I Spy With My Little Eye ….

I Spy With My Little Eye   …..

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

(1)
Zion Willliamson , second from the right is seen here as the announcement is made that the New Orleans Pelicans will have the number one overall draft pick for the upcoming NBA Draft .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tophatal ……….


NBA news ……..

2019 NBA Playoffs

NBA salary cap (2019)

NBA free agents (2019)

Salary cap players (2019)


NFL news …

2019 NFL schedule (regular season)


MLB news …

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

MLB standings (division)

MLB Important Dates …


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

Not As Good As Advertised !

Not As Good As Advertised !

I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again if you’re going to put up an argument about anything you had better put both sides of the argument in place and state the case with authority. Idiots around this environment had tried to state the case that Ohio State as the nation’s number one ranked men’s basketball team were good enough to win the NCAA Tournament and actually end the season unbeaten. Fact of the matter is, the Buckeyes succumbed to the Wisconsin Badgers —- 71-67 at the Kohl Center this past weekend. Thad Matta’s team as good as they’ve been this season has never really been good on the big stage . The loss to the Badgers summed up everything that you need to know about a team that was starting to believe in its own hype and what the print and tv media were saying about them.

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Jared Sullinger in his post game interview was sullen and peeved that he was treated in such a way as a visiting team by the Wisconsin fans. He may well have been denigrated by the Badgers’ fans but what was he expecting to be adored and have the opposing fans throw rose petals at him at the end of the game ? What ….. all of a sudden Sullinger becomes as soft as a wet piece of tissue paper ? Man up and shut the hell up rather than whining like a bitch ! Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor outplayed Sullinger and if anything made a case that when placed under pressure he knows how to play when it really counts. Sullinger may well be putting up the stats and is being talked about unlike any other rookie freshman in college basketball but until he proves that he can lead with authority he’ll simply be thought of just another phenom being lauded up and down the country and within the media.

Now pardon me for saying this but the reality here is that Ohio State may well be good enough to win the NCAA Tournament but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. Any team with a view to staking their claim to be thought of as a contender has to be playing with consistency and at the time of the tournament they had to have hit a rich vein of form. I don’t know that we may well be saying that about the Buckeyes but there’ll be those who’ll be stating that there’s still a case to be made that they can win.

The last time a team ran the table, having won the national title and be unbeaten happened in 1976. And while others have come close , well close simply isn’t good enough as being damn perfect ! And that’s how the great teams if they want to be judged as to their greatness in the annals of college basketball then they need to show that they’re not good but damn perfect when it matters most.

A great deal has been made that the ACC is having a down year and that in particular Mike Krzyzewski’s —– Duke team isn’t anywhere good as thought. But anyone who knows Krzyzewski and how he gets his players ready for the big games then they’ll know that this Duke team will rise to the occasion when it matters most. As defending NCAA champions having won their fourth national title under Krzyzewski’s reign and it has to be said that anyone thinking that they’re not a contender then they ought to consider the resume’ of the coach during his tenure with the Blue Devils. If that’s not evidence as to what Krzyzewski has been able to achieve and the consistency that comes along with it then you have to be either naive or simply know nothing about the game but you merely love the sound of making rather asinine prognostications.

Now as the world awaits the latest rankings to come out as to who’ll the number one spot we will no doubt see a new team ascend to the the top spot . In all likelihood that may well be the Texas Longhorns or the Kansas Jayhaws . If anything this Longhorn’s team may well be the most balanced team D 1 basketball and are certainly now beginning to look the part . And if you simply believe that they’re not a worthy candidate of winning the NCAA Tournament if not their conference championship then simply look at their statistics this season ?

I’ve no doubt as usual the NCAA Tournament will be what we’ ve always come to expect with a great deal of suspense and one or two surprises along the way. It’s clear that of all of the sporting highlights of the season the men’s NCAA Tournament may well be the most suspenseful , exhilarating of all the the tournaments that take place within the sport’s calendar. We get all of the hype of the Superbowl and all that it offers the fans as a spectacle but given the length number of competitive participants the NCAA Tournament itself might just be the best competition that there is from a fan standpoint. You get the chance to adjudge the teams as the competition gets underway through its knockout basis through the regional rounds . Sixty five initial starters through the process of elimination gets down to the Sweet Sixteen , Elite Eight , Final Four and the Finals itself . What else could anyone actually ask for from a competition ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As to the fate of the Ohio State Buckeyes as the rest of the season plays itself it will be interesting to see what lies in store for the team under Thad Matta and how they are able to regroup from this loss. How do you see the season panning out for the Buckeyes and which particular team if any do you see as a possible threat or winner for the NCAA Tournament this season ? Conference Champions and invitees notwithstanding this tournament will be one which I believe will have the fans intrigued ! So by all means simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts on this topic and any thoughts you have on the college basketball season so far.

Picture and slide show details below.

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(1)Ohio State head coach Thad Matta reacts to a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Wisconsin Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, in Madison, Wis. AP Photo/Morry Gash …..

(2)Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor and Keaton Nankivil , right, are smothered by fans after beating undefeated No. 1 Ohio State 71-67 in an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio State Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, in Madison, Wis. AP Photo/Morry Gash ……….

(3) Ohio State’s William Buford (44) tries to drive past Wisconsin’s Mike Bruesewitz (31) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, in Madison, Wis. AP Photo/Morry Gash …………

(4) Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (0) tries to drive on Wisconsin’s Keaton Nankivil (52) and Jordan Taylor (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, in Madison, Wis. AP Photo/Morry Gash ………..

(5) Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor (10) looks to pass as he drives the baseline past Iowa State guard Diante Garrett (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011. Taylor scored 14 points in the game. Kansas defeated Iowa State 89-66 . AP Photo/Orlin Wagner ………

(6) Kansas forwards Marcus Morris (22) and Markieff Morris (21) celebrate a basket as a timeout is called during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011. The twin brothers each had a double-double and keyed a 23-4 first-half run that carried No. 2 Kansas past Iowa State 89-66 on Saturday. AP Photo/Orlin Wagner ……….

(7) Texas forward Gary Johnson , left, and forward Alexis Wangmene , right, celebrate the win over Baylor in an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, in Austin, Texas. No. 3 Texas won 69-60 . AP Photo/Michael Thomas ……….

(8) Texas forward Tristan Thompson , right, brings down a rebound against Baylor forward Fred Ellis , left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, in Austin, Texas. Thompson tied Jordan Hamilton for Texas high scorer with 17 points. No. 3 Texas won 69-60 . AP Photo/Michael Thomas ……

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😛

Alan aka tophatal ………………………….

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Eye candy ……………. Rebecca

Wet on the net ……. Carrie and Jenny

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Outkast …… feat’g Killer Mike ……. “The Whole World”

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Not Quite The Silly Season In Sports But It’s Still Early Days As Of Yet ……………..

We all know how that at the end of the regular season on the PGA Tour , the sport has its anomaly of post-season events . Wherein, the players can supplement their on Tour earnings with even more astronomical sums in terms of unofficial prize money. Never mind the fact that Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has extended the calendar on The Tour , whereby a number of events were move beyond the end of the official regular season but the winnings attained there wouldn’t count on a player’s official prize money earnings. This part of the season is known as the ‘silly season’ . The same is true of for all of the four major sports.

Not Quite The Silly Season In Sports But It’s Still Early Days As Of Yet ……………..

We all know how that at the end of the regular season on the PGA Tour , the sport has its anomaly of post-season events . Wherein, the players can supplement their on Tour earnings with even more astronomical sums in terms of unofficial prize money. Never mind the fact that Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has extended the calendar on The Tour , whereby a number of events were move beyond the end of the official regular season but the winnings attained there wouldn’t count on a player’s official prize money earnings. This part of the season is known as the ‘silly season’ . The same is true of for all of the four major sports.

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s steroids proposal, made to the union last month, calls for a 50-game ban for first offenders, a 100-game penalty for second offenders and a lifetime ban for a third positive test.
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s steroids proposal, made to the union last month, calls for a 50-game ban for first offenders, a 100-game penalty for second offenders and a lifetime ban for a third positive test. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Adam Roundtree .......

Well low and behold , despite the pontificating by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , his asinine and inane attempts to suggest that there were no tried , tested and reliable methods in testing for HGH (human growth hormone) . Somehow , it has come about whereby there is irrefutable evidence that there is a test that is 100 % full-proof. So much for the blithering idiot and the MLB hierarchy that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty first century when it came to adopting an internationally recognized drug testing policy. Is the hierarchy of major league baseball that archaic ? Or is it being ran by a bunch of simpletons ?

Courtesy of The New York Daily News

British professional rugby player Terry Newton tests positive for HGH as MLB on deck for testing

By Michael O’Keeffe and Christian Red , Daily News Sports Writers

The argument by Major League Baseball that no reliable test for human growth hormone exists took a major hit Monday.

Both the United Kingdom Anti-Doping agency (UKAD) and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) trumpeted the positive HGH test of British professional rugby player Terry Newton as “proof positive” that the drug can be detected in blood tests. Newton, who was tested in November, did not contest the result and yesterday was banned from the sport for two years by UKAD. Newton’s rugby club, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, also canceled his contract. Newton is believed to be the first case of a professional athlete testing positive for HGH using a blood sample.

Baseball has banned growth hormone since 2005, but there is still no HGH testing. Travis Tygart, USADA’s chief executive, Monday blasted baseball’s argument that an effective HGH test is unavailable.

“All of us who have helped develop a test wouldn’t put it in place if it wasn’t forensically sound and reliable.” Tygart told the Daily News. “Particularly in (Newton’s) case, it’s proof positive the test works.”

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With the ‘positive test’ of British rugby league player , Terry Newton , further proves how far and out of touch major league baseball really is with regard to the ongoing medical advances that there are in the meticulous testing of athletes for prohibitive substances. Not that it would really matter to baseball under Selig’s tenure as commissioner. He still believes to this day, that the sport has the most rigorous and meticulous testing policy in all of professional sports. As well as meting out the stiffest penalties available. If I hadn’t realize that he was being serious, I wouldn’t continue to ridicule this oaf ! His mendacity would suggest that he hasn’t the faintest idea as to what the hell he’s talking about. If anything , the ‘Mitchell Report’ and its finding further clarifies that ! God knows, the game itself , still has its problems but Selig’s handling of the issue and the undue intransigence of the MLBPA (union) has only further exacerbated and compounded an already grave situation.

Well what do you know ? A number of teams around the NFL have begun to either place the ‘franchise tag’ on their unrestricted free agents or in some cases, they’ve actually ‘cut’ players whom they feel are no longer of much use to their organizations. It’s business and the ‘nature of the beast’. Nothing in the game of football is guaranteed , other than a signing bonus and the ancillary incentives reached by a player once they attain those objectives. Could some please remind Jeff Garcia why it was that he and former Buccaneers’ coach Jon Gruden had a parting of the ways ? Honesty seems to be something that Gruden was short on , during his professional career as an NFL coach. But that asides , he got the job done.

Carolina Panthers' Julius Peppers saluting fans as he walks off the field after the Panthers' <strong> 23-10 </strong>win over the New Orleans Saints in an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers have decided the price is too steep to keep their all-time sacks leader. It means five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers is about to become one of the top prizes in free agency.  Agent Carl Carey says the Panthers have told him they won't place the restrictive franchise tag on Peppers for a second consecutive year at a cost of more than $20 million.  The move Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010,  comes two days before the tag deadline.  photo appears courtesy  of Associated  Press/ Rick Havner  ......
Carolina Panthers' Julius Peppers saluting fans as he walks off the field after the Panthers' 23-10 win over the New Orleans Saints in an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers have decided the price is too steep to keep their all-time sacks leader. It means five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers is about to become one of the top prizes in free agency. Agent Carl Carey says the Panthers have told him they won't place the restrictive franchise tag on Peppers for a second consecutive year at a cost of more than $20 million. The move Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010, comes two days before the tag deadline. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Rick Havner ......

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

Eagles release RB Westbrook after 8 seasons

By Dan Gelston , AP Sports Writer

Philadelphia (AP)—Brian Westbrook(notes) could break open a game from almost anywhere on the field.

Lined up in the slot, he could run a slant, beat a linebacker and take off with no one able to catch No. 36. His defining moment with the Philadelphia Eagles came on an 84-yard punt return that stunned the New York Giants in 2003.

Out of the backfield, he was a 1,000-yard rusher who always kept defenses guessing—and flailing.

But in his later years, it was injuries that defined Westbrook more than his dynamic offensive skills. His age, salary and lengthy list of beaten body parts led the Eagles to release him Tuesday and save the team $7.5 million due next year.

“I think we all know that Brian is one of the all-time great Philadelphia Eagles,” coach Andy Reid said. “For what we’ve done here over the years, Brian has been just a huge part of building this program to the level that we’re at now. My heart will always be a Brian Westbrook fan as we go forward here.”

A former All-Pro, the 5-foot-10 Westbrook led the league in yards from scrimmage in 2007 with 2,104. He rushed for 1,333 yards and accounted 12 touchdowns that season.

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Chargers’ GM A. J. Smith made the decision to cut their Pro Bowl running back, LaDainian Tomlinson . The same maneuver has since been followed with Philadelphia Eagles’ running back Brian Westbrook being cut by the team’s GM Joe Banner. Do you seen an emerging pattern here ? Once you’re deemed ‘over the hill’, then that’s it ……’you’re out’.

It’s been often said , that once the San Francisco 49ers saw fit to release their ‘storied quarterback’, Joe Montana , the ‘game’ had essentially ‘lost its soul’. Whether or not that it is indeed true, I’ll leave that up to you, to decide ! And though it’s no longer all that disturbing , there’s still something of a tinge of sadness when this all happens to a much beloved and well respected player.

The NFC South’s Carolina Panthers now face a daunting task , as to whether or not it is still prudent to re-sign Julius Peppers. The Pro Bowl defensive end , last season was a franchise tagged player, who was the league’s highest paid player with a salary of $16.9 million for 2009. Coach Jon Fox would no doubt like to retain the player but at what cost to their bottom line ? Never mind the fact that the needs on this Panthers’ roster goes way beyond trying to persuade Peppers to remain with the team but at a lower salary. Somehow , neither Peppers or his agent are liable to acquiesce and listen to such a request from the Panthers' front office and their general manager , Marty Hurney . There’ll no doubt be a number of teams that are liable to show an interest in the player and who will be quite prepared to meet or surpass his asking price.

Courtesy of NFL.com

Sweet home Chicago for Peppers, Kampman? DEs coveted by Bears

By Jason La Canafora of NFL.com

The Chicago Bears are gearing up for a major run at Julius Peppers, a league source said Tuesday, and Aaron Kampman also is an option for a team that’s intent on landing a pass-rushing defensive end this offseason.

Peppers, who will not receive the Carolina Panthers’ franchise tag, is the Bears’ prime target. However, Peppers will not come cheap — he was seeking around $40 million guaranteed from the Panthers. The Bears traditionally are a frugal team, but in this limited free-agent market, they are prepared to jump into the sweepstakes for Peppers, who had 81 sacks in eight seasons with the Panthers.

Kampman, who struggled to switch from end to linebacker in the Green Bay Packers’ new 3-4 defense, also is someone the Bears are high on, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The Bears know Kampman well from their intense NFC North rivalry games against the Packers.

Chicago’s defense ranked 17th in the NFL last season, and coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo need improvement to ease questions about their job security. After mulling whether or not to part with higher-priced defensive veterans such as linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs and tackle Tommie Harris, Bears management has decided to keep that core together and try to add playmakers through free agency.

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Well a number of my blogging buddies , namely, chappy 81 and sportschump , have been telling me, ne’ persuading me , that the likes of the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic are still legitimate contenders for the NBA title. The veracity of a case can still be made for the Magic , as they’re still the reigning Eastern Conference champions within the NBA. With regard to the Mavericks and their stellar play this season under the guidance of coach, Rick Carlisle . For chappy , I mention these words ‘…..does the meaning swoon in June resonate with you at all ? Because for all sense and purpose that is it what we’ve become use to seeing from the Mavericks over the past few seasons. This team led by Dirk Nowitzki is very, very good, during the regular season . But far too often , once the postseason season comes around they become something of a tease. They’ll lure you in with the belief that this is to be their year , whereby they will fully acquit themselves. But it as I’ve suggested all too often , comes that swoon. And then that obligatory tailspin comes into being. Being a passenger on the Titanic might prove to be much more fortuitous than being a fan of the Mavericks.

Mike Dunleavy (#17) of the Indiana Pacers goes up for the lay up against Brendan Haywood (#33) of the Dallas Mavericks during a game at the American Airlines Center on February 22, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. photo  appears  courtesy  of  NBAE/ Getty  Images/  Glenn  James  ...................
Mike Dunleavy (#17) of the Indiana Pacers goes up for the lay up against Brendan Haywood (#33) of the Dallas Mavericks during a game at the American Airlines Center on February 22, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Glenn James ...................

And needless to say, the acquisitions of both Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood does make them better. But are they as good as their erstwhile rivals in the Western Conference in the guise of the Los Angeles Lakers or Denver Nuggets ? State the case , wherein the Mavericks are as good as either team ? Because nothing they’ve done thus far in the season that bears this out. One can surmise that Mavericks’ GM Donnie Walsh sought to bolster the roster in order to make it more resilient with the additions of both Butler and Haywood. But neither player can be considered clutch performers when it matters most and yet there those who trying to tell me that Haywood can be that and a great deal more ? If he wasn’t that much of presence with the Wizards to begin with . Then why all of a sudden will things suddenly take a turn for the better from his standpoint ? He’s a serviceable player , if that’s what the Mavericks are in fact looking for. And the case for Butler that can be made , is that on certain nights he’ll be able to make a contribution for the team. So lets not pretend that overnight , the Mavericks are about to set the NBA world alight and make Mark Cuban a very happy man. You’d better off making the case that Sarah Palin would be a wiser choice as the Republican nominee for President of the United States. And even though that scenario can’t be anymore less stupid than the one being placed that the Mavericks will be able to challenge usurp the supremacy of both the Lakers and Nuggets. But alas, this is now the world that we live in , where anything can be said without much logic being stated as the basis for an argument.

College Football is replete with good and bad coaches. As a matter of fact that broad based statement runs the gamut of collegiate athletics. The troubling fact now within the game is that there are a number of coaches who choose to eschew the rules, in order to seek an advantage for their program. And little do they care as to the consequences of their actions. That has to be the case for both programs of the USC Trojans and the University of Michigan (Wolverines). Both programs are under new head coaches but in the case of all three current and past coaches there’s a case to be made where each has violated the rules of the NCAA . Pete Carroll and now current coach Lane Kiffin has essentially carried on where his predecessor left off , with the Trojans’ program. The athletics’ program at USC has become so ‘tainted’ that it’s hard to make a case why it shouldn’t be suspended altogether, for a period of not less than year to act as a deterrent to others . Both the men’s football and basketball programs have been complicit in some serious transgressions violations of NCAA rules. And one wonders why it has taken so long even with the ongoing investigations that’ve been conducted by the NCAA. But here’s the kicker to it all, the football program is not only a ‘cash cow’ for the NCAA but also for the BCS system. And one wouldn’t want to be seen as biting the hand that feeds it now, would one ?

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, left, and head football coach <strong>Rich Rodriguez</strong>, right, are shown at a news conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010. The NCAA has found that Michigan's storied football program was out of compliance with practice time rules under coach Rodriguez. Incoming athletic director David Brandon disclosed the finding Tuesday. He says there were no surprises in the NCAA findings. He also says Rodriguez remains the coach. Michigan has 90 days to respond and will appear at an NCAA hearing on infractions in August. photo appears courtesy of  Associated Press/ Paul Sancya  ......
University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, left, and head football coach Rich Rodriguez, right, are shown at a news conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010. The NCAA has found that Michigan's storied football program was out of compliance with practice time rules under coach Rodriguez. Incoming athletic director David Brandon disclosed the finding Tuesday. He says there were no surprises in the NCAA findings. He also says Rodriguez remains the coach. Michigan has 90 days to respond and will appear at an NCAA hearing on infractions in August. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Paul Sancya ......

In the case of the Wolverines and their coach, Rich Rodriguez . He has knowingly flouted the rules concerning the amount of time allowable for his players in terms of their preparational training for a game, contravening the strict rules that all programs have to abide by. Rodriguez categorically denies any wrongdoing on his part , even with the statements from current and past players of the football program detailing otherwise. The situation has become so ridiculous, that both the AD David Brandon and University President Mary Sue Coleman have come out in full support of the beleaguered and embattled coach. And one would’ve thought that in both cases the AD’s of both establishments would be looking to enforce the rules and make a formal statement giving the NCAA assurances that they not condone such actions. But in the case of both Brandon and his counterpart Mike Garrett at USC , this most definitely has not been the case !

Los Angeles -January 13th 2010. New head coach of the USC Trojans Lane Kiffin shakes a hand as he makes his way to his press conference at Heritage Hall  in Los Angeles, California.  photo appears  courtesy of  Getty Images/  Harry How .................
Los Angeles -January 13th 2010. New head coach of the USC Trojans Lane Kiffin shakes a hand as he makes his way to his press conference at Heritage Hall in Los Angeles, California. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Harry How .................

Now there’s no chance of either program coming forward and admitting any impropriety on their part. But consider this , when it was first announced that an investigation was about to get underway into the USC athletics’ program. The school’s AD approached the NCAA about imposing their own sanctions on both the basketball and football programs. And we now wonder why Pete Carroll fled USC under the subterfuge that he sought a new challenge in the NFL ranks , to be a coach with the Seattle Seahawks ? For those in the know , wouldn’t that be considered a step down for Pete Carroll ? LOL,LOL, LOL !!! In large part most people view the Trojans’ program as LA’s only true professional football franchise ? And that’s with all due respect to California Redwoods of the UFL (United Football League). Who see themselves as the transitional answer to Los Angeles’ need for a professional football franchise. Redwoods’ owner Paul Pelosi , husband of House Majority Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca), has all but stated that as a fact. As he ultimately foresees the franchise as the ultimate answer for the city’s quest and yearning for a professional football franchise. Whether not that as well as the UFL comes to full fruition remains to be seen. Albeit, that the Redwoods are based in San Jose, some three hundred miles away from the city of Los Angeles. Nothing like ambition to spread bold , asinine statements and ideas to begin with ! Could it be, that both Pelosi’s are intent on ruling their domains, as they view it from the lofty perches of their ivory towers ? Needless to say there’s some love and hatred there for both.

Duke's Jon Scheyer collides with Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney, left, during the first half. Scheyer scored 25 points and collected 10 rebounds in the win.
Duke's Jon Scheyer collides with Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney, left, during the first half. Scheyer scored 25 points and collected 10 rebounds in the win. The Blue Devils defeated Virginia Tech (Hokies) 67-55 in the game . photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Sara Davis .................

Would it be remiss for me to suggest that the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) of men’s basketball ‘stinks to high heaven’ ? Now don’t get me wrong there are still some marginal teams but what the hell has gone wrong there ? Other than Duke , there isn’t another team from the conference in the ‘top 25’ of the national rankings . And even with the Blue Devils ranked at number 5 in the rankings, Mike Krzyzewski’s team hasn’t been exactly setting the world on fire with their play. But one could surmise that they’re waiting to shine in the NCAA national championships ? Roll on ‘March Madness’ , as that’s when the ‘men will be separated from the boys’ .

This’ll be the one time of the year that I’d have to be dragged kicking and screaming away from in-front of the television set when the NCAA men’s national championships are on. To my mind it’s the best of the collegiate championships that takes place during the course of the sporting calendar. And in terms of sheer excitement , it ranks up there alongside the Superbowl , itself ! And the real thrilling part of it all , other than showing support for one’s team. It will be to see the future prospective stars of the NBA. And those may well be the names such of such current stars , as John Wall and his Wildcats’ teammate DeMarcus Cousins . Others who also come to mind are Sherron Collins of the Kansas Jayhawks, Ricky Jackson of the Syracuse Orangemen and a slew other players , far too numerous to mention. But over the course of the NCAA tournament , I guarantee that you’ll get to know who those players are. And you’ll definitely be showing your support for them , if not their teams.

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts speaks to the media Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010 at the Chicago Cubs spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz. photo appears  Assoc. Press/ Matt  York  ....
Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts speaks to the media Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010 at the Chicago Cubs spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz. photo appears Assoc. Press/ Matt York ....

A century plus of continued futility and there’s now said to be a breath of fresh air in the environment, as the new Chicago Cubs’, owner, billionaire, Tom Ricketts , addresses the team as well as the rest of the organization . How much this will resonate with the Cubs’ long suffering fans and those devoted faithful who throng to Wrigley Field religiously to watch the team play, remains to be seen. But rest assured Ricketts’ anecdotes about his fond memories of the Cubs and some of their former halcyon days can only provide a respite for what we may well envisage once again this season.

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports

New Cubs owner Ricketts addresses team

By Rick Gano , AP Sports Writer

Mesa, Ariz. (AP)—Tom Ricketts once sat in the bleachers at Wrigley Field, cheering for the Chicago Cubs. On Tuesday, with the players gathered around him in the spring training weight room, he addressed the team that his family now owns.

His message was simple: He and his family will be around and do everything possible to help the Cubs win.

“If there is anything we can do better, let us know,” Ricketts said he told the players.

For his part, Ricketts is already taking steps.

There are new upgrades at Wrigley Field, including an improved clubhouse and weight rooms, a new players’ lounge, a new club in the outfield and better restrooms for fans. The Ricketts also raised ticket prices on some seats at the storied stadium.

“Obviously Wrigley needs a lot of love and a lot of help over the next few years,” Ricketts said. “That will be very challenging. Other than that, we feel the pressure to produce on some winning teams and that will be something that is always with us.”

The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908.

Ricketts said if the Cubs are in contention around the trade deadline, it’s possible they would spend the money to bring in a player needed to make a playoff push.

Manager Lou Piniella sounded confident that would happen.

“The fact they are going to involved and visible and the fact they want to win and are very competitive, and I’m sure if we get in position during the course of the summer and we need something, there’s a darn good chance they’ll step forward,” Piniella said.

“The Ricketts are going to be good for Chicago and for the Chicago Cubs,” added Piniella, who is in the last year of his contract. “This is not just a one-year or two-year thing. They want to keep this team in their family for a long, long time.”

The $845 million sale of the Cubs, Wrigley Field and other assets from the Tribune Co. to the family of billionaire Joe Ricketts was completed in October, more than 2 1/2 years after the baseball franchise went on the market.

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Click on link to read article in its entirety
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Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella, right, along with coaches Matt Sinatro, middle, and Lester Strode watch pitchers warm up during spring training baseball camp practice Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010, in Mesa, Ariz. photo appears courtesy  of  Assoc. Press/  Ross D. Franklin  ...........
Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella, right, along with coaches Matt Sinatro, middle, and Lester Strode watch pitchers warm up during spring training baseball camp practice Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010, in Mesa, Ariz. photo appears courtesy of Assoc. Press/ Ross D. Franklin ...........

If it wasn’t enough that the Lou Piniella coached Cubs has to contend with the St Louis Cardinals , Milwaukee Brewers , Houston Astros , Cincinnati Reds and less we forget the woefully inept Pittsburgh Pirates >. The NL Central alongside the NL East might just be the two most competitive divisions in the National League. But it’d be enough to suggest that Ricketts is now of the belief that the beleaguered organization is about to turn the corner as its impending fortunes are about to change. Haven’t we all seen this before ? A new owner rides in on his white steed in the hope of regaling the fans and the community at large with the view that they can contend and bring a championship to the city. If only that were the case with the Chicago Cubs . They’ve become more of a tease than a voluptuous scantly clad blond female at a party. She and you both are there but with one thing on both of your mind. But in the end, you’re the one who ends up being disappointed.
It just turns out the blond in question is literally that, nothing more than a damn tease . As are the Chicago Cubs, year in and year out ! Can someone now please slaughter that damn goat and put the Cubs and their long suffering fans out of their misery ? And while you’re at it , call Steve Bartman and tell him , he’s still ‘persona-non-grata’ in the city of Chicago ?

The now infamous ‘Bartman Incident ‘ that happened at Wrigley Field during the NLCS game between the Cubs and Marlins. And the rest say they say ‘……… is history’.

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Bartman had to be escorted out of Wrigley Field , as the Cubs’ hierarchy at the time feared for his safety. On the night was there a more despised person in the city of Chicago ? Or perhaps the state of Illinois ?

The ‘silly season’ in sports will soon be upon us and we’re liable to laugh as much as get upset for one reason or another, as to the stories start to unfold. Personally, I’d rather just laugh my way throughout the season , rather than letting my emotions get the better of me because of another stupid episode during the sporting calendar year. What are your thoughts on the whole thing ?


Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………..

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From the land of my parental birth, Jamaica. Here’s Buju Banton with ‘Champion’ .

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Canadian adult burlesque performer Bianca Beauchamp . Here she is in her wondrous form and self. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the subject and content matter ? To view each picture within the gallery in full, just click unto the individual picture in question.

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