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 ….”

The wheels on the bus goes round and round , round and round …

The wheels on the bus go round and round

We have passed the midway point of the number of games played over the course of the NBA season, but we have yet to see the events of the 2016 NBA All Star Game , which will be played at the Air Canada Centre home to the Toronto Raptors. Both conferences this season have seen their ups and downs as well as with the intra-conference match-ups between the East and the West. In the Western Conference the Golden State Warriors have led the way for much of the season , but as of late the Warriors have suffered a few slip-ups , as the San Antonio Spurs have made inroads into Golden State’s lead in the conference. Within the Eastern Conference , last season’s losing finalists the Cleveland Cavaliers are having problems of their own over the last six games. Now while many are claiming injuries have plagued the Cavaliers this season, I believe the real issues for Cleveland has been the fact players have yet to gel as a team.

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In the lead-up to the All Star Game , it will be interesting to see how the teams will fare in comparison to last season at the same point of the NBA schedule. For the most part it should not come as a surprise to see how good the Golden State Warriors continue to be. They have hardly skipped a beat since winning their title of last season. While Steve Kerr has been absent due to health issue, his assistant Luke Walton has taken over the reins as the team’s head coach. Walton has shown the uncanny acumen not often seen from a coach with such limited experience in his role , but when you take into account his experience as a former player and the success achieved with the Los Angeles Lakers , it easy to understand why he has been able lead this team with such authority in his role as the head coach.

The Warriors’ front office , headed by co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have seen the value of the franchise appreciate since their purchase of the Golden State Warriors, along with the continued press coverage given to the team and their stars such as Steph Curry , Klay Thompson , Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala . Given the Warriors’ impressive start to the season , before their recent setbacks , there was a thought the team was capable of surpassing the all-time regular season wins’ total of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10). They remain on par to exceed sixty-five wins along with the possibility of the Warriors making a successful defense of their NBA title. I certainly believe Golden State is capable enough of winning the championship , but their path to the title could be derailed by the San Antonio Spurs , who over their last fifteen games have been among the best teams in the league. San Antonio currently has the second best record in the NBA and their making inroads into the wins’ total of the Golden State Warriors.

As the reigning NBA League MVP Steph Curry is having an exceptional season with some terrific performances for the Golden State Warriors. He is the consensus leader to win the NBA League MVP Award for a second successive season following in the footsteps of some his most recent peers LeBron James and Steve Nash who have won back to back League MVP Awards. If there is more than one possible challenger to Curry’s chance to win the award , it could well be from the likes of Kawhi Leonard , Kevin Durant , Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins and LeBron James. Golden State will next take to the court when they face the Chicago Bulls led by Jimmy Butler , who appears to have assumed the mantle as the leader of this team. Butler’s teammate Derrick Rose remains an integral cog to the franchise , but with his injury woes in recent years , it is hard to try and now justify the financial investment in the point guard .

I am not so sure what to now make of this idiocy with some analysts and New York Knicks’ fans regaling the world with the fact the franchise is now worth $3 billion , while also being the most profitable team in the NBA . Personally, I believe the fans of the Knicks should be more concerned they are no better than a .500 team of players, where there is very little depth to the lineup overall . Perhaps the one saving grace of the season happens to be Carmelo Anthony leads the team in scoring , while rookie , Kristaps Porzingis is having a very good season among all rookies to have played on average twenty minutes or more per game. Derek Fisher is still learning on the job , while being provided with very little aid from his coaching staff . There won’t be any calls as of yet , for Phil Jackson to make a welcome return court-side, but who can what is likely to happen should the Knicks continue to falter ?

Derek Fisher will be preparing the New York Knicks for their next encounter when they tip-off against the Los Angeles Clippers at home in Madison Square Garden , New York City, New York on 22nd January .

I think it is a pretty safe bet to suggest the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers will most certainly lose their fortieth games by no later 1st February , based on their propensity for losing over the last eighteen days ! Both of these teams are in complete disarray with neither Jim Buss as owner of the Los Angeles Lakers or Sam Hinkie of the 76ers having a clue how the resurrect the fortunes of their respective franchises. Mitch Kupchak is like a blind man without the aid of a walking stick and guide dog when it comes assessing talent for the Lakers’ roster. Philadelphia might be even a worse situation given the fact former general manager Sam Hinkie was relieved of his duties and Jerry Colangelo was brought in to become Head of Basketball Operations for the franchise. I believe the Los Angeles Lakers won’t be making any moves concerning the roster and will simply play out the rest of the season, hoping to make some sense of it all. Kobe Bryant will end his illustrious career with another losing season added to his resume’ .

Jerry Colangelo will have to completely reassess the Sixers’ organization from top to bottom , starting with the front office , moving down to the coaching staff and the entire playing roster. Certainly for Brett Brown as the head coach , his days have to be numbered and the same has to said of coaching assistants. Among the players it is hard to say where on should start and end. The drafting of players for this franchise has been a monumental bust with a number of the players taken in 2012 , 2013 , 2014 and 2015 are no longer with the Sixers. This can be best summed up by looking at the attendance levels for the Sixers and the team’s record over the past three years. Philadelphia has now become a bad franchise getting worse and unlikely to turn things around anytime soon. In their last game the Philadelphia 76ers were able to overcome the Orlando Magic defeating their conference counterparts 96-87. The Los Angeles Lakers were not so lucky, falling to the Sacramento Kings 112-93 .

Anthony Davis remains a prodigious talent and that can be seen from his impact with the New Orleans Pelicans and on the NBA. The power- forward has to be viewed as the best player in the league at the position. As the number one overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Not due to become a free agent until 2021 , he is still in his rookie deal , but will undoubtedly be looking maximize his worth as league one of the league’s premier power forwards .

Over their last eleven games the Pelicans have struggled to stay abreast of their Western Conference counterparts as well as the rest of the NBA . In their last contest the New Orleans Pelicans had a fifteen-point win over the Minnesota Timberwolves , defeating their opponent 114-99 and will prepare for the next game when they face the Detroit Pistons at home , playing at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans , Louisiana on Thursday, 21st January , 2016. The Pelicans are 3 ½ games out of a playoff berth within the Western Conference based on the current standings as of 20th January. The eighth and final berth is currently held by the Sacramento Kings (18-23).

To my mind the team which has proven to be the biggest disappointment this season , has to be the Houston Rockets ! Somehow they have found a way to be lackluster , complacent and playing with no passion , while head coach JB Bickerstaff tries to make sense of his best lineup from among his twelve man roster. James Harden remains the Rockets’ best player even if he doesn’t provide a great deal of defensive presence for Houston. As a defensive unit overall the Rockets are giving up 105.7 points per game the fourth highest in the NBA , with only the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers allowing more points per game .

Harden and his teammate Dwight Howard were seen as the one-two punch likely to bring some resolve for the Houston Rockets, but since Howard’s acquisition by the franchise the Rockets have failed to deliver in numerous ways. Dwight Howard has proven to be an enigma and a conundrum all rolled into one. He is no longer the player who was once dominant defensively , having won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award on more than one occasion. The rumors continue to percolate that the Rockets might well seek to trade the center at the trade deadline, if the team isn’t in contention for a playoff berth . Where the Houston Rockets now go from here will be incumbent upon the players themselves and coaching acumen shown by the coaching staff.

The Denver Nuggets have not been a force to be reckoned with in the George Karl was head coach of the franchise and while Carmelo Anthony was the talk of the town as a player with the Nuggets. The last postseason appearance for Denver was several years ago and the makeup of the roster at the time was considerably different than it is today . The Nuggets fell to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference postseason from 2012 . This season under the coaching acumen of Michael Malone the Denver Nuggets are struggling to compete in the Western Conference while not yet making their presence felt within the Northwest Division .

In their last game played , the Nuggets performed poorly ,suffering loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder , led by Kevin Durant who was the leading scorer in the contest. I believe this to be an inexperienced Nuggets’ team still finding their way through the season and their unlikely to be considered a contender for their division or a playoff berth this year. Denver will play host to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday evening, where Danilo Gallinari will be looking to put in a another solid performance for the Nuggets.

I will continue to say this until I am blue in the face and taking my last breath , the best and most successful NBA franchise over the last two decades is and will be the San Antonio Spurs ! Fans of the league who remain oblivious to this fact, have spent too much time drinking the Kool Aid , while being enraptured with the play of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and others. During the time-frame in question , the Spurs have quietly ran off eighteen straight seasons of NBA Playoff appearances and won five NBA titles , a feat unmatched by any other franchise in NBA history , much less North American professionals sports’ franchise history. Yet, because the San Antonio Spurs are not in a top-five market among market advertisers or within the cultivated texture of the Madison Avenue executives and NBA fans in general , the Spurs are often ignored and mildly admired .

The Golden State Warriors may well have bolted out of the starting gate with an impressive start to their season reeling off victories at an amazing rate , but over the past the twelve games Golden State have played second fiddle to the San Antonio Spurs in more ways than one. Steph Curry might even have the League MVP Award all sewn up , given his performances and leadership shown with the Warriors , but if there is a serious contender to the race, then Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs would fit the bill , as he has been the primary reason San Antonio remains within a hair’s breath of Golden State’s record at this point of the season. A conference finals’ clash seems assured, if these two teams remain consistent , albeit , the Oklahoma City Thunder are close by (third best team in the West) watching things unfold.

Kawhi Leonard’s statistics might not match up favorably to Steph Curry’s , but there are intangibles being overlooked as to what he has brought to the Spurs since he was acquired in a trade with the Indiana Pacers . A choice I now believe Pacers’ executive Larry Bird must deeply regret ,having selected Leonard as a first round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft . by the franchise.

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San Antonio over their next few games will be hoping to keep the momentum going and they have a fairly easy test in their next game when they face the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center , Los Angeles , California should prove fruitful. Yet , it will be San Antonio’s scheduled contest at Oracle Arena on Monday night which will provide them a real test , when their opponent will be the Golden State Warriors. This game should be something of a barn-burner between two highly proficient teams skilled at just about every position on the floor.

Through the first half of the NBA season what do you believe has been the most surprising story to come out of the schedule ?
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Tophatal …. 01/21/2016 7:47 pm

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Pick your poison …..

Pick your poison …

The NFL season has proven to be a great deal more than many would be willing to admit and now the consensus and debate is whether or not Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton is a deserving winner of this year’s NFL League MVP. From my standpoint , with Newton having led the Panthers to an unbeaten 14-0 season , with two games left to be played . It would take an idiot to bet against the player and his possibly leading them as only the second franchise in NFL history to go unbeaten during the NFL’s sixteen-game regular season schedule. There might well be a sense of foreboding , with the fact the last team do so, the New England , having gone 16-0 , would then fall to the New York Giants in the Superbowl .

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Ron Rivera and his coaching staff have the team playing some explosive football, with Carolina being impressive all season-long with their statistics bearing this out. Yet, this has all been a collective effort from just about every player on the roster. From the rookies to the seasoned veterans , everyone has somehow played a part in what has become a historic run for the Panthers. With two games left to the regular season schedule, it will be very interesting to see how Carolina continues to navigate their season. Singular glory asides, I believe Cam Newton would rather lead the Panthers to their first appearance and victory in the Superbowl ! Newton has performed admirably throughout the season , having set career-bests and now placing himself as a dual-threat and not what one would deem to be the NFL prototypical quarterback .

Passing league or not , the NFL is in need of a player to assume the mantel soon to be relinquished by the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees . Granted , Aaron Rodgers to my mind , has been the best quarterback in the league over the past six seasons has proven himself to be among the elite players at the position and is slowly carving out a career which will likely see him inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio upon his being eligible.

Having gotten the better of the New York Giants in their most recent game , the Panthers defeated the Giants in a close and highly contested contest . The two NFC stalwarts gladiatorial in the contest with it being highly physical. Though Carolina Panthers were victorious , the game will certainly be remembered for the thug-like antics of Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr , whose infantile behavior and lack of maturity , is showing him in a negative light. Throughout much of the game , Beckham was constantly under pressure from Panther’s defensive player Josh Norman and with the receiver having dropped a number of passes thrown his way by teammate Eli Manning, it was easy to understand Beckham’s frustration. However, what was totally abhorrent, was Odell Beckham’s attempt in trying to decapitate the Panther’s defensive back during the game.

While we all know taunting is prevalent during games between opposing players during NFL games , what is now becoming a regular occurrence. is the continued taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct. Beckham was given one-game suspension for his conduct , while Norman went unpunished for his conduct. If the league hierarchy cannot deal with such issues aggressively and adequately, then the type of behavior shown will continue to be a pattern within the game.

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will seek to keep their fourteen-game winning streak intact when they face the Atlanta Falcons in a divisional road game on Sunday evening . This is a game, which I believe will a lopsided contest favoring the road team , one which could end up rather embarrassingly for the Falcons. Though the Atlanta Falcons leads the series 27-14 with the two teams having met forty-one times over the two decades during which the contests have taken place. In their most recent meetings , it was Carolina winning both games in 2014, with Cam Newton prevailing over his divisional rival.

Matt Ryan , the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback will be expected to lead his team with authority. Something, I now believe he is incapable of doing with any degree of certainty , given Atlanta’s rapid decline this season. Thomas Dimitroff’s position as the general manager is certainly being scrutinized by team owner Arthur Blank and I also believe Ryan’s own long-term future with the franchise is in jeopardy. Granted , the Falcons have a considerable sum invested in their quarterback, who has failed to deliver when it has mattered the most and his dismal season , has only further emphasized the issues which continue to dog Matt Ryan as a player.

If there is a “ call to arms “ , which players are most likely to meet the call and lead by example ? It’s said to be the quarterbacks’ duty to lead and his teammates will likely to follow. Of late , I have a great deal of idiocy surrounding, how Brock Osweiler was meant to be the face and future of the Denver Broncos , much of this having been based one game , where Osweiler led the Broncos to a victory over a disheveled New England Patriots’ team. In the past two weeks Peyton Manning’s understudy has shown the NFL he is not yet ready to actually take over the reins from the future Hall of Fame bound player. Denver for its part , has been struggling in recent games , though their postseason aspirations are not necessarily in jeopardy. One has to wonder , if Brock Osweiler has the temperament to lead the Denver Broncos on a deep playoff run, much less Gary Kubiak being able to show real signs of coaching acumen. Kubiak’s postseason record can be best described as mediocre .

This weekend with the teams lining up for their penultimate game of the regular season schedule , it will be interesting to see the end results will be . The San Diego Chargers will kick off this part of the schedule with a divisional game against the Oakland Raiders , in a contest during which both teams will be looking for some form of salvation. Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos will have a tough game on their and quite possibly be in for a rude awakening, when they meet the Cincinnati Bengals a formidable conference foe . Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will be the guests of the New York Jets in what is likely to be seen as a “ must-win game” for the Jets. There is a very meaningful game taking place on Sunday afternoon, when the Washington Redskins take on the Philadelphia Eagles , with the victor likely in the driver’s seat concerning the destination of the NFC East divisional title. All that you might well need to concerning the division, is that it remains one of the worst in the entire NFL.

Chip Kelly as the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach has presided over the steady decline of the franchise since his being introduced as its head coach . A lone postseason appearance coming in 2013, saw the Eagles fall in the wildcard round of the NFL postseason in a game against the New Orleans Saints led by their quarterback Drew Brees.

A Philadelphia Eagles’ loss and we might as well begin to ask how long before team owner Jeff Lurie makes the decision to fire both Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman ? Clearly, the two inspire about as much confidence as a blind man playing hopscotch in the middle of a mine-field. We know stuff gets blown up , but Roseman has countenanced every dumb move made by Kelly , allowing the head coach unparalleled latitude with his decision-making concerning the team’s roster . Chip Kelly on his best day couldn’t spot NFL talent , much less coach it , if he were given the proper tools to do so. Kelly’s teams in the NFL have lacked finesse and they certainly have no propensity to play defense , but yet there are moronic fools repeatedly jumping to defense, believing him to be a very good NFL head coach. That is about as inspiring as suggesting Roger Goodell has been a great asset to the NFL as its top executive. Goodell has presided over a popular league , but he remains weak and indifferent when dealing with a litany of issues facing the NFL.

Among the top contenders of candidates for this season’s NFL Rookie of The Year , the consensus appears to be Todd Gurley , Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are the best of a really bad bunch of NFL rookies in 2015. All three have had their moments this season in the NFL, but the trio also play on very bad teams who are not even in contention for even their divisional titles much less a postseason berth . I would also throw in Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders , but again as before, he is playing on an exceptionally bad team. While I get the fact the award to reward a player for their season-long contributions achievements within the league during their rookie season. I can’t help but feel, rewarding so-called excellence when your team just happens to be bad , is nothing more than giving a child a lollipop after they have finished in the bottom-half of a Spelling Bee Competition !

Would you also like to have some cheese with your wine and continued whining ? There has to be something said when three NFL quarterbacks, having signed multi-million dollar deals have put together a string of performances this season that have you feeling depressed and the thought beyond their being overpaid, you could actually do better. Joe Flacco , Colin Kaepernick and Jay Cutler are three such quarterbacks, where the blame can be in part be laid for the abysmal seasons of the Baltimore Ravens , San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears . Obviously , all three teams will be in action during week sixteen with the Ravens taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers , the Forty Niners facing the Detroit Lions and the Bears taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All of these games given their status, should prove to be eventful and at the samepoint last season teams were in the waning moments of their respective schedules.

Head coaches in some cases are coaching with job-survival being on the line and there is no doubt in my mind , we are likely to see several coaching turnovers during the off-season. Jim Caldwell is likely on the “outs “ with the Detroit Lions and similar fates could also await Mike Pettine, Bill O’Brien , Chip Kelly , Jim Tomsula and Sean Payton . It remains to be seen whether or not , Jerry Jones will finally admit the Jason Garrett era must finally come to an abrupt end after another disastrous season by the Dallas Cowboys .

Jason Garrett will prepare the team for their road game against the Buffalo Bills , where Bills’ head coach Rex Ryan is facing an internal mutiny among his players after their lackluster season and not understanding Ryan’s often blurred coaching strategies. It seems almost nonsensical to suggest the number of stories written concerning the calls for Jason Garrett’s dismissal or calls simply for Jerry Jones to relinquish his position as the Cowboys’ general manager. The loss of Tony Romo due to injury , simply added to the Dallas’ woes for the season and essentially place the team on their current path to one of their worst finishes in franchise history in recent seasons. . Jerry Jones is unlikely to be forced to heed the calls for Garrett’s firing , as it would simply prove his mistake in hiring the incumbent head coach as the successor to Bill Parcells .

For Sean Payton and the complacency shown by the New Orleans Saints, is slowly emphasizing what we already knew , having won a Superbowl and the aftermath of ‘ Bounty-gate Scandal’ , there was nothing left in the tank and Payton’s coaching acumen was indeed slipping. Take into account the departure of several key players over the last three seasons and you now have to wonder where the Saints can now go from here . The New Orleans Saints are no longer a match for the Carolina Panthers’ and Cam Newton has to be considered the best quarterback in the NFC South , not just based on this season , but also over the past three years. His ascent while Drew Brees’ steady decline seems to be providing us with a stark reality of what is now happening within the division. Sorry Matt Ryan , but you were never going to be part of this equation as you are soft , softer than a baby’s ass a matter of fact ! Brees and the Saints will seek to redeem themselves when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend, as the two teams meet at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in New Orleans , Louisiana , on Sunday afternoon.

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As the regular season comes to a close, which teams do you feel have been a failure and which teams do you believe will be in the hunt for the Superbowl ?

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Bored to your wit’s end, don’t think, just do something …

Bored to your wit’s end, don’t think, just do something …

With the regular season of the NFL coming to a close and the postseason about to reach its penultimate stage, there is not a great deal for the erstwhile sports’ fans to really their teeth into. The NBA season remains one of missed opportunities , the over-hyping of teams and players , the asinine and apathetic ongoing morass of comparing players of one era to another of the past. If you lack the intelligence to realize the fact, this type of debate is merely there to create conjecture then you are simply as dumb as you look in trying to perpetrate this ongoing premise.

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MLB (baseball) continues to lapse into its own continued cesspool of inequality, between the have’s and have nots , never mind the ongoing stupidity of the franchise owners’ continued pursuit of overpaying for mediocre talent, while serving up a banal on-field product. Let us not forget also, the sport has its own cabal of self-absorbed and egotistical bastards currently playing or in retirement. Curt Schilling still remains aggrieved he was denied induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame , blaming his not garnering enough votes because of his political beliefs . I guess this is why those of a Conservative ‘bent’ cannot understand why their pompous and supercilious behavior grates on the nerves of the rank and file, not that those on the other side of the political aisle are any better to begin with.

The 2015 season will present us with the return of Alex Rodriguez in the New York Yankees’ pinstripes as the disgraced third-baseman seeks to resurrect his tarnished career and reputation after his year-long league mandated suspension. Personally, I do not believe the addition of Rodriguez to a Yankees’ lineup devoid of talent and leadership will see the team winning their division much less adding to their tallyof World Series’ titles. There remain far better teams in baseball not just within the AL East, but also the American League and baseball in general. It will be interesting to see how Rodriguez fares in his first eight to ten games of this upcoming season within MLB and whether or not he can regain the form that made him one of the best players in the game with the use of steroids and dare one say , without it ?

Monday 6th April when the Yankees take to the field in their home opener of the regular season against the Toronto Blue Jays , Alex Rodriguez will have a great deal to prove without the added pressure of the press monitoring his every move on and off the field of play.

At the halfway-point of the NBA season, let’s just say the failure of several teams should not come as any major surprise. LeBron James does not walk on water and he can only be asked to do so much , can only succeed when he is surrounded by talent commensurate to his own very intimidating skill-set. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ record is currently a true reflection of what this team is said and meant to be about. Personally, I never bought into the premise of James’ return to Cleveland would to immediate success, in spite his playing alongside the caliber of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love . Anyone with an ounce of common sense, still has to realize this team is only as good as the players on the court and the coaching acumen of the staff led by David Blatt. And the head coach’s lack of NBA experience has led to the Cavaliers’ current issues both on and off the NBA court. An impressive win over the Los Angeles Clippers was very good indeed, but against the top teams in the Western Conference, Cleveland has not fared very well at this point of the season.

OK, so the season in the NFL provided more excitement off the field than anything witnessed on the field , with the continued misconduct of the players and ineptitude shown by Roger Goodell , the team ownersand of course not to be left out of the equation, the continued piousness of the NFLPA (union), whose unwillingness to address or reprimand the egregious behavior of their members continues to be not only baffling but also astonishing. Needless to say , with the imminent start of the Aaron Hernandez murder-trial we will either get to see the gullibility of the jurors as they remain awe-struck or the incompetence of the prosecuting attorneys, conducting the case on behalf of the State of Massachusetts’ Attorney General’s Office . A guilty verdict does seem likely , but it would come as no surprise , if the jurors made a mockery of their judicial system , with a not guilty verdict or the District Attorneys simply showing how inept they just happen to be. Trusting them to even indict a ham sandwich , would not necessarily prove to be that difficult were they handed concrete evidence , but hey , look at the makeup of the US Congress and the litany of legal minds within the federal legislative chambers and then ask yourself , how competent and productive have those morons been ? Answers , please on a legal size paper, cursive writing, in no less than five-hundred words.

As a die-hard New England Patriots’ fan , not only am I looking forward to Sunday’sAFC Championship Game game between New England and the Indianapolis Colts, but the fans will be get the privilegeof seeing one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL’s history by way of Tom Brady as he faces the young upstart hoping to rewrite the Colts’ history books as well as further enhancing his reputation as the best quarterback to have been drafted in this league since 2006. It is hard to question the success of Andrew Luck at this juncture , with his this having led the Colts to the postseason in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. Tony Romo is now conducting his own investigation as to the reasons why he’s failed so miserably in the postseason, while the Dallas Cowboys’ fans continue to walk around with their heads shoved up their own proverbial @ss, unwilling to accept the patently obvious.

Romo while very good in the regular season, he is like a baby takings its very first steps when it comes to postseason play in the NFL . And all of the bitching , whining and seeking to blame game officials for another postseason loss cannot make up for the fact the “Dallas Cowgirls” are what they are and meant to be , soft as butter melting off a hot knife !

The two opposing quarterbacks in Sunday’s AFC contest , will both be wearing number twelve, so at least someone with that number will also be on hand in the NFL title game on the 1st February, 2015. Oh by the way , don’t hold you breath waiting for any excitement to be provided next weekend in the league’s annual “schmuck-fest” of the NFL Probowl Game, as the opposing captains Cris Carter and Michael Irvin, each in their own unique way try and lively up that particular idiotic event with their character and levity. There’s more action to be found in a dead corpse than anything you are likely to see from what has repeatedly turned out to be an uncompetitive and meaningless gathering of players, simply turning up to ensure their guaranteed contractual incentives have been met and not much more beyond that.

The momentum is building up towards this season’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and though brackets have yet to be set, fans of the college game are up, for the one time of year on the sporting calendar where everything else takes a back seat, as this tournament takes center-stage for an exciting month of games from the sixty-five original participants.

John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats sit atop of the rankings , unbeaten and playing very much like the best team in the nation. Perennial powerhouse programs Duke (Blue Devils) , Kansas Jayhawks and Florida (Gators) have made some uncharacteristic slip-ups with losses you wouldn’t normally associate with the programs at this stage of the season , but they are likely to place them in good stead as they move forward. However, with the Blue Devils having suffered two consecutive losses , I am not yet saying it’s time to throw the baby out with the bath water , but there now seems to no sense of urgency with this Mike Krzyzewski coached team . Those back to back losses coming against North Carolina State and Miami (Hurricanes) , has me wondering what is the current mindset of the Blue Devil players and who among them will likely to step up to the plate and assume the role of the leader on the roster . The first of the two losses in question, against North Carolina State explained a great deal about Duke and what appeared to be a lack of preparedness for the contest . Yet , the defeat suffered at the hands of Miami might have been even more inexplicable as the team simply lacked cohesion throughout the entire contest. Yet, the defeat suffered at the hands of Miami might have been even more inexplicable as the team simply lacked cohesion throughout the entire contest. If neither Quinn Cook or Jahil Okafor are scoring for then the Blue Devils will likely suffer a loss .

Saturday afternoon saw Mike Krzyzewski take his team on the road to Louisville , Kentucky to face Rick Pitino and his Louisville Cardinals in a game which pit two of College Basketball’s most well-respected, celebrated and successful coaches in a contest, best described as entertaining and thrilling. Duke came away with an eleven point victory setting the Blue Devils back on track, while also seeking to cement themselves as legitimate contenders this season within the ACC .

Boxing longs for a charismatic figure to prolong its existence and to be face of its future. Over the last decade it has been left to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to represent its present persona, one which can be best described as lackluster. Neither of these two multifaceted boxers have sought to face each other at the peak of their careers, instead choosing to harangue each other with jibes and idiotic petulant taunts. Now with 2015 in its infancy, there seems to be a reality setting in for both fighters, that if both are to be viewed as among the best ever to have ever to have stepped into a boxing ring, then a meeting between the two have to take place. A multi-million dollar payday awaits both fighters will the split likely to be split of 60-40, favoring Mayweather, which sees the Las Vegas based fighter have the biggest payday of his heralded unbeaten career. $110 million for one fight might well seem outrageous but if this bout takes place, then look for Floyd Mayweather not only boast about this payday, but also his name being placed along the likes of Muhammad Ali , Rocky Marciano , Joe Frazier, Marvin Hagler and “Sugar” Ray Robinson , boxers deemed to be among the greatest of any era to have stepped into a boxing ring.

Executives within Top Rank Inc and Mayweather Promotions Inc , speaking on the condition of anonymity, have stated both fighters , Mayweather and Pacquiao are prepared to put their differences aside and make this fight a reality at some point in 2015. From my own standpoint, with both fighters past their prime, this bout should have taken place five years ago. Unfortunately , for a sport now dying on its knees, common sense has never been a driving force behind anything sought to make the sport remain relevant. In the midst self deprecating idiocy consider the fact the sport of boxing does not have an undisputed champion on any of their weight divisions , most notably among the heavyweights long seen as the most prestigious division in all of boxing. It has been almost a decade since Lennox Lewis ruled the roost as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Since then, there have been a litany of claimants to the crown, where until recently, in one form or another the Ukrainian siblings, Wladmir Klitschko and Vitali Klitschko held at least one version of the belts, signifying themselves, as a title-holder within that specific weight category.

With Vitali Klitschko having retired last year , the WBC crown was on the line and Bermane Stiverne became the most recent recipient and claimant of the title. On Saturday night, Stiverne made his first defense of the crown when he faced challenger , Deontay Wilder in their title clash at the MGM Grand Casino Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas , Nevada, on Saturday, 17th January , 2015,. Stiverne’s first defense, would be his one and only , as he was pummeled mercilessly by the challenger, who won by a unanimous decision, with all three ringside officials scoring the Wilder the winner, by wide margin. So now we have an unbeaten homegrown US born fighter, whose record was simply padded , having not met anyone of note in a thirty-three fight career, with 32 KO’s and only one of his fights having gone the distance. If this what fight fans believe, adds credibility to the world of boxing, then sadly , they remain delusional and completely out of touch as to what currently ails this sport. A proposed unification bout between Deontay Wilder and Wladimir Klitschko appears to be on the cards, but I won’t be holding my breath for the proposed event to take shape and materialize, Let’s put it bluntly, boxing has seen its heyday long past and we are currently witnessing its death knell, with a lackluster bunch of characters leading it off into a massive graveyard of buried carcasses. Not much more needs to be said, beyond that !

If UFC President Dana White wants to be taken seriously , not only as an administrator and a legitimate representative within the world of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), then he will have stop with his boorish behavior , pomposity and be more consistent in his rulings. White’s behavior has been less than gracious with his comments concerning many of the genre’s most prominent fighters who placed the sport on the global map over the past decade. Imagine former NBA Commissioner David Stern mocking either Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson at the height of their careers, when the NBA as a sport, was far more popular than both MLB and the NFL combined . It would have constituted ridicule and dare I say it a great deal of backlash against the then commissioner. However, in the case of White , he continues to backtrack on the comments attributed to him or dismissing the statements made as being taken completely out of context. Now the UFC President has to deal with a situation of his own making and one where his stewardship of this sport must come into question.

Jon Jones , the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, having recently defeated challenger , Daniel Cormier , for his record-breaking ninth title defense , suddenly saw his pristine image come crashing down with an almighty fall. Jones having tested positive for cocaine use , a I might add which cu is manadatory for all UFC title bouts , the UFC hierarchy knowing full well the test results, prior to the scheduling of UFC 182 , where the title defense was made, allowed the champion to go ahead with his bout. Yet all of this seems to have been overlooked by not only the fans but also the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) whose own integrity in recent years, has come into question alongside that the commissioner who presides over this particular state agency, which covers all professionally sanctioned sporting events within Nevada. The fact , that both boxing and MMA falls under the NSAC’s governing umbrella, comes as no surprise, but what now comes as a surprise , must be depths of of malfeasance and incompetence now taking place, with White either being complicit in this all or his just turning a blind eye, all for the sake of the “Almighty Dollar” .

With the absence of Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva from the octagon, Dana White has suddenly realized , Jon Jones’ stupidity and the fact Ronda Rousey has no credible challengers leaves his sport in something of a quandary , because there have been no real breakout stars currently drawing fans to the sport in even greater masses than witnessed in the past five years. Jones’ mea-culpa , has White hoping Silva’s return to the octagon for a third saga of a trilogy against Chris Weidman will bring about a welcome return of fans , along with the possible return of the former welterweight champion GSP (St Pierre). The Welterweight Division division at present has become something of farce with St Pierre’s successor , Johny Hendricks losing his title in his very first defense. with a less than striking performance. Far be it for me to suggest, but Dana White should not only be bending over trying to kiss his own @ss, but he should also be practicing pressing his lips firmly against the sphincters of Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre , requesting that they ” pucker up ” , while he also slips his tongue into their orifice, giving them some welcomed pleasure after the undue criticism leveled at both fighters and former champions.

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Picture gallery .

What to your mind in recent weeks, has brought about your close attention in the world sports, be it on the field of play or away from it ?

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(1) Doug Baldwin of the Seattle Seahawks holds aloft the NFC Championship trophy , after the Seahawks’ late game heroics and then overtime play , earned the team their victory and second successive Superbowl appearance . Seattle will meet the New England Patriots in Glendale , Arizona on the 1st February , 2015 in Superbowl 49 . AP Photo / David J Phillip …

(2) Members of the New England Patriots’ secondary celebrate after the team’s 45-7 blowout victory over the Indianapolis Colts . Patriots MVP of the game was running back LeGarrette Blount who had another astonishing postseason performance with a three touchdown game for the Patriots . This will be the franchise’s sixth Superbowl appearance in the last fourteen years all coached by Bill Belichick . AP Photo / Chris Moore …

(3) Andrew Luck (12) , left, of the Indianapolis Colts is congratulated by Tom Brady after the Patriots’ victory over the Colts . Luck remains win-less in four attempts against the Patriots in his professional career with this 45-7 loss the biggest defeat during his postseason appearances for the Colts. AP Photo / Adrian Myers …

(4) Curt Schilling currently a baseball analyst with ESPN , voiced his disapproval having been omitted from being inducted into the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame class , claiming his omission was because of his political beliefs. Schilling could provide no proof to substantiate his claims , further opening himself up to the inevitable ridicule , which most certainly will come his way . Getty Images North America

(5) Having sat out the 2014 season due to a league mandated year-long suspension Alex Rodriguez will return to the New York Yankees in 2015 , hoping to reestablish his career and lead the franchise to another World Series title , with the ball-club’s last appearance in baseball’s Fall Classic coming in 2009 . His presence on the team will likely come under close scrutiny throughout this entire season, as he will once again will have to shrug off any suggestions of returning to the use of PED’s (performance enhancing drugs). AP Photo / Barry Young …

(6) LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks to move against the Los Angeles Clippers during the game on January 16 , 2015 at STAPLES Center in Los Angles , California . Getty Images/NBAE/ Andrew D Bernstein

(7) Marshall Plumlee (40) , Matt Jones (13) and Jahlil Okafor (15) of the Duke Blue Devils celebrate with fans following their game against the Boston College Eagles at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 3, 2015 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke defeated Boston College 85-62 . The Blue Devils seeking to avoid a third successive defeat this season defeated the number sixth ranked Louisville Cardinals 63-52 . Getty Images North America / Lance King

(8) Floyd Mayweather (left) considered the linear champion within the welterweight division has actively suggested he wants to fight Manny Pacquaio , but in the five years since a fight was first proposed to take place , a bout has never taken place . Mayweather remains unbeaten , the Filipino fighter has encountered a number of losses along the way , while recently coming back into form avenging his loss to Timothy Bradley and then successfully defending his version of the welterweight crown (WBO) in a rather nondescript bout against Chris Algieri .

(9) UFC President Dana White is seen here standing at the dais , while UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones speaks to the convened press at a press junket publicizing UFC 128 . The fighter recently tested positive for cocaine use, prior to his most recent title defense against Daniel Cormier at UFC 82 . It is alleged White knew of the positive test results but allowed the contest to go ahead rather than promoting one of the under-card bouts from the event . Something the UFC President refuses to address publicly , while expressing the fact Jones was fined $25,000 and mandated his taking a drug rehabilitation stay at a facility . It has since come to light Jon Jones merely had an overnight stay at a drug prevention facility and is now back in training for his next title defense. No formal statement has been forthcoming from White on this latest new,s but has led to a number of fighters now questioning Dana White’s leadership and inconsistencies when dealing with fighters known to have violated the UFC drug policy . MMA World / Outright Features Inc. all rights included @ copyrighted material

(10) LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 17: Deontay Wilder (L) connects on WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne during their title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wilder took the title with a unanimous decision. Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

(11) LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 17: Deontay Wilder (L) celebrates after going 12 rounds with WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne during their title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wilder took the title by unanimous decision. Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery.

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

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Picture and slideshow gallery .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There’s something about October …

There’s something about October …

At this time of the MLB season , well specifically baseball’s postseason , teams will either flounder or rise to the occasion. . It has clearly been the case in the divisional round of the 2014 MLB postseason , where this year’s surprise team the Kansas City Royals pulled off a stunning come from behind victory to defeat the Oakland Athletics in their AL wildcard game. Within the NL the Pittsburgh Pirates were simply no match for the San Francisco Giants , who under manager Bruce Bochy are seeking their third World Series title in the past six seasons .

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The Kansas City Royals having their first postseason appearance in almost three decades, made sure they will be around for the long haul and they are now proving their defeat of the A’s was no mere fluke , as they now have the Los Angeles Angels on the brink of elimination, having jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the best of their five-game series in the ALDS contest between the two teams. As to what this suggests about the Angels , after their spectacular season within the AL West is now open to speculation , as too , the future of Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia , should his team lose this series, having captured the divisional crown as well as the second best record within the AL this season.

The failure of Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees’ to make the postseason as baseball bade farewell to the Yankees’ captain, will not provide the player with the fairy tale ending he might have sought inwinning a sixth World Series crown and ring. Simply put, Joe Girardi and his players were never in any real contention to make a bid for a postseason berth. This Yankees’ team began to age fast as their season wore on and there really no signs of them being competitive as their season came to a close.

Baseball’s most successful franchise might well have had a down year , but their closest rivals by way of popularity , the Los Angeles Dodgers were back in the mix once again with the team having made a successful defense of the NL West divisional crown. Along the way pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett enjoyed a rare feat of throwing no-hitters for the Dodgers during the season. As great as the team is said to be , this postseason the Los Angeles Dodgers have shown their flaws and their NLDS contest seems to be turning into a repeat of their NLCS clash with the St Louis Cardinals in 2013, which ended in a lopsided series’ win for the NL Central based Cardinals .

Too early to speak of the Dodgers’ demise ? Perhaps not , but with the inconsistency now being shown by team, I get the feeling Don Mattingly has become increasingly frustrated by the lack of determination shown by several players in the lineup. The Dodgers’ 10-9 loss to the Cardinals was as troubling to watch as it might have been for the fans in attendance at Dodgers Ballpark on Friday night , was deeply disturbing for a number of reasons. Dodgers’ starting ace Clayton Kershaw came up short in his duel with Adam Wainwright , who this season has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the NL .

When this series resumes on Saturday night, Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers will be seeking to place his team back on an even keel, squaring the series when he faces Lance Lynn in game two . An 0-2 deficit for the Los Angeles Dodgers would certainly be an uphill task for the team, as they seek to make a second consecutive appearance in the NLCS , with a view to making their first appearance in the World Series since 1988 when they faced the Oakland A’s, defeating them 4-1 .

It would be pretty much safe to say, the Baltimore Orioles have remained underneath the radar throughout much of the season. The expectations were, they would play a role in determining the destination of the AL East crown , but with the failure of the New York Yankees to compete , the Tampa Bay Rays’ customary swoon and the continued excuses offered up by their fans and management. It would appear the Orioles simply had to waltz their way to the title . Needless , to say , the defending champions, the Boston Red Sox’s fall from grace was baffling , but a great deal of their misfortune came down to the complacency of the players and some of the rather idiotic moves made by GM Ben Cherington during the off-season . As for the Toronto Blue Jays , this was a team that was never really in contention , played without passion and whose front office remains jaded and without a clue.

Buck Showalter and the Orioles have to be looked upon as the prohibitive favorites for not only the AL Pennant but also the World Series, itself. Even with a litany of injuries the manager and his staff have found ways for this team win and to win decisively . Chris Davis has come back down to earth after productive productive 2013 which now has to be looked upon dubiously ,after his being suspended for the use of a banned substance not prohibited under baseball’s drug policy. Makes you wonder, with all of the player’s prior denials on his part , after suspicions were raised about his home run total last season , why no protests concerning his suspension, refuting the evidence ? Clearly , a case of another “steroid cheat “ within the game and baseball’s all too lenient policy when it comes to reprimanding a player for deliberately breaking the rules.

The Orioles will be looking to derail the Detroit Tigers’ title hopes and it would appear that Brad Ausmus and his team are quite quite willing to aid their opponents all too quickly with the task, as the Tigers once again show signs of a team too scared to compete in the postseason. With game three taking taking place place on Sunday, Detroit is in need of the win , to at least have a chance of making this series (ALDS) competitive, already down 0-2 and on the brink of elimination. Bud Norris of the Orioles will be looking to place his team one step closer to their goal, when he faces David Price at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan , on Sunday afternoon.

When Major League Baseball makes the announcement of this year’s nominees for their individual regular season awards it will be very interesting to see whether not Matt Williams , manager of the Washington Nationals is one of the contenders for the NL Manager of the Year. Williams has guided his team to the NL East title while the Nationals have posted one of the best records in the game and leading them to their first postseason appearance in several years . Team owner , Ted Lerner and GM Mike Rizzo have not only shown their implicit faith in their manager, but there now seems to be the belief, he is the candidate they had long sought to bring some semblance of competitiveness to the ball-club after years of struggling , since assuming their current persona as the Washington Nationals . Now stars such as Stephen Strasburg , Bryce Harper , Jordan Zimmerman , Denard Span , Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond will get the chance to appear centerstage in a postseason series for their team.

Facing off against the San Francisco Giants in what has proved to be an entertaining series (NLDS) , the two teams played the longest game in postseason series history , battling through eighteen innings , with an end result of the Giants pulling off a narrow and thrilling 2-1 victory . The season series between the two National League teams have been crisp , thoroughly entertaining and might actually play a part in how this postseason match-up ends.

This series will resume with the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals looking to continue their thrills . For the Nationals in particular, game three will prove to be a decider in whether or not they continue in the postseason or pack up their bags and return home. An 0-2 deficit is not the scenario I believe the Nationals might have envisaged , when they entered this series against the Giants and clearly their fans have to be somewhat devastated they are on the brink of being eliminated from the postseason. Doug Fister of the Washington Nationals will face off against Madison Bumgarner whose postseason heroics of a shut-out for the ball-club has Giants’ fans relishing this contest and perhaps seeing their team inch closer to another pennant and World Series’ title .

This postseason has provided the fans will a great deal of excitement and baseball’s hierarchy has to be enjoying their time in spotlight whereas their NFL counterparts are now self consciously struggling with their image and rather mediocre play through the first quarter of the season .

The Fall Classic is the one time the year baseball has every right to shine , with several players being on show seeking to make a name for themselves along with their teams. As this postseason has gotten off to such an exciting start, I am not so sure which team now deem to be favorite to win the World Series. In the AL it appears the Baltimore Orioles are in the driver’s seat and an appearance in the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals doesn’t quite pose the excitement sought, were they perhaps facing the Detroit Tigers or Los Angeles Angeles, but it could provide the fans with the series they dearly deserve. In the NL , Don Mattingly knows this might be his last chance to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to where many of the team’s senior executives believe the franchise rightfully belongs . In the almost two years of by Mark Walter , Todd Boehly and Magic Johnson , the franchise has spent almost a half billion dollars ($500,000,000) chasing the dream of winning a World Series title . The other nine participants during this postseason , combined, they do not have not the resources to match the financial clout of the Los Angeles’ based franchise.

Baseball’s Achilles’ Heel will remain the lack of leadership shown by Bud Selig , its hierarchy , team owners and his still inherent belief the game can continue along its idle path with, so many economic imbalances , players’ escalating salaries and that of the teams’ payrolls . Yet somehow, it all seems to be forgotten once the month of October comes into being and the postseason begins .

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Picture gallery.

How do you see baseball’s postseason panning out and which two teams do you believe will be making an appearance in this year’s World Series ? Take the time to comment on this and anything else you believe relevant to the topic .

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(1) Kansas City Royals’ Eric Hosmer , center, celebrates his two-run home run with Salvador Perez , left, in the 11th inning against the Los Angeles Angels in m Game 2 of baseball’s AL Division Series, in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. AP Photo/Gregory Bull …

(2) Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout waits in the dugout before Game 2 against the Kansas City Royals in baseball’s AL Division Series, in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Trout and his teammates have performed miserably in the series against the Royals and are now on the brink of elimination facing an uphill task of staving off their 0-2 deficit. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi ..

(3) Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura, left, checks on catcher Salvador Perez after Perez got hit by a pitch during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels in Game 2 of baseball’s AL Division Series in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. AP Photo/Gregory Bull …

(4) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Matt Kemp celebrates his home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball's NL Division Series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong …

(5) Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joakim Soria , center, watches as Baltimore Orioles celebrate after Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy , bottom left, scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of Game 2 in baseball’s AL Division Series in Baltimore, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Baltimore won 7-6 . AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(6) Baltimore Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph tags out Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera at home plate on Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez’s double in the eighth inning of Game 2 in baseball's AL Division Series in Baltimore, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Baltimore won 7-6. AP Photo/Nick Wass …

(7) San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt watches his solo home run in the 18th inning of Game 2 of baseball’s NL Division Series against the Washington Nationals in Nationals Park, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Washington. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(8) San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey signals to the umpire he’s safe after sliding into home in the ninth inning of Game 2 of baseball’s NL Division Series at Nationals Park, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Washington. The umpires ruled, after review, that Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, left, made the tag and Posey was out. AP Photo/Alex Brandon …

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Penny Mathis

It’s about that time of year again, where stupidity is front and center, as MLB makes all of the right and wrong moves

It’s about that time of year again, where stupidity is front and center, as MLB makes all of the right and wrong moves

If there is one thing I have become accustomed to , it is knowing that baseball and their fans are a fickle bunch of individuals. If nothing else, the league itself as well as the hierarchy beyond their being a lack of leadership. MLB simply cannot get out of its own way when it comes to making repeated pratfalls, but as of late, the NBA and NFL, have somehow sought to show they are no fools when it comes to making complete assholes of themselves either. Your simply have to read the latest headlines to see what has recently taken place within the NBA and NFL for clarification of the very fact.

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The divisional races within the AL and NL are heating up with many of the teams in contention now seeking to bolster their respective rosters. There will be some takers , some shakers, but most of all , a number of losers. The Philadelphia Phillies with their $160 million payroll have been one of the biggest disappointments of this entire season, with the managerial staff and the players themselves at a loss to explain their season’s woes. Philadelphia seem to be unwilling to even put up a fight within the NL East against their divisional opponents never mind the rest of baseball overall. As winners of four of their last ten games , it is hard to suggest how the Phillies can fight their way out of their quagmire, with Ryne Sandberg in first season as the Philadelphia Phillies’ manager struggling to make sense of the team’s troubles this season. A 6-0 drubbing of the equally dismal New York Mets may well have provided Sandberg and his managerial staff with some respite , but the front office cannot be entirely happy with what they have witnessed from the team over the course of this season.

Phillies’ joint general managers Reuben Amaro Jr and Pat Gillick are likely to make some drastic cost cutting moves, while seeking to pave the way for next season. Out of the postseason hunt as well as a divisional race, it only makes sense for the organization to simply implode the team and trade-off needless pieces. Certainly, the two executives are likely to listen to reasonable offers several players thought to be likely targets for teams in need of some pitching as well as a productive bat. At the top of the list might well be pitcher Cole Hamels along with his teammate Ryan Howard, albeit , I now feel no Phillies’ player is likely to off the table given the plight of the franchise and what they seek in return. The Phillies’ farm system is said to be a very good one , but I get the impression neither Gillick or Amaro are yet ready to anoint anyone there, ready to be called up to the Majors. Philadelphia will resume their series with the New York Mets on Wednesday afternoon at Citi-Field with Kyle Kendrick taking the mound for the visiting team against Zack Wheeler of the Mets in a National League contest .

As an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves, my biggest disappointment was to see the team falter under a great deal of expectation during the 2013 MLB postseason . Fredi Gonzalez and the Braves easily won the NL East with a least of effort and the belief was after years of false hope they were indeed ready to return to the wondrous heights of success achieved under former manager Bobby Cox . With Cox now inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame this past Saturday, alongside five other distinguished members , it would be fascinating to see Braves perhaps make a spirited effort to make another return to the postseason in honor of the franchise’s most distinguished manager.

This season the Braves have not lived up to or shown the form many had expected, with the Washington Nationals now perhaps seen as the presumptive favorites to take the NL East with first-year manager Matt Williams having a great deal of success with his team . Braves’ GM Frank Wren , if it his intent to have the team make the postseason, then there is the possibility he might well seek to bolster the lineup by making several changes by way of a trade or demoting a member of the starting lineup by bringing up someone from within their farm system. Consistency has been the thing lacking with the Atlanta Braves over the course of this season where their longest winning streak being nine games and a losing streak of seven games. If the team are to be viewed in any way, as a credible contender for the NL Pennant much less the World Series then Fredi Gonzalez will have to get his players playing with a great deal more zeal than has been shown through the first half of the season. BJ Upton , Aaron Harang, Mike Minor , Julio Teheran , Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis , Justin Upton and Ervin Santana will have to prove to the fans and public alike they can be viewed as one of the teams to beat within the NL during the second half of the season.

Atlanta will renew an old rivalry when they are the guests of the high-flying Los Angeles at Dodgers Ballpark over the next two days , with the first game taking place on Wednesday afternoon. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the two contests will be, as the Dodgers are seeking to fend off the challenge of the San Francisco Giants, with the two teams contesting the divisional supremacy within the NL West . For Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly , this might well be the last chance he will be given to take this team deep into the postseason. With a payroll close to a quarter of a billion dollars , the common thought in most circles are that , managing partners Magic Johnson , Peter Guber and Mark Walter may well have given the manager their blessing , but one more misstep could lead to his ouster as the manager of this highly paid team. Players Matt Kemp , Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier are just three of the names being bandied about as the organization seeks to bolster the lineup . Kemp, Crawford and Ethier trade bait might have seem highly improbable a month ago, but such are the ambitions of the Dodgers , that nothing now seems off the table in terms of fulfilling those ambitions. I firmly believe the greatest pressure rests squarely upon the shoulders of Don Mattingly and his managerial staff to succeed, but as usual, the players are not seen as the last resort for failure, yet , it has always been the manager who is left to be seen as the culprit, when all else fails.

Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti may have initially been blessed with an enviable task of presiding over the task of assembling this team under the watchful eye of team President Stan Kasten , but I cannot help wonder, if either executive thought winning a World Series for this baseball club would prove to be so difficult. Last season’s failure in the NLCS was so embarrassing , but a twenty-five year absence from the showcase finale itself, has proven to be equally undermining for the organization as well. I have no doubt there will be some takers for the talents of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, because this has simply been the way the game of baseball has tended to run.

It has been a long time since a current World Series’ champion has fared so badly in the defense of their title. Yet witnessing the fall from grace of the Boston Red Sox this season has proven to be so embarrassing and unexpected. This team has failed to show any life whatsoever and it is hard to point out one positive aspect to the Red Sox’s play over the course of this year. I am not about to suggest John Farrell is an extremely bad manager, but it would seem beyond the aspect of his having caught just about everyone off-guard during the postseason, 2014 has been littered with surprises by way of the lack of enthusiasm being shown by the Red Sox players. It were as if they are ready to rest on their laurels, with the evidence of 2013 being the measure of their success. David Ortiz seems to be a shadow of the player witnessed in the postseason , when he won the World Series’ MVP . Likewise the same can be said of many of his teammates from that roster who still remain current members of the Red Sox lineup.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has a great deal to think about concerning the immediate and long-term future of the franchise. Rumored to be on the trade block are pitchers Jon Lester , John Lackey , Burke Badenhop and a number of outfielders on the roster. Fire sale, might one ask ? The Boston Red now are not the Red Sox old ,who between 2004 through to 2010 were so dominant , but then came the era of Bobby Valentine before things got turned upside down. Valentine’s subsequent firing led to John Farrell’s introduction as the manager with a World Series’ title coming in his first season as the manager. The expectations for this season were high, but the reality has been one of abysmal mediocrity and little evidence to suggest the players are motivated to turn things around. I have no doubt in my mind this team will be imploded with several mainstays from last season being jettisoned , with John Farrell and the managerial staff looking to the farm system and acquisitions as the ball-club looks to the future.

It is also that time of year again and the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays wait with bated breath concerning the next episode concerning the franchise come the trade deadline. All Star and Cy Young Award winner David Price is once again the scene of a number of speculative rumors concerning his future. Joe Maddon has been saying the right things concerning the player and his wish to see him be retained, but in all probability with this franchise, simply not willing to pay the player his worth , it would be in their best interest to seek the best offer available for one of the AL’S best pitchers. Claims as to Price being a top-five pitcher in baseball are vastly exaggerated, but what would we come to expect of the Rays’ fans to begin with , much less fans who claim to be in the know concerning the game of baseball?

It would be fair to suggest the Tampa Bay Rays have failed to deliver on all counts this season their record is simply another indication of that reason. No more continuous excuses of the organization being paupers, because it is now time to put up or simply shut the hell up , once and for all. The continued apathy of the fan-base has played an even bigger part in this dilemma of the continued belief, the team has always been good enough to contend . An AL pennant and a sole appearance in the World Series and all of a sudden, the Tampa Bay Rays were considered “world beaters” . Well their fall back to earth has been quick and the organization has been exposed as one of aimlessly heading nowhere, where their sole assets are the acumen of Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon. Beyond that, there has been very little to suggest the Rays can be considered perennial contenders, much less lacking real leadership among the playing staff . If anyone can point to their being a vocal leader on the roster, much less the player leading by example , then I would like to hear or see the name of the player in question be mentioned and the reasoning behind the choice in question?

Yet with the news revealed today (Thursday) at the trade deadline, a decision was made to trade David Price to the Detroit Tigers , this further emphasizes that the franchise has now given up on their season and are now looking ahead to their long-term future. It may not be too long, before they are likely to contemplate trading away Evan Longoria who in many respects has been nothing more than a figurehead for the baseball franchise and little else beyond that. When and if such a scenario should happen, it will be interesting to see how this is played out and viewed by Rays’ fans within the area as well as nationwide.

The Rays’ first game without their Cy Young Award winning pitcher will be a contest against the Los Angeles Angels in a match-up to be played at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida. How the team performs in this game could tell us a great deal about the determination of the players over the second half of the season. A divisional title is out of their reach and only the implosion of several of the teams ahead of them in the wildcard standings would be of benefit to Joe Maddon’s players and their chances of making the postseason. Beyond that , I do not believe there is much more that needs to be said !

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Picture gallery .

In your honest opinion who do you believe benefits the most at this time of the year in terms of the trades made within baseball ? Is the teams giving up a major impact player on their roster or the recipients of the transactions in question? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you believe to be of importance with regard to the subject.

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Philadelphia Phillies’ GM Reuben Amaro Jr is seen here with team manager Ryne Sandberg as the tow watch members of the team in the outfield during warmups prior to a Spring Training game . This season for the Phillies has been an unmitigated disaster with the team barely competitive within the NL East or the NL wildcard standings . Some major decisions are likely to be made concerning the future makeup of the roster as it enters the second half of the season. AP Photo/ Paul Garnett …

(2) Tony Gwynn Jr of the Philadelphia Phillies was released by the franchise at the trade deadline in what was seen as the first of many moves likely to be taken by the organization between now and the end of the season. Gwynn’s father , Tony Gwynn Sr a seven-time NL batting champion and Hall of Fame inductee died earlier this year from cancer. AP Photo/ Sandra Potter ….

(3) Emilio Bonifacio of the Chicago Cubs was traded by the organization to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday afternoon. For the Cubs simply another milestone in another recent lackluster season for the ball-club. Getty Images North America/ Hugh Perez …

(4) Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly is seen here alongside the team’s batting instructor Mark McGwire as they look on from the dugout during a game played at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles , California earlier this season. With a bloated $241 million payroll, high expectations await the franchise over the remainder of this season . Failure and some major decisions are likely to be made by team President Stan Kasten and GM Ned Colletti . AP Photo/ Ben Thompson ….

(5) Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester who was dealt by the team to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes . Boston appears to be unloading a players with a view to lowering their payroll while placing an emphasis on their farm system for the future and actively seeking out bargains by way of productive players who can aid them in their task ahead. AP Photo/ Chris Charles …

(6) BOSTON, MA – JULY 29: David Price (14) of the Tampa Bay Rays smiles after he gives up the second hit of the night, a home run , to rookie Brandon Snyder (23) of the Boston Red Sox in the 6th inning of a game played at Fenway Park on July 29, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts . Price was dealt by the Rays to the Detroit Tigers , in what has to be considered another sad chapter in the franchise’s history in their turnover of star players, dealt away . Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(7) Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch left and team GM Dave Dombrowski are seen here addressing members of the press during a preseason meeting concerning their thoughts on the season. Dombrowski and Tampa Bay Rays’ counterpart Andrew Friedman engineered the trade that brought David Price to the AL Central contenders and may well have strengthened their position to keep that divisional title. Getty Images/ Kent Turner …

(8) Tampa Bay Rays’ player Evan Longoria is seen here with Rays’ senior executives , GM Andrew Friedman , Matthew Silverman and senior managing partner Stuart Sternberg . After a great deal of consultation between the trio and manager Joe Maddon the decision was made to send David Price to the Detroit Tigers. Fans will get their voice to show their approval or disapproval of this deal when the team plays host to Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels this Friday at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida . AP Photo / Dave Mason …

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MLB news and press releases

MLB teams’ transactions

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MLB schedule three days at a glance

MLB probable pitchers

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This week in MLB history and on this day in baseball .

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And today’s double-header will be headed by Julie’s assets .


Nor even my “kicks” ever looked this good !

Horses for courses ……..

Horses for courses …..

We have already reached the midpoint of the baseball season and there have been one or two surprises along the way. Some very good pitching performances, exclaimed by three no-hitters and the less than threatening offenses of a number of teams . Add in the fact, the same old stories seem to be repeating themselves by way of the Houston Astros and I am beginning to wonder if this season is likely to be anything special at all !

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Slideshow .

The Astros, alongside the Philadelphia Phillies , now have to the two worst records in all of baseball and there has been little to suggest that the teams in question have the acumen to solve their on and off the field woes. Ryne Sandberg who succeeded Charlie Manuel to become the Phillies’ fifty-second manager in the franchise’s history , has inherited an aging roster of stars who now seem to be past their sell by date. To say the very least Philadelphia and the coaching staff have their work cut out for them over the remainder of their season. With several of the players on the team’s roster among the highest paid players in the league, it is hard to imagine where the organization will seek to go from here, but there now seems to an opinion, a long overdue “fire sale” is likely to place, with several of the players being jettisoned in order for some of the younger players being called up from within their farm system. Sandberg succeeded Charlie Manuel as the Phillies’ manager , but in the aftermath of the team’s failure in 2013 , it was clear that the front office and GM Reuben Amaro Jr had to make a change at the managerial level. A great deal of the blame does lie with Amaro and his failure in seeking to bolster the Phillies’ roster over the past five years.

Having won the World Series in 2008 with a lopsided series’ victory over the Tampa Bay Rays ,the Phillies’ fortunes in the later years can be best described as a ball-club repeatedly under-achieving. . Coming off a 6-2 drubbing from instate rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates , Ryne Sandberg will not take his players on the road as they face the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Ballpark , in Milwaukee , Wisconsin,. As losers of nine of their last ten games, it is easy to understand why the Philadelphia Phillies have been so woefully inept. The issues on this team covers just about every facet of their game , from top to bottom ., including the lack of leadership coming from the managerial staff , much less the seasoned veterans on the team.

We have often been told the NFC East remains the best division in the NFL and the same claims are continually being made about the AL East . That is not something as a baseball fan, I am ready to I subscribe to ! Granted, there are some very good teams within the division and the very fact Derek Jeter enters his final season with the New York Yankees makes the expectations within the division and for the Yankees that much greater.The Yankees for their part have been inconsistent with their being few bright spots on the team during the season, but what cannot be denied has been the outstanding performances of their rookie pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka during this season. . The pitcher has all but blown the hinges off the door leaving batters bewildered on his way to a league leading result in wins among rookie pitchers and starters in general. If that were not enough he just might be the best pitcher on the Yankees’ starting roster and that is with due deference to Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia , who now seem to spluttering through their schedule.

Joe Girardi and the New York Yankees are a mere 3 ½ games out of first place within the AL East, in a division led by what appears to be a steadfast Toronto Blue Jays’ team, the equally resilient Baltimore Orioles , to be followed by the third placed Yankees and rounding out the quintet of teams, are the Boston Red Sox and the last placed Tampa Bay Rays.. Jeter and the Yankees , coming off a hard-fought 9-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins , will have to remain consistent if they are to have any chance of winning the division much less guaranteeing themselves one of the two wildcard berths available within the AL.. . Monday , the Yankees will be pitted against the Cleveland Indians as they take to the field, with Shane Greene on the mound for New York against Cleveland’s Justin Masterson in a game to played at Progressive Field in Cleveland , Ohio,.

While many of us wish Derek Jeter all the best, as he winds down an astonishing career , it is my belief that he and the New York Yankees are unlikely to win the World Series , garnering him a sixth World Series’ ring. The Yankees are good but they lack the “killer instinct” of teams from the past and Joe Girardi , in spite of his managerial experience seem to be lacking the resolve in getting his players to buy into his managerial philosophy for this season..

Two-hundred million dollars can buy you many things , but in the world of baseball , it has been unable to garner the Los Angeles Dodgers a World Series title in either 2012 or 2013 . It is pretty much safe to say, managing partner , Magic Johnson might now be feeling a little peeved to see his team having squandered the chances offered them in the last two years. It seems like an eternity since the Dodgers made an appearance in the World Series ,but in 1988 , was the last time the ball-club tasted success in calling themselves world champions. This season is proving just as difficult for Don Mattingly and his team as they see the resurgence of the San Francisco Giants within the NL West , as the league’s highest payroll team struggles to find an identity and prove themselves to be one of the best teams in all of baseball.

A half game may well now separate the Dodgers and Giants at the top of the division with San Francisco having played two games less than their divisional rivals over the course of season , so far. Yet, based on what we have seen , is there anyone truly convinced that the Dodgers are indeed the equal of the recent two-time winning World Series’ champions? These two teams possess the pitching staffs to a great deal of damage within the NL as well as the rest of baseball, but consistency will be the key for both as they set to contend for the NL West divisional crown.

Los Angeles took care of the Colorado Rockies with relative ease in an 8-2 win in a game played at Coors Field on Sunday evening , while the Giants made light work of the San Diego Padres in their 5-3 victory in an away game on the same day . The Dodgers and in particular Don Mattingly and his managerial staff are under a great deal of pressure to succeed. Winning the World Series remains the priority of one baseball’s most revered organizations and the chase for that elusive crown. Two of this season’s three no-hitters were achieved by Dodgers’ pitchers Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw , two of the team’s best pitchers on a very impressive starting lineup.

Not really shocked, but there comes a time when you simply have to look at the work of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and ask the question how successful would he have been, were he afforded the luxury of having the resources of $200 million payroll ? Unfortunately , this remains a pipe-dream among the A’s and their fans because Lewis Wolff is not the type of owner to make such a lavish outlay while seeking success. At the same time, this gives us an eye on one of the many issues that still plagues the game of baseball and why neither, Bud Selig or MLB’s CFO Jonathan Mariner has any real idea how to create a level playing field, in terms of the financial fairness within the game and the teams’ payroll structure.

On Tuesday the Los Angeles Dodgers are the guests of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit ,Michigan , when Hyun Jin-Ryu of the Dodgers takes to the mound against Justin Verlander in a crucial contest for both teams.

Not really shocked, but there comes a time when you simply have to look at the work Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and ask the question how successful would he have been, were he afforded the luxury of having the resources of a $200 million payroll ? Unfortunately , this remains a pipe-dream among the A’s and their fans because Lewis Wolff is not the type of owner to make such a lavish outlay while seeking success. At the same time, this gives an eye on one of the many issues that still plagues the game of baseball and why neither, Bud Selig or MLB’s CFO Jonathan Mariner has any real idea how to create a level playing field , in terms of the financial fairness within the game and the teams’ payroll structure.

Having the best record in baseball does not always equate with success at the end of the season when it comes to baseball’s postseason . At present the Oakland A’s have the privilege of being viewed as the best team in the game with their league leading fifty-six wins (56-33) as of the 7th July,2014. Oakland has simply been laying waste to their opponents all season long and their 5-0 clubbing of the San Francisco Giants was further evidence of how good this team just happens to be. Never mind the issue of the Giants being one of the best teams in the NL and having seventh best record in baseball with only the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels having a better record over their last twenty games.

A’s coach Bob Melvin and his managerial staff have given the players the momentum needed but it remains to be seen if the team will be able to take the lead and deliver the victories needed as they seek to win their first World Series’ title since 1989 when they triumphed over when they defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-0 . They would reach baseball’s postseason finale again in 1990 ,only to fall to the Cincinnati Reds in the seven game series in a whitewash.

Baseball’s mid-season showcase event , the MLB All Star Game is not that far off on the horizon and already fans and media analysts alike, are questioning those who were snubbed and those who made it onto the rosters of the AL and NL teams. In my opinion, with the voting being no more than a popularity contest , very little credence can really be given to the veracity of the claims, as who is fitting to become an All Star and who is not. Does anyone really want to see players from the two worst teams in baseball, being given what . is something of a dubious honor ? Can playing on the last placed team within the AL or NL really be a cause, upon which one can say that is a mark of success ? Therein lies the idiocy of the claims by baseball writers, fans and members of the league hierarchy, that every team should be given the honor of having player be a part of All Star roster.

Mike Trout may well be the best all-round player in the game today and he is certainly the player who many believe will be the face of baseball for years to come, and deemed the player most likely to succeed Derek Jeter as being the face of this game for next decade or more. Baseball needs a fresh influx young stars able to attract the fans after two decades of constant betrayal of the fans , with the never-ending cheating , lies , deceit, hypocrisy of the league hierarchy , owners , general managers , MLBPA (Players’ Union) and the general apathy of the fans willing to excuse the behavior of the steroid cheats that have made baseball such a joke !

MLB has long sought to paint itself as America’s pastime but it has not been the case for several decades and it has been the incompetence of the league, in addressing the most serious of issues, leading to the constant ridicule and lack of leadership at all levels within the game. Ryan Braun was welcomed back with open arms after the 2011 NL MVP remained in denial while being complicit in a web of deceit and lies that any asshole with an ounce of common sense, could have seen through. But for the incompetency of the league’s own testing protocols and that of the sheer stupidity of the laboratory who presided over Braun’s results , the player’s suspension would have been far more serious, rather than the slap on the wrist received. With the Milwaukee Brewers once again competitive within the NL Central , it will be interesting to see what might be made should Braun and the Brewers make the postseason and quite possibly winning the World Series, itself. Scorn or not, such a premise would lead to the game being once again questioned as to its veracity.

Fifty home runs in a season is something of a rarity but during the steroid era , that feat was something of a regular occurrence , with the likes of Mark McGwire , Sammy Sosa , Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds making a complete mockery of that particular record. This year we are unlikely to see the fifty home run mark surpassed but the siege on that particular mark always seems to be an interesting topic of debate as well as something of a spectacle to watch. Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion and Giancarlo Stanton lead the way in baseball’s home run race this season , having just passed the halfway mark of the baseball schedule. Barry Bonds may well hold the single season home run mark, but in many respects in the eyes of the purists within the game , the mark they feel deserves recognition is the legendary statistic of Roger Maris’ of sixty-one home runs . I do not believe that anything else needs to be said concerning the matter !

Baseball’s mid-season showcase event , the MLB All Star Game is not that far off the horizon and already fans and media analysts alike are questioning those who were snubbed and those who made it onto the rosters of the AL and NL teams. In my opinion with the voting being no more than a popularity contest , very little credence can really be given to the veracity of the claims as who is fitting to become an All Star and who is not. Does anyone really want to see players from the two worst teams in baseball being given what is something of a dubious honor ? Can playing on the last placed team within the AL or NL really be a cause upon which one can say that is a mark of success ? Therein lies the idiocy of the claims by baseball writers, fans and members of the league hierarchy, that every team should be given the honor of having player be a part of All Star roster. The contests between the AL and NL in recent years have proven to be very entertaining with their being so much at stake for the winning league . Interest will certainly be peaked with this being the last All Star contest where Derek Jeter is a participant . How he bows out will be one of the highlights of the season , no matter the result.

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Picture gallery.

There remains a great deal to play for over the second half of the season, but for now, we have been intrigued to witness the stories that have unfolded at the midpoint of baseball’s schedule. What highlights have piqued your interest and which team or player has proven to be the most exciting to watch? On a final note, who do you believe will prove to be the biggest disappointment of the year among the ball-clubs and stars given their status at the start of the year? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks for the continued support as always !

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Picture and slideshow gallery below .
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(1) Houston Astros’ Chris Carter , left, is congratulated by Carlos Corporan (22) following Carter’s solo home off of Texas Rangers relief pitcher Aaron Poreda in the eighth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. The Astros would defeat the Rangers 8-3 in a rout . AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …

(2) Houston Astros starting pitcher Brad Peacock and first baseman Jon Singleton talk with manager Bo Porter (16) as Peacock is pulled in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …

(3) Philadelphia Phillies’ general manager Reuben Amaro Jr is seen here with team manager Ryne Sandberg ,who in his first year as the team’s manager has seen the Phillies do so poorly while struggling to remain competitive within the NL East and the NL in general . An aging roster and several highly paid players are the primary reasons for the poor results witnessed this season . All signs are pointing to the fact , Amaro will seek to revamp the roster during this upcoming off-season and the likelihood will be , he will seek to trade several players superfluous to the team’s needs while promoting younger members from within their farm system. AP Photo/ Martin Davis …

(4) New York Yankees Derek Jeter, left, bumps fists with Masahiro Tanaka during introduction ceremonies before the baseball game against the Houston Astros on day Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Houston. Tanaka enters his first season with the Yankees as team captain Jeter enters his twentieth and final season with the franchise . AP Photo/Pat Sullivan ….

(5) From left to right , Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly , senior partner Magic Johnson , Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees and Dodgers’ CEO and senior managing partner Mark Walter are seen here at Dodgers’ Ballpark in Los Angeles California prior to a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees in 2013. Rivera who retired in 2013 as all-time saves’ leader and a five-time World Series’ winner had a historic career with the Yankees’ franchise. He is likely to be a Hall of Fame candidate in Cooperstown , New York having met the eligibility requirements. Getty Images North America/ Greg Parsons …. .

(6) Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin ,left is seen here with general manager Billy Beane as the two talk with the convened press at the O Coliseum in Oakland, California . The A’s are off to another impressive start to the season and lead with the AL West, while heading into the All Star mid-season break. Both the manager and executive are hoping that the team can have an equally successive start to the second half of the season with the ultimate goal being an appearance and the capturing of a World Series’ crown for the fifth time in A’s history . AP Photo / Dave Wilson …

(7) Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is often seen in some circles as the best player in the game and the face of baseball for next decade. The player now at the forefront of an Angels’ offense that seems to be in control . AP Photo/ Kelly Richardson …

(8) Alex Rodriguez , left , of the New York Yankees and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers . The two players have become the “face ” of the steroid era over the past eight years. Each has faced a league mandated suspension, with the Yankees’ third baseman now sitting out the entire 2014 season after baseball’s hierarchy enforced their ban of the player for the year. Braun and Rodriguez have won four League MVP Awards over the course of their respective careers and are among the highest paid players on their respective teams ( Brewers and Yankees) . AP Photo / Harry Patterson ….

(9) Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins leads the NL in home runs this season but it remains to be seen whether or not he is likely to surpass the fifty home runs for the year . The Marlins are trying to supplant both the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals atop of the NL East. AP Photo / Chris Mendez …..

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Something cheerful about a female shaking her assets .

Building blocks …………

Building blocks …………

The New York Giants’ disappointment of last season can be best summed up, by the erratic play and suggestion that the team’s quarterback, Eli Manning played for much of the year injured , thereby hampering any progress that Tom Coughlin and his coaching staff hoped for. Manning for his part, the two-time winning Superbowl winner and Superbowl MVP , simply suggested that his play was simply no worse than his detractors would imply. Apart from the player’s injury , the offense was under par , with a running game, that was woefully inept, with the underlying current being an average passing attack. The Giants’ front office during this off-season, sought to rebuild the roster , after the loss of a number of players to free agency . With attrition came the addition of new faces as the franchise now seeks resurrect their fortunes after a nonplussed 2013 , during which the fans witnessed the team’s malaise and the Philadelphia Eagles capturing the NFC East division.

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Often described as the best division in the NFL , the NFC East, if anything, it was one of erratic plays from the quartet of teams, albeit , that the Eagles took the division. The trio of the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and New York Giants were not much of a challenge within the NFC and even less so within the rest of the NFL. Criticism of Tom Coughlin in some circles was without merit , even if the common belief, is that when team fails, the blame should rest squarely on the shoulders of the head coach. Coughlin led the franchise to their two most recent triumphs in the Superbowl, each time getting the better of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots . For the Patriots, the Giants have become their Achilles’ Heel in recent postseason contests and number of their regular season meetings.

New York’s preseason schedule , will be one, where Tom Coughlin can assess his roster and specifically the draftees from this year’s 2014 NFL Draft class. If the Giants are to have any chance of competing within the NFC, then they will have to play at a high level. Eli Manning also will have to recapture the form, that placed him among the elite quarterbacks within the NFL, having surpassed elder sibling Peyton Manning , in terms of Superbowl victories. While the elder Manning’s most recent appearance ended disastrously , with the Denver Broncos having succumbed to the Seattle Seahawks in what some have described as one of the most lopsided contests in Superbowl history , that ended with the Seahawks pummeling the Broncos into submission, 43-8 . While, it would be idiotic to suggest, that the two best teams in the NFL, meeting in the league’s showcase postseason event , ought to provide the fans with the best contest possible. That match-up, was a rather innocuous affair, with Pete Carroll’s Seahawks not being challenged at any point during the game.

The departures of Osi Umenyiora and Ahmad Bradshaw in recent years , along with a slew of players who were part of the pair of Superbowl triumphs , I believe have played a part in the Giants’ demise, with their replacements being unable to fill the gaps left in various areas of the team’s defense and offense !

If there was said to be any area that the New York failed , it might well have been that beyond Eli Manning’s lack of athleticism and quickness, it was the failure of the offensive line protecting their quarterback in several of their games last season. Manning’s statistics, do not, belie that fact, nor was the propensity, for the number of false starts , fumbles and interceptions witnessed .

In terms of the New York Giants’ draft class , was somewhat, a mixed blessing , with not necessarily rave reviews , but in some circles there is a the belief that players such as Odell Beckham, Weston Richburg , Jay Bromley and Andre Williams, will provide that needed lift for the franchise, as they head into the regular season . New York, will open their season, with an away game , at Ford Field in Detroit , Michigan, when they face Matt Stafford and the Detroit Lions. Jim Schwartz and his team, are coming off another disappointing season , when many felt that the Lions could be looked at as a serious contender within the NFC. Unfortunately, several of the players on the roster did not read the script and their efforts effort over the course of the season were extremely poor by anyone’s standards. If recent encounters between the two teams are encounters are anything to go by, then this contest should be extremely entertaining , or it could very well end up being, a monotonous bore .

Where, to begin, the continued woes of the Dallas Cowboys have been well chronicled, so much so , that the news’ items and stories could be turned into plausible Hollywood script, that in some circles might have the making of a blockbuster movie. Alas, there has not anything blockbuster-like, in the repeated pratfalls of Jerry Jones’ franchise over the past eight years. If Tony Romo were the lead character in this piece of movie magic , the critics would be giving his performances during that time-span “the thumbs down “ , along with his supporting cast of characters. And if that were not enough, Jones would not be even nominated in his role , as the producer of this ongoing mess and the continued incompetence shown by head coach Jason Garrett . Off putting as this might be, it is now becoming increasingly comedic to comprehend how the general manager could in all good conscience, sign Romo to the deal that made the player among the highest paid quarterbacks within the NFL , when the quarterback’s postseason career can be best described as being mediocre.

If Tony Romo hasn’t the skill-set to lead the team during the postseason , albeit , that during the regular season , the praises heaped upon the ten-year veteran seem to be justified . I truly believe, that he is over-rated, lacking the leadership skills sought to win a Superbowl and that is with due respect to the franchise’s Hall of Fame and Superbowl winning quarterback Roger Staubach . The elder statesman of the Cowboys’ history, has described Tony Romo, as the player who gives this franchise the best opportunity to win a Superbowl. Age is a wonderful thing , but I cannot help wonder, if Staubach has not suffered one hit too many, during his playing career, to come up with that ridiculous assessment of Romo’s talent !

A season, where 8-8 , just about summed up what the Dallas Cowboys were all about in 2013, with the excuses simply pouring in, once the quarterback suffered a season-ending injury, missing the final game at the end of Dallas’ schedule. Kyle Orton was given the privilege of starting that contest as Tony Romo’s backup in the home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Orton remains on the Cowboys’ roster , providing some semblance of experience , to a position, where I now believe there remains a great deal of uncertainty . Tony Romo may well have undergone off-season back surgery, to repair a bulging disk in his lower back, but Jerry Jones , in his infinite wisdom, felt it prudent to acquire free agent quarterback Brandon Weeden . That player’s, NFL career, while with the Cleveland Browns was simply lackluster and foreshadowed exactly why, that particular franchise, was destined to go absolutely nowhere, during his tenure .

The Cowboys’ preseason schedule , will give Jason Garrett the opportunity to assess his revamped roster , of which the changes have been considerable . The decision to let go of All Pro Defensive player DeMarcus Ware might well have come as a shock to many outside the Cowboys’ franchise, as Ware was one the most productive players for the Dallas Cowboys over the past eight years, along with tight-end Jason Witten . However, his banishment from the organization was short-lived, with his finding a new home with the Denver Broncos. That decision alone, has me questioning Jerry Jones’ reasoning , albeit, that he stated that his choice to let go of Ware had nothing to with the player’s cap value to the team last season or for the upcoming year . It might well have been that Jones’ decision had more to do with the wish to go with younger players and in needing to look long-term, in the direction, that he felt his franchise was heading .

The draft class for the Dallas Cowboys provides the team, with a chance to rebuild in several areas, especially where, last season the NFC East based franchise had one of the poorest performing secondary’s in the entire league. Defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin will have a great deal to prove this season , as he seeks to improve the Cowboys’ ranking defensively, from a last place finish in 2013 into a top-five defense for 2014. If the team is unable to improve , in that one category , then there is no way that the Dallas Cowboys could be seen as a legitimate contender for the Superbowl (SB49) , much less , even be considered good enough to challenge for the NFC East divisional title. Too early, to be thinking that far ahead for an event that will be staged at the University of Phoenix Stadium, in Phoenix , Arizona ? Well, all thirty-two teams, have that as a target, but, there are only two berths up for grabs, in the NFL postseason showcase event. The Seattle Seahawks had their eyes on the prize and never seemed to falter, at any point during their postseason schedule in 2013.

Dallas will play host to the San Francisco 49ers at Cowboys Stadium (AT&T Stadium) , in Arlington, Texas , in a game that is likely to tell us a great deal about both teams and their aspirations for the upcoming season . Tony Romo, as he takes that first snap will be looking to have an injury-free season , while trying add to his menial postseason career . Personally, in spite of the weapons placed around the player, I still do not believe that he has the tenacity or the mindset to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a Superbowl victory ! Am I likely, to be proven wrong, with my summation on the team’s ambitions and their likelihood of achieving that goal? Well, given their recent record in the postseason, of which their last appearance came in 2009 , ending in a lopsided 34-3 defeat against their conference rivals the Minnesota Vikings . Tony Romo’s performance, in that contest, was not a memorable one and was among the worst of his NFL postseason career.

With the first pick, in the 2014 NFL Draft , the Houston Texans began the rebuilding process for this forlorn franchise. Fourteen successive defeats, in 2013 and one could well understand the reason , why there was a great deal of ridicule surrounding the Texans and the inability of Gary Kubiak and his coaching staff to get the best out of this team . Jadeveon Clowney was seen as an impact player , game changer and how he acts in tandem with JJ Watt may well mean success for the franchise or failure over the course of this season. Whether or not, he can be viewed as the best defensive player drafted, will be dependent upon his play, but also, the level of maturity shown by Clowney and whether or not he follows the example of his more seasoned teammates . The hyperbole and superlatives that surrounded the player during his collegiate career , might well have been justified, but what he was capable of doing for South Carolina under the tutelage of Steve Spurrier , will be uniquely different once he steps unto an NFL field for the very first professional game of his NFL career. There have been many great defensive players that have preceded Clowney in the past and his wish to be seen as a natural successor to the likes of Bruce Smith , Ray Lewis , Jevon Kearse and Rod Woodson , could very well lead to the rookie succeeding or failing by his own merits.

Gary Kubiak’s firing, led to the hiring of Bill O’Brien to succeed the beleaguered former head coach . O’Brien brings a keen footballing mind, along with a no-nonsense approach. Yet, his greatest obstacle, might well be finding a quarterback capable of leading this Texans’ team with the sureness he seeks and where that player , is not likely to be a liability for his teammates. With four quarterbacks now on the roster, ally vying for that starter’s job , it will be interesting to see which of the quartet, is likely to be given that role for their regular season opener , against the Washington Redskins at the Texans’ Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas on the 7th September , 2014. Tom Savage , Case Keenum , T J Yates and ten-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will be given every opportunity during Houston’s preseason schedule to prove to Bill O’Brien, that they are worthy of consideration, for that starting role. Yet, there remains continued speculation, that the head coach will seek to acquire the Patriots’ backup to Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett , a player well-known to Texans’ head coach. Fitzpatrick, given his experience, is likely to be viewed as the favorite to win that position outright , having been a starting quarterback in the NFL , but his record has not been overly impressive over the course his career. The quartet of games, that make up the preseason schedule for the NFL’s teams, will be seen as something of precursor for the regular season . Bill O’Brien will lead his Texans in the first of their preseason contests against the Arizona Cardinals , looking to gauge as a starting point, how his team might well fare and then look to make any changes needed, as he may believe necessary.

The NFL Draft might well have given us a great deal of melodrama , with it being the most watched draft televised event in recent NFL history . Johnny Manziel’s over-hyped presence, among the quarterbacks available, ignited and then subsided , when we realized, that he was not about to become a top-five or top ten pick of draftees taken in the first round . Now comes the unfortunate side, to Manziel’s future, he was drafted , by the Cleveland Browns . We have seen from this particular franchise over the past six seasons, their issues, are so widespread, that “Johnny Football” , will not be able to resurrect the fortunes of the Browns, working miracles , in terms of his now well-chronicled displays for the Texas A&M (Aggies) .

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Picture gallery.

Teams are now holding their OTA’s (organized training activities) with a view to getting their rookies acclimatized the routines of the NFL, as well as having them within their training camp environment . What player or players, among this year’s draftees are you most looking forward to seeing, during the preseason, as well as the regular season? In addition, which team do you believe might well have been among the lucky, in terms of their draft class ? Chime in, with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to relevant to this topic .

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin talks to quarterback Eli Manning before the Giants’ NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, in Chicago. An understated season in 2013, left the Giants and their front office were left searching for answers, with questions being raised concerning the quarterback’s abilities this past season. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….

(2) Osi Umenyiora of the Atlanta Falcons is seen here addressing the convened press , as the player answers questions , having been recently been acquired the Falcons , with head coach Mike Smith believing that the player’s presence will bolster their defense as they seek to overcome a disastrous 2013 season. AP Photo / Paul Wilson ………

(3) Wide receiver Odell Beckham of the New York Giants is seen here with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Draft Day . The player was the twelfth overall pick in the first round when he was taken by the NFC East based Giants . The team hopes that the player will provide a much-needed boost to their receiving game this upcoming NFL season. AP Photo / Bill Benson …..

(4) Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo (9) is seen here with team owner Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones , senior front office executive within the organization . Coming off an injury , the quarterback underwent back surgery in the hope that the procedure will aid the player , who missed the final game of the season in 2013 for the franchise. Getty Images / Ricky Mason …..

(5) Defensive lineman and number one overall draft pick, Jadeveon Clowney , center , is seen here alongside team GM Rick Smith , left and head coach Bill O”Brien , right , as the player gives his first public interview to the convened press at the team’s facility at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas . The Texans are hoping that Clowney provides a solid defensive tandem alongside JJ Watt . Getty Images North America / Tim Abrahams ….

(6) Cleveland Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine, far left, is seen here with two of the team’s draft picks from the 2014 NFL Draft . Second from the left is Justin Gilbert , along with quarterback Johnny Manziel and team General Manager Ray Farmer . AP Photo / Paul Prentice ……

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These are on her rack , but I would prefer, that they rest my block !

A gift , that just keeps on giving !

It’s not Rocket Science , so why turn it into something it is not ?

It’s not Rocket Science , so why turn it into something it is not ?

Was there really any doubt that the Houston Texans were not going to make Jadeveon Clowney to the number one pick in the 2014 NFL Draft ? The South Carolina Gamecocks’ linebacker was a consensus top pick among general managers , analysts , draft geeks and even those, who were not even intense football fans. It is pretty much safe to suggest, that had Texans’ GM Rick Smith chosen to forego the choice of Clowney , then there would have been a number of questions raised concerning the inner workings within the front office of the AFC South based NFL franchise. We all know what Clowney brings to the table as player, even where there have been questions concerning his maturity level.

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Slideshow .

The first round of the Draft played out with a little drama, but the greatest surprise of the night might well have been the fact , highly praised Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had dropped to become the twenty-second pick of the first round , when he was taken by the offensively challenged Cleveland Browns , who were most definitely in need of dynamic passer and someone who could bring back fans to Paul Brown Stadium , in Cleveland , Ohio. Brandon Weeden’s short stay with the franchise was not a memorable one , with the quarterback rarely achieving anything of note during his two-year stay with the franchise. Whether or not Manziel can engineer something of a rebound will be completely dependent upon how quickly the player can acclimatize himself to the rigors of playing in the NFL . Head coach Mike Pettine is likely to use his rookie quarterback throughout much of the Browns’ preseason schedule and then into the regular season .

Johnny Manziel will also have to prove his doubters wrong , many of whom believe that the player because of his size, will not be an overall resounding success in the NFL . My take on it all, we will never know, until Manziel steps unto the turf and makes that first successful pass and his then being able move on from there. One game , is such a small step to take , but it could end up being the first of many , to the level of success that is likely to be achieved . Well, that will be dependent upon the player, his teammates and the coaching staff of the Cleveland Browns.

If the shock of Johnny Manziel not being taken as the first quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft was not enough of a surprise. Then Blake Bortles being the first passer announced, was stunning, given that , the UCF Golden Knights’ passer plays in a newly established conference where the play is still being assessed , are the teams that now make up the American Conference . Blake Bortles has been placed in the not too enviable position, being asked to succeed Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars and to lead that franchise to some semblance of success.

Gabbert’s tenure , as the starting quarterback, for that particularly moribund franchise, can be best described as being mediocre , if not downright incompetent. Yet for some reason, it was felt that he still offered the best opportunity possible for the Jaguars to win throughout much of last season . Jacksonville’s year-end record was enough to suggest that they are nowhere near where they needed to be and quite possibly team owner , Shahid Khan may well be overreaching and overly ambitious, in suggesting the team would be capable of winning a Superbowl title within five years of his taking ownership of the franchise . The owner now entering the third year of his tenure and I would to think, that Khan’s strategy and plans are now being revised.

Teddy Bridgewater was the second quarterback taken behind Blake Bortles and he too , will be asked to succeed another failing quarterback , in Christian Ponder , whose tenure with the Minnesota Vikings has been a unique failure , beyond the incompetency shown the successive general managers of the franchise and the very fact that Zygi Wilf’s efforts in recent years , have been strictly been about strong arming the state legislature in Minnesota to finance the building of a $ 1.4 billion venue for the franchise , further endangering the state’s precarious financial situation , where they now have a burgeoning deficit and a number of municipalities are having to choose to cut much-needed services within their communities or simply seek bankruptcy reorganization protection. This is now a situation that several cities around the country are now facing, as they are being asked by the hierarchies of the NBA , NHL , NFL and MLB to finance what those bodies claim are newly required venues , while the revenues and profits within football , baseball and basketball are now on the rise . In the case of hockey , Garry Bettman and his teams still find themselves behind the “black ball “ , as well as between a rock and a hard place .

Bridgewater may well be just what is needed for the Vikings and for the team’s long tenured running back , Adrian Peterson , a player of Teddy Bridgewater’s ability could be the make or break decision for the franchise’s most revered player over the past six seasons . It has long been rumored, that Peterson would have sought a trade, if the front office was unwilling to bolster the Vikings’ roster . The departure of Jared Allen may well have been seen as a prudent move, but I cannot help but feel that GM Rick Spielman still has not done enough to make the team in its current guise a legitimate contender within their own division, much less the rest of the NFC as well and the league , itself !

The Minnesota Vikings will open their regular season schedule with a game against the St Louis Rams at the Edwards Jones Dome Stadium in St Louis , Missouri . on the 7th September , 2014 . As what we ought to expect , could very well be determined by what we are likely to witness by the rookies on show that day, when these two teams face each other .

With the first two rounds of the NFL Draft now having passed, the remaining four rounds now become about , teams simply doubling up by way of players they now feel perhaps, may well meet a need , in terms of a third or fourth depth choice on their respective rosters.

Offensive players were said to be in abundance in this particular NFL Draft, by way of the running backs and wide receivers said to be in play. I have no doubt, that players such as Sammy Watkins , Mike Evans , Marquise Lee , Odell Beckham and Kelvin Benjamin will find their way onto the rosters of teams who are in need of very good receivers . The same can be said also , for the running backs seeking to make their mark in the NFL this upcoming season and whether or not they are capable of taking advantage of the situation that they are likely to be placed in. The first running back taken in this particular draft, the Ohio State Buckeyes’ rushing sensation Carlos Hyde , albeit, that there are those who believe that there were number of players at the position with far greater productivity than Hyde has shown over the course his career. Yet, clearly Jeff Fisher , the St Louis Rams’ front office and the Rams’ coaching staff saw something in the player that they believe will be to their advantage , as they set about their season in 2014 , with their preseason and regular season schedule . Hyde will no doubt, be given every opportunity to prove himself a worthy successor to many of the franchise’s great running backs in recent years , most notably the Rams’ all-time leading rusher, Steven Jackson . A tough act to follow indeed, but Jackson no longer part of the franchise, and their being little power to the franchise’s rushing game last season , something is needed to reignite the team and Carlos Hyde may well be the player, in this case.

Trent Baalke , general manager of the San Francisco 49ers , having seen the franchise’s failed attempts in recent years, to add a sixth Superbowl trophy to the Niners trophy cabinet and to bring some joy back to the faces of the fans. Well, the front office executive , is now seeking to stock his team roster, with an abundance of offensive players by engineering a number of trades without yet , delving deep into the NFL Draft. The additions of Brandon Lloyd and during this draft process, in obtaining Buffalo Bills’ receiver Stevie Johnson might on the face of it seem a debatable risk , but clearly, Baalke , team CEO Jed Yorke and head coach Jim Harbaugh believe the moves worth taking. San Francisco’s divisional rivals the Seattle Seahawks reached the pinnacle of NFL team success in winning their first Superbowl , by bulldozing the highly rated Denver Broncos and along the way making five-time League MVP and Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning seem like a rookie in his third Superbowl appearance , in what has been one of the great NFL careers of recent years within the league.

Baalke fully realizes, that the NFC West has now become by far the best division in the entire NFL , with the likes of the San Francisco 49ers , Seattle Seahawks , Arizona Cardinals and St Louis Rams now jockeying for divisional supremacy. Take into account also the caliber of the quarterbacks within the division and you can now understand why that claim is now justified beyond the overall play of the quartet of teams in question. .

Colin Kaepernick the Forty Niners’ starting quarterback has proven himself to be a worthy successor to Alex Smith , who himself, now appears to have made a name for himself with the Kansas City Chiefs . Kaepernick’s failings , if there are said to be any, may well be derived from the fact that he comes across as too brash and arrogant . Yet, he cannot be faulted for the team’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Superbowl XLII(SB47), a game that still remains clouded by the incompetency of the league and host site, the New Orleans Superdome , home to the New Orleans Saints . That debacle still has not been explained adequately by the league office , in spite of the post-game comments made , to the resounding success in the staging of the event . A showcase for the NFL’s biggest game of the season was something of a shambles, with the organizing committee fully aware of the ongoing problems concerning site’s electrical infrastructure and an hour-long interval, as repairs were made to the electrical power generator supplying power to the Superdome.

Over the past two seasons , the New England Patriots have proven themselves to be the class of the AFC East twice succeeding to defend their divisional title, but it has been their postseason forays in 2012 and 2013 , that have many questioning whether or not Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have lost their “magical touch” when it comes to the postseason. The window of opportunity for both to add a fourth Superbowl title to their respective resumes’ seem to be slowly closing , in spite of Brady’s ongoing zeal to seek perfection with each postseason game , and the performances thereof. The Patriots’ quarterback remains one of the most successful passers in postseason history, over the past fourteen years and his three Superbowl victories are unmatched by any of his peers currently playing.

Tom Brady has never been outspoken or demonstrative in making demands of the Patriots’ front office , having placed his trust in the coach , the coaching staff and GM Nick Caserio to do what is in the best interests of the franchise. This draft could very well be the one, where the organization chooses to load up on both sides of the ball , while also availing themselves of the best available free agents on the open market . Caserio has sought to be prudent, in terms of the cap room , in the buildup to the NFL Draft and once the contract negotiations begin for the rookies, you can be sure that he will drive a hard bargain with their respective agents , representing those clients.

Finally , all of the gloating and self-righteous hypocrisy of the NFL remains on show , with the league’s drafting of its first openly gay player. Michael Sam will become of a member of the St Louis Rams , having been drafted in the sixth round by the NFC West based franchise. Head coach Jeff Fisher in addressing the issue , has stipulated that he does not want the actions of organization of the Rams to be the sole focus of this season. Also, he has stated, Sam will be made available to the press to discuss his place on the team and not the social relevance about his sexuality and what this all means to the NFL . Yet , for all of this hyperbole, to the importance of the decision by the Rams , one simply hide the fact the league remains not only homophobic , but it has to be said there still remains a great deal of racism hidden and obviously open in the aftermath of the Richie Incognito “ affair” within the Miami Dolphins’ organization .

In the aftermath of his being drafted by the Rams , Michael Sam was given a congratulatory kiss by his partner of several years , when Vito Cammisano , kissed the player on live television, with countless millions watching nationally and millions more globally . Now, while there has been some public outrage, about the act, and the fact there may well have been children watching the NFL Draft. It begs the question, if children can witness hours of gratuitous violence, during prime-time hours on national or syndicated programming, never mind the fact they also witnessing acts of war where victim’s global conflicts are sometimes being shown. Then why now, of all the situations possible, is there such outrage to the act of Sam kissing his partner ? Political correctness or not , unless one can either be respectful one’s right to freedom of expression , but dare I say it, show an ounce of common decency , rather than allude to the fact that this country remains without an ounce of bigotry . Those espousing such beliefs simply have no goddamn idea in actuality , concerning what is happening in the real world , much less realizing that times have changed , be it for the better or the worse . Common decency and respect ought to overshadow , intolerance and bigotry . Obviously, there are fans of the NFL , who remain ignorant and bigoted , while trying to behind some falsehood created in their own psyche .

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Picture gallery.

Do you believe there were any major surprises, during this NFL Draft? Which teams in your opinion may well have pulled off a coup, in terms of the players drafted and likely to be seen as a legitimate contender for the Superbowl this upcoming season?

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Picture gallery and slideshow details below .
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(1) Jadeveon Clowney of the Houston Texans is seen here with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodel , after the defensive line was taken as the number one overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft by the Texans. Getty Images / Loyd Carr ….

(2) Jadeveon Clowney makes his arrival for the 2014 NFL Draft alongside his Mom, Joseanna , to the prelude for the night’s events . AP Photo/ Dinesh Patel ….

(3) Johnny Manziel , thought to be everyone’s consensus pick as the first quarterback taken in this draft , the player was taken as the twenty-second overall pick by the Cleveland Browns. Team GM Tom Heckert hopes that the Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner can show the type of form that made him one of the dynamic players at the collegiate level during his tenure with the Aggies . AP Photo / Tom Johnson ….

(4) Blake Bortles is seen here with Roger Goodell . The player was taken as the first quarterback in the draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars and is deemed the likely successor to Blaine Gabbert whose tenure with the franchise has been somewhat sporadic and uneven since being originally drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft by the AFC South based franchise. AP Photo/ Tom Johnson …….

(5) Teddy Bridgewater now of the Minnesota Vikings . The former Louisville Cardinals’ quarterback will be hoping to make a successful jump from the collegiate level to the NFL ranks for the Vikings’ organization. AP Photo / Phil Devlin …..

(6) Michael Sam is seen here in a congratulatory embrace, as he shares a kiss with his partner Vito Cammasino after the announcement was made that the SEC Defensive Player of the Year had been drafted in the sixth round by the St Louis Rams . Sam is the first active and openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL . As to whether or not this will be met with a “seal of approval” by ardent Rams throughout this season remains to be seen , but that first preseason home game , as well as regular season contest , should prove to be an indication , as to whether or not the fans will be supportive of Michael Sam. Already those within and outside the NFL have begun to voice their disapproval of the player’s embrace and the kissing of his partner on live television. Courtesy of ESPN @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …………

(7) Michael Sam is seen here addressing members of the convened press as takes questions concerning his thoughts on the upcoming NFL Draft. Sam was taken in the sixth round of the Draft by the St Louis Rams and hopes to be a productive member of the team as they embark upon their season in the NFL . AP Photo / John Pettite ….

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When is it said to be right, to be politically correct?

When is it said to be right, to be politically correct?

In recent months and weeks there has been an ongoing debate , that quite literally few members of the public are said to be interested in. The NFL franchise , the Washington Redskins have been the center of an ongoing debate concerning the organization’s name, use of the word “Redskins” is seen as an affront to the Native American tribes , that were in fact the first inhabitants of the country.

For team owner , Daniel ‘Dan’ Snyder and specifically the NFL hierarchy , the issue has been rarely broached or addressed in full and become a matter of public debate in any type of forum. The print media, merely seeks to make this, their issue of the moment, as when they see fit and rarely have they sought to discuss , other issues such as the ongoing lack of funding provided to the Department of the Interior , who in fact are directly responsible for dealing with Native Indian issues , nationwide . Bear in mind also , the ongoing rise in crime, lack of employment opportunities, education, collegiate educational opportunities , but overall, actual direct medical care to many of the tribes on many of the reservations nationwide. Yet, here we are, in the midst of an issue using the word Redskins, which is said to be deemed derogatory among Native American Indians ? How insane is that meant to be?

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The Redskins’ franchise, through no fault of their own, have been caught within the midst of this debate with the organization being criticized on all fronts, most notably with former PGA Tour golfer Notah Begay III , becoming a vocal opponent of any type of association with the NFL franchise, albeit, that Snyder, has made every effort to make use of his wealth to aid a number of Native American organizations with charitable donations and directly with programs aimed in educating children from various tribes nationwide. I believe this discussion, to blurred on so many levels, because the league itself , has no wish to be part of this ongoing progress. At the same time , if using the word Redskins is a said to cause Begay , himself a Native American Indian, , such distress. Then why has he not shown similar outrage, with the usage of the word, ” Seminole ” , as it relates to the use of that word in the naming of the Florida State Seminoles ? Granted , with regard to the Seminoles and the use there as it relates to the collegiate program , there also seems to be an ongoing dialog there , that has yet to be fully addressed on a national level, but for the moment , it seems to be overlooked and to be playing no part of the ongoing debate concerning the Washington Redskins.

Courtesy of USA Today

Washington Redskins foundation loses another event sponsor

By Erik Brady, USA Today Sports

Notah Begay/

Notah Begay Associated Press Rick Portnoy

The Notah Begay III Foundation pulled its support from this weekend’s Arizona golf tournament to benefit scholarships for Native American students when it learned the title sponsor was the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

“I find it underhanded and despicable that the Washington football team would co-opt this event,” Crystal Echo Hawk, NB3 foundation executive director, told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday. “As soon as we found out about their involvement we withdrew our support.”

Begay, a four-time PGA Tour winner and an analyst with the Golf Channel, is Navajo, Isleta Pueblo and San Felipe Pueblo. He is a longtime critic of the Washington team name, which he called “a very clear example of institutionalized degradation” on ESPN last year.

MORE: Nonprofit National Indian Gaming Association pulls support

Echo Hawk, who is Pawnee, said the NB3 Foundation was asked in February to donate silent auction items for a golf tournament to be held in Chandler, Ariz., this month; the foundation donated golf apparel.

When she found out Friday that Saturday’s event was sponsored by the NFL team’s foundation, she called the radio station that asked for the donation. Echo Hawk spoke to Tony Little, general manager of Arizona radio station KTNN, and demanded that NB3’s name be removed from the event officially called the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (OAF) 1st Annual KTNN Celebrity Golf Tournament.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, has not seen fit to immerse himself in any part of the ongoing dialog concerning the Washington Redskins and the issue of the franchise’s name , albeit it , that the subject, concerns one of the NFL’s most prominent teams, and one which draws a fan-base beyond the greater Maryland area , rather than it simply being close in proximity to the nation’s capital. Personally, I believe that the commissioner tends to be only drawn to battles that he believes that he can win , while his image and that of the league’s remains intact ! Here , it might well be the one real subject , that Roger Goodell may well feel, that no one can actually be victorious in. Yet, without his offering up any type of public comment, either directly from himself or from a spokesperson within his office , we will never know how he views this ongoing debate.

The idiocy here, does appears to be, that while Notah Begay seeks the Washington Redskins to bear some responsibility for what he believes to be some type of slight over the name of a franchise, that has been existence for over seven decades , but yet somehow he has not seen fit to question the lack of opportunities provided to his people by the US government , that comes by way of the Department of the Interior , headed by Sally Jewell . Be it the budgetary constraints placed on Jewell’s agency by the government or the very fact , that there is said to be high levels of corruption within the upper echelons of a number of Native American tribes, with regard to the disbursement of the revenues from the casinos, that were built on tribal lands, of which those profits are meant to be used on welfare programs for per capita , within the Native American population. Somehow, what oversight there is meant to be , by the DOI ,through the National Indian Gaming Commission is either nonexistent , or those heading that specific entity, are in collusion with those behind the ongoing corruption .

If Notah Begay can seemingly overlook that issue, merely to shift the focus from something that is far more acute and prevalent within his race . Then clearly, as a spokesperson for his people, he is doing them a great injustice and disservice with this current stance. Failures by a federal agency, are being overlooked , in order, that a subject, now being broached, albeit, that the echoes of that matter , is now being joined by other tribes, who feel , that now is time for the Redskins’ organization to discuss the issue of a name change. Either, they are completely happy with their treatment, as being meted out by the federal government , while having nothing better to do, than to now seek some type of recourse from a sport’s franchise, which in no way, was it responsible for their plight, as it now stands .

Mike Shanahan’s failures last season as the head coach of the Washington Redskins, were greatly magnified with the team falling apart at the seams and their being no leadership shown on or off the field of play. As to the idiocy, that the team’s quarterback , Robert Griffin III bore a great deal of responsibility for Redskins’ poor season and their 3-13 record within the NFC East , that led to the firing of Shanahan and several members of his coaching staff from last season. Dan Snyder and GM Bruce Allen , simply had enough of the ongoing incompetency of the former Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders’ head coach and the very fact that he sought not to discuss many of the team’s woes during the season. Furthermore, from a defensive and offensive standpoint, the Redskins were found wanting in just about every aspect of their game. That being said, Shanahan’s dismissal , while being viewed as the best thing that could have happened to the Washington Redskins, his successor might not bring on the same sort of exuberance and joy as would be first thought. The hiring of Jay Gruden might well be seen as a positive in some circles , but in reality, it could end up being as big a mistake, as Shanhan’s original hire alongside that of son, Kyle Shanahan as the team’s offensive coordinator. Never mind the fact , that Mike Shanahan was among the highest paid head coaches in the NFL , earning a reputed $7 million a year .

At the time of his firing, Shanahan , was still owed two years on the remainder of his five-year contract. Way too costly a mistake , for the type of incompetency shown by head coach in 2013. What might be even more exacerbating for the Redskins’ fans, was the very fact, that the team was coming off a postseason appearance and a divisional title in 2012 , with a belief that in 2013 , there would be a marked improvement in terms of their on the field performances . Instead, beyond the injuries , regression, lack of leadership and a lack of coaching acumen, all having played a part in the Washington Redskins’ fall from grace.

While Jay Gruden, has proven to be a great coaching assistant, having held several positions around the NFL during the course his career , as well as serving under his brother, now an ESPN analyst and commentator, Jon Gruden . It must be said, his being placed into the cauldron of being the head coach of one of the league’s more high profiled teams will bring about a great deal of scrutiny and with that a great deal of expectation . Jay Gruden, is likely to bring about a more aggressive style of play, with a more pass oriented offense , playing to the strengths of Robert Griffin III. However, with the team’s acquisition of DeSean Jackson, to go alongside incumbents , Alfred Morris, wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan . The running and receiving game of the Redskins should see greater visibility this upcoming season than was witnessed in 2013. Defensively, the team will also have to show great deal more resilience than shown through much of last year , where the secondary left a great deal to be desired. For defensive and offensive coordinators, Jim Haslett and Sean McVay , their assessing the player personnel , will go a long way in determining, how Jay Gruden, is best likely to use his players this upcoming season.

While I have always believed, that NFL a franchise, should have a great backup to the starting quarterback. For the Washington Redskins, they should consider themselves extremely lucky, with the fact that they possess Kirk Cousins in that role. Cousins has proven to be a more than adequate substitute that position, but his ambitions are now, to be that of a starter and not in a secondary role to a player, he may well now be believe that he is now the equal of. Cousins, who was a fourth round draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft , a class deemed to be and have been one of the best crop of quarterbacks to have entered the NFL over the past fifteen years. With their now being rumors circulating, that Kirk Cousins is desiring a trade, as the opportunities to be or remain a starter, are likely to be greatly diminished with a return to health of Robert Griffin. It will be interesting to see whether or not this opens up an opportunity for GM Bruce Allen to use the backup as trade bait , to move up the draft ladder, to gain a pick in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft, having forfeited their original number two pick to the St Louis Rams. Certainly, there are likely to be a number of teams around the league, in need of a player with Kirk Cousins’ ability to assist with their pass offense.If Bruce Allen were to get a mid-first round pick in exchange for Kirk Cousins , then I believe, that some team , would be amenable to such an offer !

There may well have been a lot of criticism leveled at Robert Griffin III last season , much of it justified , as the player never fully recovered from his injuries. Yet, there seemed to be no concern by Mike Shanahan or his son , offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan , to have the offensive line actually , protect the quarterback , who just happens to be the team’s most valuable asset and face of the franchise and their long-term future. Granted, RGIII did himself no favors, by trying to be the hero, when all that was being asked of him, was to simply be conservative and play error free football over the course of the season . Looking back , it was plain for all to see that the sophomore quarterback, simply forgot what made him such a blistering talent in 2012 , and during the Redskins’ somewhat short postseason run of that year. If it is, Griffin’s intent to lead the team back to where he believes they belong, under the guidance of Jay Gruden and his staff, then the player will have to definitely raise the level of his play, to position himself as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. The evidence was there for all to see in 2012 and I seriously doubt, that the former Baylor star would like to see a repeat of last season , once the 2014 Redskins’ season gets underway !

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In light of the points raised within this article, what thoughts if any, do you have concerning the stance now being taken by Notah Begay III and do you believe them to be misguided or actually , correct ? Also, how competitive do you think that the Washington Redskins will be, this upcoming season and are they likely to pose a serious threat to the other residents within the NFC East ? Do leave a response on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject and thanks as usual for your continued support of this site , as it is greatly appreciated !

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(1) Native American Indians are seen here protesting in close proximity of Fedex Field in Landover, Maryland, the stadium in which Washington Redskins’ regular season games are played . Over the past five seasons , the strains of more tribes, thronging in support of this issue, has caught the nation’s attention , as well as that of the print and television media . However, the NFL hierarchy , has not issued a statement concerning the matter and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, simply has not discussed the matter at any great length in addressing the fans , press or members of any of the Native American tribes, voicing their concerns . Getty Images North America/ Ian Marks ….

(2) A late night vigil is held outside the Washington Redskins’ training facility in Richmond , Virginia by Native American Indians voicing their disapproval of the word ” Redskins” as the name of the NFL franchise . AP Photo / Isabel Hughes ….

(3) Washington Redskins’ owner , Dan Snyder, left , is seen here alongside the team’s general manager Bruce Allen as the two leave an official NFL function that discussed the scheduling of this past season’s NFL Superbowl staged at the Met-Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey . The tow executives are facing vocal opposition, with regard to the name of the NFL franchise which Native American Indians believe to be derisory and derogatory. Snyder has been very direct, in stating that the seven-decade old franchise will not make a name change, in light of the growing controversy. The NFL hierarchy have failed to discuss this matter directly , leaving it solely as a matter between the Redskins and dissenting Native American tribes. AP Photo / Chris Harper …

(4) Mike Shanahan , and his son , Kyle Shanahan are seen here along sidelines at Fedex Field , in Landover , Maryland during a regular season game last season . The pairing of father and son had a horrible season, as the 2012 defending NFC East champions fell apart , with the team ending their schedule with a 3-13 record in the division , and one of the worst records in the entire league in 2013. Both were dismissed by GM Bruce Allen, with the elder Shanahan still owed on the remainder of his then, existing contract. Kyle Shanahan has since rebounded , having signed on to become the offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns , which is currently coached by first time head coach Mike Pettine . Getty Images / Rob Porter ….

(5) From left to right , PGA Tour golfer , Mike Weir , Notah Begay III , Dr Mathura Santosham , Center Director of American Indians Healthcare Partners in association with Johns Hopkins Hospital , Ventura Lovato , Manager of the Vision Center for Native Americans , Tiger Woods and Camilo Villegas . Begay has been very vocal in his opposition and the use of the word Redskin , as used and depicted by NFL franchise the Washington Redskins . In recent weeks the former PGA Tour golfer, has withdrawn his charitable foundation, NB3 Foundation’s sponsorship of a celebrity pro-am golf tournament, where the franchise’s own foundation was a primary sponsor . The Washington Redskins’ Foundation in years earlier, had been a large donor to the NB3 Foundation as well as a co-sponsor of a number of nationwide health initiatives by Begay’s foundation. Getty Images North America / Rick Maslin ………..

(6) Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is seen here being congratulated by her predecessor , Ken Salazar , as she began her term in 2012 during the second term of President Barack Obama . Jewell’s issues as head of this Federal Agency , has been one of dealing with rising crime on a number of tribal reservations , prolific drug use, among young teens, lack of educational opportunities at the collegiate level and that of widespread corruption within a number of Native American Tribes, as it relates to revenues derived from the gaming casinos. AP/REUTERS/ Max Sellars …….

(7) CLEVELAND OH,. DECEMBER 16th , 2012 . Injured Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) , left, and quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) sit on the bench late in the 4th quarter as the Washington Redskins defeat the Cleveland Browns 38 – 21 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland OH, December 16, 2012 . Cousins , now believes that he is ready to become a starter in the NFL , having substituted for Robert Griffin III during the times that the incumbent, was sidelined by an injury . Both quarterbacks were picks by the Washington Redskins in the 2012 NFL Draft , for which there several players at the position who were seen as top-notch talent . Griffin was the number two quarterback taken behind Andrew Luck, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts , that year . Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images …..

(8) Wide receiver DeSean Jackson , having been waived by the Philadelphia Eagles , the player signed with divisional rivals the Washington Redskins , a four-year $32 million deal of which $16 million was guaranteed money . Jackson hopes to be productive addition to the Redskins’ offense and a likely target of Robert Griffin in what may well be a pass-oriented attack initiated by new head coach Jay Gruden . AP Photo/ Tom Carter ….

(9) Jay Gruden , head coach of the Washington Redskins is seen here alongside GM Bruce Allen after the much-traveled assistant speaks to the convened press at Fedex Field , in Landover , Maryland , having agreed to succeed Mike Shanahan , who was fired by the organization after a sub-par season in 2013. Gruden an experienced offensive coordinator, hopes to make the Redskins offense more potent , with his being a strong proponent of a pass offense , but that is not to state the effectiveness of Alfred Morris will not be used to add variety to the team’s offense. Gruden inherits a team that struggled throughout much of last season , much to the dissatisfaction of the Redskins fans and the front office , of which team owner , Dan Snyder , demanded that changes be made, after a disastrous 2013 schedule . The dismissal of Mike Shanahan still leaves the Washington Redskins owing the much maligned former head coach about $9.5 million , including incentives . AP Photo / Michael Warren ….

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Highlights, low-lights and no lights at all

Highlights, low-lights and no lights at all …………..

With a mere two days to go , before the culmination of the NBA season and with many of the divisional races all but sewn up , the conference records have yet to resolved, as are the final seedings. In the Eastern Conference the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat are now in a rabid dogfight for that number one spot within the conference . For head coaches, Frank Vogel and Erik Spoelstra , theirs has been a season of thrills and suspense, during which, both have proven themselves to very successful in their endeavors. Whether or not , both are viewed as leading candidates for the NBA Manager of the Year Award , remains to be seen . While I believe, both to be credible and likely vote-getters , the leaders in this field I believe are Dwane Casey , Mark Jackson , Gregg Popovich and Tom Thibodeau ! As an avowed fan of the San Antonio Spurs , in spite of his unprecedented success as a head coach , having won this title only twice during his career . This is unlikely to be the year, that Popovich has a third triumph, in winning these prestigious awards.

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In spite of the ballyhooed surrounding the New York Knicks late season acquisition of Phil Jackson to head that franchise’s operations as Head of Basketball Operations , will not bring about as triumphant a year-end as their fans might have hoped . Unfortunately, poor play , lack of commitment from the players and their not buying into the coaching philosophy of Mike Woodson and coaching staff , has pretty much summed up why the team has failed miserably, while their fans continue make the most infantile and immature excuses for the franchise’s failings this season. A rather convincing eleven-point win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden , in New York City , is simply too little too late , as the games now come fast and quick , with the Knicks’ shot at the eighth and final berth in the Eastern Conference all but dead and buried. A fate, that was created by the Knicks, due to their inconsistency, season long and it is likely to be something that will be addressed by Phil Jackson.

The individual awards, for this season, are likely to be debatable in some contact ,with the biggest of them all , now producing arguments on both sides of the scales, in support of LeBron James and Kevin Durant for the NBA League MVP Award . The outcome could very well be the tightest race, that the league has seen in several years , with it quite possibly , coming down to the wire as who, the winner is likely to be . A fifth victory for James, would place the player in rarefied air, as a multiple winner of the award, as Durant seeks to win his first such honor, in winning the game’s highest individual regular season award. It is my opinion, that it would be a fitting triumph for Kevin Durant to win the award , after a record-breaking season for the player on so many fronts and for the Oklahoma City franchise !

A pitiful season for the Philadelphia 76ers and the simple resolve behind the front office for the franchise to remain uncompetitive, while having fans pay for such a rancid on-court product that protagonists of the NBA and that of the league’s former commissioner believe as acceptable. Personally, if the imprint of David Stern has been over the entire gamut of the NBA for the past three decades and fans are seeking to excuse that mediocrity, then it simply alludes to their ongoing apathy and lack of understanding, of what has taken place within the league during his tenure . For the Sixers fans, perhaps the only bright spot , on an otherwise, mediocre season, has been the play of rookie Michael Carter-Williams , who is likely to be viewed as the most credible candidate on a short-list of no more than four real top-flight nominees , for the Rookie of the Year Award .

The Sixth Man of the Year Award and that of the Most Improved Player are pretty much self-explanatory and not a situation, where there will be a cavalcade of players being lined up as nominees for either award. I believe, that the two leading candidates, in the aforementioned categories, just happen to be teammates , Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford ! Crawford , should win the Sixth Man of the Year , pulling away from the other likely nominees , simply because of his productivity , most notably during the fourth quarter of game . Griffin , is likely to be pressed by the Chicago Bulls’ center Joakim Noah for the Most Improved Player , with quite possibly , with Noah , coming away the victor, solely because of his presence, his resilience and that of the Bulls’ surprising showing within their division and the Eastern Conference overall , this season . From my own perspective , I believe the Tom Thibodeau coached team to be the most dangerous of the top five teams in the conference , outside of the top two contenders, now jockey conference supremacy and that is with all due respect to the third seeded Toronto Raptors .

Out in the Western Conference, while others were making hay while the sun shone brightly , while analysts and fans alike, gathered like flies around fecal matter, in making the likes of the Oklahoma Thunder , Los Angeles Clippers , Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets as likely the teams with the best record in the conference . The San Antonio Spurs , simply put together another regular season display , with the franchise making it sixteen consecutive seasons in the NBA postseason , along with having the best record in the conference as well as the NBA . The Spurs in many respects, they have unnecessarily become, the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA , as they do not seem to get the due recognition they deserve or the reverence for those astonishing achievements . Four NBA titles during that aforementioned time-span , while averaging, just over fifty wins, per season . Am I missing something here , but are the fans of the league really that anally retentive and apathetic ? I guess the smoke, that gets into their eyes, actually has a great deal more than smoke , but also a great deal of mucus !

Two weeks into the MLB season and there happens to more money sitting in the teams’ dugouts, with regard to players’ injuries , than can be found to make up the payroll of several of the ball-clubs at the lower end of the payroll spectrum. Who would have thought, that Clayton Kershaw and his contract , would now be looked at with bewilderment , but yet by comparison , baseball still has to contend with Alex Rodriguez wanting to offer his advice on the game and its present predicament? Yet , this has been how the game has evolved , with their now being no discerning leadership being shown by the league hierarchy and where the likes of Rodriguez are still given quarter to offer up any type nonsensical stupidity , that the press deems fit for print for the fans , to swallow up.

Newly installed union Executive Director Tony Clark has yet to offer an opinion on his own views, on the punishment meted out to his members concerning steroid abuse in recent months, but I can only surmise that the relationship between Major League Baseball and the MLBPA (union) will continue to be antagonistic , as it has been throughout the reigns of Donald Fehr , his successor Michael Weiner and now likely , Clark , himself !

Already this season, we have seen a number of great single game performances , perhaps none more than the play of Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu and his almost single-handed onslaught and demolition of the Colorado Rockies , in the team’s 15-3 pounding that took place at Coors Field in Colorado on the 8th April , 2014. Abreu, has been everything, that Robin Ventura , the coaching staff, front office , led by owner ,, Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Kenny Williams believed he would be, when he was acquired as a free, agent in October of 2013 , having been a member of the Cuban national team . It will undoubtedly take a great deal more than simply Abreu’s productivity to lift the White Sox out of the doldrums and prove to be competitive enough a challenger to the likes of the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins , Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians .

Far too early, to start making claims, as who, the best team in baseball just happens to be, as the teams are still finding their rhythms , while we are still in the infancy of the season. Granted , the play of the Houston Astros , is leading me to believe, that the team could be back on route to having a fourth consecutive season of one hundred losses or more . That type of mediocrity, has to be setting a real precedence in the modern-day era of baseball, as we have come to know it . Then again , if the fans are willing to accept the years of mediocrity, exhibited by the Kansas City Royals , Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays , over the past two decades , then why should the Astros’ plight be considered to be any different ?

With a record of 5-8 within the AL West , the Houston Astros are already 3 ½ games behind divisional leaders the Oakland Athletics (8-4) as of 13th April , 2014. At this point last season, the Astros were not in a similar position and by no means should the same date be viewed as something of a precursor, to what was about to unfold over the course of the team’s schedule , but suffice to say , from April 14th onwards things seemed to have spun out of control for Bo Porter , his managerial staff and in particular GM Jeff Luhnow , who was unable to “right a sinking ship ” , with a year-end record , merely indicating how bad the team was said to be and that the level of play by the players was simply below average . Should the fans, be expecting, more of the same, at Minute Maid Park , in Houston this season? Well , dependent upon who one listens to, the Houston Astros are likely to be markedly better or they will remain a cellar-dweller among the AL teams and baseball in general. I am liable to believe that it will be the latter , because there has been no real indication that the front office , has made the moves necessary to improve the roster overall .

With no scheduled game for Monday , the Astros will play host to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday afternoon, when Yordano Ventura takes the mound for the Royals against Lucas Harrell of the Astros , in what is likely to be a solid contest between these two young pitchers .

It’s strange what a flying start out of the gate can do to for the moral of a team . In less than six days , in going, from having the best record within their division the Miami Marlins have found themselves in a place that they now seem so accustomed to. As a one-time fan of the franchise , I have seen the highs lows of the ball-club having won two World Series ,while the owners of the teams at the time, having won those titles , sought to implode the rosters , plead poverty and then seek to use the league hierarchy as befits them in gaining greater dispensation by this league’s idiotic tax revenue sharing scheme , which to this day, no one from Bud Selig’s office can explain succinctly how it is has benefited the league much less the low market teams, as a whole . MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner has proven to be no more competent in his current position , than Tim Geithner might have said to be in his former position as Treasury Secretary. As we know , Geithner , though thought to be a financial wunderkind , proved to be nothing more than a boorish ass, while trying to placate the all too moronic and sophomoric policies of the incumbent President , while his agency failed miserably, in working in conjunction, with the financial sector and FRB in bringing about any real tangible benefit to the economy. Likewise, it has been the same thing with Mariner and his antics with being the league’s highest ranking financial executive. Need we be also reminded, it was Johnathan Mariner, who also suggested that the issue of steroids within baseball, was merely a press’ idea of giving the game a bad reputation.

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MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner

MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner , not the brightest of people within the MLB hierarchy but somehow his sentiments are shared by some around the game of baseball as it relates to the issue of steroids . AP Photo / Phil Reid ….

I may well be mistaken, but long before the era of steroids, the game of baseball, used segregation as a prominent part, of its terrain, to omit minorities from being participants in the sport ? Yet , here in 2014, we have a fairly prominent African-American within the upper echelons of baseball’s hierarchy , making such a statement? And I was once told by a patron , that this country had advanced along the path of racial convergence , where we need not worry about such issues ? The statements were made by an individual, who within his locale seemed blind, to the racial epithets and attacks were taking place against young women and children entering a place of worship. Now in light of the most recent incidents, having taken place in Kansas City , Missouri and Jasper , Texas , I wonder what this apathetic fool might have to say ?

Mike Redmond as the manager of the Marlins and a former player in the Big Leagues as well as with the team he currently manages . In having to succeed Ozzie Guillen and his year of incredulity , stupidity , slapstick style of management , has been placed in a position where he is unlikely to succeed. Giancarlo Stanton , the Marlins’ best player , alongside Jose Fernandez , 2013 NL Rookie of the Year , are seen as the two players likely to spearhead the Marlins’ resurgence within the division and NL . Unfortunately, I do not believe the evidence is there , nor is there the depth to the roster needed , in order for the Miami Marlins to be seen as a legitimate contender for the NL Pennant , much less a World Series title .

Monday afternoon’s result , was simply, a further indication, why I believe that the Miami Marlins will continue to struggle throughout this season! The team was outplayed in every aspect of their contest, in succumbing 9-2 to divisional rivals the Washington Nationals , where at no point during the game, did the home team have an answer for the pitching of Ryan Zimmerman , much less an answer for the Nationals’ offense. It was plain to see, that the Miami Marlins were outgunned and out-manned by an opponent , whose ambitions this season are certainly greater than anything going on inside of the Marlins’ front office headed by team owner Jeffrey Loria and David P Sansom , GM Michael Hill and Andre Dawson . The Marlins’ struggles on the field may well be well chronicled , but it should also be noted, over the past six seasons , game attendance for the Marlins’ games have been among the lowest in the entire league. Doubt my word, there figures are there, for everyone to witness , so please someone explain to me succinctly why a new baseball stadium has to be built for the Tampa Bay Rays , much less any professional sports’ franchise on within the state?

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Slow week , in the NFL ? No , the shakeout among the teams continues , as they get rid of what they believe to be “dead weight” by way of the players, in order, to remain cap-friendly . At this point of the off-season , I am not particularly interested in the machinations of the league , much less the idiocy and the ongoing debate, as to who should be taken number one overall in the upcoming NFL Draft . The players having declared their eligibility , will either be able to play or they are likely to become monumental busts . Need we be reminded the goddamn hype over Tim Tebow , whose NFL career was vaguely memorable and for all of Gators’ fans out there who feel that the Heisman Trophy winner was sorely done by . Please get a life , as the quarterback was never good enough to play in the league in spite of a number of results . Simply look at the lack of consistency from the player and the very fact that he was unable to read defenses , much less, that technically, it was very much like watching a child stumbling, while take their very first steps and their idiots, who actually believed he possessed the skill-set to play in the NFL at a high level ? There remains a great deal of apathy and ignorance among the fan-base, within the NFL and among the on air personalities who cover the game.

With the NBA Playoffs about to begin , which teams do you believe will be at the forefront of making a major impact during the postseason ? Which team, teams or player, do you believe has been the most impressive this early in the baseball season ? Finally, with all, of the hyperbole, concerning the proposed number one overall pick in this NFL Draft, do you believe the ongoing discussion has been justified ? By all means, chime in with your thoughts as you see fit and thanks always for the continued support of this site as it greatly appreciated !

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(1) NBA head coaches from left to right , Dwane Casey, of the Toronto Raptors , Terry Stotts of the Portland Trailblazers and Jeff Hornacek of the Phoenix Suns . Casey and Stotts, will be leading their teams into the Playoffs but Hornacek and Suns narrowly missed a playoff berth in the Western Conference . Getty Images/ Gregory Ralston ….

(2) Opposing head coaches from last season’s NBA Finals , Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs and Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat are seen here prior to the start of game five of the 2013 NBA Finals Series at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas,. Miami would go on to prevail in the Finals winning the series 4-3 , with LeBron James being named Finals MVP for the second successive time of his career. James also led all scorers in the series and has one of the highest postseason playoff averages in NBA history. AP Photo / Matt Slocum ….

(3) Phil Jackson . left , recently hired to oversee the Basketball Operations of the New York Knicks is pictured here, in-framed with head coach Mike Woodson . Rumors are rife , that Woodson’s tenure with the franchise, is likely to be terminated at the end of the season , with Jackson seeking to replace the beleaguered head coach with a person of his own choice . For the moment the context remains mere speculation , as neither the front office executive, the head coach or team owner, James Dolan have gone on record as stating what is likely to happen in the future concerning the head coaching with the franchise. Getty Images / David Green …

(4) Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is seen here before a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodgers Stadium on May 6 , 2013 in Los Angeles, California. With the season in its infancy , the high-priced pitcher is one of a litany of players across the league on the MLB Disabled List . During the off-season Kershaw signed a multi-year , multi-million deal, that made him among the highest paid players in the league and one of the highest salaried starting pitchers in the game . The Los Angeles Dodgers this season surpassed the New York Yankees with the highest payroll in baseball , with teams’ payroll commitments exceeding last year’s record Opening Day figure of $3.065 billion . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …

(5) Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox who has had a spectacular start to the season for the team as the White Sox seek to make inroads this season , while seeking to be more competitive within the AL Central. AP Photo / Garry Lloyd …

(6) MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner , not the brightest of people within the MLB hierarchy but somehow his sentiments are shared by some around the game of baseball as it relates to the issue of steroids . AP Photo / Phil Reid ….

(7) Nov 2, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins vice president & general manager Michael Hill (left) listens as Marlins new manager Mike Redmond fields questions during a press conference at Marlins Park . Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports …..

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You cannot blame the manager and players alone , when the owners have a responsibility themselves …

You cannot blame the manager and players alone , when the owners have a responsibility themselves …

As the Premiership season within English soccer winds down , there has been a sense of disappointment among several teams thought to be viable contenders for the Premiership (EPL) title at the start of season. For teams, viewed as the mainstays of the league, Arsenal , Manchester United , Manchester City , Chelsea , Liverpool , Newcastle, Everton and West Ham United , this was thought to be where , each in some way could be seen as a viable contender , if not for the title , but at least for a qualifying berth for UEFA Champions’ League status .

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For team owners , Stanley Kroenke of Arsenal and the Glazer family, owners jointly, of Manchester United and the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers , theirs might, well be a season, that each would rather forget. Granted, Manchester United, managed by David Moyes , have somehow managed to make their way to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League , Europe’s biggest club competition and seen as a major financial windfall for the participants throughout the length of the competition, but even more so in the latter

With Manchester United , having now bowed out of the Champions League competition, losing 4-2 on aggregate to Bayern Munich of the German Bundesliga. The ramifications, from that total defeat and with fortunes of the club, now looking more threatening than ever before , concerning their aspirations for the Premiership title . Rumblings of major a upheavals, could be taking place within the Manchester United organization , with their being calls for the manager David Moyes’ firing as well as the Glazer family’s ouster as the club’s owners. These cries for this all , comes down to the disappointing season achieved by Manchester United in the Premiership, where they now lie in seventh position , some seventeen points behind divisional leaders Liverpool FC , whose tally of seventy-four points with five games to play , puts the Northern based English team in the driver’s seat, as they seek to win their nineteenth divisional title in the club’s famed history .

Moyes succeeded the most successful manager in English soccer history, in Alex Ferguson , while being handed the keys to Ferrari , in terms of a team seeking to make a successful defense of their title of last season . What the incumbent manager has seemingly managed to do, has been take this squad of players and have them play like a bunch of amateurs , with all the skill-set that would make even the most vocal of fans cry out, with a great deal of rage . With resources at Moyes’ disposal , along with the coaching staff assembled, it seems inconceivable that the manager has repeatedly managed to stumble so badly. At the same time, Joel , Bryan and Avram Glazer , have seemingly looked on, and watch this manifestation of incompetency play out over the course of the season, within the Premiership , as well as the team’s failings in other major domestic club competitions , such as the FA Cup and Carling Cup . If that was not enough for the United fans having to digest , they are now seeing the resurgence of their crosstown rivals Manchester City , whose astute manager, Manuel Pellegrini and the influx of the cash rich laden ,family of billionaires , by …. Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and H E Khaldoon Al Mubarak , has seen the club return to the upper echelons of the game, with the side being the 2011-12 EPL champions .

Manchester United , for their own part , have continued to show inconsistency, all season long , with David Moyes apportioning blame elsewhere , rather than being man enough to admit that he has made numerous mistakes, concerning the player personnel for several games during the season . What might well grieve the fans more so, concerning the malaise of the famed United soccer club , has been the indifference shown by the Glazers and their complete lack of understanding, concerning what has unfolded within their midst. That should not really come as any great surprise, considering the same incompetence shown by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this past season, where former head coach Greg Schiano and . his staff simply, had no damn idea what the hell they were doing and the clueless fans watching , could only point to the fact that they did not . end up with the worst record in the league .

The fact that the Buccaneers were close to the bottom of the NFL in almost every team category that mattered by way of defense and offense , was merely another pointer ,about how bereft of talent, the organization was said to have been, on the field , as well as among the coaching staff and within the front office , headed by general manager Mark Dominik who was again, answerable to the aforementioned members of the Glazer family , as the team’s owners. That type of incompetency cannot be taught , it has to be ingrained and those who claim the family to be astute and business minded , should be begin to completely review that entire premise altogether, as nothing could be further from the truth.

While their soccer team remains , highly profitable, it should be noted, that Manchester United, still carries a great deal debt , burdened by it being used as collateral, in the Glazers’ purchase , by their holding company Red Devils Holdings . In a strange turn of events, US investment firm Baron Capital Inc has bought 20% of the outstanding shares of the soccer team on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) , representing a mere 2% capitalization of the club, for a reputed $90 million , valuing the club at an astonishing $ 4.5 billion pre-liability write-downs .

To his credit, about the only worthwhile thing done this season by David Moyes , by way of a positive standpoint , was his persuading striker, Wayne Rooney to commit to the club long-term, after the player had been linked to several clubs, with his contract due to expire. Had Rooney been allowed to leave , then quite possibly the manager’s fate might well have been sealed , as the player had become a fan favorite , while a living legend in terms of his productivity with the club , as being the third leading scorer in Manchester United’s history , behind only Dennis Law and only to Bobby Charlton , now a distinguished member of the United Board of Directors . Rooney , in signing one of the most lucrative contracts in the club’s history, will now put to rest , his joining Chelsea , Arsenal , Real Madrid or AC Milan of Serie’ A.

With six games left in their season and now out of the running, for the Premiership title, even the hopes of a Champions League qualifying berth, now seems beyond Manchester United’s reach , with them having to finish no less than fourth in the Premiership. Once the schedule has reached its climax , there are likely several moves made within the organization , likely to bring about the end of the careers of several players on the current playing squad . Whether or not , David Moyes also becomes casualty of the likely overhaul remains to be seen , but it has become abundantly clear that something has to be done. Unfortunately, putting your trust in the Glazer family, to even do something remotely credible, might be beyond, and even their own realization. I can only pray, that the rumors now ongoing, are true and that former United player David Beckham and a several his former teammates are indeed serious in purchasing a controlling interest in his former team , with the financial backing, coming from a prominently wealthy , Kuwaiti family, who are said to be longtime admirers of Beckham and staunch supporters this world-famous soccer club.

Manchester United’s next scheduled game, will be on the 20th April , when they are the guests of Everton at Goodison Park , in Merseyside. That contest, will undoubtedly tell us a great deal about the players’ mindset and that of the coaching staff as the season meanders towards its inevitability.

Billionaire , Stanley Kroenke , with an estimated $4.5 billion fortune , also happens to be the son-in-law to the late, Sam Walton , founder of the world’s largest retail and grocery store chain , Walmart . Kroenke’s wife, is none other than , Ann Walton-Kroenke , who also happens to be on the Forbes’ 400 Richest Americans’ List , as well as being one of the richest women in the world, with a multi-billion dollar fortune . Her husband, also presides over one of the largest sports’ conglomerates and concessions’ company in North America. Kroenke’s ownership of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment , encompasses the ownership of the Denver Nuggets of the NBA , the St Louis Rams of the NFL , the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL , sporting goods’ chain , Dick’s Sporting Goods , the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League and Arsenal FC of the EPL.

Now while I have no real objection to an American, owning an English soccer team , what I cannot condone, is said to be the utter stupidity that has been shown by owners, such as Stanley Kroenke and the Glazer family, the latter, whose now close to ruination of Manchester United , have the fans in complete apoplexy. While supporters , may well point to the fact, that since family assumed control of Manchester United in 2005, the club has seen marked success. While that may well be true , it still cannot hide the fact , that Joel and Bryan Glazer , have used less than due diligence , in their operating the club , from a business standpoint. Profits have slowly been eroded , because of the club’s debt obligations and that is something that cannot be overlooked , as they now seek to place themselves within the constraints of the soon to be ,UEFA edicts concerning a team’s debt to asset ratio , which seeks to pare down teams’ debts , while also creating something of a level playing field , among the teams within the various European domestic leagues , seeking to compete in UEFA sanctioned club competitions. While clubs were given waivers this season for the Champions League , that will not be the case in 2015, when UEFA President Michel Platini expects all teams to comply with those edicts or risk being banned from all UEFA sanctioned club tournaments .

Stanley Kroenke’s presence, in the world of sports , was once described, as to his being the most powerful and influential in North American sports . That article, in Sports Illustrated , was either written by a ranked amateur , or by someone who at the time was under a deadline , simply did not want to plagiarise a piece and simply offer it up as an original piece of content . To allude to Kroenke, as being the most powerful or most influential person or owner in North American sports , would certainly being doing an injustice to the likes of the late George Steinbrenner , who was alive at the time of this article hitting the news’ stands and to the likes Robert Kraft, Dan Rooney , David Stern , Dick Ebersol , Sean McManus , Roger Goodell , Bud Selig , and Tim Finchem , Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods . Am I supposed to take this level of journalism seriously, when this type of diatribe and stupidity is on display with alarming regularity , especially when it is said to come from a respected magazine ?

Long an admirer of Arsenal FC , as a youngster , then as a teenager , I have witnessed some of the greatest moments of this famed club’s history over the past thirty years. While Arsene Wenger , has been the manager , leading the club to other trophies and triumphs , this current spell , with Stanley Kroenke as the team’s owner, might well become the driest spell of the manager’s tremendous coaching career . However, coming off a 3-0 loss to Everton , where the team performed poorly in the defeat at Goodison Park , in Merseyside. One cannot help but wonder what Wenger now has to do, to have his players, play at a higher level. Calls for the roster to be bolstered with some bold acquisitions being made, were met with an almost damning silence from the board , led by Stanley Kroenke and his subordinates . Finally, having relented , Wenger was offered a mere pittance , to go out and acquire players , with the result being Mesut Ozil , a gifted midfield player , but simply not enough to aid the team in its ambitions for the season .

Stanley Kroenke’s only wish, in owning a Premiership soccer team , has been the purchase as a bauble , to show to friends within his social circle and by way of watching the club’s value appreciate for more than that of an NFL franchise . Furthermore, with revenues far exceeding that of the NFL, with a global audience far exceeding that of North America’s grandest pastime and in terms of game attendance, albeit, that more games are played (thirty-eight) in the Premiership , than in (sixteen regular season) the NFL over the course of their respective schedules .

Arsenal, also known as ‘The Gunners’ , are due to face West Ham at their palatial home venue , Emirates Stadium in , North London, on the 15th April in what will be a highly anticipated contest , between these two London teams. Clearly, a victory for the home team, would be to their advantage and end of season hopes of gaining qualification for the Champions League. How things pan out , will greatly be dependent also , on the form shown over the rest of their schedule .

As if to further emphasize, how out of touch Stanley Kroenke remains when it comes two more of the jewels in his sports’ crown . Consider the seasons, of the Denver Nuggets and St Louis Rams and where they currently are, in terms of their status. The Nuggets might as well be afterthought, within the Western Conference, as the regular season schedule zeroes in, on its finality. Coached by Brian Shaw , who has a very experienced coaching staff to help him , this team has simply failed miserably, on so many levels , as the players have somehow failed to buy into Shaw’s coaching philosophies . The front office , with GM Tim Connelly leading the way, made a few subtle moves during the season , but nothing that would simply give you the impression that those acquisitions would place the franchise in a position to mount a serious challenge for divisional supremacy , much less a postseason berth for the upcoming postseason.

This past season, the St Louis Rams at times played hard , but within the NFC West , two dominant forces prevailed and the Rams were never in with a chance of bringing down either San Francisco 49ers or Seattle Seahawks . Both teams, proved to be, among the very best, that not only the NFC had to offer , but also the entire NFL. Yet, the Rams’ 7-9 record within the division that led to a last place finish and being the only team not to notch sort=OVERALL_WINS&sort=desc&colSel=0> double-digit wins , tells how tough the NFC West has now become and perhaps the toughest division within the NFL , based on final record and the play from the quartet of teams.

Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher , has proven to be a competent successor to Steve Spagnuolo in so many ways , that the team’s future now rests in assured hands , with the head coach and his coaching staff . The issue now becomes, will Stanley Kroenke , Chip Rosenbloom , Kevin Demoff and GM Les Snead allow Fisher a free rein , to get the job done , by way making the team more competitive in terms of acquiring players and through the draft or will they seek to impede him at each and every turn , thereby making the franchise irrelevant ?

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This idiocy at times, that the coach has to shoulder the blame when a team fails, is in actuality, absolute bull#hit ! A great deal of the time, the front office of an organization is equally to blame , when they seek , not to make the resources available to the coaching staff , in order , to make that franchise competitive. Yet, you would be hard pressed to actually make some fans believe that to be the case , because their heads more often than not , has been lodged up their own ass, that they cannot tell the difference between night and day. Chime in with your thoughts, on the points raised and thanks as always for the continued support of this site , as it is greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and coach David Moyes faces the media during a Manchester United Press Conference ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Real Sociedad and Manchester United at Estadio Anoeta on November 4, 2013 in San Sebastian, Spain. Getty Images North America / Mike Hewitt ….

(2) From left to right , Bryan Glazer , Joel Glazer and Avram Glazer , board members and the owners of Premiership soccer team Manchester United and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL . The trio are seen here, in the stands of a Premiership game at United’s home venue , Old Trafford Stadium , in Manchester , England ,. A disappointing season in 2013 will see the team miss the lucrative UEFA Champions League club competition next season, for the first time in a several years . If the current rumors are to be believed, the family are likely to rebuff an alleged $4 billion bid for the soccer team from a yet to be unidentified source . Getty Images Europe / Chris Rogers …..

(3) Alex Ferguson , second from the left is seen here members of the Glazer family as they discuss a team issue . Ferguson who served as manager of the team for two decades was succeeded by David Moyes , at whose insistence, his successor was hired , much to the annoyance of fans, who felt that Moyes was not a suitable candidate to fill the vacancy , having little success in his earlier stops in his managerial career. Courtesy of Daily Mail UK /Alex Ogden …

(4) Josh Kroenke is seen here alongside his father Stan Kroenke, are seen here in attendance of an NBA game at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado , home to the Denver Nuggets , the franchise owned by Kroenke through his company Kroenke Sports & Entertainment a multi-billion dollar conglomerate based in Colorado,. AP Photo/ Collin Matthews ……

(5) Ann Walton-Kroenke, a direct descendant of Walton family and one of the heirs to the multi-billion dollar fortune . Ann is married to Stan Kroenke , self-made billionaire businessman . Getty Images North America/ Christina Matthews ….

(6) Jeff Fisher head coach of the St Louis Rams , whose final eighteen months as the coach of the Tennessee Titans were said to be the most tumultuous of his considerable coaching career , in having to deal with the adversarial nature of Vince Young and then owner , Charles K ‘Bud’ Adams . Fisher has been able to turn around the fortunes of the Rams , having succeeded Steve Spagnuolo , in what might be now the ‘toughest’ division in the entire NFL . AP Photo / Tom Walsh …..

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tophatal ………..

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English Premier League (EPL)

English Premier League (EPL) news and clubs

English Premier League (EPL) league table

EPL schedule (year-long)

EPL schedule 12th April

EPL results (year-long)

EPL match form guide

Stanley Kroenke profile and bio of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment

Malcolm Glazer profile and that of his family

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I guess, neither Rihanna nor Shakira have a problem with their sexuality ?

Bill Clinton , eat your heart out . LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

An ode to the NBA , get real or simply get the hell out of the damn way !

An ode to the NBA , get real or simply get the hell out of the damn way !…..

With most teams now in the NBA winding their seasons and the schedule due to culminate on the 16th April with a slew of games to close the calendar. We can perhaps, look back on the year and discuss the biggest stories and the major disappointments. For those choosing not to question the antics and ills, that have now engulfed the Philadelphia 76ers and then seek to view it as part and parcel of business in the NBA, without apportioning blame, either on the Sixers’ owners or the league hierarchy . Ask yourself this question , when making a purchase of an item , are you not expecting the vendor to make a sale to you of a product, that you believe worthy ? Then why should the fans of an NBA franchise, be treated any different, when purchasing a ticket to view their team, at their home venue? It is this type of idiocy and apathy that has now become the fabric of the majority of fans at present, who seek with their ongoing stupidity , to simply accept mediocrity and any excuse offered as being acceptable .

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One would hope that with the retirement of David Stern , we are likely to see some real vestiges of leadership from his successor Adam Silver , as he seeks to make the brand more amenable to the fans , rather than the ongoing puerility seen in recent years, and then this incessant idiocy, that Stern has been in no way to blame for the league’s malaise. The former commissioner ‘s one and only concern, during the latter years of his tenure, was simply increasing revenues , while seeking his own salary increase from a mere $ 2.5 million a year, to in excess of $20 million , on par with some of the highest salaried players in the league , but somehow this was overlooked by fans as being nothing out of the ordinary. Again, apathy among a fan-base, that in actuality, has the intelligence of a toad. They are not ready to question , , why a league executive who is paid such an exorbitant salary , but at the same time , that very same person sought to impede the right of the players and their union (NBPA) , themselves who sought a greater share of the league’s ever-growing revenue pie. What’s wrong with that picture, but most of all, how damn stupid are the fans in general with their ongoing gullibility?

If there was ever any doubt, as to the ability of Kevin Durant and the spectacular season he , has been, having, for the majority of the season , as he leads the Oklahoma City Thunder . Then consider the player’s most recent feat, in scoring twenty-five points or more for his fortieth consecutive game this season, but yet , some are still questioning whether, or not, the season achieved thus far, makes him a noteworthy League MVP candidate and in turn trying to suggest that the award should merely go to the best player in the NBA. LeBron James , as a four-time winner of the award , might be just that , but by comparison his season , has been nowhere as spectacular as his Western Conference counterpart. Also, need we be reminded that James and the Miami Heat take part and play n the less competitive conference , known as the East ? Suffice to say , the competition there , night in and night out, has the bearings of chess match, between a Grand Master and that of a novice, new to the game.

With both the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder as well as the San Antonio Spurs having already garnered playoff berths and in the case of the Heat , Spurs and Thunder having won their divisions , it now remains to be seen, how the rest of the regular season will now pan out , by way of the other divisional races and that of the final conference seeds. . The league’s individual title may well now come down to the to the final few games of the season, but it all looks assured to return to Kevin Durant , after it was claimed last season by Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks . With Durant now averaging 32.07 per game, that statistic will be the highest scoring average among active players since Kobe Bryant averaged 35.06 per game during the 2005-06 NBA regular season .

The New York Knicks for their part, ever since the formal introduction of Phil Jackson as the newest executive within the organization , where he immediately becomes the Head of Basketball Operations , with GM Steve Mills reporting directly to Jackson with regard to all player personnel decisions to be made. At this juncture, there seems to be no sense of certainty, that head coach Mike Woodson will be returning to his position, in the same capacity next season. Albeit, that as of late, the team seems to be responding to his calls for more resilience, as they seek to chase down the Atlanta Hawks for that final playoff berth , the eighth and final spot within the Eastern Conference.

Coming off a narrow one-point loss to the Washington Wizards , the New York Knicks will have to completely refocus their efforts, if it is their intent to get that final playoff berth, but it could appear that those efforts will be in vain, having left it far too late in the season to show their fans what they are actually made of . For much of the season, the team has been inconsistent and solely reliant on the efforts of Carmelo Anthony to pull them through. Just about everyone else on the team, has contributed very little, by way of a wholehearted, effort, with the goal of actually winning . Next up for the Knicks, will be a prime-time Sunday afternoon game , against a nemesis and conference rival in the Miami Heat, where LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony , will be looking to match wits and display their scoring prowess , as the two teams meet, as part of their regular season series .

DeMar Rozan , Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross have proven to be the main reasons , why the Toronto Raptors have been one of the big surprises of this NBA season , with quite possibly , head coach Dwane Casey being viewed as a possible candidate for NBA Coach of The Year. Casey , alongside the Chicago Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau , Frank Vogel , Erik Spoelstra , Scott Brooks , Doc Riv