoff picture

    New York Jets news

    Tophatal ……….


  17. Monday’s results in the NBA , not exactly a ringing endorsement about how good this league just happens to be at all .

    Still going strong are the Golden State Warriors as they’re led by Kevin Durant , Steph Curry , Klay Thompson and Draymond Green . While there appears to be nothing more than rumors about an idiotic trade to send Thompson elsewhere. I cannot help but wonder if the front office of the Warriors are even prepared to listen to such idiotic comments from either media or the anal retentive fans , with their asinine suggestions.

    On a night where once again Klay Thompson set franchise records , it could be said all the rumors of his demise or departure have been laid to rest as Golden State pummeled the Indiana Pacers into submission on their way a to a thirty-six point rout , 142-105 over the Eastern Conference based franchise . Thompson scored 60 points in the Warriors’ win over the Pacers alongside a 63.6 field-goal percentage night in the lopsided victory.

    Elsewhere , the Miami Heat continue to struggle as the team is still searching for some semblance of real leadership from anyone on the roster. In their last game the Heat fell to the Portland Trailblazers , the contest 92-99 in a match-up losing to the Blazers . Hassan Whiteside has been signed to a lucrative contract with the Miami Heat and is seen as the face of the franchise in light of the departures of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade . The decision to not continue with Wade , James and Chris Bosh has to be seen as a step backwards by the front office after their recent success .

    I have no doubt Heat GM & President Pat Riley will seek to bolster the Heat’s roster at the trade deadline . It will be needed if Miami is to prevail against the best which both the East and West has to offer over the course of this season .

    Pat Riley (right) and Hassan Whiteside (left) .

    Based on performances alone this season there has not been as dynamic a player as Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder . Westbrook has single handed kept the team in play . The point guard’s six straight games with a triple-double is a franchise record and comparisons are being drawn to such greats as Oscar Robertson and Earvin Magic Johnson in terms of Russell Westbrook’s ability this season. There are only five teams in the league with a better record over their last twelve games and Oklahoma just happens to be one of them .

    Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    Next up for the Oklahoma City Thunder will be a game against the Houston Rockets conference rivals and one of the teams thought to be one of the seeds likely to make this upcoming postseason.

    NBA news and results for the 5th December

    Golden State Warriors news

    Miami Heat news

    Oklahoma City Thunder news


    Tophatal …………….


  18. The Boston Red Sox after a rather unsuccessful season have decided to deal with things on two fronts . First off, they re-signed manager John Farrell to an extend contract and then arranged a blockbuster deal which brought AL pitching ace Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox to their AL rivals the Red Sox.

    Chris Sale.

    Boston’s front office were fast and super secretive in pulling off the deal , which might be the first of several blockbuster trades to take place during this off-season.

    The acquisition of Chris Sale should bolster the Red Sox’s pitching staff entering into next season . John Farrell has to be aware many of their divisional rivals will be buyers in the free agency market . This won’t be the last of the moves likely to be made by the Boston Red Sox as I believe through some attrition the front office will seek to make this team a great deal better. What may well have come as a shock concerning this trade for Chris Sale , were the prospects within their farm system which they used as a bargaining chip to acquire a player who has never won more than twenty games in a season . There might well have been a sense of urgency to get this deal done, and I do believe the Red Sox gave up way too much for Chris Sale in spite of his talent . However , if Sale can contribute to the Red Sox and make them a competitive force in 2017, then this will all be forgotten , especially if the franchise can win their fourth World Series title in the last eleven years .

    MLB news

    Boston Red Sox news

    MLB transactions (December) and free agents

    Tophatal …………


  19. Not quite through the first week of December , but it is becoming abundantly clear as we approach the Christmas festivities team will be gearing up for that eight-day stretch between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day . With there being some ongoing games on Tuesday night it will be interesting to see how those teams have fared during their contests.

    Washington Wizards’ point guard John Wall scored a career-high 52 points in his team’s loss to the Orlando Magic at home in a game played at the Verizon Center in Washington , DC . Impressive as the display was , it simply wasn’t enough on the night to deter the Orlando Magic.

    The home and road records of the NBA teams are not overly impressive, but when you factor in their overall record it does provide a more reflective feel to the season.

    NBA news

    NBA results 6th December

    Tophatal ………..

    Tophatal ………..


  20. With only five games left in the regular NFL season things are still up for grabs within a number of divisions . We know already both the Dallas Cowboys (11-1) , New England Patriots (10-2) and Oakland Raiders (10-2) have essentially made the postseason , though there is a fight on between the Patriots and Raiders as to who will be the number one seed within the AFC at the end of the season. All three teams will be in action during week thirteen of the regular season schedule, with looking to make an emphatic mark with a victory .

    New England will be facing the Baltimore Ravens at home , where Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady will be seeking to win his two-hundred and first professional game , surpassing the mark of record-holder , the now retired Peyton Manning . Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys are to face divisional rivals the New York Giants and finally the Oakland Raiders will be meeting the Kansas City Chiefs . At this stage last season the teams were still vying for a postseason berth .

    NFL news

    Tophatal ……………………


  21. The NFL hierarchy and franchise owners , would rather have us believe the league has gotten its house in order , in how they treat their retired veterans . A $1 billion settlement ratified by the NFLPA after being settled in US Federal Court doesn’t seem to have really stemmed many of the issues now facing these retired players. This was brought to the fore once again, after the news came of the death of former first round draft pick and Colorado player Rashaan Salaam .

    Salaam’s college career was noted for its highlights and achievements apart from his having won the coveted Heisman Trophy . The running back’s career in the NFL was short-lived , with his having played for the Chicago Bears . Rashaan Salaam’s death is said to have come from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his home , though an autopsy has yet to take place. There is no suspicion of foul-play and law enforcement will conduct an investigation with the coroner’s office conducting the autopsy to verify the particular’s surrounding the running back’s death.

    Courtesy of USA Today

    Rashaan Salaam, former Heisman winner and NFL first rounder, found dead in park

    By Brent Schrotenboer & Mike Coppinger of USA Today

    Rashaan Salaam, winner of the 1994 Heisman Trophy and a first-round NFL draft pick in 1995, was found dead shortly before 9 p.m. Monday night at a park in Boulder, Colo., a Boulder police spokeswoman said.

    Rashaan Salaam , the 1994 Heisman Trophy winner who died at the age of 42.

    His mother, Khalada, told USA TODAY Sports Tuesday that police said they suspect it’s a suicide after finding a note.

    “They said they found a note and would share that with us when we get there,” Salaam’s mother said.

    The police spokeswoman said the cause of death is still under investigation. She said there is no indication of foul play and no threat to the community. A 911 call Monday night reported a body found in Eben G. Fine Park in Boulder, later identified as Salaam, 42, who starred at running back for the University of Colorado.

    “It’s just a big trip. That’s all I can say,” Salaam’s mother said. “We just found out this morning, and we’re going to Colorado to take care of him.”

    She said the family hopes to bury him in Boulder because “he liked it there and was successful there, and he liked the people there.”

    Salaam, who is from San Diego, led Colorado to one of the most charmed football seasons in its history in 1994, when he rushed for 2,055 yards and helped the team finish No. 3 nationally with an 11-1 record. He was beloved by the CU community and was among many CU alumni who took special pride this year in the football program’s revival as winners of the Pac-12 Conference South Division

    Click on link to read this article in full.

    The circumstances behind Rashaan Salaam’s death may not be known , but if as suspected there were some private issues or depression which the player might have been suffering from . It may well have not been known to those closest to the running back. After the deaths of Junior Seau , Dave Duerson , Ray Easterling , Jovan Belcher , Forrest Blue and Lew Carpenter . It begs the question , what implementations are there to really assist these players ?

    Tophatal ……..


  22. Luke Walton in his first season as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers , has his team challenging within the Pacific Division . Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak came to the decision with the hire of Walton , having been impressed with the former player’s abilities as the lead assistant to Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and their performances in 2014 and 2015 .

    Lakers’ head coach Luke Walton.

    Off to a rough start this season the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled to keep abreast within the Western Conference as well as the rest of the league . The Lakers’ front office have to be pleased with what they have witnessed from the coaching staff as well as the players . Averaging 104.9 points per game the real issue for the Lakers is defense and points’ differential , which places them in something of an impossible situation to win games comfortably .

    In their last game the Los Angeles Lakers lost a hard-fought game against the Utah Jazz played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California ,. They will back on the court tonight seeking to make up for the defeat suffered against Utah , when they face another conference rival the Houston Rockets on Wednesday , 7th December . The most effective player on the Lakers’ roster is Lou Williams who is averaging 18.4 points a game . A far cry from the figures put up by Kobe Bryant during his career with the Lakers. .

    Lou Williams (23) of the Los Angeles Lakers .

    Los Angeles Lakers news

    Tophatal ………….


  23. Dwight Howard has a storied career in the NBA where he’s among the highest paid players and centers in the league . The fact he’s failed so miserably at just about every stage of his career speaks volumes as to the reasons why he’s seen as overrated. Having won multiple Defensive Player of The Year Awards , was merely a malaprop by those who thought him worthy of the accolade. Yet, he has proven himself not to be a leader , not a great teammate and merely one of the numerous reasons he’s considered a mercenary.

    Now with the Atlanta Hawks , Dwight Howard is there to provide the team with the offensive firepower needed as well as the presumed resolute defensive abilities sought by the franchise . Atlanta’s front office led by team owner , Tony Ressler , also has former NBA star Grant Hill as a minority stakeholder and Chairman of The Board .

    This season the Atlanta Hawks have gotten off to rough start in a division where they will be in for a tough time throughout much of the season. Over their last eight games the Hawks are a miserly 1-7 , among the worst records of the teams in the league over the stretch seen. Atlanta’s next scheduled game will be against the Miami Heat at the Philips Arena in Atlanta , Georgia , on Wednesday , 7th December , 2016 . Atlanta’s coaching staff led by Mike Budenholzer will looking to see if the team can improve on their record against another conference rival this season.

    Atlanta Hawks news

    Tophatal …………..


  24. So having won a World Series’ championship and ring with the Chicago Cubs , ace reliever Aroldis Chapman is on the move again returning to the New York Yankees , having signed a record-breaking deal for a reliever . In his place the Cubs have signed veteran Wade Davis , with the hope Davis can replicate the form shown by Chapman during this recent postseason . From my own perspective , the New York Yankees are in need of a great deal more than pitching as the roster lacks a great deal of depth at various positions .

    Aroldis Chapman (pictured) , returns to the New York Yankees.

    I believe the Chicago Cubs will be able ton buck the trend this upcoming season and actually make a successful run during the postseason. The team is likely to be a great deal better and it certainly adds to the fact the managerial staff remains in tact with Joe Maddon as the champions winning manager . Both the Cubs and Yankees will begin their season openers in 2017 with games against the following opponents , the Tampa Bay Rays and St Louis Cardinals . Both contests are divisional games between the franchises in question . The Tampa Bay Rays will play host to the New York Yankees , while the St Louis Cardinals will entertain the Chicago Cubs.

    It does seem somewhat ironic Aroldis Chapman would seek to re-sign with the New York Yankees having been a resounding success with the Chicago Cubs , but $86 million might well have been too big a price to overlook.

    MLB news and transactions

    Chicago Cubs news

    New York Yankees news

    This week in baseball history .

    On this day in MLB history

    Tophatal ……..


  25. Week fourteen of the NFL season will open up with a game between the Oakland Raiders (10-2) and the Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) who are only a game behind the Raiders for the lead within the AFC West . This contest is of vital importance for both teams with their being so much at stake within the division and the conference .

    There are several games on this weekend’s schedule which will have some ramifications concerning the playoff landscape as well as within the divisions themselves. Last season these two teams the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders provided the fans with two very good games as part of their regular season schedule.

    The AFC South might well be the most disappointing division in the NFL this season . Not one team within the division has a winning record . Hard to believe , one of the three teams , Houston Texans (6-6) , Indianapolis Colts (6-6) and the Tennessee Titans (6-6) , in contention for the division, are likely to end up with a record no better than 8-8 and still make the postseason at the expense of a team with a much better record . The Tennessee Titans will play the Denver Broncos (8-4) , while the Indianapolis Colts will face the Houston Texans in what should be a very competitive game .

    NFL news and week fourteen schedule

    NFL divisional standings

    NFL conference standings

    NFL playoff picture (projections)

    NFL player stats and team stats

    NFL transactions

    Upcoming milestones , rushing yards , receiving yards , receiving touchdowns

    This month in NFL history

    On this date (11th December)

    Tophatal ……………………..


  26. Since being drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans , power-forward/center Anthony Davis has had the luxury of being the best player on the team . Though having yet to make an appearance in the NBA Playoffs . Davis is set to make this all become a reality for the franchise . Having crossed the threshold the first month of the season the Pelicans still find themselves struggling within their division and conference .

    Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans .

    In their last game the New Orleans Hornets were up against the Philadelphia 76ers , one of the worst teams in the NBA at present . The loss to the Sixers would be the Pelicans’ second consecutive defeat, with the first coming against the Memphis Grizzlies .

    Defensively the New Orleans Pelicans have lacked the resilience needed to be considered competitive enough in the NBA. When the New Orleans Pelicans are next on court they will face the Los Angeles Clippers , in what should be considered a tough road game against a Western Conference rival .

    Anthony Davis is not due to become a free agent until 2021 , having signed a five-year contract with the franchise . Davis is set to make $22.1 million this season , but there remains the likelihood the front office will use the player as a bargaining chip in what be seen as a salary dump , if their season continues to spiral out of control .

    New Orleans Pelicans news

    Tophatal …..


  27. So the plot thickens , as the Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) upend the Oakland Raiders (10-3) to take control of the AFC West and suddenly place the Raiders’ quest of a postseason berth up in the air . The 21-13 loss for the Raiders could not have come at a worst time for the team . For head coach Jack Del Rio and his players , the defeat suddenly brings the team back to earth and leaves them engaged in a conversation as to what went wrong and why. Derek Carr for much of the season had been the anchor for the Raiders, but last night’s display might well have many wondering if the quarterback can really handle pressure situations.

    Next up for Oakland Raiders will be a true test of their resolve when they are due to meet the San Diego Chargers (5-7) in week fifteen of the regular season . The Kansas City Chiefs fresh of their win are scheduled to face the Tennessee Titans (6-6)

    NFL news from around the league

    NFL schedule and team injuries

    NFL results week fourteen (2015) and the standings at this stage last season .

    Tophatal ……


  28. There was an NBA schedule of games listed for Thursday night . Teams were pretty much set , in gearing up for their Christmas Day schedule .

    At this point last season the stage was set for what would end up being a memorable regular and postseason where the Cleveland Cavaliers would win the NBA championship defeating the Golden State Warriors .

    Among the winners on Thursday night we had the Toronto Raptors (15-7) taking down the Minnesota Timberwolves (6-16) . John Wall and the Washington Wizards(8-13) would defeat the Denver Nuggets (8-15) . The Portland Trailblazers (12-12) would lose a tense game to conference rivals the Memphis Grizzlies (16-8) . As if we needed further evidence as to the best team currently playing in the NBA, was none other than the Golden State Warriors . This was in evidence last night as they destroyed the Utah Jazz on their way to a nine-point victory . The margin of the win , would have been far greater, had the Warriors chosen not to take their feet off the gas pedal . Starting with tonight games scheduled for the weekend will feature a slew of contests on Saturday and then Sunday . Over the same period last season these games proved to be very interesting to say the very least.

    NBA news

    NBA results 8th December

    Upcoming milestones within the NBA this season

    Team statistics

    NBA player totals and rookie statistics

    NBA all-time leaders points per game , career points’ total

    Tophatal ………


  29. Based on projected payrolls for next season the teams within baseball , some of the ball-clubs may well seek to pare down or increase their obligations. This much we do know , the Los Angeles Dodgers are likely to have the highest payroll in the game , leading their closest rivals by at least ten to fifteen million dollars . The highest paid player in baseball will be the Miami Marlins’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton whose record-setting contract is the most expensive in MLB history .

    Coming off a disappointing season where they once again failed to make the MLB postseason . One has to question the mindset of the Miami Marlins’ franchise and the direction they are said to be heading , led by team owner , Jeffrey Loria and the front office of GM Michael Hill . During the off-season the Marlins made the decision to dismiss the team’s hitting instructor Barry Bonds after it was revealed Bonds and team manager Don Mattingly were not on the same page philosophically concerning the team’s productivity . With Giancarlo Stanton having to miss several games during the regular season , it led to the managerial staff needing to make adjustments throughout much of the season , because of the player’s loss to the lineup .

    This off-season to date the Miami Marlins have not been major players in the free agency market . The Marlins continue to be a ball-club which struggles to attract a large fan-base , while also seeking to be a profitable concern from an economic standpoint . Baseball within the state of Florida , is not a draw at the Major League Level and the game seems only to be a major attraction within the state during Spring Training .

    Don Mattingly witnessed the struggles of the Miami Marlins first-hand, from the dugout during the team’s games at home and on the road . One of the biggest stories during this baseball off-season encompassed the death of Marlins’ All Star and former NL Rookie of the Year , pitcher Jose Fernandez , who lost his life a boating accident , where alcohol was said to have been a prevailing factor in the player’s death. Fernandez’s death came as a terrible shock to the organization as well as the fans of the ball-club. Subsequent to his death , the Miami Marlins have since acquired Edinson Volquez as a replacement to add to the team’s depth chart .

    Over their last ten games of the regular season , the Miami Marlins were a paltry 3-7 , among the worst record down the final stretch of the regular season . Since their inception the Miami Marlins have yet to win the NL East divisional title , they have won two NL Pennants and in their only two World Series’ appearances, the ball-club was triumphant on each occasion . Miami will begin its regular season schedule for 2017 with a game against the Washington Nationals at National Ballpark in Washington , DC on 3rd April , 2017 . Over the past five seasons games between the Marlins and Nationals have been very competitive.

    Miami Marlins news

    Tophatal ………………


  30. It certainly would be seen as a major shock, were the Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) to overtake the Oakland Raiders (10-3) and win the AFC West . Three weeks ago and I seriously doubt wagers would have been taken against the Raiders. The team was playing solid football , with Derek Carr having his best season in his somewhat less than consistent career . Now they have hit a crossroads, after Thursday night’s unexpected loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. This win might have placed the Chiefs in the driver’s seat for the rest of the season as it appears their remaining schedule is a great deal less arduous than the Raiders’ . Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid is still proving he’s one of the best NFL coaches in recent history. Clearly, he has his players firmly behind him and believing in his on-field strategies.

    Andy Reid , head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

    In week fifteen with still a great deal to play for , both the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders will be in action. Andy Reid and the Chiefs are set to face the Tennessee Titans , while the Oakland Raiders will be the guests of the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California .

    Kansas City Chiefs news

    Tophatal …………..


  31. With the AFC East pretty much sewn up the New England Patriots (10-2) will be seeking to make the playoffs for the eighth time in the last fifteen years . Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick’s record is well known and he will likely join NFL coaching legend Chuck Knoll in the Hall of Fame as one of only three coaches with two or more Superbowl title wins . Belichick already has the most postseason victories of any NFL coach in history and the four titles won, places him alongside Knoll as the most successful head coach in league history.

    NFL legendary coach Chuck Knoll , who coached the four Superbowl victories.

    Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.

    Questions will continue to arise concerning Bill Belichick’s antics as the head coach of the New England Patriots and while the claims of cheating are most certainly valid. We should not forget the history of this league , the continued behavior of the teams and the naivete’ shown by the league hierarchy as well as the NFL fans themselves . Within their division as well as their conference the New England Patriots have faced no major problems over the course of their season. This weekend , Tom Brady and his Patriots’ teammates will be looking to cement their lead as the number one seeds within the AFC while seeking to get a bye for the first round of the postseason. New England will be facing the Baltimore Ravens on Monday , 12th December, 2016.

    New England Patriots’ news

    Tophatal …………


  32. Friday night’s games within the NBA has led to some stunning performances by the players as well as the teams . Oklahoma City Thunder (16-9) point guard and All Star player Russell Westbrook has now recorded his sixth straight triple-double this season for the franchise , but this is not the NBA record (9) , which is held by Wilt Chamberlain . Westbrook and the Thunder have been playing some great basketball , but their record is not truly reflected in the divisional or or conference standings .

    The Oklahoma City Thunder will be in action over the weekend when they face the Boston Celtics on Sunday , 11th December in a home game against an Eastern Conference opponent . Thunder head coach Billy Donovan has been slowly building a reputation which has the admiration of franchise’s front office staff . Now in his second year , Donovan is hoping to have even greater luck this season by leading the franchise to their first NBA title under their present guise .

    Russell Westbrook may well now be seen as the face of the Oklahoma City Thunder , but the prevailing concern remains , can he lead the this team to a title in the aftermath of his former teammate Kevin Durant’s departure elsewhere ?

    Oklahoma City Thunder news

    Tophatal ……….


  33. Call me naive , but the decision by Dexter Fowler to leave the Chicago Cubs to join NL Central divisional rivals the St Louis Cardinals smacks of greed , rather than Fowler’s comments , that it his was dream and desire to play for the Cardinals. Fowler leaves the reigning World Series’ champions to join a ball-club which has actually regressed over the past two seasons. Now while some may have seen the move as a coup for the Cardinals , I do believe it is a transaction which is likely to backfire.

    Dexter Fowler’s productivity in 2016 cannot be described as being overpowering , but the player did excel during the postseason with his timely hitting in much needed situations when the team was up against it during the postseason games. Fowler’s five-year , $82.5 million contract with the St Louis Cardinals might well seem astronomical , but given the lack of foresight too often showed by baseball’s general managers , I can’t help but wonder who was able to pull the wool over the eyes of the Cardinals’ front office and their GM John Mozelliak .

    From left to right , Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny , Dexter Fowler and team GM John Mozelliak .

    It certainly will be interesting to see how Dexter Fowler acclimatizes himself alongside his new teammates . The St Louis Cardinals will begin their season with a game against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium in St Louis, Missouri on 2nd April , 2017. Dexter Fowler’s heroics during this postseason for the Chicago Cubs was one of the contributing factors behind the their success, but whether or not he can reproduce that form for the St Louis Cardinals in 2017 remains to be seen.

    St Louis Cardinals news

    Tophatal …………..


  34. Things are beginning to look real grim for the Miami Heat as a new era begins without their former stars LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade . To emphasize how bad things have become , simply look at their record and then their play over their last eleven games .

    Miami Heat Team President Pat Riley will certainly be mulling over the decision not to have Bosh as part of this Heat lineup . While questions still arise as to why the Heat were not able to retain Dwyane Wade and pay him accordingly . Wade’s contract with his new team the Chicago Bulls is not outlandish and given the player’s contributions to the Miami during his time with the franchise it seemed the fitting thing to do. However, in going with a younger core roster for the Miami Heat, now seems to be backfiring on Erik Spoelstra’s players , as well as there being no signs of real leadership on the court. Spoelstra for his part , along with his coaching staff have not been able to get an ounce of consistency from the team at any point of the season .

    In their last game the Miami Heat were up against the Chicago Bulls , a game in which Dwyane Wade would be making his second appearance against his former team this season . On Monday evening the Miami Heat will be playing host to the Washington Wizards and it is a game the Heat will have to win if they are to have any type of correlation on this season.

    NBA news

    NBA schedule 11th December

    NBA results to date

    NBA player stats (efficiency) and rookie stats

    Tophatal ………………….


  35. He has been a Heisman Trophy winner , first round draft pick and Pro Bowl player, but for all of the plaudits , during his NFL career , the one thing Carson Palmer has been unable to achieve , is to be seen as a winner . He has amassed a small fortune in terms of his career earnings . Now in what might appear to the twilight of his career, Palmer has let another game slip away from within his grasp , as the Arizona Cardinals lose a nail biting game to the Miami Dolphins , who were coming off their being obliterated by the Baltimore Ravens and a five- turnover performance by Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill .

    Carson Palmer (3)

    For Bruce Arians as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, he and the front office must begin to think long-term as to the future of this franchise and a quarterback capable of getting the job done. It has become abundantly clear Carson Palmer does not fit the role in question. He is not a winner by any stretch of the imagination. Carson Palmer is not due to become a free agent until 2019 . Cardinals’ GM Steve Keim may well seek to trade his veteran quarterback , retain him , while seeking a possible candidate from the declarers likely to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

    Steve Keim (right) and Bruce Arians.

    In week fifteen the Arizona Cardinals will have a game against the New Orleans Saints (5-8) , in a contest which is likely to have some bearing on their respective divisions as well as the NFC .

    Arizona Cardinals news

    Tophatal …….


  36. It got to the point last season , where the Atlanta Braves were so extraordinarily bad that it simply defied logic. Atlanta’s 68-93 finish within the NL East gave the ball-club a last-place finish within the division. The team might well have been impressive with an 8-2 run to close out the season , but it still could not cover up the numerous flaws on the roster. Team GM John Coppolella and Team President John Scheurholz made the decision to make some serious moves in the free agency market . In doing, so there will be a considerable increase in the team’s payroll over last season . Of the major acquisitions made by the Braves, the biggest name of all to be added to the roster was pitcher Bartolo Colon to a one-year , $12.5 million deal . The addition of Colon should prove to be fortuitous for the franchise . How Bartolo Colon performs will also be dependent upon the run support provided by team over the course of this upcoming season .

    The Atlanta Braves are expected to compete this season, but from my own perspective, I do not believe they will be good enough to take on the might of either the Washington Nationals or the New York Mets over the course of their regularly scheduled meetings in 2017. The team will once again be managed by Brian Snitker , in what will be his second season in charge. Atlanta’s farm system has a number of young players who are likely to be called up during the latter part of the season, should the team not be competing up to par. Yet there is the common belief with the Braves having broken ground and now able to play in their new ballpark, Suntrust Stadium . It will be interesting to see how this team performs and whether or not the fans will actually turn up to watch the team perform.

    In 2017 John Scheurholz will join a long list of renowned Braves’ players as he is inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York . Scheurholz’s induction was approved and validated by the Veterans’ Committee of the BBWAA .

    Brian Snitker and the Atlanta Braves will open up their regular season in 2017 with a game against the New York Mets . The meeting will be the Mets’ home opener of for their regular season schedule.

    MLB news and transactions (December)

    Atlanta Braves news

    Tophatal ….


  37. With only the Monday Night Game to take place between the Baltimore Ravens (7-5-0) and and the New England Patriots (10-2-0) left to close out the week fourteen schedule . All of the results are now in for what was an eventful scheduling of games. The Cleveland Browns (0-13) are still heading in the wrong direction having lost thirteen consecutive games and they seem to be well on their way to matching feat achieved by the Detroit Lions in 2008 who recorded a win-less season going (0-16) . With only three games left on their schedule the Cleveland Browns seem unlikely to win another contest this season . Cleveland fell in a home loss to their divisional rivals the Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1) by the score of 23-10 . In week fifteen the Cleveland Browns are set to meet the Buffalo Bills (6-7) .

    Don’t look now but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) are seeking to convince everyone they are a legitimate contender within the NFC as well as their division . The team’s quarterback Jameis Winston might just be having his best season since being drafted by the Buccaneers in 2015 as the top quarterback taken in that particular draft class. On Sunday afternoon , the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a low-scoring and somewhat sloppy game defeated the very languid New Orleans Saints (5-8) .

    The NFC South has now become a two-horse race between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) . These two teams split their regular season series’ meetings (1-1) and it will be interesting to see how things now play out over the final three games of the season. Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are scheduled to meet the Dallas Cowboys (11-2) in week fifteen , while the Atlanta Falcons will be hosting the San Francisco 49ers (1-12)

    Tophatal ………………….


  38. Sunday’s results in the NBA led to some intriguing contests and how they ended . It’s clear this season is likely to be an extremely tough one for all of the teams seen as a legitimate contender for the NBA title . Among the teams playing on Sunday afternoon , there were five games scheduled . The Philadelphia 76ers managed to defeat the Detroit Pistons , which begs the question how much of a margin is there in talent between the top five teams within the Eastern Conference and the bottom five ?

    Leading the conference with the most victories are the Cleveland Cavaliers who seem to have found some consistency over their last ten games . Leading the charge for the Cavaliers has been LeBron James the four-time League MVP and prohibitive favorite to win the award for a fifth time in the last twelve years. In their last game played , the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Charlotte Hornets , whom they faced at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio on the 10th December , 2016. Next up for LeBron James and his teammates will be a match-up against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday evening. This will be a contest which will feature two of the best teams in the league based on their respective records .

    The NBA title has never been won by team outside America and the Toronto Raptors would like to be first team in NBA history to achieve the feat . Led by their All Star guard DeMar DeRozan the Toronto Raptors are a formidable team during the regular season , but their playoff forays have not always been consistent.

    Over their last eight games played the Toronto Raptors have recorded one of the best records over the stretch in question. Going 7-1 the Raptors have shown they are capable of competing with the best , but consistency will remain the key over the remainder of their season.

    Demar Rozan and his Raptors’ teammates will next be in action when they face the Milwaukee Bucks in a game to be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto , Ontario, on Monday 12th December , 2016.

    NBA news and results from the 11th December

    NBA player stats and Rookie stats

    NBA team stats (wins) and offensive stats (scoring) and defensive stats

    This month in the NBA and on this day in basketball

    Tophatal ….


  39. Shed no tears for Jeff Fisher after he was fired by the front office of the Los Angeles Rams . After a disastrous season , where the fans expected a great deal more from the team , as they failed to ignite offensively or defensively on their way to another losing record . One should bear in mind this was the Rams’ first season back in Los Angeles , after more than a decade away from the City of Angels. Rams’ owner and billionaire entrepreneur Stanley Kroenke is as much to blame for this latest woe , as are the members of the coaching staff as well as the players.

    The Los Angeles Rams have made some woeful missteps and also concerning their draft classes over the last five seasons , with perhaps only Todd Gurley having shown any signs of real progress.

    It would be fair to suggest , Jeff Fisher is certainly to blame in part of the Los Angeles Rams’ issues this season , but when you have no leadership coming from the players and coaching staff , then the problems become two-fold . Los Angeles Rams’ GM Les Snead will now seek a new coaching candidate to succeed Jeff Fisher on a permanent basis , but with three games remaining on the team’s schedule , it will be down to interim head coach John Fassel to coach the team over the remaining games on the schedule. In week fifteen the Los Angeles Rams are due to meet the Seattle Seahawks in all conference match-up which will be of vital importance for both teams .

    Los Angeles Rams news

    Tophatal ………….


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