Ten Days In The Valley and There’s Not $hit To Do Except Laugh …

Ten Days In The Valley and There’s Not $hit To Do Except Laugh …

Well the state of California is being decimated by wildfires likely to cost the state billions of dollars and with large payouts of claims , much to the detriment of the insurance companies. Don’t shed a tear for the companies involved , because at the end of the day, the consumer will always ending up paying. As to the state of the professional sports’ franchises active within the state, other than the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Dodgers , everyone else is in a state of disarray. Granted, fans of the NBA are hoping that the teams within Los Angeles will be able to provide some glamour as well as some competitiveness. Yes , I am talking about the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers . It’s like talking about two of the hottest girls you’d like to take to the prom , only to find out that both have self-esteem issues , where both lack eloquence and elegance. Anyone who believes that either of these two teams will be able to beat the best that the West has to offer much less the rest of the NBA has to be severely delusional.


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The Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers will begin their respective regular season schedules on the 19th October when they play each other on the Opening Night of their season. With both lineups afresh with new talent beyond the rookies, it will be interesting to see if Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Luke Walton of the Lakers can get the best out of their teams while seeking that first victory to start the season.

Weekend results in the NFL , proved one thing , injuries and lack of consistency will continue to ruin the boldest of ambitions for the teams. Taking Colin Kaepernick out of the equation , but how much worse can things get for the San Francisco 49ers (0-6) ? This is a team that is badly coached , lacks motivation , but above all, the players themselves apparently don’t seem to care. Call it too much kneeling (pardon the pun) or plain and simple, head coach Kyle Shanahan is in way over his head. Team GM Jon Lynch in his first executive position within the NFL has gotten off to a preposterous start. For all of the idiots who believed his draft class for the Forty Niners was one of the best in the franchise’s recent history. I have to ask, what the hell were they looking at when they came to that particular assessment ? The rookies and sophomores on the roster are not particularly good , the defense is abhorrent and let’s just say the quarterback play is way beyond mediocre. If Brian Hoyer is your starting quarterback, simply imagine your team sinking in quicksand. I am not about to suggest the Niners will go 0-16 , but if they do, I won’t be surprised at all. However , I do feel if things get much worse over the next two weeks , then Kyle Shanahan could very well become the first coaching casualty of the season.

In week seven the San Francisco 49ers are due to meet the Dallas Cowboys , for whom this season has already turned into a nightmare . Give Jerry Jones his due , his comments notwithstanding , he is now proving himself to be a monumental asshole , albeit that he has sought to backtrack after his recent comments drew criticism from players on the Cowboys’ roster.

The Oakland Raiders are having struggles of their own and the loss of starting quarterback Derek Carr certainly hasn’t helped. This team simply takes a step backwards without Carr in the lineup. As he goes when at his best , then so does the team. Oakland was in action against the Los Angeles Chargers whose season to date hasn’t met expectations. With veteran quarterback Philip Rivers in the twilight of his career , it’s difficult to see how the team will contend over the course of the season. Sunday’s game at the O. Coliseum provided the fans the chance to see what both of these AFC West teams are made of . The Chargers came away with a narrow one-point margin of victory , while David Carr back in the lineup , played as best he could . Inevitably the Raiders are expected to challenge for the division this season , but as I alluded to earlier it will all be predicated upon the play of the young quarterback . Lofty expectations for a player whose recent contract negotiations led to him being given a hefty pay raise and contract . No doubt the Oakland Raiders will b e looking to make a second consecutive appearance in the postseason, something which they haven’t done in a number of years. Next up for Oakland will be a home game against the division leading Kansas City Chiefs , who are led by the rejuvenated Alex Smith . The former Niners’ quarterback , great during the regular season in recent years has been unable to lead this Andy Reid coached team into making a deep postseason run. Perhaps this will be the year in which they are able to achieve that feat ? Smith’s years with the Forty Niners were ridiculed , but when you take into account the disarray there was with the franchise and the lack of competitiveness , much of the blame should have been laid upon the front office led at the time by former GM Trent Baalke and the coaching staff of Jim Harbaugh , whose relationship with Baalke was seething and coming to a boil. Alex Smith’s last season in San Francisco was in 2012 with the team ending with an 11-4-1 record and their making the Superbowl . Smith was on the roster , but did not take part in the championship game .

Stanley Kroenke might well be one of the richest owners in all of North American professional sports. Forget Michael Jordan’s , $1 billion fortune or Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones . They all pale into insignificance when measured against Kroenke’s and then you bear in mind he is married to Ann Walton-Kronke whose late father Sam Walton was the founder of Walmart , the world’s largest retailer. Their combined net worth would be well in excess of $15 billion , if not more. As the owner of the Los Angeles Rams , whose relocation from St Louis , Missouri to the outskirts of greater Los Angeles , gives the city two NFL franchises , with the other being the Los Angeles Chargers . With the Chargers having their own misfortunes this season, it has been left to the Rams to pull up the slack. Who would have thought at this point of the season the Rams would be riding high, sitting on top of the NFC West ? Led by Jared Goff , a second-year starter in the league , along with Todd Gurley , this team appears to have a pretty potent offense. It remains to be seen if head coach if Sean McVay in his first year in charge can get the best out the Rams while possibly leading them into the postseason. It would certainly be the shock of the season , given the visibility of the Seattle Seahawks who have been the dominant team within the NFC West in recent seasons. The regular season meetings between these two teams should prove to be entertaining once they take place. The first of which happened in week five, with the Seahawks taking that game by the score of 16-10 . Their next scheduled meeting will be in week fifteen on the 17th December , 2017.

What can go wrong for the Los Angeles Dodgers at this stage of the MLB Postseason ? They have a 2-0 lead on the reigning World Series champions the Chicago Cubs and the Dodgers’ pitching staff has proven to be exceptional not only during the NCLS but also throughout this postseason. Yet , there is a caveat and a lesson to be learned . The Dodgers have a way of self-imploding, having a series well within their grasp , only to be caught like a deer in headlights. Against the Cubs , this is not a team you want to let off the hook , having caught them on the end of your line. Joe Maddon as a manager should not be underestimated , as he will find a way to place the Chicago Cubs back in this series.

Game three of the NLCS will revert back to Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois, when when the Chicago Cubs will play host to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A win for the home team will put them right back into the series . Losing and it places the Dodgers in the driver’s seat , having to take only two of the remaining four games in the series. The heroes for the Los Angles Dodgers have been Justin Turner , Kenley Jansen and Kenta Maeda . However , it has been a solid team effort which has led the Dodgers to be just two games away from making their first World Series’ appearance in over twenty-five years. Tommy La Sorda was the last manager of this ball-club to take a team to the World Series and win it outright. Current manager Dave Roberts seeking to achieve what his seven previous predecessors have been unable to do. Were he to achieve the feat , Roberts would become only the second African-American manager to have won a championship after back-to-back series’ titles won by Cito Gaston as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993 .

Alabama (6-0) still reigns supreme atop of College Football as they remain unbeaten and already guaranteed a playoff berth in the reformatted system . Elsewhere, in the once highly touted PAC 12 Conference , the once mighty powerhouses seem to have fallen on hard times. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide were hardly tested over the weekend when Alabama faced off against Arkansas , walloping their guests 41-9 in a home stand. The PAC 12 might still be revered , but I have always felt , defense was never part of the makeup of programs within the conference and where offense always remained a constant. The USC Trojans , Washington Huskies and Washington State are the top three teams within the conference based on their overall records . All three teams will be in action this upcoming weekend as will many of the top programs within College Football.

I have no doubt the SEC will produce this season’s National Champion and it seems all but a certainty Alabama will once again be in the mix. They will face Tennessee (Volunteers) in a game to be played on Saturday 21st October . Everything seems to be pointing towards a seventh consecutive victory for the Crimson Tide at this juncture. If Alabama’s fortunes are said to be on the rise then consider the problems now facing conference rivals Florida (Gators) . Let’s just say head coach Jim McElwain , his staff and players have some real issues to discuss. McElwain has seen this team simply fall apart at the seams and it’s not likely to get any better unless the players show signs of improvement. Up next for Florida will be a match-up against Georgia (Bulldogs) in Gainesville , Florida in a game being played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium . One more loss and the Gators will be out of the running for a lucrative Bowl Game once and for all.

It’s official , the Athletics Department of the University of Louisville had their fill with Rick Pitino , Head Coach of the Basketball Program for the university. With all of the mounting evidence and repeated infractions in spite of the denials from Pitino . He was fired with no formal comment from the coach after his dismissal . The writing was on the wall, because in spite of Louisville’s record , the off-court issues were far too much to bear for the fans and school itself. Rick Pitino’s character , lack of judgment , deceit and lies had finally caught up with him . No amount denials or excuses by his supporters or the man himself was ever going to be enough for him to escape the inevitable. There was no way he could continue in his role as the coach of the program under any circumstance whatsoever. Serious violations of NCAA rules, repeated infractions and the lack of oversight all fell on Pitino’s shoulders and that of the Athletics Department headed by AD Tom Jurich , who has since been replaced by Vince Tyra . The Sword of Damocles was wide-reaching as it led to Greg Postel being named Interim University President.

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Rick Pitino , now the former Head Coach of the Louisville Men’s Basketball Team. Pitino along with AD Tom Jurich were fired from their respective positions after revealed improprieties concerning the basketball program. There is also a federal investigation of Pitino and four other NCAA Basketball Head Coaches , which could lead to further penalties of the programs involved. Rick Pitino has denied any wrongdoing on his part or by any of his associates. There is mounting evidence to suggest the head coach has been less than truthful with some of his comments.

Rick Pitino’s future now looks bleak and his chances of returning to the collegiate ranks as a Head Coach are less than zero .

The firing of Rick Pitino might be the best thing to happen within the world of College Basketball , because for far too long , coaches like Pitino have been placed on a lofty pedestal not just by the fans, but also by the idiot members of the media , who would rather write meaningless stories , rather than seek out the truth when there is wrongdoing on the part of these coaches. It might even lead to coaches not skirting the rules , taking heed and changing how they conduct themselves professionally. Jim Boeheim’s denials concerning his assistant Bernie Fine , still leaves a disgusting taste in one’s mouth. A sexual predator whose proclivities rival that of Jerry Sandusky , whose close confidante was none other than Joe Paterno , then Head Coach of Penn State . Needless to say, the ensuing cover-up initiated by certain members of the Board of Trustees of Penn State , dragged the school’s reputation further into the ground.


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

From rags to riches and back to rags again, this is what we are likely to see over the remainder of the sporting year as it relates to the sporting topics raised in this article. What thoughts if any do you have on the subject ?

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Tophatal …..

Save It ….

Save It …

Not a great deal has been happening within the world of sports , albeit that, there are still some ongoing stories to be played out. NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned, though the San Francisco 49ers’ newly installed general manager John Lynch has stated the franchise would not be averse to resigning the player. From by own standpoint , the ongoing hypocrisy of the NFL and the fact as a business entity there leaves a great deal to be desired concerning the claim this league is all-inclusive and has a respect for one’s right to express themselves freely. This league down the years has condoned some of the most heinous actions conceivable by players, without the NFL hierarchy of the NFLPA (union) seeking to address many of those issues. Needless to say, the longer Kaepernick remains unsigned , the more the matter will become open to conjecture and speculation.

The NFL has shown itself to be a hypocritical organization, where front office executives have excused the behavior of players who are known rapists , misogynists , racists , spousal and child abusers , but the moment a player takes a stance on a social rights’ issue and are well within their right do so, owners and general managers take the stance , that Colin Kaepernick is unpatriotic. Well , I guess if Kaepernick has spent in excess of $3 million of his own money to aid the cause of homeless veterans within the greater San Francisco area , as well as setting up a charitable foundation for at risk teenagers , it really does make him unpatriotic and conceited ? This country has short-term memory , lacks the intelligence to understand what is happening under its very nose and seems to forget that athletes such as Muhammad Ali , Jack Johnson , Jesse Owens , Jackie Robinson , John Carlos and Tommie Smith also took a similar stance to Colin Kaepernick , were vilified in some circles , and praised by others. I wonder , if the San Francisco 49ers , had the team won the Superbowl when they faced the Baltimore Ravens , even after the stoppage , which clearly changed the momentum of the game , would the San Francisco quarterback still be persecuted and have become persona non-grata within the league and by numerous fans ? Just a thought , mind you !

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Major League Baseball begins its regular season schedule with a slew of games to be played on Opening Day, 3rd April , 2017. The Chicago Cubs , as the reigning NL Pennant winners and World Series champions will be looking to be the first team since the New York Yankees to make a successful back-to-back defense of their title. The feat was last accomplished in 1998 and 1999 . Chicago’s opening game of their regular season began with a loss to divisional rivals the St Louis Cardinals with a 4-3 defeat . These two teams will meet again on Tuesday afternoon, in a game to be played at Busch Stadium , in St Louis , Missouri,.

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Jack Johnson , the first African-American to hold the Heavyweight Title and whose career in the boxing ring was questioned due to his association and fraternization with white women. Johnson was never able to find acceptance in America and fled to Europe where he gained the respect of fans and boxing promoters alike. Always a vocal opponent of racial and social injustice the boxer was vilified by fans , also by the press (print media) and by members of the US government. Not unlike the same treatment now being meted out against NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick .

Already a World Series’ MVP and among the best of the starting pitchers to be found in all of baseball , the San Francisco Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner continues to mesmerize not just with the ball , but also with his bat . In the Giants’ opening game of the season, Bumgarner became the first pitcher MLB history to hit two-solo home runs in a game. Manager Bruce 

, his managerial staff and the team will be looking to bounce back from that initial loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks when the San Francisco Giants resume their series on Tuesday. Johnny Cueto of Giants will be on the mound to face Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks.

For the past two seasons Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been the highest salaried player in baseball. When Kershaw takes to the mound for the Dodgers’ game against the San Diego Padres , his 2017 salary will be greater than the entire payroll of the opponent he faces on Tuesday afternoon .

Don’t say you weren’t forewarned , but there was a great deal of idiocy, surrounding the future of Klay Thompson as the Golden State Warriors acquired Kevin Durant . For some reason there was this insistence that Thompson and Durant would not be able to co-exist on a team , already with two superstars without adding a third. Klay Thompson has proved to be an invaluable asset alongside Durant and two-time League MVP , Steph Curry . The Golden State Warriors also seem to have rebounded from their NBA Finals’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and will end up with the best record in the NBA for the second consecutive season . It should also be noted, with the swoon of the Cavaliers and their recent record , LeBron James and his teammates are by no means a certainty to repeat as champions much less win the Eastern Conference title.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers still laboring and possibly a tough match-up coming their way when they face the Orlando Magic and then Eastern Conference leaders the Boston Celtics . The Golden State Warriors under the calming influence of head coach Steve Kerr has guided his team with a great deal of aplomb and not worrying about what critics might have to say . Personally, would rather listen to the insight of Warriors’ special consultant Jerry West than the asinine thoughts of analysts and fans who clearly have no damn idea as to what it takes to build a championship contender much less a winning team ! Jerry West has been able to do that with the Los Angeles Lakers in the run-up to their championships won , when he was the architect of the teams led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal . He would then rebuild the Memphis Grizzlies into a contender before being brought on board of the Golden State Warriors at the request of co-owners , Joe Lacob and Peter Guber . Looking to round out their season on a high , the Warriors are unlikely to be a seventy-game winner this season. The best the team can hope for is a sixty-eight and fourteen record (68-14) to end their season , winning the five remaining games on their schedule. The first of those games will be against the Minnesota Timberwolves , a game where I expect the Warriors to come through unscathed !

Tiger Woods surprised no one with the announcement that he would skip this season’s first Major on the PGA Tour schedule , The Masters being held at Augusta G & CC , Augusta , Georgia . Woods has made one appearance on the PGA Tour this season and he has very little to show for it overall . Even if fully fit and had he declared himself ready to play, I do not believe Tiger Woods’ game would at his very best. Woods’ confidence is at an all-time low and he is kidding himself, if he still believes he can go shoulder to shoulder with any of the top-five players in the world. From being acclaimed the number one golfer in the world Tigers Woods is now at a crossroads in his career , with only the record of Jack Nicklaus to surpass , in terms of the number of Grand Slam tournaments won. Woods’ fall from grace has been his own undoing , with his well-chronicled sex escapades , lack of honesty , infidelity issues during and after his marriage.

Augusta will be the center of the Golf World when the tournament begins this Thursday and it will be interesting to see of Jordan Spieth can further enhance his career as being the best golfer , America has produced in the past five years.

For all of the ” hype” seen during the Men’s NCAA Tournament . The final game of College Basketball’s season turned out to be a downright “dud” and a truly ugly spectacle. Gonzaga the prohibitive favorites, took on North Carolina (Tar Heels) in a contest that was filled with numerous turnovers , ugly play and not much to redeem either of the two teams. Roy Williams adds another title to his already impressive resume’ , but at the end of the day, that is just about all one could say concerning the game .

Things have become stagnant within the UFC , as the banner organization is now more reliant on aging fighters , than some of its younger stars to raise its profile further. The return of Georges St Pierre is a further indication of that with the former UFC Welterweight Champion coming out of his self-imposed retirement to challenge the current Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping for his title. The fight will offer Bisping the biggest payday of his career and the chance to beat a legend. While the UFC has undergone a change in ownership after the organization was sold for a reputed $4.5 billion to William Morris Endeavor Group , a sports’ management and entertainment company known globally. What we do know , is that UFC President Dana White will remain on board in his current role as the UFC’s lead executive. White for his part, is now changing his stance with regard to the proposed fight between Conor McGregor , currently the biggest star within the organization and his facing multi-titlist , Floyd Mayweather , who is willing to come out of retirement to face McGregor. This is the sort of circus antics needed by both sports , which appears to be seeing something of a downturn in attendance for some of their high-profiled bouts and PPV events (pay per view).

The UFC has a very interesting upcoming event with , UFC 210 taking place this Saturday at the Key Bank Center in Buffalo , New York. Main event on the card will be Daniel Cormier defending his Light Heavyweight title when he faces Anthony “ The Rumble “ Johnson . For Cormier , this might be the most formidable opponent he has faced over the course of his career. Johnson tends to end his fights in spectacular fashion and is an excellent grappler and Ju-Jitsu artist . Cormier’s strengths lay in his wrestling and his power , but don’t be dissuaded by the fact that he doesn’t know how to knock an opponent out. All signs point to what should be a very good fight , while waiting in the wings as a possible future opponent for the winner , is the division’s former champion Jon “ Bones” Jones . For Jones in spite of his issues outside the octagon , there is no denying he’s sorely missed and if things fall into place , his being in line for a title shot would be the best thing that could happen to the sport and in particular for the Light Heavyweight division .

So , here’s the question , can MLS Soccer rise to the point where it can stand on its own , where fans and observers it can be taken seriously enough to challenge the top Soccer Leagues around the globe ? Granted , fan attendance for the league’s games have seen a gradual rise over the last eight years . Yet for all of that, the Men’s National Team has never seen the success attained by the Women at the international level. Furthermore , there has been only one player produced by the country who could ever deemed to be considered world-class , since the sport became something of a household pastime . Tim Howard has to be considered the greatest player in US Soccer history in spite of the idiotic glorification of Landon Donovan

Don Garber , the CEO of MLS Soccer and his national counterpart Sunil Gulati with US Soccer are now working in conjunction to create the traction needed whereby Soccer as a sport , can stand alone and be considered the nation’s fifth national pastime behind the NFL ( Football) , NBA , MLB , the NHL and with all due respect to NASCAR , a sport where athleticism is not actually a real focus , when your machine (car) is simply going around in circles (left turns , averaging 155 mph). No team in MLS Soccer has really risen to prominence at the club level internationally and while DC United and the Los Angeles Galaxy (L A Galaxy) are considered to be best franchises in the league’s history. Were it not for the splash made with the signing of David Beckham , I seriously doubt the game much less these two teams would have been the focus of some of the top stories within the sport over the last decade. David Beckham and his business partners are still struggling to bring a MLS franchise to South Florida, currently in something of a combative mode with MLS Soccer and municipal authorities to finance a stadium for the proposed franchise.

The aura of the Beckham name has already lost its luster from a commercial standpoint with regard to its connection to MLS Soccer, while the former soccer star , believes he and his partners will prevail in the end. There seems to be ever-growing signs of impatience from Don Garber and his fellow executives within MLS Soccer.

With growing revenues now coming from commercial sponsors, the league’s television rights are substantial , but nowhere yet on par with the deals now in place with the NBA , NFL or even MLB. It should also be noted the highest paid player within the sport earns a mere pittance in comparison to his counterparts in the aforementioned sports.

The only way for the MLS to succeed , is for the level of the game to be raised where it is on par with the top leagues around the globe , with more homegrown talent and the success of the Men’s National Team at the international level. Then and only then , will the sport actually capture the hearts and minds of the American public , rather than the belief the World Cup and its quadrennial staging is the sole course to be taken .

Which particular sports’ news story at present has you asking the question , is that it and why is this worth mentioning ?


Tophatal …… 04/03/2017

NFL news

MLB news

MLB schedule and probable pitchers

This week in baseball

NBA news

NBA results 2nd April and schedule for 3rd April

NBA standings overall

NBA standings (conference) and Playoff Projections

PGA Tour news

The Masters (2017)

NCAA Basketball (Men)

NCAA Final Four (Men’s)

UFC news

UFC schedule

MLS Soccer and US Soccer

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The Year of Living Dangerously …

 

The Year of Living Dangerously

No more queries as to the morass of underwhelming season in the NBA where the singular high points have been the exploits of the Golden State Warriors and their dominance of the league. Steve Kerr and his team have been barely challenged within their division , conference and the league as a whole. Last season’s League MVP , Steph Curry , is all but certain to repeat as MVP and it would appear nonsensical, were Kerr not named Coach of The Year after another astonishing season .

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Golden State are well on their way to beating the exploits of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls , who would go on to win the NBA title that season with Michael Jordan winning the trifecta of a championship ring , League MVP and Finals’ MVP on the way to the franchise’s historic season. Kerr was a member of the championship winning team of the Chicago Bulls from that year, which was coached by > Phil Jackson . For the legendary coach, he now finds himself overseeing a rather disappointing New York Knicks’ franchise , whose season has been a rather turbulent and indecisive one. At every turn , nothing but incompetence has been on display by the team, while apologists for Phil Jackson continue to come up with the most asinine of excuses to try to fend off the lackluster efforts of Jackson as a front office executive . Phil Jackson’s persona remains larger than life , as does his ego , which rivals that of GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump .

While Golden State continues to remain dominant inching closer to the 72-10 record-breaking mark of the Chicago Bulls , the question now being asked , which of the Warriors’ conference rivals during the upcoming NBA Playoffs might be capable of dethrone the reigning NBA champions. The only other team who has been able to mount a serious challenge to the Golden State Warriors this season have been the San Antonio Spurs . The likelihood of these two teams meeting in the Western Conference Finals seems all but certain , with only a major upset , being the only thing on the horizon likely to make this not appear to be a reality. San Antonio will be back on the court Monday night to face the Memphis Grizzlies on the road , where Tim Duncan and his Spurs’ teammates will be looking to take down the Grizzlies. Golden State will be looking to knock off another Eastern Conference opponent when they face the Washington Wizards on Tuesday evening. .

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has provided its fair share of surprises during the tournament with seeds falling left , right and center at the drop off a hat< . Now the only remaining number one seed from the four regions , just happens to be Roy Williams’ , University of Carolina Tar Heels . Williams’ team has been exceptional throughout the tournament , coming through a very tough regional phase , where they are also joined by Syracuse (Orangemen) , Oklahoma (Sooners) and Villanova (Wildcats) . All four teams have paid their dues and justifiably they have made it through to this stage of the competition. The quartet of teams will face off on 2nd April , when Villanova will face Oklahoma and North Carolina will tip off against Syracuse. These two games should provide a great deal of excitement for the fans in attendance as well as the millions of viewers nationwide who will be watching the television broadcast.

Officially and it is still seven more days until the start of the MLB season, with a full schedule of games to be played on Monday 4th April , 2016. Defending World Series champions the Kansas City Royals will be looking to make a successful defense of the AL Pennant and world championship . From my own perspective , I believe the Royals have been the best team in the AL over the past three seasons and through astute managerial acumen and GM Dayton Moore not plunging headlong into over paying for talent on the team roster , it has served the Kansas City Royals extremely well.

Kansas City has four games left on their exhibition schedule before embarking on the regular season with their opening game against the Arizona Diamondbacks , in a two-game road series , beginning on the 1st April.

Of the teams under the greatest pressure this upcoming season , I believe both the Los Angeles Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers Angels have the most to prove ! Dave Roberts might well have succeeded Don Mattingly as the Dodgers’ manager , but with a multi-million dollar payroll and a roster laden with stars , there can no longer be any excuses being used for the club’s repeated failures. For Roberts’ counterpart with the Angels , Mike Sciocsia is under as much pressure. I believe team owner Arte Moreno will seriously consider the future of the managerial staff and it will come with the due diligence expected to be seen from Billy Eppler , who succeeded Jerry Dipoto in the position as the Angels’ general manager .

Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are expected to play significant roles in the Los Angeles Angels’ season as was the case in 2015. Their pitching staff is expected to be far more productive , but I do believe it has been the lack of consistency which has been the team’s downfall in recent years ! One more slip-up on the part Mike Sciocsia and his staff this season and I believe Billy Eppler will have no alternative , but to fire the franchise’s longest-serving manager . Sciocsia will undoubtedly be looking to get the Loss Angeles Angels off to a fast start this season and their schedule begins in earnest with their opening game of the regular season schedule , which pits them against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 1st April at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles , California,. For Mike Trout this might be the year where he more than anyone else on the Angels’ team has to take the lead and show his commanding presence . because I believe Albert Pujols while still a great player , is no longer capable of consistently putting up the prolific numbers often seen before. Granted , last season was among the best seen this former multiple NL MVP , but it begs the question can he once again reproduce that form while leading the Los Angeles Angels to their first World Series’ title since 2002 ? If that is to be the case then Angels will most certainly have to get the better of their AL counterparts and specifically the Kansas City Royals.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will enter this season with by far the largest payroll of baseball’s thirty teams. All this for a franchise which has spent in excess of $1.2 billion on salaries since the team was purchased by Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC , who parent company Guggenheim Partners is one of the nation’s largest venture capital firms with assets of over $200 billion . Senior partners in the ownership group of the Dodgers are former NBA star Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson , Hollywood mogul Peter Guber , senior executives from Guggenheim Partners , Todd S Boehly and Mark Walter .

The Dodgers had been purchased for the extraordinary sum of almost $2.2 billion , at the time a record for the sale of a North American professional sports’ franchise. Based on the value of the teams in MLB , the NFL and the NBA . It could be suggested the owners might well have overpaid , solely based on the assessed market-value and brand name , rather than the true-value of the franchise. It should also be noted at the time of the sale , the Los Angeles Dodgers were emerging from bankruptcy proceeding brought on by the rather duplicitous business dealings of the club’s former owner Frank McCourt . Former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s actions during this whole process , should not go unnoticed , as it appears his influence held sway even over the whole process over the Dodgers’ emerging from the bankruptcy proceedings . Those who believe otherwise, are either naive , or simply have no real idea concerning the nuances of sports economics and the business of finance.

The Los Angeles Dodgers need to win now and not one or two years from now. It seems remarkable , that it has been over twenty-five years since this franchise won its last World Series’ title. NL Pennant appearances and the recent miseries associated with those appearances can pretty much sum up the woes of this organization over the past two decades.

This will be the penultimate season of Alex Rodriguez’s two-decade career. The New York Yankees’ current DH has made the decision to announce his formal retirement at the end of the 2017 season. If based on his current productivity , Rodriguez will fall short of the all-time career home-runs’ record at present held by another disgraced player , Barry Bonds , batting instructor for the Miami Marlins . Their careers have taken similar paths and the notoriety has not stopped there as during the latter years of their heralded careers. Their links to the steroid era became linked to one of the most infamous sordid chapters in the history of baseball. Forget the White Sox scandal and the idiocy of Pete Rose, Bonds and Rodriguez have shone a glaring spotlight on baseball which showed us , not only the depth of deceit within the game , but also the duplicity of the MLBPA (union) and the ambivalence of the league hierarchy under Bud Selig and now Selig’s successor Rob Manfred . Baseball’s hierarchy looked the other way , while taking the money , running with it and extolling the era of steroids as one baseball’s most exciting chapters while being in complete denial and that was even with the advent of in-depth investigative reporting into not only the BALCO ‘ Scandal ‘ and Biogenysis , which some fans to this day ,remain ambivalent about . with their nonsensical statements . Which again goes to show, sports’ fans in North America were never that intelligent to begin with , even when the facts are laid out right in front of their very eyes .

New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi will have his work cut out for him this season and I believe it will be his toughest yet, since he succeeded Joe Torre to become the franchise’s manager. He has one World Series’ title to his resume’ , but beyond that , there has been very little which one would deem to be a great deal of success. A disappointing showing in 2015 within the AL East and the team’s early dismissal in the wild-card round of the MLB postseason summed up a disastrous year for the Yankees last year. Alex Rodriguez can become only the fourth player league history to pass the seven-hundred career home-runs’ plateau and he will likely achieve the milestone by his thirtieth game of the 2015 season . Rodriguez should hit that mark during the early part of August, based on current projections for the season.

Of the three players to have hit seven-hundred career home runs, only Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth are currently in Baseball’s Hall of Fame , in Cooperstown, New York . Barry Bonds is eligible and his name will be on the list of nominees for 2017 as a repeat entrant . Alex Rodriguez will not become eligible for that accolade until 2022. Like Bonds, I do not believe he will voted into the Hall of Fame as a first time ballot nominee ! It will likely be several years before either of the players’ eligibility will be taken seriously by the voters within the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) who adjudicate the ballots after these nominations are put forward by baseball’s hierarchy . Alex Rodriguez is thirteen home runs away from reaching this historic milestone of seven-hundred home runs and it seems inconceivable his career is still being looked upon in a number of circles, as being historic . Yet, this is what the game of baseball has now become over the past two and a half-decades , because of the cheating , posturing within the game by the players , owners and league itself. Corruption , breeds contempt and along with it comes the loss of honor , integrity and fairness of competition within the game .

This will be a make or break year for the New York Yankees and we know there are several players on this roster who are way past their prime , while being paid an exorbitant salary and offering little in return . CC Sabathia , Jacoby Ellsbury , Mark Teixiera , Michael Pineda and Brian McCann are all being paid a king’s ransom , but in large part the failure of the franchise since 2009 has come about by way of the poor management structure . lack of developing talent at the Minor League Level and poor draft classes and transactions over the years . GM Brian Cashman also bears a great deal of responsibility for this , as do the senior members within the ownership structure , headed by the Steinbrenner family . Having the most profitable team in baseball as well as the most valuable has always created pitfalls for the game’s most successful franchise . When the Yankees are winning , no questions are asked, but when the team is losing, then everyone takes aim and justifiably so , because this has been an organization which often makes repeated excuses for poor management decisions made within the hierarchy .

The New York Yankees will begin their regular season schedule with a contest as part of a three-game series against the Houston Astros , who defeated the Yankees in the wildcard round of the postseason of 2015. It remains to be seen what type of season will be had by the New York Yankees , but it will be interesting to see how things unfold for the franchise over the course of their schedule.

What do you believe has been the most surprising issue you have witnessed during the course of this year in the NBA , College Basketball ? Also, what are your own expectations for the upcoming MLB season ?

Tophatal …….. 2013/03/28

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I love the smell of Napalm in the morning …

I love the smell of Napalm in the morning !

Well, in the  aftermath a tumultuous  NFL season we now know the twelve teams   to have made the NFL postseason. The New Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are the two top-seeds within the AFC, leaving the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals as the top seeded contenders within the NFC.

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Results   emanating   from Sunday’s games left us in no doubt who the top teams were within the    conferences after the two hundred and fifty-six games played. As usual with the postseason approaching , speculation will be raised to the possible coaching carousel likely to take place. There is the likelihood we might well have seen the last game coached by Tom Coughlin   as the head coach of the  New York Giants   after the team’s rather embarrassing loss to divisional rivals the Philadelphia Eagles.

With Chip Kelly’s abrupt firing by the Eagles’ front office , the number of coaches terminated this season are numbered at four , with the recent dismissals of Mike Pettine with the Cleveland Browns and Jim Tomsula with the San Francisco 49ers . As abysmal a season had by each of the teams in question , they were not the franchises with the worst record in the NFL during the 2015 regular season schedule . That accolade belonged to none other than the Tennessee Titans (3-13) a mark which was also shared with the Brown. What this might suggest about both teams can be best summed by their results over the course of the season and their statistical play throughout.

With the top two teams in each conference having a bye in the wildcard round of the postseason , teams seeded three through six will begin the playoffs with the scheduled games due. Those match-ups are likely to prove very intriguing with perhaps the best of the bunch being the NFC contest , which pits the Seattle Seahawks against the Minnesota Vikings . The two opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson of the Seahawks and Teddy Bridgewater of the Vikings, will provide the fans to see two of the more productive passers within the NFC this season.

Though we have not yet reached the midway point of the NBA season there can be no denying which team has been the best in the league at this point of the schedule. Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors have set a blistering pace leaving others in their wake . Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr , in his absence has seen his understudy Luke Walton guide the team with a great deal of coaching acumen , leading a number of analysts to believe, Walton will likely be pursued by a number of teams at the end of the season, once the customary firings begin to take place. There are likely to be at least six teams seeking the former player’s services, but I do believe he will be reluctant to leave, unless his desired destination is with a franchise where there is a more than reasonable chance of success.

Coming off another victory , Curry and his teammates will next take to the court to face the Charlotte Hornets at the Oracle Arena , Oakland, California on Monday, 4th January . This should prove be an easy win for the Warriors against an Eastern Conference opponent given the team’s record against the conference and their record at home . The Hornets for their part will be looking to keep apace within their conference as well as against a Western Conference opponent where the team has had relatively little success this season.

The Los Angles Lakers (8-27) and the Philadelphia 76ers (3-33) have combined for eleven regular season wins at this point of the season , having played roughly thirty-five games. It would be fair to suggest both teams could very well end up with what would be franchise lows in terms of regular season victories. There also appears to a remote possibility the Sixers are well on their of equaling the NBA league-low number for regular season wins, a mark held by 1973 Philadelphia 76ers .Wins have been have been very difficult to come by for this Brett Brown coached Sixers’ team . Philadelphia’s last victory came on the 30th December when they defeated the Sacramento Kings by the score of 110-105. The team’s next game will be a home contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday evening.

For Byron Scott and the Los Angeles Lakers , their season has been one of sheer ineptitude with only sparing glimpses of Kobe Bryant at his best among the players on the Lakers’ roster. It is hard to envisage where the Lakers now go from here , as GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Jim Buss have very few alternatives with regard to the depth on the roster. Capable perhaps of only playing for their self-respect, the Los Angeles Lakers do not appear to have a short-term, much less a long-term strategy once Kobe Bryant has played his last game for the franchise. Bryant made it official , this would indeed be his last year with the Lakers , formally announcing his retirement for the end of this season. Unlikely to be a major player in the free agency market , salary dumping or otherwise, Kupchak can only seek to assess the current crop of Los Angeles Lakers’ players and go from there with regard to rebuilding the roster. With a game coming up against the Golden State Warriors , which will be on the road , it will be interesting to see how the team will fare against a conference opponent , the reigning NBA champions .

The College Basketball season is now in full swing and with the teams gearing up towards ‘March Madness’ ,and it has been an interesting season , which has meandered its way through a slew of games. Seated atop of the rankings are the Kansas Jayhawks (12-1) under head coach Bill Self and his Jayhawks’ team . Wayne Selden , Perry Ellis and Frank Mason are the leading scorers for the Jayhawks , but a great deal of praise this season has been heaped upon Ben Simmons of the LSU Tigers . Simmons is considered to be a consensus first round lottery pick and the likely number one choice of the team privileged to have the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft . Judging by his game that is not without merit for a player whose all-round skill-set has been compared to has been compared to four-time NBA League MVP and Cleveland Cavaliers’ player LeBron James . Great praise indeed, but I believe it to be way too premature to be making such comparisons ! The LSU Tigers have an upcoming game against the Kentucky Wildcats.

Bill Self and his Kansas Jayhawks will have pride of place when they tip off against the Oklahoma Sooners in a battle of top-ten ranked teams.

We know the SEC to be the best conference in College Basketball and there can be no questioning of that very fact. The programs within the conference, speaks volumes as to the quality of play witnessed each year. Florida are now going it alone without Billy Donovan going as the head coach of the program. His successor Mike White is being asked to fill a big pair shoes after the considerable success achieved by Donovan during his reign. Florida is off to an inauspicious start to their season and their most recent game was an exhilarating victory over the Georgia Bulldogs with a fourteen-point 77-63 win . White and the Gators will be on the road to face the Tennessee Volunteers in a contest which should bring out the best in both teams.

I have to admit in recent years I have grown tired of the sport of boxing ! It remains corrupt , devoid of real leadership at the international level and most notably without any real transparency by way of leadership here in North America. The USBA which is affiliated to the IBF remains a constant joke, like many of the international counterparts which now hold sway over the sport internationally. Consider the fact there is no undisputed champion in any of weight categories and it is easy to understand why this sport is dying on its knees and close to being in need to resuscitation.

Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao may well have brought back a certain amount of excitement in what was Mayweather’s last professional bout which saw close out his career with an unbeaten 49-0 record. In reality however, this fight was five years too late and simply lacked the excitement the fans truly hoped for . Lackluster, would be too soft a word to describe the title fight , where both fighters walked away with an estimated $300 million to split between them , Mayweather taking the larger slice of the purse before taking into account another $200 million in television rights from the overseas sales and merchandising revenues grossed.

From my own perspective , I believe Floyd Mayweather will make a return to the ring to push his record to 50-0 . Mayweather has not really fought anyone of consequence in the past four years and even though his resume’ boasts and unbeaten record , along with multiple title defenses , one could suggest the record might well stand the test of time , but it truly lacks the hyperbole many believe it deserves.

Several boxers at the welterweight and light middleweight division would undoubtedly like to head into the ring and got toe-to-toe with Floyd Mayweather, but herein lies the caveat with the unbeaten fighter. He cherry-picks his opponents and simply added insult to injury , when he chose Andre Berto , to push his record to 49-0 . Berto was certainly undeserving of a title shot and the fact he was not high enough within the welterweight category clearly indicated the titleholder wanted a “patsy ” in the opposite corner for his last professional bout.

It has been ten years since the heavyweight category last had an undisputed champion with the last titleholder of the titles being British fighter Lennox Lewis. Since Lewis’ retirement from the ring there have several claimants to the differing established belts as recognized by the four main international governing bodies. Unfortunately, the entities in question have failed to give the fans what they yearned , a unified and undisputed champion. Siblings Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko for years, each held claim to one version of the title but refused to defend their versions against each , seeking to unify the division. With Vitali having retired it was left to Wladimir to reign supreme over the division , which in many ways he had done with a string of successful defenses, against less than credible opponents.

Yet in what was believed to a bout where he was considered to be a clear-cut favorite , he fell to the boxing skills of Tyson Fury of Great Britain in what some considered to be one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history. The bout itself was far from being an instant classic but what it lacked in drama was made up for with the passion shown by the challenger as he wrestled away the title from the Ukrainian champion. However, in what one could only deem as farcical the IBF (International Boxing Federation) has seen fit to strip Tyson Fury of the belt he legitimately won in the ring. The explanation if it is to be believed, smacks of stupidity on the part of the governing body and from the former titleholder , Wladimir Klitschko , who was said to be not only upset with the decision rendered by the judges in a fight he lost in a unanimous decision, but also by the fact Fury sought not to grant him an immediate rematch within ninety days. If boxing has a flaw , then it is one of its own self-importance and indulgence , where the fighters themselves lack as much credibility as the various governing bodies which preside over the sport.

Boxing has lost a great deal of credibility around the globe, albeit , if there are claims it remains the one pugilistic and combative art form every fight fan yearns for . I am not so sure those claims are any longer legitimate and can be proven. While boxing has seen a marked decline , the rapid rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) now under the banner of the UFC , seems to be giving fans something they really yearn for. UFC has brought legitimacy and business acumen to a sport which has now become the fastest growing participant sport across the globe. Many of the fighters within the UFC stable of MMA stars are fast becoming recognized names as well Hollywood action stars and crossover celebrities. Suffice to say, the UFC hierarchy under Dana White has struck box-office gold , even if White is considered to be a dictatorial executive.

Ronda Rousey’s shocking and surprising loss to Holly Holm may well prove to be a welcome change for the sport and actually shape the direction and open even more opportunities for women who might see an interest in entering the genre. Rousey created a buzz needed when many felt MMA had lost some of its appeal. Now with her defeat, her drive and eagerness to reclaim her Bantamweight title could be the best thing to happen to Women’s MMA as well as the UFC in general.

In recent months several champions have seen their reigns come to an end within the UFC and added new honorees within the sport. It could well be seen as a good thing for MMA and its viability long-term if the excitement created can be maintained . Certainly , Dana White is taking a new approach of growing the UFC brand globally as well as expanding across North America , with the executive’s biggest wish being to see the sport be granted the license to promote and stage events in New York State.

For some strange reason the State Legislature of New York State sees no need to grant a license and continues to show their disapproval of a sport they deem barbaric. Last I looked, with the issues stemming from the NFL and how that particular league hierarchy has dealt with the issues of chronic head trauma , I would have to say the New York State Athletic Commission has been oblivious to the idiocy of Paul Tagliabue and his successor Roger Goodell , who have somehow chosen to remain in the dark ages as to the deniability of the damages caused from years of brutal head to head helmet contract driven by the physicality of football within the NFL. The league itself , still seeks to challenge the multi-billion dollar settlement obtained by retired by players in a Federal Appeals Court ruling , while also seeking reinstate their four—game suspension of Tom Brady for his alleged involvement in Deflate-Gate. Begs the question, at what point will both the New York State Athletic Commission and the NFL hierarchy actually wake up and smell the coffee , much less the napalm ?

Sports in general as always is in need of a good shakeup , be it at the competitive level or among its hierarchical leadership structure. One thing for sure, without real change , things tend to stagnate and show signs of recession rather than real growth or excitement.

Tophatal ………. NB : By clicking on the individual images seen below you can view them in a reformatted size along with a narrative.

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Brackets,jackets and tip-toeing around the patently obvious …

Brackets,jackets and tip-toeing around the patently obvious …

The seedings have been decided upon for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and quite rightly so. The Kentucky Wildcats having ended the season ranked number one in the nation, as well having an unbeaten season bearing a 34-0 record will enter the tournament as its prohibitive favorite, to win it all . John Calipari and his coaching staff head into the Tournament knowing, the first slip-up made, will essentially put to an end a season where a great deal more was expected.

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Players on this Wildcats’ team know a winning season and the NCAA Tournament title will certainly insure great deal of plaudits and the near- certainty of a high draft position in the upcoming NBA Draft this upcoming June . With three consensus first round draft picks among this roster of stars. The names of Karl Anthony Towns , Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson simply stand out, as players likely to be taken in the top-ten picks of the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft. If not, then there is something seriously wrong among the general managers and head coaches within the NBA at this juncture.

The four seeds in the regional tournament of the NCAA Championship are Kentucky, Villanova , Duke and Wisconsin . All four teams are in regional draws which will have their pot-holes along the way . where at least one or two upsets are likely to take place as the tournament progress. Opening salvos will be fired in the when the first four teams take to the court on the 17th and 18th March , 2015, as the NCAA Tournaments gets underway to decide the Men’s national champion.

Mike Krzyzewsk and the Duke Blue Devils will certainly have their work cut out for them in this tournament, as their path is unlikely to be easy. As the top seed in the South Regional phase of the Tournament where their biggest challengers could very well be other than their own complacency a , will be the other seeded challengers in the regional phase , with those topping the list said to be , Gonzaga , Georgetown (Hoyas) and Iowa State. As talented as the this Duke team might be considered to be , I do not believe this will be the year in which Mike Krzyzewski guide the program to their fifth national title , all coming under the coaching acumen of the renowned head coach.

With either Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah missing from the Chicago Bulls’ lineup at some point of the season, it easy to understand the reasons why the team has continued to struggle in the aftermath of having lost their League MVP point guard to another season-ending injury , likely curtailing Rose’s long-term future and the rest of his career. Add in the fact, the ongoing relationship between head coach Tom Thibodeau , GM Gar Forman and Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson , is now said to have reached an all-time low, and one wonders how the franchise can gain anything meaningful out of this all, should they fail to make the playoffs .

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Bulls’ forward Jimmy Butler is seen here with Tom Thibodeau . In the absence of either Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose . It has been left to Butler to provide the bulk of team’s offense over the course of the season. Thibodeau’s relationship with the organization has been tenuous at best often becoming heated between the coach and executives, John Paxson and Gar Forman . Courtesy of USA Today/ ..

Not only has the rancor between the head coach and the front office said to have reached an unacceptable level , but it is believed with Thibodeau unwilling to resign, there is no likelihood Paxson or Forman will make the decision to fire their beleaguered coach and their having to honor the remainder of his contract. With Derrick Rose sidelined, it has been left to his teammate Jimmy Butler to step up to the plate in the absence of his more heralded teammate to lead the team by example.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers now raced to the top of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference , the Bulls are now left having to wonder, what to make of their season , while also seeking to play catch-up within the conference. A nine-point road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder , a road defeat . Butler and his teammates’ next contest will be againstthe Indiana Pacers whom they host on Wednesday evening at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois ,.

In the contest between the Thunder and the Bulls, point guard Russell Westbrook continued his scintillating displays where he almost posted another triple-double . Easy to now understand why he become a consensus favorite for this season’s League MVP. Consider the fact also, Westbrook has been doing this all in the absence of his teammate , Kevin Durant.

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks must be now salivating at the thought of Durant’s imminent return and the chance of his teaming up once again with Westbrook, to provide one of the most dominant and productive duos in the NBA. With only fifteen games left to be played in the remainder of the regular season, it will be interesting interesting to see how the teams acquit themselves as the season winds winds down .

All is fair in love and war . Granted, LeBron James has proven himself to be something of a warrior this season, as the Cleveland Cavaliers seek to justify themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference. Their record suggests otherwise when compared to that of the high-flying Atlanta Hawks , who might just be the surprise team the regular season within the NBA . Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer certainly has to be considered one of the leading favorites for this season’s Coach of The Year Award , as it would a complete travesty , were he not among the top vote-getters for the prestigious accolade.

(7)    Alonzo  Mourning   now a  senior   executive  within   the  Miami  Heat    organization   has   been  extremely  critical  of    former   Heat   player    LeBron  James   after  his   decision  to  leave  the  franchise  and    return  to  the   Cleveland   Cavaliers  .  Mourning ,   failed  to   suggest   why  Heat   failed  to  surround   James     with   players   complementary  to   his    skills    capable  of   actually   of  being   competitive   enough  to  have   won   last    season's   NBA  title  .   Getty   Images/  Paul  Miller

Alonzo Mourning now a senior executive within the Miami Heat organization has been extremely critical of former Heat player LeBron James after his decision to leave the franchise and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers . Mourning , failed to suggest why the Heat failed to surround James with players complementary to his skills capable of actually of being competitive enough to have won last season’s NBA title . Getty Images/ Paul Miller

At present, Atlanta and the Golden State Warriors are the only teams with fifty victories or more to their respective resumes`. A possible Finals’ meeting between the two seems a reality, but I believe it to be unlikely given the competitiveness of the Western Conference. Steph Curry and his Warriors’ teammates are having a terrific season , albeit, many would not have considered this to have been one of the teams to beat at the start of the year, with the transition of easing in a new head coach, and Steve Kerr assuming the reins after his predecessor, Mark Jackson’s idiotic decision to alienate himself by foistering his hypocritical beliefs outside the game , upon his players and then to some extent , denigrating the organization . Joint team-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber had no other choice but to dismiss Jackson, ” freedom of speech” rights or not . There is no longer any space for outright bigotry within the realms of sports , let alone the fact , the former head coach showed a great deal of disrespect for the franchise, with his inflammatory remarks .

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Former Golden State Warriors’ head coach Mark Jackson , foreground and his successor , Steve Kerr. This season the Warriors have not only the best record in the NBA , but the team also happens to be the league’s , most potent offense , leading the NBA in a number of offensive categories . Getty Images

If Mark Jackson wishes to make a point , then let him do so while not representing Warriors and most definitely, if he choosing to express his personal beliefs, it should not be done in such a venal way, with his wantoned disregard of others , his own ethnicity and historically what African Americans have gone through in this country, without then seeking denigrate others, because of their own sexuality. Obviously, Jackson’s own religious beliefs and his comprehension of Biblical teachings, indicates his lack of intelligence and compassion. This has nothing at all to do with “political correctness” having run amok, but more to do with simple bigotry . You don’t cry ” fire ” in a crowded theater , or show downright bigotry of others , without their being severe consequences , and those wishing to excuse such behavior are simply naive or just imbeciles.

In what turned out to be a surprise overtime win over the reigning NBA champions , the San Antonio Spurs . New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher suggested the team should be rewarded for the efforts in this victory. Unfortunately, victories for the Knicks have been few and far between.

If Fisher is of the opinion his players ought to rewarded for those victories , then he sure as hell does not hold these very same players accountable, for the losses amassed over the course of the season. Fisher has shown as a rookie head coach, he still has a great deal to learn , and learning on the job when you have an inadequate group of players , and a front office which remains clueless, it becomes patently obvious to see why this franchise has been a complete mess and the ongoing butt of so many jokes around the NBA. Those subscribing to the fact Phil Jackson remains a basketball genius should really rethink that whole synopsis and realize it has been his ego and complete lack of knowledge in assessing talent which has also led to this debacle. Next up for the Knicks will be a road trip to visit the equally abysmal Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday evening.

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New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher is seen here two of his assistant coaching staff Jim Cleamons and Kurt Rambis , as they discuss a pregame strategy in the lead-up to a game to be played the franchise’s home venue , Madison Square Garden , New York City , New York . On the road as well as at home the franchise has simply been pitiful , having been the first team this season to have lost in excess of fifty games , with a league-leading fifty-three defeats as of 17th March , 2015. AP Photo / Mark Warren .

With both the Knicks and Timberwolves likely to be part of the Lottery Pick for the right to the top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft , it will be interesting to see which of the two teams in question or one of their other fellow banal franchises will be joining them as part of this ongoing facade created by the league to seek in the Draft process.

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The NCAA Tournament will likely create a great many thrills and spills, with one or two surprises along the way, in terms of the results. This tournament will ultimately provide us with another D1 collegiate champion in Men’s Basketball. Given the excitement created in last year’s tournament, with the 2015 NCAA championship now underway, let all of the excitement now begin. I may well be wrong , but I do not believe there is now an outright favorite for this year’s NBA title , and granted, there have been two or three teams over the course of this season who have proven themselves worthy favorites or perceived contenders. Yet, a caveat remains , buyer beware, beyond stating the obvious , the only conclusion and sure thing , has been the winner from each conference championship will have an equal chance of being named the NBA champion for the 2014-15 season.

Which programs do you believe will rise to the occasion and become this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion ? With NBA regular season now winding down , which teams do you believe have been the biggest disappointment to the league and to the fans ? Also which franchises from the Eastern and Western conferences, will be the Finals’ contestants for this season?

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It’s that time of year to reflect , review and then ponder as to what happens next …

It’s that time of year to reflect, review and then ponder as to what happens next …

There can be no denying this year within the world of sports we all witnessed the highs and lows of the sporting season. Basketball crowned a new champion in the NBA with Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs winning the title, the franchise’s fifth in their admired and revered history. The fact the Spurs defeated the Miami Heat with so much ease , came as a major surprise to many who favored the LeBron James’ led lineup that boasted Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen among their ranks. Complacency and a lack of support for James, were the contributing factors leading to Miami’s demise. With James departing during this off-season, a bewildered Pat Riley , the organization and the coaching staff of Erik Spoelstra will now have to start from scratch rebuilding the roster which hopefully, will have some semblance of competitiveness this season.

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Off to what might deem a favorable start to their schedule , the Miami Heat are no longer a team to be favored or feared, though I believe they are good enough to gain a playoff berth this season, given the mediocrity of the play encountered in the Western Conference , in a season where in its infancy, the basketball in the conference has been truly astounding and banal. The results bear z this out , without delving further about the reasons why beyond stating , two obvious factors, bad coaching and no depth of talent by way of the rookie players .

While of late, singular achievements have been given a great deal of praise, with Kobe Bryant having surpassed Michael Jordan on the all-time career points list (third) and LeBron James moving ahead of Charles Barkley for twenty third in the rankings. While I believe this all to be commendable achievements, it begs the question, why are fans now beginning to make comparisons with today’s players and those of the past ? The game has changed drastically during the respective eras, along with a number of rule changes initiated by outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern. This is all overlooked as fans and analysts alike try create a debate that will be filled with conjecture and a great deal of nonsense behind the supposed logic by a number of the debaters on the matter.

On the court the Golden State Warriors led by their dynamic duo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are seen as capable of leading the team on a dominant run in the NBA and to a deep NBA Playoff foray, albeit, they have encountered some stiff opposition resulting in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies (20-4) the Warriors still maintain a healthy lead within the Pacific Division of the
Western Conference . No major fallout from this loss, as the loss ,as the team has been able to show its resilience over the course of the season .

In the collegiate ranks of basketball, the NCAA Tournament . Kevin Ollie and the U Conn Huskies won another title which heightened the prestige of the program and the fourth title in the school’s history. The Huskies’ victim in that tournament victory, the John Calipari coached Kentucky Wildcats are once again atop of the college rankings with an unbeaten season and the deemed the best team in the country. They are likely to be a team to be reckoned with as Calipari seeks a second title win to add to his burgeoning resume’. Kentucky has cut a swath through their opponents , but I feel we are reading far too much into the accomplishments at this stage of the season ! The run up to this season’s NCAA Tournament and the event itself will place an d even greater emphasis on how good the Kentucky Wildcats are likely to be. Hard to suggest where a likely challenge is likely to come from in stopping the Wildcats’ dominance.

With its inaugural format within College Football now in motion , last season’s defending national champions the Florida State Seminoles will be looking to make a successful defense of their title. Jameis Winston the program’s 2013 Heisman Trophy winner in spite of his off the field problems has been able to lead the team to their unbeaten run this season. The Seminoles ended the regular season ranked in the top four availing the chance to be part of the playoff schedule which has been essentially adjudged a four-team semi-finals’ playoff format with contests’ winner playing in the national title game.

The four programs who are the recipients of this inaugural system are Alabama , Oregon , Ohio State (Buckeyes) and Florida State making up the quartet. While there will be continued debate as to the veracity of this format , many feel a four-team playoff is by no means the best way to decide a national champion . Yet for all of the criticism leveled and the fact an empaneled body were arbiters on this whole scheme, not everyone can state this was of satisfaction to the doubters as well as some protagonists of the new format. Money remains the driving force behind this all, without anyone trying to suggest this system has been the best possible solution after years of idiocy with the BCS format and a system so void of legality , that it was simply ridiculous for anyone to try and justify its legitimacy. Come full circle, in reality the progress made is simply miniscule , even if the new format is tinkered with at various points in the future, as is likely the case.

This year’s Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota can go out on a high if he is able to lead Oregon past Florida State in their highly anticipated game on the 1st January, 2015. Mariota is highly regarded within the college ranks and seen as one of the most dynamic players in the game as well as perhaps the best quarterback in college football. A victory in that that game, to be followed with a championship victory , will lead to certain financial gain, a high draft pick the upcoming NFL Draft of 2015.

In light of the recent disaster of Johnny Manziel’s first professional start in the NFL this season was such a catastrophe it is hard to see any positives which could come out of the debacle, where the Cleveland Browns were shutout by the Cincinnati Bengals in their divisional clash 30-0 . The fact this was a home game for the Browns was all the more embarrassing for the fans. Manziel in the aftermath of his disaster has suggested he can play better , but that must now come into question after the idiotic decision made by Mike Pettine to sit Brian Hoyer merely to gauge what the team’s 2014 draftee was capable of doing. We’ve now seen what Manziel is not capable of doing and that is to lead a team with any great authority, much less play competently at the NFL level.

As the NFL season has unfolded we have witnessed the disasters of teams thought to be contenders , merely to have their hopes blown asunder, because of sheer complacency or simply bad play and extremely bad coaching. Jim Harbaugh’s tenure with the San Francisco 49ers (7-8) is likely to come to an abrupt end after a disastrous season for a franchise which has he taken repeatedly taken to the postseason in four of the five years of his tenure .

As the NFL season has unfolded we have witnessed the disasters of teams thought to be contenders, merely to have their hopes blown asunder, because of sheer complacency or simply bad play and extremely bad coaching. Jim Harbaugh’s tenure with the San Francisco 49ers (7-8) is likely to come to an abrupt end after a disastrous season for a franchise which has he taken repeatedly taken to the postseason in four of the five years of his tenure . San Francisco’s home loss in week sixteen to the San Diego Chargers put an immediate end to their postseason hopes. The fallout from it all , has been the growing speculation Harbaugh will fired or he resigns and accepts the vacant coaching position at Michigan (Wolverines). An 8-8 is the best the San Francisco 49ers can now hope for , something no might have envisage at the start of this season’s NFL schedule.

It is extremely difficult to now try and justify any reason why Rex Ryan should be retained as the New York Jets’ head coach for next season. In spite of their narrow one-point loss o to the New England Patriots(12-3) the defeat dropped the Jets’ record , with a with a penultimate game left on their schedule, they now find themselves bearing a mark of 3-12 . The franchise’s front office will have several decisions to make beyond Ryan’s immediate future, there is also the questionable performances of Geno Smith and Michael Vick over the course of this season. It remains to be seen wheter not both players are likely to be retained for the upcoming season, but clearly , GM John Idzik and the front office staff have to ponder the drafting of a quarterback or acquiring a reliable free agent to fulfill their needs .

The NFL enters its final week of games, with a number of divisions having been decided . Yet,for all of their accomplishments, there still remains the preposterous diatribe served up within the NFC South all season long . With the Carolina Panthers (6-8-1) now holding a slender one-game lead over the New Orleans Saints (6-9 and Atlanta Falcons (6-9) , a great deal still remains on the line as they each head into the final week knowing that a defeat could end their hopes of winning the division and gaining a playoff berth . Atlanta made sure, they still remain in the hunt, with their total annihilation of the Saints in Sunday’s game, beating a demoralized New Orleans’ team 30-14 . Carolina for their part, kept up their side of the ongoing equation by making sure the Cleveland Browns’ woes continued as the team suffered their second successive defeat . Thankfully, for the Browns’ fans, Johnny Manziel was kept on the sidelines for the entire game,as his services were not needed , not even for mop-up duty .

While I thoroughly enjoyed the exploits of the Kansas City Royals during this MLB Postseason . The AL Central franchise became the rallying cry for the underdogs within the game of baseball, as they wore down team after team on their way to the World Series . Alas, for the Royals it wasn’t to be, as the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner had more in store for the underdogs than they could ever have imagined . The series’ statistics may well stated the Giants won their third World Series’ title in five years . with some ease (4-3) and in part they actually achieved that. Yet to my mind, the Royals were never in with a chance of winning game seven , simply because of their lack of postseason and veteran experience being part of their lineup !

During this off-season with the Winter Meetings in full swing , teams made their play a> to acquire the free agents sought, while also jettisoning players they believed superfluous to their needs. The Miami Marlins made the headlines for the right and wrong reasons, dependent upon your point of view , but their signing Giancarlo Stanton to his now ridiculous $325 million contract smacks of sheer lunacy and a great deal of narcissism and conceit on the part of the organization . Two years ago this very same ball-club had a burgeoning roster of high-paid stars who simply flamed out under the misguided managerial acumen of Ozzie Guillen . A last place finish in the NL East games out behind the the divisional winner and a further out of card berth sealed Guillen’s fate for the year, leading to his dismissal after a disastrous season where the team was uncompetitive and > in complete disarray on and off the field . In the aftermath of the disaster, GM Michael Hill summarily initiated the fire sale which led to the trading away of those highly paid players from 2012.

A great deal will be expected of Mike Redmond and his managerial staff this upcoming season, because of the high and renewed expectations of this team led by Giancarlo Stanton and their NL Rookie of the Year pitcher Jose Fernandez , who was also signed to a very lucrative deal by the Marlins.

For the greater part of my youth and into my teenage years, I was an avid and voracious boxing fan and aficionado . My two biggest idols from the sport are still remain Muhammad Ali , ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler with former light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins not far behind . All three fighters were great champions during their prime with each rewriting the history books with records likely to be surpassed. I now champion the world of MMA and as an actual martial arts’ practitioner (karate & tae-kwon-do) this sport I believe has far exceeded what has boxing has failed to do in the last decade and that is to draw fans in, rather than systematically pushing them away . The death of another peer of Ali’s , at the age of seventy-five Ernie Terrell died but his career was memorable for the bout in which a charismatic , flamboyant Ali taunted Terrell in a lopsided contest where Muhammad Ali showed his dominance and gave light to what he would go on to achieve in the future . .

Muhammad Ali faces Ernie Terrell for the WBA Heavyweight title at the Houston Astrodome on the 6th February , 1967.

In light of the recent news, that Ali has been admitted into hospital with what is alleged to be a slight bout of pneumonia and with the former champion’s health having deteriorated over the past two-and a half decades. It may well seem sordid, in surmising he could now be at death’s door , wherein, if Parkinson’s disease doesn’t take him from within our midst, this latest health setback, likely will. Ali remains to this day not only the biggest icon in the sport of boxing, but his name and face are the most universally recognized in the world of sports. Outside of Michael Jordan in the NBA and Pele’ in the world of soccer, I sincerely doubt that there has been a more revered icon in the world of professional sports on a global scale.

Boxing has now become a sport, lacking in a charisma , where the top fighters in the various weight categories, simply avoid each other while formulating their prowess and claims of being the ‘true champions’ of their weight divisions . Personally, for all of the hype surrounding a potentially lucrative fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, I will continue to maintain, it is a fight a number fans have become completely disinterested in ! Is there anyone willing at this juncture, to pay in excess of $55.00 for the “privilege” of seeing these two fighters, who have spent the past three years padding their stats with meaningless bouts , while earning exorbitant fight purses ? This has become the ” new norm” within the sport, along with the petulance of the fighters, promoters , connivance and continued corrupt practices of the various international governing bodies which preside over the boxing. Yet we wonder why the sport no longer truly resonates with fans and how it now lacks a broad-based appeal ?

Meanwhile, a viewed as a pugilistic upstart, continues to dominate the landscape and has become a multi billion-dollar industry under the main promotional flagship of UFC . MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) has now become the fastest growing sport in the world , with an increased audience participation , rising viewership and gate attendances for many of their biggest events staged around the globe. Idiots such as promoter Bob Arum and ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard continue to question the legitimacy of the sport , but have failed to recognize , while boxing has become pallid and stagnant, the growth of Mixed Martial Arts has been explosive. . In little over a decade, this combative style of fighting has caught the imagination of fans around the world and now has a growing legion of female fans, while holding on to its main demographic of males aged between eighteen to thirty-five . If you think fans of the the sport , is strictly confined to adults alone , then you would be wrong, as martial arts’ dojos are now beginning to incorporate MMA within their criteria , while still teaching their main forms of combat , such as karate, judo , taekwondo , Ju-jitsu , Krav-magav and other lethal forms of fighting.

Dana White rules the roost of the UFC, but he has now become more a totalitarian dictator, rather than a lead executive and arbiter of the sport. His apparent idiocy, in chastising many of the biggest names in the sport, who helped place it on the global map, shows not only White’s bombastic attitude, but also his naivete’ and complete stupidity. Can you imagine David Stern questioning the abilities of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson , Kobe Bryant or even LeBron James at the height of their careers ? Well, White has managed to do that with the MMA fighters, while becoming the antithesis of what is expected of a governing sports’ executive.

It may well be a great deal of schtick and panache’ on the part of Dana White, but before too long his idiocy will being to grate on the nerves of not only the fans but also the fighters themselves. The two biggest names in the sport at present are Cain Velazquez and Jon Jones , but with neither fighter having recently defended their respective titles, a small void has been created , yet to be filled by any other fighter, with the character or genuine appeal to strike a note with the masses. Ganted, the likes of Jose Aldo , Anthony Pettis and of late the sport’s only genuine female ‘star’ Ronda Rousey have a growing fan-base , but that might not be enough, unless there is a major title bout involving Jones, Velasquez or former champions Anderson Silva or Georges St Pierre. Rousey and St Pierre may well carved out side careers having appeared in a couple of Hollywood action movies, but their ” bread and butter ” remains the UFC for now .

Having been justifiably critical of the UFC and the lack transparency shown by the hierarchy concerning the drug testing of its fighters with repeatedly violations , most notably by Chael Sonnen , it will be interesting to see if Dana White is willing to welcome back the former UFC welterweight champion Georges St Pierre. Johny Hendricks’ first championship defense of the title , he won in an vacant title bout title as the successor to St Pierre, ended with his loss to Robbie Lawler. . All of the hype and actually nothing to back it up, simply indicated, Hendricks , was not all he was cracked to be .

With no major event on the schedule until January 3rd , 2015 , when Jon Jones defends his Light Heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier in a bout that will see the finality to what has already become contentious period between the two fighters , name calling asides , it’s time for both Jones and Cormier to sort their ” beef out”, rather than act like petulant children . I know the fight scene has to create an angle , with a ” hero” and a ” villain” , but when you are being asked to choose between two self-absorbed individuals, there isn’t much to actually throw your support behind. Your thoughts on that ?

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Picture gallery.

This was my simple breakdown of some of the interesting events I witnessed during the sports’ year and granted, I failed to touch on the PGA , NASCAR the NHL and even the WSOP (World Series of Poker) . So by all means chime in with your thoughts on the event or events of this sporting year which piqued your interest.

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Picture and slideshow gallery .

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(1) Dec 16, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra gestures against the Brooklyn Nets during the fourth quarter at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York . The Heat defeated the Nets 95-91 . Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports …

(2) Dec 16 , 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) reacts to losing the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the first quarter at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports …

(3) Dec 16, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Johnson (7) holds his head as Miami Heat guard Norris Cole (30) and Miami Heat forward Luol Deng (9) high-five late in the fourth quarter at the Barclays Center. The Heat defeated the Nets 95-91. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports ..

(4) Nov 11 , 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr (right) pats guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena . The Spurs defeated the Warriors 113-100 . Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports …

(5) Kentucky players from left, Devin Booker , Tyler Ulis , Trey Lyles, and Willie Cauley-Stein celebrate their 83-42 win over UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game , Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Chicago. AP Photo Nam Y. Huh …

(6) Left , Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State . Both college quarterbacks are one of the primary reasons why their respective programs will be part of the inaugural college playoff format which will decide this season’s national champion at the FBS Level of College Football . Both players will likely declare their eligibility status at the end of the playoff season , seeking to enter the 2015 NFL Draft . Mariota and Winston are considered consensus first round draft picks . Yet , there is a common belief teams in need of a passer might well be weary in light of the recent issues of Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel . AP Photo / David Parsons …

(7) Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers runs off the field after the 49ers lose 38-35 in overtime to the San Diego Chargers at Levi’s Stadium on December 20th, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images / Ezra Shaw …

(8) Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers shakes hands with free safety Eric Weddle(32) of the San Diego Chargers after the Chargers defeat the 49ers 38-35 in overtime at Levi’s Stadium on December 20, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images/ Ezra Shaw ….

(9) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks to his team in the huddle during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …

(10) New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan , left, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, right, shake hands after an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Patriots won the game 17-16 . AP Photo/Julio Cortez

(11) Quarterback Geno Smith (7) of the New York Jets is tackled by defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) of the New England Patriots in the first quarter during a game at MetLife Stadium on December 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. AP Photo/ Julio Cortez …

(12) Miami Marlins’ manager Mike Redmond left and Giancarlo Stanton are seen here in the dugout at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida during a home game on 2nd September , 2014 played against the New York Mets . Miami would go on lose the contest 8-6 . …

(13) In what is believed to be the last known public appearance by former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is seen here attending the funeral of boxer Joe Frazier in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , in November of 2014. Ali was recently admitted to a local hospital where he is said to be suffering from a mild respiratory problem and a bout of pneumonia . Ernie Terrell whom Ali beat during his illustrious career recently died at the age of seventy-five. AP Photo / Steve Woods … …

(14) Ernie Terrell gets advice from his advisor Joe Louis between rounds of the vacant 1965 WBA World Heavyweight Title fight versus Eddie Machen at the International Amphitheatre , Chicago, Illinois on the 5th March , 1965 ,. UPI Syndicate ….

(15) Anderson Silva (left) is seen here with UFC President Dana White prior to Silva’s defense of his world welterweight title against Chris Weidman . The challenger would score a surprising knockout of the champion and then follow up that victory with a successful defense against Silva in their rematch which ended with a TKO after the former champion suffered a broken leg in their bout at UFC168 . Courtesy of MMA Magazine . @ all rights reserved …

(16) From left to right , Georges St Pierre , Anderson Silva and Jon ‘Bones’ Jones . St Pierre relinquished his welterweight title, taking a prolonged leave of absence from the sport . The former champion has been critical of Dana White for his lack of consistency and a stringent drug testing policy. White in retaliation, was less than salutary to one of the sport’s biggest attractions and most successful fighters in MMA history . MMA Junkie … …

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It’s still bad , at the top or the bottom and that’s as good as it’s liable to get .

It’s still bad , at the top or the bottom and that’s as
good as it’s liable to get .

College Basketball’s season has began and in many respects, the level of basketball of being played is not seen as glamorous as its professional counterpart within the NBA. Atop of the rankings remains one of the NCAA’s basketball powerhouses with the Kentucky Wildcats (9-0) casting its eye over the landscape where they reign supreme. John Calipari and his coaching staff having guided this team to the best record in College Basketball . This early in the season and one shouldn’t place a great deal in those standings as the teams have yet to find any type of consistency to their respective schedules.

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With the Wildcats ranked at number one, the second spot in the rankings is held by the Duke Blue Devils) coached by their acclaimed head coach Mike Krzyzewski, he seeks to win his fifth national title with the program. Krzyzewski and his team will be looking to be the dominant program once again within the ACC. Duke will likely be part of ” March Madness”,the climactic postseason soiree of College Basketball, unlike any other collegiate event. The Blue Devils’ next game will be against Elon in what is sure to be a lopsided contest. Kentucky will have a battle on their hands when they face the Pac-12 storied program UCLA (Bruins) in their next game .

To my mind, while the College Basketball season still remains in its infancy, we will not begin to witness the real resilience of the teams until mid January, when many of the programs have their sights set on the postseason fare and all of the visibility it brings. At the same time, there will be several players looking to shine with their displays in the run-up to that particular event.

Last season, in College Basketball the general belief and hype concerned players such as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker , Joel Embiid and the litany of rookies drafted into the NBA. The presence of these freshmen, has simply proven to be one of the many reasons why the play in the league continues to be dire. Granted, there were always going to be bad teams in the NBA , but this season at this stage , how many of us could have imagined that so many of them would be playing so badly , with their being little coaching acumen being shown by the coaching staffs of these franchises ?

The Los Angeles Lakers have proven to be a monumental bust this season, with the team simply failing to show up, even then, it tends to be rather sporadic before they once again shift back to the depths of mediocrity . Not that Kobe Bryant and his teammates have been able to climb out of the morass frequently, judged on their play. Head coach Byron Scott could very well meet the same fate as his two predecessors if this continued ineptitude shows no signs of changing. Bryant for his partremains single-minded,not in chasing team goals , but more now at this stage of his career chasing personal goals. He is now nine points behind the career points’ total of Michael Jordan and his protagonists are trying to suggest it places the Lakers’ player on the same plateau as the NBA’s greatest player. That notion is simply asinine, needs to be seen as just sheer stupidity and without merit . Bryant will never be viewed as Jordan’s equal , never-mind being remotely close to him in stature or character.

Los Angeles will be on the road today, when the team meet the Minnesota Timberwolves . A game I might add, has a great deal at stake , with both of these Western Conference franchises looking to steer themselves away from the lower rungs of the conference. I have never been a great admirer of Byron Scott as a head coach even with his success coaching the New Jersey Nets, where he was able to take the franchise to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

The Brooklyn Nets as they are now known , owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov . This season in particular, Prokhorov has seen his team struggle with head coach Lionel Hollins , seeking to instill a great deal of discipline into a lineup that seems to have no intent on playing an iota of defense on both ends of the floor. The fact that the Brooklyn Nets have by far the highest payroll in the entire NBA should not be lost on the fans or league hierarchy , who seem to have little sense of being financially prudent , much less the executives and owners around the league being prepared to show that sense of urgency on the matter.

Lionel Hollins will takes his team bearing a 10-12 record as they sit 6 1/2 games behind the Atlantic Coast Division leading Toronto Raptors (17-6). Brooklyn just happens to be 5-5 in their last ten games and on a two-game win streak. Brooklyn’s next contest will be against the Miami Heat on Tuesday evening when the two teams meet at the AA Arena in Miami, Florida,. Miami after the abrupt departure of LeBron James have sought to build their roster around the talents of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade , with head coach Erik Spoelstra seeking rebuild his lineup around this duo of stars.

Coming off a lopsided twenty seven point victory over what appears to be the hapless Charlotte Hornets , where the Nets sank sixteen three point attempts in this contest. The Hornets I believe are a team who remain an aberration in spite of last season’s success and their having made the NBA Playoffs this past year . Michael Jordan in his new found role as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats must hope his players are able to show the discipline needed to make another run at the playoffs. As good as we might assume the Hornets’ team to be there is clear evidence the front office and coaching staff cannot be entirely happy with what they have witnessed so far this season.

Kemba Walker remains the face of this Hornets’ franchise and it will be interesting to see what moves are made if any, by GM Rich Cho at the behest of head coach Steve Clifford as they seek to bolster the roster. Next up for this franchise will a game against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the guests hope to place a dent in the hopes of the Cavaliers, as that team seeks to make a push at gaining the top seed in the Eastern Conference . James for his part, has lost none of scoring prowess as he leads the team in scoring and is well-placed in a number of other offensive categories . Yet, LeBron’s offensive prowess cannot be the sole proviso for the Cavaliers if they are to be successful this season, because his teammates will have to step up to the plate, along with David Blatt and his coaching staff showing a great deal more ingenuity than we have witnessed so far this season. Defensively , the Cavaliers have yet to prove themselves as one of the better teams in the conference or in the NBA overall . James and the Cavaliers’ next contest will see them line up against the Charlotte Hornets at home when they take the court at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio in front of a sold-out crowd on Monday night.

Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans might be considered to be having a great season, with the power forward consistently being among one of the topscorers in the league on a consistent basis during the infancy of the Pelicans’ schedule and this NBA season. This is a far cry from what the fans witnessed last season from the team as they struggled to find some consistency during 2013.

The addition of Tyreke Evans has given the lineup a great basis for their progress with their being a greater emphasis on defense as well as offense from this young team . Davis has played like an early season leading contender for the League MVP and it would prove to be extremely difficult to state he is not justified to be listed among the leading candidates for the trophy at this juncture, one quarter of the way through the NBA schedule. There might be no more than five players who considered to be having great all-round seasons , but among those names, one might consider Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, James Harden of the Houston Rockets , DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings and LeBron James .

A narrow six-point loss to the the Golden State Warriors was a clear sign , that the New Orleans Pelicans are on the right track, but there is still a great deal of work to be done by this team , with head coach Monty Williams and his coaching staff undertaking the task to the best of their abilities. Team owner, Tom Benson having bought the franchise, rather than seeing it be relocated with the organization’s previous owner, George Shinn , only all too willing to plead poverty, has begun to engineer a turnaround , that will hopefully see a return to competitive play , but also a profitable economic return on his investment for the owner.

Steve Ballmer paid an exorbitant and outrageous $2 billion for the privilege of owning an NBA franchise. In doing so he merely helped the NBA hierarchy out of a hole of their own making, with the gutless David Stern showing that he has no stomach to come down hard and punish an owner for their egregious actions and behavior. Even when left to his successor, Adam Silver to mete out punishment to the now departed Donald Sterling , the league still found a way make themselves look like complete fools , in their handling of the former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner. Come full circle , with Ballmer assuming control of the organization and still within the fans’ midst remains, Rochelle Stein-Sterling , the estranged wife of the former owner. Somehow, the continued idiocy to be found within the NBA remains , even when a new e owner comes within its midst , with Steve Ballmer acknowledging Stein-Sterling and making her an honorary lifetime member of the organization, albeit, she is said to have been well aware of her husband’s despicable racial beliefs and overtures, during his tenure as the owner of the Clippers. In this case , not only has complicity being rewarded but also he sheer mendacity of Rochelle Stein-Sterling.

As the Golden State Warriors’ ascent has been well-chronicled , with the franchise having the best record (20-2) in the NBA, there can be no denying Steve Kerr has this team heading in the right direction. Joe Lacob , Peter Guber and the members of the front office knew the successor to Mark Jackson had to be someone with skilled basketball IQ, a disciplinarian and an individual who would fit in with the ideals the owners had in mind for their franchise. Jackson for his part, proved to be far too outspoken on a number of issues that bore no relation to the Warriors’ principles or that of basketball. Along the way , he showed his ignorance and some might say bigotry , yet this should be not lost on the public when one bears in mind how out of touch the league remains on a litany of social issues which David Stern and the league hierarchy barely paid lip service to.

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have been the primary reasons why the Warriors are off to a flying start , with the team now on a sixteen- game win streak, easily their best start to a season and a franchise record. Curry has fast become a fan favorite, with Thompson not too far behind, with his growing influence and popularity among the Warriors’ fans around the league. These two players are likely to be among the list of candidates to be team’s representatives on the Western Conference All Star Ballot for the NBA’s mid-season showcase. The prowess shown by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson make the pairing a force to be reckoned with in the NBA and be looked upon favorably against any other duo of offensive players in the league.

Kerr and the Warriors will have their next outing against the Memphis Grizzlies , a team with the second-best record in the Western Conference , while leading their division with a great deal of ease. This contest will provide us with a great deal of insight about these two teams, where Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will lead a Grizzlies’ team intent on proving , they are to to be taken seriously as a legitimate threat within the conference as a playoff contender. I am certainly beginning to think the landscape has shifted within the Western Conference , where the only known commodities as perennial playoff contenders are the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, the defending NBA champions.

Two of the NBA’s most storied franchises are certainly having indifferent seasons. The Boston Celtics under second-year head coach Brad Stevens are still in the early stages of their rebuilding phase . A maneuver , I certainly believe GM Danny Ainge should have started at least three years ago, but inexplicably he chose to wait and here we are with a Celtics’ team still getting its feet wet and showing incrementals signs of improvement in their overall play. The New York Knicks remain an undisciplined team with their being little of positive recommendation to be made about this Derek Fisher coached lineup . To top it all , the Knicks’ front office remains clueless and that is with all due respect to Phil Jackson as Head of Basketball Operations for the franchise, but even he has to see , his task has now become a great deal tougher than first thought. Anyone of the belief that a roster made up of players such as Samuel Dalembert , Tim Hardaway Jr , Iman Shumpert , Pablo Prigioni, Amare’ Stoudemire, JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony were going to possibly compete n this league would have to be delusional or simply long-term diehard Knicks’ fans who welcomed the torture they have been subjected to over the past decade.

Personally, I do not believe fans of the franchise are either eloquent or intelligent enough to succinctly state the problems this team faces but yet they appear to be of the belief Jackson will be able to engineer a quick turnaround. Well, the famed head coach will not be stepping back into his coach’s shoes anytime soon and it is clear to see Fisher is way in, over his head. As to this continued idiocy, the coaching staff is experienced enough to guide these players, clearly that has become a farce of epic proportions. If anyone is trying to suggest Kurt Rambis and Roger Hinds can provide the tutelage needed, let alone assist Fisher to the best of their abilities in making this roster remotely competitive. The evidence is there for all too see, as borne out the team’s record without the continued asinine excuses being made for their plight. A five-point loss suffered at the hands of the Toronto Raptors on Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden , served notice as to how soft the New York Knicks have becomeand the fact this team is simply not that good by any stretch of the imagination to compete in the NBA.

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While I know the NBA season remains very much in its early stages , we have already reached first quarter of the schedule. The troublesome and prevailing premise has to be, when are we likely to see any type of improvement from the teams at the bottom end of the pedestal ? Certainly there is a great deal of room for improvement from the likes of the Brooklyn Nets , New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, but their issues are of their own making and not likely to get any better anytime soon. By all means, leave a comment as to your thoughts on the NBA and what you would like to see come out of this season concerning the teams ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) North Carolina’s Marcus Paige , middle, looks for a teammate amid Kentucky defenders, from left, Aaron Harrison , Dakari Johnson , and Willie Cauley-Stein during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game , Saturday, Dec. 13th, 2014. Kentucky won 84-70 . AP Photo/James Crisp

(2) North Carolina’s Marcus Paige , left, draws a charging foul on Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. AP Photo/James Crisp …

(3) Duke’s Tyus Jones (5) shoots past Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Duke won 80-70 . AP Photo/Andy Manis …

(4) Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski , left, and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan greet each other before an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Madison, Wis. AP Photo/Andy Manis ….

(5) Oct 7 , 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) posts up against Indiana Pacers guard George Hill (3) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana , Indianapolis . The Pacers would go on to defeat the Timberwolves 103-90 . Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports ….

(6) Klay Thompson , Shaun Livingston and Festus Ezeli of the Golden State Warriors during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on December 14, 2014 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Getty Images / Lane Murdoch Jr . …

(7) Anthony Davis (23) of the New Orleans Pelicans looks to make an offensive play as DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers looks to defend . Davis has been one of the league’s most explosive players offensively , during this season and by far the most effective power forward at this juncture of the NBA schedule. The Clippers would go on to defeat the Pelicans 120-100 in a high scoring game played on the 6th December , 2014 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California ,. Getty Images / Paul Fleming …

(8) LOS ANGELES – FEBRUARY 23: The Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff (L-R) Brian Shaw, Kurt Rambis , Phil Jackson, Frank Hamblen and athletic trainer Gary Vitti share a laugh on the bench during the game game against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on February 23, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 122-96. Rambis is now the lead assistant on Derek Fisher’s coaching staff of the New York Knicks where Jackson is now the Head of Basketball Operations for the Knicks’ organization. Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images …

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A recap of sorts

Well, the NCAA Tournament has to come a close , with the vestiges to that competition reaching a finality . Two storied programs were there the combatants in the Finals , were John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats facing the University of Connecticut (Huskies) coached by second-year coach, Kevin Ollie , a former mainstay within the NBA . With U Conn prevailing in a six-point triumph , Ollie joins a select group of coaches to have won a national title within their first three years of coaching a program . For Shabazz Napier and the leadership shown in leading his teammates to this triumph, is likely to open doors , not previously thought about in great depth , with several general managers around the NBA , likely to be showing an interest in a player , who should he declare for the upcoming NBA Draft , is likely to be taken quite high in the first round .

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I am sure that the administration within Storrs, Connecticut, are truly overwhelmed at this triumph and the Huskies’ second title in the past four years , with the program’s last triumph in the Men’s NCAA Tournament coming in 2011 , when Jim Calhoun and that team triumphed over Brad Stevens and Butler . As we know, the Huskies women’s program , coached by Geno Auriemma , has been triumphant several times , with six national titles during his reign, as the coach of the now famed women’s program. Auriemma is back again as a finalist in this year’s tournament where the opponent will be a heated rival , with Notre Dame (Fighting Irish) staring across at their adjoining number one tournament seeds. That game , will be played tonight at the Bridgestone Arena , in Nashville, Tennessee,.

A week into the MLB season and there is not really a great deal to report , beyond the fact , there appears to be more money now seated ? on the disabled list , than would actually make up the payroll of the league’s lowest paid team , in this case , that privilege belongs to the Houston Astros with an estimated payroll of $44.5 million . Yet, somehow , it was the intent of Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow to field a competitive team this year , while trying to avoid a fourth consecutive season of one hundred losses or more ? I guess , Astros’ manager Bo Porter and his managerial staff were fed another boatload of “ bull” , by the executives entering the season , about the ball-club’s ambitions for the year.

With a record of 3-4 , the Astros are competing in what is likely to be a competitive AL West division this season , where the main competitors for the divisional title are likely to be the defending champions the Oakland Athletics , who in turn , are likely to be challenged by the Texas Rangers , Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners . For Robinson Cano and his hefty $240 million contract , signed in the off-season, having left the New York Yankees , for what he believes to be greener pastures. This season , is likely to prove to be a tough one for the former Yankees’ infielder, as he seeks to prove that contract. Coming off a 6-3 loss to the Oakland A’s , Seattle will in their next game face the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington , where James Paxton will take to the mound for the Mariners to face off against Hector Santiago , in what should prove to be a very competitive pitching match-up , between the two starting pitchers .

As beleaguered as the issues are for the Houston Astros are now , I am not so sure, that the team will simply be good enough to avoid another one hundred loss season for a fourth consecutive time. Bo Porter’s staff simply does not have the acumen , and there is not a player on the staff ready, to assume any type of role of leadership or be presumed to be, looked upon as a leader. Tuesday’s scheduled meeting against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Center ,in Toronto, Ontario, where Brett Oberholtzer will pit wits with his opponent for the Blue Jays’ Mark Buerhle .

It is beginning to look as if Mark Teixeira’s career will become known for being injury prone , rather than for anything achieved on the field of play , since he was acquired by the New York Yankees to bolster the team’s roster and add to what was believed to be an already explosive lineup by way of the team’s offense. In his first season with the team in 2009, Teixeira proved to be as productive and well worth the contract , as it appeared to be at the time. The player we are told, will resume light exercise with a view to returning to the team and perhaps playing in his first regular season game by mid-April, but in all likelihood , I believe that Joe Girardi and the staff will not have their first baseman return too soon , until they believe that he is fully fit .

The Yankees’ 4-2 victory, over the Baltimore Orioles , places them atop of the AL East with a one game lead over the second placed Tampa Bay Rays (4-4) . How the season, now plays out for the New York Yankees will undoubtedly be predicated upon the play of mainstays, such as Teixeira , Derek Jeter , Ichiro Suzuki , Brian McCann , Kelly Johnson, CC Sabathia , Hiroki Kuroda , Carlos Beltran , Alfonso Soriano , Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury . The team will once again , play host to the Orioles today, when they meet at Yankees Stadium , in New York City, New York on Tuesday afternoon , where the opposing pitchers will be Wei Yin Chen and Ivan Nova .

On this date in MLB history , one of the great achievements within the game of baseball was attained , when Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hit , what was his seven-hundred and fifteenth home run (715) to move ahead of Babe Ruth in the all-time career home runs’ list. Granted, that record has since been surpassed by Barry Bonds , whose legitimacy about that mark , still comes into question, but not by the MLB hierarchy or that of the Elias Stats’ Bureau . While, there has never been a positive drug test on record to somehow negate Bonds’ achievement of the career home runs’ record or that of the single season mark for home runs. The persistent questions still lingers, about Bonds’ claims, that he never intentionally or knowingly, took what he believed to be a banned substance. In the court of “public opinion” , the now retired player’s claims, are not believed and the legal system has deemed Barry Bonds to be untruthful and indeed deceitful, with his denials and the statement offered at his perjury trial .

For Hank Aaron and the opposing pitcher on the day , when the record was broken , Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the event have been posthumously recorded . However, in the run-up and the aftermath, of Aaron , having broken the record, baseball historians have tended to gloss over the fact, the Hall of Fame inductee came under death threats , racial threats , along with the lives of the immediate members of his family being threatened by bigoted racists . Poignant, when you consider the claims being made at the time that , the nation had indeed progressed , that the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr , the integration of baseball and it being woven into the fabric of society , had indeed made the world a better place. Four decades later, those claims do not hold true , even with the nation’s first African-American President Barack Obama midway through his second Presidential term and the deaths of James Byrd Jr and Alfred Wright are seen as mere footnotes and the apathy of idiots are still within our midst , about the claims of racial bigotry has in fact ended .

We are now less than a week away from the culmination of the NBA regular season and several of the divisional races have been all but decided. In the Eastern Conference, only the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat , are the two teams apiece, to have garnered more than fifty wins. Counterparts within the West, where the San Antonio Spurs , Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers , are three of five teams to have accumulated more than fifty wins each . Somehow, one gets the feeling that in the East, theirs is a conference, where competitive basketball, which is claimed to being played, is simply an acronym for complete mediocrity .

For the New York Knicks , the past seventy two hours has seen the team play themselves into contention for a playoff berth, to once again showing the trait, that has been on display , all season long and that simple inconsistency . Their fans and the print media within the local market , may well decry the fact, the team, is now likely to miss the postseason , altogether. Yet, what else can you say, when there really has been absolutely no one willing to step up to the plate? As to this utter idiocy, that Carmelo Anthony ought to be given a worthy mention as a legitimate MVP candidate , has to be viewed with the utter contempt that the claims deserve. Anthony, has been playing on a team , that at no point during the regular season, have they led their division , nor have they strung together double-digit wins in terms of a consecutive wins’ stretch.

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An eleven point loss to the Miami Heat , may well have placed the “nail in the coffin” of Mike Woodson’s players and any last vestiges of hope, that they might well have had, in gaining a playoff berth. The team’s only hopes, now rest with the Atlanta Hawks simply imploding, with six games remaining on the Hawks’ schedule.

The seismic shock waves from the Superbowl and the lopsided loss suffered by the Denver Broncos , must be seen as something of a precursor, about what we have witnessed by way of the waiving of players and the contracts lengths now being offered new contracts by their new teams . It’s pretty much safe to say, with a number of franchises, seeking to make themselves “cap-friendly” , the luring of marquee free agents , while preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft , has been the one thing , that the front office executives have been using a great deal of due diligence in some of that preparation.

Veteran quarterback , Michael Vick has now found himself a new home , having signed with the New York Jets , where he is likely to be the backup to incumbent starter, Geno Smith , whose propensity throw interceptions during a game , are as frequent, as the guests at a wedding, throwing rice to celebrate the nuptials of a just-married couple. I am not suggesting that Smith is a terrible quarterback, but he has shown no inclination to improve his game and the coaching staff of the Jets, have done little to aid the player during his rookie season. The team’s problems during the season and the fact, they were simply of no relevance within the AFC East , simply summed up the Jets’ year and the fact , they performed so poorly.

It will be interesting to see how the New York Jets do during the off-season in the build-up to the NFL Draft, as GM John Idzik , seeks to rebuild and revamp the roster, while also seeing the type of influence, that Michael Vick will provide for Geno Smith.

The waiving of running back Chris Johnson , is likely to come back and haunt the Tennessee Titans , at some point , during their future . Yet, I am not entirely surprised by the move , considering the ongoing stupidity that we have witnessed from team owner , Bud Adams , down the years. Cap issues or not , the explanation now being offered by the front office , makes about as much sense , as Sarah Palin offering up her assessment as to the country’s foreign policy or what her alternatives might be to Barack Obama’s healthcare initiative and the program that has now taken effect. Johnson , at the time of his release, was one of the franchise’s most productive offensive players, and all, but a mere handful of running backs in the NFL, have more rushing yards in the league, over the past five seasons .

With a slew of teams, now said to be interested, in Chris Johnson , many of them in need of a productive running back, to aid a franchise with a woefully inept rushing offense . Rex Ryan is said to be keenly interested in acquiring the free agent running back , but the asking price , might well be too high for the New York Jets to meet at this juncture .

Johnson and his agent, Joel Segal are likely to look for an offer, that best meets the need of the player, while giving him the chance to play for a legitimate Superbowl contender. As to where that offer is now likely to come from, will be open to a great deal of conjecture and speculation over the next few days. With the NFL Draft, just over a month away , one seriously doubts that Segal would still like to have his client unsigned, with their being some depth to the ” draft class” of running backs said to be part of this group of rushers , as well as the other unsigned free agent running backs , who might come at a less steeper price, than his own client, Chris Johnson.

“Bang the drums more loudly” , as the consensus seems to be, that the South Carolina Gamecocks’, Jadeveon Clowney , is still being viewed as the number one pick for the NFL Draft. Now, whether or not, the Houston Texans and their front office led by GM Rick Smith decide to go this route, in making Clowney that number one overall pick , will be clearly dependent upon the assessment of the player made by head coach Bill O’Brien and his staff . The Texans’ needs, as a team overall, are great and the simple thought, that the defensive player is an answer to all of their needs , is merely ludicrous and not warranting an answer, that is simple. Defensively , the secondary was a mess, throughout last season , and that fourteen-game losing streak was a clear indicator as to several of the reasons why, beyond the poor play of the often injured Matt Schaub and an offense, that has been nowhere near as explosive, as in seasons past . Yet, for all the talk of Clowney’s impact as a defensive player , one cannot help but ask, is Bill O’Brien actually willing to pass up on an array of quarterbacks in this upcoming class , that many feel might be as good and is being compared to in some circles , as good as the 2012 NFL quarterback class , that saw Andrew Luck , be taken as the number one overall pick , a grouping that I might add, that also included Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles , Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins .

Quarterbacks, may well come and go , but can a team that certainly in need of one afford to pass on the likes of Blake Bortles , Johnny Manziel , Teddy Bridgewater , Zach Mettenberger , Bryce Petty , Tajh Boyd , A J McCarron and Tom Savage ?

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One way or another , Jadeveon Clowney’s fate, might not rest in the Houston Texans’ hands, but actually the perception that he created, that has been perpetuated and bought into by the press , pundits and fans, alike . I believe, he is likely to be drafted in the first round, as one of the top ten picks, taken on the day. Anything short of that , will clearly be viewed as something of a major disappointment for a player , looking to be handsomely rewarded for his collegiate exploits .

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Kevin Ollie , head coach of the U Conn Huksies’ Men’s Basketball team is seen here cutting down the nets after his player’s triumph over Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament . Ollie in his second year as the head coach, simply had his players playing at a high level throughout the tournament , with them upping the tempo in the championship game , itself against the Wildcats . AP Photo Keith Mannix …..

(2) Shabazz Napier (13) walks the length of the court being cheered on by Huskies’ fans after the team’s 60-54 victory over John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats in the finals of the NCAA Tournament . It is widely believed that Napier is likely to declare his eligibility and enter the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft . AP Photo / Keith Mannix ….

(3) Mark Teixiera of the New York Yankees , for whom much of the 2013 season was a loss, is once again back on the team’s DL , uncertain of when his season is likely to begin in 2014. As one of the highest paid players on the roster , as well as having one of the most lucrative contracts among all of the ball-club’s players , Teixeira is afforded a luxury not often shared by a player of his stature . Getty Images / Tim Walsh ….

(4) Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his historic 715th home run which would surpass the all-time career home runs’ record (714) at the time held by Babe Ruth . Aaron hit that record-breaking home run on the 8th April , 1974 at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, in a game between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers . The pitcher on the day, who gave up the home run was the Dodgers’ Al Downing . AP / REUTERS Inc/ Pathe ….

(5) Veteran quarterback Michael Vick who was acquired by the New York Jets and signed to a one-year deal by the franchise to be the backup to incumbent starter , Geno Smith , a first-round quarterback draft pick in 2013 NFL Draft by the Jets . In his rookie season , Smith’s continued struggles were ever-present throughout the season , with their being little real evidence that his game was progressing, in spite working diligently with quarterbacks’ coach , David Lee . It remains to be seen what type guidance and influence Vick will provide for Geno Smith , as he enters his sophomore season in 2014 . If Smith shows signs of regression , then in all likelihood the veteran will be called upon the replace his young charge . AP Photo / Rod Fletcher ….

(6) Free agent running back Chris Johnson who was waived by the Tennessee Titans for cap reasons . The player who was among the franchise’s leading rushers in their history , is now said to be one of the most desired free agents now on the market . It remain to be seen where Johnson’s final destination , is likely to be. AP Photo / Phil Prentice ……

(7) Robert ‘Bob’ McNair , (left) owner of the Houston Texans , is seen here with the team’s general manager Rick Smith. The general manager , scouting department of the franchise and head coach will have a tough decision to make, whether or not, to take Jadeveon Clowney, as the number on overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft or as is being forecast by many , the organization is likely to go with a quarterback , with instate hero Johnny Manziel said to be atop of Smith’s wish-list, along with Blake Bortles , Teddy Bridgewater and the fast rising stock of Tom Savage. The Texans have never made a quarterback their top pick , over the course of the franchise’s history. Getty Images / Austin Morris ….

(8) Jadeveon Clowney of the South Carolina Gamecocks and Texas A &M’s Johnny Manziel , right . Both players , high achievers , have the wish to be taken as the number one overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. With the Houston Texans’ afforded the first pick , it remains to be seen whether or not the AFC South based franchise takes either player as that privileged first choice .

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Simply soaking up the sun while making an imprint in the sand .

 

It is what it is …………

It is what it is …………

Well the sports’ environment at present has taken a back seat to the NCAA Tournament , with the event itself , having provided the fans with a number of stunning upsets , while there have been some that were not totally unexpected . With the number one ranked Florida Gators having now made their way to the ‘Sweet Sixteen ‘ , the road in some respects does now seem all but clear , for Billy Donovan and his team to capture the program’s third national title in the past eight seasons . Were the Gators’ head coach able to manage that feat , it would certainly make him the school’s most successful coach in terms of national titles won , beating out the likes of Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier .

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From my own perspective , I believe Donovan the equal of both of the aforementioned coaches , albeit that, Meyer and Spurrier left Florida to further their careers , elsewhere . In the case of Urban Meyer, his departure and subsequent criticism of his former employers and the program he coached to two BCS titles , may well have more to do with his egotistical character and the level of criticism aimed at him , with the failure of Tim Tebow to become a resounding success in the NFL . A great deal of that criticism is more than justified , when you simply bear in mind that Tebow’s collegiate career while stellar , at the next level of his evolution , his game simply did not materialize into anything more than that of a moderately average quarterback , who could barely read defensive tendencies , much less make a pass attempt in excess of fifteen yards or more , without their being a tendency of an interception or the pass simply falling short of its target , but there were , the vast majority of less than intelligent Gators’ fans, still singing Tim Tebow’s praises as a player. With his career now coming to an abrupt end , he has now been hired by cable sports’ programming network ESPN to provide fans with his insight into the Collegiate Football and the games , where he will be covering . One can only wish Tebow, all the success possible in his new endeavor , in the hope that he is likely to be more successful in his new vocation.

With a number of programs now having fallen by the wayside, in this particular NCAA Tournament, by contrast , at this point last season , things in some respects were somewhat similar. Florida for its part, have more than justified that national number one ranking , and proof of that , come by way of their regular season schedule and their run through the SEC (Southeast Conference) ,where the team went undefeated , a first for conference play, within the Southeastern Conference. Leading the way for Florida, in terms of the team’s play , have been Casey Prather , Patric Young , Michael Frazier and Scottie Wilbekin , but it has truly been a collective team effort , along with that of Billy Donovan and the coaching acumen shown by his coaching staff , which has taken them this far and proven their season-long dominance this year.

Through their first two games of this tournament, Florida has not truly been tested , with their first round contest against Albany NY being nothing more than a cakewalk , with their 67-55 defeat of that team , before facing an even less sterner test in taking down the Pittsburgh (Panthers) with another somewhat lopsided victory 61-45 . The Gators’ path to the ‘Elite Eight’ in the NCAA Tournament, will see them having to overcome the UCLA Bruins , in what is likely to be the best game scheduled during the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ .

Of the games , still to be played in the round of the Sweet Sixteen , beyond the featured contest, which I believe to be the best at this stage of the tournament. There are games between Iowa State versus Connecticut , Tennessee and Michigan , Louisville (Cardinals) and Kentucky , Baylor and Wisconsin , Arizona and San Diego State , finally Dayton versus Stanford . All great match-ups befitting a tournament, that now lures shall we say, degenerate gamblers into wagering billions of dollars, into the most lucrative sports’ event, for the gaming industry in North America .

Rick Pitino , as the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, when he faces off against an old foe and nemesis in John Calipari , in a contest , of well-versed coaches , that will be a match of wits . What might also make this match-up also intriguing, with both coaches, having reached the pinnacle of collegiate coaching in winning a national title. Pitino, will now seek to take down a program , where, he was once a head coach and a well-respected one at that.

There are few coaches as well-respected as Tom Izzo within Collegiate Basketball and while one can be critical of the game at this level . It has to be said, that with the continued controversy of tainted programs , abuses of privileges and the ongoing issues of recruitment violations . Rarely, has Izzo’s tenure at Michigan St (Spartans) raised any suspicion of the program being mired, in any major impropriety. However, that is not to suggest, that Spartans athletics’ program has been pristine and above-board. Collegiate Athletics has become embroiled and awash, with far too much money , that the temptation to do something amiss, has become even more tempting than ever before. At the same time, the continued incompetency of the NCAA does not cover the distrust that the public has not only the entire landscape of college sports but also the hierarchical structure of the that particular body , under its current President , Mark Emmert , who came to the position, carrying a great deal of baggage of his own, concerning a number of improprieties and a lack communicative and administrative skills .

Izzo and the Spartans, while seeking to make their way to the Elite Eight, are not likely to have an easy time when they face the Virginia (Cavaliers) . Cavaliers’ head coach, Tony Bennett will undoubtedly want to pull off the upset , in taking the program this deep into the quarter-finals of the tournament for the very first time ever. The outcome of this contest, between Michigan and Tennessee , will definitely be predicated upon the offensive prowess shown by both teams and the coaching acumen of the respective staffs.

This NCAA Tournament has certainly lived up to expectations so far and the contests have provided the fans with a great deal more than most would have expected .

The big news within the NBA over the past eight days , has been the New York Knicks’ acquisition of Phil Jackson to head up the franchise’s Basketball Operations and being entirely responsible for all player personnel decisions. Jackson , himself, has been quick to point out, that the level of the play by the current roster has bordered on being inadequate and lacking the basic fundamentals , that the team itself , simply looks like a group of individuals at play on a high school playground. Subsequent to that statement by the Knicks’ front office executive , the players have responded in kind rolling off eight victories in their last ten games , perhaps reminding Jackson that they are capable of playing as a cohesive unit. As to what this might suggest as to the coaching strategies of Mike Woodson and his coaching staff , may well spell doom and his departure from the franchise at the end of this season. Woodson, might not be a proponent of the “Triangle Offense” and Phil Jackson has suggested that the scheme need not be adhered to, by the team, but , what he would like to see, is a great deal more resilience and tenacity from the players.

The New York Knicks’ continued malaise over the past seven seasons at least , has been brought on by the negligence of team owner , James Dolan and the litany of general managers heading up the front office during that time-span. Anyone who would try to suggest that under Isiah Thomas’ tenure , or that of Dave Checketts , Ernie Grunfeld , Scott Layden and in some respects Donnie Walsh , have in some way brought about some semblance of competitiveness to the franchise, need only look at the Knicks’ overall record from 1999 to 2013 and the number of playoff appearances made . In large part, the organization has spent more time acquiring nondescript talent and simply overpaying for the players assembled to represent the team during that time. It is certainly something, that will clearly have to be addressed by Phil Jackson and the staff that he will likely assemble to assist him in that stead, as he seeks to build a roster that will be viewed as a perennial contender, rather than being seen as an also-ran.

A playoff berth is now beyond the New York Knicks’ reach for this season, but in large part several players on the roster will be playing for their long-term future and livelihood with the franchise , in light of Jackson’s wish to revamp this roster. The team (29-41) at present , is lying in ninth place , within the Eastern Conference and three games out from that final berth , which is currently held by the Atlanta Hawks(31-37) as of 23rd March , 2014.

As if to further emphasize the numerous reasons why the Knicks have been woefully inept , consider the fact that at home, they are amongst the worst teams in the entire NBA , never mind the fact that they are simply unable to close out games, but yet the asinine analysis provided by on air commentators would have you believe to the contrary. Sunday’s six-point loss (106-100) at home at Madison Square Gardens in New York City, New York, to the Cleveland Cavaliers , is a damning indictment of not only the poor play of the New York Knicks , but also how damn awful , the Eastern Conference just happens to be overall , in terms of the poor play.

Inconsistency has now become the norm for the New York Knicks , while the air-headed print and television media within the New York market tend to be enraptured by Phil Jackson’s arrival , what they seem to be forgetting is actually how bad this team just happens to be and that is even with Carmelo Anthony having to carry his teammates on his shoulders for the majority of the season. One can choose to spin the tale of the New York Knicks for this season and then suggest that next year all of the events of 2013 , will be forgotten, because Phil Jackson , by then, will have begun to work miracles. Let’s get something clear, Phil can only work with the tools given him and what he has been provided with at this juncture , are a bag of nuts , bolts, and rusty tools, in seeking to get the job done . As to what transpires, in the coming months of this off-season, remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see whether or not, Jackson can indeed revamp an impoverished franchise, with them regaining some semblance of respectability.

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Picture gallery .

The events of the NCAA Tournament, as they have unfolded, which result has been of the greatest surprise to you ? Which program do you now believe to be in the driver’s seat, with the easiest task of making it to the Final Four and then going on to win the Men’s NCAA title outright ? With Phil Jackson’s introduction as the new Head of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks , do you believe his task will be an easy one to turn things around for the franchise and how much time in your estimation, will it take for him to make the Knicks relevant and competitive ? Simply take time to leave a comment, as you see fit and thank you for the ongoing support of this site, as it is greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin, bottom, gets past Pittsburgh forward Lamar Patterson for a shot during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, March 22, 2014. Florida won 61-45 . AP Photo/John Raoux ….

(2) Florida coach Billy Donovan gestures during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/John Raoux…

(3) Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin (5) and center Patric Young (4) talk on the court during the second half in a second-round game against Albany in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Albany, Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(4) Louisville coach Rick Pitino , right, yells at guard Russ Smith (2) during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Saint Louis , Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(5) Kentucky head coach John Calipari works from the sideline against Wichita State during the first half of a third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 23, 2014, in St. Louis. A highly rated Wichita State team that seemingly could not match the intensity shown by the Wildcats during this contest, which ended in disappointment for the Shockers. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ……..

(6) Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison (2) passes the ball as Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet (23) defends during the first half of a third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 23, 2014, in St. Louis. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …..

(7) Tony Bennett head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers . Bennett’s team face the MSU Spartans on Friday , with the victor guaranteed a berth in the Elite Eight as the prize . AP Photo / Rafael Gomez …..

(8) Michigan State’s Tom Izzo whose long and proud coaching resume’ indicates an impressive track record . Getty Images / Keith Turner …..

(9) NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 23: Jarrett Jack (1) of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New York Knicks during a game at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images …
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(10) New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony talks with New York Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson during the second half of the NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden, Sunday, March 23, 2014, in New York. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 106-100 . .AP Photo /Adrian Miller …..

(11) New York Knicks’ executive Phil Jackson is seen here, inlaid, team head coach Mike Woodson’s ,whose tenure with the Knicks’ franchise now seems more perilous than ever , with the team not completely responding to his coach style, in spite of a recent impressive run of eight consecutive victories . Yet, the team’s home record remains one of the worst in the entire NBA and one of the numerous reasons why they have fallen out of contention within the Eastern Conference this season. It seems highly unlikely that Woodson will be returning to coach the team next season , with their being no guarantee whatsoever, from the front office , even if there have been some reassuring words coming from unconfirmed sources within the hierarchical structure of the franchise. AP Photo / Lou Mason …..

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College Basketball & NBA related pieces :

The running of the Bulls

It’s that time of the year again , and things are said be right with the world ….

You can talk a good game but can you play one ?

Stick to what you know and not what you’re told is the truth

Full steam ahead

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NCAA Men’s Basketball & news

NCAA Men’s Basketball (bracket)

NCAA Men’s Basketball schedule

NCAA Men’s Basketball champions

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NBA news

NBA results 23rd March 2014

NBA standings (division) and by conference

NBA playoff picture (indicates game remaining)

This month in NBA history

It’s that time of the year again , and things are said be right with the world ….

It’s that time of the year again , and things are said be right with the world ….

It’s that time of the year again, where sports reaches a fever pitch , as several things are about to transpire. The NCAA Tournament for Men’s and Women’s Basketball , will begin to determine a Collegiate Champion. With billionaire businessman Warren Buffett offering a $1 billion prize to anyone predicting the champion , as well as the correct breakdown of the sixty-four team bracket field, it adds a great deal more of an incentive for some of the most ardent fans of the game.

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Slideshow .

With Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators being ranked number one in the nation in the polls , the team has also garnered a number one seeding in the NCAA Tournament , whereby they will be in the Southern Region . The team will not kick off their tournament schedule, until, the 20th March , when they will face the winner of the game between Albany and Mount St Mary’s , a contest due to be played on Tuesday , 18th March . The tournament itself , might just be one of the most open in recent years , with a number of programs thought to be in with a serious chance of being this season’s national champion. I have long been an admirer of Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke (Blue Devils) , but their path to the Sweet Sixteen as a number three seed in the Midwest Region , will not be an easy one to traverse. Yet, if the team can exhibit much of the form they have shown throughout the season up to this point, then there is no reason to believe why the Blue Devils cannot mount a serious challenge as Krzyzewski seeks to win his fifth national title.

I may well be wrong in my assumption, but I believe Billy Donovan to be the most under-appreciated coaches in all of college sports, when it comes to a coach who has won multiple national titles in their specific arena . Back to back titles in 2006 and 2007 , cemented Donovan’s legacy with the Gators’ program and placed in my mind , in the upper echelons of Men’s Collegiate Basketball coaches ! ! Donovan’s players, were simply good enough this season , to “sweep through ” the SEC (Southeastern Conference) , going an astonishing 18-0 in conference play and rounding out their record , with a 32-2 finish overall .

Duke will begin their sojourn in the NCAA Tournament, with a first round game against Mercer , on Friday, 21st March , where there will be a slew of games scheduled to be played on the day. For players, such as Jabari Parker , Rodney Hood , Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon , this will provide them the opportunity to display their skills beyond a national audience , as there will be a slew of NBA coaches and front office executives observing not only these players but also the entire talent that will be on display throughout this tournament , with the likelihood , with one of those athletes thought to be good enough not only to be the number one draft pick in the upcoming NBA Draft , but someone around whom, a franchise can be built around . Last season’s top pick , Anthony Bennett of the Cleveland Cavaliers , seems to be struggling to come into his own , having not been able to show the collegiate form which the front office believed could resurrect their fortunes .

From my own standpoint, the NBA in terms of its NBA Draft, might just be the “biggest hit or miss” in terms of assessing talent, next to the idiocy presided over and deemed as the MLB Draft ! A number one pick made there , is unlikely to see any Big League playing time through the first two years of their professional playing career, unless their skills are already highly polished , but yet such players are afforded record signing bonuses , before having stepped onto a baseball field or donning that team’s uniform . Yet it would be remiss to suggest that MLB is the only such area , where this is something that has become a practice , because we have witnessed this also within the NBA and the NFL , in spite of their now being rookie contracts , offered to first round players on a sliding scale , as determined by one’s position of being picked in that first round.

The NBA season itself, has become all the more heightened, as teams now face the final stretch of the regular season, with their not being more than seventeen games left on the schedule, for playoff aspirants to play themselves into contention . Meanwhile , the New York Knicks have made perhaps their biggest acquisition in the past five years, when they made it public, that Phil Jackson would be returning to the franchise where he made a name for himself has a player , winning an NBA title as a member of the 1973 championship winning team . Jackson returns in the capacity of Head of Basketball Operations , overseeing the Player Personnel decisions for the franchise, in which GM Steve Mills will be directly answerable to Jackson, in the franchise’s hierarchical structure . The move itself has to be seen as the last act of a truly desperate franchise that over the past five seasons , has lost its way , edge of competitiveness and simply became a “laughing stock” around the NBA .

The hire of Phil Jackson might not now be enough to deter the departure of the New York Knicks’ best player, Carmelo Anthony , who since being acquired by the franchise as a free agent from the Denver Nuggets , has been perhaps the sole reason to watch the team during that time-span . A prevailing thought in some circles , was that a bold move had to be made by the franchise , as they sought to gain some semblance of respectability. A prevailing thought in some circles , was that a bold move had to be made by the franchise , as they sought to gain some semblance of respectability. What now happens, concerning Anthony’s future with the New York Knicks , will be predicated upon by the overtures made by Phil Jackson and his intent as he seeks to improve the team.

Coming off a 115-94 over the Milwaukee Bucks the team will then play host to the Eastern Conference’s best team in the Indiana Pacers . How the New York Knicks now acquit themselves between now and the end of the season , will allow Jackson a chance to gauge the players on the roster , and which he believes are superfluous to the Knicks’ needs.

In having lost twenty-one consecutive games , I don’t believe that you can be any more critical of a team than need be! The Philadelphia 76ers have been able to do that, without having broken sweat, in terms of the team’s continued .. ineptitude . Team owner, Joshua Harris and GM Stan Hinkie have presided over this mess without having offered the fans an explanation for the Sixers’ malaise. . A 90-99 loss to the Indiana Pacers at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana , Indianapolis , pushed the Sixers’ streak to its current mark, one which is likely to be increased, when the team hosts the Chicago Bulls , at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania , on Wednesday evening.

The Sixers’ Brett Brown , in his rookie season as a head coach , has been placed in an impossible position, where he and his coaching staff are being asked to coach and mold a team, that will continue to struggle over the remainder of the season. . Jason Richardson and Thaddeus Young are the most experienced players on the roster , with twelve and six years’ experience apiece, with the bulk of the players on the team , with no more than four years of NBA tenure. Leadership experience if any , is sorely missed and simply a bye product of an organization where there seems to have been no actual goals or priorities set , other than perhaps the level of mediocrity that might well have been possibly sought.

In the aftermath of what appears to be a seismic meltdown within the NFL , with several players being jettisoned by their respective teams as cap salary casualties . The question now becomes , how will those franchises now seek to make up for those losses, be it by way of the NFL Draft or themselves acquiring a free agent of their own choosing ? Merely speculating, as to how much better a team is likely to become , can only been seen as that and nothing else.

One of the more interesting stories to have come out of this off-season , seen as a precursor and lead-up to the NFL Draft , are teams seeking to position themselves in terms of the salary cap, simply making what on the face of it are decisions that make so obvious sense . To my astonishment , I found out that with the Chicago Bears having rid themselves of Julius Peppers one of the NFL’s leading defensive lineman . In the ensuing moves , they sought to make the team’s quarterback Jay Cutler the highest paid player in the NFL , in terms of the value of his contract , the contract’s length , also by way of a base and average salary , never mind the fact that he also becomes the highest paid player on the Bears’ roster . I can only surmise that Bears’ GM Phil Emery , under the advisement of team Chairman George McCaskey , who happens to be the son-in-law of the franchise’s late founder George Halas , believes Cutler, capable of leading the team to Superbowl. A six-year $126.7 million deal is preposterous for a player whose, playoff record and performances can be best described as mediocre.

How Cutler’s contract might be viewed around the NFL and amongst fans in general , can be best summed up with one of a number of two scenarios. The player is worth it, or Phil Emery and George McCaskey have lost complete touch with their senses or that they felt, that in placing their faith in player by offering him such a long-term contract , it best serves the long-term goals of the Bears as a franchise.

The Bears’ loss of Peppers, will be the Green Bay Packers’ gain , as the player’s arrival , immediately makes the Packers’ secondary a little more formidable and can only add to the likely productivity of that team , defensively. This all could come back to haunt the Bears , who meet their divisional rivals within the NFC North , twice over the course their divisional schedule and in what is said to be one of the most celebrated rivalries in NFL history. With the loss of Jared Allen , as the Minnesota Vikings sought to allow the defensive player to hit the free agency market , it now looks as if the franchise will to get into a rebuilding mode and transition . Beyond Allen’s departure, came the firing also of beleaguered head coach Leslie Frazier , who has subsequently been replaced by Mike Zimmer . The incumbent is likely to bring in, his own group of coaching assistants , as well as seeking to gauge the playing roster as it now stands. Vikings’ quarterback Christian Ponder’s tenure has not exactly been an encouraging one , with the player simply not being effective , often struggling to play consistently at a high level , while seeking to lead the team to victory .

Jared Allen is likely to sign with a team in due course , but the issue , will be about his contractual worth , given his time in the NFL , though still productive and seen as of one of the league’s top pass-rushers and defensive ends . There are said to be at least six teams interested in Allen’s services , but as of yet, no concrete offers have been made , but in all likelihood this has more to do with the player and his agent , Ken Harris weighing up offers and the one they perhaps feel , best serves Jared Allen and his long-term future .

Minnesota Vikings’ owner , Zygi Wilf may well be secure in the knowledge that the franchise will have a new state of the art venue for the Vikings to play in, as of the 2016 NFL regular season , with the stadium being built with a mixture of private and public financing . However, the window of opportunity for the franchise to win a Superbowl with current running back Adrian Peterson in tow , does appear to disappearing rather quickly. Peterson was the subject of a great deal of speculation , when it was said, that there was a great deal of uncertainty within the front office as to whether or not the player would be cut by the franchise, or retained. Now in the fourth year of a seven-year $96 million contract that was signed in 2012, Adrian Peterson is not due to become a free agent until 2018 , at which time his tenure in the NFL, he will be entering his twelfth year in the league. At which time, it is expected that the player may well have surpassed the league’s all-time career rushing yards’ mark of 8,355 held by Hall of Fame rusher Emmitt Smith . Only Stephen Jackson with 10678 yards leads Peterson amongst active running backs, in terms of career rushing yards.

The Minnesota Vikings’ last postseason appearance came in 2012 , as a wildcard entrant , where they fell short of their goals in succumbing to a lopsided 24-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers . It will be interesting to see what Mike Zimmer and Vikings’ GM Rick Spielman will seek to do in the build-up to the NFL Draft and with regard to the team’s needs also, by way of free agent acquisitions .

There has to a rhyme and a reason behind baseball’s madness and the MLB season , .which unofficially opens on the 22nd March , 2014, with two NL games , as part of a two-game series in Australia, when the Arizona Diamondbacks designated as the home team will entertain last season’s NL West divisional winner and losing NLCS combatant, the Los Angeles Dodgers . While, I have no bone of contention with regard to the league hierarchy seeking to have the game exposed to a greater global audience ! It does seem somewhat remiss, when you consider baseball’s growth domestically is on the decline, within the inner cities , particular amongst the major inner city suburbs. An even greater telling sign , has been the lack of participation in the game of young African-American youths and in some respects, among young male Caucasians. There remains a great deal of interest in the game at the Little League Level , with the Little League World Series drawing high ratings for the showcase domestically, as well as in the foreign markets where the event is televised .

Baseball has painted its image on a myth , that has not really changed , other than that of, how historians have seen to denote the game . In recent weeks we have seen the idiocy behind the claims of ESPN reporter Buster Olney seeking to suggest that because of a statement made by the granddaughter of Hall of Fame great Babe Ruth , that it was his intent to see the game of baseball fully integrated during his time as a player . Olney attributes this all because of Ruth’s apparent friendship with entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson , who was an entertainer at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club. Now unless I am mistaken the era was still filled with a great deal of racism and it was something of a rarity to have an African-American in an all-white establishment , let alone Ruth’s on-field antics at a time when baseball had yet to be fully integrated, but yet we have a clown , such as Olney, trying to suggest that a renowned racial bigot, was in fact someone , who also had a close relationship with a Negro and that in-fact made him more decent and humane . Perhaps, if Buster Olney spent less time trying to wax on lyrically and actually deal in the facts , the game itself , would be better represented , in terms of its history, rather than it being filled with a number of falsehoods.

With the Boston Red Sox having won its eighth World Series title and third , in the past seven seasons . It has to be said, that there now seems to new-found level of confidence within the organization . Granted, the team saw a number of changes to their championship winning roster , with the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury , having joined the New York Yankees having not been able to obtain a renewed contract with his former team , Ellsbury becomes one of a select group of players that will have played for both of the game’s most fabled ball-clubs in the Red Sox and the Yankees .

For the New York Yankees this will be a season, in which we will be able to see whether or not, this team can rebound from much of the adversity that they faced last year . Off the field issues asides , with the Alex Rodriguez saga now put to rest , the team’s inability to stay healthy , along with a lack of productivity, in terms of their pitching and hitting , added to the complexity and woes of the ball-club , beyond Joe Girardi’s inability to get the Yankees’ players to play with any consistency for much of 2013.

New York will begin its regular season schedule on the 1st April against a the Houston Astros , with a three-game set at Minute Maid Park , in Houston Texas , against a ball-club that will be undoubtedly be looking to avert losing one hundred games for a third consecutive season , having achieved that feat in 2012 and 2013 , respectively. The New York Yankees’ fans will have the privilege of seeing the newly revamped team , in their first home series, when they face the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankees’ Stadium , beginning the 4th April March , in a three-game weekend series .

As the season unfolds, it will be interesting to see what transpires in comparison to the first month last season’s schedule and events that unfolded , leading to, in many respects, what was one of the most eventful years in recent baseball history.

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Picture gallery .

In light of the points raised within this article, what are your hopes with regard to the coming weeks, within the world sports ? Simply, leave a comment, as you see fit .

Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Billionaire , Warren Buffett , Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway , who has offered a $1 billion prize money to anyone successfully picking out the “prefect bracket” in this season’s Men’s NCAA Tournament , as well as , picking the outright winner as in the determining of a national champion . Pictured here with Buffett is Chris ‘Handles’ Franklin , a member of the Harlem Globetrotters . AP Photo/ NY Daily News / Nati Harnik …..

(2) Scottie Wilbekin of the Florida Gators’ Basketball team celebrates with teammates after the team’s 61-60 victory over the Kentucky (Wildcats) . Billy Donovan’s Gators are the number one ranked team in the nation , also seeded #1 in their regional grouping for the NCAA Tournament , where the program is highly favored to become this season’s national champion . AP Photo Everett Miles …………….

(3) Head coach Billy Donovan talks to Scottie Wilbekin (5) of the Florida Gators in the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at The Frank Erwin Center on March 24 , 2013 in Austin, Texas. Getty Images North America / Stephen Dunn …..

(4) Duke’s Jabari Parker is seen here speaking with head coach Mike Krzyzewski during a one-on-one film session . The program is seeking to make a successful and deep run in the NCAA Tournament as Krzyzewksi seeks to win his fifth NCAA title as a head coach . Andrew Sherman / UPI ….

(5) New York Knicks’ team owner , James Dolan & Chairman of Madison Square Garden Entertainment Company Inc (MSE) , parent company of the NBA franchise, is seen here with Phil Jackson , who recently accepted the offer to become the Head of Basketball Operations and a SVP within the front office of the Knicks. Jackson will be in charge of all personnel decisions involving the team and the move is seen as a way of encouraging Carmelo Anthony to remain with the franchise , rather than opting out of his existing contract to test the “free agency market” . AP Photo / Anton Cutler ….

(6) Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears is seen here on the sidelines of Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The quarterback has signed a six-year $126.7 million contract that now makes him the highest paid quarterback and player in the NFL in terms of contract value and annual salary . All of this in spite of a somewhat anemic postseason career in the NFL since his entry into NFL , having been drafted by the Denver Broncos during the 2006 NFL Draft . AP Photo / Jason Marshall …….

(7) Jared Allen a Pro Bowl player with the Minnesota Vikings, having now being discarded by the franchise and having been their all-time sacks’ leader is now looking for a new team as a defensive end . Allen is looking for a long-term contract that is likely to reward him handsomely . Chris Ward / Getty Images ….

(8) World Series’ MVP , David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox will be hoping that he and his teammates can make a successful defense of their World Series’ title won last season , when the Red Sox defeated the St Louis Cardinals with some ease. Ortiz’s career with the franchise and overall , quite possibly makes him a future Hall of Fame candidate . AP Photo / Alexander Hughes ….

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tophatal ………….. 2014/03/19 02:15 PM

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NCAA Men’s Basketball and news

NCAA Tournament (Basketball) Men’s Bracket

NCAA Tournament schedule 18th March 2014

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NBA news and archived news

NBA standings (division) and standings by conference

NBA schedule 18th March

NBA results 17th March and top performers

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NFL news from around the league

2014 NFL Draft and mock draft

NFL transactions (March 2014)

NFL free agents

NFL players with the highest cap hit

Highest paid NFL players contract value

Highest paid NFL players base salary

Highest paid players average salary

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MLB news and press releases for the teams

MLB schedule 19th March , 2014

MLB probable starting pitchers 19th March

MLB results 18th March , 2014

MLB preseason standings

This month in MLB history

This day in MLB history

Milestones this MLB season (Offense) : Hits , runs scored , home runs , RBI’s , Total bases

Pitching : Wins , Innings pitched , Strikeouts , Saves , Games started , Games played , Batters face

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Yaris  Sanchez/

The voluptuous Yaris Sanchez

A year in review , part two

A year in review , part two

Less is not necessarily more and that is something , the fans found out as the Alabama Crimson Tide’s season came to an abrupt halt with the team’s inexplicable loss to Auburn (Tigers) , when Nick Saban and this team were seen as prohibitive favorites to repeat as a national champions in College Football . Yet, more than anything else , it was the arrogance of the head coach and his coaching staff that led to Alabama’s own undoing in that highly competitive and touted contest . Far be it for me to suggest , but when you show that type of arrogance during such an important game , your fate can only be dealt with and brought to such a fateful way as many witnessed on that day . Nothing more, nothing less , will suffice at this juncture , the Tide now playing in many respects , a totally meaningless Bowl Game . Anyone who believes that the culmination of Alabama’s season can still be looked upon as a resounding success , has to be viewed as someone who is actually delusional and without an ounce of intelligence.

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Auburn’s victory in the Iron Bowl , now has the team and program playing for their second national title in the past four seasons , where they will face Jimbo Fisher and the number one ranked team in the nation , the Florida State Seminoles in the BCS national title game . . Fisher’s opposing number, Gus Malzahn and his coaching staff will be fully aware that going into this contest as a slight underdog should not be seen, as an actual detriment for the Tigers . If anything , it will be the Seminoles, who as favorites , will have far more to prove , given the way that they have simply steamrolled over the vast majority of their opponents over the course of the their season .

For Florida State’s Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, after his spectacular season on the field . It will be interesting to see whether or not the player can live up the hype and pressure placed upon his young shoulders over the course of the year . This much is certain , next season with his eligibility a foregone conclusion, the quarterback will simply be playing to exhibit his skills and showing his maturity level for any potential suitor seeking a player of his caliber and skill-set.

College Football , but in particular the BCS, now needs to go out on a roll , as a precursor to the new format , that will be put in place for the 2014 season . From my own perspective, no matter whether or not, it is a committee made up of experts, deciding on a formula of sorts, for a playoff system , as long as large sums of monies are exchanging hands , simply to facilitate a pretext to determine a national champion , with purists juxtaposing a premise, that this newly revised format will be the best way to determine a national champion. It is merely a pretext to deny the obvious, money, more than the spirit of competition, will always be a deciding factor .

For those players, who will undoubtedly seek to declare their eligibility for the 2014 NFL Draft , with the hope of undoubted financial and professional rewards. The rich pickings, that they may well envisage, are not necessarily as great, as they believe it to be. Being drafted in the first round and amongst the top-ten or fifteen draft picks , at times can bring about the highest financial rewards. Yet, that, in of-itself is no actual guarantee of success and for many , toiling for a team that has drafted you in the mid to lower first or third round , can prove to be far more rewarding than being drafted as the first or second pick or third pick overall , for a franchise at least two or three years away from being viewed as a legitimate contender within the NFL . Let the speculation begin, as to which player will be taken as the number one pick , as that privilege and the status it holds can so quickly be forgotten, if the individual in question is unable to show his ability within their first two seasons in the NFL . With the sums of money now vested in player of that status , it easy to understand why teams are sometimes unwilling to make that type of outlay , often associated with a player taken that high in the NFL Draft.

The Louisville Cardinals , coached by Rick Pitino came away with last season’s NCAA Men’s Basketball title and along with it, the esteemed coach added to his already list of illustrious achievements . With that also came the departure of several players from that championship winning roster , who having declared their eligibility , made their way to the NBA Draft , where they were picked up by the franchises in question , searching for fresh college talent . For Louisville , Peyton Siva and Gorgui Deng were the players taken in this Draft, now looking to make their amongst the professional ranks .

As the NCAA season has progressed the standings have remained the same , with the Arizona Wildcats and Syracuse (Orangemen) seated atop of the polls respectively, ranked numbers one and two. . From Kevin Durant in 2007, as the AP Player of the Year and Naismith Award Winner to last season’s claimant Trey Burke , everything has evolved around seeking out the next major star , taking his talent to the professional ranks of the NBA. Perhaps, if league itself, were not in such a dire situation , where the play within the Eastern Conference in particular , has bordered on being completely inept , even with the recent struggles of the reigning NBA champions the Miami Heat struggling as of late.

David Stern points to the fact that the brand and product has become a global phenomenon far outpacing the popularity of Major League Baseball and the NFL , combined. Thankfully, however, the commissioner and the fellow members of the league hierarchy , have yet, sought to expand beyond the North American continent by way of adding an international franchise. If only Stern could expound upon that premise and advise his NFL counterpart , Roger Goodell , that it would be futile and simple idiocy to believe that the NFL can be a resounding success in Europe, by way of adding in a franchise and then having to compete against the soccer leagues in the UK , as well those of Western Europe. It was enough that Goodell and his predecessor , Paul Tagliabue, simply learned nothing by the tens of millions in losses accumulated with the experiment of NFL Europe . One hundred and sixty million dollars ($160 million) later and it would appear that the NFL hierarchy , very much like the administration of Barack Obama , simply believes that by burning through vast piles of money, is another way of trying to solve an issue, without having first done a complete and thorough investigation of that issue and then seeking how to solve that problem.

The NBA for its part burns through money, by offering exorbitant contracts to players who in some instances are simply not worth the value of the deal signed . And purportedly, general managers and NBA team owners are said to be astute businessmen? I guess, that, James Dolan and Mikhail Prokhorov can make the case , that stupid is as stupid does ? Consider the fact that the respective franchises, owned by both individuals , the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are currently struggling, languishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference and at the bottom of the Atlantic Division . Meanwhile, the bloated payrolls of both teams , the Knicks and Nets , are simply another reason why the NBA has completely lost touch with reality. The NBA marches to the beat of its very own drum and drum beat without noticing the ever-present danger and self-inflicted wounds to its own image.

There have been plaudits, behind three players this season within the Collegiate Level of the NCAA , that are thought to be stars of the future within the NBA. Andrew Wiggins of the Kansas Jayhawks , Jabari Parker of Duke (Blue Devils) and Antoine Mason of Niagara , who play within the Metro American Atlantic Conference (MAAC) . A conference not necessarily renowned for what one would be deemed great college basketball. Yet, as the game has evolved, so too have the programs who now find themselves with players who were overlooked by the more illustrious schools within the NCAA basketball hierarchy. Whether or not Mason’s game can easily acclimatized to the rigors of the NBA is solely dependent upon his productivity over the course of this season , and the success of Niagara , how their stature is raised and the publicity garnered by their young star.

For Andrew Wiggins , having Bill Self as his coach , will avail the young freshman one of the best tutors in College Basketball , in aiding him hone his game . While there seems to be the consensus that he is likely to be the number one overall pick for the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft . It is my belief, that the player, will undoubtedly be drafted in the first round and likely be a top-five pick. However, there still remain questions, concerning his all-round game and willingness to come to the aid of teammates when adversity stares the team directly in the face. Coming off a recent victory over Toledo , the Jayhawks’ next opponent will be San Diego State of the Mountain West Conference on Sunday, 5th January , 2014. It will be interesting to see whether or not the team can push their record to 10-3 and rise up the rankings.

While, I believe Jabari Parker to be a better player than Andrew Wiggins! Being the best, does not always equate to being great in the NBA , and what is said to be desired by a general manager looking to improve a team’s roster. Parker, under the tutelage of Blue Devils’ coach , the renowned Mike Krzyzewski , will garner a great deal of attention , simply because of the stature of the Duke program and its history under Krzyzewski. Duke as a resident within the ACC and perhaps the most “celebrated program ” within the conference , will this season be undoubtedly tested as they seek to improve on last season’s showing within the ACC as well as the NCAA Tournament . A lopsided thirty-eight point victory over Elon , may well not signify a great deal about Duke , because as usual , it tends to be their conference schedule and games against the more noted programs , that dictates how much of a credible contender that the team is likely to be over the course of the season .

Parker throughout much of this season has proven his worth for Duke in a number of games , showing a great deal of maturity and leadership for someone so young. Clearly, while many are in agreement with the NBA’s ruling, concerning the eligibility of players declaring for the NBA Draft. While, there are supporters of the current edict, a number of detractors have also begun to voice their concerns of the league’s denial of a players’ right to earn a living. However, with so many declarer’s each season making the jump to the professional ranks, all but a handful, are actually looked upon as entering the NBA and capable of playing at a high level .

The NBA and the NCAA will at some point, have to revisit the issue of player eligibility and seek to find a solution that is equitable for all of the parties concerned. David Stern’s biggest concern on this issue has to be the quality of the players making the jump. Within Collegiate Athletics, NCAA President Mark Emmert has to be seen as credible , when consulting with coaches and administrators , in gauging their views on the matter. The coaches, ultimately know, whether or not players that they have recruited for a program are likely to make one or four-year commitment to that school and its athletic endeavors.

Duke for their part will begin 2014 foray, with a game , on Saturday afternoon, when they travel to South Bend, Indiana, to take on Notre Dame . The contest should prove to be a very interesting contrast of styles and coaching , with the Fighting Irish’s coaching staff being led by Mike Brey and his coaching assistants.

Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals , would like nothing better than to make a successful defense of their title . That premise , easier said than done, but with only Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators , having achieved that feat in the past decade , It is extremely difficult to see Pitino and his coaching staff being able to guide the team on not only an arduous season , but then into a series of games , where everything is said to be on the line. The Cardinals’ lopsided victory over the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando , Florida, now sets them up, for what may well prove to a tough contest against Rutgers , in Piscataway , New Jersey this weekend. Both programs, will certainly be looking to give it their all, while entertaining the fans in attendance the Louis Brown Athletics Center , in Piscataway ,. From there, as the season meanders for Rick Pitino and the program, we can but merely speculate on what is likely to happen .

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Picture gallery .

What if anything to your mind, were the biggest surprises of this past season within both College Basketball and that of the Football season also ? And in the BCS championship game , do you believe that Florida State will be able to subdue a very tough adversary , in the Auburn Tigers ? Leave a comment , as you see fit on this and anything you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide is surrounded after their 28- 34 loss to the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Auburn, Alabama. Getty Images North America / Kevin C Cox …

(2) Head coach Gus Malzahn of the Auburn Tigers and head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide shake hands prior to their game at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Auburn, Alabama. . Getty Images / Kevin C Cox ….

(3) Florida State head football coach Jimbo Fisher is seen here with the team’s quarterback and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston . Unbeaten all season , the lone quest remaining on their schedule is an upcoming national championship title game against Auburn on the 6th January , 2014 in AP Photo / Curtis James ….

(4) Dwayne Allen of the Indianapolis Colts , who was taken in the third round by the team in the 2012 NFL Draft and has proven to be effective for the Colts this season , as they have garnered their second consecutive playoff berth since the arrival of quarterback , Andrew Luck , who was the pick taken overall in that year’s NFL Draft. AP Photo/ Mark Woods …

(5) Rick Pitino the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals gives instructions to his team during the against the Missouri State Bears at KFC YUM! Center on December 17, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. Getty Images / Andy Lyons …

(6) Some time adversaries , but for the most part the best of friends , coaches , Bill Self of Kansas (Jayhawks ) shaking hands with Mike Krzyzewski , right, coach of the Duke Blue Devils . Both of these well-respected programs are currently ranked in the top twenty-five in the nation of the NCAA Rankings . Courtesy of ESPN ….

Three highly touted recruits and like to be lottery first round draft picks in 2014 , in the NBA Draft . From left to right Jabari Parker , Andrew Wiggins and James Young of the Kentucky ( Wildcats) . AP Photo / George Parsons …..

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tophatal ….

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Related article : A year in review , I think not

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NCAA Football and the postseason

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NCAA Men’s Basketball and the NCAA Men’s Basketball schedule

NCAA Men’s Basketball rankings

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NBA news and archived stories

NBA results 31st December 2013 and schedule 1st January 2014

NBA standings by division

NBA standings by conference

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A couple of well-developed assets , I believe !

No question , she wants to ‘party’ .

Shoot for the Moon and the Stars …..

It’s now time to shoot for the Moon and the Stars ….

With the NCAA Tournament having now taken shape, the brackets have been busted wide open. The “Sweet Sixteen “ is now upon us and to say that a number of fans around the country are now either up in arms in angst , would be something of an understatement . Meanwhile, there will also be a large litany of fans simply elated that their brackets have remained intact.

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Making it to the Sweet Sixteen are the little minnows of Florida Gulf Coast College , who along with their coach , Andy Enfield , have provided the biggest story in the NCAA Tournament by far . Now comes the hard part for the team , can they carry their “Cinderella Story” deeper into this postseason of surprises , crescendo and overwhelming hysteria ? For the team’s unlikely stars , Bernard Thompson , Chase Fieler and Brett Comer , to be able to display their skills in front of a national audience of millions , has to first of all ,come as a big surprise , never mind their rather shocking result, in defeating San Diego State University , in one the biggest upsets of this tournament , 81-71 .

Next up for Florida Gulf Coast , will be a prime-time match-up against Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators on Thursday evening , in what is sure to be a highly anticipated game , where the outcome grants the victors an appearance in the Elite Eight. No in state rivalry here , merely a contest, between two schools , looking to make some history of their own . None more so , than perhaps for the Gators’ head coach Billy Donovan , as he seeks to win his third national title , in seven years.

It’s not necessarily what you do , it’s the way and how you do it . The Miami Heat’s twenty-four game unbeaten streak carries on unabated , and for now , theirs is the story that the NBA is simply encapsulated by , none of this bull#hit as to woes of the ” overrated” New York Knicks or the under-achieving Brooklyn Nets .

It’s not necessarily what you do , it’s the way and how you do it . The Miami Heat’s twenty-four game unbeaten streak carries on unabated , and for now , theirs is the story that the NBA is simply encapsulated by , none of this bull#hit as to woes of the ” overrated” New York Knicks or the under-achieving Brooklyn Nets . Miami , in their most recent game , simply overwhelmed the hapless Charlotte Bobcats in a lopsided Eastern Conference match-up 109-77 . I am not so sure which Michael Jordan , is now relishing more , his possible upcoming nuptials or watching the franchise he now owns ,simply add more burden and further embarrassment to the his acumen as an a front office executive and team owner . The longer the Bobcats continue show their stunning mediocrity to the fans of the NBA , the less likely it is that the franchise can survive in its present form. A dwindling attendance at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte , North Carolina , along with declining revenues , and you simply have to question the mindset of Jordan and his fellow executives .

As to Miami’s own fortunes , well , let’s just say , a fortune cookie manufacturer could make several million dollars , simply placing in print “ Miami Heat wins another game “ , and then placing those messages inside several million fortune cookies. It is far too early to start to make comparisons between the Heat’s present run and NBA record run of the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers , a team that was simply resplendent with many of the game’s biggest stars. With Heat streak, now standing at twenty-six games and counting , the question now becomes , who amongst the teams remaining on their schedule , will be able to derail their ambitions , as they seek to surpass the Lakers’ thirty-three game unbeaten streak ? And tonight, the team being asked to take down the might of South Beach , will be none other than the Orlando Magic , a franchise seeking to rebound after the abrupt departure of Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers during this past off-season.

For Magic head coach , Jacque Vaughn , in his rookie season , he has been encumbered with a team that is still finding its way , while still seeking not to place itself amongst the league’s least competitive franchises .And boy , how this team has suffered and played , as you simply never know what level of ineptitude to expect from a group , that is said to be lacking in leadership , both on and off the court !

I’ll say this for the NFL , but this off-season has proven to be one opportunities , incompetence and the ongoing and brazen stupidity that one has now come to expect from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodel ! While, much has been made, with regard to the numerous off-season acquisitions that have been made, it is clear that there that there has been more money misspent on marginal talent , simply because idiots would prescribe to the fact that this is what the market can bear. Should anyone have expected any different , when you consider the idiotic banter that takes place between erstwhile fans and the geeks out there , making claims as to cap space and what teams have available to spend ? The general managers within the NFL are far from, being the brightest , much less, the most insightful or business minded of individuals ! On the evolutionary scale , if Darwin were alive today , I would dare say , that he would be perplexed as to how to best describe these particular individuals !

Reigning Superbowl champions the Baltimore Ravens , in the aftermath of their triumph over the San Francisco 49ers , have simply sought to revamp the roster . The retirement of Ray Lewis notwithstanding , the departures of Anquan Boldin , Ed Reed and Paul Kruger , has me now questioning the wisdom of GM Ozzie Newsome , in rewarding Joe Flacco with such an exorbitant contract , while the core of the Ravens’ lineup was torn asunder . As good as Flacco , just happened to be , for the Ravens during the postseason , his body work prior to 2012 , was simply, not overwhelming or dare one say, that impressive .

With the NFL Draft , now a little more than a month away , it will be extremely interesting to see how John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome set about rebuilding the roster after the loss of such extraordinary players during the Ravens’ off-season . Newsome might well be one of the most astute front office executives in the NFL today , and his record in terms of the franchise’s personnel decisions with the Baltimore Ravens over the past decade , has simply been indicative of that.

Well, now that we have had the idiocy of the World Baseball Classic behind us ! OK, for once, the winner , the victor , on this occasion , was not from the Asian Pacific Basin , as it had been twice before , with Japan winning the inaugural event in 2008 and then making a successful defense in 2012 . This year’s event, failed to live up to, any of the perceived hype that MLB or IBAF may well have hoped for . And for the purists out there , who are of the belief that a tournament hastily put together , prior to the start of the MLB Spring Training Schedule is simply a worthwhile event . I would pose this question to you all, would you leave your home to make your way to work without being fully clothed ? Herein, lies the misnomer and idiocy placed upon this quadrennial event by Bud Selig’s hierarchy . He simply believes that the WBC can now make up for Ibex’s World Cup as well as the loss of the event from the IOC (International Olympic Committee) Summer Games .

This year, the Dominican Republic was triumphant in defeating Puerto Rico in the championship game 3-0 . As to how Team USA fared , well let’s just say , the “Emperor”, had no new clothes and his manhood was exposed , put on show , which in essence , was nothing more than a spec on this entire event . As to why, they even bothered to turn up with a “half assed “ roster , that could be best described puerile is simply beyond me ! But this is so atypical of an institutional body , that has ideas, so high above its competitive standing that you simply have to look at it all , as one big goddamn joke !

Now down to business , and yes the 31st March kicks off the regular season schedule within baseball this season. However, for the for the vast majority of teams their Opening Day will not come about Monday , 1st April , with a slew of games being lined up for that Opening Day schedule . Reigning World Series champions , the San Francisco Giants will begin the defense of their title , playing their NL West rivals , the Los Angeles Dodgers , who will have on parade their $214 million payroll roster . As to what this ultimately says about the state of the game from a financial aspect , when it is clear that a ball-club with a $60 million payroll, barely has a pot to piss in , much less a window to throw it out of . I will leave it all, for you all to be the judge of that ! Suffice to say, the commissioner and the rest of the itinerant assholes who continue to espouse the financial well-being of this game, when it is clearly a mess , you can all go fuck the horse you rode in on !

As to the aspirations for teams who are seen as the presumptive favorites . Well, it goes without saying that anyone who spends $2.156 billion to purchase a ball-club , surely isn’t doing that for a group of gloating admirers . Magic Johnson , Mark Walter , and the litany of multi-millionaires and billionaires who joined the syndicated partnership of Guggenheim Baseball Properties Inc , to make that bold purchase , are clearly seeking an even greater reward. A rumored $ 7 billion television contract, also has greased the wheels , but I somehow get the feeling that MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner and Bud Selig will find a way of being a thorn in the side and pain in the ass of the Dodgers , as to how that sum will be disbursed amongst the Los Angeles Dodgers and the other (small-market) teams within the league ! All of that hard work initiated by the ball club and now they have to share their spoils with teams who in many cases, choose not to be competitive . I’m calling you out , the Kansas City Royals , Pittsburgh Pirates , Houston Astros , Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies ! Anyone who witnessed the play of the aforementioned teams in 2012 , and their final divisional standings , will know how mediocre they just happened to be !

On the day that Tiger Woods finds himself back atop of the World Golf rankings having won the Arnold Palmer /Bay Hill Invitational , a PGA Tournament founded by PGA Tour great , Arnold Palmer . Having led the tournament , for the better part of the three continuous days, with Sunday being rained out because of inclement weather. . It was left to Woods to remind us why he has been the most dominant golfer over the past decade , in spite of the recent idiocy of the player’s detractors and commentators within this forum, stating that the player was on the decline. Pardon me for saying this , but the likes of Bubba Watson , Webb Simpson , Keegan Bradley , Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink are not the type of guys on the PGA Tour who are going to hold the public’s attention for more than a minute much less , thirty seconds ! Furthermore, the players in question, are far too robotic and without any real humor or character ! And if Woods is said to be on the decline , then I would like to know how one actually determines that specific detail ?

Tiger Woods’ only serious threat on the final day of the tournament was the player himself and a rather capricious Ricky Fowler , whose last round of 73 (1 over par for the final round , 8 under par for the tournament , 5 shots behind the winner ) literally blew up in his face , with his erratic and inconsistent play . Can we simply say overrated, once and for all ! The whole world knows that the PGA Tour and world golf in particular, cannot survive in its present guise , without a dominant Tiger Woods on the golfing landscape. Only an idiot would ever consider and think to the contrary ! It has been Woods, who has been the sole driving force that has seen the PGA Tour prize rise from just over $35 million in 1996 to $375 million in total prize money for the 2013 PGA Tour schedule . It seems that, hitting a tiny white ball around an eighteen hole course does have its rewards after-all . The question now remains, as the schedule now progresses , can Tiger Woods now win at least one of the four Major Grand Slam Tournaments on the PGA Tour , and inch closer towards Jack Nicklaus’ PGA Tour record total of eighteen Grand Slam title wins. With his victory at the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational , Woods won for the seventy seventh time and is now five wins behind the all-time win total of 82 held by the late Sam Snead .

Any sport , whose most prestigious event just happens to be its opening day event of an almost year-long calendar , will have to grab my attention for about as long as I would desire to see full frontal photos of Rosie O’Donnell butt naked . And that is just not happening , just as in the same way , this heated idiocy that now seems to be fomented by NASCAR , as that sport seeks to enthrall a now apparent dwindling broadcast television audience . Anyone who witnessed the childlike fracas between three-time Sprint Cup championship winner Tony Stewart and Joey Logano , will know that both combatants , posses the physicality of an effeminate male ballet dancer . In the Sprint Cup season opener the Daytona 500 , we were all meant to be excited by Dania Patrick and the fact that she was the pole sitter for the sport’s most prestigious race. The only pole that Danica Patrick should be around , if it is her intent to attract my attention , then it had better be a stripper pole . Anything other than that , simply won’t cut it for me , much less garner my attention ! .

As to the season, and what it entails for the most ardent of fans of this multibillion dollar spectacle. I can only surmise that NASCAR will try to create as much drama as is humanly possible , while seeking to pique the viewers’ interest. Beyond that , I don’t believe that much else needs to be said !

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

Of the weekend’s sporting schedule , what if anything , raised your interest as to the events that took place ? Simply chime in with a comment , as you see fit ,and as always, thanks for the continued support of this site , as it is greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1) Florida Gulf Coast’s Dajuan Graf, from left,Eddie Murray and Brett Comer celebrate after winning a third-round game against San Diego State in the NCAA college basketball tournament, Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Philadelphia. Florida Gulf Coast won 81-71. AP Photo/Michael Perez …

(2)Mar 22, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Florida Gulf Coast Eagles guard Sherwood Brown (25) and guard Brett Comer (0) celebrate a 78-68 win over the Georgetown Hoyas in the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Center . Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports…

(3) Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) drives around Charlotte Bobcats’ Jeff Adrien (4) looking for a shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Miami, Sunday March 24, 2013. AP Photo/J Pat Carter …

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, left, shoots over the Orlando Magic’s Tobias Harris (12) and Jameer Nelson (14) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, March 22, 2013, in Orlando, Fla. The Thunder won 97-89 . AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr …..

(5) FILE – In this Dec. 16, 2012, file photo, Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil watches the action from the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore. Dumervil has spurred the Broncos for Baltimore, agreeing to a five-year deal, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome announced Sunday, March 24, 2013. AP Photo/Gail Burton …

(6) SAN FRANCISCO, CA – MARCH 19: Robinson Cano(24) and Jose Reyes and to Reyes’ left , Hanley Ramirez of the Dominican Republic celebrate after defeating Puerto Rico to win the Championship Round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic by a score of 3-0 at AT&T Park on March 19, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images ….

(7) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Carl Crawford is high-fived in the dugout after being driven in with a two-run home run from Andre Ethier against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game , Sunday, March 24, 2013 in ,Phoenix. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez …

(8) Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office executives and co-owners , from left to right , Hollywood media mogul, Peter Guber, team President Stan Kasten , Chairman , Mark L Walter and senior partner Magic Johnson . Walter , CEO of the venture capital firm Guggenheim Partners (assets $125 billion) , through their associate company Guggenheim Baseball Properties paid a record $2.156 billion to purchase the beleaguered Los Angeles Dodgers’ franchise which had been placed into bankruptcy proceedings by now disgraced former owner Frank McCourt . Suggestions of collusion were made , by several franchise owners , because it was widely believed and held notion , that the MLB commissioner favored the bid by the Johnson and Walter led consortium, much to the disdain of those who felt that Bud Selig failed to show any impartiality throughout the entire process having kept in close contact with the bankruptcy judge and consultants who handled the litigant proceedings . AP/ Photo / Marcus Hughes …..

(9) ….Tiger Woods, left, and Arnold Palmer share a laugh during the trophy presentation after Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 25, 2013. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack …

(10) Rickie Fowler lines up a shot on the sixth green during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament, Monday, March 25, 2013, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack …..

(11) Joey Logano has to be led away by his pit crew after an altercation with fellow Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart at the Auto Club 400 at Fontana Motor Speedway , in Fontana , California , this past Sunday . The race was won by Kyle Busch for his first victory of the Sprint Cup season . AP/ Photo/Keith Larson ……

(12) Danica Patrick walks to her car to qualify for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race in Fontana, Calif., Friday, March 22, 2013. AP Photo/Reed Saxon …

(13) Patrick certainly making sure that beyond her abilities on the track, her best assets, are indeed her looks . Bertelsmann Print AEG , GmBH …

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By Tophatal

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NCAA Basketball

NCAA Tournament results 24th March 2013

NCAA Tournament schedule 25th March 2013

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament brackets

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NBA news

NBA results 24th March 2013 and scheduled games 25th March

NBA standings (division) and by conference

NBA statistics

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NFL news

NFL transactions

2013 NFL Draft and NFL Combine news

NFL Draft by grades

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MLB news

MLB schedule 25th March 2013

MLB results 24th March 2013

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Hot chic pics of the day are below , Ines Cudna and Ewa Sonnet .

Ines Cudna . A hot piece of @ss by any stretch of the imagination , wouldn’t you say ?

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Ewa Sonnet

Failure is not an option

Failure is not an option

It is now nut crunching time as it relates to the NCAA Tournament and the brackets , and how the whole issue will be resolved . It is clear, that the adjudicating body that will come to their conclusions will never fully satisfy the analysts , fans or the media , no matter what decision is made . As a fan of College Basketball , this is simply the one tournament that I thoroughly enjoy watching from start to finish.

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Teams are jockeying , for the privilege, of playing in what I believe to be the best collegiate sports’ competition, on the collegiate sporting landscape ! Football may well be the most popular sport by far , but with their continued flawed system to determine a national champion , we will never get to a point where we are truly satisfied with a format. Even now, with a rather flawed, but some might say, a much a fairer system to be instituted in the 2014-15 calendar. Which will be solely driven , and formatted for the mere means of gaining tens of millions more sponsorship dollars pouring into the coffers of the BCS and their associate partners It now begs the question , what other asinine concept will be thought up the odious and rather archaic members of that institution ?

Personally, after that catastrophe of a national title game , where Notre Dame simply got their ass handed to them , I am beginning to wonder what the hell , are the polls meant to be about ! Hell, that team , in no way , deserved to be ranked at number one in the nation , at any point of the season , in spite of their unbeaten regular season schedule (12-0) . The fact that the Alabama Crimson Tide , rolled over their ass , like a tractor-trailer crushing road-kill, does create this widespread belief, that the “ Fighting Irish” were simply overrated and a complete embarrassment of that ranking prior to the BCS championship game.

With the recent “signing day “ and this belief , that one can assuage these recruiting classes to validate a claim , as which program was the “ best of the best “ in terms of their recruiting goals. Well, in many ways , it is like trying to suggest , are we ever satisfied with whatever we progress by the decisions made by the Congress and an administration . At the end of the day , it all comes down to the perceived talent , but more so the acumen shown by a head coach and his coaching staff. And at the top of the heap at present , is the name of Nick Saban , whose record simply speaks for itself , that now , nothing else, really needs to be said !

OK, so here we are and a competition initiated after MLB , and IBAF (International Baseball Federation) , and their complete lack of accountability and leadership being shown by both hierarchies , as it relates to the game’s ongoing morass in dealing with their approach on the use of PED’s . For years , the MLB hierarchy led by Bud Selig , simply stood by , and watched in amazement as hallowed records were simply “being ripped “ from the record books with sheer ease. The fact that disgraced ball player, Barry Bonds’ feat of 73 home runs still sits in the books , along with the career home run record , another record held by Bonds . I am beginning to wonder what the venerable Hank Aaron , must now be thing as he watches the game he graced so effortlessly, now become ” a complete sham”, while the salaries of the top players are now reaching ridiculous levels !

While the MLB Spring Training Schedule is in full swing , the World Baseball Classic is being simultaneously. Yet, lo and behold , Team USA , managed by Joe Torre , have seen their foray in this competition come to an abrupt end , with the team’s defeat at the hands of Puerto Rico in the quarter-finals of the WBC. Personally , this is the one competition that since its inception , it has been a downright failure , primarily because the fact Team USA , ranked #2 internationally by IBAF, has seemingly been a train wreck , in international play. Doubt my word , ask yourself this , when was the last time the national side won anything of note at the international level, featuring many of their best stars from the Major League Level ?

It certainly, has not happened in the Olympics, over baseball’s last staging , which before the sport being jettisoned by the IOC. Team competition for both baseball and softball at the Olympic level , last took place in 2008 , and at the behest of the IOC Executive Committee , led its President , Jacques Rogge , led to the dismissal of both sports from the Summer Olympics. Now you have Bud Selig and his IBAF counterpart, Ricardo Fraccari behaving like a bunch of clowns , as they seek the reinstatement of their sport as well as softball, back as part of the Summer Schedule of the Olympics. Meanwhile, self-styled World Baseball Classic , remains a mindless bore and eyesore , barely watched on television , with meager ratings coming by way of ESPN’s and ABC’s televised coverage. About the only ones being served by this utter nonsense are the corporate advertisers looking to make a quick dollar by way of selling their wares .

With the failure of Team USA making a successful run in the WBC , it begs the question , the boast of being world champions ? Albeit, at the club level , where does it place the country at the international level, even with the team’s ranking currently being ranked at number two . After this competition , it is becoming increasingly clear that ranking will slip , along with hyperbole over the country’s boast of being the best in the world .

We know of the aspirations of a number of teams this season with a great on their minds , as it relates to the World Series . Reigning champions , the San Francisco Giants , will be looking to make a successfully defense of the title they won with ease in 2012 , defeating the Detroit Tigers . World Series MVP , Pablo Sandoval , will undoubtedly be looking cement what was a tremendous postseason for the player and his teammates .

Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy , his coaching staff and GM Brian Sabean , will be looking to have this team prepared for the long haul of an arduous 2013 schedule . And for Tim Lincecum, a former Cy Young Award winner in 2008 and 2009 . Last season was something of a misnomer for Lincecum , but he able to deliver for the team when they needed him most during the postseason.

Sabean and Giants’ managing partner , Larry Baer , have to be aware that the franchise will the ones with a target on their backs. Having won two World Series in three years , baseball has not had a repeat series’ winner , since the New York Yankees , won three in a row (1998, 1999 & 2000). And for the game’s most renowned franchise , there are now facing a time of uncertainty, with an aging roster at its core , and a great deal of uncertainty concerning the long-term futures of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez . And as one career winds down , with Jeter now in the twilight of his famed career , one has to ask who will now assume control and lead this team by example ? Certainly not Rodriguez , given his penchant for excuses , and seeking to apportion blame elsewhere for his own repeated mistakes. Less we forget also , Alex Rodriguez remains a flawed character , who has no desirable trait, and he might just be , the most despised player in the game today. It is my firm belief that the Yankees’ front office have erred in not rescinding Rodriguez’s contract in light of the latest expose’ in which this is the second time that the player’s name has been associated with a steroids’ investigation , after his admission of guilt to the use of PED’s in 2010, in which the third baseman confirmed that he experimented with steroid use from 2001 to 2004 , while playing for the Texas Rangers .

Rodriguez’s career in Major League Baseball, has been littered, with highs and lows , of which, many would consider career lows to be considerably more than the highs. I believe that perception to be true , primarily because of the player’s admission of guilt , and his use of steroids and the very fact that the suspicion still remains that he has never been fully truthful as to whether or not there was his continued use ! And that is in light of ongoing allegations concerning the third baseman and recent stories within the print and television media . What makes all the more disturbing also , remains the fact that Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid player in the game and whose career earnings will surpass a half billion dollars ($500,000,000) at the culmination of that career.

It should be of some note, that Rodriguez remains the only player in baseball history to have signed two separate contracts, where the team commitment on each occasion has been for $250 million. By return, for that investment , the player has rewarded baseball the teams and fans , with three MVP Awards , thirteen All Star Appearances , two Gold Gloves Awards , one World Series championship , active home runs leader (647) , as well as active RBI’s leader (1950) , and is now 99 hits away from reaching (37th all-time) the 3,000 hits’ plateau . Yet for all of those accolades , many fans believe the third baseman to self-absorbed , conceited , and not to be a great teammate , either with the New York Yankees or Texas Rangers. His relationship with Derek Jeter, is said to be fractured and one, which is day to day ,by most accounts , but yet, somehow the Yankees’ economic future will be based upon a player who remains a pariah within the game. Sidelined hip surgery and likely to miss the team’s entire regular season schedule. It can be said, that the Yankees will either sink or swim with the play of the players considered by Joe Girardi, that will give the franchise the best opportunity to win. And given the state of the team’s current pitching roster, I believe it will be a considerable task for the New York Yankees to overcome and win the AL East , much less gain a playoff berth this season.

The hyperbole was there , but now we’re beginning to see the character or lack of it thereof , as the New York Knicks (38-25) are falling from a lofty peak , falling from the sky, faster than a meteorite . And for all of the prognosticators , simply salivating over this team , primarily because of the assembly of All Stars , is simply and utterly asinine , when there is no body of work to go by ! That’s akin to placing an ugly chick in a two piece bathing suit and then to suggest, that she is in, with a favorite’s chance to win the Miss Universe contest. Not that anyone, would want to see this team strutting “ their stuff” on a catwalk, as it has been bad enough to witness their play over their last ten games , where they are 5-5 and losers of three straight . And need one suggest, that they are slipping down the Eastern Conference rankings , at a rather disturbing time in their schedule ?

Now the Knicks are having to serve the indignity of being without Carmelo Anthony , Tyson Chandler , and the vastly overrated and ailing Amar`e Stoudemire . Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson , now has to rally this team , simply take them to task over their lack of commitment to apply themselves far more aggressively as a defensive unit . Something of which , does not appear to be a part of the team’s psyche .

I get the feeling that this is not what team owner , James Dolan and GM Glen Grunwald , envisaged from the New York Knicks this season ! They are likely to fall short of their goal, and that is to make a deep and spirited run in the postseason. They will undoubtedly qualify for the playoffs , quite possibly as the third, fourth or fifth ranked team within the conference , based on current standings and the play of several conference contenders over their last ten games.

A competitive NBA, needs a resurgent Knicks’ franchise to be an ever- present force within the game. Anyone who suggests otherwise, clearly has no understanding of the franchise’s economic impact to the NBA as a whole . And while we have seen the rise of the Los Angeles Clippers , Golden State Warriors and in recent years the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers. There is no denying , that with the Los Angeles Lakers (35-32) , Miami Heat , the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks , the NBA postseason , simply becomes nothing more than a crap-shoot . More often than not, many of the playoff series are understated , with somewhat lackluster play on both sides of the ball.

While the New York Knicks have their on-field issues , their conference rivals , the Miami Heat continue their win streak , which now stands at twenty one consecutive wins . Do you get the feeling that the Heat are simply strolling through the regular season without being overly complacent ? And while we are at it , is LeBron James on his way to winning his fourth MVP title , joining a select group of players with at least two or more league MVP crowns as their laurels ? James and the Heat currently have the third longest win streak (33) in NBA history , a record currently held by the ‘71-‘72 Los Angeles Lakers (69-13) .

Not one to kick an animal while it is down , but it appears that the Los Angeles Lakers’ season is now on the line . Currently sitting in the eighth spot of the Western Conference , and no discerning reason to believe , that they are still capable of holding unto that position. Kobe Bryant’s claims that the team is still capable of making the postseason, is beginning to look somewhat tenuous . The Lakers’ schedule doesn’t offer the players any great aid over the remainder of their regular season. When adjudged against that of the seventh placed Houston Rockets (36-30) and the ninth placed , Dallas Mavericks (31-34). And as we know, the Western Conference has always considered to be a dogfight , for all of the aspirants seeking to make the postseason.

Now while many have been critical of Kobe Bryant , and the fact he recently lashed out at his teammates for their lack of commitment . The player was sidelined briefly, but he gamely made it back onto the court to aid his teammates in a thoroughly competitive victory over the Indiana Pacers . Much of that criticism has been valid , yet it remains a matter of conjecture and speculation how this team can survive in its present guise . Dwight Howard remains an enigma , meanwhile, Steve Nash , as gamely a veteran , as the fans know him to be . It is clear that the Lakers , are a considerable distance from where they need to be. In spite of it all, head coach , Mike D’Antoni tries to stress that the team , are now getting into their stride. As an observer from afar , I have never been enamored with D’Antoni as a head coach , and I still feel that GM Mitch Kupchak and Senior VP Jim Buss have erred , first, in the hiring of Mike Brown , and then the hiring of his successor , Mike D’Antoni ! With a mere fifteen games left in the regular season schedule for the league’s thirty teams , it will be very interesting to see how not only the Los Angeles Lakers will fare , but also many of the championship contenders seeking to make a name for themselves this postseason.

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By clicking on a frame you can view that picture in its formatted size. .
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Picture gallery.

What if anything, are you most looking forward to , when the NCAA Tournament is off and running ? In addition, which teams do you believe will be making a strong presence in the tourney and why ? Do you also believe that the World Baseball Classic has been a worthwhile competition or simply a bust ? Finally , the New York Yankees , will this be the season where we see the team back in the World Series , or will they fall by the wayside ? Chime on in with your thoughts .

Picture and slideshow gallery details .
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(1) Miami’s Durand Scott (1) reacts after making a basket as he runs past North Carolina State’s C.J. Leslie (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Saturday, March 16, 2013. Miami has moved on to the Finals of the ACC Tournament to be be played today , Sunday 17th March, 2013 , where they will play North Carolina . AP Photo/Gerry Broome ….

(2) Miami head coach Jim Larranaga directs his team against North Carolina State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Saturday, March 16, 2013. AP Photo/Gerry Broome …

(3) Puerto Rico catcher Yadier Molina ,left, pitching coach Rick Bones,center, and pitcher Nelson Figueroa celebrate after defeating the USA 4-3 in the World Baseball Classic second round Pool 2 elimination game between Puerto Rico and the United States at Marlins Park in Miami on Friday, March 15, 2013. AP Photo/The Miami Herald, David Santiago ….

(4) New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, left, and former Yankees first baseman and current Miami Marlins hitting instructor Tino Martinez before a spring training baseball game in Tampa, Fla., Friday, March 15, 2013. AP Photo/Kathy Willens ….

(5) FILE – In this Oct. 14, 2012, file photo, New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out during the second inning of Game 2 of baseball’s American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers in New York. When the Yankees re-signed Rodriguez in December 2007, they expected him to set home run records . Now some in the team’s management hope he never plays again, so much of the $114 million he’s still due can be covered by insurance. Not only is he injured, he’s at the center of performance-enhancing drug use allegations. P Photo/Paul Sancya ….

(6) David Sierra , sits in his family owned realty company in Coral Gables, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 29, 2013, displaying a photo of a flier that the management company passed out to tenants in an office complex where they rented space to Biogenesis and Anthony Bosch . New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez has denied a newspaper report on Tuesday that accused the baseball star of buying human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances from a clinic in the Miami area. The Miami New Times, an alternative weekly, reported that it obtained records detailing purchases by Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez , Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz and Yasmani Grandal from a clinic called Biogenesis, run by Bosch. AP Photo/J Pat Carter ….

(7) San Francisco Giants, managing partner Larry Baer , right to left, Pablo Sandoval, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy holds the Commissioner’s Trophy after Game 4 of baseball’s World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. The Giants won 4-3 to win the series . AP Photo/Matt Slocum, Pool ….

(8) New York Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Thursday, March 14, 2013. The Trail Blazers beat the Knicks 105-90 . AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens …

(9) Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade lies on the court during the first half against the Milwaukee Bucks in an NBA basketball game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Milwaukee. AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps ….

(10) A healthy relationship ? Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, draws a play for center Dwight Howard as they sit on the bench in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, Friday, March 15, 2013. Bryant and Howard the team’s two leading scorers are said to have a somewhat tepid relationship , but somehow things are said to be tenuous between the pairing. AP Photo/Michael Conroy …

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If at all interested do take time participate in the above mentioned poll .