In The Pursuit of Happiness

In The Pursuit of Happiness

With the second round of the NBA Playoffs almost in full swing , now would be the time to start assuaging the chances of the teams now left at this stage of the Playoffs. Clearly , last season’s finalists are seen as the presumptive favorites to make a return to this season’s NBA Finals , where many are hoping to see either Cleveland Cavaliers make a successful defense of their title or the Golden State Warriors rebound to reclaim the title they won in 2015. From my own standpoint, while many believe the NBA is need of a dynasty as well as a rivalry to create more excitement within this league. I firmly believe what the NBA is lacking , are truly talented players .

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While no one can deny the astonishing season had by Russell Westbrook , who averaged a triple-double throughout the regular season, the point guard failed to ignite the postseason for the Oklahoma City Thunder , as the team failed miserably in their series against the Houston Rockets . The Thunder’s failings came from the lack of coaching acumen shown by head coach Billy Donovan and his coaching staff . During this off-season I expect there are likely to be several changes made to the team’s roster beyond their own draft selections in the upcoming NBA Draft (2017) .

It would be in everyone’s interests not to make too much of the San Antonio Spurs’ blowout loss to the Houston Rockets in the opening game of their Western Conference Semi-Final Series. The Spurs are far too experienced a team to simply lay down , without putting up much of a fight. Head coach Gregg Popovich is a Master in his role and I would expect him to make the necessary adjustments to negate the strengths of the Rockets in preparation for game-two.

If you’re looking for a definite outsider within the Eastern Conference who could possibly upset the apple-cart, then your best bet could very well be the Boston Celtics who surprised everyone by being the number-one seeds in the conference this postseason. Having dispatched the Chicago Bulls in their opening series with summary ease , the Celtics now find themselves facing the Washington Wizards in their conference semi-finals’ series. Already up 2-0 in the series , a game-three victory would pretty much place the Celtics on the path to their first conference title appearance in eight years . Teammates Al Horford and Isiah Thomas might be the primary reasons why the Celtics now find themselves on their way a possible conference finals’ appearance . During the regular as well as the postseason the two have combined to lead the team to the victories seen on-court.

Trouble in paradise ? Well , in the City of Angels , known to us all as Los Angeles , both of the NBA franchises residing in the city , the Los Angles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers , have seen their fair share of mediocrity during the regular and postseason . In the case of the Los Angles Lakers, it was another sub-par effort from a team completely devoid of leadership and play-making ability . It just seems unfortunate Luke Walton inherited a group of players who have no ambition or pride and in the case of veteran leadership, Metta World Peace has offered little to the Lakers throughout the season. Away from the basketball court, familial tensions reared its ugly head, as siblings , Jeanie Buss , Johnny Buss and Jim Buss squabbled over control of the Lakers. Magic Johnson , was brought in to become Head of Basketball Operations , while Mitch Kupchak was ousted to be replaced by Rob Pelinka as the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers. I guess during this off-season , the Lakers as well as their fans, can hope Magic will be able to talk a high-profiled free agent into signing with the franchise , which in many respects looks more like a lunatic asylum , rather than a professional sports’ franchise.

Billionaire tech entrepreneur Steve Ballmer purchased the Los Angeles Clippers for $2.2 billion and since acquiring the franchise , they have failed abysmally during recent NBA Playoff appearances. Failing to get beyond the conference quarter finals and it’s easy to understand how overrated the Clippers are. I think it somewhat asinine , reading comments from clueless NBA fans, who have pretensions of insight concerning this franchise, at times describing the Los Angeles Clippers as one of the few NBA successes of the past six seasons. A highly paid roster of players and clearly with Chris Paul not getting a great deal of help from either Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan , it is easy to understand why the Clippers remain so abysmal.

The significance of the Los Angeles Clippers’ first-round series loss to the Utah Jazz has not been lost to a number of fans. If Gordon Hayward can almost single-handedly outplay the Clippers’ , leading the Jazz to their 4-3 series’ first-round upset . Hayward and his teammates now have the unenviable task of facing the Golden State Warriors in their conference semi-final series.

Steve Ballmer as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is bound to be displeased with the lackluster effort of his team, but I dare say, he is likely to be peeved with the lack of coaching acumen shown by head coach Doc Rivers and the entire Clippers’ coaching staff . From my own perspective , I believe it is time for Rivers to relinquish his dual role within the organization , as Head of Basketball Operations and just remain in charge of the playing staff as the Head Coach . Rivers is placing even greater pressure on himself and for the moment , while Steve Ballmer remains loyal to his head coach , I can’t help but get the feeling , another season playing second-fiddle to the Golden State Warriors as the second-best franchise based in the state of California will not sit well with the larger than life owner.

MLB prides itself on being the first professional team sport in North America to integrate its players. Jackie Robinson is stated as being the first African-American player to play in a Major League ball-game , but in reality , Robinson was not the first. He was merely the first to play for a professional team in the twentieth century. Jackie Robinson was a the subject of such racial abuse through much of his career , albeit , that we’re told it only related to the his initial years with the Brooklyn Dodgers .

Seven decades after Robinson’s debut, it would appear racism remains alive and well within the game of baseball. We should be reminded , on the night Hank Aaron broke the career home run record held by Babe Ruth , he came under a torrent of non-stop racial abuse , threats of violence aimed at himself as well as his family. Now in , 2017, those taunts are now being aimed at players of African-American ethnicity , though it’s not being widely reported, simply because MLB’s hierarchy would rather keep this all under wraps.

In a recent game between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox , the Orioles’ Adam Jones was subject to a torrent of racial and verbal abuse . Now consider, the fact this game was being played at Fenway Park , in Boston, Massachusetts , and with the Red Sox itself , having several players of ethnic minority on the roster . It does seem somewhat repugnant that Red Sox fans would seek to act in such a way with such repugnant and repulsive behavior. Then again, it should be seen as a sign of the times , when the President of the country , Donald Trump can show his utter disregard for not only women but also minorities in general , with his own outlandish behavior and he is simply given a pass by the public and the media , specifically the right-wing cabal of Conservative leading members of the press. So why would we expect any different from a bunch of inherently racist and insensitive group of Red Sox fans ? If the league hierarchy has failed to even question the behavior of the fans in this incident and when there has been no formal comment from the front office of the Boston Red Sox. I can only surmise they either condone the actions of the fans in question or they are simply apathetic and oblivious to what went on.

If you believe this incident concerning Adam Jones is an isolated situation , you should think again as it has become more common place within the game of baseball . There has been a rise in this type of behavior , though it is not widely reported in the media or through any research done by Major League Baseball , because where its leadership remains middle-aged and predominantly overseen by Caucasians , the last thing you would expect , would be for the league hierarchy to admit there is not a tinge of racism within baseball . There has been a rise in this type of behavior , though it is not widely reported in the media or through any research done by Major League Baseball , because where its leadership remains middle-aged and predominantly overseen by Caucasians , the last thing you would expect , would be for the league hierarchy to admit there is not a tinge of racism within baseball. It is common-place but just as in this game on Monday , MLB’s own coverage of the contest failed to indicate what occurred and the racial epithets directed at Adam Jones. Once again indicating, White America loves to paint this pageantry of all inclusiveness, when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth, because they would rather run with the apathy and the nonchalant belief all is right with the world.

Courtesy of Newsday

CC Sabathia backs up Adam Jones’ experience with slurs at Fenway

By Roger Rubin , Special for Newsday

HIGHLIGHTS

‘When you go to Boston, expect it,’ Sabathia says
Red Sox apologize for fans’ racial taunts toward Orioles outfielder

While Major League Baseball and the Red Sox organization reacted with revulsion and condemnation that Baltimore’s Adam Jones was taunted with racial slurs and pelted with a bag of peanuts during Monday night’s game at Boston’s Fenway Park, CC Sabathia had a different take.

“It’s happened to me — not surprising,” the Yankees left-hander said. “It’s bad. You get called names — the N-word, all kind of stuff — when you go to Boston . . . I’m glad that he spoke up. It’s disgusting.”
“I heard something that caught my attention and I’m like ‘I hope I really didn’t just hear what I thought I heard,’ ” Jones recounted in an MLB Network interview. “I’ve played against the Red Sox for 10 years and I understand booing the opponent . . . but not the racial stuff. It [expletive] that it’s still going on in 2017.”

Asked if he’d heard similar accounts from other African-American players, Sabathia replied “there’s 62 of us and we all know: when you go to Boston, expect it . . . I’ve never had it anywhere else except there . . . even shagging in the outfield before the game, sometimes you get it.”

“It’s nothing new to any of us,” Braves outfielder Matt Kemp said. “He let it be known that’s what we go through. I mean, it’s pretty much normal, especially in some of these different cities. I’m not going to name all the cities, but there’s some pretty tough cities where people say some pretty ruthless things. There’s . . . nobody holding anybody accountable for some of the things these fans do.”


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Erwin Santana (5-0, 0.66 ERA) and Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.21 ERA) are the two best pitchers in baseball at this point of the season. with both starting pitchers unbeaten in their respective starts for the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros . Unfortunately , this is not reflected in the records of either team and where they stand within their respective divisions . The Twins sit in second place within the AL Central , but that division is likely to become even more competitive and congested as the season progresses. Given the fact the Minnesota Twins have struggled to make the postseason in recent years. I do not expect the team in its current guise to be considered a serious challenger for the AL Pennant , much less the World Series . In the case of the Houston Astros , they appear to be as good as advertised , but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were to falter by the latter part of June. With both the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins in action today , 3rd May , it will be interesting to see how the teams fare in their respective games. The Twins will play host to the Oakland A’s , while the Astros have the Texas Rangers coming to Minute Maid Field for a game in Houston, Texas.

There are several milestones likely to be met this season in baseball and for all of the idiocy in print over the length of a home-run being hit. I would like the think the productivity being seen in such cases leads to the outcome of the player producing , is doing so for a team with a winning record or at least competitive within their division . Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees is now making a name for himself this season as he leads the team in home runs as well as several other team categories on offense . Let’s just say in spite of the Yankees’ deficiencies elsewhere, it’s good to know they now have someone on the roster capable of producing when it matters. Needless to say, Judge and his teammates still have a long way to go in convincing anyone they are capable of winning the AL East , much less have the aspirations of bringing the franchise another World Series title . The Yankees were in action on Wednesday evening when they faced the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx , New York. An 8-6 victory over the Blue Jays inched the Yankees closer to becoming the first team to twenty wins on the season in baseball for 2017 .

Major League Baseball works professionally within the state of Florida because , with an elderly population, the game does seem to have a lot to offer the fans during the exhibition schedule (Spring Training) . During the regular season , there are sparse crowds in attendance for the home games of the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays . In spite of the statistics provided by the league, it is obvious to even the most knowledgeable of fans, both of the Florida based teams cannot fill their respective stadiums to capacity for a home game. Marlins Ballpark and Tropicana Field have become something of a joke to those in the know. Economic impact for the cities of Miami and Tampa may well be minimal and the combined valuation as well as revenue provided by both ball-clubs pales into insignificance when measured against teams in a similar market size or bigger. From my own perspective , I believe a great deal of the blame for the lack of success with both the Marlins and Rays stems from a lack of real ambition from the respective ownership groups . Granted , pending the league’s approval , the Miami Marlins will become subject to a new ownership group led by Jeb Bush , a former governor of the state, whose partnering with Derek Jeter could see a raise in the profile of the still impoverished Marlins. Meanwhile , Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg continues to act like a petulant child whose pacifier has been taken away from him.

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Picture gallery and by clicking on image you can view that picture in a reformatted size along with a narrative .

I would like to think in the coming months both the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays are able to compete , while the MLB season itself is something the fans can truly revel in. Yet , for all sense and purpose we all know that is not likely to be the case.
As to the incident s which took place during the game between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox, I think it speaks volumes to the never-ending social issue this country has failed to address since its inception and that is the issue of race. It is a telling sign when the President , Donald Trump > can simply make racial bigotry a focal point of his electoral campaign and the apathy of the public is there for all to see. I don’t believe we can expect anything more from a country or its political leaders , when they are simply not willing to show any form of decency or respect of others. The continued banality seen , is something which will remain ever-present and I don’t expect it to change anytime soon !

The NBA Playoffs will continue to be a wild ride , with teams looking to achieve success and for the fans , it will provide some form of happiness or joy as the case maybe.

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Tophatal ……………………… 3rd May 2017

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142 thoughts on “In The Pursuit of Happiness

  1. If the time was right for the San Francisco Giants to make a real push within the NL West then now would be it. Team manager Bruce Bochy and managerial staff have seen a definite tail-off in the team’s performances in recent weeks and months. The core of Giants’ play will be and remain its pitching. Tim Lincecum many no longer be in San Francisco , but with Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain still part of their pitching rotation the Giants remain in good hands . In terms of the offense their needs to be even more consistency all-round .

    Having won three World Series in the space of six years Bruce Bochy has assured himself a place in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York . With the month of June about to come to a close the San Francisco Giants need to end the month on a winning streak . The San Francisco Giants’ next game will see them on the road when they face the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of a three-game series , part of their regular season schedule of meetings .

    Buster Posey has now become integral to the San Francisco Giants’ success and the catcher is seen as the face of the franchise and its long-term future . Posey for his part is having a good season but it might not be considered great by his own standards. Selected in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants , Buster Posey’s career has flourished with the franchise and being part of the franchise’s recent postseason success. Brian Sabean the general manager of the Giants will undoubtedly be on the lookout to make whatever changes he feels necessary to offer Bruce Bochy’s team a fighting chance of making the postseason.

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  2. The season of the New York Mets is continuing to spiral downwards and is getting completely out of hand. Manager Terry Collins has seen injuries plague his team with the latest player to fall being their pitcher Robert Gsellman who is likely to be out for at least a ten to fifteen days . With Matt Harvey , Noah Syndergaard and Josh Smoker also on the team’s DL, Collins can only seek to address those issues by looking at his depth chart and calling up pitchers from the Mets’ farm system at AAA.

    Courtesy of the New York Daily News

    As injuries pile up, Mets would be wise to heed Ron Darling’s advice

    By Kristie Ackert

    MIAMI — Ron Darling just said what every Mets fan has been screaming at their television set for years. And the SNY broadcaster only verbalized what most former players, coaches and managers have been saying quietly for years. Darling criticized the changes in the way baseball players are being trained and conditioned, which he feels are leading to the rash of injuries.

    But nobody in New York was listening to anything beyond the sting of being criticized.

    “I honestly don’t know what to think because I’ve never seen anything like it — ever,” said Darling — who pitched for the Mets from 1983-91 — on Tuesday night after Robert Gsellman came up lame running to first base. “It’s a joke to watch this each and every night. There has to be a different way to train these athletes!”

    On Wednesday, however, assistant general manager John Ricco gave a vote of confidence to the Mets’ strength and conditioning staff.

    Mets broadcaster Ron Darling rips trainers after another injury

    “I know on a night like last night, where it feels like it’s another in an endless series of injuries, you can get frustrated and that’s human nature,” Ricco said. “I think in our positions, we have to take more of a logical approach to it. See trends, try to address them. The bottom line we have a lot of confidence on the guys we have on the medical side. We know as a team, they’re as good a group as there is.”

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    Currently the New York Mets will be looking to take the current series (2-1) against the Miami Marlins when they face their divisional foe in game three of this home series . To round out the month and entering July , the Mets will then face the Philadelphia Phillies . The Mets’ offense has been nowhere near as potent some might have expected with only Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes really showing any productivity .

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  3. With the weekend schedule of baseball now close to reaching a climax with today’s games on tap . It will be interesting to see which teams and players rise to the occasion . Clearly , with the 2017 MLB All Star Game just over a week away , teams will want to position themselves and make ready for the second-half of the regular season schedule .

    I will be looking to see if the Los Angeles Dodgers can increase their lead within the NL West , win the division and avoid being a wildcard round entrant in the postseason . Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts will have his team ready to play when they face the San Diego Padres in a divisional road game .

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  4. John Farrell manager of the Boston Red Sox has seen the team play with a great deal of resolve over the past month . Having played themselves into contention and they have a healthy lead within the AL East over their closest rivals the New York York Yankees . On Sunday evening the Red Sox played the Toronto Blue Jays in a game at the Rogers Centre . The Red Sox’s Drew Pomeranz was the winning pitcher , but the hero in the game was Mookie Betts who had career highs with his single-game performance. Monday the Boston Red Sox will be back on the field when they face the Texas Rangers .

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  5. Games which took place on the 4th July as baseball nears the All Star Game being held at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida ,. With the rosters all but set , next Tuesday’s game should prove to be very interesting . At this stage last season the teams were playing with a purpose . The Houston Astros still remain the best team in baseball by way of their record . The Astros will be back in action on Monday afternoon when they face the Atlanta Braves at Suntrust Park in Atlanta , Georgia .

    I believe if the Houston Astros can continue at their present pace , a win of the AL West would put them firmly among the favorites within the AL for both the LCS Pennant and World Series . Houston’s biggest rivals might well be the New York Yankees . These two teams have met and their regular season meetings have been thrilling match-ups this season .

    New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi has seen some great play from the team , in particular from Aaron Judge , while the pitching has been somewhat sporadic and inconsistent. The Yankees will be looking to lessen the lead within the AL East of the Boston Red Sox as they face the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium .

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