From Good To Mediocre And The Band Played On …

From Good to Mediocre   And The  Band   Played On   …..

I’ve   always   found  it  interesting  to  see how  dumb  the  average  sports’   fan  just happens  to  be  in  America.  They  will  continue to  bitch  and  whine but  when  it comes  to    ineptitude  among  their teams,  rarely  do  they  speak  out  and  demand  more  of the  owners,    executives  ,  coaches  let alone the players.    This    season within the  NFL  we’ve seen how anemic both  the    Cleveland  Browns  (0-14)  and   New   York  Giants   (2-12)  have  been. The Browns  remain  win-less and  they are  in  with  the chance of  joining  the   Detroit Lions whose 2008  season  has   been chronicled  as the worst in the league’s history .

In  the case  of  the  New  York  Giants, the  firing  of  Ben McAdoo  was to  be  expected  , but  what   follows  as  to  who’s    ultimately to  blame   should  be  laid  at a  number  of   doors and  not  just the  former  head  coach  and his staff and the players themselves. The   front office  remained lackadaisical  and   it should be added   veteran quarterback    Eli Manning has   become nothing more than an appendage   concerning   the franchise.  Granted, he will  be   lauded  as   having  led  the  Giants to two historic Superbowl   victories  over  the New  England   Patriots ,  but  other than  that , the  player’s    resume’   remains   threadbare.


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This   weekend  in  the   NFL  with  just  two   games  left  to   round  out  the   regular  season  schedule  ,  both  the  Cleveland  Browns  and   New  York  Giants  will  be in  action  as  both  teams  look  to   avoid being    at   the  bottom  of their  respective   divisions  as well  as    within  their  conference  and  needless  to   say  avoid  being   anointed    the  worst  team  in  the  NFL   during the  2017   season.  The  Cleveland   Browns   will  face   the    Chicago  Bears  in an   intra-conference    match-up  in  week sixteen ,  while   the   New   York  Giants   will  face the  Arizona  Cardinals .    All   four  teams  will  have   something  to  prove   during  these   respective   games.

I am not so sure what Eli Manning has left to offer the New York Giants’ franchise , but it’s clear the misguided fans of this team, clearly believe some type of reverence is owed. Manning and teammate Odell Beckham might be among the best paid players on the roster, but in return they have offered the franchise very little over the course of this season. The offense remains anemic and the defense simply has been nowhere to be seen and I am not about to make excuses and suggest injuries have been the reason behind their poor showing. I have always felt , to make excuses by stating injuries , when every team in the NFL is plagued such issues , but at the same time isn’t that why each team has a fifty-three man roster ?

So while there seems to be some outrage concerning allegations of conduct unbecoming by Carolina Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson . With the owner having been sexually overt , with his behavior concerning female employees within the organization, as well as racist taunts and comments about his own players and those around the NFL. I am beginning to wonder if this wasn’t all known to the NFL hierarchy led by Commissioner Roger Goodell ? It would appear that this has been an ongoing pattern of behavior by Richardson for a number of years and yet it was somehow kept as the NFL’s own little secret. Now with Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones lending his somewhat asinine support of Jerry Richardson , claiming his loss to the league would be a shame , after it was revealed the Panthers owner would be putting the franchise up for sale. Roger Goodell has stated the league would be conducting an in-depth investigation of Richardson’s behavior. At a time when the NFL has been known to be lackadaisical with regard to player misconduct and their misogynistic tendencies and sexual assaults of their partners and spouses. The last thing the league needed , was for an owner to be embroiled in the latest salacious news concerning sexual misconduct . The NFL continues to have an image problem and we needn’t bother to go with the downward spiral of attendance or viewership being caused by player protests. This has been ongoing for some time , but the league simply didn’t want to reveal those facts publicly. Players could be going around murdering innocent victims for no reason and somehow the hierarchy would continue to do whatever it takes to protect its sullen image.

A bigoted racist among the NFL’s owners is not going to change the mindset of the league , much less their actually being a complaint from the players themselves or from the NFLPA (union) . The union would rather protect their players even in spite of proof of their guilt and it’s something Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has never addressed publicly, because just like Roger Goodell, Smith’s concern continues to be about the bottom line and the overall amount of money the NFL continues to make. A shot across the bow of $8 billion a year industry is like a ripple across a pond to this league , given all of its continued troubles . I don’t expect the NFL to clean up its image anytime soon, in spite of the maneuvers by Goodell and his cabal of idiot owners.

Entertainment mogul Sean P Diddy Combs has spoken strongly about his wish to purchase the Carolina Panthers and it appears he already has some support with the backing of Colin Kaepernick as well as NBA star Steph Curry , but from my own standpoint it will take more than the trio to make this all a reality of the NFL actually having an African-American owner within their ranks. At point in the league’s history, there has never been a person of color within the ownership ranks until 2012, when Pakistani-born US citizen Shad Khan purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars . No ” Rooney Rule ” for the league’s owners, but they sure as hell want to make the fans aware it applies to the hiring of coaches and front office executives. If only that were really true , given the fact with Sashi Brown’s firing as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns , the team’s owner Jimmy Haslam surreptitiously hired John Dorsey without their being a whiff that the Browns had followed league protocol. The NFL is an exclusive club, with the makeup of predominantly elderly white middle-aged males owners, where Shad Khan is the lone exception . Don’t expect for that to change anytime soon, because given the antics of Jerry Richardson , I don’t believe he is the only NFL owner within the league such tendencies. Goodell is simply the overseer on this plantation and he remains answerable to the slave owners (NFL owners).

Mediocrity know thy name and within baseball over the past decade and a half the Tampa Bay Rays’ history and reputation has become synonymous with mediocrity. I know that Rays’ faithful will point to the years when Joe Maddon was the manager of the franchise and they achieved some success. Yet an appearance in the World Series where they were completely embarrassed has now gone by the wayside. In what might be the most startling news in the ball-club’s history the decision was made by the front office to trade their long-time star and third baseman Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Denard Span and some minor league prospects. Where this now leaves the Rays and their long-term future is just about anyone’s guess, but I now believe the team’s depressing attendance numbers at Tropicana Field will now take an even greater tumble with the departure of a fan-favorite.

Evan Longoria will add some offense to the San Francisco Giants’ own productivity which was somewhat anemic this past season. A last place finish in the NL West might have been among the most surprising results in all of baseball and in particular for the team. . I expect the Giants to bounce back and make things tough for the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West this upcoming season and quite possibly be a contender for the NLCS Pennant . Where they would go from there would then be a matter of speculation.

Far be it for me to suggest the front office of the Tampa Bay Rays doesn’t appear to have an end-game, it must be extremely worrying to see player after player simply being set adrift, while claims are being made this is ultimately for the better. Baseball within the state of Florida continues to be a struggle during the regular season for not only the Rays, but also for the other in-state team, the Miami Marlins . Rays’ GM Erick Neander will have to offer up a believable explanation as to why Evan Longoria was traded. It is becoming abundantly beyond the lack of competitiveness, the Rays simply cannot afford to compete economically not only with the big-market teams but also with the ball-clubs in the middle and small markets. Tampa will open its regular season with a game against the Boston Red Sox , their home-opener as part of a three-game home stand against their divisional rivals within the AL East.

He won the NLMVP with stunning numbers being put up throughout much of the season , but you simply knew that once new team owner Derek Jeter made it known it was his intent to lower the payroll of the Miami Marlins , it would only be a matter of time before the Marlins’ fans would see the departure of Giancarlo Stanton . The player had made his feelings known, stating that he would want no part of a rebuilding process under the new ownership regime . And it was abundantly clear with the ball-club hemorrhaging money , while not being competitive in 2017 , something drastic had to be done. Stanton now joins the New York Yankees where he will be part of a formidable offensive lineup that might be the best in the AL this upcoming season . The Marlins’ loss will most certainly be the Yankees’ gain and when you bear in mind Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t the only player Derek Jeter decided to dump because of salary issues , it begs the question with Dee Gordon also being moved , what the hell with the Miami Marlins have by way of a lineup from an offensive standpoint as well as defensively ? Marlins’ manager Don Mattlingly is being left with the bare bones of a team and within their farm system , I don’t believe it is going to get any better !

The Miami Marlins will open their regular season, after a Spring Training schedule that will likely see one or two non-roster invitees actually making it unto the team for the start of their regular season schedule. Their opening game will see them facing the Chicago Cubs , with the visiting Cubs likely to start off with a win to open their regular season . I would be pleasantly surprised if the Miami Marlins were able to win more than seventy-two games this upcoming season based upon their team lineup and the coaching acumen of the managerial staff . That wins’ total wouldn’t even guarantee a top-three finish within the NL East much less a postseason berth within the National League.



Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman co-owners of the Miami Marlins are seen here giving their first official interview after their purchase of the ball-club.

Do you believe mediocrity within sports has become the norm ? If not, then what do you believe is the cause for a team’s malaise?

  Tophatal     ……  


NFL  news

Week  sixteen schedule 

  NFL    standings (divisional)    and   conference standings 

NFL Playoff picture projections


 MLB  news    and MLB  transactions 

MLB 2018 important dates scheduled

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World’s highest paid celebrities

 


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Not Here To Be Anyone’s Stepping Stone ….

Not   Here  To  Be  Anyone’s  Stepping   Stone

So here   we  are  in the lead-up to  the  Christmas   schedule  of the      NBA     season  and   all  is  not  necessarily  well  for  a  number  of     teams around  the  NBA.    Reigning  NBA champions  the Golden   State   Warriors  are  the  best  team  in  the  league ,  even  if  their   present  record  doesn’t     reflect  that.   Until  they’re knocked  off their pedestal  then  they will  remain  the  bar  against   who everybody  else will  be  judged.   LeBron James remains  the  league’s best  all-round  player ,  albeit   that  the Cleveland   Cavaliers  are  now   having   some  teething issues  concerning  their  lineup.   Head coach   Tyronn  Lue  has  yet  to    figure   out  his   best   starting   lineup   among  his  team  of  highly  touted  stars. The Cavaliers themselves  have already   faced stern tests against some strong opponents early on in their schedule.


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Up next for the Cleveland Cavaliers will be a game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday 8th December, 2017. I’ve no doubt that the Cavaliers will be around for the NBA Playoffs, but I do believe this team might not be equipped to handle the improvement seen in several of their conference rivals if the Playoffs were to start today. While the Boston Celtics continue to take the league by storm , I am beginning to wonder if this Brad Stevens’ coached team are meant to be the real deal. Kyrie Irving is proving to be a force to be reckoned as he inspire the teammates around him. I do believe he has become a difference maker for the Celtics and I expect Boston to be more than an adequate match for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston’s bench has complemented the lineup and it might be among one of the many reasons they are so good this season. .

Brad Stevens will prepare his team for their next game when the Boston Celtics face the San Antonio Spurs on the road this Friday evening. This should prove to be one of the best games of the night on the schedule. I truly believe Brad Stevens is the best young coach in the NBA and his learning curve has vastly improved since he became the head coach of the Boston Celtics . GM Danny Ainge struck gold with his choice of hiring the former Butler coach.

I was once told that the Los Angeles Clippers were considered a legitimate contender for the NBA title during the tenure of Donald Sterling’s owning the franchise. Considering the Clippers’ playoff appearances were sporadic , I believe those claims were laughable to say the very least. This season the Clippers have struggled and the departure of point guard Chris Paul has left a massive vacuum on the roster . Head coach Doc Rivers and his coaching staff are at a loss to explain the Clippers’ poor record and it has become a talking point around the league. Over their last twelve games the Los Angeles Clippers have not been competitive at all and it paints a poor picture of a franchise now on the decline. There could be some drastic changes being made to the Clippers’ lineup if this team finds itself completely out of the playoff race by the trade deadline . Rivers and key members of the front office will have some decisions to make which would have some long-lasting and serious repercussions for the franchise moving forward. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are carrying this team but it’s clearly not enough given the dire circumstances they now face. .

In their next game the Los Angeles Clippers are due to face the the Washington Wizards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on the 9th December , 2017.

Carmelo Anthony has been a scoring champion in the NBA , two-time Olympic gold medalist , multi-time NBA All Star , but the one thing lacking on his resume’ are is an NBA championship ring. His tenures in Denver with the Denver Nuggets and then the New York Knicks has brought little personal or team success for the seasoned veteran. Having been acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder the player seems to be more of a liability instead of being an asset for the team . Barely over .500 , with Paul George , Russell Westbrook and Anthony as part of the lineup it is almost inexplicable to explain the reasons why the team is failing. If it is not Billy Donovan and his coaching staff at fault , then the responsibility lies with the lackluster performances of the players themselves. Other than Russell Westbrook not one player on the roster is among the league’s top-twenty scorers in the NBA .

If the Oklahoma City Thunder are not in a position to challenge for a playoff berth by April then their chances of actually making an appearance is likely to diminish even more so. For the moment this Billy Donovan coached team will have to take it one step at a time , one day at a time. Up next for the Thunder will be a game against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday evening.

Say what you will, but LaVar Ball is certainly making a name for himself on the national pages of the nation’s papers as well as on the sports’ pages . Ball Sr has been in the midst of a spat with President
Donald Trump
and his playing a part in the release of his son, LiAngelo Ball a player with the UCLA Bruins’ basketball team. LiAngelo and two other teammates were arrested by Chinese authorities , after the trio were caught stealing from three department stores in Beijing , China. The Bruins program was in China as part of a goodwill gesture and to take part in a local tournament. The incident caught everyone off-guard, including the State Department , Athletics Department of UCLA , much to the embarrassment of the President and his entourage. In the aftermath of the players’ release , with the help of the US Embassy in the Chinese capital and officials of the State Department . It has to be said that LaVar Ball has not sought to reprimand his son for his felonious behavior. He has seen fit to be critical of the university , after they made the decision to suspend him indefinitely , but the patriarch has since decided to remove his son from UCLA altogether. LiAngelo Ball’s academic future doesn’t seem all that bright and I seriously doubt that he would be accepted by a Division 1 program or for that matter a D2 program in the NCAA . In all likelihood, any ambitions of being seen as a high draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft will be placed on the back-burner . .

LaVar Ball’s eldest son Lonzo Ball is now making a name for himself in his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers . As things now stand , Lonzo and teammate Kyle Kuzma might be the only bright spots on a team still learning the ropes under their sophomore head coach Luke Walton . Over their last eight games the Los Angeles Lakers are a mediocre 2-6 and the teething pains are there for all to see. . It will be interesting to see how the this team maneuvers their Christmas schedule as this becomes one of the most pivotal times of the NBA regular season. Lonzo Ball and his teammates will next be in action when they face the Charlotte Hornets in a road game this Saturday (9th December).

A great deal is expected of the Houston Rockets this season and James Harden is simply looking to prove that his performances of last year as no fluke . Harden leads the league in scoring at this point of the season and his productivity for the Rockets has been scintillating to say the very least . The addition of point guard Chris Paul to the roster has been added bonus for head coach Mike D’Antoni and the franchise’s new owner , billionaire entrepreneur Tillman Fertitta .

I expect the Houston Rockets to be among the movers and shakers within the Western Conference this season and they are certainly one of the biggest threats to the continued dominance of the Golden State Warriors. These two teams are likely to be among the top contenders for the conference title at the end of this season if last season’s competitiveness was anything to go by. While many believe James Harden was a worthy candidate for League MVP and the fact he lost out to Russell Westbrook by a slim margin was a clear indication as to how good both players were over the course of last season .

James Harden could very well end up being this season’s League MVP if he continues at his current pace , though not yet matching the feats of last season. He’s clearly one of the most dynamic players in the league today , even if his defensive capabilities do come into question. Harden and the Houston Rockets have an upcoming game against the Portland Traiblazers which will be a Western Conference road match-up .

Steph Curry , Kevin Durant and the members of the Golden State Warriors might not be setting a blistering pace at present but if there’s one thing clear with or without either of their two big stars , this team remains among the best in the NBA . I am not about to suggest the two are interchangeable concerning the lineup , but in all honesty, any doubters of the Warriors are not that intelligent. Golden State will not be in action over the weekend, but the Warriors will return to the court on Monday night to face the Portland Trailblazers at home.


 


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At this point of the NBA season, which team has impressed you the most and which do you believe has been the biggest disappointment ?

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NBA   news

  NBA    divisional  standings 

NBA schedule 7th December

This month in NBA history

  Tophatal    ….. 12/07/2017