Rarefied air and toxicity ….

Rarefied  air and toxicity
The sports’  world is all aghast and with good reason , we have seen the  New England Patriots reign supreme unmasking  the  Atlanta Falcons  as being something of a fraud, even if the   Superbowl  itself was an exciting game . What cannot be denied as evidenced with the coverage of this game,  was the very fact the Falcons  fell apart during the finals eight minutes of regulation play  before the contest went into overtime,  with New England prevailing for their    fifth win   of the Lombardi Trophy.

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The victory placed Patriots’ head coach  Bill Belichick    and the team’s quarterback    Tom Brady  in   rarefied air , as the only head coach and quarterback in NFL history with five  Superbowl rings to their names. The   NFL remains a year-round league in terms of the ongoing news’ stories to be found and it will be that way throughout much of the off-season as the league now has its free agency period, as well as the upcoming     NFL Draft . The New England Patriots will have the privilege of taking the   last pick     in the  first round    of the Draft, which is befitting the best team in the NFL. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this all Bill Belichick and his      coaching staff    seek to bolster the   current     roster     with a fresh crop of players to add to the Patriots’ arsenal. Break-out players for New England   during   the regular season were     James White  whose heroics in the Superbowl was there for everyone to see. As were the talents of White’s teammates ,who ably abetted Tom Brady as the quarterback would go on to win his fourth Superbowl MVP Award.

This off-season should prove to be interesting for the New England Patriots as well as the other teams around the NFL as they seek to bolster their respective rosters through, free agency , trades and the NFL Draft. It could all prove to be very fruitful for the Patriots based on their past experiences , especially over the last five seasons .

Kyle Shanahan has now become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers , succeeding Chip Kelly , whose firing along with that of GM Trent Baalke did not come as a great surprise to many. However, it was Baalke’s successor which might well have taken everyone off-guard, as team CEO Jed York made the formal announcement that Jon Lynch , former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ player would be hired for the position. Lynch has no NFL front office experience and with Shanahan now assembling his own staff, it will be extremely difficult to see how this franchise can be seen as being in a position to be competitive this upcoming season. This past season was one of sheer incompetence on the part of the coaching staff as well as the players , as the Forty Niners labored both on and off the field of play. Their record was reflective of that very fact with their being no signs of competitiveness at any point during the season. Colin Kaepernick was a mere shell of the player who guided the team to a Superbowl appearance less than five years ago. Kaepernick’s teammate Blaine Gabbert , whom Chip Kelly threw his weight behind as being the team’s starting quarterback at the start of 2016, was equally incompetent in the role. There is no doubt San Francisco will be looking to draft a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft or they will be seeking a free agent passer of proven ability .

Carson Palmer will be returning to the Arizona Cardinals for the 2017 regular season and during his five years with the franchise, Palmer’s leadership has come into question. Under Bruce Arians the Cardinals have become more resolute, but postseason success for this franchise has been lacking. One could seek to blame the veteran quarterback for this or place the blame elsewhere by placing it squarely on the shoulders of the front office , where GM Steve Keim leads the staff. Keim was a replacement to for Rod Graves , but whose tenure as the general manager for the Cardinals, saw highs and lows.

Having failed to make the postseason in 2016, the Arizona Cardinals will have to assess the roster and look at where the improvements will have to be made as to the makeup of this team. If there are deficiencies on the Cardinals then clearly, it starts with the secondary and the fact the defense showed how vulnerable it just happened to be. Larry Fitzgerald the veteran wide receiver on the playing staff, still seeks that elusive Superbowl ring and title as a player. Considered to be one of the best receivers in NFL history , it is hard to believe that during his career , Fitzgerald has never been able to play on the NFL’s biggest stage with an appearance in the “big game ” itself. It was rumored Larry Fitzgerald was considering retirement and were that to take place , then it would leave a considerable gap in the Cardinals’ lineup for next season. It is hard to envisage how the Arizona Cardinals would look without their veteran receiver on the roster, but with the league now being about the here and now , the window of opportunity for this team is now closing fast.

The Atlanta Falcons’ destruction of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game was as embarrassing for the team as it was for not only the NFL, but also for the fans watching. In spite of what Aaron Rodgers might now feel concerning the Packers, this team simply wasn’t prepared for the game. A great deal of the blame must lay squarely on the shoulders of Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff . Green Bay’s front office have already begun to take swift steps to shed players from the current roster , with the first casualties being veterans Sam Shields and James Stark . Yet , I do believe the pairing will not be the only ones to be let go during what is likely to be a turbulent off-season for the Packers !

Aaron Rodgers was among the NFL’s best quarterbacks during the regular season , but his performance and that of his teammates against the Atlanta Falcons left a great deal to be desired as the Green Bay Packers fell to the Falcons , losing by the score of 44-21 .

The fallout from the head coaching dismissals in the NFL was not much of a surprise , but I do believe many of the firings were warranted , as several of the head coaches in question, simply obfuscated their responsibilities , created a toxic atmosphere within their regimes, while also failing to acknowledge their own shortcomings.

Rex Ryan having been dismissed by the Buffalo Bills has continued to behave like a spoiled child whose pacifier was taken away from him , along with his rattle and assorted toys. The fact that he led the Bills into a deeper morass as the season progressed , simply showed that he was completely out of his depth and never capable of leading the players to any type of success envisaged by team owner Terry Pegula or the organization . Buffalo’s downward slide is likely to continue, as the team’s depth is sorely lacking at just about every position imaginable . Many of the players on the Buffalo Bills’ roster are likely to be gone during this off-season , as they seek to pare down their cap , creating enough cap space for some acquisitions beyond their likely draft choices.

Having seen a triumphant New England Patriots’ team win their fifth Superbowl , the fans of the Buffalo Bills can only admire their AFC East rivals from afar wondering what might have been.

Through unconfirmed sources, it is rumored Jeffrey Loria , erstwhile owner of the Miami Marlins reached an agreement to sell the South Florida based MLB franchise for $1.6 billion in what would prove to be the second largest sale of a ball-club in baseball history. Only the $2.156 billion paid by the consortium headed by Mark Walter , Todd Boehly and Earvin Magic Johnson , for the auction ( sale of then bankrupt) of the Los Angeles Dodgers , has there ever been a large sale or purchase of a professional baseball team. The purchasing consortium for the Marlins is made up several businessmen , but one name which comes up as part of the buying group is that of John Kushner , brother to Presidential adviser Jared Kushner , who just happens to be the son-in-law of Donald Trump . Now one can speculate as to whether or not there might well have some sort of White House influence concerning this impending sale remains to be seen, but given the ongoing incompetence shown the current Presidential administration and the idiocy of Trump’s own special adviser Kellyann Conway , it would be reasonable to assume , nothing as of now, would appear to be off-limits.

It should be noted there was no transparency seen when former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was seen consorting with several members of the Miami Dade County Government and the Miami City Council in the lead-up to both government entities taking a vote on whether or not Marlins Ballpark would be a publicly funded expenditure , when the stadium was built at the cost of over $600 million ,through a mixture of taxes , bond issues , which could end up costing both the city and county as much $3 billion , because of the structured financing of the project.

Only now have the chickens come home to roost , while Jeffrey Loria will walk away with a cool $1 billion in his pocket . There hasn’t been this sort of financial malevolence since Frank McCourt , former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers , who filed for bankruptcy protection of the ball-club in the midst of an acrimonious divorce from his wife. McCourt was said to have used the ball-club and several of its assets as part of several private business deals , all of which contravened the bye-laws of Major League Baseball , but not once did Bud Selig or any member of the league hierarchy seek to formally press charges or seek Frank McCourt’s removal as a franchise owner within baseball while this was all going on . It should be noted Selig and then MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner claimed that the Dodgers were a well-ran organization, with its finances meeting the league’s own stringent financial threshold . Clearly , without an audit having been conducted by MLB , this was all a big fat lie.

Jeffrey Loria presided over one of the two World Series’ triumphs by the Miami Marlins , but it has been several years since their last appearance in the MLB Postseason and during that time , little success has been evident for the organization. Managers have come and gone, as too have several famous players . Yet , some how in the midst of this all, Loria , David Samson and GM Michael Hill have pulled the wool over the eyes of the fans. Since the opening of the Marlins Ballpark and its inaugural game , the venue has never been filled to capacity for a home game. Subject to the MLB approval and the ratification by the owners , this proposed sale could be passed unanimously be the next meeting of the league hierarchy and team owners or with an emergency being called. This latest scenario could provide the MLBPA (Players’ Union) with all the ammunition they need to seek a major increase with regard to baseball’s next collective bargaining agreement (CBA) . Something I firmly believe the owners as well as the league hierarchy will want to negotiate from a position of power, rather than staring down the barrel of a sawn off shot-gun with the union firing their volley of shots across the bow of Major League Baseball.

For years as a team owner Jeffrey Loria plead poverty , but yet he in conjunction with Bud Selig, coerced local politicians to finance a deal so outlandish, it places both the city of Miami and Miami Dade County with a fiscal crisis , which many would determine was actually of their own making. Concessions will have to be sought from the new owners of the Miami Marlins that the team will not be relocated and that all agreements now in place will be adhered to. As to the competitiveness of the team in its present form , a great deal of this will be based on the managerial acumen shown by Don Mattingly and his managerial staff .

The death of Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez shook this Marlins’ organization to its very roots, along with the fan-base of the ball-club. It will be hard to replace a player of Fernandez’s stature and popularity. His teammate , Giancarlo Stanton is expected to be the vocal leader of this team alongside seasoned veteran Ichiro Suzuki . While I believe the Miami Marlins to be a good team on paper , I do not expect them to be a legitimate contender within the NL East , much less a favorite for the NLCS Pennant or the World Series itself. There remains far too many flaws in this lineup and I believe Don Mattingly hasn’t proven himself to be a manager capable of winning the big games that really matter !

The Miami Marlins will begin their Spring Training Schedule with a game against the Houston Astros on March 1st at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas , before embarking on their regular season schedule, where their Opening Day Game of the regular season will be against the Washington Nationals on the 3rd April , 2017.

There has to be something real troubling when a former player of an NBA franchise creates more excitement on a basketball court than the home team itself. This was the case when Charles Oakley was arrested and escorted away from his seat at a recent New York Knicks’ game in Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York . The Knicks were playing the Los Angeles Clippers in a home game against their Western Conference opponents . Oakley got into a verbal altercation with court-side staff and the former NBA star directly a profanity laced tirade against the employees. Knicks’ team owner James Dolan has since issued a statement , advising and informing Charles Oakley he is no longer welcomed to attend games at Madison Square Garden , with or without an apology from the former player.

Clearly, Charles Oakley’s behavior was unwarranted, but the banishment I believe was certainly an over reaction from the owner ! The employees were not physically assaulted by Charles Oakley and in the heat of the moment , his anger got the better of him as the situation got out of hand. Oakley’s reputation is well-known around the NBA and it has been chronicled thousands of times , as his play was a reflection of his image and persona , a bad boy, perhaps one of the toughest players in the league among his contemporaries. Just a pity that sort of grit and determination is not shown by the current crop of Knicks’ players. Their loss to the Clippers has been reflective of what is lacking in the team over the course of this season.

Next up for the New York Knicks will be a contest against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon and with New York having lost on Friday night in a game against the Denver Nuggets , I have to now ask myself are the Knicks one of the most incompetent teams in Eastern Conference other than Brooklyn Nets when it comes to facing opponents from the opposing conference ? I will continue to say this about Phil Jackson , he may well know how to win championships and to inspire championship caliber players , but when it comes to assembling a competitive roster , he simply knows nothing at all . It has been his ego all along , which has proven to be fallible and the entire reason why the New York Knicks will continue to be a rather mediocre team ! Jackson brings along his own toxic mess and utter stupidity , while his admirers look on from afar, lapping it all up as if it were perfection .

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What have been your most recent observations taking place within , the NFL , MLB and the NBA which have given you the cause for greatest concern ?


  Tophatal    …… 


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86 thoughts on “Rarefied air and toxicity ….

  1. Instigated after Baseball was no longer thought to be worthy of being a part of Summer Olympics . the sport’s governing body International Baseball & Softball Federation have given the fans a quadrennial event known as the World Baseball Classic (WBC) . Currently in session, the WBC has never been won by America (Team USA) . First held in 2006 this international team competition has never really caught with the imagination of the most ardent of fans here in North America . However , for the other participants , it has proven to be popular, as the sport’s governing body seeks growth of the game globally.

    The World Baseball Classic is currently coinciding with the MLB Spring Training Schedule and while Team USA’s roster is made up of some well-known names , in reality the team would not be considered elite or of star-studded status . Managed by Jim Leyland the team is off to a reasonably good start in Group Play (Pool C) . They have progressed the to Semi-Finals of the competition where their opponent will be Japan in a single-game elimination which will be played on 21st March , 2017 at Dodgers Stadium , in Los Angeles , California . The other Semi Final Game will see the Netherlands (Holland) facing Puerto Rico .

    Now while World Baseball Classic has yet to reach its climax , the Spring Training Schedule continues to ramp up with Opening Day just over two weeks away , it will be interesting which of the teams will be able to carry forward their momentum from the exhibition season .

    Team USA manager Jim Leyland.

    Reigning World Series champions the Chicago Cubs will most certainly be looking to carry on from where they left off . Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon will lead his team in their opening game of the season when they face the St Louis Cardinals on the 2nd April . 2017.

    The Chicago Cubs will begin the season with a target on their backs , with all of their main rivals certainly looking to take them down. It will be interesting to see if they can make a successful defense of the NL Central Division as well as the NLCS Pennant and the World Series title they won so convincingly in 2016.

    The team with the most to prove has to be the Los Angeles Dodgers as they enter the 2017 season as the highest payroll team in all of baseball. Magic Johnson as one of the significant owners of f the Dodgers may well have other issues to now deal with having made Head of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers , but even he knows , two failing and prominent sports’ franchises such as the Dodgers and Lakers have to be at the forefront of their respective sports , if both are to have real meaning.

    Magic Johnson , part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and current Head of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Dave Roberts will begin his second season in charge of the Los Angeles Dodgers looking to erase last season from his players’ minds . Their pennant loss to the Chicago Cubs was an embarrassment on so many levels and needless to say, there are things which have yet to properly addressed by GM Farhan Zaidi and Head of Baseball Operations , veteran executive Andrew Friedman . The Dodgers will begin their regular season schedule facing the San Diego Padres .

    MLB news

    MLB Spring Training Standings

    MLB schedule and results for 18th March

    World Baseball Classic

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  2. By week ten of the NFL season it was felt that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in with a chance of gaining one of the NFC postseason berths and they needed to do was to secure three wins from their final five games . Unfortunately , this team simply wasn’t good enough when it mattered the most, with almost every player on the roster failing miserably. A 9-7 record was simply a reflection of how mediocre the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just happened to be , in spite of all of the optimism there was among their fans as well as the coaching staff of Dirk Koetter .

    During the off-season there will be a great deal on the plate of GM Jason Licht as he assesses the roster in its entirety as well as the free agents he might well seek to sign during this off-season. One name among the marquee free agents now on the market, is that of running back Adrian Peterson . If Peterson were to be signed as a free agent during this off-season , his presence would certainly boost what was a truly a lackluster offense for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. The NFL Draft should also prove to be very fruitful for the Bucs’ front office . If should be noted , it has been several years since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the NFC South , much less make a deep postseason run in the NFL at this juncture.

    While I consider the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be a goo team , I do not believe they are a great team capable of winning their division , a conference championship let alone the Superbowl . When it has mattered the most over the past six seasons they have not been good enough to get the job done. Last season was the first winning season had by the Buccaneers since 2010 and that if any thing should tell you a great deal about the inconsistency shown by the franchise over the last decade. Their last postseason appearance came in 2007 and previous to that it was in 2005 . The Buccaneers will look to enter this upcoming season seeking to be competitive enough within the NFC South , where the likes of the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers would appear to be the teams to beat , as I feel the New Orleans Saints have regressed , albeit that Drew Brees continues to be a productive quarterback .

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  3. Well with things have gotten off to a truly fantastic start to the Men’s NCAA Tournament things will resume with games on the 23rd and 24th March respectively. It is hard to suggest there now remains an overwhelming favorite to win it all considering the number of upsets which have taken place .

    Of the games being played on Thursday , perhaps the highlight will be the contest between UCLA (Bruins) and Kentucky , two programs with a rich history of College Basketball behind both. There are also classic match-ups featuring Gonzaga facing off against West Virginia .

    NCAA Basketball Men (D1)

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  4. So Conor McGregor and his entourage continue to bilk his popularity for just about everything it’s worth as the UFC faces a tide of real uncertainty. The UFC having been taken over by a Chinese based concern , now is at odds with itself , seeking to re-image the entity. while also trying to bring new stars within its ranks. Ronda Rousey’s career in the sport seems at and end end , given her recent setbacks in the octagon. Jon Bones Jones continues to be an even bigger distraction outside the sport and his popularity is no longer what it once was . UFC Middleweight champion Michael Bisping in spite of his career , is now being lined up for his largest career pay-day when he faces a legend Georges St Pierre in a yet to be announced bout.

    The UFC is in major need of an upswing before it stagnates and begins to take steps backwards , rather than moving forward. The genre of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) has become billion-dollar industry , with a number of the fighters having become household names and action movie stars. Yet, for all of that , the sport is now in need of a major breakout star , with the charisma to bring in an audience and major corporate dollars. Conor McGregor’s self-imposed exile and threats of fighting Floyd Money Mayweather has more to do with publicity stunts than reality itself.

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  5. Team USA it to their very first World Baseball Classic championship game at their fourth attempt of trying . In the Finals itself , they faced Puerto Rico , who they defeated in a lopsided contest , 8-0 , for their first Classic Title . MVP of the game was Marcus Stroman for the USA.

    Away from the international team competition , MLB is now winding down its Spring Training Schedule , as the precursor to Opening Day of the regular season which begins officially on the 3rd April , though there will be a couple of games on Sunday , 2nd April . Today , there is a full slate of games , with the standings unlikely to have little bearing on what we are likely to see at the start of the regular season. The two teams whom I believe will have the greatest need to prove themselves this upcoming season , are the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees , whose combined payroll will exceed $370 million . For the third consecutive year the Dodgers’ payroll will be the highest in all of baseball , with their top player earning in excess of $30 million . That privilege will belong to Clayton Kershaw , whose regular season performances since 2012 have been phenomenal . It will be very interesting to see how Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers will evolve and then perform over the course of this season.

    Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts will lead a vastly experienced team when they begin their regular season , with their opening game against the San Diego Padres at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles , California on the 3rd April , 2017 . Clayton Kerhaw is likely to be the Dodgers’ opening day starter for the contest against their NL West opponent .

    Meanwhile , the New York Yankees after their struggles in 2016 will be looking to rebound this year , getting back on track , seeking to win another NL East title and ALCS Pennant as well as the World Series . It is difficult to say who will be the top performer in what appears to be a very overrated Yankees’ roster . Remarkable as this might seem , talent alone is not what it once was , even with the exploits of Masahiro Tanaka likely leading their pitching lineup. For the Yankees their opening game of the regular season will be a contest against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg. Florida .

    World Baseball Classic

    MLB schedule 24th March

    Results for 22nd March

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  6. The hype over Kirk Cousins in recent seasons has been utterly ridiculous as analysts and fans alike look for something positive to say and write about , concerning the Washington Redskins’ draft pick from 2012 . Cousins alongside Robert Griffin III , were taken by the franchise as they sought to regain their tier among the NFL elite. For years under Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle Shanahan the Redskins were simply abysmal and in their lone appearance during the 2013 NFL Postseason , there has been little to exemplify the Washington Redskins , as being considered a good or even great team . Jay Gruden has stepped into the fray as Washington’s latest head coach , while team owner Daniel Snyder has relinquished much of the team’s day-to-day day operational running to Bruce Allen and GM Scott McCloughlin . However. with McCoughlin having been fired due to his sobriety issues , one has to ask what else can now go wrong for this Redskins’ franchise ? Robert Griffin , once thought of as the face and future of the Washington Redskins is now without a team , having been acquired by the Cleveland Browns and then after an injury-plague 2016 season was summarily released by the Browns.

    Last season for the Washington Redskins was one of mediocrity on a number of levels . Kirk Cousins is said to be one of the most desirable impending free agents for 2018, but the I have to ask myself what does that indicate about the current crop of free agent quarterbacks ? I believe the Washington Redskins lack veteran leadership among the roster and an all-round player-maker ! During the off-season Bruce Allen will have a great deal to contemplate as he assesses the merits of the current playing staff moving forward . The team’s needs are paramount to future success and this is where the acumen of the coaching staff and front office will come into play as they maneuver the minefield of the NFL Draft and free agency market seeking to make acquisitions.

    NFL news

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  7. We are now a week away from the start of the MLB regular season . Team USA triumphed in the World Baseball Classic , beating Puerto Rico on their way to an 8-0 win in this quadrennial international team competition. It was the very first victory in the tournament at the USA’s fourth attempt. Though this doesn’t really give game the respectability it needs , because in many respects the WBC does not replace the prestige of the Olympics or has it yet to garner the reputation as being the best international team competition in the world as the MLB hierarchy and the World Baseball & Softball Federation are inclined to believe.

    Of late , with the world having seen the Chicago Cubs get over their well-chronicled hump of not having won the World Series in one hundred years , questions are now being raised as to which team might be next in line to get over their misfortune ? One organization constantly being mentioned are the Houston Astros , with their having acquired several budding young stars , , grooming them for the ultimate prize in the game. In 2015 , after years of penny-pinching the Kansas City Royals prevailed , only to then fall back among the pack. If the Astros are to prevail , then they are going to have to show a great deal of consistency , playing at a high-caliber throughout the regular and into the postseason.

    Houston Astros’ manager A J Hinch will prepare his team for their first game of the regular season when they face divisional rivals the Seattle Mariners . The Mariners as well as the Baltimore Orioles are two AL teams long-starved of real success in the postseason , with neither having made their presence felt in the last ten years . Baltimore’s managerial staff will be preparing their players to take on the Toronto Blue Jays at Orioles Ballpark in Baltimore , Maryland on Monday 3rd April , 2017.

    MLB news

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  8. So now some analysts’ projections have Myles Garrett being taken as the number one overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft due to his impressive stats revealed at the NFL Combine . For what it’s worth , while I believe Garrett to be a great player , I do not believe he is on par with DeShaun Watson who proved himself under pressure and throughout the season , as he led Clemson to the national title with their historic and thrilling win over topranked Alabama , at the time thought to be unbeatable , given The Tide’s victory over the Clemson Tigers in 2015 for the national title.

    It will be intriguing to see what transpires in the upcoming NFL Draft and which player is taken number one overall .

    NFL news and NFL Combine

    NFL College Football news

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    Myles Garrett (left) and DeShaun Watson (right).

    In a year when there was sensational football being played at the Collegiate Level , both Clemson and Alabama stood as being the ” cream of the crop” and with good reason .

    With the Cleveland Browns (1-15) clearly in need of a quarterback after another woefully inept season, it would be foolish for the front office to pass up on DeShaun Watson in order to take Myle Garrett. Cleveland’s depth chart is not very good and there are several problems which need to be addressed on the roster , even with the idiotic acquisition of Brock Osweiler , a move done simply to avail themselves of cap space . Osweiler’s one season with the Houston Texans proved to be prophetic as the high-priced quarterback proved that he is just not good enough in the postseason.

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  9. The final four participants are now known in the Men’s NCAA Tournament with The Final Four . There can be no denying there were several upsets long the way from the opening round right up the Elite Eight . There are only two number-one seeds left in the tournament at this stage with both on a path to meet in the Finals which will be staged on April 3rd . The first of the two semi-finals will take place on April 1st , with Gonzaga (1) taking on South Carolina , while the Oregon Ducks will have the privilege of facing North Carolina (1) . The fans are likely to be enthralled by both of these contests when these games get underway.

    NCAA Men’s Basketball

    NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

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  10. So it seems likely the NFL hierarchy will allow a third franchise to relocate without listening to the fans. It is what have I believe has been the mantra of this
    league
    with its continued hypocrisy ! That is to bleed a community dry, under the pretext it offers them great gains in return . The league’s Commissioner, Roger Goodell , and the league’s owners remain an insensitive group of individuals who have been aided with their goals , by a Congressional statute where the NFL as a tax-exempt organization , is allowed to profit , while giving little in return to the communities where they reside. Business or not , this one of things which shows how out of touch the country remains and the idiocy of the incumbent President , with his idiotic doctrine of ‘Making America Great Again’ and ‘ America First’ , holds no substance .

    Donald Trump , as a businessman has profited from the tax laws and loopholes created , while he suggests his intent to make changes , in many respects , it will be the same old story as usual . It is already being enacted , with his repeal of the ACA ( Affordable Care Act/Oabamacare ) to be replaced by statute , simply filled with tax incentives as an inducement , while not addressing the rather dubious antics of the insurance companies within the market place, much of which, was what transpired under the previous form of legislation enacted by Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama .

    Oakland Raiders’ fans are now decrying the fact there appears to be an intent to relocate the franchise to another major city . Team owner , Mark Davis , has said very little publicly about this, but behind the scenes, the front office has been working on such a move over the past three seasons, with their going back and forth with their threats to Oakland-Alameda County Government as well as the city of Oakland , California. Once, again this all comes down to the wishes of a team owner not being able to get their way , in having a municipal or county government finance the building of a multi-billion dollar stadium to house an NFL franchise .

    Courtesy of USA Today

    Raiders to move to Las Vegas as NFL owners grant Mark Davis’ wish

    By Lorenzo Reyes , USA Today

    PHOENIX – The Raiders are on the move again, and this time they’re headed to Las Vegas.

    The Raiders received 31 of a possible 32 votes to approve the move on Monday, with the Miami Dolphins being the sole team to stand in opposition.

    Raiders owner Mark Davis needed at least 24 votes, and there were several hours of meetings and presentations Monday at the NFL annual meetings at the Arizona Biltmore.

    The Raiders plan to remain in Oakland for at least the next two seasons, Davis wrote in a statement after the move had been approved. He added the team was open to the possibility of staying for the 2019 season as well.

    “The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA,” Davis said. “We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff.”

    MORE COVERAGE:

    Why Dolphins owner Stephen Ross voted against Raiders’ move to Las Vegas
    Raiders owner Mark Davis offers season ticket refunds to fans in Oakland
    Raiders QB Derek Carr sends out heartfelt tweet about leaving Oakland

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the team needed time to get its stadium built in Las Vegas, as NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said the project is expected to be ready by 2020.

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    Click on link to read this article in full.
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    Mark Davis has seen the relocation of both the San Diego Chargers and the St Louis Rams , with their respective moves to the greater Los Angeles area. The Chargers have now become the Los Angeles Chargers , while the Rams have (evoked their former name) become the Los Angeles Rams .

    With the NFL’s owners having approved the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas , Nevada and the league feeling there are no implications, with regard to betting on games focused on the franchise , their blessing has been granted. Yet, I can’t help but wonder, what ploys went on in the background , as the Raiders held both city of Oakland to ransom while surreptitiously ‘courting’ the city of Las Vegas behind their backs of the California based municipality and county.

    NFL: news

    Oakland Raiders news


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  11. The Boston Red Sox will be hoping to see a return to form of Pablo Sandoval as the team enters its first season after the retirement of David Ortiz . In spite of the offensive prowess shown by younger players on the roster of last season , Sandoval is integral to any part of the Red Sox’s chances for success in 2017. The third-baseman having won a World Series with the San Francisco Giants as well as the Word Series’ MVP in their last appearance in the Fall Classic . Pablo Sandoval would then sign with the Boston Red Sox, signing a well-compensated multi-year deal . In his time with the Red Sox , Pablo Sandoval had shown some inconsistency as he tried to acclimatize to his new surroundings, of which a great deal of the acclimatization coming from the player having some worries concerning the birth of his child and the well-being his fiancee , during her pregnancy.

    Courtesy of USA Today

    After spiral, Pablo Sandoval acknowledges mistakes, set for Red Sox rebound

    By Jorge Ortiz , USA Today

    FORT MYERS, Fla. – After two wasted years in Boston, Pablo Sandoval knows he has a long way to go before he can win over the Red Sox fans. His teammates, however, already seem to be on his side.

    Pablo Sandoval of the Boston Red Sox.

    The slimmed-down Sandoval has gained converts with an outstanding spring in which he has flashed his old All-Star form, hitting .349, handling third base adroitly and appearing to regain his bat speed. The constant smile and joie de vivre that characterized his seven seasons with the San Francisco Giants – three of them culminating in World Series titles – are back too.

    Whether that translates into regular contributions that may erase the image of an out-of-shape Sandoval floundering defensively and at the plate won’t be determined until the season. Despite the lack of serious competition, manager John Farrell has yet to name him the starting third baseman.

    But his track record and renewed commitment raise hopes Sandoval can help make up for some of the offense lost with David Ortiz’s retirement and provide the Red Sox consistent production from a position that was a black hole last season.

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

    Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell and the managerial staff must know , once Sandoval and the team find their rhythm , then they will be a force to be reckoned with this season. Boston will begin its season with a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in their home opener for the regular season .

    I believe the AL East will be a very competitive division this season , likely to be a three-horse race between the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays , a toss-up between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees . On the outside looking in, are the Tampa Bay Rays , who have simply done absolutely nothing to bolster their lineup for their upcoming season. As usual the Rays will have a payroll which will be among the leanest in all of baseball .

    MLB news

    MLB results and schedule for the 29th March

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  12. The 2017 MLB Spring Training schedule is almost at an end with the last of the games being played on Saturday 1st April , 2017 with the unofficial Opening Day Games taking place the day after . Official Opening Day is Monday 2nd April with defending World Series champions the Chicago Cubs looking to make a successful defense of the title they won last season . I certainly believe this Joe Maddon managed team will have to be looked at as the prohibitive front-runners and favorites to be repeat winners . If there is a challenge to come from within the NL , then it could very well be from their divisional rival the St Louis Cardinals or from within the NL West , where the Los Angeles Dodgers will have a great deal to prove.

    The Chicago Cubs will open their regular season with a game against the St Louis Cardinals in their seasonal home opener at Busch Stadium in St Louis , Missouri ,.

    Ichiro Suzuki a future Hall of Fame player has been a major star within the game of baseball since making his debut , having won both the AL Rookie of The Year and AL League MVP in his first season . The Japanese born star has since amassed a career worthy of mention , placing him among the all-time greats of the game. Suzuki returns to a Miami Marlins’ organization looking to reinvent itself after a rather gut-wrenching off-season , that saw the death of their former NL Rookie Of The Year star pitcher Jose Fernandez . This tragedy will either work to the team’s advantage with the players rallying around and supporting each other , or we could see the team not meeting expectations . It should be noted , Marlins’ team owner , Jeffrey Loria is seeking to sell the Miami Marlins for a reported $2 billion , almost three-times the price ($700 million, with a loan from the MLB hierarchy) he paid to buy the franchise in 2003. Since 2004 , the Marlins have been among the most abysmal teams in all of baseball .

    With Don Mattingly currently leading the Miami Marlins’ managerial staff in his second season with the franchise, it will be interesting to see what transpires when the season gets underway for the team. Giancarlo Stanton , Ichiro Suzuki and Christian Yelich are seen as the major keys to the Marlins’ offense for this season , with the pitching also seen as a contributing factor also . On paper , the Marlins look like a competitive team , but I do not believe they are capable enough of beating many of the top-teams within the NL much less the rest of baseball.

    Don Mattlingly would no doubt like to see a fast start to the season from his players during the month of April . Miami’s opening game of the regular season will see them facing the Washington Nationals on 3rd April , 2017 at Nationals Ballpark , Washington, DC. The regular season series between these two teams in 2016 were very exciting and eventful . Edinson Volquez of the Marlins and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals will be the opposing pitchers in this game .

    MLB news

    MLB schedule 30th March

    MLB standings exhibition

    This week in baseball

    On this day in Major League Baseball

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  13. In their latest regular season meeting , it was the San Antonio Spurs , once again triumphant , as they downed their Easter Conference opponent the Cleveland Cavaliers , in what turned out to be an extraordinarily lopsided contest . At no point during this game was LeBron James and his teammates able to get the upper hand over the Spurs .

    The twenty-nine point margin of victory was among the biggest loss suffered by the Cleveland Cavaliers over the course of this season . Over their last eleven games the Cleveland Cavaliers have labored significantly . In their next contest LeBron James and his teammates will face the Philadelphia 76ers , while the San Antonio Spurs will meet the Oklahoma City Thunder . Two leading candidates for this season’s League MVP will be squaring off against each other as Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs faces Russell Westbrook of the Thunder.

    NBA news

    NBA results 31st March

    1st April

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  14. AJ Preller , general manager of the San Diego Padres had a bad season along with the team itself. The Padres’ failure within the NL West and failing to advance to the postseason was just another sign of a dismal year for the organization. AJ Preller and the front office failed the fans during 2016 , though many might well have felt the managerial staff were equally to blame as the players.

    During their last ten games of the regular season in 2016 the San Diego Padres posted a very mediocre record. Padres’ manager Andy Green will be looking to get the revamped San Diego Padres as they look to usurp the dominance of the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West over the past four seasons . The San Diego Padres will begin their regular season with a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodgers Ballpark in Los Angeles , California , on 3rd April , 2017 .

    It’s hard to suggest who the best player on the San Diego Padres’roster is likely to be. Wil Myers after a very good season in 2016 could prove to be the catalyst needed for the Padres this season. With team’s payroll coming in at the low end of expectations , I don’t believe managing partner Ron Fowler has the wherewithal to make the Padres truly competitive , when he has repeatedly hamstrung the team’s efforts to be truly competitive .

    The suspension of AJ Preller last season was not without merit , given his lack of honesty during a trade deal, where he failed to detail an injury of a San Diego Padres’ player during a deal with another team . MLB’s hierarchy suspended the executive for thirty days, but to my mind, the punishment was far too lenient , given the circumstances and the egregiousness of his actions !

    San Diego Padres news

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  15. Finally , the moment of truth came and the pomposity of U Conn Huskies’ Women’s head coach Geno Auriemma was brought down by at least a notch or two. In a memorable game of the NCAA Women’s Tournament in the Final Four , the famed Huskies were derailed by Mississippi State , in a contest which will live on , long in the memory of the fans and the downtrodden and sorrowful fans of U Conn. For Auriemma , in spite of his claims this loss was to be expected , there can be no denying as overwhelming favorites to make another appearance in NCAA Tournament Finals , for U Conn, this loss was certainly a major upset.

    Earlier this week , Geno Auriemma generally suggested there was a lack of commitment and passion in women wishing to enter the coaching realms of Women’s Collegiate Basketball (D1) . To my own mind , I feel that Auriemma with his statement, was doing the game an injustice . Were he coaching at the D1 Level of the Men’s game , I seriously doubt he would have been able to achieve the same sort of success. Yet somehow , he basks in the glory , with his self-righteous pompous attitude and dare I say it , a complete misogynistic tendency towards his female contemporaries within the game ?

    Women’s NCAA Tournament (2017)

    Tophatal ………………….

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  16. Continually optimistic and I suppose one has to be, if you have been waiting for over twenty five years to win a title . The New York Mets will enter another season beginning tomorrow in pursuit the World Series . Their loss to the Kansas City Royals was a lopsided affair where just about everything fell apart , with the team lacking composure and the presence to get the job done in 2015 . Mets’ manager Terry Collins and his managerial staff will have something of a revamped squad at his disposal in 2017 , with Yoenis Cespedes leading the lineup as their best offensive player , while the pitching staff should have a great deal of depth to it overall. The New York Mets’ home opener to the season will see them taking on the Atlanta Braves at Citi-Field in Flushing , New York . With a great deal on the line for both teams and dominance being sought within the NL East , it will be interesting to see how things play out for both of these teams during their regular season series , as well as within the division.

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  17. A 5-0 start to last season in the NFL ended up being a boon for the Minnesota Vikings . An injury to starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater , further hampered the team’s season, which came to an abrupt end . Head coach Mike Zimmer in conjunction with the front office made the decision to sign both Sam Bradford and Case Keenum as backups to Bridgewater. From my own standpoint, given the limited experience of Bradford and Keenum , there is little to suggest either has the quality needed to guide the Vikings this upcoming season , were Teddy Bridgewater to become unavailable . With Adrian Peterson now a free agent and there being no expression of need to resign the running back to a new long-term deal , it remains to be seen how they will go about replacing the NFL star .

    Vikings’ starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater .

    It was clear for all to see , once Teddy Bridgewater was lost to the Minnesota Vikings early in the season , the team was unable to regain its composure . From a defensive and offensive standpoint the Vikings also failed abysmally.

    Heading into the NFL Draft it will be interesting to see how the Minnesota Vikings acquit themselves and what other steps will be taken to improve the roster before they begin their preseason and regular season play. Last year didn’t suggest there would be anything special by way of the results and standings for both sessions.

    Minnesota Vikings news

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  18. OK, so Tiger Woods will be missing from the lineup for the 2017 Masters , as if that’s a real cause for concern ? Woods has not been relevant in a Grand Slam Major for over three years and as his career begins to wind down , it is highly unlikely he will win another of golf’s biggest prizes. The likely favorites for this year’s Masters’ Tournament is likely to come from some inside golf’s top twenty-five rankings . Woods knows that by his own lofty standards his play has been abysmal over the past three seasons and even during the time when he was on the course , there were indications that his confidence was not what it should be .

    With The Masters set to begin on April 6th through to the 9th at Augusta , Georgia and it will be interesting who will win the Green Jacket and become this season’s champion .

    From left to right , Arnold Palmer , Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

    Augusta will likely pay homage to the late Arnold Palmer , a Masters’ Champion , champion who alongside Jack Nicklaus made this tournament one of the most prestigious on the PGA Tour and perhaps one of the most revered of all of the Grand Slam Tournaments .

    PGA Tour news


    Tophatal …………

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  19. Oops ! One game into the regular season of play within baseball and we already have idiotic analysis being provide by fans . It would appear that after their game one victory over the New York Yankees , fans of the Tampa Bay Rays believe that they might be unto something. Last I looked the season was one of one hundred and sixty-two arduous games , where pitching and offense were of vital importance , never mind the fact these two teams will meet each other eighteen times over the course of the regular season with their games being played at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida as well as Yankee Stadium in the Bronx , New York . The hero in this opening game of this home series was Rays’ pitcher Chris Archer who pitched a very good game in his season debut.

    Elsewhere , there were victories for the Arizona Diamondbacks over the the San Francisco Giants , with the D-backs winning the game by the score of 6-5 . Reigning World Series champions the Chicago Cubs fell in their season opener against NL Central rivals the St Louis Cardinals in a very tight contest , 4-3 .

    MLB news and probable pitchers

    MLB results

    MLB schedule 3rd April

    This week in baseball history and on this day

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  20. Note to Phil Jackson , if you’re intent on ruining the franchise you once played for , then you are certainly going about it the right way. As to the idiocy of those , chiming at the start of the season about how great the New York Knicks (31-51) would be and their claiming Jackson and other senior executives within the front office in charge of all Player-Personnel decisions were on the right track . Then clearly ,these are the type of fans and analysts , who should best rethink their efforts and concerns with regard to their knowledge of the NBA as well as the New York Knicks. In a season where they were barely competitive on any level , it was easy to understand why Jeff Hornacek and the coaching staff were doomed for failure. This team was not assembled to be competitive , nor was it ever going to be competitive had Phil Jackson himself been coaching the team.

    With the New York Knicks’ payroll continually being among the highest in the NBA and the continued complacency being show by Phil Jackson and team owner James Dolan , I don’t envisage a situation where there is likely to be a sign of improvement on any level for the franchise. Carmelo Anthony is considered the best player on the Knicks’ roster , but he lacks leadership and clearly with his veteran experience , with their being no signs of that ever being part of his game. It is clear , Anthony will never be able to add that facet to his play.

    This off-season should prove to be an interesting one of the New York Knicks, as they seek to improve the roster by way of free agency acquisitions and the upcoming NBA Draft .


    New York Knicks news


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  21. Demetrius Johnson has now joined Anderson Silva to become the most successful fighter in UFC history by way of the number consecutive title defenses made. Having won the UFC Flyweight Title , Johnson has made ten successful defenses , winning in a variety of ways.

    On Saturday night Demetrious Johnson took care of Wilson Reis without breaking much sweat and adding to his legacy of being the best fighter of his generation within his weight class and certainly the best-ever within the Flyweight category. Demetrious Johnson is now seeking a bigger pay day and it would certainly make sense for him to move up to the Lightweight category and challenge Conor McGregor for his his title , rather than the idiocy of McGregor and his claim of wanting to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr . Already a non-starter and this being about two self-absorbed publicity seeking athletes looking to remain in the spotlight .

    Courtesy of ESPN

    Demetrious Johnson ties UFC mark with 10th straight title defense

    By Brett Okamoto , ESPN Staff Writer

    UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has officially tied one of the most prestigious records in combat sports: Anderson Silva’s mark of 10 consecutive UFC title defenses.


    Demetrious Johson (right) and Wilson Reis

    Johnson (26-2-1) tied Silva’s record at UFC Fight Night on Saturday by submitting Wilson Reis (22-7) via armbar at 4:49 of the third round. The 125-pound championship fight headlined the event at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

    The finish was merciful; it was obvious that Reis had no chance of dethroning the champ. Johnson outlanded Reis in total strikes 135 to 18, according to Fightmetric.

    After the victory, Johnson declared himself the greatest of all time.

    “I think the crowd recognizes it,” Johnson said as Kansas City cheered him on. “[Georges] St-Pierre, Anderson Silva — they were great champions. But I’m the best champion to ever stand in this Octagon.”

    When asked if he wanted to break the record or move up in weight next, Johnson stated that he intends to move up only if the price is right, something he has stated for years.

    “I already told [UFC president] Dana White I need seven figures [to move up],” Johnson said. “I need that million-dollar payday.”

    ——————————————————-
    Click on link to read this article in full.
    ——————————————————

    Floyd Mayweather having retired from the boxing and earning in excess of $600 million over the course of his career , he has nothing left to prove as an unbeaten champion. Already assured of his place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame , a fight against Conor McGregor would be seen as nothing more than a publicity stunt. Demetrious Johnson and Conor McGregor would split what could be the highest ever payday between two fighters in UFC history , with both fighters likely to be guaranteed no less than $ 1.5 million apiece .

    UFC news

    UFC rankings (pound for pound)

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