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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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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Tophatal ……..

Tophatal’s Blog on Facebook.com

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NBA

NBA news and archived stories

NBA archived stories 2013

This month in NBA history

NBA standings (division)

NBA standings (conference)

NBA results 20th December

NBA schedule 21st December

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NCAA Men’s Basketball

NCAA Men’s Basketball news

NCAA Men’s Basketball results 20th December

NCAA Men’s Basketball schedule 21st December

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NFL and news

NFL week sixteen injuries

NFL standings (division)

NFL standings (conference)

NFL week sixteen schedule

NFL week seventeen

NFL Playoff Picture

This month in NFL history

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MLB news

MLB transactions

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Boxing news and MMA

Boxing schedule (recent bouts)

Current boxing rankings (also denotes champions and weight categories)

UFC Schedule

UFC champions and current rankings

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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(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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NCAA Men’s Basketball and the Women’s NCAA Basketball

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MLB news and MLB disabled list

MLB schedule

MLB results 7th April

MLB probable pitchers

MLB standings

MLB league standings overall

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This month in MLB history

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NBA news

NBA standings by division and by conference

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NBA results 7th April

This month in NBA history

On this date in NBA history

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NFL news

NFL team transactions

NFL

NFL transactions

This date in NFL history

NFL Draft

2014 NFL Draft Order

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

 

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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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

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 !

😉

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 ?

😉

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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Slideshow.

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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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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By tophatal

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NCAA Basketball news

NCAA Basketball scoreboard & results

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NCAA Football and College Football news

😉

MLB news

MLB scoreboard and results

😉

World Baseball Classic news

WBC Classic scoreboard
😉

NBA news and archived news

NBA schedule important dates

NBA results 16th March 2013 and schedule 17th March 2013

NBA teams’ schedule

NBA Standings (division)

NBA Standings (conference)

NBA statistics

NBA League lineups (teams)

NBA Playoff picture

New York Knicks profile & team news

New York Knicks team stats & team roster

New York Knicks schedule

Los Angeles Lakers profile and team news

Los Angeles Lakers’ team stats and team roster

Los Angeles Lakers schedule

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

It’s not what you do or the way that you spend , it’s just that you’d better be spending it wisely

It’s not what you do or the way that you spend , it’s just that you’d better be spending it wisely

Two things now seem to be taking center in the world of sports , one just happens to be the conference tournaments within the world of College Basketball , and the just happens to be the NFL and their free agency window to sign unsigned or trade cap hit players they deem , unworthy and destined for elsewhere . With the NCAA Tournament not yet upon us , but with the dance cards of certain teams now being set , it will be interesting to now see which programs will be granted the privilege of being an invite to this season’s competition . It seems remarkable that last season’s triumphant Men’s champion , the Kentucky (Wildcats) are likely to miss out on defending their title . This season the Wildcats have simply been pitiful within the SEC and equally so , on the national stage in their out of conference play .

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Slideshow.

Courtesy of USA Today

Top 5: Sizing up the best conference basketball tournaments

By Scott Gleeson , USA Today columnist

USA TODAY Sports dissects the top little dances that prelude the big one. Here’s a look at the five best conference tournaments:

Big East Conference

Dates: Tuesday-Saturday

Venue/location: Madison Square Garden, New York

TV: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU

Second-round matchups (Wednesday): No. 8 Providence vs. No. 9 Cincinnati (noon, ESPN); No. 5 Syracuse vs. South Florida/Seton Hall winner (2 p.m., ESPN); No. 7 Villanova vs. No. 10 St. John’s (7 p.m., ESPN2); No. 6 Notre Dame vs. DePaul/Rutgers winner (9 p.m., ESPN2)

Quarterfinal matchups (Thursday): No. 1 Georgetown vs. Providence/Cincinnati (noon, ESPN); No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse/USF/Seton Hall (2 p.m. ESPN); No. 2 Louisville vs. St. John’s/Villanova (7p.m., ESPN); No. 3 Marquette vs. Notre Dame/DePaul/Rutgers (9 p.m. ESPN)

BIG EAST: Conference bids farewell to tourney tradition

**Semifinals (Friday, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., ESPN) | Championship game (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)

Main story lines: Georgetown, Louisville and Marquette finished in a three-way tie for the regular-season title at 14-4, leaving a cutthroat tournament to determine the top overall team. This is the final year of the tournament as we know it, with seven of the league’s Catholic schools — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St.John’s and Villanova — forming part of a new 10-team conference. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference (Notre Dame is likely to join the league earlier than planned), and Rutgers is going to the Big Ten. Longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s potential retirement surely will be a subplot, despite his assertion he is not thinking about stepping down.

Key players: Otto Porter, Georgetown (16.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg); Russ Smith, Louisville (17.9 ppg); Vander Blue, Marquette (14.4 ppg); C.J. Fair, Syracuse (14. 5 ppg, 7.1 rpg); Jack Cooley, Notre Dame (13.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg)

Projected winner: Marquette

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Atlantic Coast Conference

Dates: Thursday-Sunday

Venue/location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.

TV: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU

First-round matchups (Thursday): No. 8 Boston College vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech (noon, ESPNU); No. 5 North Carolina State vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech (2 p.m., ESPNU); No. 7 Maryland vs. No. 10 Wake Forest (7p.m., ESPNU); No. 6 Florida State vs. No. 11 Clemson (9 p.m., ESPNU)

Quarterfinal matchups (Friday): No. 1 Miami (Fla.) vs. Boston College/Georgia Tech (noon, ESPN2); No. 4 Virginia vs. N.C. State/Virginia Tech (2 p.m., ESPN2); No. 2 Duke vs. Maryland/Wake Forest (7 p.m., ESPN2); No. 3 North Carolina vs. Florida State/Clemson (9 p.m., ESPN2)

**Semifinals (Saturday, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., ESPN) | Championship game (Sunday, 1 p.m., ESPN)

Main story lines: Miami might have the No. 1 seed, but Duke is playing like the best team in the country with the return of Ryan Kelly, who scored 36 points in his first game back against the Hurricanes. Considering the last matchup was a close game, and Miami previously beat Duke by 27 points, a tournament championship rematch would be well received, as would a North Carolina vs. Duke semifinal. North Carolina State has been inconsistent, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wolfpack find a late rhythm. Florida State’s Michael Snaer (14.5 ppg) has made four buzzer-beating game-winning shots this season.

Key players: Shane Larkin, Miami (13.7 ppg, 4.4 apg); Mason Plumlee, Duke (17.2 ppg, 10.3 rpg); James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina (14.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg); C.J. Leslie, N.C. State. (14.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg); Alex Len, Maryland (11.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg)

Projected winner: Duke

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Click on link to read in full.

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In what might be the most disappointing season of his career , Wildcats’ head coach John Calipari , will have to carefully scrutinize where things went wrong for his team over the course of this program’s schedule . The loss of Nerlens Noel , certainly can’t have helped , and neither can the inconsistent play of the team over the course of the year. The only opportunity left for the Kentucky Wildcats will be their conference championship , and a spirited deep run, with the culmination of the tournament win , will be the only chance left for the players to show their prowess , and that they are deserving of an NCAA championship berth .

Inasmuch , as I have questioned John Calipari’s honesty , integrity and complete lack of character ! I can’t help but wonder ,what might have been , had he been availed his full squad of players at full strength within the SEC this season. Yet, while he and the Wildcats seek redemption , their conference rivals , the Florida Gators , are rolling along , and seem intent on proving that their play over the course of this season and their record of 24-6 , is not an aberration. And Gators’ head coach , Billy Donovan , the chance to possibly take this team on another historic run and a third national title in seven years , would be nothing short of miraculous . However, that premise is predicated upon the program gaining a favorable draw in the NCAA Tournament , beyond possibly winning the SEC championship tournament .

Mark Few and his number one ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-2) are simply looking to justify their current national ranking, while looking to make some history of their own. The West Coast Conference program seemingly has a comfortable lead within that conference , while on a win streak of fourteen consecutive games and a solid RPI (5) . Are they capable of winning college sports’ most renowned tournament ? Well that remains to be seen , although , I believe that the ultimate prize within collegiate athletics will be won by one of the more renowned programs within College Basketball !


Tom Crean
, coach of the Indiana Hoosiers , I firmly believe can and will one day be a head coach in the NBA . Though the opportunity has yet to arise , there have to be at least a few envious franchise owners and general managers around the professional ranks , certainly looking enviously at the young coach, and what he achieved at this historic program. Suffice to say , that come the off-season , when the coaching merry-go-round will begin , with perhaps one or two managerial firings , I have no doubt that Crean’s name will be atop of a number general managers’ lists . He has gotten the best out of a mercurial talent , in Victor Olidapo , while Cody Zeller , is, as good, as advertised. Granted , the team has slipped in the ranking in recent weeks, after a somewhat telling spell , where Crean’s players were exposed as being flawed on the defensive end of their game .

Crean’s resume’ speaks volumes as to his experience and character , yet I somehow get the feeling that he would now like nothing better than to lead this program to their first title in College Basketball , since the NCAA Tournament of 1987 , when they defeated Syracuse 74-73 , in what can best described as an “ epic final” . Finals’ MVP in that national championship game was Keith Smart, current head coach of the Sacramento Kings . One of the reasons behind the reverence of the Hoosiers’ program has been the abiding faith in what was essentially built by Bob Knight . As we know, the legend of this often controversial coach , is still clamored for, in this bedrock of College Basketball , which if anything, far outweighs the popularity of the NFL and resounding might I suggest all of the fable and mythical reverence that has been around Notre Dame football ?

As I alluded to earlier , Victor Olidapo and Cody Zeller have been the fulcrum that has essentially driven this Hoosiers’ team. Their most recent game , came by way of a narrow 72-71 victory over the Michigan Wolverines . Now with the Big Ten Tournament , now in full swing , it will be interesting to see how Indiana and the Wolverines fare as this particular competition gets underway , with the programs all seeking postseason aspirations beyond the recognition of being called the Big Ten tournament champions for the season.

Well , the NFL has kicked off what I like to think of as their “silly season” , wherein , the general managers around the league , seek to bolster their rosters , after the disappointment of last season . For the current Superbowl champions , the Baltimore Ravens , this off-season has proven to be an eventful postseason lull , even with the retirement of future Hall of Fame inductee Ray Lewis . GM Ozzie Newsome , and team owner , Steve Biscotti , it appears, have felt it best , not to rest on their laurels , but seek to bolster the team’s roster . In what has turned out to be something of a surprising move , wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers . And with their being ongoing rumors that the front office may well also seek to trade veteran free safety, Ed Reed to their opponents in this most recent Superbowl.

Forty Niners’ GM , Trent Baalke, either has to be seen as a wizard of or extremely fortuitous over the past five days. The franchise’s 2005 first round draft pick , in fact taken number one overall in that season’s draft , was traded to AFC West franchise the Kansas City Chiefs . A team that was in need, of an effective and an extremely efficient quarterback . None of which , was applicable to either Matt Cassel or his backup , Brady Quinn. And with new head coach , Andy Reid seeking to make the Chiefs a formidable force this upcoming season . It will be interest to see how a revamped roster will seek to acquit themselves during their 2013-14 schedule. The AFC West is likely to be a somewhat competitive race , but I do believe that once again, the division will be the Denver Broncos to lose, based upon their performances and their divisional play of last season !

As an avid New England Patriots’ fan, at this time of the season I long to see what mysteries will tend to unfold , as that mindful genius and often considered to be a megalomania-cal head coach , Bill Belichick , considers what his options might be , as it relates to the team’s roster , cap space , and whom he feels to be superfluous to the Patriots’ needs ! In what I believe to be gut-wrenching and inexplicable decision , it would appear that the front office and Belichick have decided to allow their wide receiver and in my estimation , the team’s best player , not named Tom Brady , in the departure of Wes Welker ! If the current ” twitter chatter “ is to be believed, then Welker will be off to join conference rivals the Denver Broncos , further adding to the offensive artillery of Broncos’ quarterback , Peyton Manning. Far be it for me to suggest , but the Patriots’ acquisition of Danny Amendola , by comparison , is simply allowing a Ferrari , off your lot and replacing it with a less impressive vehicle , by way of a Corvette ? Just my opinion , mind you , merely my own observation and opinion !

As to how Wes Welker’s departure might sit with Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, might be something of an indicator, as to the player’s overall reaction and any public statement that he may well choose to make to the press . Somehow, I feel that when the quarterback in question, sought to restructure his contract , in aiding the franchise with an additional $9 million

in cap space . My first instinct would have been to believe, that the Patriots would have re-signed Wes Welker to a two or three-year contract extension ! Alas, it was not to be , and yet somehow , I can’t but wonder , if this decision, won’t ultimately come back to “ bite the franchise “ in the proverbial ass !

If this is meant to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ year, this upcoming season . Then their off-season moves , and alleged ambitions , are quite impressive . Yet , beyond that , all of the talk in the world simply cannot hide the fact that , as this team goes , will be solely based upon the play of their four-year starting quarterback , Josh Freeman . Anyone , who simply believes to the contrary , clearly has not seen this team play, and how mindlessly inconsistent they can be , while exacerbating the patience of even their most devoted and loyal of fans . Two in particular , come to mind , Hillsborough County residents , and patrons of this site , SportsChump and “ Aero” , long-time devoted fans of the Buccaneers.

Buccaneers’ head coach Greg Schiano , may well be saying the sort things that he believes that the fans want to hear. Yet , I somehow , can’t help but wonder , if he believes the statements he continues to make , are based in fact, and anywhere close to being truthful . OK , as impressive as it was , the signing of Dashon Goldson , may well go a long way in bolstering the team’s defense , but their failure so far to obtain a productive free agent quarterback , veteran or otherwise , clearly hasn’t addressed the fact of one of the franchise’s biggest needs. Freeman , has become a relentless turnover machine and there seems to be no signs of abatement in that specific category of his play.

While all of the considerable talk appears to be about the Buccaneers’ wish also to obtain corner-back Darrelle Revis , a player who will not become a free agent until 2017 , but somehow given the fact that he spent much of last season on the Jets’ injured-reserve list . It might be considered too much of a gamble, for a player coming off a severe knee injury , and who no one really knows, whether or not, he can return to his best form , which came in 2007 , the year in which he was drafted by the New York Jets, as the fourteenth overall pick . In pursuant , to the Jets’ own decision , it may well be that the asking price of the franchise, may well be too high , as the Pro Bowl corner , is still viewed as one of the preeminent players at the position , as well as being one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL. Clearly , what will now take place between the Buccaneers and Jets , will all be about brinksmanship , and the sort of offer desired , and whether or not an amicable agreement can be reached .

Start afresh, and then hope that the chips will fall your way? Well, that now seems to be the mantra of the Miami Dolphins . Much like their baseball counterparts , the Miami Marlins , here is another professional sport’s franchise within the locale, that has simply done a damn disservice to their fans . Marlins’ owner , Jeffery Loria , has now taken to the print and television media , blaming that segment as well as the fans, for the ball-club’s misfortunes of last season . F#ck you , Loria , and the horse you rode in on ! You hired a self-absorbed and opinionated asshole, as a manager , who was simply unable to communicate or motivate the players under his guidance . Ozzie Guillen was never that influential in the Chicago White Sox’s winning of a World Series in 2005 , as much of the team’s success that season and into the postseason , came by way of the determination of the players , rather than the input of Guillen and his coaching staff at the time !

In the case of the Miami Dolphins, the team’s billionaire owner , Stephen “Steve “ Ross , is now seeking the city of Miami’s sole input and financing for the refurbishment of Sun Life Stadium, a venue that is entirely owned by the billionaire entrepreneur. And less we forget , the city still remains under investigation by the US Justice Department , for what is believed to be their misdeeds , in the financing of the Marlins Ballpark , which has now become something of a white elephant , which was sparsely attended for many of the team’s home games , during the venue’s inaugural season of 2012.

Perhaps, it is me , but Ross’ apparent wealth , and the very fact that he is and remains amongst Forbes’ 400 richest Americans , should not prove to be a hindrance in his being able to obtain private financing for a stadium that he owns . Furthermore, the NFL has its “ 3G financing program “ to aid their franchises with such issues . Something, I believe that Ross , his GM , Jeff Ireland , the CFO Mark Brockelman are fully aware of , but instead, would rather use a great deal of connivance and deceit , in order to get an already beleaguered city municipality , burdened with mountains of debt , looking to further plunge itself deeper into indebtedness. I was once told, by a patron, that the state of Florida has advanced from years of corruption and incompetence . Somehow, I believe that to be a myth, because the state continues to be mired with incompetence at all levels of government within the state . Simply, look no further than the rising evidence and allegations now leveled at the state’s Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll (R-Fla) ? And yet, her initial actions, in touting a business where she held an executive position , while in office, was in strict contravention of the state’s laws. Moreover , the state’s asinine governor , Rick Scott (R-Fla) , initially jumps to her defense , clearly showing , that his dumb ass , has no idea as to the rule of law , much less the goddamn laws of the legislature within his own frigging state .

The Dolphins have been bold , while seeking cap space , they have rid themselves of running back , Reggie Bush , who it appears , now becomes the featured “back” with the Detroit Lions . Good luck, on that one boys …..?

After something of a disastrous season in 2012 , this Dolphins’ team will undoubtedly have to raise the level of its play all-round , or simply suffer the ignominy of a repeat, of last year . Quarterback , Ryan Tannehill , their first round pick from the 2012 NFL Draft , had something of an inconsistent year , but obviously his exploits paled into insignificance when adjudged against that of Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck , Russell Westbrook , sophomores , Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick . That being said , head coach , Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland , have shown and will continue to show a great deal of faith in the young player , as he seeks to progress and gain legitimacy as a young quarterback in the NFL . So this season for Miami Dolphins will be imperative, as they seek some respect within the AFC East.

While I don’t begrudge the NFL at this time of the year , as it becomes, same old story repeatedly , season in and season out ! The story remains the same , it’s just the cast of characters that tend to change in terms of the change of events , and how we are asked to view them by print and television media, alike .

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Picture gallery .

With the NCAA Tournament brackets not yet set , as the conference tournaments are still ongoing, do you believe that , there may well be one or two prominent programs that will remain on the outside looking in , having not been invited to the “ Big Dance” ? And in terms of the beginning of the NFL off-season , and the recent turn of events , what major moves do you believe will be the most significant or in your estimation the biggest gamble of them all ? By all means , do take time to proffer up a comment on this and anything else , you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

Picture gallery and slideshow details .

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(1) Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos (4) shoots against Portland in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, March 2, 2013, in Spokane, Wash. AP Photo/Jed Conklin …

(2) Gonzaga’s Elias Harris (20) goes up for the dunk against Portland in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, March 2, 2013, in Spokane, Wash. AP Photo/Jed Conklin …

(3) Kentucky’s Ryan Harrow (12) shoots as Florida’s Michael Frazier II defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, March 9, 2013. AP Photo/James Crisp ….

(4) Coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats directs play against the Florida Gators February 12, 2013 at Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators won 69 – 52 . Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images North America …. .

(6) FILE – In this Nov. 18, 2012 file photo, Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed (20) runs after recovering a fumble by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. The Houston Texans will meet with free agent Reed on Thursday, March 14, 2013. The team said on its Twitter site that general manager Rick Smith is flying to pick up Reed in a private jet owned by team owner , Bob McNair . AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …

(7) This Jan. 20, 2013, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks to wide receiver Wes Welker (83) before the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, Mass. The Denver Broncos have found a new target for Peyton Manning, agreeing to a two-year deal with Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(8) FILE – In this Jan. 29, 2013 file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Dashon Goldson (38) smiles during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game in New Orleans. A person with knowledge of the contract says free agent Goldson has agreed to a $41.25 million, five-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, because the team had yet to formally announce Goldson’s deal. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …..

(9) FILE – In this Jan. 1, 2012 file photo, Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham (55) pressures Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) during the first half of an NFL football game in Atlanta. The Falcons have released running back Michael Turner , Abraham and corner-back Dunta Robinson . The moves were announced Friday, March 1, 2013, by a team that came up just short of the Super Bowl. With an almost $8 million salary received by the Buccaneers’ quarterback in 2012 , it has to be said that he offered the team a meager return on that investment . AP Photo/David Goldman ….

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😉

By Tophatal

NFL pieces within this site and College Basketball

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NFL news and stories from around the league

NFL archived stories

NFL team transactions

2013 NFL Draft and details from the NFL Combine

2013 NFL Draft : Top prospects by grade

Top prospects by position

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NCAA Men’s Basketball

NCAA Men’s Basketball news

NCAA Men’s Basketball Conference Tournament results 13th March 2013 and scheduled games 14th March and beyond

NCAA Men’s Basketball statistics 2012-13

NCAA Tournament 2013

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Tears for Fear ….. “Everyone wants to rule the world “

😉

“Shout “

PTI , it was a weekend, of highs and lows . More lows , than highs , I believe!

PTI , it was a weekend, of highs and lows . More lows , than highs , I believe !

Well just like LeBron James , I decided to take my talents elsewhere , in this case , North to visit the state of North Carolina over the weekend . A number of work colleagues and myself traveled up to Tobacco Road , Blue Devils’ country to take in the game between the Miami Hurricanes and the renowned Duke Blue Devils , coach by four-time NCAA championship winning head coach Mike Krzyzewski . These two titans with the ACC this season , have been on the path of a vengeful rematch , ever since Jim Larrinaga’s players took the Blue Devils behind the woodshed and comprehensively gave them an a$s whooping in mid-January , that not until Saturday afternoon, were the hosts be able to exact some sort of revenge at Cameron Indoor Arena , in Charlotte , North Carolina .

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Slideshow .

Cameron Indoor Arena is a venue filled with heralded history , as well-being home to one of the most well-respected programs in collegiate athletics’ history . And make no bones about it , the success achieved in men’s basketball is primarily down to the program’s now legendary coach, Mike Krzyzewski and his astonishing achievements as a basketball coach.

If there is one thing that we should now be accustomed to, it is that you can never take Mike Krzyzewski team lightly. And where, there w ere many simply looking to “write off the Blue Devils’ season . It was abundantly clear, that the ACC and in particular the season was not yet lost for this team . The players on Krzyzewski’s roster sought to make a statement, that would be seen and heard across the collegiate basketball landscape , as a reminder of what to expect during the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament . And the hero of the hour , in this game on Saturday , just happened to be Ryan Kelly , whose single-handed display took on epic proportions and was described by the Blue Devils’ coach as one of the five best performances ever , by a player that he has coached under his tutelage . High praise indeed , coming from a coach of Mike Krzyzewski’s esteem , and when you consider the players coached by Krzyzewski during his tenure with this program, you have to realize how special Kelly’s achievements were on Saturday afternoon.

Ryan Kelly scored 36 points on 10 of ten fourteen , shooting, hitting seven threes from beyond the arc , as well as , pulling down seven rebounds , and leading all scorers in Duke’s 79-76 victory over the Miami Hurricanes. With both programs also ranked in the top ten of the NCAA rankings and with both having ambitions with regard to the regular season ACC championship crown . This game most definitely went along way letting us know what we should expect once the NCAA Tournament gets underway . I certainly expect both of these ACC programs to be in “ the thick of things “ , the farther along we get into the tournament !

“ Pretense “ and “ pretenders “ do go , hand in hand , as how else would you expect to now hear the bells within Madison Square Garden a faux cathedral to mediocrity , go exceedingly silent quiet ? The cacophony of noise extolling the virtues of the New York Knicks (35-21) were soundly silenced on Sunday afternoon. Mike Woodson’s team played host to their heated conference rivals the Miami Heat (43-14) . In what should have been a game emphasizing the best of what the Easter Conference had to offer . The Knicks simply threw up the white flag of surrender and must now realize that in a seven game series , they will not be remotely in the same area code when it comes to competitive play, especially if they are matched up against the Heat at any stage of this postseason .

LeBron James and his teammates simply overwhelmed the Knicks with an exhibition of teamwork , whereas their opponents were simply struggling for solutions as to how best to stop the league’s best player and one of its most potent offensive weapons . I have always maintained during the regular season , you can put up all the damn points you want on the scoreboard , but if you can’t play a lick of frigging defense , then you are definitely not going to progress deep into the NBA postseason.

Undoubtedly, the front office of the New York Knicks saw this team in its current guise , had ambitions not only to challenge the Miami Heat , but to also lay down the gauntlet to the rest of the aspirants within the Eastern Conference as well as the NBA as a whole. And while I have been impressed with the Knicks in large part , primarily because of the play of Carmelo Anthony . I simply believe that there are still far too many flaws on this team , that GM Glen Grunwald has failed to address ! It would appear that the organization is intent on spending money and acquiring free agents as a way of attaining success , rather than by appearance alone , seeking to nurture talent organically. Having dropped from the second seed to the third seed within the conference , does not aid the franchise , given their recent form of the New York Knicks in their endeavor for the season .

Well , the Baltimore Ravens have their man , having signed quarterback , Joe Flacco in what is now said to be the “ highest salaried contract “ in NFL history. The deal in question , is a six-year $ 120 million compensation package , that makes the player , the highest paid in the NFL as well as the highest paid quarterback in league history. Far be it for me, to suggest, that the player is overrated or overpaid , as I feel that the league , long ago failed to eschew financial accountability , much less intelligence , being shown by Commissioner Roger Goodell , or the league hierarchy , team owners and the front office executives ! Flacco for his part , simply lived up to his team’s and that of John Harbaugh’s expectations , as the Ravens triumphed over the San Francisco Giants in Superbowl 47 (SB47/XLVII).

With the off-season now in full swing and teams seeking to offload impending free agents and players thought to be superfluous to their needs . The player personnel version of “ Black Monday “ has begun , with some notable players having been discarded by their respective franchises . And nowhere was this more evident than with the Atlanta Falcons and their summarily discarding amongst others , running back , Michael Turner , Dunta Robinson and perennial Pro-Bowl defensive player , John Abrahams . The team’s failings this postseason , I believe are a reflection not only of their poor play but also , a clear lack of leadership , and the very fact that quarterback , Matt Ryan , appears to be a “lamb being led to the slaughter” , once the postseason comes around. He’s great during the regular season , yet for some reason any type of postseason foray becomes his “ Achilles’ Heel” .

The fact that head coach, Mike Smith in conjunction with Team President , Rich McKay GM, Thomas Dimitroff have sought to make these wholesale changes , is a clear sign of dissatisfaction as well as the fact that they now believe that they have gone as far as was ultimately possible with the players that they have jettisoned . While the players taken from their most recent drafts have proven to be productive , quite obviously , many of the team’s seasoned veterans simply did not meet expectations. As to where the Falcons now go from here , it remains to be seen, but it becoming abundantly clear that Matt Ryan should he fail this upcoming season to lead this franchise deep into a postseason run. The questions will be raised concerning his abilities and the fact that this first round 2008 NFL Draft pick could very well be viewed as something of a “ considerable bust” . Your thoughts on this , and anything else you believe to be relevant as it relates to the Atlanta Falcons , this past season ?

The fact that head coach, Mike Smith in conjunction with Team President , Rich McKay GM, Thomas Dimitroff have sought to make these wholesale changes , is a clear sign of dissatisfaction as well as the fact that they now believe that they have gone as far as was ultimately possible with the players that they have jettisoned . While the players taken from their most recent drafts have proven to be productive , quite obviously , many of the team’s seasoned veterans simply did not meet expectations. As to where the Falcons now go from here , it remains to be seen, but it becoming abundantly clear that Matt Ryan should he fail this upcoming season to lead this franchise deep into a postseason run. The questions will be raised concerning his abilities and the fact that this first round 2008 NFL Draft pick could very well be viewed as something of a “ considerable bust” . Your thoughts on this , and anything else you believe to be relevant as it relates to the Atlanta Falcons , this past season ?

The NFL Combine while it lasted , was something of a drab display and granted , there are no real players of standout talent . There is this continued belief that teams will be able to pick up “ a diamond in the rough” .Yet , from what many of us have witnessed and the NFL analysts have suggested , there has not been one overpowering performance that has simply blown everyone away. This weekend , Lauren Silberman , sought to make history as the first female to be part of the NFL Draft participants , as part of a combine , by trying out as a kicker . The fact that the tryouts in question , were held at Florham Park , New Jersey , home of the New York Jets’ practice facility , should tell you all you need to know . Gimmick or not , only the Jets as a franchise , would be prepared to subject themselves and Silberman to such ridicule . And the former soccer star with the University of Wisconsin (Badgers) , while trying her best , her two attempted kicks went for a combined 32 yards . Silberman, in her later interviews after her unsuccessful tryouts suggested that the quadriceps injury that she suffered some weeks earlier , restricted her full range of motion and complete movement . My thoughts on this all , there’s a place for Lauren Silberman , within the Lingerie Football League , but most definitely , not in the NFL !

Spring Training may well be here, and the standings as they currently are , within the Citrus and Grapefruit Leagues , do not really give enough of an indicator , as what to expect , once the regular MLB regular season schedule gets underway. Besides , isn’t there an idiotic international competition, that will somehow , interfere with the preparations of the teams? The quadrennial event known as the World Baseball Classic , is now once again within our midst and the group play will commence on the 2nd March , 2013 . The television coverage for the Classic, will be provided jointly by ABC/ESPN , in its entirety. The fact that team USA since the competition’s inception has never had a great showing , indicates one of two things , (1) ____ the top US born players , simply have no interest in a competition where they will not be richly rewarded and (2) ____ this competition devised by the MLB hierarchy and IBAF , baseball’s international governing body simply knows that the sport can gain no traction while it remains under suspicion because Bud Selig has failed miserably to rein in the actions of the ” drug cheats” within the game ,here on the continent of North America .

Team USA manager Joe Torre will be looking to stave off the team’s bad showing in the WBC . Since its inception the organization has failed to make a deep run , whereby it has qualified for the championship game , itself . The current makeup of the roster while extremely talented , it doesn’t create the impression that this is any way the best or most competitive team that could be fielded for what is said to be most prestigious international team tournament , beyond the IBAF World Cup. The team is drawn in Group D in a four team group, which consists of Canada , Italy , Mexico and the USA , itself . They will be based in Phoenix , playing their initial group games at Chase Field , in Phoenix , Arizona , home to the Arizona Diamondbacks . The sixteen team tournament , with its first round of group staged games should make for an enthralling event, as the scenarios begin to play themselves out .

As I alluded to earlier the Team USA roster , while being talented , it is by no means a team that offers the fans the best of the talent available , for what I believe to be a truly competitive team ! The pitching staff led by R A Dickey , also consists of Derek Holland , Mitchell Boggs, Tim Collins , Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez , amongst others . In terms of offense , the lead will be provided by Mark Teixeira, Giancarlo Stanton , Brandon Phillips , Adam Jones , Ryan Braun , David Wright and Ben Zobrist . A real threat to anyone , when you consider the strengths of the other participants as the two-time reigning champions , Japan , Cuba , China , Chinese Taipei and the Dominican Republic .

And the game of baseball faces an uphill battle as it seeks to have the sport reinstated as part of the Summer Olympics . The mere fact that Selig is now pressing Ricardo Farrari , President of IBAF to merge their efforts with ISF (International Softball Federation) , the governing body for the women’s softball as they present a joint bid to have both sports reinstated , spells out for me clearly how low on the “pecking order” both sports have now become on the international sports’ scene. So much so, that IOC President , Jacques Rogge and the fellow members of the IOC Executive Committee have indicated that both sports, were they to be reinstated , the earliest proposed return would not take place until the 2020 Summer Games . Do however , bear in mind that a decision has not yet been made , as to which country and city will be the host for the games in question . Those with a vested interest in hosting the quadrennial event , are the cities of Istanbul , Turkey , Tokyo , Japan , Madrid , Spain , Doha , Qatar, and Baku in Azerbaijan. I am sure that there will be enough intrigue and the atypical connivance of bribery and corruption , that will go along with the bidding process in question ! Not unlike the asinine antics, we have come to expect from the MLB team owners and the league hierarchy , itself .

Inasmuch, as I am looking forward to baseball’s season of ridiculous intent , of luring the fans , in with they believe will be an exciting year . Let’s get one thing straight , the game will still be engulfed by those who have , and those who do not ! The fact that the New York Yankees this year , will have a payroll exceeding $200 million , once again sets us up for a season , where even the Bronx Bombers will be hard pressed to outdo the Los Angeles Dodgers for print space and within the television media , as Magic Johnson and his latest bauble , with their $215 million payroll will try to outdo their AL counterpart , both on and off the field of play. Personally , I am beginning to wonder whether or not the Oakland Athletics and their rather menial payroll of $60 million will be able to reproduce the form , and excitement witnessed last season , at home and away from the O Coliseum and still be competitive enough to compete at the highest echelons of the game ! And dependent upon who you may ask the AL West might either get exceedingly tougher or softer , with the addition of last season’s worst baseball franchise , the Houston Astros (55-107), as they now become the latest member of the American League (AL). Make of it what , you will , but I am sure that the sweetheart deal and sweetener offered ($65 million) to Astros’ owner Jim Crane , will ease the burden and pain of another insufferable season !

Speaking of insufferable seasons, how much longer will the fans of the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates have to endure the years of ignominy in terms of their poor showing from year to year ? Several years ago a patron of this, claiming to be a knowledgeable individual and an employee of a well-known NL Central franchise made the claim , that the Royals were a ball-club on the rise and would be a serious contender in 2011 and 2012. Well, here we are, in 2013 , and the franchise is no better than a .500 team and that is even with the aspiring talent that is made to make up the roster. Personally , I do not believe that the Kansas City Royals’ owner , David Glass , has the slightest interest in seeing the franchise be a competitive concern within baseball. If that were the case, then surely with the resources at Glass’ disposal , in terms of his wealth , then he would have made a concerted effort to change the mindset of this entire organization . Instead , year in and year out , the Royals are the backwaters’ organization relying on the largess of the league hierarchy and the continued asinine tax sharing revenue scheme. Bud Selig believes this exercise has been to the benefit of the small market teams around the league , but in reality , nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ll say this for Pirates’ owner Bob Nutting , he really does know how to blow smoke up people’s ass. Having purchased the franchise from McClatchy family , the Pirates have yet acquire a winning season , during his tenure, as the owner of this ball-club. The lone star, on this Pirates’ team , and the organization’s best player , is their All Star center-fielder, Andrew McCutchen . Granted, Nutting has made an effort to raise and then pare down the Pirates’ payroll repeatedly over the years , dependent upon the ball-club’s degree of success. GM Neal Huntington , has worked in conjunction with the team owner and coaching staff to draft prudently to meet the team’s needs over the last few years (2009,2010,2011 and 2012). With the departure of the Houston Astros , it will be interesting to see if the Pirates can avoid being the bottom feeder within the NL Central this season .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Over this past weekend, which sporting event to your mind, provided you with the most interest ? Also, do you believe that there will come a time when a female can compete, at any level, within the NFL ? Your thoughts on this, and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter . Thanks as always for the continued support of this site, as it is gratefully appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow details for your perusal .

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(1) Duke’s Ryan Kelly (34) drives to the basket as Miami’s Shane Larkin (0) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, March 2, 2013. Duke won 79-76 . AP Photo/Gerry Broome ….

(2) Miami’s Kenny Kadji (35) dunks over Duke defender Ryan Kelly during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, March 2, 2013. AP Photo/Gerry Broome …

(3) Mason Plumlee (5) looks to make a pass during the against Miami Hurricanes at Cameron Indoor Arena , Charlotte , North Carolina on Saturday 2nd March , 2013 . Duke would go on to defeat Miami 79-76. Miami Sun Sentinel / Jorge Vargas ….

(4) Duke fans celebrate after the team’s triumph over their ACC rivals the Miami Hurricanes in a conference match-up between these two teams with NCAA championship aspirations. Before, however , there still remains the conference title as well the championship to be decided . @ copyrighted material …….. all rights reserved .

(5) NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 3: LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat shoots in a game against the New York Knicks on March 3, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Heat would go on to defeat the Knicks 99-93 , and then on Monday night , they would gain their fifteenth consecutive victory by outlasting the Minnesota Timberwolves in a lopsided 97-81 triumph . Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(6) Further emphasizing that the Knicks can’t defend “worth a damn ” . Lebron James goes in , unchallenged for an uncontested dunk against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2013 in New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images ..

(7) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco walks up to a microphone before speaking at a news conference at the team’s practice facility in Owings Mills, Md., Monday, March 4, 2013. Flacco agreed to a contract that will make him the highest paid quarterback in NFL history after leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl XLVII victory over the San Francisco 49ers. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(8) FILE – In this Dec. 9, 2012 file photo, Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) sits on the bench before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C. The Falcons have released Turner, defensive end John Abraham and corner-back Dunta Robinson The moves were announced Friday, March 1, 2013, by a team that came up just short of the Super Bowl. AP Photo/Bob Leverone …..

(9) From left to right , Atlanta Falcons’ team President , Rich McKay , GM Thomas Dimitroff and team owner , Arthur Blank are seen in the executive sky-box suites at Falcons’ home game . McKay and Dimitroff have made the decision to revamp the team’s roster by cutting several players as part of an off-season purge and “salary cap easing” , as they prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft and the possible signing of free agents this off-season . AP Photo / Marcus Richards ….

(10) Lauren Silberman talks to officials after taking two attempts during kicker tryouts at an NFL football regional combine workout, Sunday, March 3, 2013, at the New York Jets’ training facility in Florham Park, N.J. AP Photo/Mel Evans

(11) Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen runs off the field in the rain before a baseball spring training exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall ….

(12) Andruw Jones 25 and Jonathan Balentina (29) of Netherlands celebrate with team-mates after 4-1 victory against Australia during the World Baseball Classic First Round Group B match between Australia and the Netherlands at Intercontinental Baseball Stadium on March 5, 2013 in Taichung, Taiwan. ….

(13) Joe Torre will manage Team USA in the World Baseball Classic . Torre is hoping to lead the team to international success in a competition that the country has yet to win since its inception in 2006 . AP/REUTERS/ Martin Jacobs …..

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By Tophatal and my bio

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NCAA archive basketball news

NCAA Men’s Basketball rankings

NCAA men’s basketball results 03/03/2013 and results of 2nd March 2013

Men’s basketball schedule 4th March 2013

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NBA results 3rd March 2013 & scheduled games for 4th March 2013

NBA standings by division and by conference

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NFL news & news from the NFL Combine

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NFL Draft 2013

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MLB results 5th March 2013

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World Baseball Classic home page and team brackets

World Baseball Classic news

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One Step At A Time

One Step At A Time

31 March, 2012 2:29:10 AM

By tophatal

I suppose they mean well but the longer they remain in center of the fracas simply undermining whatever NCAA and its president Mark Emmert tries to do _____ the sports agent will stand in the way of any progress sought. It’s bad enough that you have praised being lavished upon John Calipari whose Kentucky Wildcats’ team are making another appearance in the Final Four , seeking to win another NCAA title to add to their illustrious tally . The famed coach throughout the course of his coaching career has courted controversy wherever he has been as a collegiate basketball coach . And with five freshmen on that roster of which three have declared their eligibility for the upcoming NBA Draft . Doron Lamb , Michael Kidd-Gilcrhrist and Anthony Davis are likely to be lottery picks in thst proposed draft. And I would dare say that Rod Higgins and Charlotte Bobcats’ owner Michael Jordan will no doubt be gauging this Draft with a great deal of scrutiny .

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Slide show for your perusal .

A great deal of pressure is being placed upon the shoulders of Calipari as they are prohibitive favorites for the national title . One which would be the first for John Calipari . The team has had something of an easy run throughout the tournament . And with a highly anticipated match-up against Rick Pitino and his Louisville Cardinals , which further adds fire to an already heated in-state rivalry between the two programs . While many analysts and bracket-ologists have the Wildcats sleepwalking their way to victory it is my firm belief that this game is far from being the pushover many believe it will be ! Granted, Davis and his teammates have proven everyone seeing why they are the number one team in the country . If there was any doubt then the players’ statistics should indicate otherwise .

If the Cardinals are to prevail over Kentucky then Peyton Siva and his teammates will have to play some air-tight basketball in this upcoming game. But if anything this will be a battle of wits between these two astute coaches. John Calipari and Rick Pitino , no novices in big games , play this as a cat and mouse thriller but in this case, to the victor belongs the spoils.

The other semi-final match-up pairs Kansas ( Jayhawks) and Bill Self against the Ohio State Buckeyes coached by Thad Matta . And for the Jayhawks it will be all about Thomas Robinson , Tyshaun Taylor , Jeff Withey and Aaron Craft . The quartet in question are the primary reason why the team has gotten this far over the course of their season .

Now by the time this article is up on my website in all likelihood we will know the two finalists playing for the national title but at this juncture I would like to say that while this tournament has had its fair share of upsets unlike last season I certainly don’t believe there has been ” a real Cinderella story “ along the lines of the Butler’s (Bull Dogs) historic run in 2011 and 2010 . This year yes, we had one or two upsets but in reality were they really that unexpected given the play of many of the teams ? Think about it ?

I don’t know but with the upcoming NFL Draft and with everything pointing to the fact Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be taken numbers 1 and 2 . The other quarterbacks said to be part of this draft may well find themselves on the outside looking in terms of all of the praised heaped upon the top two prospects. There’s no doubt that both Luck and Griffin are extremely talented and the on air NFL analysts and draft geeks will have it as to how their respective boards will go down. Beyond the two top tiered quarterbacks also looking to have some bearing in the first round decision of the general managers and teams owners , will be Landry Jones , Ryan Tannehill and former South Carolina Gamecocks’ starter Stephen Garcia .

Landry Jones and Ryan Tannehill , I believe will be latter second round picks but that as always predicated upon the desires of the teams said to be in need of such a player. And with so much of last season predicated upon predicated upon the pass happy offense it has to be said that no one should have been surprised by the productivity many the top ranked quarterbacks . Surpassing 5,000 yards became something of an easy spectacle and with Dan Marino’s two decade old record going down in flames when surpassed by Drew Brees in 2011. Everyone was in high praise of the New Orleans Saints’ quarterback . In light of the antics by the coaching staff , I am not so sure if that praise is now warranted !

Former Eagles, Redskins and Vikings’ quarterback Donovan McNabb , in a recent statement made it clear that for Robert Griffin III should he be taken number 2 overall may well struggle under the offensive mindset of Redskins’ coach Mike Shanahan and the team’s offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan . And given the offensive woes of the team last season at the position with anemic showing of Rex Grossman and John Skelton , it should come as no surprise that the organization made that brash decision to move up in the draft order by offering so much to the St Louis Rams .

Team owner Dan Snyder in conjunction with general manager Bruce Allen and the coaching staff of the Redskins have to see this maneuver has an upside to it all , in them acquiring Robert Griffin III. It is either that or simply going back to the inconsistency of Grossman and Skelton that saw the team essentially become ” one of the major laughing stocks” within the NFL last season . And the Washington Redskins’ record within the NFC East was a clear indication of that. Both Kyle Shanahan and Mike Shanahan know that if this team is to have any chance of competing within the NFL this upcoming season then it is their top priority to obtain the best player possible to accentuate a passing game . And you’d be hard pressed to even suggest the last time the Redskins had a quarterback that was productive enough to even make the franchise a viable contender for the postseason much less for the Superbowl .

With both the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins recently being penalized by the NFL hierarchy for subverting the rules as it applied the structuring of players’ contracts during the 2010 season which just happened to be an uncapped year . It has to be said , that any action now being levied by the NFL hierarchy under Roger Goodell has to be looked upon with some irony , sheer and utter stupidity ! Both teams will have to forfeit a combined $46 million ($10 million Redskins & $36 million Cowboys) of which there appeared to be very little opposition from either front offices , specifically that of the Dallas Cowboys and their executives . Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones in spite of their wish for the franchise to be viewed as ” America’s Team “ . Those specific scenarios have become rather mute , when one considers that the organization has been poorly served by the team owner and specifically the litany of quarterbacks since the retirement of Troy Aikman . From thereon-in, it has been one disappointment after another , and that also includes incumbent starter Tony Romo , who at best has been over-hyped by the Cowboys’ fans and NFL analysts alike for some strange reason . The day that Romo can lead this team with any semblance of success may well be the day they have a coach who’s actually competent enough and who has a belief in his own ability , rather than second guessing himself and his own players. And that has clearly been the case with of Jason Garrett this past season and since he succeeded Wade Philips as the franchise’s head coach.

This upcoming season there will be those who will continue to ” bang the drum loudly “ in support of the Dallas Cowboys as many once again come to their support . At this juncture , I am not so sure that is still justified , not when you now have the New York Giants simply holding sway within the NFC East and making the rest of the residents within the division seem at best , simply average . And with the Giants having won their second Superbowl in six years it begs the question which teams within the conference are now prepared to mount a serious challenge to Tom Coughlin’s team ? My own opinion is that the New York Giants are now looking to rewrite their own history in terms of the accomplishment of the franchise under former head coach Bill Parcells . Both Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin now appear to be writing their own resumes` as a compelling reason for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame , in Canton, Ohio .

As to Donovan McNabb’s assessment of Robert Griffin III and whether or not he’s the perfect fit for Washington Redskins , I firmly believe that rests squarely upon the competency not of the player but head coach Mike Shanahan but even more so his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shananan ! One could lambast the the young coach for his real lack of success in his present role but it has become increasingly clear that the only reason he remains in his current position is because of the respect for the Shanahan name , the nepotism shown by father for his son , and specifically because of the two-time winning Superbowl head coach with the Denver Broncos . Mike Shanahan won because of the undoubted talents of John Elway and Terrell Davis , of which no one can deny that fact . And it certainly helped that they also had a defense that could simply be stifling when called upon . The Washington Redskins in their present guise remain a conundrum and something of an unsolved puzzle for anyone who just happens to be observing this organization . What the future now holds for the Redskins , well that remains to be seen .

With the San Francisco 49ers having signed Brandon Jacobs and Randy Moss you can be sure that Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke did not make this decision lightly . Jacobs and unrestricted free agent and Moss having seen fit to un-retire now gives the front office staff what the 49ers what they believed the team lacked last season , a deep route threat and a proven commodity at the running back position to complement Frank Gore . Alex Smith led this team with a great deal of aplomb and the fact that they Niners made it all the way to the NFC Championship game surprised and inspired a number of fans around the NFL .

Having posted a 13-3 regular season record within the NFC West it was felt with that defense there was a chance that the Niners finally have team worthy to be considered a legitimate contender . But for their errors committed during that game against the Giants in the conference championship. We may well have been witnessing the San Francisco 49ers facing off against the New England Patriots this past season in the Superbowl instead of Tom Coughlin’s players.

Harbaugh and his coaching staff now with the additions of Jacobs and Moss can now set their sights on the upcoming NFL Draft as they set about complementing the current roster . There’s no doubt in my mind that the drafting of players with the already established players on this team the Niners are heading in the right direction and creating an even bigger gap between themselves and the rest of the teams within the NFC West ! Jim Harbaugh has done an astonishing job in his first season as the head coach and has established himself as one of the up and coming coaches within the NFL . Things can now only improve for this organization , should they seek to take things to the next level . And it is now becoming increasingly clear for all those who seek to acknowledge that fact , the Niners are now for real ! Take away the issue of the issue that they sought to acquire Peyton Manning and simply look at the fact as they and not let your emotions be the determining factor overall. It was never about Alex Smith being a liability but the very fact that this team’s frailties had more to do with the inexperience of the roster overall . With the addition of Brandon Jacobs and Rany Moss the San Francisco 49ers immediately get that .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? By all means leave a comment as you see fit on any this and anything else you feel to be pertinent as to the subject matter .

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Picture and slide show details below . ==========================================================================================================

(1) NEW ORLEANS, LA – APRIL 01 : Bill Self (L), head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks, and John Calipari (R), head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, are interviewed together at the NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Program on April 1, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images for Naismith Awar …

(2) Anthony Davis (23) of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts late in the second half against the Louisville Cardinals during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on March 31, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images ….

(3) NEW ORLEANS, LA – MARCH 31: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) of the Kentucky Wildcats tries to put a shot against Gorgui Dieng (10) of the Louisville Cardinals during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on March 31, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Pool/Getty Images

(4) Anthony Davis (23) of the Kentucky Wildcats dunks against the Louisville Cardinals during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on March 31, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Chris Steppig-Pool/Getty Images ….

(5) Head Coach Mike Shanahan (R) of the Washington Redskins talks with his son Kyle Shanahan (L) offensive coordinator for the team during Redskins training camp on August 6, 2010 in Ashburn, Virginia. Win McNamee / Getty Images North America ….

(6) Donovan McNabb , less of a presence on the football field now looking to make a name for himself as an NFL analyst . Recently the player had a number observations concerning ….. Tim Tebow and possible Redskins’ draft pick Robert Griffin III. Courtesy of ESPN …@ all rights reserved .

(7) San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, center, talks during an interview at the NFL owners meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday, March 28, 2012. AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez …..
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Don’t Look Now ….. But Something Rotten Smells ………. And It’s Not In Denmark

Don’t Look Now ….. But Something Rotten Smells ………. And It’s Not In Denmark

By tophatal ………

So surprisingly enough this Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament is making a few heads turn and for myself as an ardent Duke (Blue Devils’) fan , having seen Mike Krzyzewski’s players all but fold their tents in an embarrassing loss . I was under the presumption that the three Florida programs left in the tournament would provide me some hope . Well unfortunately , that would not be the case as South Florida , FSU (Seminoles) and finally the Florida Gators have all bowed out . In the latter , it Billy Donovan’s ….. team having led Rick Pitino’s …. Louisville Cardinals for large stretches of the game only to succumb Peyton Siva and his teammates through the Gators showing a complete lack of defensive presence when it was needed the most .

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All the more surprising may well have been Ohio State’s (Buckeyes) somewhat easy defeat over the number one ranked Syracuse (Orangemen) coached by Jim Boeheim . Suffice to say , as those top seeds are being weeded out and this tournament now becomes even more wide open . And for those who still feel that John Calipari and his Kentucky (Wildcats) team have had an easy go of things during this tournament . Well , that is now about to change as they meet their in-state rivals Louisville in the Elite 8 , with the state’s bragging rights up for grabs. And at this juncture I am not so sure that you can simply state that this game is definitely the Wildcats already gift-wrapped .

What I have seen from the games that I have viewed is that nothing can be taken for granted , no matter how clear things might just appear to be . The only people who have some semblance of relief , are those still with their brackets in tact and the odds-makers in Vegas who laid the odds that simply induced the bettors to place their wagers . And right about now I would think that the odds-makes are doing well for themselves !

It is now going to be interesting to see how things play themselves out in the next series of games as precursor for the events of the Elite 8 . Say nothing of which, if anymore of those top ranked seeds do go down , where will that leave us now ?

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh Steelers disappointing season , it would appear that there was something of an upheaval within the organization . Team offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was let go and brought in was former Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach Todd Haley . This apparently didn’t sit well with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and he chose to let his thoughts be known to Mike Tomlin and the front office , likewise . That being said perhaps the most surprising move may well have been that of the organization to cut wide receiver Hines Ward , after his fourteen years of service to the Steelers . Now whether or not this had something to do with what they believed was a lack of productivity or basically a cost-cutting exercise on the part of the Pittsburgh Steelers in order to elicit cap space . The ramification is now there for all to see , an aging roster and the fact that it would appear that there was some internal friction within the Steelers’ locker room . This being a very proud and often cautiously ran organization that doesn’t court controversy and tolerate the players who tend to make fools of themselves are often discarded , rather than being retained long-term . Think Plaxico Burress , Santonio Holmes and Joey Porter and with their tendencies ____ who tend to ” say and do “u> the wrong things and you can now understand where I am coming from on this !

In the case of Ward it was never about that , as he was of a leader and a player of with skills , who if anything now had become superfluous to the team’s needs . Now out of this comes the very fact second year starter Mike Wallace who has now become one Roethlisberger’s primary receiving v targets and a constant threat on offense now sees himself as an ” elite “ elite wide receiver in the league . So much so , that with his contract pending the player seeks to be paid along the lines of the league’s best at the position . Pardon me for saying this , but as good as Wallace just happens to be , there’s no way in hell that he’s going to be getting $120 million (as part of an eight or 10 year contract) or anywhere close to that figure under my watch , if I am the general manager of the Steelers ! He is certainly not Larry Fitzgerald or for that matter Calvin “Megatron” Johnson by any stretch of the imagination ! Wallace through his agent has demanded that as a starting off point in their deliberations . Did I miss something here as to how good the wide-out believes himself to be . And as good a deep threat or close quarters’ receiver as he might happen to be at this juncture it is asking way to much of this organization to simply “place their eggs ” in one basket . Especially not when the issues of the Pittsburgh Steelers were abundantly clear for all to see this past season . Their defense became complacent , the offense way too inconsistent and Roethlisberger over the course of the season was inconsistent even by his lofty standards , which he freely admits to in the team’s final regular season close-out interviews with the press.

With Hines Ward having formally announced his retirement from the NFL , it remains to see where his career now takes him . Will it be in the booth as an air analyst with one of the major broadcast outlets or will it be in some other capacity ? Certainly , given his upbringing as biracial child , often on the receiving end of racial epithets merely because his mother was Asian and his father an African-American military serviceman . Ward’s own childhood experiences as a child growing up in the US left a great deal to be desired . It may well have been because of those experiences , it simply made him the gritty and determined player he became . If judged against other great luminaries within Steelers’ history such as John Stallworth , Lynn Swann and Franco Harris , chances are , he will be looked upon favorably when it comes to being possibly being enshrined in Canton , Ohio as a member of the Hall of Fame. His (Ward’s) figures in some cases surpass those of the aforementioned trio . And though the game has changed dramatically over the years . The inescapable of fact is that Wards joins a select group of players with over 1,000 career receptions , in excess of 10,000 career receiving yards and over 80 touchdown receptions . If those figures are not Hall of Fame worthy , besides the fact that he’s two-time Superbowl winner and a Superbowl MVP . Then can someone please explain to me what is ? Not that I give a great deal of credence half the time to NFL writers who adjudicate the nominees for the Hall of Fame to begin with ! For them . it all comes to down to favoritism , rather than subjectivity and the body of work of the players in question .

Now it’d be remiss to simply discount the Pittsburgh Steelers as an organization within the NFL . One only has to look over the course of the franchise’s history to see the success attained , their drafting of players and the Hall of Famers associated the Steelers . They are an abiding success story within the league and the franchise against which all others (NFL) should be judged . Now claims might be made by the fans of the New York Giants and New England Patriots and their success over the past decade plus, that they should also be considered elite and well ran franchises . But herein lies my thoughts as it relates to the Steelers , there's little turnover by way of the coaching staff and their front office executives tend not to make the mistakes often seen by so many franchises when it comes to the NFL Draft by way of their choices .

Needs or otherwise, the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t let the demands to Wallace or any other player on their roster for that fact trouble them in the slightest . They’ve been frugal , spending their money wisely by simply not overpaying for the talent within their midst . Whereas the likes of the Dallas Cowboys , Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins tend to back up a Brinks’ armored truck merely to make a player happy , even when that player just happens to be moderately average at best . Granted, the Raiders’ front office staff led by GM Reggie McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis now seem to cutting the fat from the Raiders’ roster like a surgeon who suffers from epileptic fits ! But let’s just say , that when the Raiders’ fans have questioned the fact that they (front office) fired a very good head coach in Hue Jackson , merely to that they could off with a fresh slate , then you have to wonder whether or not the late patriarch’s son has become as senile as Al Davis appeared to be in the latter days of his life as the owner of this organization !

Inasmuch as I like the Raiders as an organization , I feel that the front office has failed to recognize that times have changed and so too has the game . ! More to the point , the struggles with the franchise has always remained consistent and one can’t help but wonder what now happens with the addition of Peyton Manning into the mix , in his having joined the Denver Broncos ? If anything within the AFC West it now becomes about who wants to play ” second fiddle “ to the Broncos amongst the San Diego Chargers , Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs ? And all the more bewildering is the very fact that Norv Turner retained his coaching position with the Chargers after their half-assed season and the continued disappointment of that team . Sooner or later , Philip Rivers will have to realize that the money he is being paid simply isn’t worth it to remain in that hell-hole with a bumbling coach and an asshole in AJ Smith , who’s simply bereft of ideas when it now comes to determining talent ! Low and behold Chargers’ fans will now have endure another season of inadequacy and mediocrity from this organization and the team !

The Spanos family obviously are not overly concerned as they seek to possibly leave Qualcomm Stadium like thieves in the night ! Be it real estate billionaire Ed Roski coming to their rescue or that rather odious ingrate , the city of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa . You can be sure that the NFL hierarchy led by Roger Goodell will be firmly in the corner of Chargers’ ownership group . After-all at the end of the day , if it means that the taxpayers’ monies are being spent to facilitate the needs of a view greedy but immeasurably wealthy individuals I don’t believe that the commissioner or anyone else within the NFL simply gives a shit ! And given that Villaraigosa simply panders to whomever is willing to fund his political campaigns and excesses as a less than successful politician , I don’t feel that there’s much more that needs to be said ! I mean the mayor’s successes thus far , have been diminished by grand failures in more ways than one ! But apathy is all the more apparent amongst the city of Angels because the residents there simply don’t know any better or that bright to begin with !

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In the aftermath of the recent results at the NCAA Tournament what if anything has been the biggest surprise to you in terms of the play ? And do you feel upon meeting the criteria for eligibility Hines Ward is worthy being inducted into the Hall of Fame ? Simply leave a comment on the points raised and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter . Thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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(1) Florida forward Casey Prather reacts after getting fouled during the second half of an NCAA tournament West Regional final college basketball game against Louisville on Saturday, March 24, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Chris Carlson …

(2) Louisville coach Rick Pitino hugs his wife, Joanne Minardi , after their win against Florida in a NCAA tournament West Regional final college basketball game, Saturday, March 24, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Chris Carlson ….

(3) Russ Smith (2) of the Louisville Cardinals passes the ball around Patric Young (4) of the Florida Gators in the second half during the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball West Regional Final at US Airways Center on March 24, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

(4) Former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward wipes his eye while announcing his retirement from the NFL at the Steeler’s offices in Pittsburgh Tuesday, March 20, 2012. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …

(5) Retired Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward, left, embraces coach Mike Tomlin after Ward announced his retirement from the NFL at the Steeler’s offices in Pittsburgh Tuesday, March 20, 2012. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …

(6) Wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the football on a 95 touchdown reception against the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Steelers defeated the Cardinals 32-20 . Getty Images / Christian Petersen …

(7) Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers, a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award , addresses the media during a news conference on February 3, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images … ….

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This Might Be As Good As It Gets …..

This Might Be As Good As It Gets …..

By tophatal

So for anyone not engulfed in watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament then they’re either keeping a close eye on the NFL off-season awaiting the decision to be made by free agent quarterback Peyton Manning . And just in case you were overly concerned as to where Kyle Orton will ultimately end up . Then you’ll be happy to know that the often beleaguered player is now the back-up to the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo .

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And just in case you weren’t aware Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones and the organization have been penalized by the NFL for contravening one of the league guidelines as it relates to negotiations arising from Miles Austin’s contract with the team. The wide receiver’s deal was front loaded with a number of incentives , which strictly contravenes the league’s guidelines. Also falling afoul of the league hierarchy were the Washington Redskins . Team owner Dan Snyder in conjunction with GM Bruce Allen have stated that they do not agree with the verdict rendered by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . In the case of the Redskins , their faux-pas concerned the 7 year deal that was offered to their former defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth . If one recollects the player’s deal was for an astounding $100 million of which $65 million was in guaranteed money . The fact that Haynesworth was traded by the organization a mere two and a half years into the deal to the New England Patriots where his productivity was lackluster and some might even suggest inept . The Patriots themselves were never really enamored with a player that simply no longer seemed capable of showing the prowess that once made him a bona-fide Pro Bowl player .

Both the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins will have to forfeit a combined $46.5 million that will now be split amongst the other 30 NFL franchises . It seems that two of the league’s most high profiled owners Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder and their respective organizations simply can’t abide to play by the rules . At the same time should we at all be surprised by this , given the rather asinine the owners pled their case during the lockout with about as much sincerity as Syrian President Bashar Al- Assad now seems to be showing towards his citizens . Absolutely nothing that the league hierarchy does nowadays , can be viewed with any type of veracity. And did anyone truly believe that Goodell had the upper hand in the deliberations with his union counterpart DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA’s Executive Committee ? Believe that , and I’ve got a plot of desert acreage in Saudi Arabia that I think I could interest you in buying ! And it’s certainly not in the midst of some untapped area where there’s said to be a billion barrels of crude oil .

The NCAA Tournament itself is off to a nonchalant start and on has and for those whose brackets may well have gone up in smoke , then my hearty commiseration to you all ! It would appear that John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats have to favored as the prohibitive favorites to win . Statistically , this team would suggest that they have it all but at the same time , one sudden misstep could end their season in the blink of an eye.

Now I don’t know about you but knowing that the Detroit Lions saw fit to make Calvin Johnson the highest paid player at the position in the league . It as such didn’t come as I real surprise until I was made aware as to details of his contract . Let’s just say it’s money well spent by the Lions for one of the most productive …. wide receivers in the NFL today . For Lions’ coach Jim Schwartz , this gives him the chance to have at least one of the desired pieces in place to make this team an even more competitive and credible contender .

So the Portland Trailblazers saw fit to fire head coach Dwayne Casey after the team’s ….. 45 point loss to the lumbering New York Knicks . Given the issues that Casey has been faced with throughout much of the season , it certainly hasn’t helped that Brandon Roy announced his retirement after a recurrence of his weakened knees and plantar-fasciitis . It’s sad , that a player of Roy’s abilities and some might suggest blossoming career had to be cut short ! But such are the blows that life tends to deal us , that one simply can either choose to fight back when possible or simply walk away with one’s honor and health in tact .

With the Blazers’ season now on the verge if imploding it will be very interesting to see what efforts will be made by the front office of the organization in terms of resurrecting their efforts of making the playoffs . The team’s best player LaMarcus Aldridge can either choose to carry the load upon his broad shoulders should the rest of his teammates buy into his leadership . But it is my opinion the window of opportunity for this franchise has disappeared as it relates to the season .

Well , what seems to be an ” about-face” Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic are still an item . The player who could still choose to opt out of the final year of his current deal but has stated that it is his intent to remain with the franchise until the end of the season. How this premise plays itself out remains to be seen but I feel for the moment that GM Otis Smith and front office have for now dodged a bullet . COO Alec Martins now has to convince the player they have the ambition and drive to make this franchise a success . I’ve read many articles within this forum concerning the player but few have shown the insight to state what is clearly transparent . The players that Howard has been surrounded by are simply not good enough to make this team a credible challenger for the NBA title . In all honesty the likes of J J Redick , Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu are not the type of guys that are about to make the likes of the Chicago Bulls , Miami Heat or for that matter the top contenders within the Western Conference simply quiver in their boots over the course of seven game playoff series .

Howard a perennial All Star and three-time Defensive Player of The Year has yet to reach the peak of his career . Long sought after by the New Jersey Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers where the trade bait from the respective franchises were said to be either Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum of the Lakers and Brook Lopez of the Nets . And as good as those three players are said to be , I do believe that they simply are not of the caliber of Dwight Howard ! A force on both ends of the floor the center is a force to be reckoned with . Howard unlike Nets’ point guard Deron Williams has decided that he will opt out of his contract while looking to resume his career elsewhere in the NBA . Given the fact that the front office of the New Jersey Nets just seemed to be out of touch with reality , it should not surprise anyone that the point guard came to this decision . Team owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s ambition seemed elsewhere as he sought to become the President in his native Russia , while the business of the day-to- day operations was ceded to GM Billy King .

This will now become a maelstrom of complete mayhem within an organization that’s set to move into a state of the art venue in Brooklyn in 2013. The Barclays Atlantic Yards Development is seen as a pinnacle of design in terms of an NBA venue . Without a major lure in terms of a prominent NBA star , it goes without saying that the Nets’ franchise will be starved of support at the new arena. Not that their current situation is said to be healthy one at this moment in time as the New Jersey Nets are one of the least supported franchise’s in the NBA . And that clearly has been the case of the last five years for this organization , something that the league hierarchy led by David Stern has to be acutely aware of . And for all of the inane fans who feel that the commissioner has been circumspect and above reproach . Consider this, the Stern has been less than forthright in terms of the league seeking out a suitor for the league owned New Orleans Hornets . For for the idiotic numbskulls who felt that Stern’s decision to negate the trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers was beyond his authority . Consider the ramifications for the franchise and the very fact that in terms of the Hornets’ teetering competitiveness and financial stability.

The New Orleans Hornets are for all sense and purpose are a complete and utter mess from a financial and competitive standpoint . George Shinn rid himself of a franchise that had become a boondoggle , which was poorly supported within the city of New Orleans and across the state of Louisiana. Even with the league hierarchy as usual seeking some sort of monetary input from the city of New Orleans in terms of refurbishing the Hornets’ home venue . I’d like to think that there’s some hope for this franchise ! But consider this , David Stern now appears to be like his MLB counterpart Bud Selig , whose biggest concerns nowadays seems to be keeping the smiles on the faces of the team owners in the major markets . And it is no different with the NBA commissioner and the owners within the league’s largest markets , with whom he has always been willing to curry favor . Doubt my word then simply watch his antics as it relates to some of the more high profiled owners such as Micky Arison , Jerry Buss , James Dolan , Mikhail Prokhorov , Rich De Vos , Michael Jordan and Wyc Grousbeck ? At their behest and that of the other team owners within the league simply does what they believe to right.

That now simply makes you wonder at times even with Stern’s apparent autocratic rule who at times seems to be wagging the dog’s tail. The league mandated lockout this past off-season that led to a three and a half month delay to the start of the 2011 -12 season . The embarrassment to the league and damage to its image was enough to suggest it wasn’t only NBA’s nose that was put out of joint but primarily the commissioner’s ! The NBPA (union) under Billy Hunter’s direction and that of the union’s Executive Committee simply over-powered the hierarchy’s dominance and that of the owners . It also led to a number of those franchise owners questioning David Stern’s autocratic rule when their $4.5 billion a year business template was coming under a great deal of criticism and fire . So much so , that even with intervention of the FMCS , a quasi governmental agency that presided over multiple arbitration hearings seeking to a binding arbitration agreement which neither side would truly be amenable to . Not if it meant that their bounty would up for grabs , with the players getting an even bigger slice of the pie . To my mind both parties were equally to blame and no amount circus created acts of philanthropy on the part of high profiled stars such as LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony , Dwyane Wade , Kevin Durant and Deron Williams , with their charity sponsored events this during the lockout hid the fact that theirs was simply nothing more than image making exercise seeking the empathy of the ardent NBA fans and public in general alike ! At the end of it all , who to your mind came out as the victor ?

Neither side in reality actually came out ahead because the NBA has a financial crisis of its own making and neither the league hierarchy or union can use the acute state of the economy as a crux . Certainly not the way that the politicians use for their own asinine pontificating ! And certainly not the way those moronic assholes who now seek to oppose Barack Obama in the upcoming Presidential elections. If Mitt Romney who claims to be such an astute businessman sought to set himself apart from his rivals as the claim is as a co-founder of Bain Capital Inc , which he , himself cannot explain the rudimentaries of the economy succinctly but somehow in 2008 had his ass handed to him on a silver plate by his then Republican opponent Sen John McCain (R-Az) for party’s nomination that historic race. McCain , no expert himself on the economy or for that matter on foreign or domestic policy simply exposed the flaws in Romney . Much as in the same way Rick Santorum is now doing to the former Massachusetts’ governor . At the same time the White House incumbent , perhaps hasn’t yet realized that the mantra he rode in on …….. ” .change that we can believe in ” ……………….. hasn’t amounted to much .

If the NBA this season is truly looking to shed that image as a languid self-absorbed league ____ a ” monster” created by David Stern that simply sought profits and heighten the image of the players before the teams that make up the league . The branding , the riding on the coat-tails of Michael Jordan as the game gained a global image , all of that was forgotten as the billions of dollars poured in annually . Now with a diluted brand , and a product , wherein the talent has been greatly diluted , a lack of actual defensive prowess on display . Is it any wonder that the game is now at a crossroads ? Viewership is down across the board , and the attendance levels for the games has hit its trough of highs and lows over the last few seasons ( 2010 , 2009 , 2008 , 2007 , 2006 & 2005 ) .

The commissioner and the owners having opened up Pandora’s Box and now are unable to corral the elements they have placed within the fans’ midst . And for the hierarchy and owners to plead poverty when they themselves have simply not reined in costs by way of team salaries . And when concedes to the fact that the players themselves are unwilling to accede anything by way of the concessions sought , you simply get the feeling that NBA is still a powder-keg waiting to explode .

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? By all means do take the time to leave a comment on this or any other topics you deem relevant on the subject matter . Thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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(1) FILE – In this March 16, 2012 file photo, Denver Broncos executive John Elway , rear, smiles as he arrives at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, in Raleigh, N.C. Elway and coach John Fox traveled to North Carolina to watch Peyton Manning work out at Duke University . ESPN is reporting that Manning is negotiating to join the Broncos . Citing anonymous sources Monday, March 19, 2012, ESPN said that the four-time MVP has instructed agent Tom Condon to negotiate to complete a deal with Denver.(AP Photo/The News & Observer, Shawn Rocco ……

(2) Quarterback Peyton Manning (18) of the Indianapolis Colts smiles after defeating the Denver Broncos 27-13 at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. It was reported that Peyton Manning will sign as quarterback with the Denver Broncos, barring a snag during intensified contract negotiations according to sources March 19, 2012. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images …….

(3) Papa John’s founder John Schnatter is seen here alongside Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys. The trio were part of a tv and print commercial ad for Papa John’s Pizza . AP Photo/ Mitch Harris …….

(4) Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) reacts in the second half of their NCAA third-round tournament college basketball game against Iowa State in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, March 17, 2012. Kentucky defeated Iowa State 87-71 . AP Photo/John Bazemore ….

(5) LOUISVILLE, KY – MARCH 17: Anthony Booker (22) of the Iowa State Cyclones controls a rebound against the Kentucky Wildcats during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 17, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ……

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant , left, dunks in front of Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge, right, during the fourth quarter of a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 18, 2012. Oklahoma City won 111-95 . AP Photo/Alonzo Adams … …..

(7) Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins , left, defends the basket as Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge , right, shoots during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 18, 2012. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ….

(8) Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) shoots past Miami Heat’s Joel Anthony (50) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 18, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 91-81 . AP Photo/Lynne Sladky ….
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Kanye West ………….. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing ”

One And Done …… Who Says ?

One And Done …… Who Says ?

By tophatal ………..

If there’s said to be a coach in College Basketball this season to actually not only produce but also win I would have to say that it would have to be John Calipari , without a doubt ! Considered a success where he’s been …… dubiously I might add when one considers the controversies that have surrounded the programs where he has been coach . That notwithstanding he has the Kentucky Wildcats’ program riding high , having posted a 30-1 overall , 16-0 within conference (SEC) .

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The Kentucky Wildcats’ team is one with a great deal of talent with a highly explosive offense that’s led by freshman Anthony Davis , alongside Michael Kidd-Gilchrist , Twany Beckham , Doron Lamb , Brian Long , Sam Malone and an array of highly talented players . That being said we simply know that once this NCAA Tournament is over en masse` a large number of players on the roster will declare their eligibility looking to make the jump to the pros and join the NBA in search rich rewards . And as we know John Calipari has never been one to stand in the way of his players seeking to earn their way at the college level , much less getting an education _____ or in reality simply catering to their needs in allowing them to be part of that ever-increasing “throng of players” who are one and done at the college level .

In September of last year Calipari and several of his coaching peers at the collegiate level within the world of Basketball , Baseball and Football took part in a symposium sponsored jointly by ESPN , Nike Inc and the NCAA . This symposium was organized to discuss many of the issues that seem to be high profiled within collegiate athletics today. Those issues covered a vast array of topics from student graduation rates , scandals that have embroiled many of the top programs within collegiate athletics and the rather “thorny subject ” of the student athlete being paid to play. Something I believe that John Calipari may well know a great deal about albeit that nothing has ever been thoroughly proven , in spite of the so-called in-depth investigations that have been conducted by the NCAA via their Infractions Committee . To my mind , having that in-house body investigate anything related conduct violations by an athletics’ programs is akin to asking the “Medellin Drug Cartel “ to conduct an audit of the illicit drug trade in terms of the transportation of narcotics up from Central America across the Mexican US border . Suffice to say , you simply know that there’s bound to be some sort of denial as to the vast irregularities or should one say the depth and lengths of the transgressions that are said to be taking place .

Now don’t get me wrong, the likes of Jeff Tedford , Bob Stoops , Calipari , Jim Boehiem , Rick Pitino and such ESPN luminaries as Kirk Herbstreit , Lou Holtz , Rece Davis and Mark Mays , may well mean well but I find it somewhat insulting to see these coaches and analysts summarizing issues that they simply have ignored all too often . ESPN cannot be looked upon as an institution much less a broadcast outlet that speak with any veracity upon many of these issues given the fact they now have several commercial tie ins with a number collegiate programs across the nations. Perhaps none more so than that highly publicized multi-year , two decade , $3 billion deal with the Texas Longhorns for a co-owned broadcast outlet —— Longhorns Network that was initiated by the school’s football coach Mack Brown and the school’s AD DeLoss Dodds .

George Bodenheimer , head of ESPN Sports and the outlet’s president John Skinner remarked that this was a new dawn in terms of collegiate athletics broadcasting when the deal was formally announced . Well given the fact that the broadcast through its sister network ABC along with ESPN , ESPN2 and ESPNU already has cast a wide net in terms of its coverage of collegiate sports , wherein the revenues that the NCAA is said to be in receipt in from the major networks and much smaller affiliates nationwide runs into several billion dollars , annually . And one wonders why the NCAA and major college conferences are awash with so much money ? Never mind the scandals that continue to surface each year that in large involves boosters , agents coaches and even AD’s , themselves . But at the end of it all it always seems to be the athlete that at times tends to be punished with impunity .

The NCAA’s “bark ” is actually worse than “its bite “ and that is strictly because its president Mark Emmert , simply isn’t the man with the demeanor to act with real authority ! Think of him as simply being a kitten with a bowl of milk always on-hand , nothing more , nothing less !

Now with the SEC Tournament now in full swing with all of the major powerhouse programs are now seeking to play themselves into contention not just with a view to the tournament but also as a possible last chance of gaining a berth amongst the sixty-five teams for the NCAA Tournament . It will be interesting to see how the Wildcats acquit themselves as the tournament progresses . Next up for the team after their 60-51 victory over the LSU (Tigers ) in the first round . Their next game will be in the semi-finals on Saturday 10th March, 2012 against a yet to be named opponent .

Would it be remiss to suggest that a great deal is expected of John Calipari and his team at this juncture ? Certainly all of the pieces are in place with a team that can defend as well as score with almost reckless abandonment . But that isn’t simply good enough when it comes to the NCAA Tournament because a team really has to come into the national championship hitting a real rich vein of form . Complacency has been the demon that has plagued teams seen as prohibitive favorites for the national title . And though it is hard to go against the grain and not pick the Wildcats , I simply get the feeling that they will undoubtedly go deep into the tournament but somehow there’s going to be a major obstacle placed within their way that they cannot overcome . As to who that might be is anyone’s guess at this juncture .

Would it be remiss to suggest that a great deal is expected of John Calipari and his team at this juncture ? Certainly all of the pieces are in place with a team that can defend as well score with almost reckless abandonment . But that isn’t simply good enough when it comes to the NCAA Tournament because a team really has to come into the national championship hitting a real rich vein of form . Complacency has been the demon that has plagued teams seen as prohibitive favorites for the national title . And though it is hard to go against the grain and not pick the Wildcats , I simply get the feeling that they will undoubtedly go deep into the tournament but somehow there’s going to be a major obstacle placed within their way that they cannot overcome . As to who that might be is anyone’s guess at this juncture . Now a 23 game win streak is impressive given the schedule of this Wildcats’ team it has to be said that beyond their in-house conference match-ups I don’t truly feel that Calipari’s players have at all been tested this season ! The team’s sole defeat came at the hands of the Indiana ( Hoosiers ) early in their schedule in a hard-fought and competitive game , which ended in 73-72 victory for Indiana .

At this stage of John Calipari’s career in spite of the controversies , it is hard to believe that in spite of the success he has yet to win a national title . His peers such as Jim Boeheim , Rick Pitino , Mike Krzyzewski , Jim Calhoun and Roy Williams and Billy Donovan have all been lucky enough to have cut down the nets on that final day of a national championship tournament . As of yet such an accolade still awaits the Kentucky Wildcats’ basketball head coach . Chances are that this season fate will either be kind to John Calipari , or it won’t . Your thoughts ?

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