Don’t Call It A Comeback …..

 

Don’t Call It  A Comeback  …….

Well,  the big  sports’  story  in the world  of  sports   of this  past weekend  was that of  Tiger  Woods  capturing the 2019  US  Masters  Title  in  Augusta ,  Georgia ,   his  fifth  Green  Jacket  and the  fifteenth  Grand Slam  Major title  of his career.  Woods’  last  major title  win  came  in   2005  and  during  that time  the player  has  suffered  through  personal  as well  as  physical   injuries  as well as  a well-chronicled  divorce. During the  2018 regular  season  of  the  PGA Tour there  was  signs  that  Tiger Woods  was on the  way  back when  he  won  the  Tour Championship, signaling his long-awaited return, but his  triumph  in  The  Masters   has to be  considered  his  biggest  victory  to  date.

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Tiger   Woods  wasn’t  seen as a  favorite to  win  this  Major  ,  but  it was    his  consistency  seen  on the  greens  through the  first two  rounds  that  provided  a  cautionary  note  of  how great  a player  he just  happens to be.  He was  never  really  out  of  the  running  and  as the  third  round  of this   tournament was under way  there   was  a  feeling  that  something  special  could  be  in the  offing. This victory pushes Woods up the Fedex Cup Standings as well as the World Rankings and will undoubtedly place him among the favorites for each of the three remaining Grand Slam Majors still on the PGA Tour schedule . Woods’ next scheduled appearance on the Tour could very well be either of the four following tournaments , RBC Heritage , Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Wells Fargo Championship and AT& T Byron Nelson Classic , which will be the lead-up to the second Major of the season, the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black , Bethpage , in New York . That particular event will take place between the May23rd and May26th , 2019. It will be interesting to see how Tiger Woods will fare in that tournament and whether or not he can add to his tally of Grand Slam Major wins , as he seeks to close in on Jack Nicklaus’ record of eighteen Grand Slam Major victories.

There’s something to be said for the NBA Playoffs and all that it brings but at present while the opening round of the Playoffs , have begun, but the biggest story of the moment, has to be the resignation of Luke Walton as the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers . With the summary abrupt walkout by former front office executive Magic Johnson . It now leaves this franchise in complete disarray with no Head Coach and the likelihood of real turmoil within the front office and the entire Lakers’ franchise. Having missed the NBA Playoffs with an abysmal record and LeBron James having missed the end of the team’s regular season due to injury, it remains to be seen how they will deal with this off-season. It’s abundantly clear that team owner Jeanie Buss will advise GM Rob Pelinka to come up with a suitable replacement for Luke Walton , someone with a proven track record.

This Los Angeles Lakers ‘ roster has been abysmal throughout much of the season and their record was reflective of that very fact . Much of the Laker’s malaise was self-inflicted , due to the complacency shown by the players and front office staff.

The Opening Round of the NBA Playoffs began on Saturday night , where a number of results were a real surprise. The Philadelphia 76ers somehow fell apart in their opening game as they succumbed to the Brooklyn Nets in what turned out to be a very exciting game . Game two of their series will resume on Monday night . While the Sixers were falling apart , the Denver Nuggets as the number two seeds within the Western Conference , somehow managed to be outshone by the San Antonio Spurs in a totally unexpected loss . The Nuggets can ill-afford to go down 0-2 in this best of seven-game series between these two conference rivals .

With the second set of games resuming as of Monday and Tuesday night , it will be extremely interesting to see if the teams seeking to make up their deficits can actually play with a great deal more zeal .

Well, the MLB season has started off with a
splash and though it’s still early in the season , there have been one or two bright surprises among some of the teams and the players themselves .The ball-club with the best record in the Majors just happens to be the Tampa Bay Rays (12-4) percentage wise , with a very good start under manager Kevin Cash , who has the team playing with a great deal of confidence at this juncture. . Next up for the Rays will be a home game as they face off against AL East divisional rivals the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday , 16th April. Tyler Glasnow of the Rays will be on the mound as he faces off against Dylan Bundy of the Orioles .

While I believe that the Tampa Bay Rays are a good team , I certainly believe that by mid-June, they are likely to fall back within the AL and the division . With erstwhile rivals such as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees likely to put up a spirited challenge this could be a very interesting season for all of the teams within the AL East.

I would like to think that the Atlanta Braves are capable of winning the NL East and making a return to the MLB Postseason . Team manager Brian Snitker and his players certainly seem to be doing all of the right things , but with a young team , with few veteran leaders , it has to be said that they’re likely to be in for a long hard struggle this season. It certainly hasn’t been made any easier with the Philadelphia Phillies having been able to add both Jake Arrietta and Bryce Harper in the last two seasons, with Harper having been signed to one of the biggest contracts in recent league history. The player himself has certainly begun to live up to the hype , having been productive for his new team . Harper and the Phillies will be in action as they take on the New York Mets in a home game on Monday evening . Aaron Nola of the Phillies will be on the mound to face Noah Syndergaard of the Mets .

Big time players, be they pitchers or hitters , know that they’ve got to prove themselves consistently if they’re to make the big money within the game of baseball. Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger are certainly living that dream this season , albeit that Bellinger , remains a novice , in comparison to Trout , who’s considered to be the best player in the game, , Both of these young players are on their way to having what one can only hope will be truly successful careers.

We are now less than a week away from the NFL Draft and by now general managers are around the league are no doubt hedging their bets as to which teams are likely to stay pat in the draft’s pecking order and which are likely to move up as there could be some very interesting draft-day trades possibly taking place. With the Draft Order having been established, it will be the Arizona Cardinals having the first pick in this upcoming Draft and their likelihood of taking Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray as the number one overall pick and the first quarterback taken in this Draft. There is no denying the Cardinals need someone adept at the position , because last season , it was one deemed one of the poorer aspects of the team’s play overall. If Kyler Murray can prove to be great as the statistics suggest he was for the Oklahoma Sooners , then the Arizona Cardinals’ future seems secure.

If the Arizona Cardinals are said to be in the state of rebuilding, the New York Giants have begun to down their entire roster almost down to the bare foundations. Eli Manning a sixteen year veteran with the Giants , is now in the waning years of a good career . Two Superbowl victories on his resume’ does create the perception of greatness , but when it’s all said done , Manning has not proven himself to be the consummate leader many believed him to be. This past season was simply further proof of that fact as the Giants fell apart during the regular season . Eli Manning is not due to become a free agent quarterback until available> 2020 , when he will be joining several other players in free agency that year, I believe that it might be in the New York Giants’ best interest to draft a quarterback in this class as well as acquiring a seasoned veteran free agent to back up Eli Manning for the upcoming season . New York does have a pick
in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft and it will be interesting to see if the front office led by Dave Gettleman and the coaching staff of Pat Shurmur will be asked to get the best possible players to put this team in a position to win this upcoming season .

With the retirement of Rob Gronkowski , the six-time winning Superbowl champions , the New England Patriots headed into the off-season , knowing that they will have to plan judiciously , just as they have done for the past eighteen years. We all know that on the date they secured Tom Brady , things were never going to be the same ever gain for perhaps the best ran franchise in all of football. Granted of late , with the legal troubles of team owner , Robert Kraft , the gloss from the Patriots has been less than amenable . With that being said , it’s back to business as usual for the front office and the coaching staff . Rob Gronkowski’s departure leaves something of a big hole in this team’s offensive capabilities, but I am sure that Head Coach Bill Belichick will be able to overcome those obstacles , as he’s often done before.

There is no doubt in my mind that the New England Patriots will be a prohibitive favorite for the Superbowl , but at the same time , I am also of the opinion the franchise must begin to plan for the future , should Tom Brady decide to hang it all up after the end of this upcoming season. He is definitely a Canton bound , Hall of Fame player and his indelible mark on the NFL has been there for all to see.

What do you feel will be the big highlight news story within with the world of sports during the coming weeks ? Also , do you believe that there’s a chance for a team or an athlete to completely reinvent themselves ?


Tophatal …………..

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Don’t Be a Zero Be a Hero

Don’t Be a Zero Be a Hero ….

Well the world of sports is still turning and the stories are coming in thick and fast. Tiger Woods is back on the PGA Tour , confident enough , but still
far away from his peak form when he was in his prime . He came
within one shot of taking the Valspar Championship this past weekend , losing to eventual winner Paul Casey of England. Had Woods won the tournament, he would be an automatic qualifier for the first Grand Slam Major of the season, the Masters Tournament , April 5th to 8th held at the Augusta National CC in Augusta, Georgia. Woods as a previous winner of the tournament will be in the field and it will be interesting to see how he fares in the first Major of the season. Next up on the Tour schedule will be the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Bay Hill, a suburb of Orlando.


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The Arnold Palmer Invitational is one of the most popular tournaments on the Florida swing of the PGA Tour schedule with official prize money of over $8,000,000 with the winner of the event taking home the first prize winner’s check of $1.7 million ($1,700,000). There are also 500 FedEx Cup points going to the winner of the tournament , with the points adding their accrued totals in FedEx Cup points’ standings ,which is currently being led by Justin Thomas with 1573 points , closely followed Patton Kizzire some 259 points drift of Thomas in the FedEx Cup standings.

Tiger Woods for his part , with all of the health issues and personal problems of the past three years , we do know he is not the player he once was. If anything he lacks confidence , while many of his younger contemporaries are playing with such confidence that they’re no longer intimidated by Woods’ once powerful game. As confident as the former world number one golfer might be , I now feel that Tiger Woods’ best days are now behind him and not ahead of him. I could very well be wrong with my assumptions as all it would take for him to get his complete confidence back. Yet given his psyche and lack of confidence in his game prior to and coming off his most recent injuries and personal issues, as I alluded to earlier , Woods remains a long way off from where he needs to be providing a great deal of confidence for the likes of Dustin Johnson , Rory McIlroy , Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

This PGA season should make for a very interesting year in the world of golf.

So Mommy didn’t kiss the boo-boo and you’re still bitching and whining ? Well ,that’s the way it now appears to be at this time of the year within the NFL as the players in free agency seek to get paid , while there are players with a no more than one or two years left on their respective contracts also looking for a larger piece of an ever increasing pie .

With the relationship between Commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones now at an all-time low. There appears to be a great deal of dissension now taking place within the league and the ruling hierarchy . Goodell has set another precedent in terms of his autocratic rule , stating that the Cowboys and in particular the owner (Jones) will be hit with a hefty multi-million fine , believed to be in excess of $2 million for conduct detrimental to the league . Much of this stems from Roger Goodell’s punishment of Dallas’ running back Ezekiel Elliot who had been hit with a multi-game suspension during the regular season for the Dallas Cowboys.

Another troubled player on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster happens to be their wide receiver Dez Bryant . The receiver wants to be paid
like a superstar , but injuries and lack of productivity suggests he is not worth the money he is looking for, in spite of his claims that he is far better than Mike Evans whose contract is up for negotiation with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . Evans for his part has proven to be a consistent performer for a franchise which has failed to live up to expectations over the past two seasons at least . It has been almost a decade since the Buccaneers made an appearance in the postseason , with that appearance coming in 2007 with a loss to the New York Giants in the wildcard round within the NFC . . .Say what you will about the Buccaneers , but I don’t believe that they aim to please !!!

The Dallas Cowboys won’t be cash-strapped by the cap , but I certainly don’t believe that Jerry Jones will be willing to overpay for Dez Bryant when there are far better options for him by way of free agency or during the NFL Draft where there will be a glut of wide receivers.

Tyrann Mathieu is out with the Arizona Cardinals after the front office decided to release the defensive back rather than provide
him with a new contract . So too was the veteran running back and Mathieu’s teammate Adrian Peterson who was shown the door by the franchise. It’s pretty much safe to say, the Cardinals are turning over a new leaf , but I don’t believe they’re at all done with their in-house roster changes . I also believe that Carson Palmer’s days with Arizona are numbered . He has never been able to lead the franchise to a deep postseason run while with the Arizona Cardinals . His retirement did not come as a surprise, given the length of his career and what he was able to accomplish during that time, having been a Heisman Trophy winner . With a new coaching staff in place the franchise will be starting afresh with a slew of new faces and expectations.

So while the Seattle Seahawks couldn’t come to a concrete decision concerning corner-back Richard Sherman as to whether or not they would retain him. Somehow within the front office and probably much to the chagrin of Pete Carroll , it was decided he would be allowed to become a free agent. No sooner was that decision made , the San Francisco 49ers swooped in to sign the Pro Bowl player to a very lucrative contract . Immediately , San Francisco becomes better , with a player who’s likely to provide a great deal of leadership and maturity , while also proving to be a legitimate threat within the NFC West this upcoming season. Add in the fact the offense of the Forty Niners was one of the hottest teams in the league over the final five games of the regular season 2017 . There is every reason to believe not only will they become better , but Jimmy Garopollo might just be the best quarterback in the division and certainly one of the top-ten in the league based on that five-game stretch for the team.

It’s getting to that stage where not everything written will make a great deal of commonsense concerning the NBA . If the rumors are to be believed then LeBron James will have played his last season in Cleveland if the Cleveland Cavaliers were to make it to the NBA Playoffs. Such has been the almost near dissolution of his relationship with team owner Dan Gilbert , I am not so James’ personal friend , confidant and also a minority stake holder in the franchise , Usher (Usher Raymond IV) will be able to persuade James to remain with the franchise. The four-time League MVP is the biggest asset on a young roster , but the fourteen-year veteran is at a stage in his career , where it seems his wish to attain further glory at the team level is beyond his reach with the Cavaliers. is support at best can be described as adequate, but in all honesty against the top-five teams in the Western Conference , I seriously doubt this current roster would be able to hold their own in an NBA Finals’ series much less at this point during the regular season.

For the moment the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in something of a tenuous position within the Central Division and clearly facing an obstacle within the Eastern Conference where they were favored to be dominant at the start of the season. These are now troubling times for the Cavaliers and specifically for the coaching staff as well as the front office . They face a dilemma with not only LeBron James , but also several of the players who are also impending free agents. LeBron can opt-out of the final year of his deal, then either choose to re-sign with Cleveland or opt for a more lucrative contract elsewhere. There would likely be at least eight to ten teams interested in signing the player to a five-year deal paying him on average $30 to $40 million a year.

Over their next ten games I expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to be truly tested as too will LeBron James as he seeks to press his claim for a fifth League MVP Award . Next up for the Cleveland Cavaliers will be a game against the Portland Traiblazers , where James will get to go up against Portland’s Damian Lillard in what should prove to be an intriguing contest.

Reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warrior are on pace to have a sixty-win season, but the loss of Klay Thompson could prove to be worrisome for the team and particular for Steve Kerr and his coaching staff . Thompson is expected to miss the remainder of the Warriors’ regular season schedule and quite possibly the early rounds of the NBA Playoffs. GM Bob Myers might feel it necessary not to risk further injury to their All Star and have him sit out the entire postseason. However, I feel it would be best to have Klay on the sidelines , especially in wake of the recent dominance shown by the Houston Rockets who have proven to be almost unstoppable of their last fifteen games. The Rockets will be back on court when they are due to face the Los Angeles Clippers .

Say what you will , but there will be some major disappointments this upcoming season within the world of baseball. Derek Jeter has already alienated the fans of the Miami Marlins with his imploding of the team’s roster. On Opening Day it will be hard to recognize several of the names donned in a Marlins’ uniform.

As a co-owner of the Miami Marlins Derek Jeter has gutted the roster to such an extent that its payroll barely seems acceptable much less plausible and while I understand the ball-club has been hemorrhaging red ink for the past three seasons. I do believe the sacrifices made are no guarantee of future success. A $70 million payroll in this day and age is not going to cut it when you’re going up against the big boys of Major League Baseball . . It will be interesting to see how the Marlins fare through their first twenty-five games of this upcoming season in baseball. Martin Prado will be asked to lead this Marlins’ team and as quite possibly the best player on the roster it will be down to him to lead by example. Manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff will have their work cut out for them in 2018 as I don’t expect
the Miami Marlins to be that competitive in what will likely be a very good NL East division. Miami will open their regular season schedule on Opening Day with a game against the Chicago Cubs at Marlins Ballpark in Miami, Florida. .


 


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Which athletes do you believe in the coming year
will have to prove themselves more than anything else ?

Tophatal ….


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The buck doesn’t stop here but it should …

The buck doesn’t stop here but it should …

So  two weeks into the  NFL season and already we’re  witnessing  how  banal so many of the teams just happen to be . Nonetheless, things are likely to get far more problematical for several of these franchise before possibly getting better.

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In the NFC East , the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants having opened their respective season schedule with two consecutive losses are proving to be among the pick of the litter when it comes to sheer ineptitude. Far be it for me to suggest, but head coaches Chip Kelly of the Eagles and Tom Coughlin of the Giants are likely to know their jobs are on the line. Team owners , Jeffrey Lurie and John K Mara cannot be entirely happy with what they have both witnessed from their respective teams to start the season.

The Philadelphia Eagles were on the wrong side of an inept performance , with a week two loss to the Dallas Cowboys , whose 20-10 victory , also saw the loss of quarterback Tony Romo due to an injury. This all could spell some serious issues for the Cowboys, having lost Romo quite possibly for a sizable chunk of their regular season schedule. Dallas’ head coach Jason Garrett will now have to reassess Tony Romo’s fitness and the likelihood of possibly going with his backup, Brandon Weeden , should Romo not be available for Dallas’ week three contest against the Atlanta Falcons on the 27th September, 2015 at Texas Stadium in Arlington. Texas,. Inasmuch as analysts and fans alike try to attribute Tony Romo’s toughness to his abilities , in reality the player lacks real leadership and tends to apportion blame elsewhere when his play has been mediocre.

A great deal is being asked of Brandon Weeden, should he be entrusted with the task of leading the Cowboys into battle against the Falcons next Sunday.

For the New York Giants and their start to the season appears to be inexplicable, but at the same you cannot overlook the fact Eli Manning and his teammates have failed to deliver when all is said to be on the line. Granted, Manning has led the Giants to two highly celebrated Superbowl victories over the New England Patriots in the last six seasons. Losses in week one and week two to the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons respectively, have left many wondering where do the New York Giants now go from here. The Giants’ defense and offense have proven to be equally inept and with receivers Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz yet to show anywhere near the skill-set sought for the team to viewed as legitimate contenders within the league this season. Cruz remains sidelined and there seems to be no indicator as to when the Giants will see his return to their starting lineup. The New York Giants’ next game will pit them against the Washington Redskins on the 24th September , 2015 in a Thursday night contest.

Over the last two seasons , I believe quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford have failed to show what they are capable of players in their respective roles. With the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions both getting off to inauspicious starts to their season , these two teams are likely to be in for a torrid time as the NFL schedule pans out. Neither the Bears or Lions can afford to go through their first three games with consecutive losses , but given their play at present , it simply doesn’t bode well for either of these two teams. Sunday afternoon, we witnessed the Chicago Bears falling to the Arizona Cardinals in a high-scoring contest 48-26. Stafford and the Lions fell to the Minnesota Vikings in a result which simply reflects how bad Detroit just happens to be , as they succumbed to the Vikings 26-16.

While I am not about to suggest at this point of the season the NFC as a conference is less superior than the AFC , there do seem to be pointers which may reflect this position , albeit , two weeks into the schedule should not be truly reflective of the position. By week four , one quarter of the way through the NFL season , the teams should have found their rhythm, as they look to play themselves into divisional and conference contention.

There are thirteen games left in the baseball schedule , for the league’s thirty teams , with several of the divisions still to be decided as of the 20th September . For much of the season , both the St Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals have remained among the two best ball-clubs within the game. Whether or not the two teams will clash in this year’s World Series remains to be seen and will be predicated on their play as schedule plays out to the likely intensity we have seen in recent weeks. The Royals under manager Ned Yost might well be seen as the likely front-runner for this year’s AL Manager of the Year , with among his closest rivals being AJ Hinch , John Gibbons , Jeff Banister and Paul Molitor .

The Kansas City Royals coming off a decisive 10-3 win over the free-falling Detroit Tigers will seek to increase their lead within the AL Central when they face the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington on 22nd September ,2015. On the mound for the Mariners will be Hisashi Iwakuma as he faces Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals.

Kansas now has the inside track on the division, with the Minnesota Twins unlikely to build up a big enough challenge for the AL Central. With the reverberations from the faltering Tigers , in the aftermath with the abrupt departure of former GM Dave Dombrowski . There is now the belief that Dombrowski’s successor Al Avila will make the decision not to extend the contract of the team’s manager Brad Ausmus , leading to further turmoil within the organization. The Tigers’ players have yet to make their thoughts known on the possible departure of Ausmus , but there seems to be a widespread belief Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera are not entirely happy with the situation, in spite of their indifferent seasons and it is easy to understand the many reasons why the Detroit Tigers have failed so miserably this year. The changes for the Tigers during the off-season could very well be dramatic and very nerve shattering, as a number of high-priced players are likely to be jettisoned. Seeking to assess the players , within their farm system is now likely to be an option for Al Avila , as looks to rebuild for next season.

It would be the ultimate tale of sheer stupidity if Mike Matheny was not awarded the NL Manager of the Year Award for this season. He has clearly been the best manager in baseball this year and has been a worthy successor to Tony La Russa . If Matheny can now take this Cardinals’ team in the postseason where they are likely to be the clear favorites for the NL Pennant , then there is no reason to believe why St Louis cannot go on to win their twelfth World Series title, with their last coming in 2011 when they crushed the the Texas Rangers in seven games . The series’ result might suggest the Rangers might have been in with a chance through the entire seven-game series, but at no point did they ever take advantage of St Louis during the showcase series’ finale .

Mike Matheny and the St Louis Cardinals have been a model of consistency throughout much of the season , with their pitching and offense being equally potent on all fronts. To round out their three-game weekend schedule against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago , the Cardinals came away with a well-deserved 4-3 victory over their divisional rivals . On Monday evening the St Louis will play host to the Cincinnati Reds , with John Lamb of the visiting team on the mound to face his opposing number , Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals.

With Tiger Woods now falling off the face of the PGA Tour and this ongoing stupidity he still remains the biggest draw in the game. I have to wonder what type of idiot , there remains within realms of the sports’ world in terms of the fans who simply have no idea as to what the hell they are talking about ! Woods has not come close to winning a tournament on the PGA Tour in almost two years and his last major Grand Slam title was almost six years ago . He has fallen so far down the world rankings (292 nd) , that he is no longer deemed to be a worthy talking point , unless you want to discuss his ongoing medical ailments. A second back surgery , is now in the offing and Woods’ game has deteriorated to such an extent , that only the player himself has any belief he will be able to resurrect his play to the level where he was once considered the heir-apparent to Jack Nicklaus .

There are now much younger players on the Tour , who are just as determined as Tiger Woods , when he was at his best , but they have shown themselves to be more resilient and less prone to litany of mistakes which have become part of Woods’ current persona on a golf course. Jordan Spieth , Rory McIlroy and Jason Day have become the new faces of the PGA Tour , as well being major draws , and a boost to the television ratings.

Jason Day’s five wins on the season which include the PGA Championship , The Barclays Championship and this past weekend the BMW Championship has pushed the Australian to the top of the world rankings , pushing both Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy to second and third within the standings. With those five wins and ten top-ten finishes on the PGA Tour , Day tops the Fedex Cup standings and is line for the $10 million payout which comes with a first place finish in the Fedex Cup overall final placings. If golf and in particular the PGA Tour is to withstand the loss of Tiger Woods and the deterioration of his game. Then the likes of Jason Day , Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will now have to stand tall in face of the overwhelming odds that fans yearn a dominant and charismatic player within the sport. Woods had the game, but his indiscretions and willingness to cite others for his problems, was simply another indication of a self-absorbed athlete who yearns the limelight but when faced with off-field adversity, they simply haven’t the intellect to handle it well.

A top-five finish in the Tour Championship at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta , Georgia , which is the final tournament of the PGA Tour schedule , could see Day come away with the $10 million bonus payout and quite possibly the Player of the Year Honors, albeit , Jordan Spieth’s two Major victories on the year do make his credentials all the more impressive. Yet if consistency is to be the measure on the season , then the Australian has fared better than his American counterpart.

There are howls of laughter as Floyd Mayweather Jr maintains his wish to now retire from the sport of boxing, having defeated Andre Berto in the defense of his WBA and WBC welterweight titles . Still recognized by Ring Magazine and several of the top analysts within the sports as the Pound-for-Pound King of The Ring and best fighter on the planet. I personally do not believe Mayweather can simply walk away from his unbeaten 49-0 record without seeking to push that mark to 50-0 ! Granted , for an athlete who in the last two years has earned in excess of $400 million from the sport of boxing , there might be few challenges left for a fighter of his caliber. He has the admiration of legions of fans the world over , but he has never been able to truly gain the respect of some of the passionate fans of the sport as well many of the women who follow the sport of boxing from afar.

Floyd Mayweather has failed miserably in trying to allay the persona of his misogyny and denigration of women, albeit , his open invitation of Jen Welter to a press conference and to his bout with Berto was met with a great degree of sarcasm and some embarrassment for Welter , who initially accepted the invitation for both events. Yet it cannot be denied , with Mayweather’s well-chronicled troubles concerning his ex-fiancee and the mother of two of his children , there can be little left to believe the boxer is indeed trying to change his ways. His publicists and management company are trying to create the persona of a social activist , philanthropist and boxing promoter seeking to not only clean up the sport, but also show Floyd Mayweather to be a man of the people. Yet, when it is all said and done, the boxer’s actions outside the ring and his outlandish behavior simply proves the persona created has been nothing more than a charade.

Mayweather still yearns the respect of the purists who cover the sport within the media , even with his impressive fight record. Mayweather Promotions Inc , the boxer’s own management company will certainly be surveying the landscape for a fighter seen as his next challenger. A rematch against Manny Pacquiao would simply be a waste , considering the hype over their first fight and lack of competitiveness seen from the Filipino boxer on his way to a unanimous defeat, was not only embarrassing for the sport of boxing, but also a general fleecing of the paying public and the reputed $500 million gross revenues gained from the bout. Mayweather’s reputed $300 million payday before expenses for the highest grossing title and fight in boxing his history, was nothing more than a comedic mess of gigantic proportions.

The international governing bodies (IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO) for the sport of boxing have been nothing more than a travesty , with Mauricio Sulaiman , Gilberto Mendoza , Daryl Peoples and Francisco Varcarcel have simply forgone their obligations to oversee the sport with robust stewardship, instead leaving it to the unscrupulous boxing promoters to reign over the sport, while leaving the Nevada State Athletic Commission with their connivance and corrupt activities continue to make a mockery of boxing . Conflicts of interests, inexperienced ringside judges adjudicating title bouts have seen the state Athletic Commissioner Francisco Aguilar has been quick to suggest the officials who have judged many of the most recent title fights within the state’s jurisdiction have been without reproach. Yet, in the aftermath of the fiasco concerning the judging Mayweather’s most recent bouts against Manny Pacquiao and Andre Berto has left a great deal to be desired about Aguilar’s claims.

If boxing is left in something of a void in spite of the rise of Deontay Wilder as a titleholder among the heavyweight champions. Yet in reality, Wilder can only be seen as seen as either stepping stone for Wladimir Klitschko to further enhance his claims of being the best heavyweight boxer in the world. Klitschko’s own record has been filled with challengers whose records if nothing else, can only be viewed as comedic and idiotic. The rise of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) under the UFC banner , has seen the growth of the fastest growing combative sport in the world. UFC’s fighters are now becoming household names with Ronda Rousey leading the way for the sport along with the sudden emergence of Fabricio Werdum as the undisputed heavyweight champion. Werdum’s devastating victory over Cain Velazquez was not only for the title was not only exciting but it also breathed life into a sport , where in recent months , we had witnessed the fall of established stars such as Jon Jones , Nick Diaz and Johny Hendricks either through misdeeds outside the octagon ring or through poor performances within.

UFC President Dana White has proven to be an autocratic and somewhat tyrannical ruler of the governing body of the sport , dictating his whims as to what he believes best serves the interests of the sport. Unfortunately. White has proven to be less than forthright as to a number of decisions he has made concerning fighters, who are known to have known to have used substances prohibited by the UFC. Dana White has been complicit in allowing fighters such as Jon Jones , Nick Diaz, Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen to have fought , having then been tested for a banned substance.

Sonnen, now an analyst covering the UFC has not issued a statement concerning his twice being suspended for the use of performance enhancing drugs , while Nick Diaz has continually derided White and suggested he will continue with his use of marijuana as and when he pleases. Silva a former middleweight champion will be making his long-awaited return to the octagon, but with the revelations of his testing positive steroidal medication as well as for an anxiety medication during his rematch with Chris Weidman for the middleweight title at UFC 183.

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Sports , amateur and professional sports, have now become a fickle industry promulgated by profligate athletes and hierarchies, where accountability has become a simple bye-word for lack of leadership, athletes without any real integrity and the continued belief that an act of social responsibility paints them as a person moral integrity.

Floyd Mayweather continues to be indicative of such a persona , while Tiger Woods might well now be wishing he could turn back the hands of time. Hierarchy leaders such as Roger Goodell, Adam Silver , Garry Bettman , Dana White , Rob Manfred and Mark Emmert have become oblivious of what needs to be done to actually clean up the mess they preside over , and can only point to the one known fact they actually care about and that is to make millions of dollars at the expense of the consumers , otherwise known as the fans. Accountability remains the farthest thing from their minds while the fans remain apathetic to what is actually now within their midst.

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Tophatal ……. 2015/09/21

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Champions are made not born .. Can’t knock the hustle

Champions are made not born … Can’t knock the hustle

As the weekend’s events took hold in the world of sports , we witnessed history being made with Novak Djokovic denying Roger Federer his eighth attempt to win a Wimbledon Men’s Singles title. The Swiss born , former world ranked number one tennis player has long reigned supreme atop of the rankings but over the past five years , it has been Djokovic’s rapid rise up the rankings and dominance we have witnessed The Serbian’s slaying of Federer was a clinical display of strong aggressive tennis, with his serve being among the arsenal on display as he would go on to triumph with his third Men’s title and his second in succession, having won the title second year, having defeated his Swiss rival in 2014. This was the fortieth meeting between these two rivals , with their having split their series at twenty wins apiece.

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In the Women’s Singles Finals, Serena Williams proved why she has been the best player of her generation and with her twenty-first Grand Slam singles’ victory she now stands equal to Steffi Graf for Slam victories in the Open Era , but three behind Australia’s Margaret Court. Williams’ victory over Garbine Murguruza in straights sets was as lopsided a victory in a recent Slam tournament. Serena Williams now becomes only the second female player in the modern era also to all four majors at the same time as the reigning champion and with a win in the US Open would look to become again only the third female to have won Grand Slam in the same calendar year, joining only Margaret Court and Steffi Graf to have accomplished the feat. It is hard to envisage where the opposition is likely to come for the American sensation as she seem to be playing her best tennis of the season after her triumph at the All England Club, Wimbledon.

During the ATP and WTA calendar season, both Djokovic and Williams have reigned supreme atop of the rankings while also garnering titles at an astonishing rate. By year’s end I seriously doubt how either of the two will not end atop of the respective world rankings.

Jordan Spieth is having an astonishing season within the PGA and his rapid rise up the world rankings , has the American sitting at number two, with only Ireland’s Rory McIlroy ranked , number one, standing in his way , as he seeks to surpass the Irishman. McIlroy will miss the British Open scheduled to begin on 16th July at St Andrews Golf Club, St Andrews , Scotland. Spieth will likely be the presumptive favorite as he seeks to win his third Major , having already won The Masters and US Open at this stage of his career. The world number two has become only the second American to have won four titles heading into The Open , long seen as the toughest Grand Slam major to win on the PGA Tour schedule.

A promised showdown between Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth was the desired lure of The Open and the very fact Tiger Woods’ play this season has been so erratic , the thought of the former world number one having any type of effect on the tournament seems to be one sheer hope rather than a reality. Woods has been saying all of the right things, but his game has simply been far too inconsistent for him to be seen as a serious contender , much less a threat to Spieth in the tournament. I certainly believe Jordan Spieth’s confidence as well as his game, makes him a legitimate favorite and the possibility of winning the third Grand Slam Major of his young career.

The NBA for its part continues with its own form of the silly season , as free agents either stay put or seek to move on elsewhere . Biggest story to come out of this all , was the decision of DeAndre Jordan to renege on his promise to join the Dallas Mavericks , spurning their contract offer to remain with the Los Angeles Clippers. Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban has remained somewhat mute on the issue, but I would guess with several players on the team’s roster have voiced their displeasure at Jordan and his final decision.

I for one feel the Clippers power forward’s decision was not necessarily about money, but more to do with the fact, I do not feel he would have been comfortable, being the second man in the pecking order on the roster of the Dallas Mavericks. He certainly knew his role with Los Angeles, where he was third in the pecking order behind Chris Paul and Blake Griffin , and even though there was said to be a lukewarm relationship and his Clippers’ teammate Paul was said to have been one of the main reasons Jordan sought to leave the Los Angeles based franchise. In the end calmer heads were said to have prevailed.

If there is now said to be a new-found resolve about the Los Angeles Clippers, then a great deal of that will likely come down to the coaching acumen of Doc Rivers and the sort of vitality shown by the players over the course of the upcoming season.

LeBron James in a recent interview stated, he had begun to have nightmares after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. From my own mindset , I do not believe the result was ever in doubt, even if the Cavaliers had the services of both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love during the series. The Warriors had more depth to their roster and they were better coached, with Steve Kerr proving he was far better than his counterpart David Blatt. James in spite of his heroics during the series, he was not able to pull off a series’ victory which would secured Cleveland their first NBA title.

The Cavaliers will likely be the presumptive favorites within the Eastern Conference for the upcoming season , where their biggest opponents will likely prove to be the Chicago Bulls under new head coach Fred Hoiberg. There is no denying the NBA Finals were an immense disappointment to the front office of the Cleveland Cavaliers, with GM David Griffin having engineered the building of the roster , luring LeBron James back to Cleveland, along with the signing of Kevin Love. The failure however, had more to do with the smugness of the entire franchise and the very fact , there was no clear planned strategy in place, other than the belief James would be Cleveland’s savior , beyond being viewed as the ‘Prodigal Son’. Another rebuilding process will now be underway and once again LeBron James will be key to the Cavaliers’ strategy, with the likelihood his approval will be sought on any move made.

It would be fair to suggest over the past four years, the gloss has faded on the achievements of the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, with both franchises simply bereft of a dearth of talent. Both Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant are well into their respective careers, both players having a decade-long exposure in the league. Bryant having the most success from a personal and team standpoint. In the case of Carmelo, other than being seen as a prodigious offensive talent, his years with the Knicks have simply been wasted , with last season being of no exception.

Anyone who witnessed the play of the team under their rookie head coach Derek Fisher, either had to be disgusted or simply laughing at their exploits. Knicks’ fans themselves, were delusional, as they still are , hoping in 2016, Phil Jackson will still have a ‘ Master Plan ‘ to turn things around. No logical steps were taken by the front office executive and clearly the hiring of Fisher has proven to be an unmitigated disaster. Jackson has no eye for talent and the only reason behind his hiring by team owner James Dolan was to stop the embarrassment and ridicule of being called one of the NBA’s worst ran franchises. Nothing has really changed , with Jackson proving he is no better than one of his predecessors Isiah Thomas , who at one time had dual roles within the organization , as head coach and President of Basketball Operations.

To even remotely describe those years as being a success , would be akin to suggesting Thomas knew exactly what he was doing. Jackson’s ego and failure to admit his mistakes or weaknesses indicates how much of a struggle this past season has been for the New York Knicks and why they still have a long way to be go before being able to turn things around. Carmelo Anthony is not getting any younger and his best years are now behind him.

I have no real wish to go into depth, to explain why both these franchises , the Knicks and Lakers have remained failures over the past five seasons , as these debates have been well-chronicled and have become utterly boring. Fans of the teams in question have become obnoxious , delusional but above all, truly lacking any real intelligence to acknowledge the fact the owners of both organizations have not got a clue. Beyond that, nothing more needs to be said.

As baseball takes its customary mid-season break to engulf itself with the All Star Game and its surrounding events. It would be easy to suggest the first half of the season has been a resounding success. In some ways it has , but for the most part, teams have been struggling to shown any real semblance of consistency or competitiveness. The fairy tale story that was the Kansas City Royals has some additional chapters written , to add to the success of last season . Leading the AL Central , it would appear the Royals are now intent on making a second successive postseason appearance , something not achieved in several years by the franchise . Needless, to say the chances of the team now running away with the AL Pennant and World Series would be predicated upon one’s belief either in fairy tales , the impossible or just plain reality. Kansas’ success this season has been rewarded with several of their players being named to the AL All Star lineup , the most among AL based teams.

Tuesday night’s contest promises to be a grand gala of the game’s best players , with the showdown , being one with a great deal riding on it.

On the mound for the respective leagues when the game gets underway at the Great American Ballpark , Cincinnati , Ohio will be Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros against Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Over their last eight starts, both Keuchel and Greinke have been stellar for their respective teams. Zack Greinke closed out the first half of the season, with the best ERA among starting pitchers in baseball and could conceivably be seen as the clear favorite for this season’s NL Cy Young Award.

Away from the field of play, Pete Rose will be making an appearance at the venue where a great deal of the player’s most renowned achievements too place, , but yet, his yearning to be given that seal of approval with his reinstatement to the game seems a long way off , in spite of assurances by Rob Manfred concerning the issue of Rose’s banishment from baseball. If he is reinstated it by no means guarantees his automatic consideration for the Hall of Fame. Rose still has his enemies on the BBWAA and the Veteran’s Committee of the institution, who have long memories and who still believe Pete Rose’s actions remains a stain on the game of baseball. As hypocritical as the Baseball Writers’ Association just happens to be, they still believe, they have to stand for something, even when they have failed so miserably to address their own mes-culpa , addressing and reporting on the widespread use of steroids within the game of baseball . Anyone who believes there remains some form of journalistic integrity within the field of journalism, specifically sports’ journalism, is in need of a rectal inspection to be followed by a swift kick to the ass.

When the second half of the season gets underway, it will be interesting to see which teams come flying out of the starting gate hoping to make up for a poor start to the first half of their year.

The news’ cycle is and will always remain an around the clock three hundred and sixty-five days a year meat grind and slog to report any morsel of idiocy to be found in the NFL. In the off-season it becomes somewhat like a political campaign, similar to the current undertaking we are now witnessing as the Presidential candidates from both political parties make themselves known , even with their hypocrisy, jingoism and xenophobia is brought along for everyone to witness.

If Roger Goodell were running for the highest political office in the land, I would dare say he would find his fair share of anal retentive supporters. Goodell as the NFL Commissioner, is still wading through the fecal matter of his own making. Irritable bowel syndrome or not , the diarrhea constantly served up by this particular NFL executive has become too much to bear. Personally, I still cannot understand why he has not been asked to step down as the commissioner of the league. His lack of communicative skills , autocratic rule of law and ongoing incompetence are one of the numerous reasons why the NFL remains a complete laughing stock. For the most part , the owners are simply happy reap the financial rewards, as too are the union and the players themselves. Leaving the fans to wallow in the bullshit of a brand that tends to be so watered down , but yet many try attest it is in fact a competitive brand being placed on the field of play throughout the season. 2.

This upcoming season promises to be an arduous one for several teams who last season fell short of expectations. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will enter their season with renewed vigor ,with their number one overall pick Jameis Winston seeking to place all of the negative aspects of his college career in his rear view mirror. I am so sure Winston possesses the maturity to lead this franchise back to respectability , much less be competitive enough to win their division. The NFC South remains one of the NFL’s garbage canisters, where the carcasses of rotting elephants would find it a conducive place to be laid to rest.

Jameis Winston will be hoping to beat out Mike Glennon for the starting role as the Buccaneers’ quarterback in 2015 and it remains one of the primary areas where this is a cause for concern for the franchise .It is among a litany of woes Lovie Smith and the coaching staff will have to address for this upcoming season. At best , the Buccaneers can carve out a six or eight-game win season over the course of their schedule , where I believe the two teams likely to be the main challengers within the NFC South are likely to be the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints . Ron Rivera and Sean Payton are two very good coaches who will be have their respective teams ready to play once the season begins with their two regular season contests likely to be pivotal within the division.

When is an NFL team not actually a team ? Likely one , that is put together by Dallas Cowboys’ team owner Jerry Jones. Last season the Cowboys came apart at the seams in the postseason like Swiss cheese being shredded by a grater. For all of the pretentiousness of Jones and the Cowboys’ fans imbuing on us , the franchise’s greatness , one only has to look at the Cowboys’ failed attempts to make the postseason over the last seven years to see what a mess they have actually been. Rife with excuses after their loss to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the NFL postseason , once again indicated why Dallas remains a farce.

Entering into the season Cowboys will be without their record breaking running back DeMarco Murray , who Jerry Jones chose not to retain , because many believed wide receiver Dez Bryant was far more of a prized asset for the franchise. Bryant has always been a troubled and self-absorbed individual who flashes of brilliance are then countered by his immaturity and lack of leadership. Another trait he actually shares with his teammate and veteran quarterback Tony Romo. With news now emanating Dez Bryant is not willing to report for the Cowboys’ mandatory preseason OTA’s , unless he is guaranteed a long-term deal , one has to ask how could the franchise’s , front office not see this coming ? There remains a great deal of conceit and narcissism within this franchise and most certainly among many of their high-profiled players, of which their Pro Bowl wide receiver can be considered to fit into the that particular category.

If neither Jason Garrett or Jerry Jones can instill discipline on this team , then why would anyone be of the belief the Dallas Cowboys can win a Superbowl , when there is said to be complete lack of leadership and discipline within the organization ? Teams that tend to be successful and consistent are ones which are said to have leaders, role players and a great coaching staff. I seriously doubt that can actually be said of the Dallas Cowboys at this juncture or at any time over the past six seasons.

Jerry Jones may well be an astute businessman , but as an NFL front office executive , he remains something of an oaf, even if his winning what I felt to be a nonsensical award last season, with his being named NFL Executive of The Year . I hear, up next , Joe The Plumber will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts ,also in recognition of his being an avowed Conservative and a detractor of all things Obama related. Sarah Palin, eat your heart out bit#h , because you can still see Russia while pulling down over $100,000 for a speaking engagement and having absolutely nothing new to offer by way of any type of political dialog.

Playing in a mediocre division has its merits for the Dallas Cowboys and I severely doubt they are likely to be challenged within the NFC South , where the defensively challenged Philadelphia Eagles remains a joke under Chip Kelly , where Jay Gruden will likely spend more time soothing the egos and massaging the penises of Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III . Last but not least , Eli Manning will still be wondering why having won two Superbowls, one more than his elder sibling Peyton Manning , he can’t get no love from anyone and that includes the growing cries of New York Giants’ fans who now feel he’s become more of a liability than an asset.

I certainly don’t believe Jerry Jones will offer Dez Bryant a six-year $90 million or $110 million contract , as these are the figures being banded about by close followers of the scenario now engulfing the Dallas Cowboys and where his agent Roc-Nation Sports , overseen and owned by rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z . The only hard knocks Dez Bryant will likely feeling right about now, won’t be coming from opposing defenders but to his ego, as he seeks to earn his piece of cheddar (American Dream) . A contract deal will likely be reached before the Dallas Cowboys embark on their preseason schedule, but if all else fails Dez Bryant will be in camp prior to the start of the regular season. Penalties levied against the wide receiver missing camp could prove costly and one doubts he wants to see a large chunk being taken out of his $12.8 million salary due to him this season. While I believe Bryant to be a very good player , I do not believe he can be considered one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers let alone a receiver who can be considered the leader of a team ambitious enough to win the Superbowl.

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What do you believe is the one trait needed by an athlete to become a champion ? Also of the weekend’s sporting events , which do you believe was the most exhilarating or special in terms of the feat or feats accomplished ?

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[youtube.com=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jZz37BH4cQ]

Can’t knock the hustle’ …. Jay Z & Mary J Blige

Imagine things getting really bad, before entering the 2015 NFL season, it’s not as far fetched as it seems


Imagine things getting really bad , before entering the 2015 NFL season , It’s not as far fetched as it seems

Over the last few days, I have been inundated with so much work, leading my group of research analysts within our section of a large department within the firm where I am currently employed . Trying to stay abreast of the news’ stories in the world of sports is not unlike sifting through a bucket full of fecal matter , looking for the feel-good story of the moment. In the world of golf , Tiger Woods is still trying to figure out if he can still play the game, much less compete at a high level. Well , based on his season , thus far and in 2014 .

I think we can all agree, Woods’ game has sank to an all-time low , without idiots still suggesting that he’s the ticker that still moves the needle within the sport. That was true at the height of his game , when he was winning tournaments at more than a thirty per-cent clip. That has not been the case in over four years , but you would be hard pressed to convince the idiots , who are still sipping from the porcelain pot that Woods continues to defecate and urinate in. . Such has been the apathy of the anal retentive sports’ fan who can be found in the country.

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In the NFL , the off-season has proven to be more of a surprise than any of us could have imagined. Needless to say , many may well be questioning the moves made by Chip Kelly as he has literally made the decision to tear apart his roster of last season, seeking to build a team more to his liking and built around what he believes will make the Eagles winners. Trading away one of the best performing quarterbacks in the NFL over the past two years, is not a convincing way of assuaging and trying retain the loyalty of a fan , especially a Philadelphia Eagles’ fan, who are known to be not only weary , but also lethal to players, whom they believe are not fit to wear an Eagles’ uniform. Nick Foles’ departure was not only a shock , but has many questioning, who is now running the show in terms of player personnel decisions. Is Kelly, as the head coach or is it GM Howie Roseman ?

In 2015, I am not so sure the Philadelphia Eagles will be a force to be reckoned with , not if Chip Kelly is relying on Sam Bradford to be the quarterback to lead this Eagles’ team ! In what I believe to be a puerile NFC East division , the likelihood of their being competitive football being played there this season , will be dependent upon the coaching acumen of Chip Kelly, Tom Coughlin , Jason Garrett and Jay Gruden . If they should fail, then things will be simply mediocre throughout much of the season .

If there is one thing we know to be true and it is the very fact , no matter how hard they try to rid themsleves of the label of being inept. The Oakland Raiders will not fail to confound us by simply making it a reality. The Raiders over the past six seasons have been the epitome of a franchise waywardly heading nowhere , while casting off head coaches like a quick change artist , changing from one outfit to another. The same can be said of the litany of players who have come and gone over that time-span. Jack Del Rio has been brought in by GM Reggie McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis , with a view to his being able to turn around the fortunes of one of the NFL’s most downtrodden franchises in recent years.

Consider the fact , Oakland has not won the AFC West or made the NFL postseason in over eight years , and only then can you comprehend how bad things have been for the organization. Then take into account , in recent years , profitability for the Raiders , has been hard to come by, in spite of their having some of the most loyal fans in the entire NFL . Yet , the franchise remains one of the most valuable in the NFL .

Oakland’s last appearance in the postseason came during the 2002 season when they won the AFC championship game , only to then fall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superbowl , who were being coached a former Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden . In the subsequent years , abject failure has been the name of the game, while one or two players have made something of a name for themselves donning a Raiders’ uniform.

While I believe Jack Del Rio to be a good coach , I am not so sure if is the right coach or capable enough a being to lead, what in all likelihood will be at its core , a team filled with players who were cast-offs from elsewhere. Add in the fact, the team’s quarterback , Derek Carr will be asked to place the Raiders on his inexperienced shoulders , having had relatively little success in the NFL during his short career . It might be far too bold a suggestion to make , but in this upcoming NFL Draft the Oakland Raiders cannot afford to fail .

Jim Harbaugh’s departure from the San Francisco 49ers was a clear case of a front office dissatisfied with a head coach, who simply had lost control of a team , which lacked discipline and one where many of the players thought themselves above the law , while having inflated egos . The issues of Ray McDonald and Aldon Smith have been well-chronicled without delving further into the less than amicable relationship which had deteriorated during its final days between the Niners’ former head coach , GM Trent Baalke and team CEO Jed Yorke. Photo opportunities featuring Harbaugh and Baalke or Harbaugh and Yorke , had become a rarity. It has to be said, when the two senior executives are said to be distrustful of their head coach , they are in fact sending a clear message, that his tenure , is about to be cut short . No amount ill-conceived diplomacy and well-wishing, upon Harbaugh’s departure could hide the fact, Trent Baalke and Jed Yorke wanted Jim Harbaugh out of San Francisco , faster than a high-speed train.

San Francisco’s demise last season was as much of their own making as was the inconsistency shown by quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his teammates throughout much of the season . Kaepernick for his part having had initial success with a Superbowl appearance, making the postseason in each of his first two seasons in the NFL, fell back down to earth in 2014 , with uneven performances during the Niners’ schedule. While I believe the quarterback played a part in the team’s obvious inconsistencies , the majority of their problems came from the lack of discipline instilled into the team by Jim Harbaugh as the season began to spiral out of control.

Harbaugh is now in charge of the Michigan (Wolverines’) program , seeking to place that school’s footballing glories back upon a pedestal where their fans believe it belongs.

For the San Francisco 49ers, their upcoming season under the leadership of a new coaching staff led by Jim Tomsula could prove to be rather interesting for a number of reasons beyond the new head coach’s lack of experience. If the Forty Niners cannot overcome the continued and recent ascent of the Seattle Seahawks , their ongoing and growing confidence. Then , there is every belief , that it will be Pete Carroll and the Seahawks once again walking away with the NFC West divisional crown with effortless and consummate ease.

There is no denying, while in college Reggie Bush had a sensational career ,but unfortunately, a great deal of it, was built upon a web of deceit and lies , carried out with such bravado and countenanced by the atheletics department of USC (Trojans) while Mike Garrett was the Athletics Director of the program . Garrett played the role of the unassuming unknowing administrator , when in all probability , he was aware as to the machinations , all consuming , wheeling and dealings , which denoted academic fraud within the basketball and football programs , beyond Bush’s acceptance of money from known and unknown parties , while a student athlete at USC . The fact, Pete Carroll left the program, with such speed, all under the guise of accepting the millions of dollars thrown at him by Seahawks’ owner and billionaire entrepreneur Paul Allen can be read in a number of ways. None of which, has Carroll smelling like a bouquet roses and looking good at the time of his departure, with his refusal to provide any insight as to what he he might have known about the allegations at the time , surrounding Reggie Bush and number of other players under his tutelage as head coach of the football program.

With Garrett fired , Pat Haden was brought in to clean up the mess , with Lane Kiffin being hired to succeed Pete Carroll . Kiffin’s tenure at USC was riddled with inconsistency and a great deal of controversy , with the coach having repeatedly stretched the limits of what was deemed acceptable by the NCAA concerning a number of growing infractions , all of which Lane Kiffin claimed, he felt were within parameters set by not only the school, but also collegiate athletics’ governing body. Playing the fool , obviously came easy for Kiffin , and he still acts like a fool , while a member of the coaching staff of Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide of Alabama .

Reggie Bush’s first five seasons in the NFL were spent with the New Orleans Saints where his successes were fleeting and nondescript . Now with his fourth team of his nine-year career, having entered the NFL as a first round draft pick of the Saints in 2006 . Bush now hopes to resurrect his stalled career having 0532i signed one-year $2.5 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers during the off-season. I am not so sure what Bush can bring to Niners at this stage of his career and I certainly don’t believe him to be a better running back than Frank Gore , who San Francisco allowed to leave as an unrestricted free agent , with Gore joining the Indianapolis Colts. What that might suggest about the Forty Niners , might well have a bearing as one of the reasons why this team didn’t to get anything meaningful done during the course of last season. If the coaching staff believed Frank Gore was unproductive , then there has to be something seriously wrong with their mindset. Aging veteran or not, Gore was not one of the primary reasons San Francisco failed so miserably, ending their season with an 8-8 record .

Heading into this season Colts’ GM Ryan Grigson will have to deal with the issues of extending the contracts n of head coach Chuck Pagano and their perennial Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck. You would think , the choice would be an extremely easy one to make . Yet, for some reason Grigson has found a way to bring about extreme tension between himself and Pagano as well the player, who has guided the franchise to playoff appearances in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. It might not take a rocket scientist to assist the general manager to make a quick decision, but if he is need of help , then there are several hundred of these engineers and scientists to found at Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) as well as on the campus of MIT . WTF !

Luck will be in the final year of his original four-year $22.5 million deal signed as a rookie in 2012. Don’t laugh , but by comparison, Jay Cutler last season earned almost as much as Luck has made in his first three seasons in the NFL . You have to pat on the back the decision-makers within the Chicago Bears’ front office for having the temerity of not only offering Cutler that outrageous seven-year $126 million deal , but also the asinine notion of current Bears’ head coach John Fox , whose opinion appears to be Cutler can still guide the Bears to a great deal of success at this stage of his career . Given a choice between Jay Cutler and Andrew Luck , even if I were blindfolded , I would still be able to pick Luck over Cutler, while smelling the stench which still can be tracked, by the fecal matter the Bears’ quarterback calls a career .

The obstacles now facing the Indianapolis Colts will be getting past the New England Patriots be it in the regular season or postseason . Clashes between the two franchises became synonymous with the careers of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning . There is no reason to believe the Colts will be seriously challenged within the AFC South this season . The Tennessee Titans are still struggling to find an identity , the same can be said of the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars , who were among the least competitive teams in the NFL last season .

A great deal is now being made of the NFL Draft and the choices to be made by the teams seeking become relevant within the league. Clearly, with so much conjecture and debate over what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will do as the team with the number one pick in this Draft. The possibility of the Buccaneers not choosing either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston , two players believed to be the consensus two top picks in this year’s draft could come as a shock. Yet , this might not be as big a surprise as pundits believe it will be. Personally, I simply do not put much into the machinations of the NFL calendar at this time of the year ! These college players will either prove to be good or extremely bad and by no means ____ is it a guarantee, a player taken as the top pick is a guarantee of success. The last player taken as the number one pick to have led his team to the Superbowl , was in fact Eli Manning taken in 2004 by the New York Giants . Two Superbowl victories coming from the arm of Manning sealed his legacy, but since that victory, the Giants’ quarterback has not been consistent or led the team another postseason appearance since 2007. Make of it what you will.

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Picture gallery . Narrative can be seen by clicking on an individual frame .

What do you believe will be the likely outcome of this NFL Draft by way of the player taken as the number one overall pick ? Based on the needs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , do you believe it is imperative the franchise take a quarterback or a player of need at another position ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be of relevance to the subject matter.

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A year to savor …

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In the blink of an eye the remnants of the last few monents of 2014 disappeared before our very eyes and from a sporting standpoint it was mainly a big disappointment from my own point of view. Nothing said or suggested mediocrity more than a regular NFL season so embarrassing , with the incompetence of a litany of teams. Major disappointments came thick and fast , along with the customary off-season firings and walkouts by either front office executives of head coaches. Jim Harbaugh now rides off into the sunset , assured that he will be welcomed with open arms by the Michigan faithful as he seeks to resurrect their fortunes and status among College Football’s fraternity. San Francisco 49ers’ front office executives may well have parted ways with their former head coach by mutual agreement , but if the rumors are to be believed , Harbaugh’s relationship with GM Trent Baalke , CEO , Chairman & team owner , Jed Yorke had deteriorated to such an extent , communications between the executives and Jim Harbaugh were simply cordial , professional , and nothing more than that. Off the field issues may well have also played a part in Harbaugh’s downfall beyond the complacency shown by the team throughout the course of the season, with the players simply lacking leadership and Colin Kaepernick seemingly more concerned with his growing public image and own self-importance , rather than his performing at a very high level in comparison to last season.

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The San Francisco 49ers failed to make the postseason and barely challenged within the NFC West , where they finished a disappointing third within their division, behind the Seattle Seahawks as the newly crowned divisional champions and perhaps the NFC’s surprise team of the season the Arizona Cardinals who finished in second place. Where San Francisco now goes from here will be solely dependent upon the choice made by Trent Baalke as he goes in search of a successor to fill the vacant head coaching position with the NFL franchise. There will be a litany of candidates qualified and not so qualified looking to be interviewed for the position. It’s safe to say, the question now becomes about who wants to be out on the West Coast coaching a team with a great deal of talent, but now lacking direction and a real sense of purpose ?

Having won their sixth AFC East title in succession the New England Patriots will now be looking to cement their status as the best NFL franchise over the past decade and a-half. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady remain the main building blocks of this franchise , but the Patriots’ long-term future will soon be about the younger players on the roster and the organization seeking a successor to Belichick , at the time of his choosing to ride off into retirement. As the number one seed in the AFC , New England has a bye in the first round of the postseason . Their closest rivals within the conference the Denver Broncos squandered their chance of positioning themselves to take that mantel by falling apart in the last few weeks of the regular season . Hopes of a Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning match-up is still very much on the cards, if both of these teams play to their true potential during the postseason. That very premise could take place in the AFC championship game.

The wildcard round of this postseason has some very intriguing games on the schedule, where the match-up between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys takes center-stage among the NFC contests . In the AFC , the ongoing rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers takes off on another chapter of what has been often described as one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL and certainly one, which tends to provide a great deal of drama , if not explosive outcomes . John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin will also get the chance to match wits against each other as the opposing coaches on the sidelines .

The drama surrounding this postseason will not be lost on the fans or the broadcast outlets alike , as they seek to pour over the events as they unfold. One can only hope the fans are not disappointed by the games or the sense of foreboding as things unfold over the course of this weekend.

Money is aid to be the ” root of all evil “ and that definitely would be the case in the world of politics, where the politicians’ greed is not only furthered by their avarice , but also by their sheer contempt of the electorate and the very fact that they believe themselves to be above reproach . That same analogy I believe can be used in the world of baseball (MLB) , where during this off-season we have seen some major moves in the free agency marketas well as a number of teams striving to either deplete themselves of talent or take on the pretext of proving to their fans they are ready to compete .

For the past two seasons the Los Angeles Dodgers have been the biggest spending team in Major League Baseball , making an outlay in excess of a half-billion dollars ($500,000,000) during the time span in question. Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff have proven to be adroit during the regular season, but in 2013 as well as last year the ball-club failed to meet the expectations of their fans and the front office , with abysmal performances during the playoffs . The decision by Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten to hire Andrew Friedman to become the Head of Baseball Operations indicates the franchise has decided to change their philosophy somewhat, when it comes to acquiring talent and not overpaying , but taking into account, there are several players on the current roster earning in excess of $15 million a year , it is hard to see how anyone can take the Dodgers seriously as they seek to turn over a new leaf.

Don Mattingly and his team capitulated to the St Louis Cardinals in this past season’s NLDS , a series where it was inexplicable to surmise how bad the Los Angeles Dodgers were said to be on all counts . The Dodgers’ offense may well have been anemic , but their pitching by comparison was nowhere to be seen . As the Dodgers embark upon their off-season sojourn before they begin their preparations for Spring Training and then the 2015 regular season , there will be some new faces as part of the roster , after the departure of several familiar figures who were a staple of the club over the past few seasons. One of those departing faces was Matt Kemp , now a member of the San Diego Padres .

It would be fare to suggest the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants provided baseball fans with one of the more memorable World Series in recent years , with the perceived underdogs the Royals looking usurp the NL franchise . Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy and the team triumphed in a thrilling seven-game series downing the Kansas City Royals in a climactic final game . In a pitching performance for the ages Madison Bumgarner brought back memories of the postseason performances of pitching legends Sandy Koufax and Don Larsen . It seemed only fitting Bumgarner was named World Series MVP . GM Brian Sabean during the off-season replenished the team’s roster with several acquisitions likely to make the ball-club stronger at several key positions while also knowing there are a number of players within their farm system ready to make that leap up to the Majors .

The “stain” which remains part of baseball’s folklore, beyond the ” Black Sox ” scandal will forever be the “steroid era ” and the fact Bud Selig failed miserably in reining the abusers , who sought to cheat the fans and the game of baseball by smearing some of the most historic feats within the sport. With the departure of Roger Clemens and others associated with that sordid chapter , baseball still has the remnants of Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun still within our midst , albeit , both players have served league mandated suspensions for their egregious transgressions with somewhat asinine acts of contrition on both their parts. Rodriguez will make his long awaited return to the New York Yankees and to a ball-club in the midst of change with the retirement of Derek Jeter after a two-decade long career with the ball-club. In the throes of this upheaval GM Brian Cashman will be looking to several of the veterans on the current roster to assume the mantel of leadership , the role Jeter assumed for several years as well as being the team captain. If Cashman now believes Rodriguez can fit the role , then he is sadly mistaken, along with the belief the player can provide the productivity needed to challenge within the AL.

New beginnings and a resurgence of a franchise still seeking its first NBA title. This was meant to be the storyline for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season . The return of LeBron James brought back Cavaliers’ fans to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio in droves. The four-time League MVP brings with him his productivity and an all-round game that has become the envy of the league and erstwhile fans alike. James’ departure from the recent two-time defending NBA champions the Miami Heat shook the foundations of the organization and simply took everyone off guard including his former former teammates. Miami’s failure in last seasons NBA Finals indicated a flawed team whose over-reliance on LeBron , was simply overwhelming the player during that Finals’ series. That heartbreaking loss may well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to his decision to leave the Miami Heat.

As The Prodigal Son, whose return was welcomed with open arms by the organization led to the upsurge in ticket sales , increased merchandize revenue and the appreciation in the value of the Cavaliers. This has been the impact LeBron James on the NBA and the franchise. Beyond his salary , the player’s annual income along with corporate endorsements places him among the upper echelons of international athletes and the top-paid NBA star . Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin sought to bring in also ,a wealth of experience by way the team’s roster . Point guard Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are meant to be the complementary foils guiding the ambitions of the team this season. A rookie head coach , David Blatt and his coaching staff have struggled to gain any real semblance of consistency the Cavaliers this season .
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Cleveland’s record (18-14) places the team five games behind the the Central Division leading Chicago Bulls (23-10) . Now with the reported loss of LeBron James for two to three weeks due due to a lingering injury , this will likely put a severe dent in Cavaliers’ divisional title hopes as well as the possibility of a high conference seeding within the Eastern Conference. James in the Cavaliers’ lineup offers the team the best chance of winning , rather than his being seated on the bench . The Cavaliers without LeBron James in the lineup after the announcement of his injury , saw the team take on the Charlotte Hornets in a road game at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte , North Carolina . All hands were on deck for the Cavaliers as Kevin Love led the team in scoring as they defeated the Hornets 91-87 .

Next up for Love and his teammates will be a home game on the January 4th , when they clash with Dirk Nowitzki and Rajon Rondo of the Dallas Mavericks at the Quicken Loans Arena . This contest could one of the highlights of the games scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Dallas comes into the contest on a four-game winning streak , with Rondo’s acquisition having set the tone for the team , as they move forward . The trade of the former Boston Celtics’ point guard immediately provides an uplift for the Mavericks and gives the a facilitator who is among the best in the NBA and who will also provide them with a very good defensive presence. Mavericks’ Mark Cuban’s insistence and pursuance of this deal that acquired Rajon Rondo , has certainly made the team a lot better and an almost certainty of being among the top contenders for the number one seed within the Western Conference this season. It would take a rather foolish individual to bet against this team and its pursuit of a second title, to add to the crown won in 2011 .

I’ll fight the good fight in support of a sport , just as long as I feel it will be of benefit to the masses ! Yet for all of the showmanship and acknowledged popularity of Floyd ‘ Money’ Mayweather , I have gotten to the stage , where I find the sport of boxing to be a complete comedy of errors and tragic parody of a once proud sport , which captured the fans’ imagination and held it drawn with its excitement and intensity !. No longer can it be case or where anyone can try to justify it, as still being truly relevant. Other than the world welterweight champion, there is not really a major draw in spite of the fact his greatest rival just happens to be an aging Manny Pacquiao . These two fighters for one reason or another have never sought to face each other at the prime of their careers , instead , often choosing to face lesser opponents along the way , to pad their statistics and the pursuit of multi-million dollar payday .

Mayweather and Pacquiao have passed the pinnacle of their respective careers and the legitimacy they each now seek will not be determined by final contest between the two , because in essence it will prove nothing at all. A proposed mega-fight would likely gross well over $200 million in revenues worldwide with each fighter guaranteed a minimum of $50 million apiece , but in the end of what profit would be to a sport now dying on its knees when there are no other high-profiled boxers on the horizon with the charisma or talent to be seen as the face of the sport and its long-term future? Multiple international governing bodies preside over boxing and there is no real uniformity other than the mandatory twelve rounds of boxing for a world title fight at the international and national levels dependent upon the allegiances of the national boards of the sport worldwide.

The alphabetical melange of who’s who , and the pecking order of the IBF, IBO , WBA , WBC and WBU created this actual nonsense within the sport of boxing and even now , with the pursuit and support shown by current WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman for a unified world champion primarily within the heavyweight division . The appeal for such distinction is lost on the fans and the litany of claimants of the various versions of the crown in question . It has been almost two decades since boxing had a undisputed heavyweight champion , with the last claimant being Lennox Lewis and it should be noted there is not an undisputed champion in any of the weight categories in the sport of professional boxing . Yet , this is the sport Senator John McCain (R-Az) , by his rationale believes relevant , while denouncing its upstart rival the genre of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) as being barbaric , with their being no rules or etiquette ? McCain’s idea of barbarism should be considered a joke , while he ought to be looking at his own legacy within the Congress and its lack of productivity over the last six years .

The rise in prominence of the UFC and the sport of MMA over the past decade and half , ought to be seen as how to brand , manage and package sport , where its reach is now global and in many ways has surpassed the branding and marketability of both the NBA and NFL. NFL combined . Dana White , UFC President along with the Fertitta brothers own the UFC and its affiliated concerns , a company with an estimated value of over $2 billion ($2,000,000,00) , making the three primary partners in this enterprise , extremely wealthy individuals . Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta , were already self-made billionaires , having made their fortunes in the casino and hospitality and hotel management business . Now their primary goal is to expand the growth of the sport globally , which they have been extremely successful in doing , with a stable of fighters from around the world signed to their company , as well as having affiliated associations across the globe.

In 2015 , UFC will ring in its schedule (UFC 182) with its first major title bout of the year, when Light Heavyweight Champion , Jon ‘Bones’ Jones makes a defense against challenger Daniel Cormier . Jones , the division’s best fighter is making his record ninth defense of his title. On January 3rd , 2015 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas , Nevada , UFC will unveil UFC 182 with an under-card of several terrific bouts, along with the marquee title title fight , with Jones’ Light Heayweight crown being on the line. Jon Jones , can be seen as the protagonist , with Cormier viewed as the antagonist , but there is the feeling the titleholder may well be looking to play ” the villain ” of the piece , because of the apparent ‘bad blood’ between he and the challenger , Daniel Cormier. Undoubtedly, Jones has become one the biggest names within the sport , with perhaps only Ronda Rousey , UFC’s most prominent female fighter, Cain Velasquez , Anthony Pettis and Jose Aldo among active fighters , considered to be extremely popular among the genre’s mass appeal of fans . The title fight itself , could be a contest, where Jones’ experience will out-match the simple bravado of his challenger Daniel Cormier . A thrilling five rounds of combative MMA should tell us a great deal about the champion and his opponent on Saturday night .

Tiger Woods remains the biggest draw in the world of golf, but he is no longer the best player in the game . I once read an asinine comment by someone, who determined because of his drawing power , it made him not only the best but also the only relevant person on the PGA Tour . Granted his having won his own version of the Tiger-Slam and having a career Grand Slam (the feat of winning golf’s four major tournaments [ US Open, PGA Championship , The British Open & US Masters]) gives him that aura of actual invincibility. Quite rightfully so, but over the past eighteen months , Woods’ game has been on the decline , he knows it and only an idiot would try and suggest otherwise , much like the buffoon and his comments concerning the former world number one ranked golfer. Tiger Woods’ legacy is unquestioned, but my question____ is beyond his off the course sexual peccadilloes , where he does he stand on social activism, his well-staged and manufactured philanthropic efforts ? Tiger Woods remains a damn hypocrite of the highest order, while trying to be a role model to young kids . Far too many of today’s professional athletes as well as those within the collegiate level, fit that very mold. Unfortunately, the media and fans alike, with a great deal apathy and naivete’ would prefer the salaciousness and candid sordid details , rather than witnessing great feats of athletic achievement . Never-mind the fact , when many of these athletes are continually caught in a lie, they will repeatedly seek to apportion blame elsewhere.

This upcoming season on the PGA Tour , it will be interesting to see whether or not Tiger Woods can wrestle away the number one ranking from Rory McIlroy , by far the greatest challenger to Woods’ once dominant presence on the PGA Tour . Phil Mickelson remains an afterthought , because more often than not , his challenges to Woods have ” petered out”, because of his missed opportunities. With over $265 million in official prize money being offered on the Tour(PGA Tour) , golf has now become one of the most lucrative way of earning a nice income from professional sports, without taking into account the enormous bye product of commercial endorsement from national and international corporate behemoths .

At the peak of his earning power, Tiger Woods earned well in excess of $100 million annually , now that figure is down to $65 million , still not bad for a player whose last Grand Slam Major victory came by way of the 2008 US Open in La Jolla, California ,. Yes, I can see why Woods is still considered a draw , with that victory , six years later , still toiling for his fifteenth Grand Slam victory , while Jack Nicklaus’ giant shadow and his own accomplishments in the Majors are simply glossed over by idiots and a buffoon with little knowledge of the sport or the African-Americans who created the legacy for Woods’ access to the game. Far be it for me to suggest this @sshole , has any damn idea what he is talking about to begin with .

Billy Horschel (three career wins) was feted , having won the FedEx Cup (2014) and with it a $10 million annuity as prize , but even with his consistency on the Tour in 2014 , the player was never a fixture or a major threat in any of the Grand Slam Majors , but yet I am being asked to be transfixed by character-less stereotypical androids who now make up the bulk of the players on the PGA Tour ? I think not !

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Picture gallery .

What sporting event of 2015 is likely to have you closely watching a performance or set of performances during this year ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery below.

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(1) Ryan Lindley (14) is here along the sidelines speaking with teammate Drew Stanton during a brief interval. A decision will be made by head coach Bruce Arians as to which of the quarterbacks is liable to be the starter for their wildcard round game to be played against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte , North Carolina , on Saturday, 3rd January , 2015 in the first of the two scheduled wildcard contests to be played on the day. Neither of the Panthers’ quarterbacks has any postseason experience playing in the NFL . The visiting Cardinals are deemed to be the slight favorites in the NFC contest. AP Photo / Keith Mitchell …

Ryan Lindley(14) of the Arizona Cardinals passes in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ersat Levi’s Stadium on December 28 , 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images North America/ Ezra Shaw ..

(3) Former San Francisco 49ers’ head coach Jim Harbaugh is seen here on the dais having just been introduced as the new head coach for the Michigan Wolverines program by AD Dave Brandon.Harbaugh and San Francisco formally parted ways by mutual agreement , but it is rumored the head coach had outlived his welcome within the organization because of his brash behavior . The Forty Niners for their part, thanked the head coach for his contributions and the resurrection of the team’s fortunes during his tenure . AP Photo / Jenny Hart ..

(4) Tom Brady (12) and Rob Gronkowski(87) of the New England Patriots react after Gronkowski caught a touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 14, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. . Getty Images / Jim Rogash ..

(5) Los Angeles Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten , left is seen here team manager Don Mattingly ,center and senior managing partner Mark Walter . The organization in the past two years have committed in excess of $500 million on payroll , only see the team squander their chances in the postseasons of 2013 and 2014. In both cases , the Dodgers fell in those hurdles to defeat the hands of the St Louis Cardinals . The decision was made to bring in Andrew Friedman to head up the Baseball Operations of the Dodgers with Ned Colletti given a lateral move within the front office, on becoming a special assistant and adviser to Kasten. Some changes have been made to the playing personnel , where fan favorite Matt Kemp was traded to the San Diego Padres. It is unlikely this will be last major move made by the Dodgers during the off-season . AP Photo / Ted Ross ..

(6) LeBron James(23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a call by the referees during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 30, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. James will be sidelined for a prolonged period believe to be between to two three weeks as he seeks to recuperate from an injury , leaving his teammates to pick up the slack as they contest several games in the upcoming weeks. LeBron James is not the only major NBA star to be felled by an injury , with Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks also out , adding to the Knicks’ turmoil this season and their moribund record . Getty Images /Kevin C Cox …

(7) Considered the best fighter of his generation and the linear champion within the welterweight division , Floyd Mayweather has never really shown the inclination to meet Manny Pacquiao in the ring in spite of his denials . At the same time, a proposed mega-fight between the two fighters has never taken place , because of disputes in how the purse would be split or the antagonism created by Pacquiao’s main promoter in the US Bob Arum and his continued disdain for Mayweather. In 2015 , the fight many have yearned for may well be scheduled but do not hold your breath waiting for the event to actually take place . Mayweather is likely have at least two fights placed on his schedule as he seeks to fulfill his $200 million fight-deal with cable broadcast outlet Showtime (CBS subsidiary) . AP Photo / Matt Engle ….

(8) Jon Jones ,left is seen here facing his challenger Daniel Cormier for the UFC Light Heavyweight title fight due to take place at the MGM Grand Casino & Hotel Resort Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada on the 3rd January, 2015. The main marquee event is the headliner for UFC 182. Range Finder Inc . @ all rights reserved copyrighted material …

(9) From left to right , background UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer , Jon Jones , UFC President Dana White , Daniel Cormier and comedian and fight analyst Joe Rogan . There have repeated physical altercations between Cormier and Jones with the insults hurled at an alarming speed between the two. Whether or not this is being done to publicize the bout remains to be seen but UFC is expecting a high PPV audience for the clash . …

(10) Jack Nicklaus, left , an eighteen-time Major winner also having won a carer Grand Slam of golf’s four major tournaments (The Masters British Open, US Open and PGA Championship ) is seen here alongside Tiger Woods . The two are considered to be greatest players of their respective generations and two of the greatest players in the history of the game. Woods seeks to emulate his idol by surpassing his historic tally of eighteen Majors wins . Yet his record pales in comparison to Nicklaus not solely because of fourteen wins of the four Grand Slam tournament but the mere fact Woods has not had as many top-five or top-ten finishes in each of the four tournaments in question , albeit, Tiger Woods has yet to compete in as many Slam tournaments over the course of his career. AP Photo / Eric Messner .. ….

(11) Rory McIlroy the world number one in the official World Golf rankings is already a three-time Major tournament winner, with only the The Masters yet to be added to his resume’ of Grand Slam victories . McIlroy joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to have won the first their first three Grand Slam tournaments before turning the age of twenty-five.. The Irish player is seeking to improve on his triumphant 2014 season, where he topped the PGA Tour and European Tour winners’ list in official prize money earnings . Getty Images Europe /. Henrik Thorstvaldt .. …

(12) Billy Horschel is seen here at the 2014 Valero Texas Open at the TPC in San Antonio , Texas . The tournament was won by Steven Bowditch. Horschel would go on to claim the FedEx Cup prize and with it a $10 million paycheck (annuity) . Billy Horschel has three PGA Tournament victories to his name and over $8.2 million in career prize money earnings. AP Photo / Eric Parsons ….

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Don’t bother with the platitudes just bring on a dose of reality …………

Don’t bother with the platitudes just bring on a dose of reality …………

Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour , now s have an image problem to deal with beyond the fact golf’s most high-profiled player is likely to be lost to the Tour for a several weeks. Tiger Woods’ career has been derailed in recent seasons by his own behavioral issues and by recurring injuries, most notably his back. This season, it has been injuries which have plagued the player’s year and his play , leaving many in doubt , whether he can reach the heights where he was once golf’s most dominant player and a certainty to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of eighteen Major Grand Slam wins. Nicklaus’ feat might now seem out of reach but the PGA all-time career wins on the Tour does seem attainable for Woods, if he can regain a degree of fitness and form.

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As the PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, cannot be happy with the fact he has suspended Dustin Johnson for a six month banishment , while the player undergoes rehab for a substance abuse problem, which has been determined to be cocaine addiction. Now don’t get me wrong, but my question is , since when were golfers known to be the “bad boys “ of the sports’ world , never mind their partying like perverted rock stars? I guess after the sexual peccadilloes of Tiger Woods , Johnson’s actions had to be expected. If not Dustin Johnson, then who would be the next high-profiled Tour golfer to be caught in a web of lies , deceit and sexual intrigue?

Courtesy of Fox News

Dustin Johnson failed drug tests, fooled around with tour player’s wife, report says

Reports of drug use and sleeping with other tour players’ wives have followed in the wake of Thursday’s announcement by pro golfer Dustin Johnson that he is taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour.

Golf.com cited an unnamed source who said Johnson failed three drug tests in the past five years, including a positive test for marijuana in 2009 and two positive tests for cocaine in 2012 and 2014.

The PGA is not required to make public any player suspensions that result from positive tests for recreational drugs.

The same report also said Johnson “had a sexual indiscretion with at least one wife of a PGA Tour player.”

A rep for the tour did not respond to Golf.com’s request for comment.

Following the report, Fox Sports reporter Robert Lusetich tweeted that Johnson was known to have slept with not one, but two tour players’ wives.

Not a huge secret either that #DustinJohnson had affairs with 2 wives of PGA Tour players. One broke up the marriage.

— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) August 1, 2014

Johnson became engaged to Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, in August, 2013. He issued a statement Thursday that addressed his hiatus from the tour.

“I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced,” he said. “By committing the time and resources necessary to improve my mental health, physical well-being and emotional foundation, I am confident that I will be better equipped to fulfill my potential and become a consistent champion.”

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Now if the allegations concerning Johnson are indeed true, his philandering with the wives of many of the players on the PGA Tour does leave the player in an untenable position in terms of his relationships with his peers. As to what this also indicates concerning the behavior of a number of the Tour professionals does leave a great deal to be desired as well as the wholesome tradition Tim Finchem tries to sell to the public. With over $260 million in official prize money on the PGA Tour, as well as a further $60 million in unofficial prize money , by way of unofficial tournaments that remains in part, a bevy of the schedule, golf remains one of the most lucrative sports by way of the on course earnings afforded their professionals.

The PGA Tour much like the NFL , MLB and NBA , has created a charade of wholesomeness , that in no way could they have maintained , which their respective hierarchies tried to keep up the perception, while conning the fans and public alike their sports remained above reproach. Fact of the matter remains, golf has always been shrouded with some very dubious distinctions of which its greatest was and still remains racism , lack of diversity, and the ongoing bigoted and archaic values within Augusta National , home to The Masters . Only recently, have we seen the change in attitude of members of Augusta and even now, there still seems to be an aversion to real change within that bastion of male chauvinism and bigotry. Before Tiger Woods’ ascent to the top of the world rankings as well as winning fourteen Grand Slam Majors and seventy-four official PGA Tour wins. The last African-American golfers of note on the PGA Tour were Lee Elder and Calvin Peete. Perhaps, this was merely the PGA Tour’s lack of social response or the very fact they felt, the issue did not need to be addressed.

With Tiger Woods’ descent, the rise of Rory McIlroy might well have provided the PGA Tour with a real superstar the sport is now sorely missing. Phil Mickelson does not seem to be the player thought to be ready to lay down the gauntlet and in proving to be a real adversary for Tiger Woods. Bubba Watson appears to be all too robotic in his approach , character and the very fact he does not seem to be a real major draw on the Tour in spite of his career. Jordan Speith’s rise up the world rankings and Fedex Cup standings has simply afforded him a great deal of attention within the print media but until he notches that first real big win on the PGA Tour, he will be merely seen as another wunderkind, thought to be the heir-apparent.

Rory McIroy’s wire to wire-to-wire win of The Open at Hoylake and his most recent win of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational , simply emphasizes why he is now the best golfer on the planet . His world number one ranking , reinforces that fact and his dominance of the game comes at a time when golf is really in need of a genuine superstar and not a robotic character-less prototype thrown up on the PGA Tour , as the next American golfer that will dominate the game.

Dustin Johnson’s suspension and Tiger Wood’s recurrence of a back problem now leaves incoming USA Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson at a loss as to the possible replacements are likely to be , to fill out his twelve man roster for this biannual team competition featuring the US against the best Europe has to offer in terms of the European Tour players. With golf, having now become a global game , the two main tours are the PGA and the European Tour . Europe may well be made the presumptive favorites for the upcoming competition, set to begin on the 23rd September through to the 28th September at Gleneagles Golf Course , Gleneagles , Scotland. Paul McGinley as the European team captain will have a bevy of talent with a group of players made up of Major winners, regular competitors on the European Tour, as well as on the PGA Tour. . The bragging rights and unique distinction of this team competition, makes it one of the most anticipated and talked about sporting events in the world at the time of its scheduling. With Europe looking to take back the Ryder Cup trophy, this September, all eyes will be on Gleneagles , Scotland, once this competition gets underway.

Having won three of the four legs of the Majors which make up the career Grand Slam . Rory McIlroy would like nothing better than to join what is really a select list of golfers to have achieved that feat. Jack Nicklaus , Tiger Woods and Gary Player are three of the group of players to have achieved the feat, with Nicklaus’ eighteen Major wins heading the list of Grand Slam victories. It should be noted the tally would have been far greater for the Golden Bear , when you consider the number of runner-up finishes (second place) he tallied in the Majors over his illustrious career. The Green Jacket of The Masters is the one Major victory McIlroy now seeks to join the illustrious group in question, but this Thursday , with the start of the PGA Championship at the : Valhalla Golf Course in Louisville, Kentucky. The young Irishman will get the chance to win his fifth Major title and second in succession within a calendar year, should he prove victorious in taking the PGA crown. The odds might not favor McIlroy, but who is likely to really challenge him at this juncture, given his present form ?

Misery , sorrow , call it what you will, but the belly aching by the fans who saw the fall from grace of the Miami Heat was enough to make your stomach turn. You had the sheer idiocy of fans suggesting an ailing Dwyane Wade merely had to turn up for the postseason and barely lift an eyelid and the Heat would have swept their way to victory over the San Antonio Spurs . In reality, I know what makes the North American sports’ fan really tick, it is their inane stupidity and lack of real knowledge, only knowing to spurt real absurdities to make themselves sound knowledgeable. LeBron James was afforded as much aid by his teammates in this past NBA Finals as a gunshot wound victim would be given aid , had it been a Band Aid to cover a wound to the abdomen that was still bleeding profusely. Where was either Dwyane Wade or the ” overrated” Chris Bosh in these Finals ? I will tell you where , no fucking where to be seen , and yet the excuses as to the Heat’s demise were still forthcoming. Let’s put it this way , with the dumb ass lack of intelligence being shown by LeBron James’ apologists such as Stephen A Smith and Chris Broussard , I really wonder how the NBA has any real legitimacy with regard to the print media much less the lack of frigging intelligence shown by some fans !

With LeBron James now deciding to pull up sticks and make his way back to Cleveland and bringing a forgiving smile by rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers , all may well be right in the NBA world once again. Throw in for good measure , Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert seems to have had a change of heart about the player he once called self-centered, arrogant and disloyal. One might now ask , what must James now do to make the fans in Cleveland really happy ? An NBA title in the first year of his return will not be happening, even if based on the premise of the Cavaliers trading away their 2014 NBA number one draft pick , Andrew Wiggins to acquire power forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves .

Dan Gilbert, GM David Griffin and new head coach David Blatt , believe the acquisition of Kevin Love can best bolster the team roster, making them a legitimate contender within the Eastern Conference . While likely the case, I believe it too early to make such a presumption, not when you have a Chicago Bulls’ team led by Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah , reigning Defensive Player of the Year and the addition of a still productive veteran Pau Gasol. In the Bulls you have a team coached by the best coach in the NBA yet to win a title, by the name of Tom Thibodeau . Chicago can be considered a real threat and with Rose fit though not yet in real game shape , he is already proving to be his old self in terms of leadership skills, which have been on display while a member of the USA FIBA squad for the upcoming World Cup tournament. And with the injury suffered by Paul George of the Indiana Pacers during a team scrimmage, Rose’s place on the final team roster for the tournament seems assured. If he can merely find some of the form shown when he became one of the youngest players ever to win the NBA League MVP , then one has to look at the Chicago Bulls as a prohibitive favorite within the Eastern Conference this upcoming season. From a defensive standpoint the Bulls are one of the best teams within the conference and the league itself and might just be the most balanced team in the Eastern Conference with the addition of Pau Gasol.

The shakeup within the NBA caused by LeBron James’ defection to the Cleveland Cavaliers did not have desired effect one might have thought. Carmelo Anthony remained with the New York Knicks signing for more money , as if there was any real doubt , he would have left their offer on the table ? Phil Jackson will now seek to bolster what is still a very under-achieving team , with Amare’ Stoudemire still remaining a part of an equation , where his lack of productivity and bloated salary becomes more than an eyesore and afterthought. As to the reasons why Knicks’ fans seem so reassured , might have more to do with the choice of Derek Fisher to succeed Mike Woodson as the team’s head coach than it has to do with the Knicks’ 2014 draft class . Not exactly thrilling, but for the Knicks, anything which takes the spotlight off the organization’s incompetence has to be seen as a positive .

The Miami Heat’s loss of LeBron James has Pat Riley running to the hills , seeking to repair the damage done . During the season Riley essentially stood pat , not seeking to bolster a roster that was flawed in so many ways. Yet , there were fans and analysts alike enamored and in awe of a team playing in a weakened , mediocre division and conference . If any of them , simply took the time to look at what was happening in the Eastern Conference and its divisions, they would have noticed how dire the situation had become was simply ongoing from previous seasons . Instead, it was all about the greatness of LeBron and this team seeking to win back to back to back NBA titles. When you have a product which has become so putrid and bile inducing, as witnessed in the Eastern Conference, with fans are lauding over it as something spectacular , you simply have to wonder what might be going on inside their minds as well as that of the NBA hierarchy? Outgoing commissioner David Stern was lauded by owners and his peers as being a savior of the game, but his apparent willingness to overlook litany of behavioral issues of Donald Sterling and Rich DeVos , shows the former commissioner being an ass, as well as dubious and duplicitous in the league’s ongoing problems . Stern is to the NBA, what the Tea Party is now proving to be for the Republican Party, more of a burden, rather than a considerable boost .

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli , Kawhi Leonard and their teammates showed us what team work was all about during the finals and their clinical dismantling of their Eastern Conference opponents. Leonard showed us why Gregg Popovich had so much faith in the three-year starter in the league. He has matured into a dependable and solid player , likely to be the centerpiece of the Spurs’ future upon the retirement of the franchise’s Big Three of Duncan, Ginobli and Parker. Leonard’s winning of the Finals’ MVP Award was more than justified as he led the Spurs, showing signs of maturity beyond his years, as well as the fans witnessing his great all-round ability during the series. Could the same be said of anyone on the Miami Heat’s roster with the exception of LeBron James ?

In winning their fifth NBA title under Gregg Popovich , the San Antonio Spurs have proven themselves to be league’s most recent NBA dynasty. Something fans were quickly tying to anoint the Miami Heat with , after two titles and four appearances in the league’s showcase finale , during LeBron’s tenure with the franchise. Greatness, is normally afforded to teams and individuals who have achieved something special, but in the midst of the James’ saga, fans were seeking to anoint the player as the rightful successor to Michael Jordan . LeBron James while epitomizes determination , has become self-centered, less charismatic than the brand his handlers suggest him to be. Throw in the ongoing signs of immaturity, petulance and you have yourself an immature superstar, seeking to be in spotlight at all times , with the media there, simply to build him up into something he really is not.

Becky Hammon formerly of the San Antonio Stars of the WNBA and the Spurs’ affiliate within that particular league. In a notable first within the NBA, Hammon will become the first female to be a lead assistant coach in the NBA joining the coaching staff of Gregg Popovich. Also joining Popovich’s roster of coaches will be Ettore Messina whose vast experience and success in Europe cannot be discounted. The Italian brings with him an impressive resume’ in European club basketball. Hammon’s playing career in the WNBA makes her one of the game’s best players in the league’s history, where she is in the upper echelons of WNBA career statistics beyond the success achieved with the Stars. Whether or not her experience and career resume’ can equate with success , the Spurs and her gaining the respect of the male players remains to be seen over the course of this upcoming season. So far, she has the respect of the Spurs’ head coach and many of her counterparts on the Spurs’ coaching roster.

The NBA remains a bastion of male camaraderie , in spite of the league having the WNBA offshoot where women are afforded the chance to show off their skill-set within the game but unfortunately there too as well as within the league (NBA) itself there remains few opportunities for real advancement as a head coach much less as a league front executive.. So much for the hypocrisy of the motto of the NBA _______ the “ NBA Cares “ . This is a league so devoid of leadership and integrity, the only thing that seems to matter, is the amount of money annually pouring into their coffers.

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Picture gallery.

With the news of Dustin Johnson’s suspension by the PGA Tour and it being the most serious reprimand of a PGA Tour player , do you believe the Tour can survive its image taking such an adverse hit ? With the NBA preseason still a few months away but with the league itself still in a state of turmoil caused by ongoing litigation between Donald Sterling and the NBA, what do you feel will be the final outcome to this whole saga? Finally, what are your thoughts concerning how LeBron James left the Miami Heat after four seasons of substantial success ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) PGA Tour Chairman Tim Finchem . The chairman has a great deal to worry about concerning the PGA Tour’s image after the suspension of Dustin Johnson after his having failed a drug test for the third time . Johnson tested positive for cocaine but further allegations have surfaced suggesting he had slept with the wives of a number players on the Tour . AP Photo / Barry Mitchell …

(2) PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson who has taken a prolong leave of absence from the Tour schedule to deal with what he says are personal medical issues. A spokesperson for the Tour issued a public statement , noting Johnson has been suspended for a third failed drug test , having tested positive for cocaine use. Further allegations , yet to be substantiated , suggest he has also slept with the wives of several players on the Tour . Getty Images / Gary McAdams ….

(3) US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson is seen here alongside Tiger Woods . Woods hopes to make a full recovery in time to compete in the Ryder Cup for the USA . His standing among the ten players in the FedexCup standings would not make Tiger Woods an automatic choice . Only the top ten players are automatic choices , with the captain then having the discretion to fill out his twelve man roster with two more players to make up his team. Getty Images North America / Chris Woods ….

(4) Rory McIlroy seen here holding the Claret Jug having won the The Open at Hoylake , in Liverpool , England , this year . McIlroy led from wire to wire , never once being seriously challenged by any of his competitors in the tournament . He also recently won WGC Bridgestone Invitational in commanding style , placing himself back atop of the World Golf Rankings as the number one player in the world . Rory McIlroy now heads into Lexington , Kentucky and the Valhalla Golf Course , hoping to add the PGA Championship to his list of career achievements as well his Grand Slam tally in terms of victories . Getty Images / Harry How ….

(5) LeBron James meets young fans in the town of Akron , Ohio , recently having returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The return of the Prodigal Son to the franchise where he began his career in 2003 , will begin anew with a revamped roster , new head coach and coaching staff led by rookie head coach David Blatt . Getty Images / Hugh Davis …

(6) Becky Hammon formerly a player with the San Antonio Stars will now become a lead assistant on the coaching staff of the San Antonio Spurs . Hammon brings along a wealth of experience as a player in the WNBA , where she was a multiple WNBA All Star . AP Photo / Michael Proffitt ….

(7) Ettore Messina one of the most successful coaches in European club basketball history , having won four Euroleague titles . Messina and Becky Hammon will be joining the coaching staff of the San Antonio Spurs . Both assistants already have impressive starts to their careers with the franchise , bringing praises from head coach Gregg Popovich as well as from several players on the team’s roster. AP Photo/ Dean Jones ….

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tophatal …….

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Nikita Valentin . I just love what she does for this setting !

Nikita with some whipped cream and strawberries thrown in for good measure .

Tic-tac-toe …………..

Tic-tac-toe ……

In spite of his off the course issues, Tiger Woods still remains the most high-profiled and visible athlete on the planet. Granted, one could surmise that NBA player LeBron James , and Barcelona soccer star , Lionel Messi and his counterpart with Real Madrid , Cristiano Ronaldo , might now rival Woods , rival the PGA Tour player, in terms of popularity , if not commercial endorsement earnings . Tiger Woods has regained his status as a global marketing icon and world number one ranking , having earned on average in excess of $65 million a year , over the past six years, far exceeding that of the aforementioned athletes in question .

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In recent years, however, questions surrounding Woods, have been whether or not, he remains capable of winning another Grand Slam Major. Firmly entrenched for the present in second place, with fourteen Grand Slam titles to his name , four behind his icon and hero , Jack Nicklaus , who leads that illustrious list with eighteen titles over the course of his historic career. Needing another four to tie Nicklaus, seems to have been the toughest thing for Tiger Woods to achieve at this juncture, with his last Grand Slam Major win being the 2008 US Open , where he defeated fellow American , Rocco Mediate in a three-hole playoff contest , which was played at the Torrey Pines Golf Course , in La Jolla , California , a club and course well-known to the Californian native.

Woods’ recent off the course issues have been well chronicled and his handling of the issue and the well-orchestrated presentation of the facts, still leave a lot to be desired, as the player in some respects did seek to apportion blame elsewhere , for his personal infidelities , that led to the breakup of his marriage to former model Elen Nordegren . The golfer, is still represented by Mark Steinberg and his Excel Sports Management Agency Boutique . In stepping away from IMG , which still remains the world’s largest sports’ management company, encompassing a wide a variety of areas, beyond representing a litany of athletes around the globe. Woods now has an agent and a glut of Steinberg’s subordinates to deal with his almost every whim, be it something small, to the more complex , in terms of a grandiose request. In many respects, I believe that may well have been what led to Woods’ fall from grace, beyond his sexual peccadilloes!

In having so many people around him, always willing to say yes and to cater to his very need, made Tiger Woods believe that he was impervious to any type of criticism that was likely to come his way or be leveled at him , even when it came to his play on a golf course .

Having won the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award for the eleventh time of his career , when he won only five times on the PGA Tour last year , without a Major to his name. It could be said that Tiger Woods may well have won the award by default , but consider the fact, that in 2013 , no other golfer on the Tour was as successful, in terms of wins. Phil Mickelson , a considerable talent , has long been considered Woods’ greatest rival , but in the true sense of the word, it has been a rivalry built upon a myth, rather than the evidence being there to suggest otherwise. Rarely have the two played alongside each other , when there is said to have been a Major tournament on the line and when that has said to have been the case , one or the other, has failed to live up to expectations, normally , with Woods gaining the upper hand .

The Washington Post

Tiger Woods faces major decisions about his health and future

By Sally Jenkins , Columnist

View pictured timeline gallery of Woods’ career

By Sally Jenkins, Published: March 19 E-mail the writer

It’s impossible to know how serious Tiger Woods’s back problem is, whether it’s a temporary twinge or a serious herniation. But something more is going wrong with his game than back spasms. Woods is having cramps between the ears as well, the kind that come with fraying nerves, the betrayal of aging, and mental self-doubt.

Woods would not have withdrawn Tuesday from his favorite seasonal fire-starter of a tournament, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, unless he was in genuine physical distress. Bay Hill has long been his favorite tune-up, and obviously he sacrificed it because he’s concerned about his ability to be healthy for the Masters.

The problem is that Bay Hill has always been the place where Woods gets his mind right for Augusta. With eight victories in 16 entries, it’s where he convinces himself he’s in good enough form. The larger and more worrying context to his withdrawal is that, at 38, Woods seems increasingly unable to pull together his game, his body, and his head all at the same time in order to compete for major championships . A bad back, for example, isn’t why he’s become so susceptible to three-putts.

The notoriously close-mouthed Woods won’t describe the exact nature of his back problem except to say he’s treating it with “protocols.” Which has set off a frenzy of speculation over what is plaguing him. Which is the cart and which is the horse, his scattered swing or the injury? Has he become so chronically tweaky and injury-prone, with consecutive seasons of knee, elbow, Achilles’, and back ailments, that he’s less able to work on his game? Or is he more tweaky precisely because he has overworked himself, pushing his body in the gym and on the golf course with constant, torquing, insecure swing experiments?

Woods himself may not know the order, the cause and effect of his problems. There just is an overall sense of physical disorganization: in February in Dubai he seemed healthy but was wild off the tee, so he fiddled with his grip. That seemed to fix something. But then he needed 29 putts on 13 greens.

Woods’s former coach Hank Haney hazarded on his SiriusXM radio show back in January that one of Woods’s problems is that he has over-emphasized upper body bulk, at the expense of other parts of his game.

“My opinion is he did too much of that,” Haney said. “He does a lot of the gym stuff. I know you need to do some for golf, no doubt about it. You need to be in shape, you need to avoid injury, but my opinion is he really overdoes that.”

You wonder if Woods compromised his back with so much weight work.

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If the PGA Tour is to remain vital, as well as vibrant, then beyond Woods’ presence , Phil Mickelson, as well as Rory McIlroy , will have to provide more of a presence and a challenge for the best player of this generation and over the past sixteen seasons. As I alluded to earlier, the World Golf rankings , have Woods, back at the top of the table , with Australian , Adam Scott now standing at number two in the rankings . The 2014 PGA Tour schedule now has a revamped format , with the events starting even earlier than usual, for what now has become almost a calendar year-long season . Tiger Woods, is a five-time winner of the event and was due to be a participant , but has withdrawn, due to recurring back spasm pains . If at this stage of his career, the world’s number one of golfer is now suffering from this type of malady , then the likelihood of his surpassing Nicklaus’ eighteen Major Grand Slam wins, may well be insurmountable , never mind the fact that his seventy-nine career wins now stands second all-time on the careers’ list behind the legendary Sam Snead .

Were it not for Tiger Woods , the PGA Tour would not be in a position, where it has gone from a twenty event schedule and with total prize money of just over $ 6 million year , to where it has now become a multi-billion dollar entity, with over fifty-five events , of which officially , forty are PGA sanctioned for the scheduled calendar , with total prize money exceeding quarter of a billion dollars ($250 million) . I doubt that there are very few professional sports’ circuits, where there are such riches to be garnered, even for non-winners of an event , when a tenth place finish, can attract in excess of $100,000 in prize money, if there is not a tie amongst the top ten finishers !

I believe that Woods still remains capable of surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ all time Majors’ win tally , but much of that will be undoubtedly be predicated upon the player’s continued health issues and that of his mental mindset. There is no denying, at his every best or just slightly below it , he remains leaps and bounds , better than over ninety percent of his fellow competitors on the PGA Tour . The continued idiocy, of his peers having caught up to him, in terms of talent , is merely a way to create further debate , when in reality there is none to be had. Woods may no longer be winning at a constant clip , as first witnessed, in the early part of his career , or at the point , where he won four consecutive Majors , a feat not completed by any other golfer in history . To be truly that dominant, does take talent . and none of his current peers of this generation have been able to achieve that . Furthermore, as if to emphasize Woods influence and dominance on the game , consider the fact that , he is currently the only golfer on the PGA Tour to have won a career Grand Slam and to have won more than eight tournaments in a single season . So when we talk about dominance , why not put it into a real perspective and not through the idiocy of the type of asinine analysis that at times has been provided by the likes of buffoons, such as Johnny Miller and Jim Gray or a columnist such as Christine Brennan !

Were Woods still competing at the Bay Hill Invitational and in contention , then in all likelihood the television viewership is likely to be considerably less than anticipated , another reason why the PGA Tour has become reliant upon Woods more than any other golfer in the game’s history for its rise in prominence, beyond the player’s ethnicity. On the flip side of this equation, it is somewhat unfortunate , that the game especially on the PGA Tour has not seen a greater participation of players of ethnicity that are home-grown and of American origin . Other than, Notah Begay III , the only other minority to compete in PGA Tour sanctioned event just happens to be only Tiger Woods. Neither Woods or PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem have been able to give a convincing enough explanation for such an absenteeism , given the disparity and the very fact that perhaps golf’s most prestigious tournament outside of the British Open , The US Masters , until a few years ago was very much restrictive in its allowance of female members at Augusta , Georgia , never mind the fact, that until Woods’ first appearance in that event in 1997 , when he won the tournament. The last player of color to compete in the event as an invitee who happened to be an African-American or ethnic American , was in fact Lee Elder in competing , in the 1975 Masters.

Golf still has a long way to go before it can actually find an acceptance amongst minorities , wherein the game itself is more affordable amongst the masses, rather than continuing to be a sport, that primarily meets the economic reach of a select few. Tiger Woods and his foundation , may well be trying to change that image as such, but with the main emphasis of the organization being to provide a safe haven for at risk youth and that of a starting point in getting an education and learning self-respect. The fruits of the labor, by way of the PGA have yet to be met , nor have they made their own evidence public , as to having met any of the goals that they are said to have set, in making the game more accessible to minorities at large .

The third round of the Bay Hill Invitational is still in progress , with the lead being held by Adam Scott at -14 , a seven-stroke advantage over second-place J B Holmes , shared also by Chesson Hadley and Francesco Molinari , with Keegan Bradley , a further shot back at -6 under par. Scott will be looking at this , as making further inroads into the world ranking points’ lead that Tiger Woods maintains over him at present , while also seeking to find some form with the first Grand Slam Major of the season less than a month away. The 2014 Masters at Augusta, April 10th to 13th, will be where Adam Scott will be looking to become the first player to make a successful defense of the “Green Jacket” , since Tiger Woods in 2002 , with the world’s number one golfer having won that tournament in 2001 , the year previously.

With the Valero Texas Open , at the AT&T Oaks Course in San Antonio, Texas and the Shell Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble , Texas , being the only two intervening tournaments between now and The Masters , it will be interesting to see whether or not Tiger Woods makes an appearance in either contest in the lead-up to the first Major of the season. Without an appearance , it would be extremely difficult to view the four-time winner of that prestigious event, as a prohibitive favorite , but at the same time , it would also be foolish to count him out altogether , given his experience in the event.

Phil Mickelson will be making an appearance at the Valero Open, hoping to sharpen up his game, in preparation for The Masters . Adding another Major to his career , would prove to be of benefit to a former winner of the Green Jacket and solidify his place as one of the best US golfers of the past decade and a half. Elevation into the World Golf Hall of Fame awaits both Woods, with the duo having already met the criteria for induction into that hallowed vestige of golf’s very best. For the moment however, we can simply watch their exploits on the course , with the continued hope, that they can provide us all, with a great deal more excitement , thrills and great golf over the remainder of their collective careers !

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Picture gallery .

Share your thoughts with regard to this article and what if anything, do you believe Tiger Woods has actually done for the sport of golf overall ?

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(1) Arnold Palmer , is seen here with PGA Tour professional Tiger Woods after the player won the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational at the Bay Hill Course , in Orlando , Florida , in 2013. It was one five tournament wins for Woods , last season , during which he won over $8.556 million in prize money , pushing his career earnings from golf alone to over $105 million , in prize money alone . He is the first such golfer to achieve that feat , even if one were to take into account inflation , concerning earlier earnings . AP Photo / Chris Belcher ……

(2) Tiger Woods shares a few moments with golf legend Jack Nicklaus as they walk the course prior to the start of the 2000 PGA Championship , which was held at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville , Kentucky ,. Woods go on to defeat Bob Tway to win the tournament . Getty Images / Scott Messner …..

(3) From left to right , Phil Mickelson , Tiger Woods and Adam Scott are seen here at the 2013 Tour Championship , which was played at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta , Georgia . Long considered by the Tour professionals as one of golf’s best tournaments , outside of the four Grand Slam Majors , the event was won by Henrik Stenson of Sweden . Stan Badz/ Getty Images ……..

(4) Golf pioneer Lee Elder gets all emotional, having been greeted by Tiger Woods , after the player had just won The Masters . Elder was the first African-American player to be granted an invitation to play in the event , when golf as a professional sport on the PGA Tour became desegregated in 1961 . Ames Bishop / Ebony Magazine ….. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …….

(5) Adam Scott hits from the fairway on the fifth hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Orlando, Fla ,. Will Allen Jr/ AP Photo ….

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It’s Better To Have Loved Than Lost , Than Not To Have Loved At All …. Or To Paraphrase ………. Just Win Baby !


It’s Better To Have Loved Than Lost , Than Not To Have Loved At All …. Or To Paraphrase ………. Just Win Baby !

By tophatal …… 06/04/2012 …….. 07:37 AM (EST)

Well over the weekend PGA Tour golfer Tiger Woods set himself apart from his peers , having officially won for the 72nd time on the PGA Tour . With that victory in The Memorial Tournament at the Muirfield Club, Muirfield Village , Dublin , Ohio , an official tournament hosted by former PGA great Jack Nicklaus . This had a special meaning for both the victor and the host , Woods’ feat tournmanet tied him for second all-time on the PGA Tour official wins’ along with Nicklaud and leaves him only 5 wins behind the all-time Tour wins leader Sam Snead and his total of 78 wins . In winning this tournament , one of the most prestigious on the Tour outside of the four Majors and the The Players Championship , Woods announced himself to the world , that he’s back. Along with the victory , which moves the player up to fourth in the official World rankings , also came the points that now places him inside the top 5 of the Fedex Cup standings .

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What this now does for Tiger Woods , it now gives him a boost in confidence and if anything it now places something of a sense of foreboding for his peers on the Tour. With the US Open due to be played (13th June-17th June, 2012) 7 days at Olympia Club in San Francisco, California , , no doubt the odds-makers in Las Vegas will have Tiger Woods as an odds on favorite to win his fourteenth Major as well as his third US Open . As to what this now signifies for the fans , it’s plain and simple to see . A resurgent Woods means added coverage of the PGATour , greater attendances for tournaments for which he is a participant , but above all it means a wider television viewing audiece for the most popular athlete on the planet . Now for the uninitiated , let’s make one thing clear , that while the likes of Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson are good for the game but unless Woods is actually center-stage then absolutely no one gives a damn what is actually happening on the PGA Tour . PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem knows it , and so do the likes of the aforementioned Johnson , Watson , and most certainly the likes of Rory McIlroy , and Lee Westwood . The latter duo , are the two players now vying for the number one spot atop of the world rankings .

If nothing else , Woods now has to prove that this victory simply wasn’t another flash in the pan , and now go out seek to add to his tally of Majors’ wins ,while at the same time seeking to surpass Snead’s Tour wins’ total.

I’ll certainly say this , for both the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs as they now seem to be making things extremely difficult for themselves as the NBA Playoffs progress . The conference finals are now in full swing , with the home teams having held sway , and each series now tied at two games apiece (2-2). If nothing else this now makes both series more enticing , intriguing and above all else most thrilling for the most avid of NBA fans . There has been some exhilarating play from the likes of Dwyane Wade , LeBron James , Rajon Rondo , Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Tony Parker . And the four teams now vying to be the finalists in this season’s NBA Finals are certainly looking and proving to be the best quartet of teams that entered these Playoffs. playoffs . Now while the postseason has been in full swing , the one remaining constant has been the inconsistency of the officiating during the series that have taken place . Certainly , a great deal of criticism can be leveled at the referees but most notably what hasn’t changed is the very fact that NBA Commissioner David Stern doesn’t seem to believe that there’s any need of urgency to address the the complaints of the coaches or that of the players. Plainly put , if there is one iota of criticism leveled , then the complainant can look forward to a monetary fine from the commissioner , who is not prepared to accept any criticism of the officiating , be it justified or not . Stern , plain and simple terms runs the NBA as if it were his own banana republic whereby he’s the ruling dictator .

Last night’s game in the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat was a ” game ” for the ages . The Celtics having eked out an eighteen point lead at one point , then had to stifle the offensive prowess of the Miami Heat. LeBron James “fouled” out , and so too , did Paul Pierce , leaving a number of role players on either team having to show their somewhat limited abilities in terms of their offense . Dwyane Wade for his part , did as much as he could and in the waning moments had the chance to put the game beyond the reach of the Boston Celtics . However, his three-point attempt came up short , with the Celtics’ players and their fans exhaling that deep breath and taking in the rapture of victory .

Now tied at two games apiece the Eastern Conference Finals all now comes down to a best-of-three-game series . The loser , essentially goes home with their tails between their legs , and absolutely nothing to show for it all , at the end of the day . Tuesday night the series resumes in Miami , with the Heat hosting their conference rivals , in what is sure to be a highly competitive game , that once again will be filled with moments of extraordinary plays and no doubt a number of errors .

In what has been match-up to my mind the two best teams left in the NBA Playoffs , as the Western Conference Finals offers us the San Antonio Spurs and the young upstarts of the Oklahoma City Thunder . Home teams have held sway in this series and it is now becoming clear that neither franchise will “give any quarter” . And that is to be expected given the competitiveness of both sets of players and the very fact that we have two very astute coaches , in , Gregg Popovich of the Spurs and Scott Brooks of the Thunder. And what essentially earlier in the series looked as if the Spurs were intent on making this a quick and painless exit for Thunder as they clinically dissected their opponent in the first two games . We are now seeing Popovich’s players make needless mistakes at the most inopportune of moments , never mind the fact that Tony Parker seems to have been corralled by the defensive prowess of Serge Ibaka . And therein , now lies the story , as the drama unfolds in this series . Defense wins championships and these are two highly skilled defensive teams who also just happen to be highly skilled also from an offensive standpoint . And this has been on display throughout the course of the series played within the Western Conference this postseason. The winner of this series between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder is likely to be viewed as prohibitive favorite against whichever opponent comes out of the East .

The Western Conference series resumes to tonight with game five being played at the AT & T Center in San Antonio , Texas . Gregg Popovich knows that this his team can ill-afford to lose the game , knowing full well that by going down 3-2 , they would then have to stave off elimination in game six . On the flip side of the coin the same such premise would also face Scott Brooks’ players . So what is it to be as of now ? Which player or players are likely to step up for their respective teams at this juncture ? Care to offer up your thoughts and observations ?

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With Woods’ victory in The Memorial Tournament which also was his second Tour victory of the season , do you believe the player to be a legitimate contender for the upcoming US Open ? If so , then clearly state your reasons why ? If not then once again proffer up what you believe will be Tiger Woods’ fate in the third Major of the season ? Now that both series within the NBA conference finals following the pattern on the home teams taking each of the games played where and how do you see an outright victor coming out of each of the the Eastern and Western Conference Finals ?

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(1) Tiger Woods plays during the final round of the Memorial golf tournament Sunday, June 3, 2012, in Dublin, Ohio. AP Photo/Jay LaPrete …

(2) Tiger Woods plays during the final round of the Memorial golf tournament Sunday, June 3, 2012, in Dublin, Ohio. AP Photo/Jay LaPrete ….

(3) Jack Nicklaus , right, talks with Tiger Woods after Woods won the Memorial golf tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, Sunday, June 3, 2012. AP Photo/Tony Dejak …..

(4) BOSTON, MA – JUNE 03: Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers argues with referee Bill Kennedy (55) against the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 3, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images …

(5) Rajon Rondo (9) of the Boston Celtics passes the ball against (from L) Dwyane Wade (3), LeBron James(6) and Shane Battier (31) of the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 3, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images …

(6) Dwyane Wade (3) of the Miami Heat attempts a shot against Marquis Daniels #4 of the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 3, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ..

(7) James Harden (13) of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for a shot between Danny Green (4) and Tony Parker (9) of the San Antonio Spurs in the second half in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 2, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images ….

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Hot chic pic of the day . Actress Paula Patton , who’s not exactly dressed for dinner . My question , define ” dinner” and if she were a meal , would she be the “main course ” or the ” hors-doeuvre ” ?

Can You Smell What Tiger Woods Is Cooking ? Or Better Yet That’s Not His Cooking But Simply Another Act Of Flatulence From The Player ……. !

Can You Smell What Tiger Woods Is Cooking ? Or Better Yet That’s Not His Cooking But Simply Another Act Of Flatulence From The Player ……. !

So Tiger Woods having missed the cut in the PGA Championship being staged at the Atlanta Athletic Club , Atlanta on the St Johns Creek Golf Course. The final golf major of the PGA Tour schedule saw former the world number one perform so badly and in his post round interview coming up with the non-sensical comments ____ that he was unsure of the lengths that he was driving the ball on the course . He would go on to blame his poor play on the fact that his equipment wasn’t up to par . Somehow I do believe that the player has become delusional and not quite in touch as to the real reasons why his game has taken such a monumental slump .

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From a personal standpoint I do believe that Tiger Woods’ game at present is so mediocre that it doesn’t bear talking about . The player himself having overcome his own personal demons we’ve been led to believe , is now a shell of his former self and at the same time I certainly don’t believe that he’s anywhere near as fit as he somehow claims to be . Once a meticulous preparer in terms of his game and how he applied himself to the task at hand , it now looks as if Woods is essentially playing from memory . The problem being that , his memory just like his game is simply shot to hell !

In missing the cut and tying for 117th in the PGA Championship , this was the worse finish of his career in a grand slam major . Now one could make a great deal in the split , whereby Tiger Woods chose to let go of his caddy Steve Williams during which their decade long association , the player won 13 of his fourteen majors and another 57 tournaments worldwide. The former world number one may well have wanted a fresh start but at what cost to his overall psyche ? It certainly hasn’t helped in knowing that in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational his former caddy and Adam Scott won that tournament and the Australian now seems to be in a strong position to make a charge the final major of the season .

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Tiger Woods reacts after missing a putt on the fourth hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga. AP Photo/Matt Slocum …..

Condescending and calculating in almost everything that he now does , Tiger Woods simply isn’t an individual who has learned anything from his own self absorbed behavior or sexual peccadilloes . His less than contrite apology in lieu of his sexual trysts was laughable at best and clearly orchestrated to seek some empathy from the public at large . Nonetheless, as he marches on I am not so sure the player actually knows which direction he’s now going ! His agent , agency IMG and the player are at odds how best to make their biggest client more amenable to their corporate sponsors and the consumers at large . Still the biggest earner in all of sports in terms of endorsements the world of Tiger Woods’ world is getting smaller by the second but where it matters most that world has now become a complete cavern of ineptitude .

It’d be remiss to think that Tiger Woods’ game won’t be resurgent once again but it will take time for the player regain the form and prowess shown when he topped world golf rankings winning tournament around the globe at an amazing clip. His slide down the rankings and the fact that he’s nowhere to be seen in the Fedex Cup standings makes that whole season ending scenario now seem something of a monotonous bore . Woods’ reconstruction of his game and identity is bound to take time and in doing so it takes away as to the importance of the game as it now stands . And that is even in spite of precocious young players such Rory McIroy , Ryo Ishikawa , Dustin Johnson and Matteo Manaserro . Without Woods on the PGA Tour is akin to being in dark cave without there being any light whatsoever to view one’s surroundings. There are those who say that the Tour will survive without Tiger Woods but in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

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In Tiger Woods’ freefall , do you feel that he’s solely to blame, or is it more about the fact that his peers are now better than ever before ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on this topic and your own thoughts on the PGA Championship thus far .

Alan aka tophatal …….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1) JOHNS CREEK, GA – AUGUST 13: Current PGA Championship tournament leader Jason Dufner walks towards the 18th green during the third round of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club on August 13, 2011 in Johns Creek, Georgia. Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images ..

(2) Jason Dufner lines up a putt on the 17th green during the third round of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club on August 13, 2011 in Johns Creek, Georgia. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images ……………

(3) Joint co-leader Brendan Steele watches his tee shot on the 16th hole during the third round of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club on August 13, 2011 in Johns Creek, Georgia. Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images …………

(4) Tiger Woods reacts after missing a putt on the fourth hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga. AP Photo/Matt Slocum ……

(5) Tiger Woods wipes his face during the second round of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club on August 12, 2011 in Johns Creek, Georgia. Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images ……

(6) Tiger Woods answers a question following his second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ………..

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Had Your Dose Of Sports Over The Weekend ?

Had Your Dose Of Sports Over The Weekend ?

Well for myself the sporting weekend transitioned itself around Rory McIlroy simply decimating a world class field at the US Open at Congressional Golf Club in Bethesda , Maryland . The margin of victory not withstanding a resounding 8 stroke victory by McIlroy over his closest rival Jason Day . Now the whole world will want to know what awaits McIlroy and how would he have fared had Tiger Woods been in the field ? From my own perspective given Woods’ recent run of form I doubt that the result would have been any different ! Suffice to say while Woods remains the yardstick against which the current contemporaries are to be adjudged , in reality the Tiger of old isn’t currently around .

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Things are now beginning to look rather bleak for the Florida Marlins . In the month of June this team has won only one of their last eighteen games and the fact that manager Edwin Rodriguez simply walked away from the organization and team having tendered his resignation simply indicates how dire things had become for the NL East franchise . Now with eighty year old Jack McKeon being asked by GM Larry Beinfest to assume control of this beleaguered team I am not so sure that things can be drastically turned around .

Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress soon have his freedom having been incarcerated at the taxpayers’ expense . And for the player who now looks to resurrect his NFL career it will be interesting to see what teams if any take an open interest in the former Pro Bowl wideout . Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has made it his desire to have Burress become a teammate of his with the Eagles . But I doubt that either team coach Andy Reid or GM Joe Banner are seeking to make another reclamation project out of another troubled NFL player . Vick in spite of his successes last season still has a long way to go to prove to everyone that he’s actually back to his very best as a player but even more so as a leader .

There’s no doubt in my mind that Burress still has something to offer to a team but given the player’s predilection to self implode , if I were a general manager much less an NFL team owner his joining my organization would have to be based upon his demeanor and actual acknowledgement that he has now changed for the better as a human being . Beyond that not much else would really matter other than him being productive on the field of play .

There’s no doubt in my mind that the rules of the NFL are there for a reason especially where it involves the players concerning gambling. It is now being widely reported that as many twenty five NFL players are known to be investors in a gaming concern in Alabama . The owner of the casino Country Crossing —- Ron Gilley is under indictment by the Justice Department along with two lobbyists for offering state legislator millions of dollars in bribes in order to facilitate the approval and building of the casino in Dothan , Alabama .

The NFL’s rules are very clear on this matter wherein it states that current NFL players are barred from being involved in any type of gaming concern from a business standpoint . In doing so it creates the perception that in some way that there could be a conflict of interest and any type of impropriety that a player or players whilst on the field of play could effect the outcome of game . Well given the fact that the league as such welcomes to the actions of gamblers betting on their games I can’t see how they feel that an NFL player hasn’t been wagering on the games where they are already participants ! It would be naïve to think otherwise , albeit that no one has been caught but I think it is pretty safe to say that the players around the NFL have their own proclivities when it comes to games of chance . Tens of millions of dollars are wagered each year on the Superbowl and I am quite sure that there have been a number of players around the NFL that have profited directly or indirectly from placing a bet on the game . The NFL hierarchy if they do decide to conduct an investigation into this matter than the ramifications could well be very serious for the players involved at the center of this drama .

I’ve never been one to get completely enamored over the glare of the limelight or the very fact that some athletes tend to think of themselves as being bigger than the game. But in light of the recent meltdown of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals and the mere fact that the team’s All Star LeBron James has began to chastise the fans for his and his team’s own shortcoming has me now believing more so than ever before that this is the monster that David Stern has created ! Instead of the NBA being a team sport it has now become a heartless ego driven endeavor where upon it is the stars/ marquee players that we are meant to be enthralled by rather than the teams themselves .

If James’ behavior and that of his teammate Dwyane Wade wasn’t enough of an indicator of that then I for one don’t know what is ! ! Self aggrandizement and the mocking of an opponent who at the time was said to be ill shows the lack of class in the two aforementioned players . But yet team President Pat Riley continued to bitch and whine when any criticism was being leveled at the team or his famous duo of stars . In the end nothing could have been much sweeter than seeing the Miami Heat juggernaut being derailed by the Dallas Mavericks and Finals’ MVP Dirk Nowitzki . When all said and done the better and far more deserving team proved to be victorious and laying to rest the myth that having a trio of superstars elicits a win of a title . Teams win titles , where the endeavor is meant to about showing cohesiveness and a genuine will to win and nothing resembling that was ever on display by the Miami Heat throughout the NBA Finals and their series loss to the Dallas Mavericks !

I was never enamored with the NHL and I don’t think I ever will be ! In light of the Boston Bruins having won the Stanley Cup in defeating the Vancouver Canucks . The display by Canucks’ fans in the aftermath of the team’s game seven loss was enough of an indicator that it simply doesn’t matter where the fans are from their baser instincts are always the same ! Act like a Neanderthal and you’ll viewed as such ! The fans went on a postgame riot , looting , burning cars and damaging businesses in the city of Vancouver that in the could run into several million dollars worth of damages . But what might be even more ludicrous may well have been the public statement issued by the city’s police chief , Jim Chu in stating that the incidents and acts of violence resulting in over 100 arrests and 150 people injured were merely the acts of the criminal element with nothing better to do . I wonder if Chu’s mindset would still have been the same had there been far more serious injuries resulting with someone’s death ? Isn’t it bad enough that his city was shown in a thoroughly bad light after these riots , never mind the fact that the game’s image has been tarnished by the events that took place ?

Granted, no sport is ever without its bad elements but the mere fact that Chu chooses to write this off as a criminal element choosing to take advantage of a sporting events smacks of sheer stupidity on his part . If anything it furthermore paints a poor picture of his city and the fact that those involved are nothing more than a marauding bunch of hooligans . That asides , if the hockey fan out there becomes this disgruntled because their team loses in the game’s showcase event then it simply shows another reason why the game continues to flounder in more ways than one from a commercial and professional endeavor .

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as your thoughts .

Alan aka tophatal …… https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1) U.S. Open golf championship winner Rory McIlroy, or Northern Ireland, right, is handed his U.S. Open trophy by Francois-Henry Bennahmias, left, president and CEO of Audemars Piguet (North America) Inc., during an event at the Willowbend Country Club in Mashpee, Mass., Monday, June 20, 2011. AP Photo/The Cape Cod Times, Merrily Cassidy …

(2) Bethseda, Maryland: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and his father Gerry McIlroy pose with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images …

(3) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks with the media after his eight-stroke during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images …

(4) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks onto the eightenth green before winning the 111th US Open by eight strokes over Jason Day with a record 268 at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011, in Bethesda, Maryland. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON …..

(5) Florida Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest, left, talks to reporters as interim manager Jack McKeon looks on during a news conference in Miami, Monday, June 20, 2011. Beinfest announced McKeon’s second term as manager of the Marlins. AP Photo/Alan Diaz ……

(6) Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields , right, is congratulated by catcher Kelly Shoppach after throwing a four-hitter in the Rays’ 2-1 victory over the Florida Marlins in a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Sunday, June 19, 2011.

(7) Former New York Giants wide receiver, Plaxico Burress is seen holding onto a cup of coffee and wearing a Philadelphia Phillies hat while out in New York City. On June 6th, Burress was released from prison after nearly spending two years behind bars on gun charges. Courtesy of Pacific coast news.com ….

(8) Former NFL wide receiver Plaxico Burress attends a press conference at National Urban League on June 13, 2011 in New York City. Getty Images North America / Joe Corrigan ……

(9) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles takes the field before playing against the Green Bay Packers in the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Getty Images /Al Bello ….

(10) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles walks of the field after losing to the Green Bay Packers during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles would lose to the Packers 21-16 Getty Images / Al Bello ….

(11) FILE – This June 1, 2011 file photo shows Miami Heat President Pat Riley talking to reporters in Miami. Riley says he will not return to coaching, and says the team has a strong leader in Erik Spoelstra . Riley spoke Tuesday, June 21, 2011, at his annual end-of-season wrap-up and touched on several topics including the disappointment of Miami’s loss in the NBA finals to the Dallas Mavericks. AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File …

(12) Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki, of Germany, fights back tears as fans cheer following his introduction during a celebration following the team’s victory parade, Thursday, June 16, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks earned their first NBA basketball championship by defeating the Miami Heat. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ……

(13) MIAMI, FL – JUNE 12: LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat walks into the interview room to answer questions after the Heat were defeated 105-95 by the Dallas Mavericks in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida.

(14) Riot police walk in the street on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver broke out in riots after their hockey team the Vancouver Canucks lost in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images …..

(15) Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron carries the Stanley Cup aloft as he walks through a crowd of onlookers from Tia’s Restaurant in Boston on Thursday, June 16, 2011, one day after the Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in Game 7 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(16) Police on horseback move down a street during a riot following the Vancouver Canucks being defeated by the Boston Bruins in the NHL Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday, June 15, 2011. Angry, drunken revelers ran wild Wednesday night after the Vancouver Canucks’ 4-0 loss to Boston in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, setting cars and garbage cans ablaze, smashing windows, showering giant TV screens with beer bottles and dancing atop overturned vehicles. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz ….

(17) Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu seen here speaking with the convened press . copyrighted material @ All rights reserved Post Media News / Ethan Baron ……

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What’s Happening In The World of Sports … ?

What’s Happening In The World of Sports … ?

Well now that the MLB season is slowly progressing towards its halfway point and with the league’s midseason showcase event due in July with the All Star Game being hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field , in Phoenix , Arizona. It well be interesting to see how the teams come into the break in terms of their overall form .

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The standings at present reflect that Philadelphia Phillies seem to be intent on running away with the NL East . They currently hold a 5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves within the division and though it’s way too early to suggest that they will be playing for the NLCS during the postseason but it would appear that the only thing that can derail the Phillies’ season would be their own complacency . Within the NL Central and NL West it would appear the races there are too close to call between the top two teams within each division . Tight races tend to add a great deal more excitement to the season and there’s no doubt in my mind that’s what the fans really yearn . And that is liable to be the case at present within both of the divisions in question .

Within the AL it’s business as usual within the AL East where the Boston Red Sox are now prepared to show that their recent form isn’t merely an aberration. On a two game winning streak and winners of nine of their last ten games the Red Sox now look as if they’re look distance themselves from the rest of the division. Their 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field was certainly a hard fought win but that’s simply the mindset of what now is the most competitive division within baseball. This division to my mind will most certainly provide the wildcard entrant for AL without a doubt unless there’s a monumental meltdown by the runner up to the winner of the AL East.

As was the premise with the NL Central and NL West well once again here too the races may well be too close to call within the AL Central and AL West . What we can be certain of within both divisions is that the teams won’t be giving up until the divisions are mathematically out of their reach in terms of winning or possibly attaining that lone wildcard berth .

Now as much as I know that Commissioner Bud Selig the league hierarchy in conjunction with the team owners have proposed expanding the playoffs’ format by adding two more teams within each league . I certainly believe that the hierarchy’s biggest issue is to deal with the financial problems now engulfing a number of teams within the league rather than adding to the playoffs and further elongating the season far more than it needs to be. I mean it’s not as if Selig has actually shown the propensity for being proactive on any issue unless he’s dragged kicking and screaming , then being forced to make a decision. Simply look at the morass created by Frank McCourt with the Los Angeles Dodgers ? If that’s not enough of an indication to show mind numbingly slow Selig was in acting , given the fact that it had been widely reported that the franchise was financially troubled . Then clearly Bud Selig along with the owners and league hierarchy were in fact so naive but perhaps even more so , too damn stupid for their own good .

I’m not about to try understand the fascination with Ricky Rubio and the fact that the player now says he’s ready to play in the NBA . Granted , having been drafted in 2009 by the Minnesota Timberwolves , the player sought to forgo joining the organization and play an additional two years in Europe where the financial inducement there was far greater than the front office could have offered with a rookie contract. Team owner Glen Taylor and GM David Kahn now feel that the player having made the decision to join the team can provide them with the form and maturity that simply belies his age.

In the aftermath of a horrendous season the Timberwolves now have to deal with the disatisfaction of their incumbent coach Kurt Rambis and the mere fact that neither Glen Taylor or David Kahn have assured their beleaguered coach that he’ll be asked to return next season. With there not being a plethora of viable candidates out there to succeed Rambis should he be relieved of his duties . I would have thought that the the general manager and team owner would want to reassure the coach that his job is safe. Furthermore , with the NBA Draft due to take place on 23rd June I certainly would have thought that a coaching upheaval would be the last things that this franchise now needs . But herein lies the idiocy of how the Timberwolves have simply acted , as if in a vacuum and perhaps one of the reasons why they’ve simply had little success over the last five years. Beset by rather asinine personnel decisions made not only by Kahn but also his predecessor Kevin McHale this organization has never gained any traction in terms of success .

With the Minnesota Timberwolves having the number # 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft it will be interesting to see the decision made by the organization. As such there isn’t a genuine consensus number one pick but the thought is that the two most desirable players could well be Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams . From there , it’s anyone’s guess as to what format will be then taken in terms of the players taken in this Draft .

As the NFL work stoppage has already entered its ninetieth day I can’t help but wonder what the optimism amongst the team owners , league hierarchy and players appears to be about ! Hell, both sides have already alienated the vast majority of fans to begin with . And no amount of public statements coming from both sides concerning the progress now being made can simply hide the fact that what we have are two groups of greedy fucking bastards ! The average salary of an NFL player is $1.9 million per year with the median salary $770,000 and the average career span being approximately three and a half years . I understand that the players are entitled the highest possible salary available to them given the inherent risks of the game . But herein lies my question do they try and identify themselves with the fan out there ? I’ve heard a number of players during this stoppage state their issues are no different from that of any employee in the work place . Personally, I seriously doubt that the working fan who attends an NFL game can actually identify with the likes of Tom Brady , Peyton Manning or even Reggie Bush for that matter when their salaries run into the millions each season . Whereas as the average salary nationwide is approximately $44,000 per year , one can well understand that fan can hardly identify with a player who’s compensation package , endorsements notwithstanding can easily exceed $15 million a year.

From a fan’s standpoint , at this moment in time I couldn’t really care if the NFL starts on schedule as planned on the 8th September 2011 . Once this dispute came into being with a stoppage the NFL simply lost me and many others as long term fans . I’m of no doubt that they will however do their utmost to lure us all back with some form of inducement that we might too unbelievable to turn down . It has already began with a number of teams around the NFL in many cases offering deep discounts on for the purchase of season tickets and game day tickets in a number of instances .

So the US Open golf tournament is underway and all of this without the game’s biggest draw in Tiger Woods . The stage is set at Congressional Golf Club in Bethseda , Maryland for any one of a number of players to step into Woods’ shoes and show the fans they can become the main draw for the event . From my own standpoint the moment made the announcement that he wouldn’t be participating in the second Major of the season I simply knew that the tournament could either become a monumental disaster from spectators yearning for excitement . As it now stands the leaderboard for the tournament midway through two rounds isn’t exactly awe inspiring . Rory McIlroy leads the event with an eight stroke lead at -11 (11 under par). And to think that a patron stated that the player’s meltdown in the year’s first Major The Masters was simply because he wasn’t good enough . I guess when your knowledge of the game borders on the level of Palin’s knowledge of jurisprudence and the number of members seated on the US Supreme Court I guess you simply have to take that for all it’s worth ? Sitting solely in second place is Y. E. Yang at -3 , in third place is Robert Garrigus at .-2.

There is still two more rounds to be played in this tournament but if McIlroy is able to keep his composure with the pressure bearing down on him then it is my belief that he can win this tournament and cement his credentials as one of the best young players on the PGA Tour . Having already established himself on the European Tour as well as a member of a winning European Ryder Cup team the future bodes well for the young Irishman . In an earlier article I had intimated that I firmly believe that the US Open could be won by a foreigner as I felt that the US born players have now simply become too disinterested in their national championship and in large , the Majors themselves . With there being vast sums at stake on the Tour schedule and total prize money in excess of $ 225 million it begs the question are they actually interested in winning or merely cashing a check for a top twenty finish ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ………….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show for your perusal .

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(1) Philadelphia Phillies’ Ryan Howard (6) celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run against the Florida Marlins in the fifth inning of a baseball game on Thursday, June 16, 2011, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 3-0 . AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr ….

(2) PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 16: PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 16: during the game against the at Citizens Bank Park on June 16, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 3-0. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images ….

(3) Outfielder B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays steals second base as shortstop Marco Scutaro (10) of the Boston Red Sox is late with the tag during the game at Tropicana Field on June 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(4) Pitching coach Jim Hickey (48) of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with pitcher David Price (14) during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on June 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Red Sox would go on to defeat the Rays 4-2 Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(5) Spanish basketball player Ricky Rubio gives a press conference on June 17, 2011, at the Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona, to announce that he was leaving the Catalan team to make his debut in the NBA next season at Minnesota Timberwolves.
AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO /Getty Images …

(6) Head coach Kurt Rambis of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts to a play against the Houston Rockets during a game on April 13, 2011 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images …

(7) T’wolves’ GM David Kahn (foreground) and the team’s owner Glen Taylor answer questions from the convened press at a team press conference. picture appears courtesy of espn.com/ ap/photo/ Martin Geshell ……………….

(8) Tom Brady and Peyton Manning shake hands after an NFL game . The two celebrated quarterbacks are amongst the highest paid players in the NFL . Getty Images/ Jim Rogash ……

(9) BETHESDA, MD – JUNE 17: The handwritten scores of Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in the press room during the second round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images ……

(10) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland swings from the bunker on the ninth hole during the second round of the 111th US Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011, in Bethesda, Maryland. TOPSHOTS/AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON ….

(11) Y. E. Yang, of South Korea, watches his drive from the fourth tee during the second round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament in Bethesda, Md., Friday, June 17, 2011. AP Photo/Eric Gay …..

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Some Things Are Best Left Unsaid …………. But F#k It I’m Going To Say It !

Some Things Are Best Left Unsaid …………. But F#k It I’m Going To Say It !

Ah the latest tidbit in the sports world that seems to be norm at present PGA Tour professional Tiger Woods made the formal announcement that he will not be playing in the US Open at Congressional Country Club , Bethseda , Maryland . And once again the bell seem to be tolling as most prognosticate whether or not Woods’ reign at the top is about to implode . The player is now ranked outside the top ten (ranked 15th in the latest rankings) of the World Rankings for the first time in over a decade . From my own standpoint the player apart from recurring injuries, Woods is now gunshy and is completely lacking in confidence . Now sliding down the rankings faster than a cheetah at full speed , it is becoming abundantly clear that we’re now seeing a player whose determination to win is still there but the physical attributes that made him a once dominant player no longer remains . His peers on the PGA Tour no longer seem to be intimidated by their once great nemesis . And this being the national championship I’m not sure that the second major of the season will be won by a US born player , it could well be won by a foreign player and therein lies the situation with regard to the PGA Tour. US talent is now merely about the players here winning the mundane events on the PGA Tour rather than the Majors (The Masters, US Open , British Open and PGA Championship) .

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I have got to admit I will be pleasantly surprised if the winner of the US Open is an American because simply put the inconsistency of Phil Mickelson , Hunter Mahan , Steve Stricker simply doesn’t cut it amongst the real fans of the PGA Tour . It is Woods who drives the meters and the gossip on the Tour while lesser lights are simply the topic of the moment .

Can someone remind me why it is that I simply ought to be interested in the career of Floyd Mayweather as a boxer ? Undoubtedly talented , Mayweather is now more widely known more for his outside the ring run ins with the law , rather than for anything that he has achieved within the ring . A multiple weight divisional champion , the fighter now hopes to challenge Victor Ortiz for his WBC welterweight title this September (venue yet to be arranged) , as Maywether will be making a return to the ring for the first time in almost 18 months since he last fought and defeated Shane Mosley in a bout that was about as entertaining as the viewing of a head on collision between two high speed locomotives.

Ortiz , twelve years Mayweather’s junior knows that this will be a step up in class and at the same time he knows that should he pull off the impossible and defeat the former titlist , then the world becomes his oyster with limitless opportunies to establish himself amongst the top fighters in the world . The sport of boxing has become mundane and the mere fact that the desired fight between Manny Pacquiao no longer seems to be a priority amongst either fighter or the respective promoters. All the talk and hype in the world won’t change the fact that the proposed bout was never on the cards to begin with . They say money talks bullshit walks , well walk it did , as there was such a stench created by Bob Arum , Mayweather’s own camp and co promoter Oscar de La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions Inc.

When this bout actually takes place between Floyd Mayweather and Ortiz there may well be some passing interest there but I for one simply don’t believe that Mayweather is the draw that he once was ! His own failings as a father , a man and as an example to his children leaves a lot to be desired . And with the allegations of spousal abuse , verbal abuse of his children and the threatening of a witness with physical violence simply indicates that from a mental standpoint Mayweather’s faculties might not be all there . If Floyd Mayweather were to step away from boxing today he may well be sorely missed but from my own perspective the sooner he walks away the better off the sport will be !

Well the MLB Draft for 2011 (held in Seacaucus New Jersey) this past Monday , and before we knew it , it was over. Truth be known, it was something of a non-event given the fact that the highlights weren’t shown on either network television or on ABC/ESPN , Fox Sports or for that matter TBS . Instead the whole event was televised live by the MLB Network . There’s a reason why the MLB hierarchy cooperates with their broadcast partners but somehow this wasn’t a time they felt it necessary . Now don’t get me wrong but a from business standpoint I’m not so sure that the league itself much less its teams are on a sure footing financially. The ongoing saga with the Los Angeles Dodgers has become cannon fodder for the sports pages across the nation . And less we forget, the woefully inept the New York Mets in spite of the $200 million investment in the organization by hedge fund manager David Einhorn has me believing that the league has to intervene sooner rather than later.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were the beneficiaries of having the number one overall pick with the organization taking the UCLA Bruins’ Gerrit Cole as their choice. One can understand the reason why the MLB Draft plays second fiddle to the NBA , NFL in terms of their respective drafts and the mere fact of the visibility raised when the events are televised . Granted , there’s more of an interest in the NFL’s Draft and the mere fact that the draft geeks are front and center in assessing the merits of the decisions made by the respective general managers around the league. Inasmuch , as Bud Selig would like to sell us on the merits of the event I don’t really believe that the commissioner himself believes that other than the consumed fan who’s so into the draft there is a heightened interest in the decisions being made.

Well the madness has to stop , it is now or never but fu#k it , sanity has to enter the domain at this juncture. In the sports world where it’s about the immediacy of the here and now , in terms of what have you done for me lately ? In the NBA it appears that the vast majority of fans were already prepared to anoint the Miami Heat as the 2011 NBA champions. Having seen the San Antonio Spurs bow out in the first round of the postseason and as a fan that result was a profound disappointment to me ! The Dallas Mavericks simply made their way through the playoffs with consummate ease and then in the Western Conference Finals they simply manhandled the Los Angeles Lakers , the two time defending NBA champions .

The Finals’ match-up that many had been had desired didn’t materialize as we now have the workman like Mavericks teeing up against the star laden Miami Heat led by LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade . With the series now tied at two games apiece and the knives are out after a diabolical display on Tuesday night by James __ eight points though from a defensive standpoint the player stood his ground but offensively he was more of a detriment to his team . The knives will be out and directly aimed LeBron James. And this being the player who actually anointed himself ‘King James’ and then simply ran with it ? The two time league MVP had one of those games where nothing seem to have gone right but at the same time he rode into town announcing that this team would be good enough to win multiple titles __verbatim “not one , not two but three , four , five and why not six titles ” ? Hey LeBron let’s not get completely ahead of ourselves, you’ve already become an ingrate and are about as welcomed in the Cleveland area multiple doses of the ebola virus . Now you’re bringing your undoubted talents to South Beach but an ego that is large as the Grand Canyon will not make you all the more likeable at this juncture. I just hope for your sake at this moment in time should this team fail …….. you don’t choose to apportion blame elsewhere ?

The three point loss (83-86) told me a great deal about the Miami Heat and in particular about the ‘ Big Three’ on this team ! When placed under a great deal of adversity they are inclined to wilt under pressure and nowhere was this more self evident than last night . James was guilty of failing to deliver the goods and now the excuses will be made as to the reasons why and whether or not LeBron bears a great deal of that blame . While the protagonists out there were trying to make a case that James is now ready to wear the crown worn by Michael Jordan as the best player in the NBA . Here is simply another reason why those very same protagonists should simply shut the hell up and let history take its course , rather thrust upon LeBron James something that he has yet to deserve. It does a great disservice not only to the game but also to its image and Jordan’s legacy.

Lebron James may well yet become a truly great player and have a long and successful career in the league but as of now he’s yet to lead a team to a title and when last I looked , a runner up finish simply meant nothing to even the most ardent of fans !

On the flip side of the script Dirk Nowitzki simply showed why without him the Dallas Mavericks would simply be viewed as an also ran within the league . Now as they look to claim their first NBA title it will be interesting to see whether or not his teammates finally are beginning to believe that they are indeed capable of defeating the Miami Heat . It’s all well and good Jason Terry emblazoning a tattoo on his right bicep as an omen . But given the fact that Terry’s own displays during this series and the playoffs overall have been intermittent I’d say it’s time for him to get with the damn program !

There’s a great deal at stake for both teams in particular for the Miami Heat and their financial viability. Repeated losses over the last few years can’t hide the desperation of team President Pat Riley and Heat owner Micky Arison . The acquisition of Bosh and James wasn’t about merely a last ditch attempt to retain Dwyane Wade but also to shore up the financial coffers of the Miami Heat. Had they not been able to lure the two All Stars then in all likelihood Wade would have been playing elsewhere this season and with that the growing losses of the organization would be like a dead weight around the neck of the organization . Riley knows that a compelling series victory will bode well for the future of the Miami Heat and from a financial standpoint it would be greatly beneficial. As of now this series is far from over and the worrisome situation is that for LeBron James, his struggles continue in an NBA Final. Swept aside by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 in the Finals of that year when James was a player for the Cleveland Cavaliers . That sole appearance until this year has been something of a nightmare for the player that many have stated has become the new “King of the NBA “ . Doesn’t a King wear a crown and just to add mere substance to those claims shouldn’t he have at least won something that actually resonates with the fans as a whole ? Style over substance means fu#k all but there are those who actually believe otherwise . How naive !

Game five is scheduled for tonight hosted by the Dallas Mavericks in what will be no doubt a sold-out American Airlines Center in Dallas , Texas . Vociferous Mavericks’ fans are sure to get behind Rick Carlisle and his team , with those very same fans being of the belief if they can eke out a victory then they are but a win away from winning their first NBA title . Can you imagine what the fallout may well be should the Miami Heat fail to win what many believe had been preordained ? I for one believe nothing is merely given to you without you actually deserving it ! And nothing that the Miami Heat has achieved so far would suggest that they deserving of winning the NBA title , merely because they are now in the Finals . It has been this sort of complacency that has been clearly visible with many of the players on this Hear roster , including James , himself .

Should Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks triumph this may well be right way for him to bow out of the game with his legacy firmly entrenched within the annals of the game and perhaps the best European player to have played in the NBA ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Simply chime in with a comment on the topics raised within this piece as you see fit and as always thanks for the continued support as it is gratefully appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) This December 3, 2010 file photo shows Tiger Woods of USA as he puts his hat back on as he walks off the 18th green after finishing the second round, at the 2010 Chevron World Challenge at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, said June 7, 2011 that he will not play in next week’s US Open golf tournament. Left knee and tendon pain has bothered Woods for the past month. “Not playing in US Open. Very disappointed. Short-term frustration for long-term gain,” Woods posted on his Twitter microblogging website. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK /GETTY IMAGES ……

(2) In this June 25, 2008 photo, golfer Michael Whitehead, who is currently a senior at Rice, poses for a photograph in Houston. Whitehead, who was first alternate from the Dallas qualifier, will replace Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open after Woods withdrew due to lingering issues with his left leg. AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Karen Warren ….

(3) PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – MAY 12: Tiger Woods addresses the media after withdrawing on the ninth hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 12, 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Woods announced June 7, 2011 that he will not play in the U.S. Open because of an injury to his left leg. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images …..

(4) Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot on the par 4 10th hole during the third round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 4, 2011 in Dublin, Ohio. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

(5) FILE – In this April 30, 2010 file photo, Floyd Mayweather Jr. steps on the scale at a weigh-in ceremony before a WBA welterweight boxing title fight against Shane Mosley in Las Vegas. Mayweather, the undefeated six-time world champion, says on his Twitter feed Tuesday, June 7, 2011, he will end a 16-month hiatus from boxing when he faces WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz on September 17. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File ……

(6) Victor Ortiz (left) the challenger makes sure that Andre Berto’s (left) defense of his WBC welterweight title will be a brief one . Ortiz would defeat the former title holder in a unanimous decision in the bout held at the Foxwoods Resort , Mashantucket ,Connecticut ,. Getty Images / Chris Borbon ……

(7) Miami Heat managing general partner Micky Arison, right, talks to president Pat Riley during a basketball practice for the NBA finals, Wednesday, June 8, 2011, in Dallas. The Heat will face the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series that is tied 2-2, Thursday, June 9, 2011. Do they now have something to be extremely worried about ? AP Photo/David J. Phillip ………

(8) DALLAS, TX – JUNE 08: LeBron James of the Miami Heat attends NBA Finals Media Availability on June 8, 2011 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images ………

(9) Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle applauds while Dirk Nowitzki (L) walks off the court during game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 7, 2011 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 86-83. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK /GETTY IMAGES …………

(10) LeBron James (C) of the Miami Heat is guarded by Jason Kidd (L) and Tyson Chandler of the Dallas Mavericks during game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 7, 2011 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 86-83. AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK / GETTY IMAGES ……..
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Don’t Hate Appreciate ………… Have You Had Your Can Of Whup Ass Today ?

Don’t Hate Appreciate ………… Have You Had Your Can Of Whup Ass Today ?

I’ve said it repeatedly the tough teams know how to win when it matters most and case in point was proof positive of that as the Los Angeles Lakers simply gave up in their quest having succumbed to the Dallas Mavericks 98-92 in a decisive game three played at the American Airlines Center in Dallas , Texas. Instead of being composed we saw a Lakers’ team pressed and playing rather in consistently throughout this series .

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If there was an unsung hero during this game for the Mavericks then it had to be jointly Jason Terry , Peja Stojakovic and that wily veteran Jason Kidd who belied their years in the league. Now pardon me for saying this but each time I hear TNT or ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy I simply want to throw up ! Is there no time wherein this guy can simply be observant report on what he observes rather than coming up with asinine comments and analysis. Now down 0-3 this series is now beyond the reach of the Lakers as no team in playoff history has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to come back and win that series .

This was simply a collective effort from this Mavericks’ team and it was a thoroughly convincing result and this series now seems to the Dallas Mavericks’ for the taking . If you’ve any doubt about that then simply look at the box-score and the stats for the Mavericks ? Game four of this series resumes on Sunday and we’re liable to see the Lakers be swept out of this series as the Dallas Mavericks make their way to the Western Conference Finals . Personally I can see the Lakers quite possibly taking game four but beyond that this team is liable to lose one if not two of the next three to be played at the Staples Center after the series’ departure from Dallas .

Anyone who was in any doubt why Derrick Rose became the youngest league MVP in NBA history then you simply had to witness his display against the Atlanta Hawks in game three played at the Philips Arena in Atlanta , Georgia . The Chicago Bulls simply laid the wood to the Hawks as they took them behind the woodshed and literally beat the shit out of this Hawks’ team . Forty four points simply sums up this player’s play and the fact that the Bulls’ bench took up some of the slack . Joakim Noah , Kyle Korver and Taj Gibson played with a great deal of aplomb as and when needed, as they harried the Hawks’ offense and made them look lethargic .

By midway through the fourth quarter this game was simply beyond the Atlanta Hawks’ reach and their two All Stars on this team in Joe Johnson and Al Horford simply couldn’t do anything to bring the Hawks back into this game. On this series resumption with game four we could well see the Chicago Bulls take a 3-1 lead in this series .

Can someone explain to me how it is that Cliff Lee can strike out 15 batters in a game and still come up with a loss (5-0 ) in a game played at Citizens Ballpark in Philadelphia as the Philadelphia Phillies took on the Atlanta Braves ? Lee’s opposite number Derek Lowe also had the prospect obtaining a no hitter in this game in what was an exemplary display by both pitchers. In the end however this was more about the mistakes defensively made by the Phillies and solid resolute play by the Braves as they inched closer to the the Florida Marlins and Phillies within the NL East .

Andre Ethier’s amazing season continues as he embarks on rewriting the Los Angeles Dodgers’ record book. Ethier is on the cusp of becoming the Dodgers’ consecutive single season record in terms of a consecutive games hit streak . Now at thirty games and counting Ethier looks to surpass the Dodgers’ record of Willie Davis’ streak of 31 and hopes to top the mark of forty before he can think about even coming within range of Joe Di Maggio’s 56 game hit streak which is the all time record within MLB . It’s now becoming redundant to continue talking about the Dodgers’ off the field problems as nothing can now simply change that particular landscape as it now stands. The idiocy of it all is that the team’s owner Frank McCourt continues to wallow in the fact that he’s now become a victim in the aftermath of the league hierarchy taking over the day to day running of the organization. Suffice to say that the league , its team owners enabled McCourt and his executive subordinates to enact this madness . And for those opining that the Dodgers and their $3 billion tv contract signed with Fox and its parent company NewsCorp let’s just say if you’re unable to pay the staff salaries for your employees for the months of April and now May please don’t come up with the bullshit about this organization being in a viable financial position. Simply let it be , and get a dose of reality as to how business is conducted in the real world .

Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams effectively announced his retirement as coach of the Terrapins’ basketball team . Having assumed tenure of the Terrapins as its coach in 1989 while the team was under NCAA probation Williams single handedly resurrected this program and put it back on the map. In doing so he won the 2002 NCAA Basketball Tournament . That title has been Maryland’s sole NCAA Men’s title but it has been the programs consistency over the years that has made Gary Williams stand apart as a collegiate basketball coach . He leaves an indelible record having won over 630 games and a run of eleven straight NCAA appearances as well as the Sweet 16 on multiple occasions . Thirty three years as a coach of, which 22 were spent as the coach of Maryland and I’d like to think that makes Gary Williams something of a special talent within the world of collegiate basketball !

Well it appears now apart from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff looking to challenge the BCS’ antitrust exemption status and its stand as a monopoly within collegiate football. It now seems that the US Justice Department and its antitrust division will now serve notice that they intend to send letters to NCAA President Mark Emmert and the BCS seeking their reasons as to why there isn’t a playoff format in place for the national championship at the D1 level. If that’s not enough to peak your interest assistant US attorney general Christine Varney within the antitrust division of the Justice Department says that she is quite prepared subpoena records from both the NCAA and BCS to seek out how they conduct their business practices as it relates collegiate football . Considering the NCAA is already facing a civil suit challenge by several former NCAA athletes as to the use of their likeness for business purposes within the Federal Court System this couldn’t have come at a worse time for both the NCAA and BCS.

If it hasn’t been enough that we’ve seen the idiocy of the NCAA and the belief that the BCS and its subordinates feel that they’re above reproach . We now have to see them having to defend themselves from what we already know to be a grossly corrupt system that is in place and that’s being defended by an idiot in Ohio State university President Dr E Gordon Gee . How in God’s name that buffoon believes that the system is above reproach tells you all you need to know when you simply survey the 2010-11 and 2011 schedule of the Buckeyes to see how they affix their schedules , wherein they’re literally playing a bunch of no name programs to pad out their stats. In the midst of this all, Gee has the temerity to suggest that mid major conferences ought not to be allowed to have the privilege of attaining a BCS Bowl game berth because they’re simply not good enough. If anything, Gee ought to be more concerned over the image of his school and the fact that its football coach Jim Tressel has no moral character or integrity and the very fact that he’s self consumed a liar and a cheat . Those ought to be Gee’s biggest concerns rather than his asinine notion that the BCS system is above reproach.

I’ve longed felt that were it not for Severiano Ballesteros the European Tour and the PGA Tour wouldn’t be what is today . Having won five grand slam majors and over 68 tournaments worldwide Ballesteros’ legacy has been well chronicled . Long before Tiger Woods held the world as a captive audience on the golf course it was the spectacle of seeing Ballesteros simply play with a fluidity not often seen on any major tour today. His shot making was uncanny and anyone who knows anything about the sport of golf will know how special Seve’ Ballasteros was . Unfortunately , the Spanish star and a successful Ryder Cup captain is suffering from cancer of the brain , having gone through repeated bouts of chemotherapy and undergone several neuro surgeries over the past eight years ever since it was discovered that he had malignant tumors on his brain. Having removed several of the tumors it was felt that Severiano Ballesteros’ would be able to make a slow and successful recovery from his illness .

Ballesteros died at age 54 in the early hours of Saturday morning, in the arms of his family, a national treasure within the country of Spain and a worldwide celebrity . A wealthy individual in his own right , from his professional earnings and as a businessman from his the off the field business ventures , he married Caroline Boutin , whose family founded one of Spain’s largest financial institutions Banco de Santander . He will be sorely missed by the golf word but it was his larger than life character , respect for and of the game as well as his fellow competitors that made Ballasteros stand apart. His dominance of the game goes without saying and for those who’ve never witnessed Ballesteros at his very best , simply imagine the shot playing of Tiger Woods at his best with the power of Jack Nicklaus and you can imagine how special Ballesteros was at the height of his game.. Thanks Seve’ for all the grace you brought to the game and in particular the world of sport , you’ll be sorely missed !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts and thanks as always for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) DALLAS, TX – MAY 6: Dirk Nowitzki (41) of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after hitting a three against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2011 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images …….

(2) The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant looks at his bench as Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki , left, Peja Stojakovic , center and Jason Kidd , right react during the final minutes of Game 3 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Friday, May 6, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks won 98-92. NBAE/Getty Images / Danny Bollinger ….

(3) Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol shoots over Dallas Mavericks’ Jason Kidd, left, and Peja Stojakovic during the first half of Game 4 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Dallas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …….

(4) ATLANTA, GA – MAY 06: Derrick Rose (1) of the Chicago Bulls drives against Joe Johnson (2) and Al Horford (15) of the Atlanta Hawks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 6, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images / Kevin C Cox …..

(5) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe(notes) delivers to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 6, 2011, in Philadelphia. AP Photo / Barbara Johnston ….

(6) Atlanta Braves’ Jason Heyward (22) steals to second base as Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Michael Martinez (19) is late with the tag during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Friday, May 6, 2011, in Philadelphia. The Braves won 5-0. AP Photo/Barbara Johnston ….

(7) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Jamey Carroll(14) greets teammate Andre Ethier (16) at the plate after Ethier’s seventh-inning two-run home run as New York Mets catcher Ronny Paulino , center, looks on during a baseball game at Citi Field in New York, Sunday, May 8, 2011. AP Photo/ Kathy Willens ……

(8) University of Maryland basketball coach Gary WIlliams (L) hugs his wife Dana WIlliams after announcing his retirement on May 6, 2011 at the Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images ……..

(9) University of Maryland basketball coach Gary WIlliams speaks while announcing his retirement on May 6, 2011 at the Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images ……..

(10) Seve Ballesteros (C) of Spain poses with Per Ericsson (R) and German Lopez of Volvo Event Management during the press conference of the Volvo World Match Play Championship 2009 presentation at Intercontinental Hotel on October 14, 2009 in Madrid, Spain. Ballesteros, who is recovering from cancer which has left him partially blind in his left eye, is hopeful that he’ll be able to take part in the upcoming Volvo World Match Play. October 13, 2009 – Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images Europe ……..

(11) Ballesteros seen here in receipt of the Green Jacket having won the 1983 Masters Tournament at Augusta National G&C Augusta , Georgia ,. Photo archives / Reuters/ Peter McKinnon ……

(12) Christine Varney (left) head of the Antitrust Divsion of the US Dept of Justice . Her department has been asked by the AG Eric Holder to look into possible grounds to see if the BCS can be considered a monopoly in terms of its business practices as it relates to D1 collegiate football . NY Times Susan Etheridge ……

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MLB News

MLB Scoreboard & schedule 7th May 2011

MLB results 6th May 2011

MLB Schedule 8th May 2011

MLB Standings

NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NBA Results 6th May 2011

NBA Schedule 7th May 2011

NBA Schedule 8th May 2011

Let Me Tell You A Story …………….

Let Me Tell You A Story

It looks as if history could be made today at Augusta National Golf Club , Augusta , should things pan out as is being envisaged at The Masters __ the first Grand Slam Major of the PGA Tour season . Standing atop of the leaderboard is Irishman Rory McIlroy one of the young guns of the PGA Tour . McIllroy -12 under par leads Jason Day by four shots having led or in part be amongst the leaders over 54 holes .

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Slide show for your perusal .

It’s said that during The Masters , Saturday is moving day but Sunday over the course of the final round is where the stories are written and the drama is all played out. And that most certainly is the case as it appears that a rejuvenated Tiger Woods is now lurking on the leaderboard merely waiting for those ahead of him to make a mistake and for him to make a charge over the final eighteen holes . From my own perspective with the former world number one back in contention I’m still not thoroughly convinced that Woods’ game is where it needs to be for him to make an asserted effort actually win a major Grand Slam tournament much less a tournament on the PGA Tour schedule. His game tailed off to such an extent that I don’t even believe his confidence is even in tact . But with Woods performing at 55 -60 % is a great deal better than the vast majority of the players on the PGA Tour to begin with !

For the leader, as he looks to become the youngest player to don a Green Jacket since Tiger Woods won in 1997 at the age of 22. The Irishman , McIlroy would certainly like to join Woods as one of the youngest Grand Slam Major winners ever but that’d be predicated upon his composure over the final round and whether or not any of the other players deemed to be in contention can make a successful attempt to erase the deficit and take the lead. It’s possible but given the play of McIlRoy over the course of this event the scenario seems unlikely to arise . He certainly hasn’t played capriciously and his treated Augusta National with the deference and reverence it deserves.

The tournament itself hasn’t really been filled with any major surprises albeit that briefly there were thoughts that Fred Couples would be providing those in attendance as as well the televised audience something of a thrilling spectacle . Sad to say that now doesn’t appear to be the case . Albeit that he’s within 6 strokes of the leader Rory McIlroy with a flurry of others all looking to make their move over the final round . Asides from Jason Day , we also have K J Choi , Charles Schwartzel , Angel Cabrera , Luke Donald , Adam Scott and Woods within the top ten on the Masters’ leaderboard . Granted, things could drastically change over four even five or six holes but I do believe it now comes down to experience and the wherewithal of the players and whether or not they can keep their emotions in check .

Of all the tournaments of the PGA Tour , The Masters might just be the most revered of the four Grand Slam Tournaments ( Masters , British Open , PGA Championship & US Open ) because of what it means to the players on the Tour . Long steeped in tradition albeit that there’s still a certain amount of controversy that surrounds some of the anomalies that have continued to raise its head concerning Augusta and the traditions of its members in particular its hierarchy headed by Billy Payne . And Payne who was preceded by William ‘Hootie’ Johnson has tried to make Augusta a more appealing club especially amongst minorities seeking to increase its membership and profile specifically amongst that demographic. And though the advancements can be viewed as minuscule it has to be said that it’s a great deal better than it was a decade and half ago. Were it not for Woods’ historic win in 1997 one seriously doubts that the private club would have sough to change its protocols . And who can forget that rather insidious and rather racially sensitive remark by Fuzzy Zoeller ………. concerning the traditional dinner that’s normally hosted by the champion in the ensuing year ? Zoeller says that his remark wasn’t to viewed as being racially insensitive but repeatedly he made light of the remark that ‘ Woods would make sure that collard greens , fried chicken and grits’ would be served for the players competing in the ’98 Masters Tournament . Fuzzy Zoeller was never able to live that episode even in light of his apology to Woods and his fellow players on the PGA Tour at the time .

This tournament should it be won by McIlroy would not only solidity the player’s status on the PGA Tour but also prove that the European Tour and its players are no longer fearful of the apparent dominance of the US players on their own domestic tour . If anything the decisive manner in which Europe defeated Team USA in the Ryder Cup (2010) was enough to signify that fact . And the rather inane and idiotic analysis that’s provided by such golf analysts as Johnny Miller , Alex Van Pelt and some of inane idiot on and off air analysts of The Golf Channel who’d have you believe that the European players simply aren’t good enough to win The Masters . Have they looked at some of the most recent results in the ‘Majors’ or the world rankings for that matter ?

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