Heark The Herald Angels Sing

Heark The Herald Angels Sing  …

As the world of sports enters into the Christmas season and all of the festivities one would come to expect at this time of the year , we can also reflect on what has taken place during 2016. In the world of College Football , was there ever any doubt the Alabama Crimson Tide would be riding high at the top of the College Football world ? This team has simply ran roughshod over the opposition all season long and they now find themselves in the playoffs , as head coach Nick Saban looks to win another national title in the modern era. Suffice to say , the only thing likely to deny the Tide their chance of winning a title will be the complacency shown by the team. From my own standpoint, I do not believe Alabama will be that naive or over-confident.

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Well, we’re almost through with the NFL season and who would have thought the Dallas Cowboys would be considered the best team in the NFL throughout much of the season? The team’s rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has been sensational in leading the Cowboys to an eight-game winning streak , though as of late the team has slipped up. Having already qualified for the postseason and winning the NFC East with consummate ease . The question being asked , can the Cowboys win their first Superbowl title in over a decade ? Certainly , on paper Dallas does appear to be good enough, but the postseason is a completely different environment from the regular season.

Dak Prescott in his rookie season shown a great deal of maturity , but one has to wonder if he will be able to show all of the mental traits needed to win. Jerry Jones , the team’s owner , knows he has experienced veteran Tony Romo to call on, but anyone with an ounce of common sense will know Romo’s record in the playoffs can be best described as being mediocre. In week fifteen the Dallas Cowboys will be in action and it will be interesting to see if the decision is made to give Tony Romo some playing time in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) in what might be the best game on the schedule this upcoming weekend.

If the Dallas Cowboys are said to be flying high, then the woes of the Cleveland Browns’ (0-13) record is a sign of not just a bad team , but one which has been lacking confidence all season long . The Browns now seem to be well on their way of equaling the unnerving season of the Detroit Lions in 2008 . For all of those who have forgotten Detroit somehow managed to go 0-16 , a mark in history which goes down in infamy. All of the signs with the Lions are now to be witnessed with the Cleveland Browns and their inauspicious season , as it unfolds . For head coach Hue Jackson , he cannot be blamed for the team’s woes and the fact there appears to be no leadership from anyone on the roster. Needless to say, heading into week fifteen after thirteen consecutive losses , there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of hope the Browns will be able to avert a fourteenth straight loss. Cleveland will be on the road when they meet the Buffalo Bills on Sunday 18th December in Orchard Park , New York at New Era Field (Ralph Wilson Stadium). Defeat there and most certainly the odds-makers will be shortening the odds on the franchise not averting losses in weeks’ sixteen and seventeen .

The death of 1994 Heisman Trophy winner and former Chicago Bears’ running back Rashaan Salaam came as a shock to many . Salaam had a four-year career in the NFL , which never lived up to hype or heights of his collegiate career . His apparent suicide, is still under investigation by the authorities , but it would appear there are mitigating factors now coming to light , as to why he would choose to take his own life , with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Rashaan Salaam is just another in a long line of former NFL players suffering from acute or chronic neurological disorders brought on by the impact of playing not only at the collegiate level but also in the NFL , where brute force seems to be the norm , with bone-crushing hits fitting of a gladiatorial theater . Meanwhile , the NFL hierarchy under Commissioner Roger Goodell , continues to create the perception , the league is doing to enough to protect the players and aiding in the well-being of retired players. In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth , as proven with the league seeking to fight the civil suit and settlement of $1 billion in US Federal Court , filed against them as defendants.

As an $8billion a year behemoth , it is easy to understand why the NFL seeks to protect its brand and image , but with no clear transparency and the autocratic rule by Roger Goodell and the team owners goose-stepping on queue behind him, anyone with the belief the league has a compassionate nature to it , is sadly mistaken.

So here we go and it’s the off—season in Major League Baseball and the free agency market is now heating up , as teams make a big splash signing players to deals , which in many respects , we should now come to expect. Team payrolls in some cases , are likely to increase over last season, with the Los Angeles Dodgers once again leading the pack in 2017 with the highest payroll in the game. Dodgers’ GM Farhan Zaidi and the club’s Head of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman will try to put together a roster which they believe will be able to compete in 2017 . This past season proved to be a monumental disappointment for the Dodgers, as they were expected to challenge for the NLCS Pennant in 2016.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ NLCS loss to the eventual World Series champions the Chicago Cubs was an embarrassment of riches for the Cubs. Chicago manager Joe Maddon and his team were gifted the series , because simply put, the Dodgers have come to be known as “chokers” when it comes to their recent forays in the postseason. Consider the fact, it has been over twenty-five years since their last appearance and victory in the ” Fall Classic” and you have to wonder why their narcissistic fans believe they are always good enough to win ? The Dodgers’ biggest move of the off-season was the signing of pitcher, Kenley Jansen to a five-year deal . Whether or not Jansen can prove to be as productive for the team this upcoming season as he was in 2016 remains to be seen. As a closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers , Kenley Jansen was among the best relief pitchers in the game last season . While I expect the Dodgers to be competitive this upcoming season , I am not holding out any hopes of them being considered to be a legitimate contender for the World Series. They have yet to learn anything at all from their recent postseason appearances and it will continue to be a problem for the organization.

With the recent announcement Allan ‘ Bud’ Selig and Atlanta Braves’ Team President John Schuerholz will be among the inductees into the Hall of Fame in 2017. I have to wonder what were the precise merits for Selig to have met the criteria for his induction ! I have no problem with the induction of Schuerholz as his resume’ simply speaks for itself concerning the success attained with both the Kansas City Royals , but even more so with the Atlanta Braves. The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have their very own set of rules and the Veterans’ Committee continues to be a bastion of sheer stupidity , but in reality the institution itself remains an endeavor of comedic delight and idiocy. This has to be one of the very few institutions , who believe itself to be above reproach and who clearly believe they know what they are doing at every given moment. When your vote can be bought and sold at the drop of a hat , concerning a nominee , it simply smacks of incredulity , connivance and deceit on the part of the BBWAA.

Bud Selig was among the longest-serving Commissioners in Major League Baseball and while it could be said he presided over the growth of a game , to the point where it is now a mult-billion dollar commercial enterprise annually. It has to be said, the game has seen its fair share of mistakes made by the hierarchy under Selig’s guidance. I find it extremely difficult to laud someone , who remains unwilling to admit his mistakes as Bud Selig has failed to do repeatedly over the years ! During the ” steroid tainted era “ , when the likes of Mark McGwire , Sammy Sosa , Barry Bonds , Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro were among the notable names known to have taken an illicit substance. Bud Selig as well as the members of the BBWAA and other journalists failed to investigate in-depth , the cheating which took place.

Steroids remained rampant during the last decade and it was rampant within the Minor Leagues , something which Selig failed to acknowledge. During his tenure also, baseball was no longer an Olympic sport, as MLB and the sport’s international governing body failed to reach a compromise on comprehensive drug testing within the sport. This was a requirement of not only the IOC (International Olympic Committee) , but also the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) . Now in spite of claims maintained by the former commissioner , as well as his successor Rob Manfred , the sport still finds itself in something of a quandary. Both Bud Selig and Rob Manfred are hoping for baseball’s return to the Summer Olympics along with the sport of Softball. The IOC remains reticent about the game’s return to the Summer Olympics and it is unlikely either sport will be welcomed back with open arms.

With the sport of baseball no longer having an international presence MLB in conjunction with the World Baseball & Softball Federation have come up with the grand idea of an international team competition called the World Baseball Classic . This quadrennial event will return to the international stage in March 2017 , at a time when teams in baseball will be in the midst of Spring Training . Team USA will be a participant in the competition along with teams from thirty-one international countries .

As for the aspirations of the US Team , with their having never won this tournament , it could be stated without a victory and even with the competitive nature of the competition . It does seem remarkable with the talent at the coaching staff’s disposal , they have failed miserably on each occasion the event has been staged . Claims of the tournament being an instantaneous success has been mixed and the television audience domestically, has been nowhere near the levels anticipated by MLB . On an international front , the attendance levels have been high , as too have been the television audiences around the globe, but the sport has not really grabbed the public’s attention in the way baseball’s hierarchy and the game’s international body had anticipated.

In what might be deemed a highly competitive NBA season after the major trades which took place during the off-season. It has to be said a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals might be the most appealing thing the fans could wish for. Reigning champions the Cleveland Cavaliers would like nothing better than to make a successful defense of their title, while the beaten finalists the Golden State Warriors will be attacking this season with a renewed vigor. The addition of Kevin Durant to the Warriors’ lineup makes this team the most formidable in the entire league . Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr and the coaching staff are still showing the acumen seen last season as the Golden State Warriors’ dominated the league , but fell short in the NBA Finals.

This season the Golden State Warriors have proven themselves more than up to the task, as they dominate within the Western Conference and have opponents in the East quaking in their boots. The dynamics of this Warriors’ team, is one where they have a three-pronged offensive attack led by Steph Curry , Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. It would also be foolish to overlook the contributions of others on this team. In their most recent game the Golden State Warriors defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves by an eight-point margin on their way to a 116-108 victory .

Golden State will be back on the on the court this Tuesday night , when they will face Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans in all Western Conference clash . This game should prove to be a very interesting contest between two very determined teams.

At this point of the season, the leading candidate for League MVP might be none other than point guard Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder . Westbrook has been on a unique tear , having recorded six triple doubles this season , a franchise record . The league record in a season for triple-doubles is nine , recorded by NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain . It will be interesting to see if Russell Westbrook can break the record of Wilt Chamberlain , but for a player who is often criticized as being selfish, but I feel the point guard has taken on the mantel of being a leader of this Thunder roster , after the departure of Kevin Durant. Westbrook has picked up the slack , but has to be aided by his teammates if the Oklahoma City Thunder are to have any chance of success this season.

Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder will be on the court to face the Portland Trailblazers this Tuesday.

College Basketball has gotten underway and already there have been one or two surprising results. Sitting at the top of the heap are Villanova (10-0) , unbeaten and looking like the top team in the nation . In their last game the Wildcats laid down the “smack” in taking apart Notre Dame , winning by an eight-point margin, 74-66 , in a contest where had they taken every opportunity available , the margin of victory would have been far greater.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright and his coaching staff know that they and the team are now under a microscope , as they have a target on their back as the number one team in the nation. Wright and the Wildcats’ next game will be against Temple (Owls) on Tuesday, 13th December , 2016 .

Storied program or not , you have either come to love or hate the Duke Blue Devils . Head coach Mike Krzyzewski continues to have a commanding respect from legions of Duke fans across the country. Granted , of late the famed head coach has been under a great deal of criticism and justifiably so , but at the end of the day , you simply cannot deny his achievements . Krzyzewski and the team have suffered an early defeat on their season schedule , but as we all know , the season is about the NCAA championship and not much else. Duke will set its sights on another title , as Mike Krzyzewski seeks to add to his already astonishing legacy. Next up for the Blue Devils will be a game against Tennessee State . in a contest which should offer the fans a real treat. For Duke to win the NCAA title this year , I do believe this team has to be more consistent all-round , with their being total dominance by their best player , Luke Kennard who is averaging 20 ppg , 3.2 assists has a 52% field-goal percentage for his season’s statistics .

Now considered to be a PGA Tour veteran, former world number one , Tiger Woods made his return to the Tour , although his first appearance at the Hero World Challenge was not in an officially sanctioned tournament by the PGA . Woods no doubt, wants to regain the form which made him the most dominant golfer on the Tour for several years, having won fourteen Grand Slam Major tournaments , second only to golfing legend , Jack Nicklaus .

There was a time when a Tiger Woods’ sighting on a golf course during a tournament, a Grand Slam Major in particular, actually meant something. However, due to recurring injury problems , a drop off in form and his well-chronicled personal issues, Woods has now become something of an aging fossil among his contemporaries . Tiger Woods has now dropped so far down the World Golf Rankings , you need to turn several pages just to see a mention of his name , never-mind his standing among the Fedex Cup listings. Woods’ next appearance in a PGA Tour event might well be the subject of a great deal of conjecture and speculation , as the player himself has not made us a ware of his playing schedule for the current list of PGA Tour tournaments. If his body can withstand the rigors of the Tour, then I expect Tiger Woods to play a minimum of fourteen tournaments , including all four Grand Slam Majors . I do not believe he will regain the form to make him a legitimate contender for a Grand Slam tournament , but there is the possibility, we might well see Woods lifting a trophy , having won an officially sanctioned PGA Tournament. Jason Day , Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will seek to made those variables seem less likely. The triumvirate are all ranked in the top-ten of the world rankings .
As entertaining as this sporting year has been , with a slew of great performances , singular and team-wise , I can’t help but wonder if thing could have been better during 2016 and what 2017 will have in store for the fans ! At the end of the day, we will be left with memories , some good and some bad. The sporting gods are watching and the likelihood will be, a great deal more is about to happen , expected and unexpected. there are

Tophatal ……………. 12/13/2016

USA Today sports’ headlines

NCAA Football

NFL news from around the league

NFL schedule week fifteen

MLB news

World Baseball Classic news

NBA news

NBA standings

NBA schedule 12th December and for Tuesday 13th December

NBA results to date

Men’s College Basketball (D1)

College Basketball Men’s schedule

College Basketball standings and College Basketball rankings (Men’s)

PGA Tour news

Official world golf rankings

59 thoughts on “Heark The Herald Angels Sing

  1. Jeff Fisher has been fired as the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams after what has turned out to be a horrendous season . A great deal of the blame for the team’s morass , rests squarely on the shoulders of the head coach, and the front office led by owner , Stanley Kroenke , GM Les Snead . The Los Angles Rams spent more time dealing with the relocation of the franchise , rather than concentrating on the building of the team’s roster .

    Los Angeles Rams news

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  2. Well the NBA seems to be rattling along with the teams gearing up towards the Christmas scheduling of games . Given the performances seen and how the teams have been performing , it will be interesting to see what transpires over the next ten days . By comparison , last season the teams were playing hard and that has been mirrored with this season to date . Last night’s games gave the fans a great deal to think about .

    NBA news

    NBA results

    NBA standings (divisions)

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  3. When it’s said and done what will Tiger Woods be remembered for ? Will it be as the player, who achieved a career Grand Slam , alongside being the the first PGA Tour golfer to cross the $100 million threshold in official career prize winnings ? Or will it be as the golfer who suffered recurring injuries , while his private life remains in a complete shambles , after his extramarital affairs ?


    Former world number one golfer, Tiger Woods.

    Currently, Tiger Woods is ranked six- hundred and fiftieth in the Official Golf World Rankings .

    PGA Tour news

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  4. I am not so sure what Matt Kemp can now bring to the table for the Atlanta Braves . In spite of all of the off-season moves made by the Braves, I still believe this team will be lacking in all of the fundamental areas needed to win consistently . Kemp joined Atlanta after a tumultuous time with the San Diego Padres who failed so miserably last season .

    Matt%Kemp

    Braves’ outfielder Matt Kemp strikes out during a game .

    Matt Kemp will be among the highest paid players on the Atlanta Braves’ roster this season . However, if the Atlanta Braves are to compete this season , then every player will have to contribute for the team , while manager Brian Snitker and his managerial staff will have show their managerial acumen in guiding the players through the long haul of this season . Atlanta will open up their regular season schedule in the month of April , with their first game being played on the 3rd April, 2017 against the New York Mets at Citi-Field in Flushing , New York . Kemp’s productivity against the Mets has been noteworthy . It will be interesting to see if his teammates can show the same sort of effort.

    Atlanta Braves news

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  5. So with three games left to end the current NFL season there remains a great deal to play for in several divisions , though the NFC East and AFC East are now sewn up , with the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots likely to be the number one seeds within the AFC and NFC respectively.

    The guilty pleasure of the season, will be to try and guess which players are likely to be considered for the top individual awards . Though unlikely to happen, there is no chance Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott will walk away with two honors , NFL Offensive Rookie of The Year , as well as the top honor , League MVP . If this were to happen it would be an NFL first . The only other time this has happened in a major professional team sport, was during the rookie season of Miami Marlins’ star Ichiro Suzuki who won the AL Rookie of The Year and the ALMVP .

    As we enter week fifteen of the regular season, perhaps the biggest game on the schedule will be the match-up between the Dallas Cowboys sporting their 10-2 record , when they play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) , should provide one of the most intriguing of all the match-ups taking place this Sunday, the 18th December.

    Tophatal ……….

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  6. The Miami Dolphins were able to bounce back after their week thirteen loss to the Baltimore Ravens by avenging the defeat with a win in week fourteen , but the victory proved to be costly , when they lost their starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a leg injury. His understudy , Matt Moore came in and saved the day, but with no backup to Moore , head coach Adam Gase has called in T J Yates , a former second stringer with the Houston Texans as a counter-measure for Moore. Miami finds itself in precarious situation of being on the cusp of the postseason , but needing to win out to make sure of a berth in the AFC .

    The Miami Dolphins are set for a tough contest when they face the New York Jets (5-8) who are fighting to save their season.

    NFL news

    NFL transactions

    NFL divisional standings and NFL playoff picture (projections)

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  7. It’s not easy to look at the NBA nowadays and think there are no dynasties anymore or the fact there hasn’t been a back-to-back champion in the league for almost a decade, but yet the fans are to believe believe free agency and players chasing big money contracts and paydays present a viable plan as to their objectivity of supporting a team ? Over the last ten games teams have been playing some solid basketball , but several have been mediocre in just about every facet of the game. ,

    Tuesday’s results in the league presented the fans with something else to really take a deep look at. Several games on last night’s docket proved to be explosive events with there being an offensive outburst in the games played . The Orlando Magic (11-15) exploded for 131 points in their victory over the Atlanta Hawks (12-13) . Two hundred and fifty-one points were scored in the game , pointing to the fact , defense was never a priority in the match-up.

    Perhaps, I might be wrong in my assumption, but as great as many believe Carmelo Anthony to be , about the only thing I can say about the player, his having won two Olympic gold medals with Team USA might well be the only lasting thing memorable about his career. Already a thirteen-year veteran of the league, Anthony entered the NBA in what might be described as the greatest draft class in NBA history , the 2003 NBA Draft . Chosen by the Denver Nuggets the forward would then flourish, only to then falter with the departure of George Karl . His move to the New York Knicks (14-11) was meant to imbue the franchise with competitiveness , but it has been anything but that. One appearance in the NBA Playoff since 2010 and there very little to lead many to believe the team in its present guise built around Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah , Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis .

    Carmelo Anthony (left) and Kristaps Porzingis .

    This season the play of the New York Knicks remains remarkably average and often pedantic in several of their games. Within their division (Atlantic) sees the team with a 1-2 record overall as of the 13th December . On Tuesday night the Knicks fielded the Phoenix Suns in an intra-conference match-up in which the Eastern Conference based franchise fell to the Suns in a two-point loss , 113-111 . Again this was a game where defense was irrelevant . For Knicks’ front office executives , Phil Jackson ,SVP , Head of Basketball Operations and GM Steve Mills , has led many to wonder in what direction are they hoping to lead the New York Knicks. Since the installation of Jackson in his current position, the Knicks have been woefully inept and among the worst defensive teams in the league.

    Kristaps Porzingis is having his best season in the league , as we begin to see growing signs of maturity to his game. Meanwhile , his teammates continue to show inconsistency and there remains a lack of real leadership among the playing staff. The team’s head coach Jeff Hornacek and the coaching staff have been far from inspiring . In their next game the New York Knicks will be facing the best team in the Western Conference and currently in the league record-wise , the Golden State Warriors .

    NBA news

    NBA results 13th December

    NBA player stats and rookies’ stats

    NBA standings

    This month in NBA history and on this day in basketball.

    Tophatal ……… 12/14/2015 02:55 am

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  8. Along with the rest of the Tampa Bay area, I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing what these Buccaneers can do against what’s been pound for pound one of the best teams in the NFL this year.

    GO BUCS!!!

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    1. SportsChump

      This game could be a career-defining one for Jameis Winston . If he can lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) over the Dallas Cowboys (11-2) , which has a great deal of meaning for both teams at this point of the season. Then it could go a long way in determining if Winston can be seen as the face of the franchise long-term. I still believe him to be a very inconsistent quarterback on so many levels , but he might just be the best the Buccaneers have had over the past eight seasons .

      Dirk Koetter and his coaching staff need the victory over the Dallas Cowboys for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be seen as a legitimate favorite within the NFC this season. From my own perspective , I do not believe Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will lose two in a row . This will be the team’s chance to bounce back after a rather mediocre game against the New York Giants .

      Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    2. Results from Tuesday night in the NBA . It goes without saying this was something of a moderate night’s display given the inconsistency seen over the course of the season to date .

      I am not about to suggest there are numerous flaws in the roster of the Cleveland Cavaliers (18-6) , but I do believe there is at times a great deal of complacency being shown by LeBron James and his teammates . This was very evident in the Cavaliers’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last night .

      NBA news and results for the 14th December

      NBA schedule 15th December

      Team performances (lineups)

      Player performances

      NBA Rookie stats

      Milestones to watch for this season

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  9. If things continue on as they are for the Washington Nationals then the front office will have to make several important decisions in the coming years as it relates to the impending free agency statuses of both Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg . With both of these All Stars players being represented by uber-agent Scott Boras , there is no need to deliberate the fact Boras sees both players’ needs to be paid at a premium. Clearly the agent believes Harper should be compensated in line with the contract offered to Giancarlo Stanton , which makes the Marlins’ slugger the highest paid player in the game. Strasburg for his part in spite of his injury setbacks is seen as one of the best pitchers in the game.

    Bryce Harper will be one of several players on the Washington Nationals’ roster who will be entering into arbitration with the organization this upcoming season . Whether or not he deserves to be the first player in baseball history to sign a $400 million contract is a matter of conjecture , debate and speculation.

    I certainly believe the Washington Nationals are one of the best teams in the NL and at their core there is a great deal of experience . Their farm system also is among the best in the league. Dusty Baker as the manager of the Washington Nationals had this team playing some great baseball during the regular season. The ball-club did make some moves this off-season seeking to bolster the roster . It seemed the right and only thing to do considering the activity of their divisional rivals this off-season. Consistency will remain the key for the Nationals if they are to have any chance of the NLCS and the World Series . The recent forays in the postseason for the Washington Nationals have been short-lived . Their best performance came in when they reached the 1981 NLCS as the Montreal Expos when facing the Los Angeles Dodgers , a series they would go on to lose 3-2 . Subsequent postseason appearances in 2012 , 2014 and 2016 , would again see the Nationals falling in the NLCS , but the two previous appearances , witnessed them falling in the NLDS .

    Dusty Baker will be hoping for a very good start to the regular season in 2017 as the Washington Nationals begin their season schedule. The team’s opening game of the season will see them face divisional rivals the Miami Marlins at Nationals Ballpark in Washington, DC .

    Washington Nationals news

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  10. His record speaks for itself , a two-time League MVP , three-time Superbowl MVP , four-time Superbowl champion and among the best quarterbacks in NFL history. This season Tom Brady has led the New England Patriots to the best record in the AFC as well as another AFC East title , and one should remember Brady recorded the two-hundredth professional victory of his career as a quarterback with the franchise . Now while questions still arise and his detractors still continue to question his legacy , what cannot be denied remains the hypocrisy of the league hierarchy , the fans in general , as well as the idiots, who continue to believe the NFL has some insight into fair play. Nothing about the history of this league and how it operates commercially or from a competitive standpoint has been to do with fair play. We continue to see the autocratic rule of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as well as his often arbitrary decision-making which goes unquestioned by the team owners .

    As the NFL season slowly comes to a close , in week fifteen there will be several games of vital importance . One of the games in question will feature the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking on the Dallas Cowboys , while the New England Patriots will be facing the Denver Broncos . New England will be without their tight-end Rob Gronkowski who is lost to the team for the remainder of the season.

    Ezekiel Elliot will likely be the rushing champion for this season, while Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons reasserts himself as the best wide receiver in the NFL . Sorry Odell Beckham Jr , but all of the flashy receptions cannot make up for your lack of maturity and narcissism which lame @ss New York Giants’ fans so glowingly admire.

    NFL news

    NFL standings (divisional)

    2014 NFL divisional standings and results .

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  11. They are a five time NBA champion . and with the recent retirement of of All Star power forward and center Tim Duncan , things are still looking bright for the San Antonio Spurs (20-5) . The best player on the roster is the current two-time NBA Defensive Player of The Year , Kawhi Leonard . With his all-round game and leadership abilities the franchise is in good hands and the long-term future of the Spurs seems assured. Head coach Gregg Popovich and the erstwhile front office led by R C Buford under the auspices of team owner Peter Holt , continue to preside over one of the best ran franchises in the entire NBA .

    The San Antonio Spurs have a commanding lead within their division . Consistency has been the one thing synonymous with the Spurs and it has gone a long way in playing in the success of the team. Against Eastern Conference foes and the West , their record has been stellar. In their last game San Antonio got the better of the Boston Celtics on their way to a seven-point victory over the Eastern Conference based franchise. The team will be back on the court this Thursday evening to face the Phoenix Suns in what should prove to be a highly competitive game.

    San Antonio Spurs news

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  12. The Thursday Night Game for the NFL pitted the Seattle Seahawks against the Los Angeles Rams . With the recent firing of Jeff Fisher by Rams’ GM Les Snead the team was still looking to make sense of their season. Unfortunately, this was not the game where things were going to be going right for the Rams as they fell to their divisional rivals by the score of 24-3 . The victory the Seahawks places them firmly in the driver’s seat to steer their own destiny within the NFC West . Seattle’s head coach Pete Carroll and the coaching staff may well seek to rest several of their starters for in the remaining scheduled games of the season, but I believe Carroll might not want to take any chances given the uncertainty which still remains within the NFC at this point of the season.

    In week sixteen both the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks will be in action . The Rams will be facing the the San Francisco 49ers in a contest featuring the two worst teams within the NFC West , while the Seahawks will play host to the Arizona Cardinals .

    NFL news

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  13. In a season where inconsistency continues to be the norm . In Thursday’s games the two best teams the NBA , both from the Western Conference improved their respective records while victorious. The Golden State Warriors (23-4) simply had their way with the New York Knicks (14-12) , winning the contest 103-90 . For the San Antonio Spurs (21-5) their leisurely stroll past the Phoenix Suns (8-18) was made all the more easier by the lack of defense seen from the Suns throughout the game.

    NBA news and results for the 15th December

    On this day in basketball . This month in the NBA

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  14. This has been an interesting off-season for the San Francisco Giants as the franchise’s front office led by Executive VP , Brian Sabean , GM Bobby Evans and managing partner Laurence Baer dispelled to the fans they would be standing pat in the free agency market. Players under arbitration were offered what were felt to be fair terms while others were not re-signed. San Francisco delved into the free agency market with some gusto . Bruce Bochy as the manager of this San Francisco Giants’ playing staff has been the franchise’s most successful manager of the past two decades and his record speaks for itself.

    What is now intriguing for the San Francisco Giants is where they now see themselves in comparison to their more renowned divisional rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers . Both franchise’s play in one of the largest markets in the nation , which is one filled with diversity and both are among the most valuable and profitable of all the teams in Major League Baseball . It should also be noted the fan-base of both clubs is very large.

    If there was said to be a weakness in the play of the San Francisco Giants last season , then it might well have come down to their defense and pitching . Granted , there were issues with the offense also , but that can be addressed .

    Buster Posey remains the figurehead and face of the franchise while being ably supported by Madison Bumgarner . How the duo performs this upcoming season alongside their teammates , could go a long way in determining how successful the San Francisco Giants are over the course of this season. San Francisco still has a very good farm system which they could rely on, should things begin to falter , but I would also expect Bobby Evans to make a deal should it come to it , in order to bolster the roster.

    The San Francisco Giants will begin their regular season in 2017 with a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix , Arizona on the 2nd April , 2017.

    MLB important dates

    San Francisco Giants news

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  15. A win is very much needed by the Miami Dolphins if they are to have a chance of gaining a wildcard berth within the AFC this season. Bear in mind it has been over eight years since the Dolphins’ last appearance in the postseason . This Saturday at kick-off time , Miami will be facing their divisional rivals the New York Jets , whose season has been dire , quite possibly leading to the dismissal of head coach Todd Bowles . Should the firing take place, it would be the second head coaching dismissal of the season after Jeff Fisher’s departure from the Los Angeles Rams .

    For the Miami Dolphins their outstanding player of the season hasn’t been quarterback Ryan Tannehill , but running back Jay Ajayi who during the season had consecutive games of rushing for two-hundred yards or more . Ajayi’s feat had been achieved by only three other players in NFL history , joining OJ Simpson , Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams to have accomplished the feat. Simpson and Campbell are members of the Hall of Fame .

    Miami Dolphins’ running back Jay Ajay .

    Jay Ajay’s productivity has dropped off considerably since the games where he amassed over 400 yards in back to back contests. The same can be said also for Ryan Tannehill and were it not for their week fourteen bounce back game , things might be even more dire for the Dolphins. Things are still against the franchise as they seek to make a return to the postseason.

    Miami Dolphins news

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  16. He has been one of the worst owners in all of professional sports and within baseball , Jeffrey Loria as the owner of the Miami Marlins alongside Lew Wolff and David Glass have to be considered among the worst in all of baseball. Over the last ten years with the exception of the Kansas City Royals’ win of the 2015 World Series , the Marlins , Royals and Oakland A’s have been the most mismanaged and unsuccessful teams in Major League Baseball . It should noted, all three of these ball-clubs also have a very low fan-base within the game. In terms of value and profitability , all three of these Major League Baseball teams are at the bottom end of the scale in terms of their worth .

    If the rumors are to be believed , much of it possibly being wild speculation , Jeffrey Loria is said to be willing to listen to offers for the Miami Marlins . The franchise is said to be valued between $675 and $900 million , but I seriously doubt Loria will get the possible price he seeks , which said to be in excess of $1.7 billion . It should be noted Marlins’ Ballpark is not owned by the organization, but by the Miami Dade County Government , who hold a lease agreement with the Miami Marlins. If the ball-club is sold , the successor to Jeffrey Loria will be the fourth owner in Miami Marlins’ history .

    Another of the ongoing issue for the Miami Marlins is their unwillingness to develop talent at the Minor League Level over the years. Granted , they struck gold with Jose Fernandez , but with the player’s untimely and reckless death age at the age of twenty-four . It has struck a chord as to the lack of real oversight and emphasis placed on the all-round development of their players coming up through the ranks . This past season the active payroll for the Miami Marlins was among the lowest in the Major League. In 2017 there will not be much of a sizable increase overall . The front office’s commitment to excellence and success is clearly now a thing of the past in spite of what we are led to believe by the print media and the team’s front office executives .

    Miami Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria .

    Courtesy of Forbes.com

    Bankers Say Jeffrey Loria Floating $1.7 Billion Price For Miami Marlins

    By Mike Ozanian , Forbes Staff

    The latest buzz among sports bankers is that the Miami Marlins can be had for $1.7 billion.

    Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is an art dealer who originally became a baseball owner with a relatively small investment—$30 million—in the Montreal Expos–and was part of the controversial deal put together by then MLB commissioner Bud Selig that saw Loria swap his ownership of the Expos for the Marlins so that John Henry could unload the Marlins and purchase the Boston Red Sox.

    In March we valued the Marlins (and the economics of their stadium) at $675 million, 29th out of the league’s 30 teams. The Marlins had attendance of only 1.75 million in 2015, 28th in MLB, and attendance of 1.71 million in 2016, 27th.

    The team posted an operating profit (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortizatoin) of $15 million during the 2015 season only because they received over $25 million in revenue sharing proceeds.

    Marlin Park, which is owned by Miami-Dade County but run by the Marlins, was supposed to usher in new era for the Marlins. Instead, the $516 million ballpark has failed to deliver, partly because it opened at the tail end of the real estate crash when development in Miami ground to a halt. Add in the cost of repaying high-interest construction bonds and that figure rises to a jaw-dropping $2.4 billion over 40 years, which led me to call it baseball’s most expensive stadium disaster.

    ———————————————
    Click on link to read this article in full
    ——————————————–

    If nothing else we know Jeffrey Loria will walk away with a sizable profit adding to his estimated $550 million net-worth ,an enormous fall from his fortune of $2 billion of just over a decade ago. A great deal of what we see stemming out of this possible sale comes from the over-eagerness of former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s willingness to have the best interests at heart of the owners , rather than the ans of baseball. Now, with a possible fiscal crisis on their hands , the Miami Dade County Government will be left holding the bag concerning a stadium which has never been filled to capacity for a baseball game ever since it opened in 2012.

    Miami Marlins news

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  17. He has been one of the worst owners in all of professional sports and within baseball , Jeffrey Loria as the owner of the Miami Marlins alongside Lew Wolff and David Glass have to be considered among the worst in all of baseball. Over the last ten years with the exception of the Kansas City Royals’ win of the 2015 World Series , the Marlins , Royals and Oakland A’s have been the most mismanaged and unsuccessful teams in Major League Baseball . It should noted all three of these ball-clubs also have a very low fan-base within the game. In terms of value and profitability , all three of these Major League Baseball teams are at the bottom end of the scale in terms of their worth .

    This past season fell way short of expectations with their play being extraordinarily mediocre .

    Miami Marlins news

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  18. Head are likely to roll within the Indianapolis Colts’ (6-7) organization after a disastrous season where this team was non-competitive and quarterback Andrew Luck had one of his worst seasons since being drafted by the franchise. GM Ryan Grigson misfired on a number of draft picks from 2014 to 2016 , while head coach Chuck Pagano and his coaching staff failed to deliver by way of their collective coaching acumen. On the field of play this team lacked depth , authority , leadership and the actual desire to win , never-mind the ineffective offense and defense . Resilience was also lacking with the team, as reflected in their performances over the course of the , season .

    Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts.

    In week fifteen the Indianapolis Colts will line up to face the Minnesota Vikings (7-6) in a must-win game for both teams with there still being so much on the line.

    From left to right Colts’ GM Ryan Grigson , team owner Jim Irsay and head coach Chuck Pagano.

    During the off-season, Ryan Grigson will have to contemplate which free-agents are still of benefit to the franchise and which should be let go , beyond the issue of the team’s flaws in terms of the lack of depth in the primary and secondary . The active contracts and cap for next season will also have to be assessed and where the franchise stands , moving forward .

    Indianapolis Colts news

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  19. Just when you thought the idiocy of baseball’s off-season couldn’t get anymore ridiculous , with the possible sale of the Miami Marlins for the extortionate sum of $1.7 billion , a figure affixed by an investment bank on behalf of the team’s owner , Jeffrey Loria . Away from this asinine eye-popping story, we now have Aroldis Chapman being critical of his former manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs , where Chapman played a pivotal role in the team winning their first World Series in one-hundred and eight years. The player having returned to his former ball-club the New York Yankees , suggested Maddon misused him throughout the series against the Cleveland Indians as well as through much of the playoffs in 2016. Aroldis Chapman signed an $86 million deal with the New York Yankees and I hardly think he can be dissatisfied with the contract , just a little miffed perhaps, the Cubs did not seek to match the deal .

    From my own standpoint Aroldis Chapman’s return to the New York Yankees will be of little help to a team which was starved of productivity from their > pitchers and hitters throughout much of last season . I certainly do not believe , even in light of the deals made by Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman , there will be a seismic improvement with the Yankees, where they will be considered to be a serious challenger for the AL East divisional title or for the ALCS Pennant . The New York Yankees were in complete disarray during 2016 and when you consider the two highest paid players on the roster proved to be so unproductive , it was hard to justify their salaries . Alex Rodriguez , waived , with the ball-club buying out his contract for a nominal sum , while Mark Teixiera made the decision he would retire after an injury-riddled season in 2016 where his figures were among the lowest of his career.

    In 2017 with many of the AL teams having sought to improve , it will interesting to see how the New York Yankees will fare under the managerial staff of Joe Girardi. The Yankees will begin their regular season schedule with three consecutive road games against the Tampa Bay Rays being played at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida .

    MLB news

    MLB transactions (December)

    MLB free agents and free agents still available

    MLB players in arbitration

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  20. A decisive victory for the Miami Dolphins (9-5) who got by a listless and often overran New York Jets’ (4-10) team , on their way to a thoroughly convincing 34-13 victory . For the Jets playing at home , this was a performance worthy of being described as being one of their worst of the season . It certainly creates even more uncertainty over the long-term future of the entire coaching staff of head coach Todd Bowles .

    The win for the Miami Dolphins places them firmly in the driver’s seat concerning their own destiny for an AFC wildcard berth. However, the only way for Miami to make sure of their own fate , they will have to win the the final two games of their regular season schedule and hope their fellow contenders fail at the last two hurdles.

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  21. Saturday’s results in College Basketball and where it left the programs among their conference standings . The best game of the day might well have taken place in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) as North Carolina and Kentucky met in a classic match-up between two well-respected programs . On Sunday there will be a slew of games being played , fifty-two in total.

    NCAA Men’s Basketball (D1)

    NCAA Men’s basketball results 17th December and schedule for Sunday

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  22. After Saturday’s results in the NBA , fans will now have Sunday’s games to look forward to. Clearly , the two best teams this season reside in the Western Conference . James Harden and the Houston Rockets have been on a tear as of late taking apart opponents will consummate ease. In their last game played the Rockets selflessly smashed the Minnesota Timberwolves into submission though the final result on paper might not be reflective of the score (111-109) . The next game for the Rockets and the fans will see them facing the San Antonio Spurs on 20th December in what should be a very good contest between these two Western Conference teams .

    NBA news

    Sunday’s results in the NBA

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  23. In a game which they had to win the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-65) fell short, falling to the Dallas Cowboys (12-2) and for much of the season where their defense held together, today would not be the day where the Buccaneers were resolute. Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott with renewed vigor steered his team to a six-point 26-20 victory over the Buccaneers. The playoff race within the NFC still remains tight and with just two games left to the season , it will be interesting to see how things pan out for the contenders.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers news

    Tophatal ……… 12/19/2016 02:45 am

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  24. The woes of the Miami Heat (9-19) are now coming home to roost thick and fast. At ten games under .500 , this is a team simply bereft of any type of ability and leadership. Faced with an Eastern Conference match-up against the Boston Celtics , the Miami Heat were simply no match for their conference rivals. The resulting 105-95 home loss to the Celtics was among the worst of Miami’s performances this season .

    Not only have things spiraled out of control for the Miami Heat, but I have to believe Pat Riley can no longer be given a pass as the Team President for the organization ! Mistimed transactions , deals from last season and an unwillingness to listen to sound advice has led to the dire situation for the Miami Heat this season .

    Next up for the Miami Heat will be a game against the Orlando Magic another conference rival of the Heat. Goran Dragic has stepped up as of late for the Heat, where he now leads the team in scoring . Dragic’s contract with the Heat might well make him one of the most undervalued players in the league at point guard position .

    Goran Dragic of the Miami Heat.

    With the number of games to be played by the Miami Heat between the the 19th December and 1st January , it will be interesting to see how the team acquits itself against their opponents. The Miami Heat will begin to play the first of those games over the period mentioned , when they take on the Orlando Magic with the last of those games being against the Detroit Pistons on the 1st January .

    NBA news

    Miami Heat news

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  25. Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) now have their destiny within their own hands . Win out and they are guaranteed a wildcard berth , though I believe the Steelers would at least like to gain the number two seed within the AFC and simply begin their postseason with the divisional round of the playoffs. Having defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in Sunday’s contest , the Pittsburgh Steelers moved one step closer to another divisional title , in what would be the fourth of Tomlin’s career since he became the head coach of the Steelers’ franchise in 2011. Consistency , resilience and great coaching has always been one of the fundamentals behind the success of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is having another great season leading the Steelers and it is a testament to his consistency behind much of the franchise’s recent success .

    In week sixteen the Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Baltimore Ravens (8-6) in the penultimate game of this season . The contest is of vital importance to both teams . Ben Roethlisberger has a very good record against his divisional counterpart and opposing quarterback Joe Flacco should he get the start will be looking to take down the Steelers in this contest.

    Pittsburgh Steelers news

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  26. Jimmy Rollins still believes he can contribute to a team at this stage of his career . This former utility player and League MVP having signed with the San Francisco Giants will be playing for his fourth team in as many seasons . The Giants’ front office might well feel Rollins can bring some stability and experience to a team looking to rebound after a disappointing season in 2016 . From my own perspective , I believe San Francisco will likely struggle during the upcoming season. Team manager Bruce Bochy and the managerial staff will seek to get the best out of the team moving forward.

    It remains to be seen what Jimmy Rollins can offer the San Francisco Giants and how they will fare this upcoming season. Clearly, the NL West will prove to be a difficult challenge for team . Games against stalwarts such as the Arizona Diamondbacks , Los Angeles Dodgers , Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres will be eventful . San Francisco will begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Chase Field , in Phoenix, Arizona , on the 2nd April , 2017.

    San Francisco Giants news

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  27. It’s going to be struggle for the Brooklyn Nets (7-19) this season , something of which their fans can attest to over the past four seasons . It is widely known Nets’ owner , Mikhail Prokhorov the Russian billionaire , is now seeking to sell the NBA franchise and will likely be willing to sell for not less than $1.5 billion , given today’s economic climate within the NBA . Mounting losses have essentially, all but crippled the Brooklyn Nets and it hasn’t helped that the team last season was non-competitive .

    Brooklyn Nets’ head coach Kenny Atkinson and his coaching staff will be hoping he can now get the best out of his players moving forward after their recent spate of results covering their last ten games . A record of 3-7 over their clearly over their last ten games indicates where the Nets just happen to be as a team . This season’s roster will be tested and it will be interesting to see the improvements in the game of Brook Lopez , arguably the best player in this current lineup for the Nets.

    Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets

    In their next game the Brooklyn Nets will face the Toronto Raptors , one of the more prominent teams within the East , thought likely to be a serious contender within the conference.

    Brooklyn Nets news

    NBA schedule 19th December

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  28. Week fifteen in the NFL has come to a close . Not everything is cut and dried with regard to the postseason berths within each conference . With two games left on the regular season schedule before we begin the postseason , teams still in the hunt will now try and stake their claim and validate themselves.

    The game which closed out week fifteen featured the Carolina Panthers (6-8) taking on the Washington Redskins (7-6-1) at FedEx Field in Landover , Maryland on Monday night. Were it not for the injury suffered by Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton earlier in the season , I do believe Carolina might well have been leading the NFC South and on their way to a second consecutive divisional title . Instead they’re now left to play spoiler within the conference , though they still have a remote possibility of gaining a postseason berth within the NFC. The 26-15 defeat of the Redskins sank Washington’s chances of making the playoffs and questions will now arise concerning quarterback position play on this team .

    The quarterback play for the Washington Redskins has been truly dire . Redskins’ starter Kirk Cousins has failed to meet expectations for the season and with backups Colt McCoy and Tress Way being the only alternatives on the roster. The way ahead for the franchise looks uncertain and not every reassuring. Cousins becomes a free agent in 2017 and I do not believe it would be in Washington's best interest to re-sign the quarterback ! Long-term the Redskins have to be looking at the crop of top college quarterbacks likely to be eligible, while also seeking acquire a veteran free agent , while also still grooming Tress Way , because on the team’s depth chart , Colt McCoy is certainly not the answer .

    Week sixteen and both the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins will be in action. Cam Newton and the Panthers will be facing the Atlanta Falcons (9-5) , where the Carolina will be looking to avenge their loss earlier in the season. Meanwhile, the Redskins will be taking on the Chicago Bears (3-11) at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois,.

    NFL results from week 15

    NFL standings (divisional) and NFL standings (conference)

    NFL playoff picture (projections)

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  29. Having gone through more than one-quarter of the NBA season. It has been interesting to witness the performances of the teams .

    Washington Wizards’ (12-15) point guard John Wall and the team are having a fairly modest season by their own lofty standards . On Monday night , John Wall and teammate Bradley Beal tried in earnest to stave off defeat in a game between the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers . Over their last eight games played the Wizards have gone 5-3 against their opponents.

    Washington Wizards’ head coach Scott Brooks and his coaching staff will enter into this Christmas session with the team looking to win as many games possible over the period in question. In their next game the Washington Wizards will face the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday 21st December.

    John Wall (left) and Bradley Beal .

    It has been several years since the Washington Wizards last made the NBA Playoffs with their most recent appearance coming in 2015 .

    NBA news

    NBA results (19th December)

    This month in NBA history and on day in basketball.

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  30. So as we slowly move towards the climax of the NFL season , the coaching dismissals are now within our midst . Jeff Fisher was the first to go , with his firing by the St Louis Rams’ front office . Fisher in the aftermath of it all , says he took pride in the victories achieved . Unfortunately , during his time coaching the Rams his record was abysmal to say the very least. Joining Jeff Fisher among the ranks of the unemployed head coaches , was Gus Bradley of the Jacksonville Jaguars . In the case of Bradley , the loyalty shown him by Shahid Khan , billionaire owner of the Jaguars was never justified . Too much time was spent waiting on the maturity level of quarterback Blake Bortles , while the team over the past four seasons never finished higher than fourth place within the AFC South .

    Gus Bradley , formerly the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars .

    During the off-season I fully expect both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the St Louis Rams to make a full-fledged assault on hiring a top-line offensive coordinator from among the ranks of the NFL or perhaps pursue a head coach within College Football .

    To say both the Jacksonville Jaguars and St Louis Rams were abysmal through much of the season would be an understatement . Long-term there is nothing to suggest either team will be good enough to challenge for a Superbowl title , much less winning their respective conference titles .

    The last playoff appearance for the Jacksonville Jaguars came in 2007 . For the Los Angeles Rams that privilege availed itself to them in 2004 . With both teams in action for week sixteen , it will be interesting to see how the Jaguars will fare against the Tennessee Titans , while the Rams will face off against the San Francisco 49ers (1-13) .

    Jacksonville Jaguars news

    Los Angeles Rams news

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  31. I have to admit this MLB off-season is getting crazier by the second and with the announcement the Boston Red Sox have traded starting pitcher Clay Buchholz to the Philadelphia Phillies for a Minor League player seems almost insane. This move was not done to save the Red Sox money and I now have to wonder what the front office , in particular Head of Operations Dave Dombrowski might be thinking in making such a trade . Whether or not Buccholz will be a good fit for the Phillies remains to be seen. With the Red Sox also retaining John Farrell and his managerial staff for next season , how this team fares over the course of 2017 will be dependent upon how the players apply themselves to their respective tasks . The Boston Red Sox fans are likely to be disturbed and perturbed by this deal , perhaps even more so than the lack of competitiveness shown by the team during the MLB postseason . The loss to the eventual ALCS Pennant winners the Cleveland Indians indicated how far off the Red Sox just happened to be.

    Entering into next season the makeup of this Boston Red Sox roster will differ greatly from their 2016 counterpart . John Farrell and the Boston Red Sox will begin their season with a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the 3rd April , 2017.

    For the Philadelphia Phillies their woes have been ongoing since they won a World Series’ title in 2008, beating the Tampa Bay Rays in a very lopsided series . In the subsequent years , change of managers , front office executives , several mistimed trades and the franchise seems to be no better off. Ryan Howard no longer a part of the Phillies’ organization as a player and he now seeks to make a name for himself elsewhere as a veteran free agent . An aging and unproductive roster over the years , has also played a major role in the decline of the Philadelphia Phillies. This past season was a clear indication of that fact , with their farm system also being unable to produce a player of note. Phillies’ manager Peter Mackinan and his staff will certainly be looking to get the best out this current lineup as they seek to make some inroads this season. They will largely be tested over the first four months of their regular season schedule .

    Clay Buccholz and his new teammates will begin their season with a game against the Cincinnati Reds .

    MLB transactions (December)

    Boston Red Sox news and Philadelphia Phillies news

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  32. The College Basketball season for Men’s Basketball is slowly plodding along for the teams intent on making their voices heard. Still the top conference in all of College Basketball the SEC (Southeastern Conference) stands head and shoulders above all of its contemporaries .

    Villanova remains atop of the rankings , one of the unbeaten teams at the D1 Level . In their most recent game the Wildcats got by Temple (Owls) in a very competitive game . Next up for Villanova will be a game against American University of the Patriot Conference .

    Duke for all of its prestige still remains a program which is highly respected. They will be looking to impress when they take to the court for their next game against Elon . Another SEC powerhouse the Kentucky Wildcats will also be looking to improve their record when they face Louisville (Cardinals) in their next contest . This will be one of several games to be played on Wednesday night, 21st December , 2016.

    NCAA Men’s Basketball (D1)

    D1 Men’s Basketball results and schedule 20th December

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  33. He remains one of the most well-known faces in all of sports and even in retirement from the NBA , Michael Jordan still reigns supreme over of the sport he dominated . Granted , in the era , where comparisons between Jordan and LeBron James are being idiotically made , the one thing which cannot be denied , Jordan did not have to cement his legacy as the greatest player in NBA history by traveling to another team to win his championships. If there is to be a knock against LeBron James , then that will be it. Now while James might well have added to his own legacy after his scintillating performances during last season’s NBA Finals , dispelling the rumors he needed superstars around him to win . LeBron James knows he still has a long way to go, before he can win over the hearts and minds of the most ardent fans of the game of basketball.

    Hornets’ executives, Fred Whitfield , top left , Michael Jordan (right) and GM Rich Cho (bottom).

    Michael Jordan having left the game to become an executive , now presides over the Charlotte Hornets (16-13) as the franchise’s Chief Executive Office , majority stake owner and arbiter of all things thought to be in the best interests of the Hornets. He has surrounded himself with well-qualified individuals within the front office . Yet , if there is said to be a knock against Jordan it is the fact , the choice of head coach , Steve Clifford still leaves a lot to be desired.


    Kemba Walker (left) and Steve Clifford

    The Charlotte Hornets have not started off their season in an impressive fashion . The team itself , under the coaching staff of Steve Clifford , they are averaging 104.3 points per game , with point guard Kemba Walker , being the best player on the roster. Over their last five games the Hornets have been less than average which is somewhat reflected in their overall record .

    For their next contest Kemba Walker and his Charlotte teammates will be facing the Chicago Bulls at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte , North Carolina on 23rd December , 2016. It is likely to be contest which will bring back fond memories for the Hornets’ owner as he will also meet fellow executive and former teammate , Scottie Pippen now a member of the Chicago Bulls’ hierarchy .

    Charlotte Hornets news

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  34. Considered to be among the three of the best wide receivers to play in the NFL Larry Fitzgerald , Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson have collectively , between them over three hundred receiving touchdowns , over 2,500 receptions and over 30, 000 receiving yards . All are likely to become members of the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio within the next ten years.

    From left to right , Andre Johnson , Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.

    Calvin Johnson retired from the NFL , leaving the Detroit Lions as the franchise’s leader in career receiving yards and touchdown receptions . Andre Johnson had a historic career with the Houston Texans , before they simply let the receiver go , being he had nothing left in the tank to offer the franchise.

    Larry Fitzgerald has just finished another season with the Arizona Cardinals , where the team itself , will have failed to make the postseason for the second successive year . Having been drafted by the franchise as a first round draft pick in 2004 by the Cardinals , the player’s career has excelled, with his reaching new heights of excellence. Fitzgerald simply did things the right way , was courteous to his teammates , led by example and he also had the respect of his peers from around the league.

    If the rumors are to be believed , with Larry Fitzgerald contemplating retirement , it will simply leave the league without a real breakout and talented star at the position. Steve Smith is at the twilight of his career , but having never been a star on the big stage of the postseason. Odell Beckham Jr continues to show he is immature , lacks respect for the game and his antics , leads us to believe , nothing else matters than the player himself and the money earned . Which leaves us with the Atlanta Falcons’ wide receiver Julio Jones who has been a model of consistency , even when quarterback and teammate Matt Ryan plays badly .

    The failure of the Arizona Cardinals in recent seasons, can simply placed down to the fact this franchise has not had a decent quarterback in over a decade.

    Carson Palmer , incumbent staring quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals has done everything within his power to get Arizona where they need to be. However, one of the great failures of the team has been its lack of having a <i cohesive defense and often Palmer’s own frailties at the quarterback position. Bruce Arians and the Arizona coaching staff as well as the front office , if they are seeking to dissuade Larry Fitzgerald from retiring , will have to ensure the player that every option will be sought to bolster this current lineup . The NFC West as it now stands leaves the Cardinals with very little wiggle room and the players can simply do is to play out the rest of their season , showing a sense of pride and purpose. In week sixteen the Arizona Cardinals will be the guests of the Seattle Seahawks in a divisional road game. The Cardinals’ final game of the season will see them facing the Los Angeles Rams .

    Arizona Cardinals news

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  35. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) still manage to hold unto the sixth and final playoff spot within the NFC , then it will be the first time in just over eight years since they last made the postseason . They would go on to lose in the wildcard round of the postseason , falling to the New York Giants , eventual Superbowl champions that season. Buccaneers’ head coach Dirk Koetter and the coaching staff have been imploring the fans and media alike this team is capable of being seen as credible contenders for the NFC title as well as the Superbowl .

    From my own standpoint , I believe the Tampa Buccaneers will have to win their final two games of the season if they are to be a certainty for a postseason berth. Buccaneers’ quarterback Jameis Winston will lead the team in week sixteen when they face the New Orleans Saints in a divisional clash. Tampa’s final game of their schedule will see them facing the Carolina Panthers .

    Closing out with two divisional games might not offer the Tampa Buccaneers the best comfort , even if the fans and media alike were impressed with the five-game winning streak before their loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The aspect of the Buccaneers’ game which has kept them competitive has been the team defense more than anything else.

    Tampa Buccaneers news

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  36. It would be fair to suggest great things were expected of Houston Texans’ quarterback Brock Osweiler , but the fact he got benched in his last game should tell you a great deal about the disappointment felt by the coaching staff and the fact his backup Tom Savage looked polished , coming on for the hyped free agent of 2016. From my own standpoint, the idiots who tried to claim Osweiler was the answer to the slip-ups made last season when Peyton Manning was not at his very best , indicates to me there are many anal retentive fans who think they know a great deal about the NFL , when in fact they do not . Manning would be inspirational in in the Broncos’ postseason run to the Superbowl , which would be Denver’s third in franchise history , while the defense led by Vonn Miller would be absolutely stunning in their victory over the Carolina Panthers .

    Brock Osweiler of the Houston Texans .

    If nothing else , Brock Osweiler has proven himself to be an overrated and most definitely an overpaid quarterback , perhaps just as overrated as Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears . Should the Houston Texans miss out on a postseason berth in the NFL postseason , then there will be a lot of blame to go around starting with the team and moving up through the echelons of the organization from the coaching staff on up to the front office and team owner .

    The Houston Texans will have to win their final two games of the regular season schedule to be sure of their place in the postseason. Winning the division is enough of a guarantee, but a high seeding would be of greater benefit to the team. In week sixteen the Houston Texans will be facing the Cincinnati Bengals whose intentions it will be to play the role of a spoiler.

    Houston Texans news

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  37. So this is where we are at in the NBA season , as the schedule moves into the all-important Christmas games , which covers the span of games from the 24th December to the 1st January , 2017. Needless to say we shall see the rise and fall in the performances of the teams as well as the players .

    Wednesday night proved to be an eventful night for the league with a number of very unusual results . Still playing great basketball and proving themselves to be the best in the league are the Golden State Warriors .

    So there was a great deal of excitement when LeBron James hit the game winning shot against the Milwaukee Bucks as the Cleveland Cavaliers won the contest . Unless I’m mistaken the Bucks haven’t a team of relevance in the NBA in over a decade . Head coach Jason Kidd and his coaching staff are not about to change the mindset of a franchise sadly lacking competitiveness .

    In their next game the Milwaukee Bucks are due to face the Washington Wizards .

    NBA news

    NBA standings and results

    NBA standings league (overall)

    Milwaukee Bucks news

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  38. All of a sudden there are rumblings that the New York Giants are back , Eli Manning is playing at his best and head coach Ben McAdoo has this team playing great football , piquing at the right time . This was not the case on Thursday night as the Giants were the guests of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania . It was a divisional clash which lived up to expectations , in what turned out to be a very wild game , filled with errors from both teams .

    With the New York Giants’ defeat, the NFC East has been won by the Dallas Cowboys , but it now places the Giants in a very precarious situation in terms of their postseason aspirations . A victory is needed in week seventeen if the New York Giants are to claim a wildcard berth in the NFC. Eli Manning and his teammates will face the Washington Redskins (7-6-1) on the road at FEDEX Field in Landover, Maryland on January 1st , 2017. Manning will have to perform at his very best against this divisional rival .

    NFL news & NFL College Football news

    NFL week sixteen schedule

    NFL schedule and team injuries

    NFL standings and conference standings

    NFL playoff picture (current projections)

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  39. So week sixteen of the NFL ended somewhat in a blaze of glory and now laying in its wake we have the aftermath of it all. The Cleveland Browns (1-14) won their first game of the season defeating the wholly lacking San Diego Chargers (5-10) .

    For those who now believe Todd Bowles , head coach of the New York Jets doesn’t deserve to be fired . Then after today’s result against the New England Patriots (13-2) , is there an excuse which you believe , why he should be retained by the Jets’ front office ? In a woefully inept display the New York Jets fell to the Patriots 41-3 in completely lopsided game . Bowles could not offer up any explanation for his team’s worst loss and performance of the season . Clearly changes will have to be made among the Jets’ coaching and playing staff at the end of this postseason ? The fans and the NFL deserve better , rather than the bile which has been continually served up by the New York Jets throughout much of the season.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7) are an extremely soft team all- round . They are lacking leadership , players who can dominate a game and it is beginning to show the fact the team’s quarterback Jameis Winston is not a player who can handle adversity very well . In a game where the Buccaneers needed a win to determine their fate and a playoff berth , they completely fell apart in an exacerbating loss to the New Orleans Saints (7-8). The one time the Buccaneers really needed to be resilient , they were simply unable to meet that goal. Dirk Koetter in part is to blame , but perhaps even more so are the members of the front office who assembled this team thinking it capable of being competitive all season long . Just because of their recent five-game win- ; streak and an above average defense were the only reasons why everyone seemed to be glowing over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    NFL news and week sixteen results

    NFL standings (divisional) and conference standings

    NFL playoff picture

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  40. College Basketball usually at this time of the year takes a backseat , as the NBA enters into one of the most interesting time of its season . The marquee game of the day on the professional schedule will be a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals where the Cleveland Cavaliers will be facing the Golden State Warriors . Elsewhere this Sunday , we have games featuring the Boston Celtics facing the New York Knicks in an all Eastern Conference clash. Also , the Chicago Bulls will be on the road to face the San Antonio Spurs . The contest which could prove to be the most competitive and entertaining will offer the fans the chance to decide which team is currently the best the city of Los Angeles , as the Los Angeles Lakers play host to the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center , a venue which is shared by both of these LA based NBA franchises .

    At this point last season within the the teams were well into their season and playing with some consistency .

    NBA news

    NBA schedule 25th December and results

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  41. So as MLB (Major League Baseball) has its Winter Meetings with senior executives from the league hierarchy meeting up alongside , owners , general managers , agents and in some cases managers . Moves are afoot to pull off the type of deals which will see either free agents on the move , waivers or just players who are simply no longer productive, being shifted around like seats on a cruise ship . It would appear each off-season we tend to see more of the same , with ever increasing salaries and contracts being offered.

    Giancarlo Stanton remains the highest paid player in the game by way of his contract , but he is not the highest paid by way of an annual salary. With the rumors still not being laid to rest , it will be very interesting to see if Miami Marlins’ team owner Jeffrey Loria will be able to sell the ball-club for the reputed $1.7 billion he seeks , given the fact less than a year ago the team was said to be worth no more than $700 million .

    MLB news

    MLB transactions

    This week in Major League Baseball and on this day in baseball .

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  42. Matt Moore guided the Miami Dolphins to the NFL postseason after their very competitive 34-31 victory over the Buffalo Bills . Moore in the absence of Ryan Tannehill , showed a great deal of poise after an earlier hiccup of an interception . Miami’s backup quarterback was spectacular at times , hitting his receivers in stride, while the team’s defense stifled the Bills when it mattered most. Head coach Adam Gase might be facing something of a dilemma should Tannehill be declared fit to return for the team’s wildcard game in the first round.

    This will be the Miami Dolphins’ first appearance in the NFL postseason since 2008 when they faced the Baltimore Ravens in the wildcard round , losing to the Ravens 27-9 in a home defeat . Miami’s possible first round opponent would be the Pittsburgh Steelers .

    Miami Dolphins’ backup quarterback Matt Moore (8) .

    The wildcard round of this season’s postseason begins on 7th and 8th January , 2017, respectively. Match-ups between featuring the Dolphins quarterbacks over the past eight three seasons have not exactly been empowering. For Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this game should provide the player the chance to point to his detractors , he is back to his very best .

    Miami Dolphins news

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  43. Sunday’s results in the NBA where only five games were played . Monday night’s games were equally enthralling with eleven contests on the schedule. The Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a loss , as they fell to the Detroit Pistons on the road , in an all Eastern Conference clash.

    For the Cleveland Cavaliers , this defeat at the hands of the Detroit Pistons should not be seen as a major setback . What might be seen as worrisome however might be the lack of effort shown by some players on defense . Next up for Cleveland will be a game against the Boston Celtics at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio on the 29th December , 2016 . The contest will be the Cavaliers’ penultimate game of 2016, before entering 2017 with a game against the New Orleans Pelicans on the road for an away contest on the 2nd January .

    If you are the worst team in the NBA then there is not a lot which can be said for your style of play. This dubious distinction belongs to the Philadelphia 76ers (7-23) . This is a team made of up players who are bereft of talent , coached by a staff , deeply and completely out of their depth , without one trying to suggest Bryan Colangelo or his father , Jerry Colangelo have brought anything to the table which might be able to assist the franchise. Having passed through one-third of the NBA schedule the Sixers’ win percentage merits being called a disaster.

    The NBA hierarchy seems unconcerned by such mediocrity , never-mind the attendance levels for the home games of the Philadelphia 76ers appear to be pitiful . Brett Brown as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers continues to struggle and I do believe there can be continued justification to keep him on , while the team continues to lose games with relentless consistency and ease . Looking a t the roster of the Sixers there are no signs of real leadership among the players or the will to win .

    In their next game the Philadelphia 76ers are due to meet the Utah Jazz on the 29th December , 2016 .

    NBA news

    NBA schedule 27th December and results for 26th December

    NBA standings conference and divisional standings

    NBA player stats (efficiency) and rookie stats

    Cleveland Cavaliers news

    Philadelphia 76ers news

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  44. The College Football postseason is well underway , with several games having taken place , but the most important games have yet to take place. These contests will feature the four top-ranked teams in the nation. On New Year’s Eve the two games featuring Alabama facing the Washington Huskies in the first of the two semi-finals’ games , with the second featuring Clemson against Ohio State . The winners will face off in the National Championship Game on the 9th January, 2017 .

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  45. Not all of the berths are now sewn up for the NFL postseason , but it would appear the divisional races have reached a conclusion . The Miami Dolphins (10-5) have reached their first postseason in eight years after a victory over the Buffalo Bills placed them in as a possible sixth seed within the AFC .

    To close out their season the Miami Dolphins will face the New England Patriots (13-2) in a game to be played at Landshark Stadium , Miami , Florida on the 1st January , 2017. It will be interesting to see if either team will seek to rest several of their starters as both coaching staffs headed by Adam Gase of the Dolphins and Bill Belichick of the Patriots will push for a victory or simply play out the sequence of what will take place .

    NFL news

    Week seventeen schedule

    Tophatal ………………….

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  46. Rex Ryan has become the latest coaching casualty of this NFL season with his dismissal by the Buffalo Bills . Team owner , billionaire entrepreneur Terry Pegula and the front office had their fill of Ryan and what turned out to be a truly disappointing season for the team . Rex Ryan’s coaching record with the Buffalo Bills , having spent two years with the franchise , was dismal to say the very least .

    Bills’ owner Terry Pegula (left) and Rex Ryan .

    The issues faced by the Buffalo Bills , stemmed from the fact the coaching staff failed to adapt and the team simply wasn’t consistent enough over the course of the regular season. Rex Ryan for his part , promised too much and failed to deliver . During the off-season , the front office will have to seek a successor with a proven track record . This responsibility will fall to GM Dough Whaley , as he seeks a head coach able to get this franchise back on track. It has been several years since the Bills last made the NFL postseason and it seems light years away since they made four consecutive appearances in the Superbowl . Those times have long since passed and there is a feeling it will be an extremely long time before they make another appearance in the postseason. Clearly, something needs to be done about the makeup of the roster and it will likely conclude with the shedding of several high priced free agents during the off-season.

    In week seventeen the Buffalo Bills will face the New York Jets (4-11) , another AFC East team with a disappointing season behind them .

    Members of the Bills’ front office , during pre-draft, with remarks from President and CEO Russ Brandon, GM Doug Whaley, third from the left, Director of Player Personnel Jim Monos, Director of College Scouting Kelvin Fisher, …

    Buffalo Bills news

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  47. This off-season within the world of baseball continues to be a strange one . Moves once again are being made left , right and center as teams look to get the best possible bang for their bucks . Needless to say , many of these ball-clubs will definitely be overpaying for the talent being acquired. Of the teams I believe there has been a great deal of speculation being made about what is needed to make them better. Nowhere has to the subject been more of a debate than with the Toronto Blue Jays , a team who this past season were competitive enough, but they came up short when it mattered the most during the postseason .

    The Toronto Blue Jays fell at the hands of the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS losing the series in a lopsided manner 4-1 . Heading into the off-season Blue Jays’ manager John Gibbons and his managerial staff alongside the front office led by GM Ross Atkins and Asst GM Ben Cherington . It will be their task to make the decisions necessary to bolster the roster , by freeing up salary , seeking new free agent acquisitions , non roster invitees and of course assessing the merits of a number of players within their farm system . Granted, there has been continued talk over the immediate futures of both Edwin Encarnacion , Blue Jays’ power-hitter and All Star , Jose Bautista . They both figured highly on the team’ productivity last season as well as on the payroll.

    Blue Jays’ GM Ross Atkins.

    Asst GM Ben Cherington of the Toronto Blue Jays.

    It will be interesting to see if Toronto makes the decision to also let Jose Bautista depart after the announcement had been made that the Cleveland Indians acquired Edwin Encarnacion , signing him to a three-year $60 million deal . This now leaves Bautista as the biggest free agent on the market. His numbers would make him a prime candidate for any team thought to be a contender in need of a productive power hitter. The problem might well be the length and value of a deal sought by Jose Bautista and his agent , Jay Alou .

    Courtesy of Fox Sports


    Toronto Blue Jays and Jose Bautista: Made for Each Other

    Steve Contursi/FanSided via Call to the Pen Fansided
    Dec 27, 2016 at 2:08p ET

    At this point, the pairing of Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays resembles one of those marriages made in hell, but one that is still very necessary for both parties lest they slide even further backwards than they already have.


    Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Much ado about nothing is now accompanying the MLB.com report that Jose Bautista, “The Last Man Standing,” would accept a one-year deal from the Toronto Blue Jays if it exceeds the $17.2 million qualifying offer he famously refused in order to reap the benefits of free agency.

    Well, good luck with that one, Jose. But you know what, he just might get it because as luck would have it, the Blue Jays are struggling to save face on a bungled offseason even more than he is. Having lost 200 innings in the rotation (R.A. Dickey) and a significant portion of their offense (Edwin Encarnacion), the Blue Jays jumped out there early by signing Kendrys Morales to a three-year deal to be their DH. Whether true or not, the move was perceived by most as the franchise’s decision to move on from both players.

    Bautista and Blue Jays: Nobody to Blame But Themselves

    Since then, however, the only significant move (if you could call it that) the team has made is to sign journeyman Steve Pearce to a two-year deal that caused some to wonder what’s up with Justin Smoak, the Jays’ regular first baseman.

    Meanwhile, whether blackballed or not as some have charged, the market for Jose Bautista has all but dried up. Some would say there are good reasons for that development, while others are saying no one knows the “real” Jose Bautista. But true or not, perception of reality is everything these days. And the fact remains that there is zero chance of him signing a significant multi-year deal with anyone, including the Blue Jays.

    But while the intentions of Bautista to cash in on a final contract at the age of 36 were clear, it is difficult to figure out what plan for their future the Blue Jays had, if they had one at all. They knew what was coming and could have offered an extension to either or both Bautista and Encarnacion during the season. They chose not to, instead making the QO which was destined to be refused by both players, leaving the Blue Jays on a level playing field with all other teams.

    From there, it became like the couple that gets a separation rather than a divorce while also deciding that it’s okay for both to date and play the field. Then as a consequence of their decision, they find themselves having to crawl back to each other because no one else likes either of them very much. And so they do, for better or worse.

    Blue Jays: Looks Like the Next Move Is Yours

    Bautista belongs in Toronto. He likes it there and the fans like him there. And he will probably wind up there. But for now, it’s a testy matter of saving face on both sides. For his part, Bautista has shown his hole card by indicating he would come back on a one-year deal if he can get a few dollars more than the QO.

    The next move goes to the Blue Jays. For a few dollars more, everyone can live unhappily after for another year when both sides get to take the show on the road for a repeat performance, thereby kicking the can down the road. Or they can hope beyond hope that somehow a replacement for the star quality of Bautista will fall into their lap, and the fans will forget about their ill-fated love affair with the player no one else seems to want or need. Not a pretty picture no matter what kind of a spin you put on it.

    ———————————————–
    Click on link to read in full.
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    Jose Bautista’s numbers over the past eight seasons have been among the best in all of baseball , firmly placing him in the top-ten of several offensive categories . Among the teams said to be interested in Bautista , are the Milwaukee Brewers , St Louis Cardinals , San Francisco Giants and quite possibly the New York Mets . Yet again, it would all come down to the numbers and what each team might be willing to offer the Blue Jays’ All Star .

    MLB news

    MLB transactions (December)

    Toronto Blue Jay news

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  48. Russell Westbrook all-season long , has been lighting up the scoreboard , as he leads the Oklahoma City Thunder (20-12) . The player had his fifteenth triple-double of the season as the Thunder inflicted another painful loss on the Miami Heat . Among active players Westbrook leads LeBron James by seven , with the four-time League MVP’s total being forty-five at this point of his career.

    It would be fair to suggest Russell Westbrook would have to be seen as the leading candidate for this season’s League MVP Award , though some might feel there are other equally deserving candidates who should be mentioned are LeBron James , DeMarcus Cousins , Anthony Davis , Chris Paul and James Harden .

    Over their last twelve games played the Oklahoma City Thunder have been among the best teams in the league over the period mentioned. Against their conference opponents and the East the Oklahoma City Thunder have been playing at a moderate pace .

    In their next game Russell Westbrook and his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates will face the Memphis Grizzlies on the road where their record has been moderate . Grizzlies’ teammates Marc Gasol , Mike Conley and Zach Randolph are expected to lead this team once again as they are considered a likely contender within the West for a playoff berth.

    NBA news

    NBA results 27th December and schedule for 28th December

    NBA standings (conference)

    NBA standings (divisional and results)

    🙂

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