It’s Our Ball , So Let Us Play ….

It’s Our Ball So Let Us Play

It remains the most popular sport in the world and at the international level , there is no more popular quadrennial event than the World Cup . Last held in 2014 , this year’s event is being held in Russia , where President Vladmir Putin hopes to see the host country raise the Jules Rimet Trophy to signify themselves as world champions. In the opening game of the tournament Russia overpowered their opponent , Saudi Arabia , winning the game in a lopsided fashion , 5-0 . Good enough, to set the host country on their way within their group.


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The top thirty-two teams in the world have gathered together for Soccer’s most prestigious event looking to succeed the current defending champions Germany , who will be looking to make a successful defense of their title. Quite rightly, they remain a firm favorite with an established and world-class team .Germany got off to a really rocky start in the defense of their title with a shocking loss , 1-0 against Mexico in their opening game of their group, Group F . This was one in a line of truly embarrassing results for a number of the favored teams as the opening schedule of games took place.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are considered to be the two best players in the world with each having been named the world’s best player on several occasions . Ronaldo seeks to lead Portugal to the first World Title , while Messi and his Argentinian teammates will be looking to win their third title .

Lionel Messi and his teammates will take to the field on Thursday,21st June to face Croatia . Portugal’s next game in the opening round of group games will see them face Iran . Cristiano Ronaldo has continued to set records at the international level for his country and the player will further seek to establish himself perhaps the best European player in the history of the game.

Well we can’t talk about international soccer without mentioning the name of Brazil and their list of all-time great players. Currently the best player on their roster , is Neymar Jr , perhaps the closest thing they have to matching both Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo on the international soccer stage. Brazil has gotten to a dogged start to this World Cup with a very unimpressive debut game, resulting in a 1-1 tie against Switzerland . With Serbia leading Group E , a group many believed Brazil would have all to themselves , they now have to win their next outing , when they are due to face the group leaders in a game to be played on the 27th June . Failure to win the contest and there is a chance that the Brazilians would face a tough time qualifying from their group.

While the world continues to watch the World Cup unfold, here on the West side of the Atlantic , the biggest story likely to unfold over the next forty-eight hours will be how the NBA Draft unfolds as the top-ten picks of the first round go down. Luka Doncic was thought to be the consensus number one overall pick , but his stock has been dropping faster than the popularity ratings of both Kanye West and Roseanne Barr combined. The knock against the Slovenian player , has been his lack of physicality to his game. It’s something I believe once he’s in the weight room adding on the muscle , his game being what it is , the team who drafts him will get the benefits of what made him a European Player of the Year and a Finals Four MVP in the European Club Championships. Whether or not the front office of the Phoenix Suns will choose to make Doncic that overall number one pick remains to be seen.

If Luka Doncic isn’t the player to be taken at number one , then look for the stocks to rise of players such as Marin Bagley III and DeAndre Ayton . These two players, are thought to be the best of the college declaree’s for this year’s Draft.

Over the past five years , it would appear that Dwight Howard was never going to be able to fulfill the early promise shown at the start of his career . For the second time in the last two years the player finds himself on the move as the Charlotte Hornets traded the veteran center to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Timofey Mozgov and some future picks. Far be it for me to suggest , but the Hornets even with this trade are far from where they need to be. Team owner Michael Jordan and the front office have done little to raise the profile of this franchise , since Jordan took controlling interest , having bought the Hornets from BET founder Robert L Johnson .

The decision to move Dwight Howard might well have a great deal more to do with the fact his relationship with his teammates had soured due to his antics . It was also rumored that Michael Jordan sought to improve the cap space for the team as he sought to lure a marquee free agent to the Hornets.

With the opening round of the NBA Draft set to begin tonight , 21st June and plays out over the next two nights. . It will be interesting to see what transpires , as well as bearing in mind LeBron James has yet to make the world aware of his plans. James is looking to hold the NBA’s franchises hostage and in doing so, it affects how they are likely to proceed.

Soured relationship or not what has taken place this past season between Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs should be a lesson for all teams who have superstars who now want to make demands , purely because they can’t get their way. Leonard’s season was curtailed due to injury with his only playing nine regular season games for the Spurs and being unable to participate in the NBA Playoffs where they would be summarily dismissed in the first round by the eventual NBA champions the Golden State Warriors .

Kawhi Leonard has met with Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich and it’s not known what was discussed between Popovich and the player, but it is believed that as a senior front office executive for the franchise in his capacity in that role , he has pulled the plug on any demands that Leonard might have in wanting to be traded. The disruption to the franchise has not yet met a crescendo level , but there’s no doubt in my mind Kawhi Leonard is pushing to be traded. The Spurs for their part will be concentrating on the Draft, but I also believe if the right offer came along, they might well be willing to part ways with their disgruntled star.

Jeff Luhnow , the front office executive who has systematically brought the Houston Astros back to life was given a healthy contract extension by team owner Jim Crane . Having gone from the verge of bankruptcy to their current situation where they are considered the best team in baseball , with a growing fan-base . It would be safe to say the Astros have finally arrived. The managerial staff of AJ Hinch has set this ball-club for success, for a long time come , especially with the core of this roster signed to very good contracts.

The Houston Astros have simply carried on from where they left off during the MLB postseason having won the World Series with a great deal of ease, with their lopsided triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers . Having started out of the gate really fast in 2018, the Astros now have a commanding lead within the AL West and could have the division sewn up by late August if things carry on as they are. Houston will be in action on Friday when they take on the Kansas City Royals in a home game being played at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas,. This will be the first in a three-game home set of a weekend series against the Royals, where I fully expect the Astros to prevail against their AL rivals .

Having become the first team in the Majors this season with fifty wins to their name the Houston Astros are showing why in many respects the AL might be considered a better quality league than that of their NL rivals . That being said , it should not be considered a major knock against those teams.

Highest paid player in the game, by way of his contract and now the naysayers are sitting up and taking note as to what Giancarlo Stanton means to the New York Yankees and the team in general . It’s at times like this , I just wish the idiots would just shut hell up and simply learn something about the game of baseball ! Stanton might not be the best player in the game but he’s certainly in the argument to be considered a top-ten player that’s for sure. Giancarlo Stanton is proving to be a leader both on and off the field and his productivity this season is proof of that fact. Is he ready to assume the mantle of the team captain ? Well that’s an honor not often bestowed upon a Yankees’ player , with the last such person to be given the honor , being Derek Jeter . It has been almost five years since Jeter was last seen in the Yankees’ pinstripes.

Right now it has been the New York Yankees’ offense which has held away for the team as they battle the Boston Red Sox within the AL East . Giancarlo Stanton , Aaron Judge , Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius are the primary reasons why the Yankees are firing on all cylinders . That’s not to say the pitching staff haven’t played a part in the team’s success as it would be remiss to do so. The team’s best pitcher this season to date has been Luis Severino (11-2, 2.24 ERA) and he’s due back on the mound for the Yankees when they face the Philadelphia Phillies on the road on the 26th June. However , before that game takes place the New York Yankees will
begin a weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida. New York’s CC Sabathia will be the starting pitcher on the mound as he faces Ryne Stanek of the Rays in the first of the three encounters beginning on Friday ,22nd June ,2018. I fully expect the Yankees to dominate this series , as they encounter a Rays’ team which remains very inconsistent .

As this month winds down within the world of sports, what are you own expectations of the coming months ? Also, which story within the past few days has been the one which has captured your attention the most ?


Tophatal ……..


FIFA World Cup news & 2018 World Cup teams

FIFA World Cup matches & results

FIFA World Cup Group Standings

FIFA World Cup statistics (players and teams)

NBA news

2018 NBA Draft and Draft Board

NBA transactions


MLB news

MLB schedule three days at a glance

MLB standings

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I’m Calling It A Wip-eout !!!!

I’m Calling It A Wipe-out !!!!

Well the NBA Finals have come to an abrupt end, with the Cleveland Cavaliers being blown out in the Finals by the Golden State Warriors , completing a sweep with a degree of clinical precision not seen in a very long time . Kevin Durant adds to his impressive resume’ as he was named Finals’ MVP for the second consecutive season . His being given this accolade places Durant as one of only two players to have won multiple scoring titles as well as the Finals’ MVP . For the Cavaliers as the losing finalists , the fact that each loss in the four games played was by double-digits or less , emphasizes why there is such a large chasm between the quality of the teams in the Eastern Conference of the NBA and their counterparts in the West.


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Adding more embarrassment to Cleveland’s debacle in the Finals remains the uncertainty concerning the future of LeBron James . The player can choose to opt-out of the final year of his contract and seek to become an unrestricted free agent , leaving to join a legitimate contender within the league. Based on all of the criteria seen, there are at least five or six teams that might be a destination for the superstar.

LeBron James should he choose to leave Cleveland for the second time in his esteemed thirteen-year career, it would once again lead to a great deal of frustration and anger among the franchise’s fans. Bear in mind however, this team in its original guise at the start of the season , was the one which James himself had a great deal of input in assembling . Just before the All Star Break , Cleveland Cavaliers’ GM Koby Altman brought in players he felt would complement the skill-set of LeBron James and Kevin Love . For Love as the second-best player on the Cavaliers’ roster, his productivity during the NBA Finals, could be best described as sparse, while the rest of the players were simply along for the ride. LeBron James has now been on five losing teams in the NBA Finals and he now has on his resume , a second series’ sweep with the first coming when the Cavaliers were summarily annihilated by the San Antonio Spurs during the 2007 NBA Finals , where Tim Duncan led the Spurs to what was an expected series’ victory, but not which was so lopsided.

After-all LeBron James was seen as the face of the NBA and the ” anointed best player on the planet “ . King James as he has often referred to himself , an anointing which many of his supporters and NBA analysts are in complete agreement with.

Whatever the future now holds for LeBron James , be it his remaining in Cleveland or his offering his services to the highest bidder, I would like to see the player come to a quick decision , rather than it being a long drawn out drama , something akin to a very bad soap opera episode.

I’m an avid boxing and Mixed Martial Arts’ fan and over this past weekend both sports showcased events which were meant to lure the fans back to the respective sports, which had been experiencing something of a lull. The UFC showcased their main event , UFC 225 , where the main card , had the top-two contenders within the Men’s Middleweight Division fight for the title , with the winner getting the chance further enhance his resume’. Robert Whittaker of Australia faced Yoel Romero of Cuba, in what could be best described as a war of attrition rather than a about that had a great deal of athleticism or tactical display about it. The fact that Whittaker won on a split decision , should tell you all you need to know about the bout and the fact that it failed to live up to expectation . Far be it for me to suggest, but the UFC is in a sad state of affairs at present in spite of being under new ownership and having a multi-year , multi-billion television contract with Fox Sports (FS1) . . If the ratings continue to decline for a number of their big events , other than premiering big-time PPV match-ups, that whets the appetites of the fans , then UFC President Dana White will continue to have a hard time justifying his comments that the UFC is the premier brand in the world when it comes to MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) .

He has made his return to the professional boxing ring after BBBC (British Boxing Board of Control) mandated suspension for failing a drug test. Former Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury was back in the ring to face Sefer Seferi  of Albania, in what was meant to be a tune-up fight for the former champion, as he seeks to legitimize his position in the Heavyweight rankings. Fury has always been known to talk the talk , but rarely has been able to walk the walk. Other than his victory over a fast declining Wladimir Klitschko , there’s nothing on the British fighter’s resume’ to suggest that he has the potential to reclaim the world title. The two best fighters within the division, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua are on a collision course for multi-million dollar unification bout to settle once and for all who is the best heavyweight fighter on the planet .

Tyson Fury has always questioned the claims that he took a banned substance , but has failed to explain, how after two random test samples the , the test still came up positive for a banned substance. He should consider himself lucky that his suspension was not for a great deal longer than the two years he spent away from the ring. As for his performance against Sefer Seferi, well let’s just say , lethargic and ring-rusty would be apt ways to describe his victory over his Albanian opponent. Fury doesn’t have the prowess to take on either   Anthony Joshua    or Deontay Wilder , let alone beat either of the claimants to their versions of the World Heavyweight title .

Australian Jeff Horn after his somewhat dubious victory over boxing legend Manny Pacquiao , had sought to legitimize himself as one of the best welterweight boxers in the world. His majority decision verdict over the Filipino legend , quickly made Horn a national hero in Australia. In order to further validate that victory , the Australian took on Terence “Bud” Crawford , as Horn defended his WBO Welterweight Title against the hard-hitting American challenger on Saturday night. . Crawford barely broke sweat as the took the title from the Australian champion with a stoppage in the ninth round. Let’s just say Jeff Horn was way out of his class and league , in spite of that victory over Manny Pacquiao .

So as the President, Donald Trump continues to regale us with his insight with the ongoing issues within the world , he recently spoke of his wish to sit down with the players of the NFL to speak with them on the issues of their grievances concerning social injustice. Trump was still basking in the limelight after pardoning Alice Johnson who was serving a life sentence with regard to drug trafficking and money-laundering . Johnson was granted a pardon , after reality show star Kim Kardashian prevailed upon the President to take a look at Johnson’s case.

Alice Johnson freely admits that she knew the risks , but she sought to earn quick money , because of her plight at the time. I guess when your home is being used as a drug cash and stash-house, as well as being a distribution center for a violent drug gang , then any excuse can be allowed for your actions ? The President we know has been extremely critical of the NFL players whom he says are being unpatriotic by refusing to stand for the national anthem. Stating repeatedly, in failing to do so , it dishonors the men and women have fought in wars to protect the rights of citizens in America and freedom across the world. This President fails to understand the real reason why the players are taking this stance and has never addressed the real underlying issues. One of the latest signs of not only complete stupidity on the part of the President but also lack of common sense , was the statement made , where he suggested it was time to grant Muhammad Ali , a full pardon for his crimes. Now bear in mind Ali’s case was overturned in the US Supreme Court on appeal , meaning there were no longer any charges for him to face.

Call me naïve or just plain stupid, but what fucking planet is Donald Trump now living on and does he ever take any advice proffered up to him by the Solicitor General , much less the Inspector General within the US Justice Department or from anyone within his administration ? Or will continue to take advice from his daughter, Ivanka Trump , his two clueless sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr , as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner (husband of Ivanka Trump) .

The day, Donald Trump actually shows signs of interest let alone knowledge of a social issue , rather than chomping off at the bit like a rabid dog in search of a victim . It will be the day that he can be taken seriously for the role for which he was elected into office for.

Rafael Nadal added further to his astonishing tennis career , claiming his eleventh French Open title at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris , France this past Sunday . Nadal’s victory over Dominic Thiem was clinical and surgical in its precision and gave the Spaniard his seventeenth Grand Slam title , three behind by the all-time leader Roger Federer , whose current tally stands at twenty Grand Slam singles’ titles .

Next up for Rafael Nadal by way of the next Grand Slam Tournament will be Wimbledon at the All England Club , where Nadal will be looking to add a third Singles’ title having won previously in 2008 and 2010 . Nadal , Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are the only men currently active on ATP Men’s Tennis Tour to have to have won all four legs of the Grand Slam ( Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open) . With his French Open victory Rafael Nadal holds unto the number one ranking in the world, closely followed by Roger Federer.

So here we go again, fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers are complaining , because their high-priced roster of stars are falling by way the wayside due to injuries . Dodgers’ team manager Dave Roberts seems to have his work cut out again for himself this season as the team struggles to get back on track , being competitive within the NL West and NL in particular. At one game above .500, this is not where the Dodgers expected themselves to be at this point of the season , but even with a record of 7-3 over their last ten games game , you have to be feel that this team is far more capable of producing , than what we’ve seen to date.

In their recent weekend schedule the Los Angeles Dodgers came away with a 2-1 series’ victory over the Atlanta Braves . The two teams are next scheduled to meet on the 26th July when the Dodgers will face the Braves on the road Sun Trust Ballpark in at Atlanta , Georgia as part of their regular season series’ meetings in 2018. However, with the rest of their June schedule not yet in full swing, the next game on the itinerary for the Los Angeles Dodgers will be the team squaring off against the Texas Rangers at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, 12th June , with Bartolo Colon of the Rangers facing a yet to be named opposing pitcher for the contest.

With that type of payroll , it’s about time the Los Angeles Dodgers put up or simply shut and just stop with their continued whining about injuries and all of the other things you’d come to expect of their oh so anxious and at times obnoxious fans.



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