Make Up To Break Up ….

Make Up To Break Up …

So to round out week seven of the NFL regular season the New England Patriots faced their AFC East divisional rivals the New York Jets. It was a master-class as these two teams were divergent with regard to their aspirations for the season.

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Adam Gase the current Jets’ Head Coach is a former assistant with Bill Belichcik , Head Coach of the Patriots for the last twenty-three years during which he’s coached the franchise to eight
Superbowl
appearances, winning on six occasions with the Patriots . Tom Brady , the quarterback for New England during each of those triumphs, continues to be as consistent as ever. Last night’s performance by the player was once again a work of art , where he clearly outplayed his Jets’ counterpart Sam Darnold , a first-round pick among the quarterbacks from the 2018 NFL Draft . This game was a complete rout with the Patriots’ defense coming away with several interceptions and the sacking of Darnold on multiple occasions. Patriots’ defensive player Devin McCourty , a seasoned veteran might well be having his best year ever as a player with New England . With the result being a 33-0 beating of the New York Jets and New England now moving to 7-0 . The question now being asked is there a team within the AFC capable of beating the New England Patriots at this juncture ?

With the New England Patriots now having acquired Mohammed Sanu from the Atlanta Falcons for a future second-round draft pick , this bolsters the receiving corps of the Patriots and provides them with additional depth on their roster . In week eight , the half-way mark of the regular season the New England Patriots are set to meet the Cleveland Browns in a conference road game .

Say what you will , but injuries have begun to plague the teams around the NFL , causing dire situations for many of them. The Carolina Panthers remain without Cam Newton , albeit , that his back-up , Kyle Allen has shown a great deal of maturity, as the Panthers continue to surprise many in the absence of Newton being on the field. Kyle Allen has proven to be an exceptional understudy , while leading the Panthers to a very good start to their season in 2019. Up next for Allen and the Carolina Panthers will be a game against the unbeaten San Francisco 49ers in an NFC conference match-up . If will be interesting to see how both of these opposing quarterbacks will fare in this contest.

Tuesday, 22nd October and it is the Opening Night for the NBA regular season schedule. Defending NBA champions , the Toronto Raptors will begin defense of their title , which they won convincingly, defeating the Golden State Warriors last season. Toronto will tip-off against the New Orleans Pelicans , who will be without their rookie sensation Zion Williamson . The former Duke star will be sidelined for the next six to eight weeks as he recuperates from surgery, having torn his meniscus. In his absence, it is expected that Lonzo Ball will be expected to lead this team alongside veteran player JJ Redick . Though they’re not expected to be in contention within their division , it will be interested to see how the Pelicans will fare through their regular season schedule and especially within their conference . . Williamson’s first game back, if everything goes to schedule , his first professional season game will see the player and his teammates face the Detroit Pistons on the 9th December .

Anthony Davis has found a new home having left the New Orleans Pelicans to join LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers . The trade which brought Davis to the franchise , saw Lonzo Ball and players superfluous to the Lakers’ needs head East to the Pelicans. Davis was seen as one of the marquee players moved during the off-season , and the one who’s expected to have the greatest impact of all. Yet to mind , that will not be the case , as I expect both Kawhi Leonard with having joined the Los Angeles Clippers and Russell Westbrook , whose departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder to play alongside James Harden of the Houston Rockets , could very well prove to be major factors, as to who poses the biggest threat within the Western Conference and in all likelihood be seen as the prohibitive favorites for the NBA title this season.

The Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers will meet on Opening Night and their regular season series over the course of this season should prove to be very interesting if last season is anything to go by.

There is no denying in my mind , that the New York Knicks are likely to be once again among the worst teams in the league this upcoming season. Team owner James L Dolan and the entire front office remain completely bereft of intelligence in terms of knowing what it takes in building a successful NBA franchise. David Fizdale , Head Coach enters another season with a roster , that will be hard pressed to succeed within the Eastern Conference this season. The opening month will see the Knicks play five games against varied opponents . Fizdale and the team open up their schedule with a match-up against the San Antonio Spurs and it will be a marked surprise by way of the expected match-ups. It will be interesting to see which player steps up to the plate for the Knicks this season, whereas last season it was Tim Hardaway Jr , who this season will be with the Dallas Mavericks .

Jose Altuve once again proved why he’s been so invaluable to the Houston Astros , as his postseason heroics continued apace for the ball-club. Altuve sealed the Astros’ postseason performance in the ALCS against the New York Yankees , guiding the team to their second World Series’ appearance since 2017 .

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Carlos Correa , left is seen here with his Houston Astros’ teammate Jose Altuve .

Tonight , Tuesday, 22nd October will be the opening game of the World Series with the Houston Astros playing in front of their home crowd at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas as they face the Washington Nationals . Opposing pitchers for this game will be Max Scherzer of the Nationals facing Gerrit Cole of the Astros . Cole for his part will be a highly desired free agent , this off-season with his being viewed as the marquee player among the crop of free agent starting pitchers.

Gerrit Cole is a native of California and with the Los Angeles Angels , having acquired Joe Maddon as their manager. It is widely believed that GM Billy Eppler and owner Arte Moreno will seek to acquire the player and likely make him the highest paid starting pitcher in baseball , by way of base salary.

This series between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals could very well be the most anticipated Fall Classic in recent history, with two teams, with pitching staffs considered to be among the best in baseball .

The world of sports has it’s many issues and the stories as they unfold will make for an interesting spectacle for the consumers and fans alike.

Tophatal ………

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NFL news …

NFL standings (division)

NFL schedule week eight

NFL schedule (full season)

NFL transactions

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Week 1 NBA regular season schedule

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MLB news

2019 MLB Postseason

MLB World Series’ schedule (first three games)

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And We’re Back With and Into the Silly Season

  And We’re Back With and Into the Silly Season ….

It’s that time of the year again where the world of sports comes into something of a lull. The NBA has seen their NBA Playoffs and postseason come to an end and a new champion has been crowned with the Toronto Raptors (4-2) having overcome the Golden State Warriors (2-4) to win their very first NBA title. Raptors’ player Kawhi Leonard won his second title of his career and along with it his second Finals’ MVP Award . Now if the rumors are to be believed , Leonard will decline the player option of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent , which is likely to trigger a plethora of teams likely to be interested in his services . Kawhi Leonard will likely join players such as Kyrie Irving , Al Horford and several others on the NBA free agents’ market. At this point last season , the list of players who had declined their player option was quite staggering also .

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The common belief also is that the Los Angeles Lakers having made a big splash with their acquisition of Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Lonzo Ball , Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram . How this trade will play out and impact the Lakers and their other needs remains to be seen , as their cap base is not what GM Rob Pelinka might deem fit at this present moment in time. The fans of the Lakers may well feel the acquisition of Davis now makes them a legitimate contender , but in reality they still remain no better than the fifth best team in the Western Conference and hardly likely to challenge their top-tier contenders within their division much less the conference .

The NBA Draft itself proved to be an eventful one with several teams looking to fulfill their needs from among the crop of prospects who’d declared themselves eligible for the Draft. Zion Williamson was taken was the number one overall pick by the New Orleans Pelicans and it remains to be seen how this revamped roster will seek to make itself competitive for the upcoming NBA season. The Los Angeles Lakers for their part sought to fill the holes where needed on the roster, but as alluded to before , this is a franchise which I believe is still a long way off from where they need to be and I certainly don’t believe that their new Head Coach Frank Vogel and his staff will be bringing anything new to the table. Vogel’s career with the Indiana Pacers can be best described as being moderately successful . Moderately successful will not cut it for the Lakers’ fans who are long-starved of success , considering their last NBA triumph of the franchise winning an NBA title took place more than a decade ago. Since then the pickings for the Lakers have been mundane.

Having been dethroned as two-time NBA champions , it could be said that the off-season for the Golden State Warriors could be a troubling one , with several players becoming free agents and their being the likelihood at least one or two stars from the roster leaving. Fans watching the Finals , witnessed the recurrence of the injury suffered by Kevin Durant and then in game six , after a spectacular performance , Klay Thompson had to withdraw from the contest , having suffered a leg injury. If nothing else, what was proven to the fans, the bench of the Warriors was not as strong as many believed it to be. Head Coach Steve Kerr and team general manager Bob Myers will be figuring out a way to bolster the roster ,by way of the Draft as well as through free agency and perhaps re-signing one or two of their free agents.

This past weekend within the world of Major League Baseball , there were several games of interest for the fans. The series between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees proved to be an eventful one and once again the fans got to see the Astros’ young phenom Yordan Alvarez prove that his introduction as a rookie on the team’s roster was no fluke. Alvarez through twelve games for the for Astros has powered his way to some spectacular statistics , something not seen in the game for several decades. While the Astros look to maintain their position at the top of the AL West , it will be interesting to see how they fare over the rest of the month of June in the lead-up to the MLB All Star Game.

The next game up for Yordan Alvarez and his teammates will see the Astros face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates at home on Monday, 24th June , 2019. Meanwhile, for the New York Yankees their next scheduled game will see them face the Toronto Blue Jays at home in an AL East divisional match-up . On the mound for the Yankees will be their veteran starting pitcher CC Sabathia as he takes on Aaron Sanchez of the Blue Jays . The team with the best record over their last ten games just happens to be the New York Yankees who also share a similar mark of 8-2 with the Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Dodgers .

With so much at stake at this point of the season , speculation has begun to arise that a number of teams will be movers and shakers in the lead-up to the trade deadline and once again it looks as if the New York Yankees will be players in that scenario. It is widely known that GM Brian Cashman is looking to bolster the team’s roster with a starting pitcher, to create more depth among the pitching lineup. Two names said to be at the top Cashman’s desired list , are Max Scherzer , currently with the Washington Nationals and Madison Bumgarner with the San Francisco Giants . Cashman and the Yankees’ managing partner , Hal Steinbrenner are not averse to pushing the team’s payroll, well above the current mark of roughly $218 million . Either way, no matter who they obtain , it is becoming increasingly clear that the front office and managerial staff of the Yankees , believe that the team’s strength will be their pitching , rather than relying on their offense .

Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers is just one of a handful of players in the Majors this season who could be on route to hit at least fifty home runs for the year. Yelich along with Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be the runaway leaders for the NL League MVP . It could prove to be an interesting second half to this season if both players are able to keep their current pace. With both teams riding high within their respective divisions , the second half of this season could prove to be very competitive.

If the Baltimore Orioles continue at their present pace the ball-club could end up winning less than fifty games for the season. The team has been less than competitive and it’s hard to see how the managerial staff of Brandon Hyde cannot be blamed for the Orioles’ woes this season. Poor play all-round has been the one evident thing from the players and it’s telling that even with the idiocy of the MLB hierarchy believing every ball-club should have at least one representative on the All Star Ballot. It’s hard to justify any player from the Orioles be included , based on the mediocre play seen this season. The team will be in action today when they face the San Diego Padres at home in a game between two ball-clubs struggling to find some semblance of success this season. Opposing pitchers in this contest are Logan Allen of the Padres against Jimmy Yacabonis of the Orioles.

We know the NFL season , by way of its news’ cycle ; it tends to be year-round and in the aftermath of another tremendous season which saw the New England Patriots triumph on their way to a historical sixth Superbowl victory; the most in NFL history by a modern-day franchise. Coming off that season , the Patriots will now seek to regroup, make their customary off-season acquisitions , re-signings where necessary and also make themselves a cap-friendly franchise within the league.

Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick and his staff , along with team GM Nick Caserio will certainly be synced on the direction of the franchise will proceed in. Tom Brady still remains pivotal to the team’s success and many of the players on the roster are keenly aware of the position. Brady for his part has made it clear that he wants to player for at least another three years, but it’s clear that the front office must be weary that a contingency plan has to be in place with their being a back-up for veteran star. It will be interesting to see how the New England Patriots proceed and which of Brady’s understudies are seen as his possible successor. Jarrett Stidham and Danny Etling are the players in that somewhat unenviable position. Brian Hoyer the holdover from the roster of a year ago, is seen as the primary backup to Tom Brady and his experience will be an invaluable asset to Stidham and Etling, as well as the franchise overall. New England will invariably begin their preseason schedule as befitting the reigning Superbowl champions. The Patriots’ preseason opener will see them face the Detroit Lions in a road game. Their regular season opener , will be a match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough Massachusetts on the 8th September , 2019 .

The NFL player I believe with the biggest mountain to climb and prove that he remains among the elite at his position, Then a case can be made for Atlanta Falcons’ starting quarterback Matt Ryan . The player whose guaranteed money will be among the highest in the league for the upcoming season has to prove that the money he’s being paid is more than justified. . Ryan’s lone Superbowl appearance for the Falcons saw the team succumb to the New England Patriots , in a game where the Falcons had the upper hand for much of the contest. His inexperience and that of his teammates , led to their demise .

It will be interesting to see how Matt Ryan fares this upcoming season where the Atlanta Falcons’ regular season schedule is an undoubted tough one.

What if anything, do you hope to see in the upcoming weeks within the world of sports by way of a good story ?

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MLB three day schedule at a glance (25th June)

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I Spy With My Little Eye ….

I Spy With My Little Eye   …..

So last night within the world of sports  the big  news’  story  was  that of the  NBA Draft   and  the  Lottery  Pick , with  the   New  Orleans Pelicans obtaining  the  top  pick  in the  2019  NBA  Draft  Class  , with the franchise  taking    Duke   player  Zion  Williamson  as  the  number  one  overall  pick.  Williamson   is  seen  as  the  best  player among  the draftees  and  his  case was  made  all  the  more  emphatic,   with  the  statistics  seen during  the NCAA Tournament  , even though   the program’s  appearance  was short-lived.  With  the  drafting rights   of  Williams  ,  there  is the belief that the front office  of the  Pelicans  might now  be  in a strong  position to  convince  their   All  Star  forward   Anthony  Davis  to  re-sign  with  the  franchise rather   than  pursue free  agency .

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Zion Willliamson , second from the right is seen here as the announcement is made that the New Orleans Pelicans will have the number one overall draft pick for the upcoming NBA Draft .

All signs do seem to be pointing to the fact that Anthony Davis’ seven-year career with the New Orleans Pelicans will come to an abrupt end as the player wishes to seek new challenges elsewhere. There would be a litany of teams certainly interested in a player of Davis’ prowess, with his all-round undoubted skill-set . Davis is not due to become a free agent until 2021 and with his apparent unwillingness to remain with the Pelicans, it would be in their best interest to trade the center to another franchise , who could perhaps offer something of merit in return.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James just happen to share the same agent and sports’ management company with Rich Paul as the CEO of Klutch Sports . It is widely known that during the season , James sought out Davis as a potential teammate , with him joining the Los Angeles Lakers . With Magic Johnson still having some influence within the organization , albeit , that he’s no longer Head of Basketball Operations. It remains to be seen if Johnson can still persuade the Pelicans’ forward to join the Lakers’ franchise , with them having to give up a considerable amount of talent in order to acquire the All Star in a trade.

The NBA Playoffs are now in full swing and the respective conferences are now set with their Conference Finals now underway. Within the East , the top two seeded teams will meet with the Milwaukee Bucks playing host to the Toronto Raptors in the best of seven-game series. In the West , reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors will meet the surprisingly resilient Portland Trailblazers , who will be led by their talented point guard Damian Lillard . His performances throughout this postseason have been scintillating to say the very least.The game-one opener saw the Warriors overcome the Blazers to take a 1-0 lead, winning the contest, 116-94 . Game two of the series will take place once again at the Oracle Arena , in Oakland , California on Thursday night, 16th May , 2019 . The Eastern Conference Finals Series’ opener will be on Wednesday evening as previously stated and it will be interesting to see how these two teams will fare .

Away from the NBA Playoffs, other than the Draft Lottery Pick having taken place, the surprising news which made the headlines , was the hire of Michigan Head Coach John Beilein as the latest hire of the Cleveland Cavaliers , to succeed Tyronn Lue as the franchise’s latest Head Coach. It is being revealed , Beilein will be signed to a five-year deal , with Cavaliers’ GM Kobe Altman set to make the formal announcement . This also seems to have the blessing of team owner , Dan Gilbert . Beilein’s ascension to the position would make him also one of the oldest Head Coaches in the NBA , while also being a rookie in the position. Suffice to say , as the Cavaliers seek to rebuild , the learning curve for the coach will be a considerably tough one .

Call it cynicism or just plain awkwardness , but when an athlete believes himself to be something special , while having not having proven themselves in the field of battle , you just have to wonder what is going on in their mind ? Josh Rosen the recently acquired Miami Dolphins’ quarterback is aggrieved that his former team’s GM Steve Keim , failed to offer him the opportunity to prove his worth with the Arizona Cardinals . Rosen claims, he wasn’t consulted by Keim , as the general manager chose to take Kyler Murray as the number one overall pick in the recent NFL Draft (2019) . Last I looked , it wasn’t Steve Keim’s position to consult a player over personnel decisions for a team , much less the fact , Rosen’s play for the Cardinals was far from overwhelming .

Josh Rosen should consider himself lucky , that he was given the chance to move on to the Miami Dolphins , where he will succeed another failed quarterback , Ryan Tannehill , whose tenure with the franchise , proved to be a very unsatisfactory one. From my own perspective the Miami Dolphins will need all the help they can get this upcoming season , as too will the Arizona Cardinals , as each failed miserably last season within their respective divisions and conferences .

When it rains , it certainly does pour and for the New York Jets , this franchise is now beset by a deluge, as the Jets fire their GM Mike Maccagnan , with his being replaced by Adam Gase , current Head Coach , who for the moment will be fulfilling both roles within the Jets’ organization. It is abundantly clear that after last season, the Jets were in need of some radical changes within the front office , coaching staff and among the player personnel. Well the NFL Draft took care of their needs , as did some timely trades. Yet the belief remains , Maccagnan’s tenure and the failure in 2018 , played a big part in his ouster. Far be it for me to suggest, but the Jets are still a long way from where they need to be and they will be in a for a long haul if they’re to make it back to the NFL postseason , given the fact that their last appearance
came
during the 2010 season , when they reached the the conference championship where they faced the Pittsburgh Steelers .

From here-on in, it will be interesting to see how Adam Gase seeks to improve the fortunes of the New York Jets.

The next couple of games within the world of baseball could prove to be very interesting to say the least. I’d like to think at this point of the season should be very interesting in the lead-up to the 2019 All Star Game . With the divisional standings being what they are , the teams are now gearing up to really play with some zeal. . Wednesday and there are several games of real interest to the fans who will be in attendance .

While I believe that the New York Yankees are capable of winning the AL East this season , there are still some doubts as to the veracity of this team and manager Aaron Boone . Since ,2009 when their last World Series’ victory came about , it would be prudent to suggest that team ownership are somewhat exacerbated , having not added to their tally of world championships. The New York Yankees will be in action today when they are due to face the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, New York. This will be part of their regular season meetings during 2019 , with their meetings over the last decade being very eventful.

New York Yankees’ veteran pitcher CC Sabathia , having been the most recent starting pitcher to have hit the plateau of 3,000 strikeouts . Sabathia’s next projected start could take place on the 17th May , when they are due to meet divisional leaders the Tampa Bay Rays . His record against the Rays is a commendable one , since his debut in the Majors came in 2001. If CC Sabathia is to become a Hall of Fame bound player , it will be interesting to see how his statistics will match up against a number of his peers and contemporaries .

It’s hard to fathom how embarrassing the state of baseball continues to be within the State of Florida . Attendance at the Miami Marlins’ Ballpark as well as Tropicana Field , home to the Tampa Bay Rays continues to be truly appalling , by anyone’s standards . Both of these teams will be in action throughout this week and their weekend series will see the Rays face the New York Yankees, whereas , the Miami Marlins will be matched against the New York Mets at home . The Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays will continue their in-state series as of Wednesday, with a game being played at the Marlins Ballpark in Miami, Florida . Between now and the All Star Break , I believe that Derek Jeter as the Head of Baseball Operations for the Miami Marlins in conjunction with Michael Hill will have some serious decisions to make concerning the long-term and short-term direction of this franchise. This season certainly hasn’t helped with the Marlins currently sitting at the bottom of the NL East , with one of the worst records in all of baseball. The future does seem bleak for this baseball franchise, given the real absence of competitiveness.

Another loss was suffered by the Miami Marlins , further making their season all the more plausible, as their being on the way to another losing season. At no point during their game against the Tampa Bay Rays was there any sense of urgency by the players , seeking to make this match-up competitive even from the fans’ viewpoint. Instead , the team wasted a chance to show any form of resilience. The Marlins will be back in session for their next game when they face off off against the New York Mets in a divisional game this Friday , as part of their regular season meetings , with this being a home-based series. The opposing pitchers in this contest will be Jacob DeGrom of the Mets against Trevor Richards of the Marlins.

Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers is certainly proving himself to be a player of value and all the more so, given the salary being paid to the player . He has a become a staple for the Dodgers’ fans this season, as the team blusters into their schedule , slaying many of their opponents with ease in many cases. The Dodgers will be in action over the next few days and it will be interesting to see how they will fare through the month of May as exhibited last season by this Dave Roberts’ managed roster. Roberts and his players will prepare for a weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds on the road , in the three games to be played at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati , Ohio . The first game of this series will take place on Friday evening with the opposing pitchers being Rich Hill of the Dodgers and Anthony DeSclefani of the Reds.

If the Los Angeles Dodgers are to make it back to another postseason appearance, then their play will have to rise to even greater heights than previously seen over the last eight years.

With it still being early in the season , but there are grumblings that several teams might be seeking the upgrade to their rosters , with the MLB Postseason being their clear main motive and the chance of winning the World Series . One player considered to be atop of every contenders’ list, might well be starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel . The pitcher who’s yet to make to make his debut for the Houston Astros this season. His wish is to sign with a big-market team , of which is the New York Yankees, might be the one ball-club with an inside track to land the starter , Also said to be in the mix among starting pitchers who might well be with a new team at the trade deadline , Craig Kimbrel . This season will be an interesting one during the upcoming months as witnessed during 2018.

What are the big stories which you believe will be front and center during the upcoming weeks and months within the world of sports ?


Tophatal ……….


NBA news ……..

2019 NBA Playoffs

NBA salary cap (2019)

NBA free agents (2019)

Salary cap players (2019)


NFL news …

2019 NFL schedule (regular season)


MLB news …

MLB schedule three days at a glance (15th May to 17th May)

MLB standings (division)

MLB Important Dates …


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Continue reading “I Spy With My Little Eye ….”

In The Cold Light of Day You Can Always Figure Out The Truth …

In The Cold Light of Day You Can Always Figure Out The Truth …

Well, the Major League Baseball season came to an abrupt end and the Boston Red Sox claimed the best record in the league on their way to a one-hundred win season. The Red Sox were joined by the New York Yankees and Houston Astros as the only other ball-clubs to have achieved the feat during this long and arduous season. Among the players who excelled during the year , we have Blake Snell among the pitchers , who led all starters in the number of wins as well as having one of the lowest ERA’s among the starters. With regard to offense it was another very good season with several players living up to expectation , among them two-time AL MVP and Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout . It was another disappointing season for the Angels as they failed to make the postseason for 2018. It is widely known, that team manager Mike Sciocsia will not be returning to the ball-club in 2019 . Another big league manager also in the same position is John Gibbons of the Toronto Blue Jays , as the front office made it official, that his contract will not be extended.


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The Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals were among the major disappointments within the National League , with Miami having among the worst record of all the teams in the NL (National League) and their barely being competitive within the NL East , where they finished bottom of the division. The surprising winners there , were the Atlanta Braves who finished with a 90-72 record . The wildcard entrant within the NL will be the Los Angeles Dodgers tie-breaker with the Colorado Rockies and the losers of the tie-breaker between the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers . That game is due to take place on Monday, 1st October , with the Cubs playing host to the Brewers at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. . It makes for a fascinating start to the MLB postseason in 2018 , with two tie-breaking series set to unfold . I’d dare say the Los Angeles Dodgers are in a very precarious situation , having to face divisional rival the Colorado Rockies.

Heavily favored, but yet somehow, a team largely made of PGA superstars and they failed miserably as the US Ryder Cup Team lost to their European counterparts in one of the most lopsided results in recent Ryder Cup history. The final score of 17 ½ to 10 ½ didn’t do the Europeans justice as Francesco Molinari led a tremendous team, with the Italian posting a 5-0 winning record , matching a feat only achieved by four other players in the format’s history. This biannual event is the biggest team competition in golf , bigger than the President’s Cup and the World Cup of Golf. In 2020 , when Europe seeks to defend their title , the Ryder Cup will be played on American soil at the Whistling Straits Golf Course , in Milwaukee , Wisconsin. It will be very interesting to see who will be the captain of the US Team will be and whether or not there will be a great deal of camaraderie among the players. Based on the results seen in France, there seems to be a great deal of animosity and among the Americans , with their also being a great deal of finger pointing and backbiting among those teammates.

Five games into the College Football season and it looks like Alabama intends to separate themselves from the rest of the programs at the top of D1 Football. With a 5-0 record there isn’t a great deal that the team has left to prove , other than for Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban to win another national title. Saban has cemented himself as among the greatest college coach in College Football history. On Saturday afternoon Alabama entertained or should I say played and toyed with Louisiana Lafayette on their way to a 56-14 lopsided victory. To say that Louisiana put up any type of resistance would be laughable , as the game was never really close at any time during its duration.

Alabama will like remain atop of the College Rankings , while also heavily positioning themselves to win out within the SEC (Southeastern Conference) once again. . In week six Nick Saban will take his players on the road as they face Arkansas (Razorbacks) on the road for a game to be played on the 6th October , 2018 at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas,. I doubt that this will be the game where Alabama will be upended .

The nearest team to Alabama by way of their play and athleticism based on record , being that there are still several unbeaten teams . might well be Clemson , whose championship winning run and their defeat of Alabama was a joy to behold. . In week six Clemson’s coaching staff headed by Dabo Swinney will prepare the team to face rival Wake Forest on the road . The Georgia Bulldogs might well be ranked as the number two team in the nation and they are very good , but I still believe the Clemson Tigers to be the better team ! Georgia for their part will have a very interesting upcoming game when they take on Vanderbilt .

Well , so much for that 3-0 start to their season by the Miami Dolphins and the claims that this might be the team to beat within the AFC East . That picture was quickly laid to rest as the Dolphins were manhandled and mauled by a New England Patriots’ team looking to make amends for a poor start to their season. Anyone who believed this Patriots’ roster had seen better days , well they were suddenly reawakened by the cacophony of a bang, as New England took it upon themselves to remind the rest of the NFL why this franchise is a five-time winning Superbowl champion. Tom Brady had his best outing of the season by far with both the defense and offense playing their part in this humiliating defeat of the Miami Dolphins. Adam Gase , a former protege’ of Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick , now finds himself having been taught a real lesson by his Master. For Ryan Tannehill and all the talk of his being a leader or this Miami Dolphins’ team , it is becoming increasingly clear he still has a long way to go before he can be remotely considered to be an elite quarterback in the NFL .

Ryan Tannehill’s performance against the New England Patriots saw the player pass for a mere one hundred yards , while barely competing fifty percent of his pass attempts during the game. He would be replaced by backup quarterback Brock Osweiler , who fared no better than his teammate during the contest. With week five of the regular season just around the corner and the Dolphins not having their bye-week until week eleven where they’re joined by the Buffalo Bills , Cleveland Browns , New England Patriots , New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers as the teams with a bye for that week. Next up for Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins will be a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on the road in an AFC match-up . Meanwhile , Tom Brady and the Patriots will be preparing to take on the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium , in Foxboro’, Massachusetts,.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s world and that of the Tampa Buccaneers’ came crashing down to a loss , that was totally unexpected. In many respects , the writing had been on the wall , as the Buccaneers had begun to show frailties long expected and at some point we all knew would be exposed. Chicago Bears’ rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky passed for a franchise-game six passing touchdowns on the way to the team’s 48-10 victory over their conference rivals. The Buccaneers might well be 2-2 at present , but that record is very deceptive , because this is not a two and two one team . If anything, the Buccaneers are lucky to have that record and it begs the question what else can Dirk Koetter now do with a team which continually lets their fans down due to their complacency and inconsistency ?

If Ryan Fitzpatrick’s performance against the Chicago Bears was thought to be bad , then having Jameis Winston come on to replace Fitzpatrick, barely offered the Buccaneers any hope at all, as Winston simply showed us once again why his progress has been mediocre since becoming a first round draft pick for the franchise in 2015 . To suggest that there might be an upside to Winston’s game would be like trying to equate it with walking across the Grand Canyon without the use of a balancing pole to aid the walker on that journey. The hard part for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be to try and convince their doubters that they’re still a team capable of being viewed as a contender within the NFC and worthy of a postseason berth. Based on the four games played to date , I am far from convinced that the Buccaneers are even capable of having a winning season in 2018, let alone making it to the NFL postseason. It will be interesting to see how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seek to rebound from this loss the Chicago Bears when they face the Atlanta Falcons on the road in week six .

Patrick Mahomes might not have been the first quarterback taken in the 2018 NFL Draft , but he’s certainly playing like the top prospect the front office of the Kansas City Chiefs believed him to be. Too early to say as of yet if he’ll measure up to the accomplishments of Carson Wentz, which was seen last season , before Wentz went down due to injury , unable to participate in the Philadelphia Eagles triumphant postseason foray , where their ultimate triumph was the defeat of the New England Patriots in the Superbowl. I am not saying that Mahomes will lead the Chiefs to that sort of postseason experience , but it would certainly be interesting to see what could happen over the remainder of the team’s schedule. The rookie quarterback kept his composure in leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a well-deserved win over divisional rivals the Denver Broncos and thereby keeping their unbeaten record in tact.

Next up for the Kansas City Chiefs will be a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City , Missouri .

The NBA preseason has begun in earnest and it will be interesting to see how the teams will fare , in the lead-up to the regular season schedule which tips off officially on the 16th October with two Opening Night Games. Current defending NBA champions , the Golden State Warriors will certainly be looking to improve upon last season’s record , albeit , that the team didn’t have the best regular season record. Yet , for Steve Kerr , his coaching staff and that of the front office led by Bob Myers . Their wish is to create another dynasty for the league to talk about. The Warriors’ roster led by Steph Curry and Kevin Durant , have to be seen as the prohibitive favorites to make a successful defense of their title. This team as it currently stands with the addition of DeMarucs Cousins might be even more formidable than last season’s championship roster .

The Golden State Warriors will begin the defense of their title with the customary preseason schedule before embarking upon their regular season beginning on the 16th October , when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder at home at the Oracle Arena in Oakland ,

Of the big off-season moves , no one was really surprised when LeBron James made the announcement that he would be moving West to the bright lights and big city of Los Angeles. Joining the Los Angeles Lakers signing a five-year max deal that pays him just over $150 million dollars was not a big expenditure when you take into account this remains the NBA’s most popular franchise and quite possibly it’s most valuable based on attendance levels and ratings.

Lakers’ head coach Luke Walton will be hard pressed to convince me this team has what it takes to take down the Golden State Warriors and the best that the Western Conference has to offer. LeBron James might well have won with less while with the Cleveland Cavalier, but he’s playing with the Big Boys of the West and not the daycare kindergarten kids of the East as was the case last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers . When the Lakers begin their preseason schedule of five games it will be interesting to see how the team will fare. The first of those contests will see them them tip off against the Denver Nuggets at home on Tuesday , 2nd October . . Their regular season schedule begins on the 18th October when they face conference rivals the Portland Trailblazers .

Eight straight NBA Finals’ appearances is an astonishing feat for any player , but even with all of the accomplishments of LeBron James. He will be hard pressed to make it to a ninth consecutive appearance with a team which is short by way of real experience .

OK, so the Los Angeles Lakers might well be the big story in the NBA and for much of this season, that is likely to be the case , but there will be other stories unfolding. The Brooklyn Nets for many years a franchise hemorrhaging more money than having success , is now in the midst of being sold by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov to to Canadian citizen Joseph Tsai , who is of Taiwanese ancestry. Tsai also happens to be the Vice Chairman of Chinese e-Commerce giant Ali-Baba . His net worth is believe to be just over $9 billion , making him certainly among Canada’s richest citizens as well as in China and Taiwan. Before the sale can be finalized , it must have the approval of the NBA’s Board of Governors , before the Joseph Tsai can assume control as the league’s newest NBA franchise owner .

It is not known how much Joseph Tsai paid in purchasing the Brooklyn Nets , but I don’t believe that Mikhail Prokhorov will completely recoup his original investment . The coaching staff of the franchise led by Kenny Atkinson will now have a short period of time to assess the possible wholesale changes likely to be made. Brooklyn’s roster is not overly impressive and not one that I believe will be capable of being very competitive this upcoming season. The first game of the Nets’ preseason will see them facing their in-state rivals the New York Knicks on Wednesday , 3rd October ,2018 . Their opening game of the regular season will see the Nets facing the Detroit Pistons on the road. Given the productivity seen from these two teams last season, it will be very interesting to see how this contest will end .

Another disgruntled star in the NBA and the regular season has yet to begin. The Minnesota Timberwolves now have Jimmy Butler pleading his case by making a request to be traded. No doubt there would be a plethora of teams interested in acquiring one of the league’s best guards. Butler has proven himself to be productive and a leader ; this was clearly the case when he played for the Chicago Bulls . Timberwolves’ Head Coach Tom Thibodeau who also happens to hold a high-ranking position within the organization , is reluctant to let the player go , but he might be willing to do so if he were able to make a trade he deemed fair.

Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves might not reach an agreement where he is likely to leave the franchise before the season starts. In all likelihood , I don’t believe Tom Thibodeau will be pressured into making an unwanted deal . The Timberwolves’ preseason opener will see the team face the Los Angeles Clippers
on the road before embarking on their regular season opener where they will tip-off against the San Antonio Spurs on the road .

The number of players in the NBA who will be earning over $25 million this season is now at an all-time high. It certainly is above the figure of last season. The figure has almost doubled from fourteen to now twenty five and it is clear that the NBA hierarchy led by Commissioner Adam Silver is not at all overly concerned. Not while the league’s revenues to go higher and the value of the teams steadily increase . This season in the NBA could be a very interesting one with just about everyone taking note of what the Los Angeles Lakers are liable to do .



Picture gallery along with accompanying narrative.

What if anything , do you now feel has been the biggest sports’ story to date or over the past week , month or at least the last six months ?

Tophatal ……….. 10/02/2018


MLB news

MLB postseason schedule

Ryder Cup news

NCAA Football and week five results

NCAA Football Rankings (FBS)

NFL news and week four results

NFL standings division and conference standings

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NBA schedule preseason 2nd October

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NBA team salary cap 2018-19

Highest paid NBA players (2018)

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

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FIFA World Cup Group Standings

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NBA news

2018 NBA Draft and Draft Board

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A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum …

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum

It seems in the world of sports, things just get drastic by the second.  In  the   NFL  as  the  league  proceeds to the  lead-up to the  NFL  Draft  , teams  are   positioning   themselves to obtain  the  players   available  from   the  collective    seeking  to  make  their  mark  in  2018.  Away  from the  hotbed  of  decision  making  the  owners  themselves  are   either in  hot  water  or  looking to add more  coal to  the  firing   and  stocking  it  to  the  fan the  flames more  widely .  Houston   Texans’   owner  Robert  McNair  is  doubling  down  on  his  comments   that in  some   aspects could be  seen  as  insensitive  as well  as  racist. Now the beleaguered owner  has  stepped  back  into the fray,   stating  that  he has  nothing  to  apologize for . I  suppose  calling your  players  inmates and  then  caustically  referring  to  them  as  slaves  might  not  seem overly  expressive,  but in  light  of recent  events, I believe  McNair  might  not  be  aware of  what  is  happening  around him  and  elsewhere  in  the  world.  Perched atop  of his  ivory tower  with  his  amassed  wealth ,  it’s   always easy  for an aging  white  Anglo  Saxon  male  to say  whatever  he  wants  and  whenever he  wants,   without  fear  of being  held  accountable .


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Robert McNair  obviously  is  following in the  footsteps  of   President   Donald  Trump  who  has  become known  for  his  caustic  remarks   on   a wide  variety  of subjects.  To  date  as    Trump   tries to  navigate  the  treacherous waters  of  his  Presidency, there  is  growing  belief  with all of  the  controversy  now surrounding  his  Presidency, there will  be  great deal  more  flak  coming  his  way, especially  as he  enters the  midterm   elections  and  the   Republican  Party are struggling to  hold  unto both  chambers  of   Congress.

For Robert  McNair and the Houston Texans   last   season  was a  coming  down  to  earth   for the  franchise as they  played  much of  their schedule  without  two of  their  best   players  , with   JJ   Watt and    Jadaveon  Clowney   missing   much  of  the   Texans’  regular season schedule due to  injury. In  their  wake, it  was  left  to  the  surprisingly resourceful Jacksonville  Jaguars , came  out of nowhere  to  win the  AFC  South  and make  their way to the NFL postseason where  they  would  be  upended in  the AFC  championship game by  the New England  Patriots .   Jaguars’ quarterback  Blake Bortles may  well  have  won himself  over some new  fans, but I’m   not  so sure  it’s enough  to suggest  that he is now  good  enough to  join the  ranks  of  the  league’s  elite quarterbacks.    Jacksonville hit  lightning in a bottle during the  first  two  rounds of the postseason.

It  will  be  interesting to see how  both the Houston  Texans  and  Jacksonville Jaguars will fare  during the NFL  Draft with their  decisions made.

I am no longer  at  a  loss to  explain  why   Colin  Kaepernick  remains   unsigned as  a free agent   quarterback, suffice to  say the NFL   still  seeks to make  him  a pariah .   While  the  former  San  Francisco 49ers’  passer  remains  adrift one of  his  contemporaries    Robert  Griffin III   has  been  signed  as   the  backup   quarterback to  Joe  Flacco ,   a former  Superbowl  MVP  with the  Ravens.   It  will  be  interesting  to  see   Griffin  is  able to mount  a serious enough  challenge  to  unseat   Flacco  as the  starting quarterback  for the  Ravens .Robert Griffin    was  signed  to  a  one-year   deal  with  the  AFC  North  based  franchise.

The   NBA  regular  season  will   come  to   an   end with new  divisional champions ,  but  a sense  of  deja-vu  in terms  of  the  leading  contenders  for  the   NBA  title . Defending NBA  champions  the Golden State Warriors    are  not  as  dominant as  last season and  the   loss of   two-time League MVP  and  All  Star Steph Curry has left  the team looking  somewhat   vulnerable .    With the loss of  Curry over the last  three weeks, the team has  struggled, but they still  remain  a clear  favorite to make it back to the Western Conference Finals where  they  are  likely  to  face the   Houston  Rockets  ,  currently the number  one seed in the conference and the team  with the best record in  the  NBA. Both of these teams will be in action this weekend in games that will be of vital importance .

Tiger Woods is looking to play himself back into contention at The Masters in Augusta , Georgia , and the thought of winning his fifth Green Jacket cannot be far from his mind. However, his second round has been erratic, with him now being twelve shots off the pace behind tournament leader Patrick Reed at seven under par (-7) at this moment in time. As we know the final two rounds of any of the Grand Slam Majors tend to be the most exciting aspects of a contest , because that is where the best players in the world tend to showcase their skills as well as their mental psyche.Woods would have to play some remarkable golf over the final thirty-six holes to be remotely in with a chance of winning this particular Major.

Conor McGregor , remains a gregarious creature of habit , with narcissistic tendencies, a penchant for looking to belittle others, showing that he’s a misogynist and a racist. Let’s not be fooled here, as UFC President Dana White welcomes these elements from the biggest name in the sport. MMA needs McGregor more than he now needs the sport, because with what looks like the apparent retirement of Georges St-Pierre and the ultimate banishment of Jon Jones . The UFC is in need of a major star. They do possess one in Demetrious Johnson , but for some reason White has not done his utmost to promote the most successful fighter in UFC history. McGregor has once again found himself on the wrong side of the law as he faces assault charges from a recent UFC event. If found guilty of these charges he could face possible jail time, but there are indications that he might be willing to accept a plea deal and avoid serving anytime in prison.

If Conor McGregor never enters an octagon again to face an opponent it would not be lost on me, as I dislike the fighter and what he stands for, which has nothing at all to do with the sport.

So as the NBA season winds down , the divisions are all but sewn up but there are still one or two things to be finalized within each of the two conference , East and West . The Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets are now in a dog-fight for the final berth within the Western Conference, with the winner looking forward to a first round match-up against the Houston Rockets , the team with the best record in the league as well as the conference. A series against either of these two teams for the Rockets should prove to be a one-sided affair favoring the top seeds.

For the reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors , having
been without Steph Curry for the past two weeks, the team’s Head Coach Steve Kerr has stated he is willing to rest his All Star point guard for the first round of the NBA Playoffs , rather than risk further injury to the player. Curry himself might not be entirely happy with the situation , but Kerr knows that the deeper their run the Playoffs goes , the better the Warriors’ chances will be in having a player of Steph Curry’s caliber fully fit and able. A first round match-up for the Golden State Warriors would see them pitted against the Oklahoma City Thunder led by point guard Russell Westbrooke . Having split their regular season series at two games apiece , this series might not be as clear-cut as one think.

Tiger Woods couldn’t get the job done at Augusta National Golf Course as he sought to win his fifth Green Jacket and push himself one step closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record for the number of Grand Slam Major victories (18). Woods
had
a disastrous final two rounds of The Masters , the first Grand Slam Major of the season on the PGA Tour . Woods is like to take a week or so away from the PGA Tour missing the next few scheduled events. Patrick Reed for his part simply played some stellar golf over the final two rounds , though Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth sought to make the final two rounds very riveting for the fans.

Patrick Reed’s victory was the first Grand Slam of his career , while it also pushes him up the FedEx Cup Standings as well as the World Golf Rankings . . The next Major on the PGA Tour schedule will be the US Open at Shinnecock Hills , in New York from June 14th to the 17th , 2018 .

Still too early as of yet to make statements about which teams are playing the best in baseball at present , but it’s pretty safe to say with the injuries already suffered by the New York Yankees at this stage of the MLB season , it could be a struggle for them over the remainder of their schedule , if certain players don’t step up to the plate. The divisional standings should have provided us with something of an insight into the psyche of the ball-clubs at present . The Yankees are 5-5 over their last ten games with their pitching and hitting struggling at present. For team manager Aaron Boone this has to be very frustrating seeing his team struggle like this. Giancarlo Stanton will have a great deal to prove to the Yankees’ fans as well his new-found teammates . His salary alone demands it when you consider that he is among the highest paid players in the game and by far the highest paid on the New York Yankees’ roster.

The New York Yankees will not be in action on Monday 9th , April as they prepare for a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox , beginning on Tuesday, 10th April . On the mound for the Yankees in that opening game will be starting pitcher Luis Severino (2-0) facing Chris Sale of the Red Sox. New York is need of a morale boost and a victory over Boston would go some way in fulfilling the angst now to be found within the organization after such a rough start.

While the New York Yankees are having struggles of their own, their divisional rivals the Tampa Bay Rays are pretty much a capsized vessel. Only the Chicago White Sox have a worst team ERA (5.88) at present within the AL as of the 9th April. Rays’ manager Kevin Cash and the managerial staff have to be at a loss to explain the team’s poor play as they head into the second-half of the month of April. They will begin a three-game series on the road against the White Sox on Monday and it will interesting to see how they will fare against their AL rival. . Of the players who are said to be offering any type of production for the Rays, there has only been veteran Denard Span as a stand-out for the entire team.

I certainly feel before anyone can make any real judgment concerning the ball-clubs, we should wait until mid-June before making any real assessment of the teams and how they are likely to fare.

Is it possible for Bryce Harper to have another astonishing season and simply push up his value as he seeks to become a free agent. Harper is off to another good start as he and Washington Nationals seek to have another very good season. The continued issue for the Nationals remains the fact they have yet to make a deep postseason run in their current guise. This has to be very frustrating for Bryce Harper , given his talent and being surrounded by a more than capable group of teammates . If the Nationals are not able to prove themselves this season , then it could lead to GM Mike Rizzo making unwanted sacrifices before the end of this season , while looking to keep Bryce Harper as a long-term member of this organization. There is no doubt the front office remains under a great deal of pressure to succeed. This team needs to win consistently, with their being contributions coming from everyone on the roster over the course of this season. The Nationals will be in action over the next three days as they face the Atlanta Braves in a home series at National Ballpark in Washington, DC.

There will be many sports’ stories unfurling over the coming months and the drama from it all will be played out in all parts of the media for the fans. What are the possible segues that you’d like to see coming out this all with regard to the stories now percolating ?

Tophatal …… 2018/04/06 03:30 pm


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The War Of The Roses ………….

The War Of The Roses

So at this point of the NBA season teams are now vying to position themselves for the second-half of the NBA schedule . The NBA All Star Game is not that far away and the news surrounding the league has been the dismissal of Jason Kidd as the Head Coach of the Milwaukee Bucks . It would appear that the organization now wants to go in a different direction. Much to the dismay of Bucks’ player Giannis Antetokounmpou , Kidd’s firing came right out of the blue. Over their last fifteen games the Bucks have managed to put together a 7-8 record over the period. Antetokounmpou tried to intervene on Kidd’s behalf, but it was all to no avail. With his firing , the Bucks will now have Joe Prunty inserted on an interim basis as the new Head Coach. .


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In their last contest the Milwaukee Bucks were on court to face the Phoenix Suns whom they defeated by the score of 109-105 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center , in Milwaukee Wisconsin. The team’s home record as well as being on the road has not been all that illuminating .

Moving forward, I am not so sure the Milwaukee Bucks are heading in the right direction without Jason Kidd. He brought some semblance of urgency to the team , but the real issue has been the fact they do not have a proven veteran leader on the roster with a track record of success. Throughout much of this season Giannis Antetokounmpou has been by far their best player . If the Bucks are to have any semblance of success this season then it will be incumbent on the play of their forward and fast-rising star. Up next for the Milwaukee Bucks will be a game against the Brooklyn Nets , as they host the Eastern Conference team at home.

The opportunities for Jason Kidd will not be bleak , as I believe he is quite capable of leading a team to success. However, what it all comes down to at the end of the day, is where will be a suitable fit for one of the league’s most astute Head Coaches

Say what you will, but even with the claims that he’s been a breath of fresh air within the game, LaVar Ball is proving to be more of an off-court attraction than he could be seen as an asset for the Los Angeles Lakers . If Ball Sr is not touting the Big Baller Brand , then a great deal of the time in recent weeks he has been overtly critical of the Lakers’ organization, most notably Luke Walton , Head Coach of the Lakers as well as senior executives within the front office. Suffice to say, while his son Lonzo Ball has barely contributed anything of note to the Lakers other than one or two flashes of brilliance . The guys in purple and gold have become an eyesore on the court, while there now appears to be some dissension of the court , as players are now being asked to take sides . Will it be Team Big Baller Brand and Lonzo Ball or Team Lakers ? I don’t think this was what either Magic Johnson or Rob Pelinka had in mind at the start of the season and I am sure that the Buss family must be besides themselves with the ugliness now being witnessed from this team .

Unable to compete within the Pacific Division and also struggling to hold their own within the Western Conference , it’s best to say that the Los Angeles Lakers should consider “ tanking” their season while senior executives Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka decide what to do concerning the makeup of this team. There’s nothing to suggest that this Lakers’ team is playing with a great deal of confidence. In their last scheduled game the Los Angeles Lakers put up 127 points in a twenty point victory over the New York Knicks . It was a contest of missed opportunities by both teams the match-up . Following up that game , Lonzo Ball and his teammates would face the Boston Celtics where another home victory provided a timely boost for the team’s moral . With an upcoming contest against the Chicago Bulls , it will be interesting to see if the Lakers can put together a consistent winning streak .

He is a four-time League MVP and a three-time Finals’ MVP , but as LeBron James continues to rewrite the history books , the continued comparisons will be made to his idol Michael Jordan . James in a game played against the San Antonio Spurs which resulted in a loss for the Cleveland Cavaliers , he became the youngest player in NBA history to have amassed thirty thousand career points (30,000) during the regular season. The list of players to have passed that threshold now lists as seven . With the exception of Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki , all of the other members are enshrined in the Hall of Fame . James and Nowitzki are the only active players the list to achieved that feat.

As the season has progressed , it has become troubling to see the struggles of the Cleveland Cavaliers continue. The additions of Dwyane Wade , Derrick Rose and Isiah Thomas doesn’t seem to have made up for the loss of point guard Kyrie Irving . With the recent rumors of dissent within the locker room , after it was revealed that Kevin Love may well have feigned an on-court injury during a game and then not meeting for a morning practice with his teammates. One has to wonder whether or not Head Coach Tyronn Lue still commands the respect of this team , but more importantly , can the front office now do anything to appease LeBron James as it appears that things are spinning out of control ?

The Cleveland Cavaliers were seen as the prohibitive favorites to make a successful defense of their conference title and make it back the NBA Playoffs. That will likely be the case , but based on their current play, I am not so sure that they’re a guaranteed thing for a deep run in the NBA Playoffs , much less beat the best that the Western Conference has to offer. Game in and game out , LeBron James continues to give it his all , but I no longer believe this current Cleveland lineup is actually good enough win another NBA title . Over their next six games , the Cleveland Cavaliers will have a great deal to prove to themselves as well as their fans. Up next for LeBron James and his teammates will be a game against the Indiana Pacers at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on the 26th January , 2018.

Head Coach Tyronn Lue is no longer sure what his best lineup should be concerning the roster. Other than LeBron James being automatically being penciled in as a starter, the coach and his staff might as well be drawings names out of a hat to see who will line up alongside the four-time League MVP

The one thing we can be sure of , money doesn’t always guarantee success, but it certainly helps. Last year’s winning team in the NBA Finals the Golden State Warriors was among the costliest lineup in the league’s history. In seeking to make successful defense this season, the Warriors are already back to their very best . With the best record in the league , it will be interesting to see what this team is capable of between now and the rest of the season, as they seek to win their third NBA title in the last four seasons . This season , it has been all about Kevin Durant and his erstwhile teammate Steph Curry as they lead the team in scoring . Over his last eight games Durant has been very impressive , during which time Golden State have continued to show their dominance. However, where I feel the Warriors have greatly improved , has been through the team’s defense. Head Coach Steve Kerr knows what to expect out of his players and holds them accountable for their actions .. Golden State will be looking to up the ante when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves on the 25th January in a game which will be played at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California . This should be a very good match-up between two of the better teams within the Western Conference this season.

The dismissal of David Fizdale led to a great deal of speculation that his firing had more to do with the front office no longer having any faith in their coach . Memphis’ players seemed to admire Fizdale and what he brought to the table and gave it their all . The team’s billionaire owner Robert Pera bought the franchise on the cheap , but the real issue became the fact that for all of the fandom, there was no real plan of action moving forward. JD Bickerstaff has now taken over the reins of the team as the Grizzlies push to place themselves into contention for a playoff berth. . Currently sitting in twelfth place within the Western Conference , the Memphis Grizzlies are 6 ½ games behind the eighth-placed Denver Nuggets . Bickerstaff will prepare the Memphis Grizzlies for their next game when they will meet the San Antonio Spurs at the FedEx Times Forum in Memphis , Tennessee on Wednesday evening.

Dwight Howard seems to be having one of the best years of his career , if you consider the past four years were anything to go by. There was a time when the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year was seen as a great catalyst. Instead , he’s become something of a journeyman toiling around the league , looking for the best contract available, while having shown very little leadership ability for any franchises he’s played for with the exception of the Orlando Magic . Howard now toils away with the Charlotte Hornets (19-27) , where team owner Michael Jordan is still looking for his club to make a deep playoff run during his tenure. Dwight Howard didn’t excel in the Playoffs while he was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and I seriously doubt he still has the capacity to take this Hornets’ team to the next level. Howard might be the second best offensive weapon the Hornets have , but that in of-itself will not be enough if this team has any desires on making it to the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2015.

The next twelve games on the Charlotte Hornets’ schedule should prove to be interesting for the organization and this team. Up next for the Hornets will be a game against the Atlanta Hawks , a former team that Dwight Howard played for.

With the All Star Game and all of its precursor festivities just around the corner, the remainder of the NBA schedule will be impactful . What match-ups are you most looking forward to and which team do you believe could provide the biggest surprise during the second-half of the season ?

Tophatal ………….


NBA news

NBA standings (division) and conference standings

Week’s schedule

NBA players’ stats

NBA Rookie stats

NBA transactions



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All Is Not Fair In Love And War

All Is Not Fair In Love and War

For some reason fans were made to believe this weekend with the divisional round of the NFL postseason under way, the fans would be provided with several great games. Instead what they were able to witness was a cacophony of noise , errant plays and teams who essentially provided a truly mediocre spectacle. I sorry , but this NFL season has been one to truly lament all-round. From my own standpoint, I am not so sure things are likely to get any better once the postseason resumes with the divisional rounds. Then the top-two seeds within each conference will enter the fray against their respective opponents .


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At this point last season everyone appeared to be in awe and again the players proved to be in some cases a major disappointment just us as they were over the weekend.With the New England Patriots about to begin the defense of their Superbowl title it will be interesting to see how they will fare against the Tennessee Titans . Tennessee’s quarterback Marcus Mariota will certainly have to raise the level of his play as he looks for his second career postseason victory . He faces a tough task against Patriots’ franchise looking to make NFL history with a sixth Superbowl title. Tom Brady for his part will be looking to drown out the nonsense of his having created the friction between Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft , which led to the trading of his backup Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers . Garoppolo has since provided the Niners with hope after their stirring finish to the regular season with five straight victories . Hope may well spring eternal for the struggling San Francisco 49ers after-all.

Roll Tide ! Well the National Championship was decided on the determination of Nick Saban’s willingness to take it to the house . That was clear from the very start of the game as Alabama took it to their Southeastern Conference rivals the Georgia Bulldogs . This Alabama team was all it was cracked up to be and then a great deal more . Saban’s coaching resume’ now adds another historical moment as he wins his sixth national title overall.

We all knew that it was bound to happen at some point during the NBA season and quicker than you could swat fly, LaVar Ball has begun to set fire to any type of relationship he might have had with the Los Angeles Lakers’ organization. Not content his back and forth sniping with another dumb-ass , Donald Trump . Ball has now taken aim at both Rob Pelinka , general manager of the Lakers as well as Magic Johnson , Head of Basketball Operations and last but not least Luke Walton the team’s head coach.

Over their last ten games as of the 7th January the Los Angeles Lakers are an abysmal 1-9 , with their lone victory coming in a highly contested game against the Atlanta Hawks , with a eighteen-point victory over their Eastern Conference opponent.

LaVar Ball might not be happy with the fact his son Lonzo Ball with each game is now being exposed an over-hyped and somewhat immature child. Granted, he has been thrust unto a big stage surrounded by non-plus players , but in all honesty was anyone actually expecting the Los Angeles Lakers to be anything special. This team on its best day isn’t fit enough to challenge perhaps a mid-level Southeastern Conference program within College Basketball , but yet their idiot fans were hoping for something more ? LaVar Ball might be stirring more trouble than he can really handle , while at the same time knowing the Los Angeles Lakers’ hierarchy have placed their faith in his son Lonzo Ball and to secure their future, with the aim being to return the franchise to their former glory of winning NBA titles . Ball Sr, cannot continue to harangue the Lakers’ staff without questioning the lack of leadership from his son. Up next for the Los Angeles Lakers will be a game against the Sacramento Kings on the 9th January , before facing another conference rival the San Antonio Spurs on the 11th January . Both games will be played the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California .

Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson have already begun to assess the roster and the waiving of veteran Andrew Bogut as a cost-cutting exercise is simply a start of things to come as they look to place themselves in a position to acquire big-named marquee free agent for the 2018 NBA season. As things now stand , I am not so sure if the Los Angeles Lakers are playing for pride and respectability or simply looking to “tank their season” altogether.

Say what you will for the Los Angeles Lakers, this organization ,but they’re either going to go down in flames or do their darndest to prove to others they are fighting.The Lakers’ counterparts and also residents at the Staples Center , the Los Angeles Clippers are not having the type of season many of their fans had expected. Doc Rivers is struggling to get this team to play with a great deal of imagination let alone intestinal fortitude . Chris Paul was the stabilizing force that made the team click, but with his departure they’re essentially back to the ways of old. Billionaire team owner Steve Ballmer spent $2.5 billion to purchase the franchise with the promise that he was willing to spend whatever it took to win an NBA title. The Clippers have fallen way short of that target , while the front office now seems incapable of making the necessary decisions needed to make them competitive.

Blake Griffin has now been entrusted to lead the Los Angeles Clippers and while he remains the team’s most potent offensive weapon , there is not a great deal to back him up . Doc Rivers has been given far too much latitude in the day-to-day running of the franchise, when he should essentially be concentrating totally on the playing staff and their preparations for each game . In their next contest the Clippers are set to face the Golden State Warriors on the road in a match-up to be played on the 10th January . This should provide Blake Griffin and his teammates with a true test and gauge themselves against the best team in the league.

Make no bones about it , this season everything will have to go through Golden State in terms of determining this season’s NBA champions . If the Warriors are to be challenged as a finalist, then expect their antagonist to be either the Boston Celtics or the Cleveland Cavaliers . Boston has proven this season, they’re more than a match for the Cavaliers, in spite of having been defeated by the Lebron James’ led team . The difference between the two teams , I firmly believe has come down to the play of the respective point guards’ , albeit that Isiah Thomas has only made his debut for the Cavaliers while Kyrie Irving has simply proven , when given the opportunity he can be so much more than just the quintessential point guard .

You’ve had your fun and now you’re on the verge of picking up the pieces. The Los Angeles Dodgers have become the whipping post for any team they tend to face during the postseason. That much has been particularly true since 2012, when the ball-club was purchased by Guggenheim Baseball Properties for over $2 billion . At some point, you have to wonder if the partners of the syndicate group might not spent that sum more wisely by purchasing perhaps an EPL (Premiership) soccer club or even an NFL franchise , were one up for grabs at the time? As profitable as the Dodgers are , their performances on the field during the postseason remain lackluster. The franchise’s last win of the World Series came in 1988 and their actual appearances since then have only provided them with once chance and as we know it all came to an abrupt end when they fell in stunning fashion to the Houston Astros .

Dave Roberts and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ managerial staff are so far behind the ‘eight ball’ , I am not so sure the manager still can provide the acumen needed to take the ball-club and the players over the hump. If the Dodgers are unable to compete this season, then all bets are off and the payroll will have to be reduced significantly, along along with the shedding of some under-performing players.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will go through their customary Spring Training Schedule before embarking on their regular season with a set of home games against divisional rivals the San Francisco Giants . The opening game will take place on the 29th March , 2018, the Official Opening Day for Major League Baseball for this year. The Dodgers have not been major players in the free agency market during the off-season to date. Having missed out on Giancarlo Stanton who opted to join the New York Yankees , there still remains the chance that they will seek out a productive slugger to add more offense to their lineup. Even with Andrew Friedman not being able to entice anyone to take an interest in acquiring Yasiel Puig , the Dodgers will still have a formidable lineup to start the season.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers having been so disappointing this past season , the upheaval within the New York Yankees’ organization was not totally unexpected. Joe Girardi was sent packing by the front office as the team’s manager and I was somewhat surprised that Brian Cashman wasn’t also sent on his way. Granted, he’s still thought of as an astute general manager, but it has been almost a decade since a team built on his acumen has been triumphant in the Fall Classic (World Series). Former Yankees’ favorite Aaron Boone has been brought in to succeed Joe Girardi and it will be interesting to see what Boone brings to the table by way of his own managerial acumen. This will be his first managerial position in the Majors and I seriously doubt there will be a great deal of patience by the fans should this team begin to struggle at any point during the season.

No longer the free-wheeling big spenders in recent years the New York Yankees have tapered off in terms of payroll, but having acquired Giancarlo Stanton , it could be said things are now back to the ways of old. Stanton has a substantial sum still remaining on his existing contract, which in part will be honored by the Miami Marlins as well as the obligations which will have to be fulfilled by the Yankees.

Expectations are high with the combination of Aaron Judge , Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton in this lineup for the New York Yankees. It certainly will be interesting to see if this team is capable of producing two players capable of hitting at least forty-home runs apiece, while driving in triple digit runs batted-in. Aaron Boone is being asked to turn around the fortunes of the New York Yankees and a great is expected of them this season , especially as they hope the win the AL East , a title that they last held in 2012 . That season the Yankees fell in the ALCS , losing out to eventual World Series’ losers the Detroit Tigers who were defeated by the San Francisco Giants in the postseason finale.

As competitive as we know the AL East to be, the New York Yankees’ toughest battles will be against their divisional rivals , most notably their perennial stalwarts the Boston Red Sox . Both teams will be vying for divisional supremacy as well as looking to dominate the other. Their regular and postseason battles have become synonymous with some of the greatest moments history between the two powerhouses of baseball. There’s a reason why they are among the most successful as well as valuable teams in all of baseball. The New York Yankees will begin their regular season with a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in Toronto , Ontario , while the Boston Red Sox begins its regular season schedule taking on the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida on the same day, 29th March, 2018 . The Yankees are scheduled to meet the Red Sox nineteen times over the course of this season at home and on the road . Let’s up they can provide the type of excitement their fans have come to expect from such meetings.


 


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What do you believe were the most fascinating match-ups taking place within team sports during 2017? Do you believe that 2018 will be able to provide with the type of excitement seen last year ?

Tophatal ………


NFL news from around the league

NFL schedule postseason (divisional round)


NCAA Football


NBA news

NBA games schedules for this week

NBA conference standings (conference) and divisional standings


MLB news

MLB transactions (December 2017) and January’s transactions

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

Long Time Coming ….

Long Time Coming

In the aftermath of another gun tragedy , we have the President making a complete @ss of himself once again. One year removed from the Pulse Nightclub Shooting , Donald Trump and his minions were once again looking to place the blame at the doors of a terrorist cell in the responsibility for the Mandalay Bay Resort shooting in Las Vegas , Nevada , without their being any evidence to substantiate his thoughts. Bear in mind his recent criticism of the Mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico smacked of a petulant child , who doesn’t wish to told of their bad behavior. It seems that the President would rather make comments without first taking in all of the facts and it has led to justified criticism of not only himself but also members of his Cabinet and inner circle of advisers .

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Away from the daily bind of national news , the NFL is still in a state of discord as the impasse has been widened by Donald Trump’s comments about the players as well as his calling for players who fail to stand when the national anthem is being played, he states that they ought to be fired . Clearly , for a failed former owner of an AFL (American Football League) franchise , a league which is now defunct, there is a great deal that the President simply doesn’t understand about the NFL and how it conducts business. Perhaps he also needs to be reminded , the US Congress allows the league (NFL) to remain tax-exempt due to their antitrust status ? As for the NFL itself, perhaps due to indifference, lack of quality games or just the fact , fans are sick and tired of sports now being embroiled in politics, viewership is down for the games televised. Comparisons with regard to game attendance can be measured in a number of ways . If things carry on as they are , I believe the NFL will be able to weather the storm. In reality however, the attention and memory span of the fans remains exceedingly short in terms of history and acts of social activism when it comes to athletes.

We’re now four games into the NFL season and several teams have failed to meet expectations , including the reigning Superbowl champions the New England Patriots (2-2) . Sixteen and 0 (16-0) won’t be ion the cards for this season as I believe the team will be no better than 11-5 or 12-4 . Quarterback Tom Brady isn’t his customary self , but what might be more worrying is the fact the Patriots’ defense has become so complacent and lackluster. Bill Belichick and the team will be back on the field this weekend for their week-five contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night , 5th October, a game being played at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa , Florida.

Through one hundred and sixty-two games, we saw a great deal of inconsistency as well as mediocrity from baseball’s teams. Divisions were up for grabs and there were no real major surprises when it came to the divisional honors . Teams making the wildcard berths were something of a surprise , with the New York Yankees perhaps being the biggest surprise of them all. Personally, I didn’t feel the team was up to the task of challenging within the AL East , as I felt their pitching was so vulnerable. However, a glorious season from Aaron Judge who led the AL in home runs , as he was ably abetted by teammates Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorious .

Having made the MLB Postseason the New York Yankees will find themselves up against the Minnesota Twins in a single-game eliminator , with the winner moving on the Divisional Round of the postseason. The NL Wildcard game will see the Colorado Rockies taking on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday 4th October .

There is no doubt in my mind the two favorites within the NL , the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers are on a collision course meeting in the NLCS , but first , both will have to get past their respective opponents in the divisional round of the postseason. They have been by far the two best teams within the NL and that is with due respect to the Washington Nationals , but at the end of the day , these two big-market teams seem destined to meet in this championship series.

A giant shadow has been cast over the entire Atlanta Braves’ organization with the abrupt resignation of GM John Coppolella . The ball-club was under investigation by baseball’s league hierarchy after it was revealed that Coppolella might well have been making illegal payments to procure players through the international market-place . If the league’s investigations substantiate these allegations , then there could very well be some serious ramifications for the Atlanta Braves. They could be severely punished for Coppolella’s actions, something which I find to be completely idiotic and asinine. Atlanta’s season was simply underwhelming , with the players rarely showing any competitiveness during 2017. Over their last ten games of the regular season the Atlanta Braves were a paltry 3-7 in those contests . Brian Snitker might well be shown the door as the Braves’ manager after such a disastrous season, where Sun Trust Park was sparsely attended in the ball-club’s first year of usage of the venue. While there seems to be a great deal of praise for the Braves’ farm system , considered to be one of the top-five farm systems in all of baseball. Even if John Coppolella was the principal architect of the system , it begs the question what has he done to acquire those players and others over the past three years ? This is something which baseball needs answers to and I don’t believe that Atlanta is the only organization operating under such a guise . They just happen to be the first ball club caught by the league.

Never let it be said that Derek Jeter will always seek to be a popular owner . In what will be his first role as one of the lead partners which purchased the Miami Marlins . Jeter is promising to make what will be the first of some very unpopular decisions . The former New York Yankees captain and star has let be known things are going to change , with the likelihood , several players on the current roster are likely to be traded. Atop of that list could very well be Giancarlo Stanton , the team’s highest paid , best and most popular player. Stanton still has ten years remaining on his current contract which pays him an average of $25 million a year. Details show that the slugger will be paid in excess of $28 million in 2018 if he remains on the team’s roster.

The Miami Marlins remain an unprofitable franchise, while also being among baseball’s least supported teams , when looking at the attendance figures for this and last season . From my own standpoint , I believe the $1.26 billion purchase price paid was far too much. Outgoing owner Jeffrey Loria will walk away with more than a pocket filled with cash., as he laughs all the way to the bank. Baseball fans are left scratching their heads, as another deceitful owner dupes the league hierarchy into stupidity. Rob Manfred remains as gullible and as out of touch as his predecessor , Bud Selig .

First and foremost Derek Jeter and his partners have an obligation to turn things around off the field as well as on the field. If it means stop the hemorrhaging of red ink by slashing payroll , then so be it , even if it means the for the sake of not being competitive for a couple of years.

Someone is going to be mighty upset this season within the world of basketball . The NBA off-season has been littered with trades sending players to new destinations . For some teams , they will be on the rise , while others will be at a standstill or simply regress. Take my word for it , neither the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks will be winning more than thirty games this season. Their respective rosters are lightweight and will become insignificant by mid-season, just as they were last season . LaVar Ball might be singing the praises of his son, Lonzo Ball who was drafted by the Lakers. In some circles the young rookie is seen as the second coming of Magic Johnson . Tall praise indeed , but the team is nowhere as good as some might believe them to be. This will be a learning experience for Lonzo Ball and his teammates over the course of the regular season and at the same time , I am not so sure how Luke Walton will acquit himself. It was all well and good , being on a championship winning team with the Golden State Warriors., but when you take a step backwards and down, simply because , the heralded name of the Los Angeles Lakers is meant to mean something. You just have to remember it has been almost a decade since the Lakers made their presence felt around the league. The team would defeat the Boston Celtics (4-3) during the 2009-10 NBA Finals .

Even if the Los Angeles Lakers are waiting for LeBron James to bring his considerable talents to the City of Angels, I for one don’t believe the four-time League MVP will be coming to a team that is sparse on talent in so many areas of its game. Beyond Lonzo Ball , there  isn”t one player who one might suggest is a real game-changer by any stretch of the imagination . Granted all of the hype concerning Ball has more do with one or two games in the Summer League than his appearances for the Lakers in the preseason to date . Front office executives Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka will be under a microscope this season. The Lakers have three more preseason games to find their groove before hitting the ground running, to begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers in their home season opener .

Well, we had the hype , then the gripe and now the retirement. Floyd Mayweather (50-0) made light work of his opponent Conor McGregor (0-1) , with both fighters bringing home a six-figure payday from a fight which was short on excitement and thrills. The fact that UFC President Dana White chose to make refunds to fans who felt they had been misled and cheated with this alleged extravaganza . McGregor’s debut as a boxer was basically a sham , with the Mixed Martial Artist barely showing any boxing skills whatsoever. It was this type of incessant hype and bravado brought to the spectacle , which caused the fans to feel that they had been cheated. This fight was a frigging farce from start to finish and it should be seen as nothing more than that .

So let me get this straight , Adalaide Byrd , wife of a senior executive within the WBA was allowed to be a ringside judge at a world title fight between Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘ Canelo’ Alvarez ? This bout was well on its way to being one of the fights of the year , but the official result was somehow concluded to be a draw. Golovkin  clearly won the fight , but Byrd’s scorecard suggested the fight in her eyes was a ‘draw’ . Pardon me for saying this , but what the fuck is going on in the world of boxing ? Overpaid and over-hyped fighters and now this , a fucking judge , who on her best day couldn’t differentiate a dog’s ass from a hole in the ground.

Saul Alvarez and his promoter Oscar De La Hoya are clamoring for a rematch and somehow while I think it is a possibility , I do hope that the proposed rematch is not staged in Las Vegas or anywhere in the state of Nevada ! The city and state may well be the Mecca of the boxing world , but it is also one of the most corrupt places on the planet , bar none. It’s not just the sport but just about everything the state represents along with the State Athletic Commission .

Andre Ward was a world champion in two weight divisions and he retired as an unbeaten champion. His decisive win over Sergei Kovalev for the World Light Heavyweight title was enough to seal his legacy . Ward was certainly one of the best boxers of his generation, but sadly, with his lacking the charisma and his bringing his religious faith with him into the ring. It did not provide for a great spectacle for the ordinary boxing fan. However, were we to only discuss his professional career, then we would have something to genuinely talk about. Andre Ward had a promising professional start in the world boxing , being a successful amateur and as well as a > former Olympic competitor. How Ward will be judged by boxing historians as well as the fans will be open to a great deal of debate and conjecture .

Jon Jones has twice climbed to the top of the Mixed Martial Arts’ world, having twice won the UFC Light Heavyweight Title , but as with his career, he is now open to the question . ‘ Are you a cheater Jon Jones ‘ ? Jones in his most recent bout challenged former champion Daniel Cormier , won the bout decisively with a technical knockout (TKO) , only to then to told, he tested positive for a banned substance. A second mandatory test nullified the first test result , but the USADA (US Anti Doping Agency) recommended to the UFC and California State Athletic Commission that the right result be stricken from the record and be shown as a no contest.

Jon Jones (right) is seen here prior to his second fight against Daniel Cormier for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title. Jones won the fight , only for it to be later revealed that he failed a drug test . This has been the second time the MMA fighter has failed a test under the UFC . A second test sample however came back negative but the damage had already been done to Jones’ reputation. He was stripped of his belt the bout was declared a no contest and he now faces a second suspension. Many of his contemporaries are calling for him to receive a lifetime ban by the UFC. If that were to happen the sport and in particular the UFC would lose one of its biggest attractions and stars

While Dana White has not recommended Jones be suspended , many of his contemporaries and former UFC stars are calling for a lifetime ban for the two-time former champion. Having won the belt in the octagon , Jon Jones has been stripped of the title and Daniel Cormier has regained the Light Heavyweight Title belt by default .

The UFC is now in a state of disarray , as two of its biggest stars at decisive points of their respective careers. Conor McGregor needs to remain in the UFC and away from the world of professional boxing, while Jon Jones has to rethink his whole professional mindset and whether or not he continues his professional career as an MMA fighter under the UFC banner.

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Which current or most recent sports’ story do you believe has been the most important, where there is substance to it all along the way ?

Tophatal …….

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If You Snooze You Lose …….

If You Snooze You Lose …

So while the NFL becomes a battlefield and we have the President (Donald Trump) chiming with his own thoughts on the issue of patriotism. Let’s pause for thought, he calls players who choose not to stand “sons of bitches” , but clearly won’t appreciate it is within their right not to stand . Bear in mind , neither Donald Trump or his administration thus far, specifically the US Defense Department seems to have a problem paying out millions of dollars annually merely to have the national anthem paid the league’s regular season games. Am I missing something here ? I guess not !!! The league itself has got off to an inauspicious start and as usual idiots were quick to make prognostications without actually looking at the teams in depth.

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At long last the New York Knicks awoke from their slumber and their first act under the leadership of Scott Perry was to make the decision to trade Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for a bag of Juju beans and pot of gold. I will be exact , Anthony was traded for Enes Kanter , Doug McDermott and a second round unconditional 2018 NBA Draft pick . This trade has Sam Presti coming off looking like damn genius. From my own standpoint, this simply makes the Knicks even more vulnerable while the Thunder becomes a top-five team in the West Conference and a possible contender for the NBA title this upcoming season.

Last season , the New York Knicks were woefully inept in just about every facet of their game and it begs the question, where the hell does this franchise now go from here ? Is Jeff Hornacek as the team’s Head Coach , still able to get the best out of his players and specifically this newly revamped team ? Hornacek is in way above his head and I don’t believe the New York Knicks will be competitive enough this season to win their division much less be considered a playoff contender. This Knicks’ roster is extremely poor , with a lack of scoring after the departure of Carmelo Anthony.

The New York Knicks’ loss becomes the Oklahoma City Thunder’s gain, with the Western Conference becoming a great deal stronger than their Eastern rivals. In all likelihood the reigning champions the Golden State Warriors will be the prohibitive favorites to repeat as champions for the upcoming season . The team’s depth might be even better than last season, with much of its core remaining intact. It will be interesting to see how the Golden State Warriors will fare during their regular season meetings with the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. The first of those meetings will take place on the 22nd November on the road when the two meets for the first time as part of their regular season schedule.

If Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson are to turn around the recent lack of fortune for the Los Angeles Lakers , then these two idiots had better start reading the NBA handbook concerning league conduct , rather than believing they and the franchise are above the league’s rules. It wasn’t by coincidence the NBA hierarchy slapped the Lakers with a rather punitive fine , but I believe Johnson and Pelinka’s actions in trying to lure Paul George to sign with the franchise , when the player had yet to state his declaring status , smacked of sheer conceitedness. George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder by the Indiana Pacers , much to the chagrin of the Lakers , most notably their executives GM Rob Pelinka and Head of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson.

The Los Angeles Lakers will enter this season with one of their weakest teams in franchise history. While there has been a great deal of ballyhoo concerning Lonzo Ball , the rookie has yet to play a game at the professional level . Summer League asides , it will be interesting to see how Ball will seek to break down some of the best defenses in the league , when playing on a team that is actually devoid of in-depth talent . Luke Walton and his coaching staff are likely to have a problematical season as the Lakers seek to find a groove. I for one don’t see a vast improvement on the twenty-six wins by the franchise last season and they will be lucky if they are able to improve on that figure by a significant margin.

Lonzo Ball and his teammates will begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers , which will be the Lakers’ home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California . With the Clippers also in a state of disarray after the abrupt departure of Chris Paul , it could very well be that the City of Angels’ two NBA franchises will be mired in mediocrity this upcoming season. The relationship between Doc Rivers and Chris Paul might well have reached breaking point and with the lack of defensive prowess on the Clippers last season and their fall from grace in the NBA Playoffs might well have been far too much for the veteran point guard to bear.

Somehow the Los Angeles Clippers will try to prove themselves a better team without Chris Paul than they are a team with him. Paul was the glue that held the team together last season and he provided the Clippers with the leadership they were sorely lacking from seasons past. When Steve Ballmer purchased the Clippers for $2 billion , it was hoped the erasing of Donald Sterling’s ownership would be gone for good , bringing about a new era of sanity within the organization. Instead , it has brought about a great deal of intrinsic complacency, far too much power with Doc Rivers not only being the Head Coach but also Director of Basketball Operations . Lawrence Frank might well be the President of Basketball Operations , but I doubt he has that much say in the personnel decisions made for the organization. Far too many Chiefs and not enough Indians . Hall of Fame player Jerry West has since been added to the mix as a Special Consultant . A similar role which he had in being the architect in the successful resurrection of the Golden State Warriors. Needless to say, if both Rivers , Frank and Michael Winger fail to heed the advice provided by the legendary player then the fortunes of the Clippers will sink further into the abyss.

A great deal is now being asked of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan , to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to glory , but I am not so sure either player has the maturity or temperament to get the job done. In the NBA Playoffs of last season the Clippers gave us a glimpse as to why they remain vulnerable and very much overrated . Defense is not a word in their vocabulary and it never has been with Doc Rivers leading the charge as the Head Coach . When the Clippers begin their regular season schedule , it will be interesting to see how this team fares through their first ten games.

It never ceases to amaze me when I read some of the idiotic comments by fans concerning a number of teams within the NBA ! More often than not, there hasn’t been a great deal of thought put into their assessments never-mind the statements made. Recently I read a comment by an avid sports’ fans , in which the individual stated the “window of opportunity” continues to close for the San Antonio Spurs . Less I am mistaken , with twenty straight Playoff appearances, a feat that has not been matched by any other NBA franchise in league history , then there has to be something wrong with the mindset of the individual. Need we be reminded that along the way , the Spurs have won five NBA titles under Gregg Popovich as the team’s Head Coach ? Popovich’s coaching staff is considered to be one of the best in the league and throughout the years a number of his former assistants have gone on to hold head coaching positions around the league. RC Buford has also groomed a lot of executive talent, who have since moved on to hold similar positions as a general manager within the NBA. I don’t believe there are any other teams around the league with that type of credibility as an organization and then you weigh in the consummate class and professionalism shown by Peter Holt . Nothing else needs to be said at this juncture.

It has been over a decade and a half since the San Antonio Spurs had a sub.500 season in the NBA and not win their division. Things began to change in terms of the franchise’s recent history when the Spurs made future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan their first round draft pick from the 1997 NBA Draft . Duncan’s career with the franchise are what legends are made of and it is a testament to the player’s legacy that he is held in such high esteem by his contemporaries . Having retired from the game at the end of the 2015-16 season , Duncan is a franchise leader in so many statistical categories with the San Antonio Spurs. His five NBA titles in tow with Gregg Popovich are symbolic of his legacy and this franchise.

The team which Tim Duncan left behind has now evolved with Kawhi Leonard seen as its leader, but veterans Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli remain part of its core. Leonard has become one of the league’s elite players , having twice won the NBA Defensive Player of The Year Award , his game has now evolved , with his becoming efficient on both ends of the floor.

As long Gregg Popovich is at the coaching helm of the San Antonio Spurs, then this team can never be written off. Only a fool would continue to underestimate the Spurs at their own expense. Last season San Antonio had the second-best record in the league , with only the Golden State Warriors having a better record while going on to win their second NBA title in the last three years. If the Spurs are to compete within a much more formidable Western Conference this season , then their games against stalwarts such as the Warriors , Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder should go a long way in telling us about the team , in particular Kawhi Leonard’s teammates LaMarcus Aldridge , Patty Mills , Pau Gasol , Danny Green , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli.

The San Antonio Spurs’ preseason will consist of will consist of just five games , before embarking upon their regular season schedule beginning on the 18th October when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas .

When Tilman Fertitta agreed in principle to buy the Houston Rockets for a reputed $2.2 billion , the sale price got everyone’s notice. The Rockets are not considered a big-market team , but the exploits of James Harden this past season has placed the franchise back into the stratosphere. Outgoing owner Leslie Alexander wasn’t desperate to make the sale , but he felt in order for the Rockets to move forward , now was the right time and Fertitta was the right owner to make it all possible. With Chris Paul having joined Houston in a totally inexplicable trade , the Los Angeles Clippers’ loss will be come the Rockets’ gain , their greatest gain over the past three seasons that is for sure. There is no doubt in my mind the Western Conference will literally take their opponents in the East this season and simply beat the living crap out of them all season-long !!

James Harden scored against everyone almost at will , keeping up a frenetic pace , to such an extent , it had everyone wondering was there anything else he wasn’t capable of doing last season. The Rockets will be a contender this season and there is no doubt in mind they are more than capable of beating the very best that the East will have to offer. As to their contemporaries within the West, that remains to be seen , but this will be a very interesting season for the franchise. Harden and his teammates will begin their regular season in earnest when they face the Golden State Warriors on Opening Night , 17th October in a game being played at Oracle Arena in Oakland , California .

So LeBron James is giving fans in Cleveland assurances that he won’t be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers anytime soon. Personally, I don’t believe it is a long-term commitment from the player , as his relationship with Dan Gilbert has continued to sour , without taking into account the rumored disintegration of his friend ship with former teammate Kyrie Irving . The point guard was traded to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isiah Thomas . On paper the trade might seem to be equitable, until you take into account Thomas is coming off an injury and off-season surgery. The Cavaliers’ front office failed to use due diligence and threatened to rescind the deal , only to be forced to go ahead with the transaction after some intervention from the league hierarchy and the fact Kyrie Irving made it known he had no wish to remain in Cleveland. The Cavaliers remain the team to beat within the East, but I don’t believe the team in its current guise will have it all their own way within the East over the course of this season !

The Cleveland Cavaliers will have to come out of the starting gates firing on all cylinders , because I believe they will be in for a world of hurt if Isiah Thomas cannot find his footing , because to my mind , Derrick Rose has absolutely nothing left in the tank , whereby he can be productive for the Cavaliers. This much was evident with his play last season for the lackluster New York Knicks. Thankfully, the Cavaliers play in a weak division and a continuously mediocre Eastern Conference. If they qualify as a top four-seed, then the NBA Playoffs within the conference should not prove to be that much of a problem.

Not one , not two , not three , not four , but at least six NBA titles. Well that was the notion of the Miami Heat when they signed LeBron James as a free agent, as the four-time League MVP would join close friends Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh . Heat executive Pat Riley was hailed as a genius and history was quickly made with the franchise. Four consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals , yielded two victories , but then things began to get sour as Riley refused to bolster the roster , much to the chagrin of James. What LeBron failed to understand , while the Miami Heat were winning , the ever-increasing payroll could not keep abreast of the franchise continuing to hemorrhage red ink along its bottom line . It’s still something LeBron James is still not able to fathom in Cleveland with the Cavaliers having lost in excess of $80 million over the last two years.

Dwyane Wade after a nostalgic return to the state of Illinois , where he played last season for the Chicago Bulls , has agreed to a buyout of his contract , then chose to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It had been rumored Riley would have been interested in signing Wade , with the seasoned veteran becoming the team’s leader. The fact that this did not take place speaks to the volume of resentment I still believe there is between the player and the Heat executive . Behind the scenes, Pat Riley has often been ruthless and brutal , but in public he tries to come across as a likable character. Machiavelli has nothing on this particular executive . Like a moth to a flame it appears that everyone wants to be with LeBron , while the player himself has always tried to tell us he’s never played on a Super Team .

John Paxson and Gar Forman of the Chicago Bulls now have the unenviable task of trying to persuade the long-starving fans of the Bulls, they are on the right track to rebuilding this franchise. The glory years of the Jordan led teams to six NBA titles are a thing of the past and it appears an imminent return to those halcyon days are nowhere near apparent. Chicago’s best player of last season Jimmy Butler was sent to the Minnesota Timberwolves , with the belief that a fresh start behind a youth-oriented lineup would be the way ahead. A sighting of Dennis Rodman wearing a wedding dress , professing his love for all things magical now seems to reverberating around the city of Chicago . Lamar Odom now has his eyes on becoming a pharmacist , dispensing medical marijuana to those desperately in need and Bulls’ owner , Jerry Reinsdorf is now on the brink of having a nervous breakdown. Guess what ? You snooze , you lose .

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Which things are you most looking forward to as the NBA preseason and regular season beckons ? Do you believe the Golden State Warriors can make a successful defense or their NBA title ? Also which NBA Rookie do you believe will have the biggest impact on the league this upcoming season ?

Tophatal ….

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The Art of The Deal …..

The Art of The Deal

It was meant to be a book that would provide an insight into the business world and the mind of an entrepreneurial genius. Instead , the consumer / reader was offered a bunch of hogwash and outright bile. For those who still wallow in the glare which is said to come from Donald Trump , forty-fifth President of the United States. Well let’s just say , his first one hundred and eighty days in office , has brought nothing but mayhem , incompetence and calls for his impeachment. What you see is what you ought to expect, because there has been nothing coherent about this President , let alone his administration .

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If you thought this President has issues, then simply take a look at the plight of the NBA at present. Last season’s beaten NBA Finalists the Cleveland Cavaliers are in complete disarray. Team owner Dan Gilbert is now at odds with two of the best players on the roster and it is now rumored that the relationship between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James is at an all-time low . To further emphasize the mayhem of the off-season , Gilbert made David Griffin the franchise’s sacrificial lamb with his firing . Koby Altman has succeeded Griffin as the Cavaliers’ general manager and his first course of business will be to dissuade Kyrie Irving and convince the point guard his future lies with the franchise. Irving has been disgruntled with the team and has two years left on his existing contract , where he’s owed just over $41 million . He can become a free agent in 2020 , but I seriously doubt the player will want to remain a part of the organization given the present turmoil.

Dan Gilbert has sought to deflect the negative vibes within his franchise , while pointing to the promotion of Kobe Altman, a third successive appearance in the NBA Finals and what he believes to be another successful draft class for the Cleveland Cavaliers. There is a great deal of uncertainty concerning the long-term of commitment of LeBron James and his wish to end his career with the Cavaliers. James has a no trade clause in his current contract , which he can opt out of after this upcoming season. Dan Gilbert has seen his franchise lose in excess of $110 million over the last two seasons, but as anyone knows , unless there is an attempt to show some fiscal prudence in spite of the rising revenues , if you continue to overpay while placing a mediocre product on the court, then you are certainly doomed to fail.

Having signed Derrick Rose as a free agent within the last week, it will be interesting to see if Koby Altman can be persuasive enough to keep Kyrie Irving as a part of this Cleveland Cavaliers’ team. Derrick Rose is no longer the player who was the NBA’s youngest League MVP and this past season with the New York Knicks , he simply proved his best years are behind him and not head of him. I seriously doubt he will be able to offer the Cavaliers what they seek and for the franchise . If the Cleveland Cavaliers are to maintain their status as the best team in the Eastern Conference , then there will have to be an even greater emphasis on improving the roster.

So the hype has begun and Lonzo Ball has a great deal to prove as he now becomes the face of the Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise. There hasn’t been hysteria over a player with the Lakers since Kobe Bryant had his breakout season in his first with the Western Conference franchise . Having been named the Summer League MVP , you can easily understand the hype and the level of expectation over Lonzo Ball . The fact that there were other rookies who performed better than Ball during what can be best described as a nondescript Summer League schedule . Ball has been overshadowed by the antics of his father as the elder LaVar Ball , has sought to dictate his son’s worth to possible commercial sponsors. Clearly , LaVar Ball doesn’t understand the harm he is doing to his son’s image or negativity he brings to the table. This is all so symbolic of a situation where you have a parent trying to takeover his son’s business dealings and making a mess of it all .

For the Los Angeles Lakers , this now becomes their moment of truth , moving forward , with a revamped roster, an all new lineup of executives in the front office , Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka having been brought on-board by Jeanie Buss to oversee the running of the Lakers’ Basketball Operations . If both executives are counting on luring LeBron James to the city of Angels , then their task has become a whole lot tougher, as I believe the only ways James leaves Cleveland for a second time , is if there’s a commitment and willingness on the part of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to submit to all of his wishes and whims . Not something likely to happen and unlikely situation where Lonzo Ball and LeBron James being able to coexist. The Lakers are in a state of disarray and only an idiot would now try and suggest otherwise. The team in its current guise is not competitive and Luke Walton has yet to find his footing as a Head Coach with the franchise.

Phil Jackson is out , Steve Mills has been promoted and in comes Scott Perry as the general manager , but the one remaining constant is James Dolan as the imbecilic owner of the franchise. It’s somewhat laughable to hear idiots extol the expertise of Jackson as a head coach , but these very same idiots could not or would not be critical of him as a front office executive. In his three years with the Knicks, Jackson earned almost $60 million , while bringing nothing but sheer incompetence to an organization which hasn’t appeared in a Conference Finals in over two decades. To understand why the Knicks were so abysmal last season , you simply have to look at their decision-making concerning the structure of the team and the lack of productivity from their bench . With both Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis ‘ minds elsewhere , Jeff Hornacek’s lackadaisical coaching approach , bearing no signs of progress , there was never any doubt the Knicks would have a failing grade and season .

Scott Perry will now be entrusted with the rebuilding of the New York Knicks , with the likelihood that both Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis being dealt , rather than having both disgruntled stars on the roster. The Knicks are more than a dysfunctional franchise , they are simply out of their depth on and off a basketball court and will remain that way , as long as James Dolan is the owner. Once a storied franchise , the New York Knicks are among the biggest laughing stocks around the NBA.

We know the NFL has a twenty-four-seven (24/7) news’ cycle and there’s nothing better for the league to dredge up an old story to try and show their altruism. Again it focuses on the issue of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) . Constant denials throughout the years led by the hierarchy of Commissioner Roger Goodell and the union that players suffered minimal injuries with regard blunt force head trauma and other neurological orders from playing professional football , have proven to be the lies NFL wanted to perpetuate. Having settled a billion-dollar lawsuit in recent years , the league has done very little concerning player safety in spite of their insistence that there is ongoing research being conducted by the NFL. There has been more research conducted by academia than anything done by the league over the last two decades. Noted neurologist and researcher Dr Bennet Omalu may well have been at the forefront of it all, but such was the league’s insistence to discredit his findings , that the NFL can no longer be trusted to tell the fans or the public the truth .

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Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco is questioning the intent of the front office to sign free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick . Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti in a recent interview in the presence of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would not commit to signing the player , but suggested the option was there to do so. There are many who believe the NFL has systematically sought to black-ball Colin Kaepernick’s return to the NFL , with Goodell and the owners leading the charge.

With a little less than a week before the NFL preseason begins, free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned by an NFL team . Roger Goodell has sought not to intercede in any way. Yet somehow , the likes of Riley Cooper and Richie Incognito were able to obtain a second chance in the league after their racially insensitive remarks. Let’s just say team owners around the league are intent on black-balling the former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback. In recent weeks it was rumored that the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens were interested in pursuing Kaepernick , but no sooner had the rumors hit the airwaves and print media , they were immediately shot down by those teams themselves. Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco is said to be incensed the front office was interested in acquiring Colin Kaepernick. Far be it for me to suggest, but since his Superbowl MVP performance for the Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco has not been able to meet those expectations or lead by example.

From my own perspective , I believe there remains a great deal of hypocrisy within the NFL and those idiots who believe the league isn’t rife with racial bias, they really do need to look at the fact, the NFL has never really sought to have an African-American owner within their midst. Bear in mind the only person of color who happens to be a franchise owner in this league is a Pakistani-born American citizen , Shahid Khan . Unfortunately for Khan, his ownership of the Jacksonville Jaguars has yet to bring about any semblance of success. Five years in and Khan has yet to see the franchise win a divisional title or make the NFL postseason. Make of it what you will, but just because the league heralds diversity , it doesn’t mean there is diversity in the true sense of the word .

If Colin Kaepernick is welcomed back into the NFL, I certainly hope that he can prove his detractors and doubters wrong. The issues with the San Francisco 49ers last season were not of the player’s making and less we also forget, the Niners’ front office placed their faith in the incompetent and overrated Chip Kelly , whose failure with the Philadelphia Eagles was there for everyone to see

There’s trouble brewing in paradise as Jerry Jones has another off the field issue to deal with , as the Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliot might well have flouted league rules , as well as falling foul of the law . With Jones, once again it comes down to sheer hypocrisy concerning his own conduct as well as those within his organization , in particular the players on the Cowboys’ roster. Jerry Jones has never met a player with a great deal of baggage that he wasn’t prepared to sign. With Ezekiel Elliot , it all comes down to the excuses the franchise will make to obfuscate their own responsibility while also apportioning blame elsewhere. Quarterback Dak Prescott has to show that 2016 was no flash in the pan, as he and his teammates seek to prove themselves worthy of being considered among the favorites for the Superbowl this season.

Though the Dallas Cowboys will begin their quest with the preseason, it will be the regular season which everyone will be focused on. Their first five games of the schedule should provide us with a great indicator as to how good they could be. In week one the Cowboys will meet divisional rivals the New York Giants to open the regular season. There will be a lot riding on this game for both teams , especially for Eli Manning and the Giants .

Far be it for me to suggest, but this baseball season has become nondescript and really lacking a breakout story , which has captured the fans’ imagination . Teams are sitting pretty and now look to the closing stretch , with the final two months of the regular season schedule . This week will begin with Monday’s scheduled contests , with the New York Yankees in action against the Detroit Tigers in a game being played at Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx , New York. Joe Girardi’s Yankees are currently trying to play catch-up to the Boston Red Sox within the AL East . The race between the two teams is so tight that neither can afford to make a mistake over the next ten days. John Farrell and his managerial staff will have the Boston Red Sox ready for their game against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park in Boston , Massachusetts on Monday evening. It has been somewhat strange to see neither Boston or New York make a major trade at this point of the season, but with the Pablo Sandoval experiment having come to an abrupt end with the Red Sox , Sandoval has returned to his old stomping ground, reacquainting himself with the San Francisco Giants .

While I believe there is still to play for , there is no team more at risk than the Los Angeles Dodgers . They are the highest salaried team in all of baseball and failure at this juncture is not an option. Mark Walter and Magic Johnson have a vested interest in seeing the ball-club succeed. When you spend over $2 billion for a professional sports franchise , there is an expectation of success and not repeated failure. Yet, with no long-term strategic planning, all the Dodgers’ ownership have to show for the purchase , are near misses and being ridiculed endlessly for money not well-spent. Art of the deal or simply misjudging the opportunity altogether ?

With a healthy lead atop of the NL West the Los Angeles Dodgers have been barely tested within the division. Having the best record in all of baseball , this team has yet to prove they can be consistent , playing at a high level. Manager Dave Roberts will see if the Dodgers can increase their divisional lead when they face the Atlanta Braves at Sun-Trust Ballpark , in Atlanta , Georgia , with Kenta Maeda on the starters’ mound for Los Angeles to take on Lucas Sims of the Braves. Clayton Kershaw is having another exceptional year for the Los Angeles Dodgers as he leads the league in victories among starting pitchers . He is my consensus favorite to win his fourth NL Cy Young Award , joining a select group of players to have won three or more of baseball’s top pitchers’ award. Kershaw’s next projected start will be mid to late August, based Dave Roberts’ own deliberations those of the managerial staff and team doctors . The Los Angeles can ill-afford to lose a player of Clayton Kershaw’s caliber, as he has proven to be an invaluable asset to the team , beyond being the highest paid player on the roster. Coming back from an injury , there is no need to rush him back onto the pitchers’ mound.

There was a time when the names of Cliff Lee , Cole Hamels and Roy Halliday struck fear into the hearts of opposing hitters when they faced the Philadelphia Phillies’ trio of starting pitchers. Well, those days are long-gone along with the fortunes of the Phillies. This franchise is now literally on baseball’s scrap heap , incapable of winning or playing with any signs of competitiveness. It has been almost a decade since the Phillies won their last World Series’ championship , which came in 2008 , with Cole Hamels , Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins being part of that triumphant team over the Tampa Bay Rays . Fast forward to 2017 and the Philadelphia Phillies in their current guise are a shell of a team with the worst record in all of baseball. No longer with the likes of Ryan Howard on the team being paid in excess of $22 million a year , it is easy to understand why the franchise has fallen so fast. Changes within the managerial staff as well as the front office along with departure of several veterans, have brought some change , but without much success. Even the Minor League prospects for the club have yet to meet expectations.

The Philadelphia Phillies will a meet the Atlanta Braves on Monday night , before embarking on a road series against the Los Angeles Angels . A victory in that series would be a morale booster for the Phillies .



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What do you believe to be the biggest story of the moment coming out of the NBA , MLB and NFL ?

Tophatal ……… 07/29/2017

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Let’s take a walk on the wild side …

Let’s take a walk on the wild side

The fallout of the NFL season has begun with the firing of three NFL head coaches in the past ten days. There will likely be more to follow at the end of the regular season as the teams now will play their final games of the seventeen-week sixteen-game schedule. Jeff Fisher was given his marching orders by the front office of the Los Angeles Rams . Fisher for his part , stated he was proud of the accomplishments achieved , most notably the wins attained. Unfortunately, for the Rams , his record with the franchise was deplorable and overall it was sub. 500 . Buffalo Bills’ head coach Rex Ryan was ousted after GM Doug Whaley made the decision the vociferous head coach had to go. Two seasons of absolute failure with his teams failing to perform was far too much for team owner Terry Pegula to bear. It should be noted , Pegula purchased the Bills for a reputed $1.6 billion with the understanding he wanted a competitive product on the field of play , alongside a world-class organization within the front office . Clearly , the Buffalo Bills have fallen way short of the target sought by their billionaire owner .
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Another NFL owner, whose fortunes have failed to meet his own lofty expectations , are those of Jacksonville Jaguar’ owner Shahid Khan . Since his acquiring the franchise, the Jaguars have yet to post a winning season or have a top-two placement finish within the AFC South . Jacksonville , also seem to be waiting on the maturity level of their top pick from the 2014 NFL Draft . Quarterback Blake Bortles continues to struggle and much of this stems from the fact there front office has never placed around him, a team capable enough to win consistently . Gus Bradley was made the sacrificial lamb and with good reason, as he was never able to get the best out his players during any part of his tenure with the Jaguars. His firing was not a complete surprise to most NFL fans or analysts around the league.

Several of the divisions within the NFL have a reached a conclusion concerning their winners , but there are one or two which have yet to be decided. Likewise , within the AFC and NFC , there are postseason berths which are still up for grabs and many of the teams on the outside looking in , will be hoping to make one last attempt to make it in. Not to be left out of the equation are the teams capable of playing spoiler for the aspirants with an eye on a postseason position. Needless to say, all of the outcomes will become known to the fans as the week seventeen schedule comes to a close on Sunday evening (1st January). The Los Angeles Rams are set to face the Arizona Cardinals , while the Buffalo Bills will have a divisional match-up against the New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars will find themselves at the mercy of the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday.

Hue Jackson and the Cleveland Browns (1-15) managed what a number of fans did not think would be possible for the team this season. The Browns actually won their first game of the year , having defeated the San Diego Chargers in week sixteen . Prior to the victory , the Browns managed to lose fifteen consecutive games , one shy of the regular season record achieved by the Detroit Lions in 2008 . It is a record which remains intact , but there were several people who believed the Browns were capable of matching the feat this season. Certainly, the odds-makers in Las Vegas may well have hedged their bets, but I get the feeling they favored the Chargers to pull off the victory !

I am of the opinion, you never mess with a good thing , when things are going good, why seek change ? Jerry Jones and the coaching staff are said to be ‘toying’ with the idea of inserting Tony Romo back into the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys for their final game of the season. Now consider the fact, while Romo was sidelined due to injury, the Cowboys were led by a rookie quarterback , Dak Prescott , who has since broken rookie franchise records for Dallas and actually making believers out of the detractors, who felt the Dallas Cowboys were past their prime. Not only have they been the best team in the NFC throughout the season , but also the best team in the NFL over much of the season.

Tony Romo will likely get some playing time in this game against the Philadelphia Eagles , but I do not feel it would be in the bests interests of the Dallas Cowboys were he to play the entire game ! The veteran quarterback remains susceptible to innocuous injuries and clearly as his career is in its twilight , he is no longer the passer everyone believed him to be , much less a player capable of leading this franchise to a Superbowl victory. His postseason record simply speaks for itself , in spite of the continuous excuses being made for one of the most overrated quarterbacks in the NFL over the past twelve seasons.

The Dallas Cowboys might well have been the surprise of the season , but I feel the most disappointing teams in the NFL were the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints . Both teams have very good coaches , with Chuck Pagano leading the Colts , while Sean Payton has led the Saints as their head coach for over eight years , along the way winning the Saints ‘ first Superbowl in the franchise’s history , during the 2009 NFL season . Defense and a lack of it has been one of the many issues which explains many of the woes faced by both the Colts and Saints this season. Quarterbacks Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Drew Brees of the Saints have been productive , but it could also be said, they are having down years by way of their own lofty expectations. Brees and his Saints’ teammates will lock horns in a season divisional rematch when they meet the Atlanta Falcons , while as I alluded to earlier the Colts will be facing the Jaguars. This season continues to be one filled with surprises and they will continue once the postseason begins .

So let me get this straight , fans are acting all surprised as the Philadelphia 76ers currently have the worst record in the NBA ? It’s not as if this wasn’t to be expected , considering the Sixers at its core remains the same team seen , as last season . The coaching staff has remained in place, with Brett Brown still serving as the Sixers’ head coach. The only real change other than another mediocre draft has been the insertion of Jerry Colangelo and his son, Bryan Colangelo into the franchise’s front office to head their Basketball Operations . Team owner Joshua Harris remains bereft of ideas and it would seem this franchise is more interested in off the court activities , having purchased several non-core basketball interests . One would have thought there would be an urgency to not only invest in the on-court product but also make sure this is a team built to be competitive and to win ?

Over their last twelve games played , the Philadelphia 76ers have performed with the mediocrity expected of a team with little or nothing to play for . Brett Brown will now prepare the Sixers for their next game when they face the Utah Jazz on the road this Thursday , 29th December . It is becoming abundantly clear the Sixers are playing to be part of the Draft Lottery for the third time in the last three seasons. It is no longer idiotic to suggest the NBA hierarchy led by Commissioner Adam Silver and the team owners are willing to accept continued mediocrity from their franchises , just as long as everyone is making money along the way . In the case of the league . when you have an estimated $7.7 billion a year in gross revenues , there are unlikely to be any complaints from within the NBA fraternity .

It didn’t seem that long ago when Rajon Rondo was on the crest of being seen as one of the elite point guards in the NBA. Having won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics , the player soon began to become a detriment to the team and who was disliked by his teammates and coaching staff . His departure from the Celtics and subsequent travels , has seen a decline in his productivity and to the point where is now being benched by his current head coach Fred Hoiberg of the Chicago Bulls . Hoiberg has this team playing some moderate baseball , while holding down the seventh spot within the Eastern Conference and 8 ½ games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers (23-7) within the Central Division . If things continue to disintegrate between Rajon Rondo and Fred Hoiberg then the point guard’s days with the Bulls could be numbered. Though he is not due to become a free agent until 2018 , GM Gar Forman and John Paxson might think it feasible to cut their ties with the disgruntled player. Rajon Rondo continues to say all the right things , by vocally cheering on his teammates, but it cannot hide Hoiberg’s dissatisfaction with Rondo , as he is slowly becoming a distraction for the franchise.

The Chicago Bulls have essentially become Jimmy Butler’s team though he will be aided by veteran guard Dwyane Wade , as the players seek to rally behind one the league’s brightest young stars . Butler and his teammates coming off a five-point victory over the Indiana Pacers will be on the court to face the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center in Chicago , Illinois, on Wednesday night. Brooklyn’s head coach Kenny Atkinson and the Nets are in need of a win , given their sorry state of affairs at present . This will be another problem year for the Brooklyn Nets and one in which, I do believe team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov will actively and aggressively seek to sell either a majority stake or the franchise in its entirety to any interested party willing to buy the Nets. He has sunk a considerable sum into the Brooklyn Nets as an investment and it has been to no avail . Prokhorov will perhaps retain ownership of the Barclays Center and the surrounding properties owned by his holding company, but the franchise must go , forfeiture of a sale .

If DeMarcus Cousins continues along his path of self-destruction , then he will have no one else to blame but himself. It is becoming exceedingly difficult to try to justify any reason for the mercurial and talented center to be kept by the Sacramento Kings . Cousins might well be the best player on the team’s roster , but he also has become their problem child , with a combustible temperament , which is also a detriment to the team. Former Kings’ players , Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic are senior front office executives for this Kings’ franchise and it does not appear that they carry enough of an influence to change the mindset of Cousins. The coaching staff of Dave Joerger also appears to be dumbfounded and at a loss for words in dealing with their troubled star. Suspensions and monetary fines by the Kings or the NBA hierarchy has done little to sway the behavior of DeMarcus Cousins and it is difficult to see how he has the respect of his teammates at this juncture.

At 14-17 , the Sacramento Kings are third within the Pacific Division of the Western Conference , some 12 ½ games behind division leaders, the Golden State Warriors , who are for all sense and purpose running away with the division and on their way to another divisional title . For the Kings their divisional record is poor and even poorer when facing divisional opponents. The Sacramento Kings have yet to meet the Golden State Warriors this season , but their first meeting of regular season schedule will take place on the 8th January at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California ,. The two teams will face each other four times over the course of the season and I believe the Warriors will end up being the winners of the regular season series between the two teams ! DeMarcus Cousins and his teammates will have their next game against the Memphis Grizzlies at home this Saturday, 31st December .

The New York Knicks might well be the most valuable NBA franchise , solely based on their location , but when it comes to basketball legacy within the NBA everything starts and ends with the Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers . For Lakers’ head coach Luke Walton , his rookie season has been a tough baptism of fire , but he is coping well , has the respect of his players , but most noticeably , the front office have continued to back him all the way. However, on the personal side , with the revelation that Jeanie Buss had ended her four-year engagement to former Lakers’ head coach Phil Jackson . Conspiracy theorists have run amok, with the suggestion , because Jeanie couldn’t persuade Phil to return to the franchise , she torpedoed their relationship to devote more time to the Los Angeles Lakers, leaving Jackson to try and reinvigorate the fortunes of the New York Knicks.

The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling , having lost thirteen of their last fifteen games , leaving them battling among the also-rans of the West , as well as within their division . If there has been one thing which Luke Walton has been able to convince his players in doing and that is to play hard for the entire forty-eight minutes of a game. The Lakers’ last victory came in a game played against the Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas Day , but prior to that , you would have to go back as far as the 16th December when they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania. Luke Walton and his team will be looking to increase their wins’ tally, when they play their last game of 2016 , facing the Dallas Mavericks on the 29th December in a home game. The most consistent player for the Lakers throughout much of the season has been Lou Williams , averaging 18.8 points a game , a far cry from the 31.7 points per game , averaged by the league’s leading scorer and best player this season , Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder . Now one can understand why the Lakers problems have manifested themselves in the way they have done .

The Los Angeles Lakers simply have has no one on the roster who can score or average a double-double per game , much less their being any type of support coming off their bench. Defensively the team is also very anemic , but as long as there remains a commitment from the players in doing things the way Luke Walton believes they should be done, then there will likely be gradual signs of improvement from the team.

Picture gallery and by clicking on an individual frame you can read the narrative and leave a comment should you wish to do so.

Within the realms of the NBA and NFL which stories do you believe will create the greatest impact in the coming week or days ?

Tophatal ……….. 2016/12/28

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The Long Walk Home or Is It To Nowhere ?

The Long Walk Home or Is It To Nowhere ?

While there appears to be apparent apathy , indifference and now the fomenting of xenophobia in recent weeks either being perpetuated by the media , political candidates as well as on both sides of the political aisle. The fact of the matter remains , with the recent stance being taken by NBA stars after the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement officers . I have to ask if their actions are not too little , too late , given the fact these atrocities being perpetuated by law enforcement officers. Personally , I believe after the impassioned statement made by actor Jesse Williams , the athletes were shamed once again into taking a stance ! From my own standpoint , I find far too many of today’s athletes are self-indulgent, with their greatest concern being, personal success, how much wealth they can amass, how much money can they earn by way of endorsements and how they are perceived by the public by enlarge.

When you have the likes of Floyd Mayweather bragging about the money he can earn in and outside of the boxing ring ,while still believing himself above the law and then see the ongoing hypocrisy of today’s NBA stars and realize the fact they measure up so poorly in comparison to many of their predecessors when it comes to dealing with and protesting social issues. I have to question their actual motives and whether or not there is genuine altruism on their part !

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The retirement of NBA star Tim Duncan after nineteen-years of unprecedented success with the San Antonio Spurs , brings to an end one of the truly great careers in recent league history. Duncan , a five-time NBA champion , three-time Finals’ MVP , two-time League MVP and fifteen time All Star leaves the NBA and there will definitely a large void left to be filled on the Spurs’ playing staff . The acquisition of Pau Gasol may well go some way in filling Tim Duncan’s shoes , but I get the feeling as good as Gasol just happens to be , he may well never be able to replace a superstar of Duncan’s stature. The Spurs’ power forward who along with Kobe Bryant recently played their last seasons in the NBA have brought about an end to a two-decade span during which both of these players were truly dominant at their respective position and among the best of their generation.

Gregg Popovich who drafted Tim Duncan , has the greatest respect for the player he believes has been the franchise’s greatest asset during his tenure with the San Antonio Spurs .

Over the years , hierarchies behind sports such as baseball , basketball and football have carried a truly poor image when it comes to addressing the issue of social injustice never-mind the issue of race relations. While idiots continue to suggest Barack Obama has done more to create a greater divide in the chasm of race in the country. I have to ask the question , what the hell do those morons think was happening during the Civil Rights’ era and the early twentieth century , when African-Americans were not afforded the right to vote , have equal access to an education , much less be able to use a public restroom without being attacked ? Now within the Justice System many of the alleged advances made by way legislation within Congress and now within the US Supreme Court , are now being repealed or weakened , to make sure the oppressors will always have the upper hand.

MLB will resume the second-half of its schedule and you now have to question if many of the big-spending teams are capable making a genuine run to the postseason, much less be in with a chance of winning their division. Speculation appears to be mounting the New York Yankees will be dumping salary and unproductive players faster than leaves descending from trees during the Fall. Team manager Joe Girardi has seen his players under-perform and having no real chance of winning the AL East . Over their last ten games as of the 14th July the Yankees are 5-5 with their last victory coming against the Cleveland Indians on the 10th July . The New York Yankees will begin a weekend series against divisional rivals the Boston Red Sox where both Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz are having excellent seasons for the Red Sox. Season series between the two teams have become what many of us have expected from two franchises looking to make sense of their season. Steven Wright of the Boston Red Sox will be on the mound when he faces Michael Pineda of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York on Friday evening.

Michael Pineda is thought to be one of the players are willing to trade prior to or at the trade deadline. Desperation has become the new normal within this Yankees’ organization as the front office is steeped in failure with another abysmal season coming into focus. Having made the postseason in 2015, their stay came to an abrupt end suffering a wild-card loss to the Houston Astros . In 2016 there has been no sense of urgency from this Yankees’ team whatsoever and no excuses should be made concerning injuries suffered to any of their front-line starters .

If the New York Yankees are said to be struggling then this season at this point of their schedule has to be seen as one hell of a triumph for both the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers , the two teams with the best records in their respective leagues. San Francisco will be meeting the San Diego Padres in a road game , while the Rangers will be facing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois .

As the saga continues , it might now be time for Tom Brady to bow out gracefully , rather than continue to his futile effort to prove his innocence. Brady’s latest setback in the never-ending episode of Deflate-Gate has taken on every twist and turn. However, with a Federal Appeals Court ruling that his four-game suspension be upheld , the player’s only alternative is to petition the US Supreme Court to hear his case as a final act of binding arbitration . The New England Patriots’ quarterback has been fighting relentlessly to prove a point, while the league hierarchy has simply seen public opinion move further into their corner.

There will not be a great financial loss for Tom Brady , should he decide to sit out the four games mandated by the NFL , as the player renegotiated his contract for this upcoming season which would see him being paid a base salary of $1 million dollars for the upcoming year. Brady’s signing bonus of $13,000,000 would go untouched by the league. Somehow , I believe every scenario which would could have been planned for, was dealt with by the player’s representatives as well as the NFLPA (Players’ Union) .

New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft remains livid as to the latest outcome and I somehow feel his relationship with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will become more strained and great deal more testy. Kraft was among Goodell’s biggest proponents to succeed Paul Tagliabue to the position as the league’s highest ranking executive. Now with the relationship almost untenable , I do not believe there can be any scenario where the two executives can ever be viewed as close confidantes. Head coach Bill Belichick will now seek to have Jimmy Garoppolo ready for the season with the backup quarterback being given a lot of reps during training camp , the preseason and of-course through the first four games of the Patriots’ regular season schedule . If the team can go at worst 2-2 , then it can be considered a success to the start of their season.

Tom Brady’s likely return would come in week five when the New England Patriots are due to meet the Cleveland Browns led by their new quarterback Robert Griffin III , in a game to be played at First Energy Stadium (Paul Brown) in Cleveland , Ohio on October 9th , 2016,.

Through two rounds of the British Open , Phil Mickelson has a one-shot lead at the Royal Troon Golf Course in Troon , Scotland. Mickelson skirted history during the first round of the tournament , when he shot a sixty-two (62) for a nine under-par (-9) , a record for the first round in the Open . Whether or not ‘ Lefty’ as he is lovingly known can win this Grand Slam major , as usually this tournament , considered to be the toughest of all the Majors , tests the wills of the competitors over the final two rounds.

With over $80 million in career prize money , five Grand Slam tournament victories , Phil Mickelson needs only the US Open to notch a career Grand Slam , while also having won forty-two times on the PGA Tour. His career is considered to be one of the best over the past two decades , but the long-held contention that he would prove to be a formidable rival to Tiger Woods has never materialized on the Tour. Granted, Woods’ own career has been in a steady decline over the past three years and while he still remains popular , his is no longer considered to be the best golfer in the world .

The UFC garnered some negative as well as positive coverage over the past ten days. On the negative side UFC President Dana White had to announce for the second time . former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones had been suspended , having tested for a banned substance. The suspension was recommended by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) and a two-year ban was the recommendation of the panel. Jones has the right to appeal the suspension , but the train of thought among many analysts of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is that his career might well be over. Jon Jones and those within his inner circle have vehemently denied any wrongdoing , but his explanation wreaks of inaccuracies . Furthermore , his coming forward with such a tepid excuse of not knowingly taken a banned substance after his first infraction, leaves a lot to be desired. The positive news emanating from the UFC was the sale of the organization for a reputed $4 billion to WME/IMG , making Dana White , Frank Fertitta III and his brother Lorenzo Fertitta extremely wealthy men. All three will still retain a minority stake in the company , with White being retained in his current position. What this now means for the organization and any further expansion remains to be seen, as the new owners survey their latest asset and acquisition.

UFC’s most recent event UFC 200 was not all thrills and spills with the main card , having been decimated after the announcement of Jon Jones’ suspension in the lead-up to his challenging Daniel Cormier for the title he once held. Cormier had to take on Anderson Silva in a non title fight, while the top bout featured Miesha Tate losing her Women’s Bantamweight Title to Amanda Nunes in surprising fashion . Add in the comical return of the overrated Brock Lesnar and you could say the ” circus was back in town ” . Now we have the comical elements of the WWE now entering its ranks , with the organization now pushing more for the idiotic antics often seen in professional wrestling , rather than the UFC seeking to make its mark and inroads into the base once held by boxing .

Floyd Mayweather , gone and so too has Many Pacquiao , with both boxers calling quits , after almost two decades a piece in the sport of boxing . Their super-fight turned out to be a monstrous bore , with fans being overcharged to witness two boxers whose contest came at least five years after both fighters were no longer at the pinnacle of their respective careers. Boxing has now become a lackluster sport , still controlled by major promoters Bob Arum , Don King and Oscar de La Hoya , The latter entered the sport as a promoter after a classic career in the ring. Instead , all de La Hoya seems to be offering the fans are promises which have yet to be fulfilled.

On Saturday night Deontay Wilder will make a defense of the Heavyweight title when he defends his crown for the fourth time when he faces Chris Arreola in defense of his WBC crown . This is not a fight I believe fight fans will be relishing, given the challenger’s lackluster record over his past six fights . Arreola often comes into a bout out of shape and unwilling to fight , in spite of claims he possesses a knockout punch. Wilder will be fighting in his hometown of Birmingham , Alabama at the Legacy Arena , where there will be a sell-out crowd for the defending champion and heavily backed favorite. I expect Deontay Wilder to make another successful defense of the heavyweight title before seeking out a much sterner opponent for his next defense. The thinning of the herd within the division lessens the chance of his meeting a credible challenger . Tyson Fury has his long-awaited rematch coming up as he defends the versions of the titles he now holds , when he meets Wladimir Klitschko . The Ukrainian fighter is hoping to rebound after his astonishing loss to the English-born fighter last year in what was seen as one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history.

Boxing longs for an undisputed heavyweight champion , something which we have not seen in over a decade and it should also be remembered , currently there are no undisputed champions in any of the weight categories of the sport. We have a litany of alphabet organizations governing the sport and none seem to be in unison , seeking to make boxing more engaging for the fans or competitive with regard to the title fights being staged.

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I am being continually told , how far this country has come in the past two-hundred and forty years since its founding and specifically since the end of the American Civil War. The so-called advancements made, have been played out on a battlefield of hate, greed, corruption , cynicism , a great deal of racism and xenophobia . It is certainly being played out in the current political arena on both sides of the political divide. The things which allegedly made America great, are no longer being seen and the country itself , has lost the respect of its closest allies. Only a fool will try to suggest the contrary. The country has to be shamed into doing what is morally right and more often than not has been reactive rather than being proactive. Yet it seeks to be the moral beacon of light for the rest of the world . There is a great deal the country still has to learn and the biggest lesson of them all , has to be the respect of others as well as preserving its own dignity. Something which seems to be lost among its political leaders, athletes and dare one say even among its populace ?

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Tophatal …. 2016/07/15

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Save It For Another Day ….

Save It For Another Day …

OK, so the country is in a state of shock after the events of the past seventy-two hours and I am of the belief , you cannot change a country, when the mindset of the political leaders remains ambivalent , rhetorical and pragmatic . The United States of America no longer remains the Land of The Free , but it has become about the have’s and have not’s . No other country on the earth judges its people than by the wealth amassed and the power one has by the fortune amassed. From my own standpoint , I no longer wish to make any type or real observation concerning the country , because I know in essence, things are unlikely to change , no matter who takes power at the highest levels of political office .

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In the world of sports , the NBA’s off-season has taken shape with a spate of transactions and the ongoing stupidity exhibited by analysts such as Charles Barkley and Stephen A Smith . The duo have taken things to a new level of such idiocy with their statements concerning Kevin Durant’s departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors . How little they seem to remember , when it came to the orchestrated and embarrassing performance by LeBron James , when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat and where James would lead the Heat to two of their three NBA titles while he played for the franchise. Rather than address the fact , the NBA is no longer about team success , but more so about singular titular achievements of the league’s superstars. The fans of the NBA now have to put up with the utter bull$hit exhibited by individuals (Barkley and Smith) who clearly want to proffer up idiotic opinions, with the belief they will be listened to with a great deal of clarity and real intellect.

Dwyane Wade’s shocking departure from the Miami Heat to join the Chicago Bulls was more of a jolt , than Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder. Heat Team President Pat Riley has played footloose and fancy-free over the last six seasons conjuring up the success for their franchise. Yet, his plan had to unravel , because the financial burden for the Miami Heat had become too much to bear. Wade for his part sacrificed professionally as well as monetarily in order to facilitate the wishes of the front office executive Yet at the end of the day , as we all know the NBA has been nothing more than a business , with team success being secondary in nature and nothing more than a bye product of it all.

In reality the league (NBA) has become entity without any heart , soul or real competitiveness, where they are no longer any great team rivalries , player rivalries or in-depth skill-set. There are but a handful truly great players in the NBA , with the coaching also being rather mundane, if not pedantic , bordering on being less than average.

Away from professional basketball , Major League Baseball is on the cusp of taking its mid-season break for the events of this year’s All Star Game being held at PETCO Park , home to the NL’s San Diego Padres . Teams are still vying for divisional supremacy as well a vital playoff berth within each league. Of late things have slowed up for the Chicago Cubs who at one point had the best record in all of baseball. That mark now belongs to the San Francisco Giants who are bring pressure to bear on their divisional rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers whose gargantuan payroll dwarfs so many of their rivals within the NL West as well as the rest of MLB . Over the last ten games played , the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays have been the two best teams in baseball , with each compiling an 8-2 record . Though it is not reflected in their divisional standing within the NL East or the AL East where they sit several games behind the respective divisional leaders.

Coming off their last contest the Toronto Blue Jays were 5-4 winners over the Detroit Tigers in a game played the Rogers Center in Toronto , Ontario. The two teams will face each other again on Friday evening , with the Blue Jays seeking to inch closer the Baltimore Orioles , who currently lead the AL East . In the case of the Philadelphia Phillies , it has been a lack of consistency throughout much of the season which has led to their faltering behind the Washington Nationals and New York Mets within the NL East . Thursday’s embarrassing loss to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver Colorado , proved to be something of a setback for this Phillies’ team , but they will get the chance to rebound from the defeat , when they meet in the resumption of their regular season series this Friday.

At this point last season , the standings within the game gave us no real indication as to how the postseason would play out for the participants . I certainly believe the last month of the regular season will play a part in what we could very well expect during the postseason foray for the teams. For now, the fans will prepare as the All Star Game festivities get underway , with the beginning of the mid-season showcase starting with starting with the Celebrity All Star Game on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s Home Run Derby , with the pinnacle being Tuesday’s big event of the whole showcase. The AL and NL rosters for the game might well have been filled with surprises , but when you consider this is nothing more than love-fest , which comes courtesy of fan voting , rather than on the merits of the accomplishment of the players up to this point of the season. Then there are bound to be a number of grievances from various arenas covering the game of baseball. Yet at the end of the day, the fans simply want to be entertained, while seeing a very competitive contest from the best players the game has to offer.

What should have been one of the biggest promotions in UFC history with the scheduling of UFC 200 , will now turn into something of a nondescript spectacle. One of MMA’s biggest stars, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones has been forced to withdraw from his proposed Light Heavyweight title bout against reigning champion Daniel Cormier . Jones has tested for a banned substance and a mandatory two-year suspension by WADA comes strong on the heels of the fighter just returning to the octagon having tested positive for cocaine after his having originally defeated Cormier in defense of the title he had to relinquish . Jones has pled his innocence stating that he could have only tested positive having taken a prescriptive medication for which he wasn’t aware was among the list of substances banned by the UFC. Plausible or not , Jon Jones has become the unwanted face of the sport because of his past offenses in and outside of the octagon. Jones , alongside Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey , are the three biggest draws in the sport , which at present is truly bereft of a breakout star, given the fact in recent months, each of the three fighters mentioned suffered losses professionally in the octagon or their reputations have been sullied with some negative press, because of actions outside the sport. UFC President Dana White , whose avuncular style and dictatorial leadership of the UFC has drawn negative reviews , is now pressed in having to deal with another damaging blow the sport.

Criticism from many circles concerning the UFC’s business dealings with contracted fighters signed to the company are not misplaced , in spite of claims to the contrary by White , and UFC’s owners , Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta . UFC 200 will still be staged , but the main attraction on the card will mark the return of former Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar who will face Mark Brown , while Miesha Tate will defend her Women’s Bantamweight title against Amanda Nunes . Daniel Cormier is likely to be tested in his bout when he faces off against Anderson Silva the former UFC Middleweight champion. These three bouts will highlight the main card for the evening’s events staged at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas , Nevada on Saturday , 9th July, 2016. If nothing else, UFC needs a shot in the arms after all of the negative publicity surrounding the Jon Jones debacle as well as the uncertainty concerning Conor McGregor’s future within Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The Irishman seems unfazed by the antics of the UFC President , knowing full well the UFC needs him more than he needs the sport. Contract obligations asides , his staged announcement and walking away from sport was nothing more than hyperbole.

Brock Lesnar’s return will certainly give us something of a comedic spectacle, given the fact his reign as the former champion was short-lived . All-American or not , Lesnar has limited skills as an MMA fighter , where his greatest strengths are his wrestling and physique.

Serena Williams will be looking to add to her twenty-one singles’ Grand Slam titles when she faces Angelique Kerber of Germany in the Ladies’ Singles Finals at Wimbledon. Kerber , defeated Williams to win the Australian Open in Melbourne , this past January, depriving the American of her chance to equal Steffi Graf’s modern era Open record of twenty-two Grand Slam singles’ titles. Serena Williams will enter the Finals at Wimbledon as an overwhelming favorite , but I believe Angelique Kerber is not to be underestimated ! Williams is by far the best player of her generation and among the top-five female players in the history of tennis, but it is difficult to suggest she is the greatest female player of all-time. Her career record while outstanding , would pale into comparison when measured against the likes of Martina Navratilova , Steffi Graf , Billie Jean King and Margaret Court .

If Serena Williams fails in her quest on Saturday afternoon , it will not be for the lack of trying , but questions will certainly once again be raised where she ranks within the pantheon’s of the women’s game should she falter again , at the hands of Angelique Kerber.

The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil are just over month away and while IOC President Thomas Bach assures the world at large everything is OK. What cannot be hidden from the public , is that the country remains beset by political scandal , has an outbreak, which many believe Brazil cannot contain , in spite of assurances from the nation’s Health Ministry and the WHO (World Health Organization) . While I believe the ‘Zika Virus’ outbreak is a real cause for concern, my greatest fear, is that Brazil and its security apparatus will be unable to handle a terrorist attack . The whole world will be watching the biggest sporting spectacle to be staged each quadrennial and I have to admit , I will be fascinated to see many of the events unfold. Team USA will seek forge unity , trying to unite a nation divided by racial and economic divides , while idiot politicians and members of the media seek to suggest the nation is more unison, when it faces its greatest adversity. Nothing could be further from the truth, as there remains a perpetuation of xenophobia fomented in the bigoted rants of political commentators , Presidential candidates and even idiot members of the populace , who know little of the nation’s history, much less the reality of the real world .

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Recent tragic events , which we have now borne witness to via media resources, reminds us why very little has changed in the US over the last six decades, much less since the nation came into being. All men are not created equal and they are certainly not treated fairly under the law. Anyone with an iota of intelligence can see that for all sense and purpose the United States remains divided along racial and socioeconomic lines. It is the way in order to keep the status quo as is, with those in power , controlling the wealth and suppressing the freedom of others, specifically those who are of an ethnic background.

Tophatal …………. 2016/07/08

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