The Life You Lead and the Road Less Traveled

The Life You Lead and The Road Less Traveled ….

With the NFL Postseason having come to an and with it being a glorious celebration with the Kansas City Chiefs wining Superbowl LIV . Patrick Mahomes joined a select group of players to have won the Superbowl MVP and League MVP , though not in the same season within a three-year span of having entered the league. Mahomes excelled during the regular season with his play and he truly stepped up to the plate during the postseason .

Patrick Mahomes and his teammates were truly invigorating in their defeat of the San Francisco 49ers . For Chiefs’ Head Coach Andy Reid , this was a tremendous achievement , after his years of trying to reach the pinnacle of the NFL. Reid has now taken two teams to the Superbowl , won two conference titles and multiple division titles with both the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. From my own perspective , Reid can now take this Chiefs’ franchise to even greater heights than any of his predecessors including the venerable Hank Stram .

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During this off-season , it will be interesting to see how the Kansas City Chiefs’ front office will deal with the free agents on the roster as well as positioning themselves with regard to the upcoming NFL Draft as well as their positioning with the salary cap . Leigh Steinberg , agent for Patrick Mahomes knows that he can negotiate a revamped deal for his budding NFL superstar , with the chance that Mahomes could very well become among
the highest paid players in the league.

There were several teams who failed miserably over the course of the NFL season , with perhaps none more so than the Cincinnati Bengals . Though some might say the Cleveland Browns were equally abysmal with Baker Mayfield proving how over-hyped the quarterback has been , albeit that he could share the same ignominy of Jamies Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with his erratic play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . One thing that is clear , several franchises will be in need of a quarterback for the upcoming season and the likelihood with several veteran free agents on the market , notably Tom Brady , Drew Brees and Philip Rivers , there could be some major changes on the way. Joe Burrow appears to be overall consensus number one overall pick in this upcoming Draft and I seriously doubt that the Bengals’ front office will pass on a player of his caliber , given his play on the national championship winning team of LSU (Tigers) .

In the aftermath of the fallout from the Houston Astros and their spectacular fall from grace , it has to be said that the MLB hierarchy’s handling of the situation was swift and exact . Furthermore , team owner Jim Crane immediately fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow . Crane has moved ahead with the hiring of Dusty Baker to succeed Hinch and the hire of James Click , a former front office executive with the Tampa Bay Rays to succeed Jeff Luhnow . It would appear that the Astros are now in a position to embark on a new chapter within the franchise’s history .

The world of baseball is still in shock , with some of the game’s most prominent players not said to be completely satisfied with the punishment meted out to the Houston Astros’ organization. From my own perspective , I feel that the steps taken by MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred , were more than justified and it sets an example for the rest of the teams within the league as to the dangers of cheating .

If you’ve provided a great deal of success for a team that you have played for ever since your very first game for the franchise , then you would expect to be compensated accordingly. That doesn’t appear to be the case for Mookie Betts , an All Star player for the Boston Red Sox and the ball-club’s most recent recipient of an ALMVP Award . Betts and the Red Sox front office seem to be miles apart in the renegotiation his existing contract which has a year to run and with the player due $27 million for the upcoming 2020 MLB season .

There are said to be at least two interested parties wishing to acquire Mookie Betts , with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres said to be those two leading ball-clubs vying for his services. The Dodgers for their part can offer up several players, while committing themselves to adding Betts’ final year to their already burgeoning payroll and likelihood of committing themselves of being penalized by way of the luxury tax threshold of $200 million if necessary. . It will be interested to see what the Dodgers can achieve with Mookie Betts and David Price , with the news now emanating that the Red Sox have relented and sent these two players westwards to Los Angeles . The Dodgers with these two acquisitions would have to be considered for the NLCS in 2020. with the depth of their roster overall .

With the Opening Day for the MLB season beginning on 26th March , 2020 and it will be interesting to see how the teams will fare through the first month of the season . The Los Angeles Dodgers’ regular season opener will see the team face the San Francisco Giants , their NL West divisional rivals .

It will be hard to suggest which team in the AL can be seen as a viable favorite for the ALCS in 2020. The New York Yankees , Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins were the only three teams to have notched over 100 wins this past season . All three were divisional champions and it will be interesting to see if either can repeat that feat , given the changes made to the respective rosters and payrolls . For the Yankees , their continued to pursuit of a twenty-eighth World Series’ title remains ever present in the minds of their fans as well as the Steinbrenner family as the owners of baseball’s most revered franchise . New York’s last victory in the World Series came by way of the managerial talents of Joe Girardi , as he led them to victory over the Philadelphia Phillies . New York’s manager Aaron Boone and this largely talented team will be looking to guide the franchise to another postseason berth with another title in mind. Their season will begin with a game the Baltimore Orioles , in a contest being played on the road against their AL East divisional rivals.

Aaron Boone will undoubtedly be tested over the course of the season , with the continued impatience among the fans of the New York Yankees. With the team having several All Stars on the roster , these players will have to play to the best of their abilities over the course of this season . The likes of Giancarlo Stanton , among the highest paid player on the team alongside Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge will be looking to have a great season in 2020. Gerrit Cole , the starting pitcher acquired during this off-season will debut for the Yankees , likely leading their starting roster of pitchers. . If Cole is the Opening Day Starter against the Orioles , it will be interesting to see how the player fares against Baltimore .

Is there any chance that Derek Jeter as the newest New York Yankees ‘ Hall of Fame inductee will be able to see the Miami Marlins actually compete this season within the NL East ? It has been several years since the ball-club last played in the postseason and several years since the finished either as a runner-up or division winner within the division.

The Miami Marlins have gone from being franchise with a great farm system to an after-thought and laughing stock around the game of baseball. Not even under the managerial acumen of Don Mattingly and his staff , has the ball-club to achieve anything of note. Suffice to say another sub-par year now awaits the Marlins after their 57-105 record of last season . . This season if nothing else , Jeter and team managing partner , Bruce Sherman will be expecting a great deal out of this team heading into the season. . On assessing the team’s roster and the fact the payroll is among the lowest in the league , something of a trait the ball-club has followed for a number of years . This continues to be the mantra that they’ve followed for several years heading into 2020 . The Marlins’ regular season opener will see the team face the Philadelphia Phillies at home .

We’re heading into the NBA All Star Game which takes place this upcoming week and with the teams having not fared too well at this juncture in the lead-up to this big mid-season event. The Milwaukee Bucks have the best record in the league , and the team is the only franchise to have hit the forty victory mark . Current League MVP and captain of the World Stars , when they face the domestic NBA Stars of the league as Giannis Antetokoumnpou will lead that roster of World Stars . Antetokounmpou once again leads the Brewers in offense and has been the focal point of a franchise once again looking to meet expectations . Milwaukee has a mere handful games before the All Star Break , with their next game being against the Philadelphia 76ers , a team which is clearly over-matched in this contest to my mind with their players being nowhere as talented as the Bucks.

With the aftermath and the death of Kobe Bryant , there has been a giant shadow cast over the NBA and specifically the Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise , with the organization as well as the fans players alike in a complete state of shock. For Lakers’ premiere players LeBron James and Anthony Davis , it has been a devastating for both All Stars. While I believe that the franchise can overcome this tragedy , it remains to be seen how the players will acquit themselves in the coming months . They are clearly the best team within the Western Conference by a wide margin , but the regular season being what it is . It’s a playoff run which really determines great champions and the players themselves . LeBron James knows this to be true given his playoff record in the NBA. Over their next ten games , it will be interesting to see how the Lakers will fare in those upcoming contests . Their upcoming game against the Golden State Warriors on the 8th February .

If the Los Angeles Lakers are said to be having problems, then one equate the continued problems of the New York Knicks as one of their very own making over the past ten years at least. . The fact that the franchise’s last appearance in the NBA Playoffs took place during the 2012-13 season should tell you all you need to know about the Knicks and their continued dire straits . The team’s roster as it now stands isn’t overly impressive and when compared to the other franchises in the conference and league overall , there’s the feeling that the front office under GM Scott Perry , team owner James L Dolan and the coaching staff of Mike Miller have completely lost their way . Up next for the New York Knicks will be a game against the Detroit Pistons on the road against an Eastern Conference rival . The New York Knicks remains the most valuable franchise in the NBA and among its most profitable , purely based from the fact they’re in the nation’s largest ad-market . Beyond that, there’s nothing remotely significant about the organization and its current destination at this juncture.

What if anything, would you like to see happen in the coming weeks within the world of sports and which recent stories have held your attention the most ?

Tophatal 02/07/2020………….

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NFL news …

NFL free agents …

NFL Draft …

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NBA news ….

NBA standings division ..

NBA schedule ..

NBA transactions …

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MLB news ….

MLB schedule 26th March Opening Day …

MLB transactions ..

MLB team payrolls (2020) ..

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Picture gallery alongside narrative.

Make Up To Break Up ….

Make Up To Break Up …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tophatal ………

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NFL news …

NFL standings (division)

NFL schedule week eight

NFL schedule (full season)

NFL transactions

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NBA news ….

Week 1 NBA regular season schedule

NBA standings (division) …

NBA transactions …

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MLB news

2019 MLB Postseason

MLB World Series’ schedule (first three games)

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I Spy With My Little Eye ….

I Spy With My Little Eye   …..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tophatal ……….


NBA news ……..

2019 NBA Playoffs

NBA salary cap (2019)

NBA free agents (2019)

Salary cap players (2019)


NFL news …

2019 NFL schedule (regular season)


MLB news …

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

MLB standings (division)

MLB Important Dates …


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

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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I Don’t Care and There Isn’t A Goddamn Thing You Can Do About It !!!!

I Don’t Care and There Isn’t A Goddamn Thing You Can Do About It !!!! ..

Now that idiots seem to be in an uproar over the fact that sport’s apparel company Nike will make Colin Kaepernick the face of their thirtieth anniversary celebrations . It continues to speak volumes as to what it is inherently wrong with America in general. On the one hand you have the player’s detractors , many of whom are clearly right-wing Conservative fanatics , loyal to Donald Trump . On the other hand , we have supporters of the now disenfranchised quarterback no longer allowed to play in the NFL , because essentially the league hierarchy and franchise owners combined , have seen fit to blackball Kaepernick. Are these same vociferous supporters who call themselves patriots, who were recently parading along the streets of downtown Charlottesville , Virginia and in the nation’s capital , Washington , DC ,with the American flag in one hand and a Swastika in the other ? Suffice to say, there’s an idiot born every minute and they come no brighter than those claiming to proud American patriots, especially the ones who took part in the protests in Charlottesville and Washington.


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In light of that fact, Colin Kaepernick has won the first round in what is likely to be long and hard-fought legal case. In an arbitration hearing , the player and his legal team won the first round, when it was decided by an arbitrator that there was enough evidence to proceed ahead with a legal case against the NFL , with their having colluded to stop Kaepernick with the continuation of his playing career in the league. It has been over two years since the quarterback lasted suited up in a regular season game for his now former team , the San Francisco Forty-Niners . His last game for the team took place in 2016 and since then the franchise has seen their fair share of ups and downs. Niners’ GM Jon Lynch might have found the franchise’s savior when they acquired Jimmy Garopollo from the New England Patriots , in a trade that some believe the Patriots are likely to regret. The Forty-Niners have instantly become a credible threat in the NFC and real favorite to win the NFC West this upcoming season . Over the final five games of the 2017 NFL season , there was not a better starting quarterback in the league as Garopollo led San Francisco to five consecutive wins . That win streak was also the best in the league to end the regular season, even if the team did fail to make the postseason .

Colin Kaepernick’s future might well be impaired, as the league (NFL) will do their utmost to stymie any effort of the player to make a successful return to the NFL . How things now play out will be predicated upon the judgment rendered in US Federal District Court .

There’s less than a month left in the regular season for Major League Baseball and all things look to their being a major disappointment for several teams thought to have been top contenders for the World Series . The Washington Nationals have essentially seen their hopes dashed , having been subjected to another loss , this one at home to the Chicago Cubs , when the two teams met at Nationals’ Ballpark in Washington DC . Led by their two Big League All Stars , Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper , the team succumbed to a Cubs’ team intent on winning their second title in the last three years. The Cubs will be in action over the weekend as they begin a schedule which sees them facing the the Nationals once again as part of their regular season meetings .

With the Chicago Cubs on route to the postseason, the Washington Nationals are left to ponder what might have been . Injuries asides , this team has failed on so many levels and it gives cause for concern as to whether or not they can afford to retain the services of Bryce Harper . The former NLMVP is not due to become a free agent until until 2019, when it is believed he will seek to become the
highest paid player baseball history. Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins is currently afforded that luxury and he’s also the highest paid player at his position in baseball .

The Miami Marlins’ own plight this season has been horrendous with the new ownership group not yet scampering away, making for the hills. Suffice to say, this has been another miserable season for the ball-club. Team manager Don Mattingly will be preparing his players for their weekend series against the Pittsburgh Pirates . Game one of the series begins tonight on the road with the opposing pitchers being Dan Straily of the Marlins against Chris Archer of the Pirates. There is likely to be a major organizational shake-up within the Marlins, with several players likely to be on their way , solely for economic reasons.

With the announcement that this is to be the last season with Mike Scioscia in charge of the managerial staff of the Los Angeles Angels , it will be interesting to see who will succeed the veteran manager. Team GM Billy Eppler and their billionaire owner Arte Moreno ,will be looking for someone with experience and winning ability . The talent is there on the field with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout leading the fray . Trout has long been considered the best player in baseball over the last six seasons.Over the weekend the Los Angeles Angels were in a weekend series against the Chicago White Sox on the road . All three games were won by the visiting team , which as such aided the Angels’ position among the wildcard aspirants . But this will not be the year where the Los Angeles Angels make a return to the MLB postseason . The team will next be in action when they face the Texas Rangers at home , with in a game being played on Monday 10th September at Angels Ballpark , in Anaheim, California ,. Monday will bring about a series of games as part of the regular season schedule . At this point last season things were very much in full swing as the schedule
wound down
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Serena Williams created something of a furor in Women’s Final at the US Open as she succumbed to a surprisingly lopsided two-set loss to her Japanese counterpart Naomi Osaka . What brought the crowd’s attention to the contest was not the thrilling entertainment provided by these two players , but the out of character behavior by Serena Williams, with her truculent verbal attack on the umpire. At the end of it all , Williams came away as the villain of the piece as Osaka made history as the first Japanese female player to capture a Grand Slam singles’ title in over a decade. Unfortunately, what comes out of this all , now comes down to the fact how much will this hurt the legacy of Serena Williams moving forward and how she’s viewed in the eyes of her fans and contemporaries

What  do  you believe has been  the  most   troubling  scenario   to  have   been  raised within  the  sports’  world  in the past  seven days ?

 

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Tophatal …..

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The Straw That Broke the Camel’s back

The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back

Well once again within the world of sports we have the real winners and the real losers. LeBron James is now considered a winner , having left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-year $154 million deal . The contract won’t make James the highest-paid player in the league contract-wise or on annual basis , but he will certainly be ranked among the top-ten players in both categories. Lakers’ GM Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson , Head of Basketball Operations might have felt they pulled off something of a coup-de-gras in acquiring James, but less than forty-eight hours after the transaction , current NBA champions the Golden State Warriors were able to upstage the Los Angeles Lakers by acquiring DeMarcus Cousins , signing him to a one-year deal , having to pay him no more than $5 million for his services for this upcoming year.


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It would be idiot to suggest that the Lakers haven’t been upstaged and for all of the detractors out there critical of the Cousins’ deal. Do bear in mind five years ago it was James bolting from the Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat and holding the rest of the NBA captive deliberately merely for the public’s attention. In the ensuing years LeBron James has shown a great deal of maturity,but on some levels the player still remains very immature in spite of his fifteen years in the league . His accomplishments asides , he will be truly tested unlike ever before, because he is expected to lead the franchise to championships . This is what Lakers’ fans are accustomed to and having not made an appearance in the NBA Finals in almost a decade has to be worrisome to an organization starved of success in recent years.

A great is definitely being asked of LeBron James , but my own feeling is , how will he co-exist alongside Lonzo Ball , his new teammate as well as the idiotic antics of Ball’s father , LaVar Ball. It is something that the Lakers’ front office will have to address, as Ball Sr has already begun to antagonize the franchise’s biggest star with his antics and comments. Anyone who doesn’t believe James is likely to take some umbrage of that criticism is clearly unaware what makes the player tick.

It seems that the wounds went far too deep than many of might have been aware as the impasse between two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and the front office of the San Antonio Spurs came to an abrupt end as the player was traded to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan . The trade has sent shock-waves around the league , as many felt there was more of a chance that Leonard would remain in the Western Conference where he’s seen as one of the elite players within the conference and considered a top-five player in the league. Magic Johnson had sought to bring the California native back to his home state , but Greg Popovich and GM RC Buford made the decision to send the player East rather than see him in the West simply destroying the ambitions of the Spurs and others in the conference.

DeMar DeRozan for his part was none too pleased with the decision to trade him taking aim at the lack of respect shown to him by the Raptors’ organization . Yet from my own standpoint , I now feel the forward will have more to offer to the San Antonio Spurs’ fans might believe. It was clear that Kawhi Leonard had alienated himself with the fans as well as the Spurs’ coaching staff and Greg Popovich was less than characteristic in discussing Leonard’s departure. As the transition within the playing staff takes place for San Antonio , with the departure of Kawhi Leonard as well as seasoned veteran point guard Tony Parker, with the player joining the Charlotte Hornets .

Another trade seems to be nearing completion which would in the end facilitate Carmelo Anthony becoming a free agent. If the rumors are to be believed as a cap exercise , Anthony will be traded to the Atlanta Hawks , with the Oklahoma City Thunder getting in return , Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala . It is then believed , that Anthony will be waived by the Hawks, allowing him to become a free agent, signing for a team showing interest in the veteran forward. His expiring contract of almost $28 million clearly was one of the main reasons behind the deal and the front office of the Thunder seeking to lower the impact of the luxury tax , based on the NBA’s salary cap .

It would appear that the Los Angeles Dodgers now have their man having swooped in the obtain Manny Machado as a short-term rental from the Baltimore Orioles . Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts knows that his team has its shortcomings and more than anything else , they need to be winning on a consistent basis over the coming months. Failure to make a quick return to the World Series and there are likely to be some serious changes made among the playing staff and managerial staff at the end of the season . Machado can bring a great deal to this Dodgers’ staff by way of productivity , but at the same time their failing is not one from a lack of productivity with their bats but the inconsistency shown through their pitching , notably among their relievers .

Though not in action today , Thursday 19th July , where there is just one game on the schedule with the St Louis Cardinals facing the Chicago Cubs . The Los Angeles Dodgers will be in action on Friday , where their fans will get their first chance to see Manny Machado suited up as the team takes on the Milwaukee Brewers , in the first of a three-game road series as part of their regular season schedule.

For an ailing Baltimore Orioles’ organization , where it would appear Peter Angelos has to be in despair, the future of the ball-club now seems to be far from clear. Their farm system has a modicum of talent , but it’s still early to say what can expect from those players. The managerial staff of Buck Showalter is still searching for some semblance of consistency from the team and with the departure of Manny Machado , that now makes their whole situation a great deal more difficult. Next up for the Orioles will be a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario , Canada.

The team with the best ten-game stretch leading up to the All Star Game , are the Boston Red Sox who will look to increase their lead over divisional rivals the New York Yankees within the AL East . Red Sox starting pitcher David Price will be on the mound for Boston when they face the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park , in Detroit Michigan . This is one of those games that I believe will be a simple stroll for the Boston Red Sox as they take on AL rival. . As contentious as we know the division to be , it will once again become a two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. New York really can’t afford to have any major slip-ups between now and the end of regular season schedule. While neither ball-club have shown that they’ve a wish to be a major player in the market , all signs seem to be pointing to the fact that something will be happening .

Aaron Boone in his first year as manager for the New York Yankees will be hoping that he can lead this team to a postseason berth . Clearly winning the division (AL East ) has to be a top priority rather than being a wildcard berth entrant within the AL. The Yankees are in action this weekend as they begin a three-game series against the New York Mets . There was a time when the Subway Series actually meant something within the world of baseball , but over the last eight years with the decline of the Mets , it’s merely seen as an afterthought. On the mound for Friday’s game , as the starting pitchers will be Noah Syndergaard of the Mets against Domingo German of the Yankees .

To suggest that Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have been negligent as the owners of the New York Mets would be an understatement . They took the ball-club to the brink of bankruptcy , while the organization was actually embroiled in the Bernie Madoff “ Ponzi Scheme Scandal” . Intervention with their receiving a cash infusion, believed to be in excess of $450 million was the only thing which saved the franchise. All of this took place during the reign of Bud Selig as the MLB Commissioner . That being said, with Selig suggesting the books of the Mets showing a great deal of transparency , I have to ask myself was there a point in this whole mess where Bud Selig actually knew what the hell he was talking about ?

With the trade deadline being 31st July , it will be interesting to see what choices will be made by the front office of the New York Mets . Will there be a fire sale , as they implode the roster ? There are several players who are overpaid while having produced nothing of note through much of the season. The New York Mets are simply bereft of real talent in various areas of their game and their Minor League System might well be promising , but in reality there isn’t much there to speak of.

How do you see this off-season within the NBA turning out and what do you expect from the upcoming season? Also as baseball enters the second-half of its schedule which teams do you believe will rise to the occasion ?

Tophatal ……. 2018/07/19


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All Of This Power In Just One Man’s Hands …

All Of This Power In Just One Man’s Hands

I’ve said it all along and will continue to say it , the Oakland Raiders are an NFL franchise in need of a fresh infusion of executive leadership and if nothing else a new owner. The halcyon days of Al Davis
, became the latter years of woe with the franchise shipping off Jon Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , where Gruden would come back to bite the Raiders in the ass by leading the Buccaneers to their only triumph in the Superbowl . And while people might say Jon Gruden won with Tony Dungy’s players , the fact of the matter is , after that Superbowl triumph things would never be the same again for either franchise. The Raiders sank to new levels of depravity and the Buccaneers were never able cash in on the success achieved after that victory . Jon Gruden would then be fired by the Glazer family, owners of the franchise , only for the Buccaneers to go through several coaches, who seemingly couldn’t coach or find their way out of wet paper bag , much less proves themselves to be competent in their roles.


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In what could only described as a shocking turn of events, Jon Gruden was lured away from the ESPN broadcast booth to return back to coaching and rejoining the Oakland Raiders. Team owner Mark Davis , son of the late owner Al Davis made the decision in conjunction with GM Reggie McKenzie to sign Gruden to a ten-year $100 million contract, by far the richest deal of its kind in NFL history. Gruden it is believed will carry additional duties beyond that of coaching , having the final say in all Player Personnel decisions as well as the hiring of his own coaching staff. Anyone who’s in the know concerning Jon Gruden’s track record when it comes the drafting of players and their development, will know that his success rate has been very minuscule indeed. As to why Reggie McKenzie and Mark Davis would agree to hand over the reins to Jon Gruden, can only surmised by saying that might well have been the demands made by the head coach and his agent. It was all or nothing as Gruden now seeks to wield that power with the hope of leading the Oakland Raiders back to some semblance of success.

During this off-season the Oakland Raiders have been quick to reshape the team’s roster , through the NFL Draft as well as by free agent acquisitions and the re-signing of several free agents. The main focus however will be on making sure that this will be a team of players able to complement the skill-set of quarterback Derek Carr . As to the player himself , it remains to be seen if he can regain the form that made the Raiders’ front office believe he was worth the six-figure deal signed , as they believed he was on the verge of becoming a marquee quarterback in the NFL . I believe Carr is still a long way off from that particular plateau when judged against his current peers within the league.

It will be interesting to see how good the Oakland Raiders can be during this upcoming season with Jon Gruden steering the team from the sidelines and Derek Carr leading the team on the field. In week one of the regular season the Raiders are set to face the Los Angeles Rams , their in-state rivals in a non-conference match-up , one of several due to take place during the opening week of the season . From my own perspective I feel that the Raiders will face something of an uphill battle this season as Jon Gruden seeks to reacquaint the franchise with success.

Billionaire hedge fund manager and venture capitalist David Tepper has become the newest owner in the NFL , having purchased the Carolina Panthers for a reputed $2.35 billion , making the sale the most expensive in NFL history. Tepper purchased the franchise from the now disgraced former owner Jerry Richardson , whose misogynist and racist behavior had been well-chronicled and known to the NFL hierarchy for years , but somehow Roger Goodell and owners sought to do nothing about Richardson’s behavior. Bear in mind , given the behavior of owners Jerry Jones and Robert McNair , would you really be surprised that Jerry Richardson, is not the only owner in the NFL of or with a similar mindset ? Middle-aged, and older Caucasian males in positions of power showing racist tendencies in 2018 ? Sound familiar , given the antics of Donald Trump on his way to the White House and since becoming President ?

The fact that Jerry Richardson was allowed to get away with his misconduct on such a scale , where they were allegations of sexual misconduct along with racially abusive comments directed at subordinates seems unbelievable but yet this all happened within the confines of the Carolina Panthers’ organization and outside of the franchise. I get the feeling that Roger Goodell was unconcerned by this all , until it began to threaten the image of the NFL , its bottom line and notwithstanding the actions of Colin Kaepernick which really brought so many more things into focus and within the public domain.

With David Tepper now in charge , there will be changes in how this franchise was ran and there will undoubtedly be accountability for everyone within the Carolina Panthers franchise. Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton offered very little commentary as to his own thoughts concerning the departure of Jerry Richardson. Likelihood being, the player believed his departure is now for the better of the franchise and the fans. Seven years into his NFL career and Cam Newton has proven himself to be a worthy adversary and one of the better quarterbacks now in the league. A number one overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and taken by the Carolina Panthers , Newton has now become the face of the franchise. If the Panthers are to succeed this season , then they will have a hell of a fight on their hands in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL where the NFC South is likely to turn into a dog-fight between three of the four teams occupying the division . Sorry Tampa Bay Buccaneers , but this won’t be your year
to bounce back at all !!!!!

Ron Rivera , Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers will be hoping for a fast start to the regular season, as his team looks to reclaim the top spot within the division. . Cam Newton and the Panthers will begin their season with a game against the Dallas Cowboys at home between these two NFC teams. Newton’s record against the Cowboys is even with a 1-1 record and the last meeting taking place in 2015 , week eleven of the season with Carolina , coming through unscathed winning the game 33-14 over Dallas.

John Lynch will have a great deal to prove this upcoming season as the San Francisco 49ers look to carry on from where they left off at the end of last season . Over their final five games there wasn’t a better team in the NFL, with the 49ers lighting up the scoreboard and the team going on a five-game win streak to end the season . As the General Manager of the Forty Niners , Lynch has been entrusted to put the franchise back on the right track . He lucked out in acquiring quarterback Jimmy Garopollo , with the player leading the team with a great deal of maturity and sense of urgency . Lynch in having succeeded Trent Baalke was given full authority by team CEO Jed York to rebuild the roster into a competitive unit. The NFL Draft proved to be fortuitous as have the trade acquisitions made under this new front office regime. With Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and his coaching staff providing insight along the way , there is every reason to believe the San Francisco 49ers could be a very competitive team during the 2018 NFL season .

Jimmy  Garopollo  and his teammates will open their regular season schedule with a game against the Minnesota Vikings on the road match-up between NFC based franchises. As with the NFL’s twenty-nine other teams there will be the customary preseason schedule , starting with the Hall of Fame Game between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens .

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league hierarchy have all but assured the fans, that this upcoming season will begin with controversy after coming to decision where players not standing to the National Anthem while being played at regular season games can be subject to and be fined for their non-participation . From my own perspective , I believe this ruling to be draconian and certainly impugning on the right of a player to freely express himself, bearing in mind First Amendment Rights’ . This is a dangerous maneuver by the league and one that could very well be challenged as a collective by any player seeking legal recourse within the Judicial System at the Federal Level . So far there has been nothing said by any senior member of the NFLPA (Players’ Union) , as I believe they will look for some way to challenge this legally , while there are likely to be continued protests from their rank and file members . New York Jets’ team owner Woody Johnson has stated that, he will stand behind the players on the team who choose not to participate and is willing to pay their fines no matter what the cost .

The fallout from this latest move by the NFL cannot be quantified until the start of the season and then we are likely to see how impactful this all could be . Both sides have a great deal to lose, while proponents of this move will be greatly satisfied by the stance taken by league . President Donald Trump has applauded the move, likening it to the NFL showing that it has a backbone.

It is extremely funny to think that the league (NFL) will seek to punish the players for expressing a right , freedom of speech , but will often overlook player misconduct and sometimes serious legal infractions . Does that make any sense at all ?

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the latest news now emanating from the National Football League ?

🙂

Tophatal ………


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The Call Of The Wild ….

The Call Of The Wild ….

So the NFL Draft came and went with a whimper and while begin their idiocy of grading the teams based on the level of success achieved through the Draft. I’d just like to say , you can’t make any assumptions as to how these teams will fare when the season has yet to begin and not knowing how competitive the teams and these rookies may or may not be.

Granted, we all know the only reason behind these Draft prognostications stems from the fact many of these analysts seem to have nothing better to do with their time. Let the dominoes begin to fall between now and the beginning of the Preseason and then the teams embarking on their sixteen-game regular season schedule.


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None too surprising during this off-season within the NFL was the announcement that Dallas Cowboys’ tight-end Jason Witten would retire. Witten has been a presence on the roster of the Cowboys for the better part of a decade or more, while breaking a number of franchise records of the Dallas Cowboys. It will be difficult to imagine Jason Witten not being on the roster of this team as they embark upon their preseason schedule and the regular season itself. With Dez Bryant having been cut, as team owner and de-facto General Manager Jerry Jones was unwilling to sign Bryant to a long-term contract , the veteran now finds himself a free agent ,with not too many teams at this juncture willing to pick up the player and sign him to a significant deal. Bryant’s agents Roc Nation Sports will be very hard pressed to seek a deal that will meet the player’s demands of a salary in excess of $15 million a year as a wide receiver. His productivity has dropped off significantly over the last few years, while his relationship with teammates and the Cowboys’ front office is said to have soured.

From my own perspective this upcoming season will be a very tough one for the Dallas Cowboys and with a team which no longer has anyone who can really be deemed a game-changer, it will now be left to Dak Prescott to prove to everyone that he can be seen as leader of this franchise moving forward. Dallas’ Draft Class was nothing more than adequate and I believe that Jerry Jones might be on the lookout to add some depth to the roster during this off-season. For Head Coach Jason Garrett , he will have a to prove himself , because the fans are growing impatient , as too is Jones , with the franchise not having made a long playoff run in several years.

LeBron James has been rewriting the record books in the NBA since he first entered the league as a rookie in 2003. Three NBA titles later along with multiple MVP Awards and the Finals’ MVP Awards , there seems little left to do for the game’s best player currently playing. Where James will rank among the all-time greats at the end of his career remains to be seen. During the current NBA Playoffs, LeBron James has simply been a one-man band for the Cleveland Cavaliers as he guided his team to a stunning series’ victory over the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the East Conference Playoffs . James and the Cavaliers will now meet the Toronto Raptors in the conference semi-finals , in a series that is by no means a certainty ,where the Cavaliers will prevail.

Game one of that series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors will begin on the 1st May,2018, with the Cavaliers going on the road to face the Raptors.The match-up between LeBron James of the Cavaliers and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan should prove to be very interesting. Winners of this particular series will go on to face the winners of the series between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers .

Within the Western Conference , it looks as if the conference finals could provide the fans with the series they’re actually yearning for . Granted, granted that would be predicated upon both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets getting past their second-round opponents . I firmly believe that the winner of this season’s NBA championship will be coming out of the Western Conference !

This season we have already seen the league’s first no-hitter as Sean Manae of the Oakland A’s pitched a gem in a game against the Boston Red Sox played at the Coliseum in Oakland , California on the 21st April, 2018. Manae had the privilege of seeing his Oakland teammate Jonathan Lucroy catch baseball’s first no-hitter of the 2018 Major League Baseball season. The A’s find themselves having to compete in a very tough AL West division in 2018 . Over their last ten games the this Oakland team has managed to notch up a record of 6-4 . Good enough to have them sitting not quite mid-table within the division.In the month of May the A’s will have to perform a great deal better than during the month of April. Oakland will be on the field today when they face the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington , with the two opposing pitchers being Andrew Triggs of the A’s facing Felix Hernandez of the Mariners.

While I don’t believe that the Oakland A’s will be competing for postseason honors , there are a number of teams this season who will have a great deal to prove. Derek Jeter continue to alienate the fans of the Miami Marlins , with the ball-club’s attendance levels being among the worst in all of baseball this season. Jeter as one of the lead front office executives and overseeing the Baseball Operations of the team , has been operating the franchise on threadbare resources. Granted , the team’s payroll is just above the threshold set of $90 million . It is becoming increasing hard to imagine how this team will be able to compete when so many of the players are performing so badly .

Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff will head into the month of May hoping to show a great deal more resilience, while also looking to move their way up the NL East divisional standings. If the Marlins end the season with a record of more than 65 wins I will be pleasantly surprised. They are simply not good enough to compete with the very best that the NL has to offer , even if Derek Jeter believes to the contrary. Miami’s instate rivals the Tampa Bay Rays are not that much better and here again we have an ownership group bereft of ideas , while they continually make excuses for the ball-club’s poor play since 2012 , and the lack local support for a new ballpark to replace the archaic Tropicana Field in Saint Petersburg, Florida .

Playing catch-up with many of their divisional rivals this early in the season is not something unknown to the Tampa Bay Rays . The team will be in action over the next few days as they have series against the Detroit Tigers , Baltimore Orioles , Toronto Blue Jays Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals between now and the 14th May , 2018 . The Rays are on the road today (1st May) , where they will face Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park , in Detroit , Michigan .

Far be it for me to suggest that Mike Scioscia has not done great things for the Los Angeles Angels as the ball-club’s manager. Yet I do feel that after the last few years of their lacking success in the postseason , now might be the time for change. The team has a litany of stars at several positions , but there seems to be a lack of conviction among the managerial staff in spite of the best intentions coming from the front office . GM Billy Eppler and owner Arte Moreno have all but thrown the kitchen sink in seeking to bolster the Angels’ lineup over the last few years. As of Monday night the Angels sat third within the AL West , looking up at the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros . Scioscia will be preparing the team for sets of games against the Baltimore Orioles , Seattle Mariners and Colorado Rockies over the next few days. . The first of those games takes place on Wednesday afternoon as the Los Angeles Angels face the Baltimore Orioles at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California . Teammates, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols have fared well against the Orioles and I would expect the result to be in the team’s favor.

Yu Darvish failed miserably in his stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the evidence there for all to see during the Dodgers’ abysmal displays during the postseason of 2017. Darvish was sent packing by the Dodgers and he was picked up by the Chicago Cubs , whose faith in the Japanese star has to come to fruition. To date ,Yu Darvish has appeared in five games for the Cubs with a 5.26 ERA this season. His next projected start for the team ,will seem him face the Colorado Rockies in a game to be played at Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois on Wednesday 2nd May , 2018 . Darvish is set to earn $25 million for this season, though he is not the highest paid starting pitcher on the team’s roster with that role going to Jon Lester .

This should be a good season for the Chicago Cubs as they seek a return to form which saw them prevail in the World Series in 2016.

They remain the most heralded ball-club in baseball with the most World Series’ wins and AL Pennant victories as well as being the most profitable and valuable team in the game. Hard to believe however that it has been almost a decade since the New York Yankees were last known as world champions.With the ouster of Joe Girardi as the team’s manager , Aaron Boone has succeeded Girardi and will be looking to transform the roster into a competitive and combative unit. With the Boston Red Sox having started off their season on a tear, the Yankees have in essence been looking up at their divisional foe with a great deal envy . Giancarlo Stanton , Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius are seen as the players to lead this team moving forward , with elder statesman Jacoby Ellsbury seemingly out of favor and sidelined also. It will be interesting to see how good this Yankees’ offense can be, while coinciding with their pitching lineup .

Aaron Boone will have his team back on the mound on Thursday when the New York Yankees face the Houston Astros.

Jose Bautista has been one of the most explosive players in baseball for a number of years and his bat has always done the talking for the Toronto Blue Jays . Unfortunately, for both the Jays and Bautista , the ball-club has never been able to meet the expectations of their fans. The organization remains the only professional sport’s franchise within baseball that is not based in America. Toronto , Ontario is home to the two-time World Series champions. I would dare say the owners of this franchise would nothing better than to make it back into the postseason with the culmination of a run to the title itself.

The Jays will begin a weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida this Friday with starting pitchers J A Happ of the Blue Jays facing Andrew Kittredge of the Rays. . As with any of their previous series over the last six years , these contests have always proven to be very interesting. I don’t believe that Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays can win their division , but I do believe they are in with a chance of making the postseason, if they can find some consistency to their game.

At this point last season several teams season within Major League Baseball several teams had yet to find some semblance of consistency and the same can be said today , as the teams amble their way through the month of May.

They may not look like the best team in baseball at present in spite of their record , but Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox is playing like an All Star and based on his stats and WAR , he might just be the best player in the game at present. Betts is having a career year and having just broken one of the most hallowed records of the franchise . It would be fair to suggest Betts has to be seen as the best player on a very talented Red Sox roster. As of the 3rd May Betts’ batting average , .370 on the season with an on-base percentage of .449 and an OPS of 1.299 . It will be interesting to see what this right-fielder can for the Red Sox in his next ten games as the team looks to increase its divisional lead in the AL East.



Picture gallery. By clicking on an individual image you can see that picture in a reformatted size along with accompanying narrative.

For the moment in the world of sports, there are stories yet to unfold , athletes set to explode and we should be seeing something special throughout the 2018 sports’ calendar. So what are your expectations ?

🙂

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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Slide show.

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. .


 


Picture gallery. Click on an individual frame to view that image alongside the accompanying narrative.

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

Tophatal ….


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From Good To Mediocre And The Band Played On …

From Good to Mediocre   And The  Band   Played On   …..

I’ve   always   found  it  interesting  to  see how  dumb  the  average  sports’   fan  just happens  to  be  in  America.  They  will  continue to  bitch  and  whine but  when  it comes  to    ineptitude  among  their teams,  rarely  do  they  speak  out  and  demand  more  of the  owners,    executives  ,  coaches  let alone the players.    This    season within the  NFL  we’ve seen how anemic both  the    Cleveland  Browns  (0-14)  and   New   York  Giants   (2-12)  have  been. The Browns  remain  win-less and  they are  in  with  the chance of  joining  the   Detroit Lions whose 2008  season  has   been chronicled  as the worst in the league’s history .

In  the case  of  the  New  York  Giants, the  firing  of  Ben McAdoo  was to  be  expected  , but  what   follows  as  to  who’s    ultimately to  blame   should  be  laid  at a  number  of   doors and  not  just the  former  head  coach  and his staff and the players themselves. The   front office  remained lackadaisical  and   it should be added   veteran quarterback    Eli Manning has   become nothing more than an appendage   concerning   the franchise.  Granted, he will  be   lauded  as   having  led  the  Giants to two historic Superbowl   victories  over  the New  England   Patriots ,  but  other than  that , the  player’s    resume’   remains   threadbare.


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This   weekend  in  the   NFL  with  just  two   games  left  to   round  out  the   regular  season  schedule  ,  both  the  Cleveland  Browns  and   New  York  Giants  will  be in  action  as  both  teams  look  to   avoid being    at   the  bottom  of their  respective   divisions  as well  as    within  their  conference  and  needless  to   say  avoid  being   anointed    the  worst  team  in  the  NFL   during the  2017   season.  The  Cleveland   Browns   will  face   the    Chicago  Bears  in an   intra-conference    match-up  in  week sixteen ,  while   the   New   York  Giants   will  face the  Arizona  Cardinals .    All   four  teams  will  have   something  to  prove   during  these   respective   games.

I am not so sure what Eli Manning has left to offer the New York Giants’ franchise , but it’s clear the misguided fans of this team, clearly believe some type of reverence is owed. Manning and teammate Odell Beckham might be among the best paid players on the roster, but in return they have offered the franchise very little over the course of this season. The offense remains anemic and the defense simply has been nowhere to be seen and I am not about to make excuses and suggest injuries have been the reason behind their poor showing. I have always felt , to make excuses by stating injuries , when every team in the NFL is plagued such issues , but at the same time isn’t that why each team has a fifty-three man roster ?

So while there seems to be some outrage concerning allegations of conduct unbecoming by Carolina Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson . With the owner having been sexually overt , with his behavior concerning female employees within the organization, as well as racist taunts and comments about his own players and those around the NFL. I am beginning to wonder if this wasn’t all known to the NFL hierarchy led by Commissioner Roger Goodell ? It would appear that this has been an ongoing pattern of behavior by Richardson for a number of years and yet it was somehow kept as the NFL’s own little secret. Now with Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones lending his somewhat asinine support of Jerry Richardson , claiming his loss to the league would be a shame , after it was revealed the Panthers owner would be putting the franchise up for sale. Roger Goodell has stated the league would be conducting an in-depth investigation of Richardson’s behavior. At a time when the NFL has been known to be lackadaisical with regard to player misconduct and their misogynistic tendencies and sexual assaults of their partners and spouses. The last thing the league needed , was for an owner to be embroiled in the latest salacious news concerning sexual misconduct . The NFL continues to have an image problem and we needn’t bother to go with the downward spiral of attendance or viewership being caused by player protests. This has been ongoing for some time , but the league simply didn’t want to reveal those facts publicly. Players could be going around murdering innocent victims for no reason and somehow the hierarchy would continue to do whatever it takes to protect its sullen image.

A bigoted racist among the NFL’s owners is not going to change the mindset of the league , much less their actually being a complaint from the players themselves or from the NFLPA (union) . The union would rather protect their players even in spite of proof of their guilt and it’s something Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has never addressed publicly, because just like Roger Goodell, Smith’s concern continues to be about the bottom line and the overall amount of money the NFL continues to make. A shot across the bow of $8 billion a year industry is like a ripple across a pond to this league , given all of its continued troubles . I don’t expect the NFL to clean up its image anytime soon, in spite of the maneuvers by Goodell and his cabal of idiot owners.

Entertainment mogul Sean P Diddy Combs has spoken strongly about his wish to purchase the Carolina Panthers and it appears he already has some support with the backing of Colin Kaepernick as well as NBA star Steph Curry , but from my own standpoint it will take more than the trio to make this all a reality of the NFL actually having an African-American owner within their ranks. At point in the league’s history, there has never been a person of color within the ownership ranks until 2012, when Pakistani-born US citizen Shad Khan purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars . No ” Rooney Rule ” for the league’s owners, but they sure as hell want to make the fans aware it applies to the hiring of coaches and front office executives. If only that were really true , given the fact with Sashi Brown’s firing as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns , the team’s owner Jimmy Haslam surreptitiously hired John Dorsey without their being a whiff that the Browns had followed league protocol. The NFL is an exclusive club, with the makeup of predominantly elderly white middle-aged males owners, where Shad Khan is the lone exception . Don’t expect for that to change anytime soon, because given the antics of Jerry Richardson , I don’t believe he is the only NFL owner within the league such tendencies. Goodell is simply the overseer on this plantation and he remains answerable to the slave owners (NFL owners).

Mediocrity know thy name and within baseball over the past decade and a half the Tampa Bay Rays’ history and reputation has become synonymous with mediocrity. I know that Rays’ faithful will point to the years when Joe Maddon was the manager of the franchise and they achieved some success. Yet an appearance in the World Series where they were completely embarrassed has now gone by the wayside. In what might be the most startling news in the ball-club’s history the decision was made by the front office to trade their long-time star and third baseman Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Denard Span and some minor league prospects. Where this now leaves the Rays and their long-term future is just about anyone’s guess, but I now believe the team’s depressing attendance numbers at Tropicana Field will now take an even greater tumble with the departure of a fan-favorite.

Evan Longoria will add some offense to the San Francisco Giants’ own productivity which was somewhat anemic this past season. A last place finish in the NL West might have been among the most surprising results in all of baseball and in particular for the team. . I expect the Giants to bounce back and make things tough for the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West this upcoming season and quite possibly be a contender for the NLCS Pennant . Where they would go from there would then be a matter of speculation.

Far be it for me to suggest the front office of the Tampa Bay Rays doesn’t appear to have an end-game, it must be extremely worrying to see player after player simply being set adrift, while claims are being made this is ultimately for the better. Baseball within the state of Florida continues to be a struggle during the regular season for not only the Rays, but also for the other in-state team, the Miami Marlins . Rays’ GM Erick Neander will have to offer up a believable explanation as to why Evan Longoria was traded. It is becoming abundantly beyond the lack of competitiveness, the Rays simply cannot afford to compete economically not only with the big-market teams but also with the ball-clubs in the middle and small markets. Tampa will open its regular season with a game against the Boston Red Sox , their home-opener as part of a three-game home stand against their divisional rivals within the AL East.

He won the NLMVP with stunning numbers being put up throughout much of the season , but you simply knew that once new team owner Derek Jeter made it known it was his intent to lower the payroll of the Miami Marlins , it would only be a matter of time before the Marlins’ fans would see the departure of Giancarlo Stanton . The player had made his feelings known, stating that he would want no part of a rebuilding process under the new ownership regime . And it was abundantly clear with the ball-club hemorrhaging money , while not being competitive in 2017 , something drastic had to be done. Stanton now joins the New York Yankees where he will be part of a formidable offensive lineup that might be the best in the AL this upcoming season . The Marlins’ loss will most certainly be the Yankees’ gain and when you bear in mind Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t the only player Derek Jeter decided to dump because of salary issues , it begs the question with Dee Gordon also being moved , what the hell with the Miami Marlins have by way of a lineup from an offensive standpoint as well as defensively ? Marlins’ manager Don Mattlingly is being left with the bare bones of a team and within their farm system , I don’t believe it is going to get any better !

The Miami Marlins will open their regular season, after a Spring Training schedule that will likely see one or two non-roster invitees actually making it unto the team for the start of their regular season schedule. Their opening game will see them facing the Chicago Cubs , with the visiting Cubs likely to start off with a win to open their regular season . I would be pleasantly surprised if the Miami Marlins were able to win more than seventy-two games this upcoming season based upon their team lineup and the coaching acumen of the managerial staff . That wins’ total wouldn’t even guarantee a top-three finish within the NL East much less a postseason berth within the National League.



Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman co-owners of the Miami Marlins are seen here giving their first official interview after their purchase of the ball-club.

Do you believe mediocrity within sports has become the norm ? If not, then what do you believe is the cause for a team’s malaise?

  Tophatal     ……  


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—–

World’s highest paid celebrities

 


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The Old Man And The Sea ………

The Old Man And The Sea

Of late, with all of the political in-fighting , backbiting and basic nonsense that seems to encapsulate the landscape of American politics on the domestic and international front . I’ve begun to take a look at some of the asinine things now out in print within the various news’ formats and social media platforms. The latest piece de resistance would appear to be the issue of what is meant to be ‘ White Privilege’ . From my own perspective I simply believe it to be the social basis, whereby Caucasians will continue to cling to power , be it politically, socially and economically. The fact that in large part, they feel it is being perpetuated by minorities when in fact, minorities have never been seen or be treated as their equal is somewhat perplexing, but here we are at a point in the nation’s history, where a President can simply be bold enough to insult a panacea of ethnic groups and it’s seen as his right as freedom of speech , while he also claims to be uniting the country as a whole.

Last I looked , President Donald Trump had little understanding of the rule of law let alone the Constitution. Be that as it may, nine months into his Presidential reign , his supporters remain staunch in their support while his detractors continue to look for ways to take him down.

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Away from the political landscape , the World Series is now in progress and the two best teams in baseball are now providing the fans with what should be an exciting series. I believe this series could and should go to a full seven games given the abilities of the two teams, the AL’s Houston Astros and the NL’s Los Angles Dodgers . The Dodgers have the highest payroll in the game as well as being among the best supported teams in baseball. Dave Roberts and his Houston counterpart, AJ Hinch could be up for managerial honors in 2017 , given their achievements this season. As for the teams themselves, after the first two games , they’re now square at one game apiece with game-three set to take place on Friday night at Minute Maid Field in Houston , Texas. The opposing pitchers will be Yu Darvish of the Los Angeles Dodgers against Lance McCullers Jr of the Houston Astros.

Not to take away from the spectacle of the World Series , but the other big story within the game has been the New York Yankees making the decision not to renew the contract of team manager Joe Girard . His four-year contract was due to expire and it was thought the front office might well be leaning towards a renewal . It wasn’t to be and after ten years in charge , Girardi is out the door and no chance his making another $16-$20 million over the next four years. Luckily enough with vacancies now in Washington with the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia with the Philadelphia Phillies, Girardi has his pick of two viable alternatives. Though I do expect there to be one or two more possible vacancies coming up within the next few weeks.

Joe Girardi was able to guide the New York Yankees to a World Series’ title in 2009 , but since then, their appearances in the postseason have often ended in failure before the Fall Classic itself. Brian Cashman general manager of the Yankees’ organization is also in the last season of his existing contract and the siblings controlling the ball-club, Hal Steinbrenner and Hank Steinbrenner have not expressed their sentiments in keeping Cashman in his current role. If changes are to be made concerning the roles of the manager and general manager then now would be the time to do it. Gary Denbo was allowed to leave the organization to join Derek Jeter within the front office of the Miami Marlins , where Jeter now serves in the role of Chief Executive Officer while Denbo serves in his capacity as Vice President, Player Development & Scouting .

In terms of a new manager, where the New York Yankees go from here is anyone’s guess , as they could promote from within to fill the vacancy left with the departure of Joe Girardi or they could go out and seek a more high-profiled name to succeed Girardi. One thing is certain , the core of this roster , where several of the younger players made their mark this season. It leaves this ball-club in a very healthy situation, though I do believe several of their highly overpaid veterans ought to be shown the door because of their lack of productivity. I don’t believe there can be any justification for the return of CC Sabathia , Matt Holliday , Jacoby Ellsbury , Michael Pineda and Aroldis Chapman . I know that the Yankees like to do things a certain way , but when you’re shelling out over $20 million a year and getting very little in return . Then , there comes a time when you have to rethink your strategy entirely.

Ideas above their station and the belief, they continue to remain relevant . It has been several years since the Florida Gators were striking fear into their opponents. This season , the only thing being struck are the players’ egos , as they realize they’re way in over their heads, while the coaching staff of Jim McElwain looks to take down not an opponent, but fans who have become sick and tired of the mediocrity shown by the team . After a recent game , McElwain could be seen berating a fan who called for the dismissal of the entire coaching staff. It’s funny , I was under the impression some college coaches were thick-skinned. Clearly, Jim McElwain’s skin is softer than a baby’s ass and is of a really delicate nature . The loss to Texas A&M brought about the capitulation of the Gators’ season and the end to their postseason hopes of a playoff berth. Up next for the Florida Gators will be a game against the number three-ranked Georgia (Bulldogs) to be played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville , Florida on Saturday 28th October , 2017 .

Nick Saban will continue to rewrite the history books in terms of modern College Football . His legacy is there for all to bear witness to. With the number one ranked team in the nation , Saban has Alabama (8-0) firing on all cylinders as they look to have another unbeaten season. Their upset loss in the national title game to Clemson were what dreams are made off as Clemson in a game of cat-and-mouse , beat their more well-established opponent . The path to this season’s national title game will be a pleasant one for Alabama , as they have nothing else left to lose , other than their dignity. Dabo Sweeny and his fans knows that the program still has a great deal to live up to . In week nine Clemson will to face Georgia Tech . Alabama for its part will be looking to make it nine consecutive wins in a row when they take on LSU (Tigers) on the 4th November , 2017 .

The number of unbeaten teams in the NBA now stands at three , with the Los Angeles Clippers (3-0) , Portland Trailblazers (3-0) and the San Antonio Spurs (4-0) being the only franchises without a loss. Pretty much safe to say by the end of the season all of the teams will have suffered a defeat . On Thursday night there were five games taking place with the most interesting being the contest between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics . For the Bucks, Giannis Antetkounmpo has lived up to the expectations based on his performances of last season for the team . This season Antetkounmpou has proven to be equally effective alongside a considerably improved starting lineup. The next game for the Milwaukee Bucks will be a match-up against the Atlanta Hawks on the road at the Philips Arena in Atlanta , Georgia on October 29th .

At this moment in time I believe Giannis Antetkounmpo to be one of the top-ten centers in the league and among the best forwards now playing !

It will certainly be interesting to see what the Milwaukee Bucks are capable of achieving this season within their division as well as the league overall . I don’t see them a s fifty-win team, but they are certainly able to play themselves into contention, f we see the coaching acumen of Jason Kidd rise to the fore. He is by far in a way one of the most innovative coaches in the league today , though not yet on the plateau of Gregg Popovich , the five-time championship winning coach. Popovich has been able to coach All Stars , but he has also been able to groom and develop talent turning them into All Stars . Those claims cannot be made for the likes of Phil Jackson , Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra , because they were handed the keys to a Ferrari and then merely asked to take it for a spin before going on their respective journeys. Doubt my word , then simply look at the facts ?

Gregg Popovich continues to be a miracle worker and his record is remarkable. This season the San Antonio Spurs are without their best player , Kawhi Leonard , but somehow they remain in contention . Once Leonard is back in the starting lineup , then I expect to see this team really challenge the likes of the Golden State Warriors , Houston Rockets , Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder within the Western Conference . As contentious and competitive as that conference continues to be , by contrast the Eastern Conference will remain mediocre. Those who are on the know cannot deny that very fact. Popovich will lead the San Antonio Spurs out for their next game against the Orlando Magic , as he seeks to win the one thousand one hundred and fifty-fifth regular season of his professional coaching career.

Injuries we know tend to plague a season no matter what the professional sport and it is the case once again within the NBA. How the teams fare will be dependent upon what the coaches seek to do in rearranging their lineups from day to-day. Midway into month-three of the schedule , I believe the teams will have found their rhythm while playing some competitive basketball.

So all of the hoopla and hype cannot hide the fact of what we already know , the Miami Dolphins are not a very good team . Having lost Ryan Tannehill for the regular season , the front office saw fit to seek out the retired Jay Cutler , offer him a one-year $10 million deal . Adam Gase seemingly had no faith in Matt Moore who led the team to the postseason in 2016 , in one of the Dolphins’ most recent appearances. Cutler’s lack of consistency has derailed any hopes they may have had within the AFC East as well as obtaining a postseason berth within the AFC . The team’s defense cannot mask the fact they’re simply not that good to begin with. With Jay Cutler now suffering an injury , it would appear team owner Stephen Ross will continue to tow the league line by having nothing to do with Colin Kaepernick . This might well come from the fact in recent weeks under the advice of his legal counsel , Kaepernick has filed a grievance within the US Federal Courts with the charges of collusion by the NFL and team owners . There may well be grounds for the suit, but the preponderance of proof will be by that of the plaintiff and his being able to prove his case. However , what has been glaringly obvious team owners have paid this issue very little lip service , while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to hide behind a great deal of rhetoric while in the background. What also is astoundingly clear, the NFLPA leadership and their Executive Director DeMaurice Smith have shown very little support for Kaepernick.

The Baltimore Ravens played host to the Miami Dolphins in a Thursday night game played at London’s Wembley Stadium . This match-up proved to be eventful as Joe Flacco was lost the Ravens , even though they routed their opponents in a 40- 0 clubbing of Miami. Matt Moore’s performance itself was far from satisfactory and it should tell you something that prior to the start of the game , Miami had seen fit to sign David Fales to a contract. As I alluded to earlier , I do believe there are grounds for Colin Kaepernick to proceed with his suit against the NFL. Now his detractors are likely to suggest that Kaepernick is not that great a player if you base it on his play during 2016 , but I would suggest he is far from being the worst quarterback in the league last season and his statistics would be favorable over number of players in the league who have played two or more games in the league during this season . If we really want to make comparisons concerning the ability of Colin Kaepernick and how he measures up against Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco , perhaps we might take a look at their statistics .

As for understanding the reasons behind Colin Kaepernick’s stance , let’s just say when it comes to real activism by the NFL , it tends to favor their making money and placing what they believe to be a pristine image rather than actually taking a noticeable stance. As for the issue of privilege , be it Black or White , let’s just say that whole issue has never been addressed in the true sense of the word . Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones suggests that the players on the Cowboys’ roster are his property. Last I looked, in spite of their current mediocre record , the Cowboys wasn’t a plantation , but I am beginning to deduce Jones’ slave mentality approach is something that might be shared by several of his fellow owners .

Donald Trump’s idiotic rants calling for the NFL players to be fired from their teams for showing a lack of patriotism when the national anthem is played., indicates he has no concept as to the rule of law , let alone the issue of free speech ( freedom of expression) , yet he considers it appropriate to denigrate people of color and the families of fallen war veterans , using the language and tact you’d come to expect of a highly uneducated person. My bad , I forgot his education at Brown University and Wharton Business School actually allows him that privilege. Bigoted ‘white privilege ‘ run amok . Jerry Jones like Donald Trump , they don’t lack candor , but what they do lack, is respect for another person’s right to express themselves freely. What might be even more hypocritical about the owner , has been his willingness to support players on his team who’ve ran afoul of the law under suspicion for acts of battery , spousal abuse and even felonious assault. The reason behind his support , simply from the fact, it would lessen the chance of the Dallas Cowboys winning a game.



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Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit with regard to the points raised within this a rticle.

Tophatal …….. 10/26/2017

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Continue reading “The Old Man And The Sea ………”

Save It ….

Save It …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tophatal …… 04/03/2017

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Out with the old and in with the new …

Out with the old and in with the new

Well as we enter 2017 , there are stories yet to be written and there are also stories yet to be finished. Nowhere is this now more relevant than within the NFL as stories continue to unfold , head coaches’ firings and all of the failed expectations of the teams who failed to make the postseason. Granted , we are now four days away from the beginning of the playoffs and the wildcard round of the postseason will begin. The top-two seeds within each conference will have a bye and will not enter the fray until the divisional round. A great deal is expected of the New England Patriots (14-2) as the number one seed within the AFC and they are closely followed by the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders respectively. Within the NFC , the Dallas Cowboys have proven themselves to be the best team within the conference , but the most dangerous team could very well be the Green Bay Packers , who have rolled off five consecutive victories to end their regular season schedule behind the arm of their Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers .
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From my own perspective , I feel the Green Bay Packers could very well be the most dangerous team in the NFC this postseason, clearly endangering the ambitions of the Dallas Cowboys. For the Cowboys , their season has been one , where expectations were exceeded as they excelled behind the arm of their rookie quarterback Dak Prescott Now given the fact both Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez saw some playing time during the team’s final regular season game , it will be interesting to see if Dak Prescott will be given his first postseason start, when the Cowboys open up their postseason schedule in the divisional round.

Elsewhere within the NFL , it wasn’t really a great surprise to see coaching firings which actually took place. Rex Ryan rightfully , was shown the door at the Buffalo Bills , while Mike McCoy was jettisoned by the San Diego Chargers , Gus Bradley was let go by the Jacksonville Jaguars , Jeff Fisher was simply shoved out the door by the Los Angeles Louis Rams . Last , but not least was the non-too surprising move to fire both Chip Kelly of the San Francisco 49ers who was also followed by the team’s general manager Trent Baalke . It now begs the question , with their being calls for the York family to relinquish control of the Forty Niners and sell the franchise to someone who actually cares about the game , will the team CEO Jed York actually come to the decision to make this all a reality ? Forget about the idiocy and so-called distractions off the field concerning quarterback Colin Kaepernick , as the real issues for the Forty Niners came from the very fact they were very non-competitive on the field of play. Ending the season with a record of 2-14 with only the Cleveland Browns (1-15) with a worst record in the entire league. I am still at a loss as to why there were idiot fans around the NFL who were of the belief Chip Kelly was actually a great coach . He was an abysmal failure with the Philadelphia Eagles , where his teams played no defense and this trait was brought to San Francisco where again , his teams were an abysmal failure. Two years with the San Francisco 49ers and the franchise remains in complete disarray, while the York family as the owners continue to preside over this monumental mess of their own making.

The wildcard round of the NFL postseason provides the fans with some intriguing match-ups featuring the Oakland Raiders (12-4) taking on the Houston Texans (9-7) at Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas on Saturday, 7th January. The second game of the day will feature Seattle Seahawks playing host to the Detroit Lions . Sunday’s contests will offer the fans the chance to see the Miami Dolphins match wits with the Pittsburgh Steelers , while the Green Bay Packers will entertain the New York Giants at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. If all four games are as entertaining as the wildcard games of last season, then fans will definitely be in for a real treat.

Far be it for me to suggest this College Football playoff format is the best thing which could be offered to the fans , but the final games leading up to the championship game taking place on the 9th January have proven to be an immense disappointment. Alabama steamrolled their way past Washington on New Year’s Even in what was meant to be the first of two thrilling semi-finals games played . The second of the two contests proved to be even less compelling as Clemson embarrassed an Ohio State team which was clearly outmatched and didn’t come to play . The national champion hip game will feature the top-two ranked teams in the nation as Alabama chases it fourth national title in the last eight years when they face off against the Clemson Tigers , led by their quarterback DeShaun Watson . I firmly believe if Watson has good showing in this game , even if Clemson falls , he will certainly be one of the top-two quarterbacks taken in the upcoming NFL Draft (2017) . Many analysts around the NFL may well feel Lamar Jackson leads the field alongside Jake Browning , but I do feel Watson has proven himself against a higher caliber and quality of opponent. Should Clemson upset the apple-cart and get the better of Alabama , which is not without merit , then DeShaun Watson can name his own price a s possibly the top pick in the NFL Draft.

The public have not been made aware as to the reason why Lane Kiffin was summarily dismissed as the lead assistant on the coaching staff of Nick Saban’s team at Alabama , but it does add a great deal of intrigue and speculation as to what might be the reasons why Kiffin was fired so close to the national championship game. Saban has yet to issue a public statement on the matter and Kiffin has remained tight-lipped as to the reasons why , but clearly something is amiss and likely to cause a distraction should the whole story become known to the public. Lane Kiffin has supposedly accepted a head coaching position with Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and was said to be assembling his staff for the new position instead of his role, as the offensive coordinator for the team . I find the whole episode somewhat asinine given the explanations now being given by the respective parties involved. It should be noted several years ago , Nick Saban in a deceitful act, lied to the members of the press in Miami , leaving the Miami Dolphins high and dry to accept his current position with Alabama. How soon the idiots seem to forget !!! Kiffin may well have reinvented himself , but as a pet project for Nick Saban , you just knew at some point the bow would break on this particular vessel . The jury is still out on another of Saban’s reclamation projects , former USC (Trojans) head coach Steve Sarkissian , whose sobriety and imbecilic behavior while at the school, became something of a national spectacle and a complete embarrassment for the program.

No bells and whistles as of yet, but something will be coming down the pike within the NBA , because all eyes are watching for the first head coaching casualty of the season. The Brooklyn Nets (8-25) , currently have the worst record in the league , though the likes of the Dallas Mavericks , Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns are by no means teams which should be admired for their poor play at this point of the season.

It is becoming abundantly clear the NBA really does have an image problem concerning its brand , even though many of the league’s leading stars are among the most admired and recognized athletes on the planet. While LeBron James continues to be the leading face of the league, having assumed the mantle of his idol Michael Jordan , a player who James’ game in many ways is modeled on . It remains to be seen if can garner the same sort of success achieved by his idol . The four-time League MVP and three-time time Finals MVP does want to emulate the achievements of Jordan in just about every way imaginable. His thirteen year career will be part of his legacy , as will any further accomplishments, as he seeks to win more championships on top the Cleveland Cavaliers being the reigning NBA champions . The first professional team title within the state of his in the last twenty-five years or more .

The Cleveland Cavaliers essentially have the Eastern Conference to themselves and have yet to be challenged by any team they have faced within the conference. In their last game the Cavaliers got by the New Orleans Pelicans , winning the contest by an eight-point margin 90-82 . The team’s last defeat came by way of a loss to the Detroit Pistons on the 26th December in a road game at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit , Michigan. LeBron James might be lucky enough this time around. to be surrounded by a better cast of teammates than the championship winning team of last season . If there is to be a serious challenge to the Cleveland Cavaliers this season within the Eastern Conference, then it could very well come from either the Boston Celtics or the Toronto Raptors based on the current conference standings . Both of these teams have been highly competitive within the conference this season and clearly have to be seen as legitimate contenders. Brad Stevens and his Celtics’ team will be in action against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night in a home game at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston , Massachusetts , while the Raptors will face a tough battle on the road , when they tip-off against the San Antonio Spurs (27-7) .

They are still a young team at their core , but the Indiana Pacers are a franchise looking to recall their heyday when Reggie Miller led the franchise to their infamous battles with the New York Knicks during the regular and postseason . Larry Bird remains a pivotal element within the organization . Head coach Nate McMillan and the coaching staff know if the team is to be remotely competitive , then they will have to raise the level of their play over the course of the season. Whether or not the Pacers can seek the consistency sought will also be dependent upon the type of leadership seen from the team’s best player Paul George . He has hit his mark , while providing them with the assurance needed and the very fact the Pacers are not one of the highest paid teams in the NBA should point to the financial acumen also seen from the franchise.

Paul George and the Indiana Pacers will be on the court for their next game when they are due to face the Detroit Pistons in a road game on Tuesday night.

This season’s League MVP race could be one of the toughest to decide in recent history . Steph Curry , the reigning two-time League MVP will be looking to make it a third consecutive win of the award , as he and the Golden State Warriors currently possess the best record in the league. There are many who feel the votes will be split , merely , because of the fact he has now been joined by Kevin Durant as a teammate on the Warriors’ roster . While this is valid , I do believe if the voters can see beyond that issue , then there is no reason why the player cannot win the award for a third consecutive season ! Granted , there are many other candidates to be considered , among them , LeBron James , Houston Rockets’ guard James Harden , Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and perhaps the most electrifying player in the league at present , Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder . The point guard has been lighting up the scoreboard throughout much of the season , while leading the Thunder in many of the offensive categories which matter the most .

Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder will be on the court to face the Charlotte Hornets on the 4th January at the Spectrum Arena in Charlotte , North Carolina . This should prove to be a very competitive contest between the two opposing conference teams .


 

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Picture gallery and by clicking on an image you can view that frame along with the accompanying narrative.

With the NFL postseason now about to get into full swing , which teams do you feel are capable of rising to the occasion ? Also , of the two teams now left to decide who will become this year’s NCAA FBS champion , will Alabama claim another title in a lopsided victory or will Clemson pull of a surprise by derailing the Crimson Tide’s ambitions ? Finally , from your own observations of the NBA at this point of the season, do you believe the fans are getting their money’s worth from the teams and players ?

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Tophatal ………..

Related articles : https://tophatal.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/lets-take-a-walk-on-the-wild-side/

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Let’s take a walk on the wild side …

Let’s take a walk on the wild side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tophatal ……….. 2016/12/28

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Heark The Herald Angels Sing

Heark The Herald Angels Sing  …

As the world of sports enters into the Christmas season and all of the festivities one would come to expect at this time of the year , we can also reflect on what has taken place during 2016. In the world of College Football , was there ever any doubt the Alabama Crimson Tide would be riding high at the top of the College Football world ? This team has simply ran roughshod over the opposition all season long and they now find themselves in the playoffs , as head coach Nick Saban looks to win another national title in the modern era. Suffice to say , the only thing likely to deny the Tide their chance of winning a title will be the complacency shown by the team. From my own standpoint, I do not believe Alabama will be that naive or over-confident.

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Well, we’re almost through with the NFL season and who would have thought the Dallas Cowboys would be considered the best team in the NFL throughout much of the season? The team’s rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has been sensational in leading the Cowboys to an eight-game winning streak , though as of late the team has slipped up. Having already qualified for the postseason and winning the NFC East with consummate ease . The question being asked , can the Cowboys win their first Superbowl title in over a decade ? Certainly , on paper Dallas does appear to be good enough, but the postseason is a completely different environment from the regular season.

Dak Prescott in his rookie season shown a great deal of maturity , but one has to wonder if he will be able to show all of the mental traits needed to win. Jerry Jones , the team’s owner , knows he has experienced veteran Tony Romo to call on, but anyone with an ounce of common sense will know Romo’s record in the playoffs can be best described as being mediocre. In week fifteen the Dallas Cowboys will be in action and it will be interesting to see if the decision is made to give Tony Romo some playing time in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) in what might be the best game on the schedule this upcoming weekend.

If the Dallas Cowboys are said to be flying high, then the woes of the Cleveland Browns’ (0-13) record is a sign of not just a bad team , but one which has been lacking confidence all season long . The Browns now seem to be well on their way of equaling the unnerving season of the Detroit Lions in 2008 . For all of those who have forgotten Detroit somehow managed to go 0-16 , a mark in history which goes down in infamy. All of the signs with the Lions are now to be witnessed with the Cleveland Browns and their inauspicious season , as it unfolds . For head coach Hue Jackson , he cannot be blamed for the team’s woes and the fact there appears to be no leadership from anyone on the roster. Needless to say, heading into week fifteen after thirteen consecutive losses , there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of hope the Browns will be able to avert a fourteenth straight loss. Cleveland will be on the road when they meet the Buffalo Bills on Sunday 18th December in Orchard Park , New York at New Era Field (Ralph Wilson Stadium). Defeat there and most certainly the odds-makers will be shortening the odds on the franchise not averting losses in weeks’ sixteen and seventeen .

The death of 1994 Heisman Trophy winner and former Chicago Bears’ running back Rashaan Salaam came as a shock to many . Salaam had a four-year career in the NFL , which never lived up to hype or heights of his collegiate career . His apparent suicide, is still under investigation by the authorities , but it would appear there are mitigating factors now coming to light , as to why he would choose to take his own life , with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Rashaan Salaam is just another in a long line of former NFL players suffering from acute or chronic neurological disorders brought on by the impact of playing not only at the collegiate level but also in the NFL , where brute force seems to be the norm , with bone-crushing hits fitting of a gladiatorial theater . Meanwhile , the NFL hierarchy under Commissioner Roger Goodell , continues to create the perception , the league is doing to enough to protect the players and aiding in the well-being of retired players. In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth , as proven with the league seeking to fight the civil suit and settlement of $1 billion in US Federal Court , filed against them as defendants.

As an $8billion a year behemoth , it is easy to understand why the NFL seeks to protect its brand and image , but with no clear transparency and the autocratic rule by Roger Goodell and the team owners goose-stepping on queue behind him, anyone with the belief the league has a compassionate nature to it , is sadly mistaken.

So here we go and it’s the off—season in Major League Baseball and the free agency market is now heating up , as teams make a big splash signing players to deals , which in many respects , we should now come to expect. Team payrolls in some cases , are likely to increase over last season, with the Los Angeles Dodgers once again leading the pack in 2017 with the highest payroll in the game. Dodgers’ GM Farhan Zaidi and the club’s Head of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman will try to put together a roster which they believe will be able to compete in 2017 . This past season proved to be a monumental disappointment for the Dodgers, as they were expected to challenge for the NLCS Pennant in 2016.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ NLCS loss to the eventual World Series champions the Chicago Cubs was an embarrassment of riches for the Cubs. Chicago manager Joe Maddon and his team were gifted the series , because simply put, the Dodgers have come to be known as “chokers” when it comes to their recent forays in the postseason. Consider the fact, it has been over twenty-five years since their last appearance and victory in the ” Fall Classic” and you have to wonder why their narcissistic fans believe they are always good enough to win ? The Dodgers’ biggest move of the off-season was the signing of pitcher, Kenley Jansen to a five-year deal . Whether or not Jansen can prove to be as productive for the team this upcoming season as he was in 2016 remains to be seen. As a closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers , Kenley Jansen was among the best relief pitchers in the game last season . While I expect the Dodgers to be competitive this upcoming season , I am not holding out any hopes of them being considered to be a legitimate contender for the World Series. They have yet to learn anything at all from their recent postseason appearances and it will continue to be a problem for the organization.

With the recent announcement Allan ‘ Bud’ Selig and Atlanta Braves’ Team President John Schuerholz will be among the inductees into the Hall of Fame in 2017. I have to wonder what were the precise merits for Selig to have met the criteria for his induction ! I have no problem with the induction of Schuerholz as his resume’ simply speaks for itself concerning the success attained with both the Kansas City Royals , but even more so with the Atlanta Braves. The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have their very own set of rules and the Veterans’ Committee continues to be a bastion of sheer stupidity , but in reality the institution itself remains an endeavor of comedic delight and idiocy. This has to be one of the very few institutions , who believe itself to be above reproach and who clearly believe they know what they are doing at every given moment. When your vote can be bought and sold at the drop of a hat , concerning a nominee , it simply smacks of incredulity , connivance and deceit on the part of the BBWAA.

Bud Selig was among the longest-serving Commissioners in Major League Baseball and while it could be said he presided over the growth of a game , to the point where it is now a mult-billion dollar commercial enterprise annually. It has to be said, the game has seen its fair share of mistakes made by the hierarchy under Selig’s guidance. I find it extremely difficult to laud someone , who remains unwilling to admit his mistakes as Bud Selig has failed to do repeatedly over the years ! During the ” steroid tainted era “ , when the likes of Mark McGwire , Sammy Sosa , Barry Bonds , Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro were among the notable names known to have taken an illicit substance. Bud Selig as well as the members of the BBWAA and other journalists failed to investigate in-depth , the cheating which took place.

Steroids remained rampant during the last decade and it was rampant within the Minor Leagues , something which Selig failed to acknowledge. During his tenure also, baseball was no longer an Olympic sport, as MLB and the sport’s international governing body failed to reach a compromise on comprehensive drug testing within the sport. This was a requirement of not only the IOC (International Olympic Committee) , but also the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) . Now in spite of claims maintained by the former commissioner , as well as his successor Rob Manfred , the sport still finds itself in something of a quandary. Both Bud Selig and Rob Manfred are hoping for baseball’s return to the Summer Olympics along with the sport of Softball. The IOC remains reticent about the game’s return to the Summer Olympics and it is unlikely either sport will be welcomed back with open arms.

With the sport of baseball no longer having an international presence MLB in conjunction with the World Baseball & Softball Federation have come up with the grand idea of an international team competition called the World Baseball Classic . This quadrennial event will return to the international stage in March 2017 , at a time when teams in baseball will be in the midst of Spring Training . Team USA will be a participant in the competition along with teams from thirty-one international countries .

As for the aspirations of the US Team , with their having never won this tournament , it could be stated without a victory and even with the competitive nature of the competition . It does seem remarkable with the talent at the coaching staff’s disposal , they have failed miserably on each occasion the event has been staged . Claims of the tournament being an instantaneous success has been mixed and the television audience domestically, has been nowhere near the levels anticipated by MLB . On an international front , the attendance levels have been high , as too have been the television audiences around the globe, but the sport has not really grabbed the public’s attention in the way baseball’s hierarchy and the game’s international body had anticipated.

In what might be deemed a highly competitive NBA season after the major trades which took place during the off-season. It has to be said a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals might be the most appealing thing the fans could wish for. Reigning champions the Cleveland Cavaliers would like nothing better than to make a successful defense of their title, while the beaten finalists the Golden State Warriors will be attacking this season with a renewed vigor. The addition of Kevin Durant to the Warriors’ lineup makes this team the most formidable in the entire league . Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr and the coaching staff are still showing the acumen seen last season as the Golden State Warriors’ dominated the league , but fell short in the NBA Finals.

This season the Golden State Warriors have proven themselves more than up to the task, as they dominate within the Western Conference and have opponents in the East quaking in their boots. The dynamics of this Warriors’ team, is one where they have a three-pronged offensive attack led by Steph Curry , Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. It would also be foolish to overlook the contributions of others on this team. In their most recent game the Golden State Warriors defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves by an eight-point margin on their way to a 116-108 victory .

Golden State will be back on the on the court this Tuesday night , when they will face Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans in all Western Conference clash . This game should prove to be a very interesting contest between two very determined teams.

At this point of the season, the leading candidate for League MVP might be none other than point guard Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder . Westbrook has been on a unique tear , having recorded six triple doubles this season , a franchise record . The league record in a season for triple-doubles is nine , recorded by NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain . It will be interesting to see if Russell Westbrook can break the record of Wilt Chamberlain , but for a player who is often criticized as being selfish, but I feel the point guard has taken on the mantel of being a leader of this Thunder roster , after the departure of Kevin Durant. Westbrook has picked up the slack , but has to be aided by his teammates if the Oklahoma City Thunder are to have any chance of success this season.

Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder will be on the court to face the Portland Trailblazers this Tuesday.

College Basketball has gotten underway and already there have been one or two surprising results. Sitting at the top of the heap are Villanova (10-0) , unbeaten and looking like the top team in the nation . In their last game the Wildcats laid down the “smack” in taking apart Notre Dame , winning by an eight-point margin, 74-66 , in a contest where had they taken every opportunity available , the margin of victory would have been far greater.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright and his coaching staff know that they and the team are now under a microscope , as they have a target on their back as the number one team in the nation. Wright and the Wildcats’ next game will be against Temple (Owls) on Tuesday, 13th December , 2016 .

Storied program or not , you have either come to love or hate the Duke Blue Devils . Head coach Mike Krzyzewski continues to have a commanding respect from legions of Duke fans across the country. Granted , of late the famed head coach has been under a great deal of criticism and justifiably so , but at the end of the day , you simply cannot deny his achievements . Krzyzewski and the team have suffered an early defeat on their season schedule , but as we all know , the season is about the NCAA championship and not much else. Duke will set its sights on another title , as Mike Krzyzewski seeks to add to his already astonishing legacy. Next up for the Blue Devils will be a game against Tennessee State . in a contest which should offer the fans a real treat. For Duke to win the NCAA title this year , I do believe this team has to be more consistent all-round , with their being total dominance by their best player , Luke Kennard who is averaging 20 ppg , 3.2 assists has a 52% field-goal percentage for his season’s statistics .

Now considered to be a PGA Tour veteran, former world number one , Tiger Woods made his return to the Tour , although his first appearance at the Hero World Challenge was not in an officially sanctioned tournament by the PGA . Woods no doubt, wants to regain the form which made him the most dominant golfer on the Tour for several years, having won fourteen Grand Slam Major tournaments , second only to golfing legend , Jack Nicklaus .

There was a time when a Tiger Woods’ sighting on a golf course during a tournament, a Grand Slam Major in particular, actually meant something. However, due to recurring injury problems , a drop off in form and his well-chronicled personal issues, Woods has now become something of an aging fossil among his contemporaries . Tiger Woods has now dropped so far down the World Golf Rankings , you need to turn several pages just to see a mention of his name , never-mind his standing among the Fedex Cup listings. Woods’ next appearance in a PGA Tour event might well be the subject of a great deal of conjecture and speculation , as the player himself has not made us a ware of his playing schedule for the current list of PGA Tour tournaments. If his body can withstand the rigors of the Tour, then I expect Tiger Woods to play a minimum of fourteen tournaments , including all four Grand Slam Majors . I do not believe he will regain the form to make him a legitimate contender for a Grand Slam tournament , but there is the possibility, we might well see Woods lifting a trophy , having won an officially sanctioned PGA Tournament. Jason Day , Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will seek to made those variables seem less likely. The triumvirate are all ranked in the top-ten of the world rankings .
As entertaining as this sporting year has been , with a slew of great performances , singular and team-wise , I can’t help but wonder if thing could have been better during 2016 and what 2017 will have in store for the fans ! At the end of the day, we will be left with memories , some good and some bad. The sporting gods are watching and the likelihood will be, a great deal more is about to happen , expected and unexpected. there are

Tophatal ……………. 12/13/2016

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