Make Up To Break Up ….

Make Up To Break Up …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Don’t Call It A Comeback …..

 

Don’t Call It  A Comeback  …….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Hard and Fast Principle, Is That You Play To Win

The Hard and Fast Principle, Is That You Play To Win

Far be it for me to suggest, but with the NFL season almost coming to a close, the likely dismissals of several Head Coaches were an inevitability. The biggest firing, was not the dismissal of Hue Jackson from the Cleveland Browns , but the firing of Mike McCarthy by the Green Bay Packers , was one of which came to some as a surprise. The Packers’ season has been one which has been woefully inept in certain aspects of their game, but the blame should not be placed solely at the feet of Mike McCarthy alone. He was failed by his team and most notably by Aaron Rodgers perhaps the Packers’ best player on the roster and his twice being named the League MVP . Rodgers has not demanded more of himself or from that of his teammates and it has come to fruition by way of the results on the field and their standing within the NFC North , where there are likely to miss the NFL Postseason for 2018.


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It has become abundantly clear that a replacement for Mike McCarthy is most likely to come from outside the coaching staff , rather than from within. Several names are being considered , notably David Shaw of Stanford , Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots and Jim Harbaugh , Head Coach of Michigan . Green Bay’s front office headed by Mark Murphy will consider all of the aforementioned names as well as others that will cross Murphy’s desk in the coming days. Yet for the moment , the current coaching staff and players must prepare for their final four games starting with their contest against the Atlanta Falcons this upcoming Sunday , 9th December , 2018. A sub. 500 record for the Packers this season would provide the franchise with their worst record in over a decade. Certainly the worst since Aaron Rodgers first entered the league in 2005 as a rookie quarterback for the franchise. Where the Green Bay Packers will now go from here will be open to a great deal of conjecture and debate

Jay Gruden has made it abundantly clear that with the loss of Colt McCoy as the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins , neither he or any member of his coaching staff or anyone from within the front office have a wish to replace McCoy with disenfranchised quarterback Colin Kaepernick . It has been over two years since the player was last seen on an NFL field , but yet somehow the likes of Mark Sanchez and lesser talents have been given a chance in the NFL this season ? Suffice to say , Roger Goodell and the majority of the team owners have no wish to see the player make a return to the league. His banishment continues in the midst of a season where Goodell’s autocratic rule continues.

With the NFC East division still up for grabs with even the Philadelphia Eagles still in with a chance of possibly winning the division , it is quite possible the division itself, will be one ending in carnage. Both teams will be in action this weekend weekend with the Eagles facing the Dallas Cowboys , while the Redskins will meet the New York Giants .

The trigger was pulled and the first salvos of the MLB off-season have been fired . The New York Mets have made everyone aware that they mean business this off-season with the acquisition of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to their roster in what can be seen as a blockbuster trade. This rings in a new era for the Mets’ front office now being ran by newly minted General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen . Adding the salaries of Cano and Diaz to the team’s payroll will certainly bloat the obligations of the ball club, but if it leads to success than , then I doubt that the Mets’ fans will be overly concerned.

While the New York Mets seek to keep up with the rest of baseball , one of the ball club’s National League rivals the Chicago Cubs will be seeking to make a monumental splash of their own as they look to sign Bryce Harper to a long-term deal with the ball club . Cubs’ front office executives , Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein would certainly like to bolster the roster and make Chicago even more competitive for this upcoming season. The addition of Harper to an already formidable offensive lineup would be a boost for this Joe Maddon managed team . It remains to be seen if the Washington Nationals are willing to part ways with Bryce Harper or they will seek to sign him to a deal of their own.

There have been some major signings made within the past forty-eight hours , with several players on the move now getting high-priced deals .

It never ceases to amaze me how naïve and simply out of touch fans and analysts are when it comes to the NBA and the talk of current reigning NBA champion the Golden State Warriors now being vulnerable and not capable of defending their title. We are barely three months into the NBA season and some idiots are already looking to write off this team altogether. From my own perspective until there is a team capable of challenging the Warriors on a consistent basis within the NBA , they will remain the team to beat within this league. Then the argument against this franchise remains redundant . In the Warriors’ most recent game they faced the Atlanta Hawks , winning that game decisively against an Eastern Conference opponent.

If the rumors are to be believed then there could be a major blockbuster trade in the offing , as the Los Angeles Lakers make a play to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans . All signs seem to be pointing that GM Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson have something big planned , but there has yet to be any type of formal announcement made. Lakers’ forward LeBron James has shown his frustration at the real lack of progress made by the team in spite of a winning record at this point of the season. The fact that Lonzo Ball the sophomore point guard is seen as the bait to entice this move, with Davis joining the Lakers. It could be said that this might also send the wrong message to the Lakers’ fans and the long-term future of this franchise. Lonzo Ball is seen as the face of the Los Angeles Lakers once the career of LeBron James comes to an end , because I seriously doubt that at the end of his current contract he will seek to resign with the franchise , furthering his fifteen-year career in this league.

From my own perspective the window of opportunity for the Los Angeles Lakers to win big, is to start winning now. Their biggest challenge will remain being good enough to beat the top contenders within the Western Conference , then knocking off the league’s current dynasty and reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors , by no means an easy task. The first meeting between these two teams this season will take place on Christmas Day when the Golden State Warriors will play host to the Los Angeles at the Oracle Arena in Oakland , California . In all , they will meet four times over the course of this regular season with games being played at home and away.

OK, so it we all knew that the Alabama Crimson Tide would stroll through their regular season sojourn of College Football (FBS) . In all honesty this Nick Saban coached team has been barely challenged and it wasn’t until they faced Georgia (Bulldogs) in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) championship game that Alabama was made to run the gauntlet in a true test of their mettle. . Having won the game in its last waning moments, Alabama booked themselves a place in College Football Playoffs’ Format . As they look to make history by winning another National Title , I truly believe, it will be theirs for the taking unless they become truly complacent .

What if anything do you believe best provides the winning approach with regard to professional team sports at this moment in time ?

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I’m Calling It A Wip-eout !!!!

I’m Calling It A Wipe-out !!!!

Well the NBA Finals have come to an abrupt end, with the Cleveland Cavaliers being blown out in the Finals by the Golden State Warriors , completing a sweep with a degree of clinical precision not seen in a very long time . Kevin Durant adds to his impressive resume’ as he was named Finals’ MVP for the second consecutive season . His being given this accolade places Durant as one of only two players to have won multiple scoring titles as well as the Finals’ MVP . For the Cavaliers as the losing finalists , the fact that each loss in the four games played was by double-digits or less , emphasizes why there is such a large chasm between the quality of the teams in the Eastern Conference of the NBA and their counterparts in the West.


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Adding more embarrassment to Cleveland’s debacle in the Finals remains the uncertainty concerning the future of LeBron James . The player can choose to opt-out of the final year of his contract and seek to become an unrestricted free agent , leaving to join a legitimate contender within the league. Based on all of the criteria seen, there are at least five or six teams that might be a destination for the superstar.

LeBron James should he choose to leave Cleveland for the second time in his esteemed thirteen-year career, it would once again lead to a great deal of frustration and anger among the franchise’s fans. Bear in mind however, this team in its original guise at the start of the season , was the one which James himself had a great deal of input in assembling . Just before the All Star Break , Cleveland Cavaliers’ GM Koby Altman brought in players he felt would complement the skill-set of LeBron James and Kevin Love . For Love as the second-best player on the Cavaliers’ roster, his productivity during the NBA Finals, could be best described as sparse, while the rest of the players were simply along for the ride. LeBron James has now been on five losing teams in the NBA Finals and he now has on his resume , a second series’ sweep with the first coming when the Cavaliers were summarily annihilated by the San Antonio Spurs during the 2007 NBA Finals , where Tim Duncan led the Spurs to what was an expected series’ victory, but not which was so lopsided.

After-all LeBron James was seen as the face of the NBA and the ” anointed best player on the planet “ . King James as he has often referred to himself , an anointing which many of his supporters and NBA analysts are in complete agreement with.

Whatever the future now holds for LeBron James , be it his remaining in Cleveland or his offering his services to the highest bidder, I would like to see the player come to a quick decision , rather than it being a long drawn out drama , something akin to a very bad soap opera episode.

I’m an avid boxing and Mixed Martial Arts’ fan and over this past weekend both sports showcased events which were meant to lure the fans back to the respective sports, which had been experiencing something of a lull. The UFC showcased their main event , UFC 225 , where the main card , had the top-two contenders within the Men’s Middleweight Division fight for the title , with the winner getting the chance further enhance his resume’. Robert Whittaker of Australia faced Yoel Romero of Cuba, in what could be best described as a war of attrition rather than a about that had a great deal of athleticism or tactical display about it. The fact that Whittaker won on a split decision , should tell you all you need to know about the bout and the fact that it failed to live up to expectation . Far be it for me to suggest, but the UFC is in a sad state of affairs at present in spite of being under new ownership and having a multi-year , multi-billion television contract with Fox Sports (FS1) . . If the ratings continue to decline for a number of their big events , other than premiering big-time PPV match-ups, that whets the appetites of the fans , then UFC President Dana White will continue to have a hard time justifying his comments that the UFC is the premier brand in the world when it comes to MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) .

He has made his return to the professional boxing ring after BBBC (British Boxing Board of Control) mandated suspension for failing a drug test. Former Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury was back in the ring to face Sefer Seferi  of Albania, in what was meant to be a tune-up fight for the former champion, as he seeks to legitimize his position in the Heavyweight rankings. Fury has always been known to talk the talk , but rarely has been able to walk the walk. Other than his victory over a fast declining Wladimir Klitschko , there’s nothing on the British fighter’s resume’ to suggest that he has the potential to reclaim the world title. The two best fighters within the division, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua are on a collision course for multi-million dollar unification bout to settle once and for all who is the best heavyweight fighter on the planet .

Tyson Fury has always questioned the claims that he took a banned substance , but has failed to explain, how after two random test samples the , the test still came up positive for a banned substance. He should consider himself lucky that his suspension was not for a great deal longer than the two years he spent away from the ring. As for his performance against Sefer Seferi, well let’s just say , lethargic and ring-rusty would be apt ways to describe his victory over his Albanian opponent. Fury doesn’t have the prowess to take on either   Anthony Joshua    or Deontay Wilder , let alone beat either of the claimants to their versions of the World Heavyweight title .

Australian Jeff Horn after his somewhat dubious victory over boxing legend Manny Pacquiao , had sought to legitimize himself as one of the best welterweight boxers in the world. His majority decision verdict over the Filipino legend , quickly made Horn a national hero in Australia. In order to further validate that victory , the Australian took on Terence “Bud” Crawford , as Horn defended his WBO Welterweight Title against the hard-hitting American challenger on Saturday night. . Crawford barely broke sweat as the took the title from the Australian champion with a stoppage in the ninth round. Let’s just say Jeff Horn was way out of his class and league , in spite of that victory over Manny Pacquiao .

So as the President, Donald Trump continues to regale us with his insight with the ongoing issues within the world , he recently spoke of his wish to sit down with the players of the NFL to speak with them on the issues of their grievances concerning social injustice. Trump was still basking in the limelight after pardoning Alice Johnson who was serving a life sentence with regard to drug trafficking and money-laundering . Johnson was granted a pardon , after reality show star Kim Kardashian prevailed upon the President to take a look at Johnson’s case.

Alice Johnson freely admits that she knew the risks , but she sought to earn quick money , because of her plight at the time. I guess when your home is being used as a drug cash and stash-house, as well as being a distribution center for a violent drug gang , then any excuse can be allowed for your actions ? The President we know has been extremely critical of the NFL players whom he says are being unpatriotic by refusing to stand for the national anthem. Stating repeatedly, in failing to do so , it dishonors the men and women have fought in wars to protect the rights of citizens in America and freedom across the world. This President fails to understand the real reason why the players are taking this stance and has never addressed the real underlying issues. One of the latest signs of not only complete stupidity on the part of the President but also lack of common sense , was the statement made , where he suggested it was time to grant Muhammad Ali , a full pardon for his crimes. Now bear in mind Ali’s case was overturned in the US Supreme Court on appeal , meaning there were no longer any charges for him to face.

Call me naïve or just plain stupid, but what fucking planet is Donald Trump now living on and does he ever take any advice proffered up to him by the Solicitor General , much less the Inspector General within the US Justice Department or from anyone within his administration ? Or will continue to take advice from his daughter, Ivanka Trump , his two clueless sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr , as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner (husband of Ivanka Trump) .

The day, Donald Trump actually shows signs of interest let alone knowledge of a social issue , rather than chomping off at the bit like a rabid dog in search of a victim . It will be the day that he can be taken seriously for the role for which he was elected into office for.

Rafael Nadal added further to his astonishing tennis career , claiming his eleventh French Open title at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris , France this past Sunday . Nadal’s victory over Dominic Thiem was clinical and surgical in its precision and gave the Spaniard his seventeenth Grand Slam title , three behind by the all-time leader Roger Federer , whose current tally stands at twenty Grand Slam singles’ titles .

Next up for Rafael Nadal by way of the next Grand Slam Tournament will be Wimbledon at the All England Club , where Nadal will be looking to add a third Singles’ title having won previously in 2008 and 2010 . Nadal , Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are the only men currently active on ATP Men’s Tennis Tour to have to have won all four legs of the Grand Slam ( Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open) . With his French Open victory Rafael Nadal holds unto the number one ranking in the world, closely followed by Roger Federer.

So here we go again, fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers are complaining , because their high-priced roster of stars are falling by way the wayside due to injuries . Dodgers’ team manager Dave Roberts seems to have his work cut out again for himself this season as the team struggles to get back on track , being competitive within the NL West and NL in particular. At one game above .500, this is not where the Dodgers expected themselves to be at this point of the season , but even with a record of 7-3 over their last ten games game , you have to be feel that this team is far more capable of producing , than what we’ve seen to date.

In their recent weekend schedule the Los Angeles Dodgers came away with a 2-1 series’ victory over the Atlanta Braves . The two teams are next scheduled to meet on the 26th July when the Dodgers will face the Braves on the road Sun Trust Ballpark in at Atlanta , Georgia as part of their regular season series’ meetings in 2018. However, with the rest of their June schedule not yet in full swing, the next game on the itinerary for the Los Angeles Dodgers will be the team squaring off against the Texas Rangers at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, 12th June , with Bartolo Colon of the Rangers facing a yet to be named opposing pitcher for the contest.

With that type of payroll , it’s about time the Los Angeles Dodgers put up or simply shut and just stop with their continued whining about injuries and all of the other things you’d come to expect of their oh so anxious and at times obnoxious fans.



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Continue reading “I’m Calling It A Wip-eout !!!!”

All Is Not Fair In Love And War

All Is Not Fair In Love and War

For some reason fans were made to believe this weekend with the divisional round of the NFL postseason under way, the fans would be provided with several great games. Instead what they were able to witness was a cacophony of noise , errant plays and teams who essentially provided a truly mediocre spectacle. I sorry , but this NFL season has been one to truly lament all-round. From my own standpoint, I am not so sure things are likely to get any better once the postseason resumes with the divisional rounds. Then the top-two seeds within each conference will enter the fray against their respective opponents .


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Slide show.

At this point last season everyone appeared to be in awe and again the players proved to be in some cases a major disappointment just us as they were over the weekend.With the New England Patriots about to begin the defense of their Superbowl title it will be interesting to see how they will fare against the Tennessee Titans . Tennessee’s quarterback Marcus Mariota will certainly have to raise the level of his play as he looks for his second career postseason victory . He faces a tough task against Patriots’ franchise looking to make NFL history with a sixth Superbowl title. Tom Brady for his part will be looking to drown out the nonsense of his having created the friction between Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft , which led to the trading of his backup Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers . Garoppolo has since provided the Niners with hope after their stirring finish to the regular season with five straight victories . Hope may well spring eternal for the struggling San Francisco 49ers after-all.

Roll Tide ! Well the National Championship was decided on the determination of Nick Saban’s willingness to take it to the house . That was clear from the very start of the game as Alabama took it to their Southeastern Conference rivals the Georgia Bulldogs . This Alabama team was all it was cracked up to be and then a great deal more . Saban’s coaching resume’ now adds another historical moment as he wins his sixth national title overall.

We all knew that it was bound to happen at some point during the NBA season and quicker than you could swat fly, LaVar Ball has begun to set fire to any type of relationship he might have had with the Los Angeles Lakers’ organization. Not content his back and forth sniping with another dumb-ass , Donald Trump . Ball has now taken aim at both Rob Pelinka , general manager of the Lakers as well as Magic Johnson , Head of Basketball Operations and last but not least Luke Walton the team’s head coach.

Over their last ten games as of the 7th January the Los Angeles Lakers are an abysmal 1-9 , with their lone victory coming in a highly contested game against the Atlanta Hawks , with a eighteen-point victory over their Eastern Conference opponent.

LaVar Ball might not be happy with the fact his son Lonzo Ball with each game is now being exposed an over-hyped and somewhat immature child. Granted, he has been thrust unto a big stage surrounded by non-plus players , but in all honesty was anyone actually expecting the Los Angeles Lakers to be anything special. This team on its best day isn’t fit enough to challenge perhaps a mid-level Southeastern Conference program within College Basketball , but yet their idiot fans were hoping for something more ? LaVar Ball might be stirring more trouble than he can really handle , while at the same time knowing the Los Angeles Lakers’ hierarchy have placed their faith in his son Lonzo Ball and to secure their future, with the aim being to return the franchise to their former glory of winning NBA titles . Ball Sr, cannot continue to harangue the Lakers’ staff without questioning the lack of leadership from his son. Up next for the Los Angeles Lakers will be a game against the Sacramento Kings on the 9th January , before facing another conference rival the San Antonio Spurs on the 11th January . Both games will be played the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California .

Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson have already begun to assess the roster and the waiving of veteran Andrew Bogut as a cost-cutting exercise is simply a start of things to come as they look to place themselves in a position to acquire big-named marquee free agent for the 2018 NBA season. As things now stand , I am not so sure if the Los Angeles Lakers are playing for pride and respectability or simply looking to “tank their season” altogether.

Say what you will for the Los Angeles Lakers, this organization ,but they’re either going to go down in flames or do their darndest to prove to others they are fighting.The Lakers’ counterparts and also residents at the Staples Center , the Los Angeles Clippers are not having the type of season many of their fans had expected. Doc Rivers is struggling to get this team to play with a great deal of imagination let alone intestinal fortitude . Chris Paul was the stabilizing force that made the team click, but with his departure they’re essentially back to the ways of old. Billionaire team owner Steve Ballmer spent $2.5 billion to purchase the franchise with the promise that he was willing to spend whatever it took to win an NBA title. The Clippers have fallen way short of that target , while the front office now seems incapable of making the necessary decisions needed to make them competitive.

Blake Griffin has now been entrusted to lead the Los Angeles Clippers and while he remains the team’s most potent offensive weapon , there is not a great deal to back him up . Doc Rivers has been given far too much latitude in the day-to-day running of the franchise, when he should essentially be concentrating totally on the playing staff and their preparations for each game . In their next contest the Clippers are set to face the Golden State Warriors on the road in a match-up to be played on the 10th January . This should provide Blake Griffin and his teammates with a true test and gauge themselves against the best team in the league.

Make no bones about it , this season everything will have to go through Golden State in terms of determining this season’s NBA champions . If the Warriors are to be challenged as a finalist, then expect their antagonist to be either the Boston Celtics or the Cleveland Cavaliers . Boston has proven this season, they’re more than a match for the Cavaliers, in spite of having been defeated by the Lebron James’ led team . The difference between the two teams , I firmly believe has come down to the play of the respective point guards’ , albeit that Isiah Thomas has only made his debut for the Cavaliers while Kyrie Irving has simply proven , when given the opportunity he can be so much more than just the quintessential point guard .

You’ve had your fun and now you’re on the verge of picking up the pieces. The Los Angeles Dodgers have become the whipping post for any team they tend to face during the postseason. That much has been particularly true since 2012, when the ball-club was purchased by Guggenheim Baseball Properties for over $2 billion . At some point, you have to wonder if the partners of the syndicate group might not spent that sum more wisely by purchasing perhaps an EPL (Premiership) soccer club or even an NFL franchise , were one up for grabs at the time? As profitable as the Dodgers are , their performances on the field during the postseason remain lackluster. The franchise’s last win of the World Series came in 1988 and their actual appearances since then have only provided them with once chance and as we know it all came to an abrupt end when they fell in stunning fashion to the Houston Astros .

Dave Roberts and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ managerial staff are so far behind the ‘eight ball’ , I am not so sure the manager still can provide the acumen needed to take the ball-club and the players over the hump. If the Dodgers are unable to compete this season, then all bets are off and the payroll will have to be reduced significantly, along along with the shedding of some under-performing players.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will go through their customary Spring Training Schedule before embarking on their regular season with a set of home games against divisional rivals the San Francisco Giants . The opening game will take place on the 29th March , 2018, the Official Opening Day for Major League Baseball for this year. The Dodgers have not been major players in the free agency market during the off-season to date. Having missed out on Giancarlo Stanton who opted to join the New York Yankees , there still remains the chance that they will seek out a productive slugger to add more offense to their lineup. Even with Andrew Friedman not being able to entice anyone to take an interest in acquiring Yasiel Puig , the Dodgers will still have a formidable lineup to start the season.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers having been so disappointing this past season , the upheaval within the New York Yankees’ organization was not totally unexpected. Joe Girardi was sent packing by the front office as the team’s manager and I was somewhat surprised that Brian Cashman wasn’t also sent on his way. Granted, he’s still thought of as an astute general manager, but it has been almost a decade since a team built on his acumen has been triumphant in the Fall Classic (World Series). Former Yankees’ favorite Aaron Boone has been brought in to succeed Joe Girardi and it will be interesting to see what Boone brings to the table by way of his own managerial acumen. This will be his first managerial position in the Majors and I seriously doubt there will be a great deal of patience by the fans should this team begin to struggle at any point during the season.

No longer the free-wheeling big spenders in recent years the New York Yankees have tapered off in terms of payroll, but having acquired Giancarlo Stanton , it could be said things are now back to the ways of old. Stanton has a substantial sum still remaining on his existing contract, which in part will be honored by the Miami Marlins as well as the obligations which will have to be fulfilled by the Yankees.

Expectations are high with the combination of Aaron Judge , Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton in this lineup for the New York Yankees. It certainly will be interesting to see if this team is capable of producing two players capable of hitting at least forty-home runs apiece, while driving in triple digit runs batted-in. Aaron Boone is being asked to turn around the fortunes of the New York Yankees and a great is expected of them this season , especially as they hope the win the AL East , a title that they last held in 2012 . That season the Yankees fell in the ALCS , losing out to eventual World Series’ losers the Detroit Tigers who were defeated by the San Francisco Giants in the postseason finale.

As competitive as we know the AL East to be, the New York Yankees’ toughest battles will be against their divisional rivals , most notably their perennial stalwarts the Boston Red Sox . Both teams will be vying for divisional supremacy as well as looking to dominate the other. Their regular and postseason battles have become synonymous with some of the greatest moments history between the two powerhouses of baseball. There’s a reason why they are among the most successful as well as valuable teams in all of baseball. The New York Yankees will begin their regular season with a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in Toronto , Ontario , while the Boston Red Sox begins its regular season schedule taking on the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida on the same day, 29th March, 2018 . The Yankees are scheduled to meet the Red Sox nineteen times over the course of this season at home and on the road . Let’s up they can provide the type of excitement their fans have come to expect from such meetings.


 


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What do you believe were the most fascinating match-ups taking place within team sports during 2017? Do you believe that 2018 will be able to provide with the type of excitement seen last year ?

Tophatal ………


NFL news from around the league

NFL schedule postseason (divisional round)


NCAA Football


NBA news

NBA games schedules for this week

NBA conference standings (conference) and divisional standings


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MLB transactions (December 2017) and January’s transactions

From Good To Mediocre And The Band Played On …

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

  Tophatal     ……  


NFL  news

Week  sixteen schedule 

  NFL    standings (divisional)    and   conference standings 

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 MLB  news    and MLB  transactions 

MLB 2018 important dates scheduled

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World’s highest paid celebrities

 


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It’s The Media’s Fault ….

It’s all the media’s fault

The media reports the news and politicians will continue to use the media in its various formats to get their messages out. So let’s stop pretending the two sides don’t need each other as there tends to be a great deal of ambiguity and hypocrisy which comes from both sides. On Tuesday night there was the gregarious display of President Donald Trump addressing the nation on national television as he sought to unite the country. Dependent upon who you would like to believe, he was able to achieve that , or you might be persuaded that he simply provided us all with another glaring performance of a pompous arrogant ass playing to his audience. He took snipes at two Republican senators from the state of Arizona , blaming them for his party’s failure in the repealing of the Affordable Care (ACA/Obamacare). Trump also presented the media as odious morons who misreport the facts, this coming from a Commander In Chief who has not always been willing to listen to the facts as given to him by his own inner circle of advisers. It will always be the media’s fault when you have nothing of substance to report or say.

It’s all the media’s fault

The media reports the news and politicians will continue to use the media in its various formats to get their messages out. So let’s stop pretending the two sides don’t need each other as there tends to be a great deal of ambiguity and hypocrisy which comes from both sides. On Tuesday night there was the gregarious display of President Donald Trump addressing the nation on national television as he sought to unite the country. Dependent upon who you would like to believe, he was able to achieve that , or you might be persuaded that he simply provided us all with another glaring performance of a pompous arrogant ass playing to his audience. He took snipes at two Republican senators from the state of Arizona , blaming them for his party’s failure in the repealing of the Affordable Care (ACA/Obamacare) . Trump also presented the media as odious morons who misreport the facts, this coming from a Commander In Chief who has not always been willing to listen to the facts as given to him by his own inner circle of advisers. It will always be the media’s fault when you have nothing of substance to report or say.


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The media for its part will continue to be lambasted , rightfully so , when there is a great deal of hypocrisy and idiocy on their part. Nothing at present can be more asinine and idiotic than the story now emanating from ESPN and their removal of Robert Lee from the calling of College Football Game , because Lee’s name might be seen as insensitive after the recent events which have taken place in Charlottesville , Virginia. Robert Lee was due to call a game between the University of Virginia and William & Mary next month. ESPN took it upon themselves after they stated, having met with Lee , it would be more suitable were he to announce a game taking place in Youngstown Ohio , rather than call this upcoming contest.

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President Donald Trump is seen here in Arizona , before taking the dais where he would give a rather incoherent speech on unity and the state of the country , while also lambasting the press for their poor reporting of the facts.

Political correctness, call it what you will, but ESPN remains a bastion of hypocrisy , stupidity and a network where not racial bigotry has existed , but also where male employees have been allowed to get away with rather salacious behavior and odious criminal acts. Misogyny and outright sexism is also part of the environment of the cable broadcast network outlet.

Former heavyweight champion now retired and business entrepreneur George Foreman remains in the public spotlight and is beloved for his heroics in the ring. Unfortunately , of late Foreman , has chosen to voice his opinion on what he believes are acts of non-patriotism with the actions of NFL player Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand while the national anthem is being played at NFL games. Kaepernick remains unsigned and his free agency status is likely to remain as it is long into the regular season. The former champion was not only critical of the NFL player but athletes in general and what he says are acts on non-patriotism and his directness in taking aim at Kevin Durant and Durant’s refusal to attend the White House when the Golden State Warriors are due to meet the President as the franchise is recognized for their championship series’ victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers , is to my mind a further indication as to the growing distance as what is seen as social awareness , the divergence where sports and politics are not meant to be aligned.

George Foreman’s criticism of Colin Kaepernick and Kevin Durant is hypocritical and dare I say it asinine , when you consider the boxer claims his friendship with the late Muhammad Ali and his recognition of Ali’s stance, due to his opposition of the Vietnam War .

It seems almost inconceivable that Jon Jones could fail a second mandatory drug test mandated by the UFC in conjunction with the California State Athletic Commission . Having regained the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship defeating Daniel Cormier UFC President Dana White now has to deal with the fallout from the serious ramifications of this latest controversy faced by MMA with Jones’ drug test failure. The champion’s decisive victory over Daniel Cormier at UFC 215 was as decisive as they come and perhaps the best of Jon Jones’ MMA career . What is likely to transpire now will be dependent upon any additional investigation being conducted by the California State Athletic Commission in conjunction with the UFC. Jon Jones could face another lengthy suspension , the second of his career or a recommendation could be made for a lifetime ban from the UFC. Jones and his representative s might well seek to fight any proposed suspension , but any type of explanation from the MMA fighter would prove difficult to accept given his past actions (testing positive for the use of cocaine).

Dana White will now have to use all of his persuasiveness to prove to the fans , that MMA remains a sport beyond reproach and one that is clean . He’s swung and might be in the process of hitting a home run , having now backed the proposed upcoming boxing match between UFC fighter Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather , which is due to take place on the 26th August at the T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas , Nevada . As a co-promotion between the UFC and Mayweather Promotions , this will be the biggest joint event and most financially beneficial for the UFC in their history. McGregor will certainly earn the biggest payday of his career, earning an estimated $25 million for this fight alone. Floyd Mayweather is likely to earn in excess of $250 million and a great deal more when one takes into account merchandising and overseas’ broadcast rights .

With all of the hype and theatrics used to sell this bout to the masses and Floyd Mayweather now trying to amp this fight even further with his claims , he’s not as quick as he once was in his prime , I am beginning to think the boxing match could end up being a monumental bore or actually turn out to be competitive fight. The former welterweight champion remains an odds on favorite , but as of late there has been a great deal of money being wagered on Conor McGregor pulling off the upset.

Well it appears the lights have yet to go out at the Quicken Loans Arena after all of the tumult and upheaval within the Cleveland Cavaliers’ franchise over the past six weeks. David Griffin was ousted as the general manager , being replaced by Koby Altman . Team owner Dan Gilbert in spite of his denials , suggested all as well within the franchise and that disgruntled point-guard Kyrie Irving remained a part of the Cavaliers’ long-term future. Clearly smoke was being blown up everyone’s ass by the front office , with Gilbert leading the choir. Irving’s relationship with LeBron James had gone sour and the rapport between the two players was certainly non-communicative . A blockbuster trade has come into being with Kyrie Irving being sent to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isiah Thomas . Residual pieces also made up the deal, but the vital pieces in the trade were the point guards , Irving and Thomas. The Eastern Conference will certainly take on whole new shape and I do believe there will be a seismic shift which might not necessarily favor the Cleveland Cavaliers. Isiah Thomas is an exceptional talent , but I do believe the Boston Celtics got the better end of the deal with their acquisition of Kyrie Irving and the other players as part of this unbelievable blockbuster trade.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics will meet during the NBA preseason , with the game taking place on the 17th October at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. They will also face each other during the regular season at home and on the road. It will be interesting to see how the two teams will fare with their new lineups .

So will this be the season where Steve Mills and Scott Perry bring the New York Knicks back from the brink of ruin or will this particular NBA franchise’s tailspin continue ? Having spent over $60 million on Phil Jackson to simply reaffirm that Jackson cannot spot NBA talent let alone spell the word , Perry has been brought in the oversee the roster of the Knicks while Mills runs the operational side of the franchise while still answerable to team owner James Dolan . These are dire times for the New York Knicks as they continue to go through transitional changes which might ultimately make them better . I am not so sure the patience remains with Carmelo Anthony to undergo another season of uncertainty and even less of a chance for the seasoned veteran to win an NBA title . He has seen a number of his contemporaries from the 2003 NBA Draft go on to win a championship ring or win the game’s highest singular award, League MVP . All of these accolades have escaped Anthony’s career resume’ as he toils with an aimless franchise heading nowhere.

The New York Knicks will begin their preseason schedule with a game against the Brooklyn Nets on the 3rd October , 2017 at Madison Square Garden , in New York City , New York . Yet their regular season schedule starts on the 19th October when they will face the Oklahoma City Thunder in a game which could prove to be highly entertaining with a great deal of offense .

There can be no denying in spite of the recent dominance of the Golden State Warriors , the NBA lures in the fans when the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers , Boston Celtics and New York Knicks are doing well. These three franchise might be the most followed in the league because of their respective histories. Yet it is clear as of late , neither Lakers or Knicks have provided their fans with a great deal of excitement in recent seasons. The Celtics ‘ front office might be one o the most underestimated in the game , while we already know both the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are still finding their way. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have been brought in by Jeanie Buss and her siblings to steer the franchise back in the right direction. A great deal of hype has already been put in place with the Lakers’ having drafted Lonzo Ball . If he is the second coming of Kobe Bryant , then the franchise will fare well , but this roster is still in the making and I don’t expect them to be very competitive this season. They might be lucky to win thirty regular season games during the 2017-18 schedule.

With the first game of their regular season schedule taking place on the 17th October when they face the Los Angeles Clippers who this season are likely to struggle having seen the departure of Chris Paul . It should prove to be very interesting to see which of the three NBA franchises in the state of California comes out as the ‘Top Dog’ in the state at the end of this season.

I do believe that the Los Angeles Clippers will be taking a step back this season , even though they will remain the best team in their division , I just don’t believe they are a championship caliber team. There is not enough depth on the roster and it has become increasingly clear , neither Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan are leaders. They are merely overpaid NBA stars showing little sign of maturity and the will to lead by example. Doc Rivers as the head coach of the team as well as Head of Basketball Operations is stretched too thin and needs to relinquish his role as an executive within the Clippers’ organization. Rivers should concentrate on the coaching of the team , while Steve Ballmer works in conjunction with Jerry West , seeking to make this team better. West joining the Clippers’ front office as a special consultant does seem somewhat ironic and eerie especially when you consider his career with the Los Angeles Lakers a nd the fact both of the Los Angeles’ franchises share the same home venue . I would love to be a fly on the wall inside both front offices over the course of this season , as Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka try to outmaneuver Jerry West , Lawrence Frank and Dave Wohl . The Clippers’ front office is top-heavy with far too many front office executives and the coaching staff itself, while there is an abundance of experience to be found. It was clear last season the coaches were not able to get the best out of the team , leading to their dismal showing during the NBA Playoffs .

When it is all said and done , this season for the Detroit Tigers has been glaringly abysmal , with the team failing to show any drive whatsoever. The death of Michael Ilitch was a devastating blow to the organization and now the franchise is left in the hands of the late owner’s family. Chris Ilitch now steps into the role as the Chief Executive and owner of the Tigers , while Al Avila continues in his role of general manager. Where the Tigers now go from here will be predicated on how the season rounds out for the ball-club.

Brad Ausmus and the Detroit Tigers face a tough month ahead while simply playing for pride. Ausmus’
managerial staff
will still try to instill some discipline and sense of purpose into the team. That will likely begin by out-playing the New York Yankees who they face on Thursday afternoon . The game itself should prove to be very interesting given what is at stake for both teams . During the off-season Al Avila will have to make a decision concerning the long-term future of stars such as Justin Verlander , Miguel Cabrera and several others of their highly paid players on the team’s roster. Over the last six seasons the Tigers have very little to show their fans by way of advancing during the postseason . While I don’t believe Al Avila will seek to make drastic changes , there has to be something done to improve this roster or ultimately , the paring down of the payroll must be a priority for the franchise moving forward.

Rich Hill a starting pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers toyed with a ‘no hitter’ in his most recent outing for the team , a game played against the Pittsburgh Pirates . One errant pitch broke up what would have been a career highlight for a player who has come so close to pitching a no hitter on several occasions during his career. The Dodgers would end up losing the contest 1-0, in ten innings . When these two teams are back on the diamond this Thursday evening , the opposing pitchers will be Hyun Jin-Ryu of the Dodgers against Chad Kuhl of the Pirates .

There is no doubt in my mind the Los Angeles Dodgers will run away with the NL West divisional crown, but I will continue to ask the question how good is this team really ? If they are unable to make a deep postseason run ,and play with consistency , then greatness cannot be foisted upon them. It has been over two decades since the Los Angeles Dodgers made an appearance in the World Series and subsequent postseason appearances have often ended in sheer failure on the part of this ballclub. If the Dodgers were to do the unthinkable and win the World Series in 2017, then the media would have a field day reporting the story creating a deal of hyperbole as to the Dodgers’ exploits.



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 Tophatal ….. 08/23/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tophatal …… 04/03/2017

NFL news

MLB news

MLB schedule and probable pitchers

This week in baseball

NBA news

NBA results 2nd April and schedule for 3rd April

NBA standings overall

NBA standings (conference) and Playoff Projections

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The Masters (2017)

NCAA Basketball (Men)

NCAA Final Four (Men’s)

UFC news

UFC schedule

MLS Soccer and US Soccer

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It never rains ,but it does pour and then there’s the 1,000 pound Gorilla in The Room …

It never rains ,but it does pour and then there’s the 1,000 pound Gorilla in The Room …

Well , with the  NFL Pro Bowl   having    taken place   and their being a     victory    for the    AFC    in   defeating     the NFC   , the league can now put to past another meaningless event as part of the      postseason . From my own perspective there is no amount of tinkering which can be done which will make this game all the more appealing for the fans ! These games are always non-competitive and the sole reason for this exhibition , is simply lure the fans out once again and their for them to spend their money needlessly.  NFL   Commissioner    Roger Goodell    and the league hierarchy continue to sell the fans a bill of goods , which is of no real value and then bear in mind , the league still wishes to expand not only the postseason format , but also the number of teams to possibly include a franchise in Latin America as well as Europe. In this day and age , with the current President’s policy of America first, I am beginning to wonder if the league might become all the more jittery concerning President    Donald Trump’s    reach with his new agenda.

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The NFL’s biggest showcase event of the season will take place this Sunday at the NRG Stadium in Houston , Texas, when the Atlanta Falcons will face the New England Patriots in Superbowl LI (51) . This will be the Patriots’ seventh appearance in the big game as they seek to win their fifth Superbowl , while the team’s quarterback Tom Brady will seek to join Hall of Fame players Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana , as the only quarterbacks with four Superbowl victories to their name. Brady and the New England Patriots are likely to be seen as the presumptive favorites in this game, while opposing quarterback Matt Ryan and his teammates will be looking to upset the apple-cart and pull off what would be Falcons’ biggest win the franchise’s history. No doubt Atlanta’s billionaire owner Arthur Blank will be hoping to witness a victory for his team, after the near misses and the real consolation that after the era of Michael Vick , the Falcons can now be viewed as one of the league’s more respectable teams.

If this Superbowl game goes to form , then the fans should be in for a thrilling event , with both teams having been very good through much of the regular season , with each having risen to the occasion in the postseason. Matt Ryan’s record against the New England Patriots is not an enviable one, whereas for Tom Brady , this could be business as usual , considering the three-time Superbowl MVP’s record in the postseason as well as the big game itself. Get ready folks , as the fireworks will be explosive and certainly deafening . The pace of this game could very well be dictated by the pass offense of both teams and the defensive capabilities shown by both secondaries , but it would be remiss not to suggest the rush offense won’t come into play. With over one hundred and fifty million viewers likely to be watching the game domestically and a further 1.6 billion worldwide , this will be the television event of the year as it has been repeatedly over the last two decades.

Two years of frustration and it all led to the firing of head coach Chip Kelly and the subsequent dismissal of GM Trent Baalke by the San Francisco 49ers , as the franchise looks to retrench itself . Kelly was simply abysmal and this constant idiocy of his being a coaching genius , borders on the stupidity of Donald Trump having the wherewithal to defeat ISIS . Ego and outlandish statements cannot make up for common sense and intelligence , for which , both Kelly and Trump are indeed short off ! At no point during his NFL coaching career has Chip Kelly ever been able to get his teams play competitive football. This was clearly indicative of the abysmal season by of the Forty Niners in 2016. How else can you explain the team’s 2-14 record , with a defense which was nowhere to be seen, while the offense continued to spiral out of control faster than fecal matter being flushed down a men’s restroom cubicle ?

In the aftermath of the firing and drama surrounding Colin Kaepernick , the Forty Niners now find themselves at a crossroads , with many calling for the York family to relinquish control of the team and selling the franchise to someone who actually cares about football , as well as the organization itself. The team’s CEO Jed York has now made the decision to replace Trent Baalke and his decision to name a successor , has actually caught everyone off-guard , with the naming of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ strong-safety Jon Lynch . The player has never held an executive role in the NFL , since his retirement and the absurdity of this decision will either come back to bite the Niners in the ass or it will be seen as an ingenious move along the lines of Ozzie Newsome being hired run the operations of the Baltimore Ravens . Newsome has guided the franchise to two Superbowl victories, while several of his picks have produced Pro Bowl caliber players . One could equate Lynch’s hire with that of Matt Millen’s tenure with the Detroit Lions and the abysmal chapter for Lions , while Millen was in charge of all personnel decisions for Detroit. Needless to say , the fans were angered and his dismissal could not come fast enough. I would hate a that a similar fate would await Jon Lynch , but how can anyone have any faith in a member of the York family , as owners of the San Francisco 49ers. Since the departure of Eddie DeBartolo , this franchise has been adrift in an ocean of continued mediocrity .

If Jed York and his family were to consider selling the San Francisco 49ers , then the team could be sold for in excess of $3 billion , based on today’s value alone , without considering their market demographics , as one of the league’s best supported teams. Yet, for the moment, this will all be pure conjecture and a great deal of speculation as to the nature of the ongoing story-lines concerning the Forty Niners.

All of a sudden the Miami Heat have hit a rich vein of form having won seven straight games and placing themselves in with a chance of garnering a playoff berth , but it should be noted with the All Star Game still at the forefront of the players’ thoughts , albeit they still have two weeks of play before the break. It should be noted there has been a great deal of debate about the gross error in judgment by the fans and the continued idiocy of the league hierarchy of allowing the fans have the greatest say in the players placed on the starting rosters for the East and Western Conferences. The omission of Russell Westbrook speaks as to the lack of intelligence among the vast majority of NBA fans and their lack of in-depth knowledge of the game of basketball. To my mind, I feel as if the fans believe they are in fact voting for a contestant on the now defunct television reality show American Idol .

If the fans are being entrusted to with this sort of endeavor in voting for the All Star Game rosters solely based on popularity , then you might as well do away with the game altogether as well as the rest of the festivities which encapsulate the whole weekend encompassing the event. Russell Westbrook is having an exceptional season by anyone’s standards and this idiocy of fans stating their unimpressed shows , might be an indicator of what might be wrong with the NBA in general , they are far too impressed with style over substance. Westbrook has been added to the Western Conference roster as a reserve by Steve Kerr , who will be the coach of the team representing the West. It will be interesting to see how much playing time will given to the point guard during the contest.

Over the past ten days , the league has been very tops-turvy by way of the results and the all too inconsistent play seen from the players and the teams . Yet, still leading the pack within their respective conferences are the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East and the Golden State Warriors in the West. A repeat of last season’s NBA Finals seems to be what the fans want, even if there is once again going to be a great deal of controversy along with the way, with some rather dubious calls from among the officials . There still remains a great deal to play for and the fans seem to be loving every minute of what has been seen this season to date. There will be several games on tap for Monday night , of which the most interesting might be the contest between the Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics , two teams vying for dominance within their divisions as well as having an eye on the NBA Playoffs this season.

Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics has proven himself to be the vocal leader on this Brad Stevens’ coached team . The Celtics have proven themselves to be the surprise team in the East this season , as seen with having the second-best record in the conference behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Serena Williams emphatically stamped her authority on the game of tennis, by winning her twenty-third Grand Slam singles’ title , defeating her sister Venus Williams in the Australian Open Singles Final. In doing so, Williams surpassed the mark of Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Steffi Graf , whose mark of twenty-two has stood for over a decade. Now the question becomes where does Serena Williams rank among the all-time greats among the female players to have graced the professional ranks of tennis?

In what turned out to be a tremendous Men’s Singles Finals , Roger Federer defeated one of his greatest adversaries , Rafael ‘Rafa ‘ Nadal of Spain. This five-set thriller graced the Rod Laver Stadium in Melbourne, Australia , as thousands watched this enthralling game , simply giving the fans everything they could have wanted and a great deal more . Sportsmanship was there to be seen , as was the athleticism and aggressiveness from both of these great players . Sadly, both of these players are now at the twilight of their careers and from my own perspective , Men’s tennis will be all the worse , once they make the decision to make an exit from the game. All due respect to Andy Murray , but your number one ranking , is something of a joke at present !

Spring Training is still over a month away , but already teams have been to assemble their rosters by way of their free agency acquisitions , non-roster invitees and no doubt there will be still more trades to come. Fans are already making a prognosis as to which prospects will be able to contribute for their ball-clubs this season. No doubt the reigning World Series champions will be looking to make a successful defense of the title they won with ease last season.

Major League Baseball really does need to provide the fans with something special this upcoming season and I don’t believe the World Baseball Classic will do anything to add to the perceived notion the game has been losing its way over the past five seasons. Teams continue to be profitable , because of the ever increasing admission prices , concessions and dare one say it , with the renewal of licensing agreements and television contracts, the league hierarchy led by Rob Manfred and the team owners will continue to gloat.

Mike Trout has added another ALMVP award to his resume’ , but the thing one the player desires the most is a World Series ring and championship acclaim. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Los Angeles Angels will getting there anytime soon. With each passing year of near misses or just downright bad luck , this franchise’s continuing downward slide provides little hope for Trout , that his dream will ever come true. Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia , I do not believe he will be managing this team next year, should Los Angeles fall short of Arte Moreno’s wishes. Moreno , the impassioned owner of this team has stood by and given full reign to successive general managers and it has all been to no avail. For Mike Scioscia it’s now all in or bust , or he will be fired with the speed of lightning .

The Los Angeles Angels’ exhibition schedule will be somewhat rudimentary , but the real battles will begin with their regular season schedule and off-course Opening Day . The first game of their 2017 season schedule will be against the Oakland Athletics (A’s) on the 3rd April , 2017 at the O Coliseum in Oakland , California . The struggles of the A’s were apparent for all to see , with their pitching and hitting being inconsistent throughout much of last season . Now with the moves made it will be interesting to see what else will be done by GM Billy Eppler to bolster the roster for the upcoming season. One thing for sure , Mike Trout cannot do it all by himself as he has been asked to do , ever since he first played in an Angels’ uniform in 2012.

When baseball fans start to prognosticate about prospects (up and coming players) it is either , because they have nothing else better to do or they are simply reminding us why their team or teams might have been bad last season. From my own standpoint, these so-called prospects will not be making that great an impact in their first season. Consistency is they key , but not many are able to keep it all up over the prolonged season of one hundred and sixty-two games. Their contributions will be what they are , nothing more and nothing less.




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What aspects of the recent news’ stories have you found to be the most intriguing and with the Superbowl just a few days away , do you believe the game will meet all expectations one feels we are using to seeing ?

🙂

Tophatal  … 01/30/2017

Related article : https://tophatal.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new

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NBA schedule 30th January

NBA player stats and rookie stats

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2017 NBA All Star Game

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Australian Open Tennis
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MLB Opening Day (2017 Regular Season)

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MLB free agents

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Let’s take a walk on the wild side …

Let’s take a walk on the wild side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tophatal ……….. 2016/12/28

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Red state , blue state ….

Red state, blue state ….

So here we are at a historical moment in the nation’s history , as Donald Trump upset the status quo to become the nation’s forty-fifth President (elect) having easily defeated Hillary Clinton for the highest political office in the land. The surprise concerning the result, did not only come from the fact Clinton’s campaign was no lethargic, but also failed to appeal and gain widespread support across the nation. From my own standpoint, having to choose between the lesser of two evils, when the candidates involved . have been described as two of the most despised candidates in the nation’s history, has played a large part in the divisiveness seen during the entire Presidential campaign. Now that this is all over, the nation can now seek to heal the wounds , but I guess , the losers having seen their candidate so handily defeated, will now begin to question what and why things went so badly.

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In the world of sports the fallout has already began in the world of baseball . Having won a memorable World Series , the Chicago Cubs will now seek to bolster their roster, while also rewarding a number of their players who played a part in the team’s success during the regular and postseason. Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon and his managerial staff are to be commended on a spectacular season. Who knew that the ball-club’s one hundred and eight-year old curse would come to such an emotional end ? World Series MVP and veteran player Ben Zobrist exemplified the Chicago Cubs’ never-say die attitude throughout the postseason. Maddon may well have caused palpitations among the Chicago fans with some of his game decisions , but the fact they panned out and the team was victorious in defeating the Cleveland Indians says a great deal about the ingenuity of the manager and the faith of the front office in Joe Maddon’s abilities.

While the Chicago Cubs are still riding high, another baseball’s revered franchises now seems to be returning to ways of old. The New York Yankees after a disastrous season seem to be intent on making a big splash during this off-season , with general manager Brian Cashman possibly willing to spend as much as $100 million or more to acquire key players he believes will be of benefit to the team . There is no denying the Yankees’ weakness was their pitching , with only Masahiro Tanaka proving his worth among the starting pitchers . The relievers on the roster were barely average and clearly the many needs of the Yankees during the off-season go way beyond just pitching. New York’s offense was very inconsistent and many of their high-priced offensive players showed a lack of real productivity when it mattered most. I don’t believe Cashman will be given the go-ahead to spend capriciously, but I do believe Hank Steinbrenner and Hal Steinbrenner will see it as only fitting the ball-club seeks to be as competitive in the market as many of their big-market rivals such as the Los Angeles Dodgers whose payroll for the upcoming season is likely to remain above $200 million .

Teams are now looking to shed players who will be placed on the free agent market which is likely to cause something of a major frenzy. Many of baseball’s biggest and most prominent agents will be seeking to get the best possible deal for their respective clients. Rumors are also flying around, with the Detroit Tigers possibly being among the biggest sellers , seeking to off-load two of their biggest stars , Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera . The thought of GM Al Avila considering such a move is unlikely to sit well with the Tigers’ fans, but I do get the feeling team owner Michael Ilitch has become dissatisfied with the lack of postseason success . If he is pressing the front office executives and managerial staff to make these bold moves , I do not believe it will sit well with the fans of the Detroit Tigers. The ball-club’s failure at the highest levels of the game has more to do with the lack of consistency needed rather than blaming the players.

This past season Detroit’s failure came from their not being competitive in a number of tight games and manager Brad Ausmus’ questionable decision-making during several vital games. The failure to win the AL Central and even gain a postseason berth laid with the managerial staff more than anything else. Should both Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander be traded , both players will come at a very high price , given their respective market-value.

Like any other previous MLB off-season there will continue to be a frenzy within the market, with teams scurrying to get the best players available. Will your team be one of those profiting from these transactions ?

Should there be cause for concern at this stage of the NBA season ? Unless you happen to be the Philadelphia 76ers , you might as well say it’s business as usual . Not much has changed since the end of last season and the beginning of this season with the Sixers still looking lamentable in just about every facet of the game. Only the New Orleans Pelicans (0-8) currently have a worst record than the 76ers at this stage of the season. With both teams yet to record a victory, it will be interesting to see which the duo will be the first to join the rest of the league’s twenty-eight teams to have recorded a win. Brett Brown head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers will have his team in action on Wednesday night when they face the Indiana Pacers in a game being played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Arena in Indiana , Indianapolis .

The New Orleans Pelicans will not be in action until Thursday 10th November when they tip-off against the Boston Celtics in a road game against their Eastern Conference opponents .

Since his abrupt and somewhat unexpected departure from the Miami Heat , it is has been rumored the relationship between Dwyane Wade and Heat President Pat Riley had become very animated , with few cordial words being exchanged between the duo. Considering the ongoing PR nightmare concerning Miami’s decision to jettison Chris Bosh , one has to wonder if there’s any truth to the fractured relationship between Riley and the three players , who have been instrumental in bringing the Miami Heat their last two NBA titles. Coincidence or conspiracy , it does seem strange within the space of two years , LeBron James , Bosh and Wade are no longer part of the Miami Heat playing roster . Financial hardships notwithstanding, I find it extremely hard to fathom the incompetence shown by Pat Riley and there being no apparent input or formal statement coming from team owner Micky Arison .

As of the 9th November the Miami Heat posted a record of 2-4 , placing the franchise near the bottom of the East Conference. In their last game the Miami Heat fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a twelve-point loss on the road , losing 97-85 , with Russell Westbrook continuing his amazing season . On Thursday , Dwyane Wade with his teammates on the Chicago Bulls will visit the American Airlines Arena in Miami , Florida , for Wade’s first game at the venue , since signing with the Bulls as a free agent during the off-season. Wade will be looking to inflict even more pain on his former team , while placing the Chicago Bulls to be in a very good position at this early stage of the NBA season , which is still in its infancy . The game will be seen as either vindication for the release of Dwyane Wade should he play poorly and the Chicago Bulls lose the contest, but should Chicago be victorious , then there are likely to be questions asked of Pat Riley , the coaching staff of Erik Spoelstra and the entire front office . Wade remains one of the Heat’s most beloved and popular players in franchise history .

At point will the fans of the New York Knicks realize Phil Jackson and the entire front office are selling them a bill of goods with no value ? This Jeff Hornacek coached team has become an embarrassment so early in the season , that it is not unreasonable to believe the Knicks are likely to be a sub .500 team at the end of this regular season .

Jeff Hornacek has a team which remains inconsistent at home as well as on the road and there appears to be no real signs of change in terms of their play . Acquiring both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah was meant to provide the team with a great deal more competitiveness on both ends of the floor . In their last game the New York Knicks were tested in their fourteen-point victory over the Brooklyn Nets , previously to which, they fell to the Utah Jazz , 114-109 , with both games being played at Madison Square Garden , in New York City, New York . Next up for the Knicks will be a game against the Boston Celtics , a match-up likely to test both of these Eastern Conference teams.

The Western Conference has always been considered to be the better of the NBA’s two conferences. Teams there tend to be far superior to their Eastern counterparts. I also believe there happens to be far more talented players within the West , altogether and that is even with the four-time League MVP LeBron James’ heralded exploits over the course of his career . Two games currently separate the top-five teams within the Western Conference , with the Los Angeles Clippers (7-1) leading the way with the best record among them all . Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers has seen his team rise to the occasion with the play of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul being one of the primary reasons why the franchise has been so successful up to this point of the regular season.

Doc Rivers will see his team in action when the Los Angeles Clippers will be in action on Friday night when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder . It will be one of the top games being played on the night .

It came as no real surprise when Luke Walton was named as the head coach to succeed Byron Scott , after Scott’s dismissal by the front office . Walton was the lead assistant to Steve Kerr , head coach of the Golden State Warriors , whose record-breaking season in 2015 came to an abrupt end in the NBA Finals and their series’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers . The Los Angeles Lakers have gotten off to an inauspicious start to their regular season schedule. While the fans may well be expecting wins , Luke Walton simply seeks a steady improvement from his players and their willingness to accommodate his strategies.

The heady days are now long gone where the Los Angles Lakers were perennial contenders or winning back-to-back titles . Kobe Bryant’s retirement after an astonishing career with the Lakers , has become a precursor to a new chapter in the franchise’s history. With the Buss family still the primary owners of the club, it will be interesting to see how they herald in this new beginning. Their have placed their faith in the acumen of Luke Walton, his coaching staff to lead and the players will now have to respond . Whether or not the fans will have the patience to endure what is hoped be to the learning process of the playing staff and its growth, remains to be seen .

It is not yet clear who should be seen as the vocal and team leader of this Los Angeles Lakers’ playing staff , but all signs seem to pointing in the direction of Lou Williams . The veteran presence of Luol Deng should provide some leadership , but I believe it will take a great deal more than just Deng’s leadership to ensure any type of real success . Williams and his teammates were in action on Thursday night when they faced the Sacramento Kings and made a spirited comeback for a decisive victory over their conference rivals in the West. Luke Walton had to be pleased by what he witnessed from his team and their performance . It bodes well for the Los Angeles Lakers’ next game when they tip-off against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie Center in New Orleans , Louisiana on Saturday , 12th November , 2016 .

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The divisiveness and rancor seen from this political season , as evidenced with the Congressional and Presidential election , hasn’t yet spilled over into the world of sports , but there is an underlying element in the behavior of the personalities involved. At times it can be and lead to “ win at at any cost” and then in the aftermath, you seek to clean up the mess , though not necessarily in the best way possible .

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Tophatal ………… 2016/11/09

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Things that make you go Huh ?

Things that make you go Huh ?

Well, as the election cycle gets into full swing with the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates the world cannot escape the incompetence now being shown by GOP nominee Donald Trump . As his misogynistic rants continue, so too do the depths of his infamy. Not content with having admitted to making several derogatory remarks about a female political activist , Trump would also go on to state he tried to elicit sex from several females, groping them improperly without their consent. With the second of the two Presidential Debates taking place on Sunday night, Trump having issued a less than contrite apology would then parade four females who were said to be victims of the unwanted sexual advances of former President Bill Clinton . The Republican nominee in seeking to distance himself from his latest meas-culpa , tried to suggest Bill Clinton’s behavior as President was less than honorable when it came to his sexual indiscretions. Less I am mistaken , there is no difference Donald Trump’s actions and that of the politician he now claims to be a sexual deviant. Unfortunately, for the American public as well as the electorate, they now have to choose between two candidates who happen to represent all that is wrong with the current political climate within the country.

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Away from the political arena, the sports’ world is in the midst of one of the most important periods of the calendar year. Baseball has begun its postseason and we have seen the demise of the New York Mets and the Baltimore Orioles . Two teams thought to be capable of winning the World Series this year , but clearly, neither of these teams were capable of being there for the long haul . The surprise performers of this postseason might well be the Toronto Blue Jays , who have booked themselves a berth in the ALCS and where they will await the winner of the series between the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians . Boston faces an Indians’ team firing on all cylinders, looking to secure their own path to the ALCS and will do their utmost close out the series with an emphatic game-three victory . That game will take place on Monday evening

We are now just fifteen-days away from the beginning of the NBA regular season schedule. The Cleveland Cavaliers will be looking to defend the title they won last season under somewhat controversial circumstances. Anyone who believes the ejection of Draymond Green did not play a part in the outcome of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers might well have been watching another series altogether. Both teams have been in action during the NBA preseason schedule , looking to resume from they left off from last season . A bold move was made by the Golden State Warriors as they acquired multi-time scoring champion and former League MVP and All Star , Kevin Durant . His joining the Warriors , adds a potent offensive talent and will likely add another twenty-five points per game to Golden State’s already astonishing scoring average based upon last season’s statistics . The core depth of the roster might just be the best in the entire NBA and I do believe they will be team to beat this upcoming season in spite of the Cleveland Cavaliers being the reigning NBA champions.

Draymond Green , Kevin Durant , Steph Curry , Klay Thompson and the rest of this Steve Kerr coached team will certainly be looking to avenge last year’s postseason display . Curry has missed a couple of games during the preseason , as he sits out those contest due to a medical issue . I have no doubt the Warriors are the team to beat within the Western Conference and are certainly more than justified as the prohibitive favorites for the NBA title. The team will next be on court when they are due to face the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. That contest will be followed by two back-to-back road games against the Los Angeles Lakers on the 15th and 19th October respectively. Golden State’s regular season will begin on the 25th October when they face the San Antonio Spurs in their season home opener , a game which will likely be very competitive if last season’s contests are anything to go by.

LeBron James continues be the best player of his generation and most certainly he has lived up to the hype, ever since being taken as the number one overall draft pick in the 2003 NBA Draft . LeBron continues to chase basketball immortality , as he seeks to emulate the achievements of his idol Michael Jordan . Whether or not he is able to surpass those achievements remains to be seen, but I do believe he will be considered among the top-fifteen players in NBA history by the time he chooses to end his career in the league . With an unbeaten streak to start the preseason , LeBron James and his teammates will be looking to remain dominant within the Central Division of the Eastern Conference , as was the case last season . James led the Cavaliers in all of the relevant offensive categories and was similarly impressive , as a defensive stalwart for the team. This upcoming season, I believe the Cleveland Cavaliers are quite capable of surpassing last season’s win total and quite possibly notch a sixty-win mark for only the second time in franchise history . This will all begin in earnest when the Cavaliers open up their regular season schedule against the New York Knicks at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland,Ohio on the 25th October , the official opening night of the NBA season. Last season the games between these two teams were very lopsided , with the Cavaliers having an easy time in getting the better of their Eastern Conference counterparts. On paper, the Knicks’ roster are likely to be better than the team of last season , given the moves made by the front office during the off-season. The addition of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah should bolster the effectiveness of the New York Knicks , but I continue to have my doubts over the coaching ability of their newly installed head coach Jeff Hornacek !

Five games into the NFL season and we are already beginning to see the shakeout of the pretenders from the real contenders and nowhere has this been more evident than with the complete ineptitude shown by the Miami Dolphins (1-4) . Other than the hapless Cleveland Browns (0-5) , whose five-game win-less streak has become a real embarrassment . Perhaps no other team in h the NFL has become more of a joke than the Dolphins. The team’s quarterback Ryan Tannehill continues to show a lack of ability , leadership and and the prerequisite skill-set needed to win games when they matter the most. Defensively , as well as from an offensive standpoint , Miami continues to be in a dire situation, leading me to believe head coach Adam Gase could very well become the first coaching casualty of this NFL season !

The Miami Dolphins’ lack of effort seen in their 33-17 loss suffered at the hands of the Tennessee Titans was painful to watch , even more so, when you witness the sacking of Ryan Tannehill several times during the game . Tannehill was slow to read the Titans’ defense and I must say , he gave me the impression , his knowledge of the game is less than average , never-mind his entire performance in the contest ! Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota came away looking every bit the passer taken second overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2015 NFL Draft . Where the Miami Dolphins now go from here is open to great deal of conjecture and speculation . In week six the Dolphins will face a tough task at home when they play the always dangerous Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) .

You might not like it , but they are for real, the Alabama (Crimson Tide) remain the team to beat in College Football . At 6-0 , they are making things look extremely easy on so many levels . In week six Alabama took apart Arkansas (Razorbacks) by the score of 49-30 , barely breaking sweat along the way . With the victory the Crimson Tide will remain at the top of the polls and they are clearly the favorites among the top-ranked teams in the nation for the national title .

One of the highlights of the weekend ,. was the always volatile rivalry between Florida State (Seminoles) and the Miami (Hurricanes ) . This game did not fail to disappoint , as both teams were locked in a constant battle of wills , which in the end , came down to defense on the part of the Seminoles. In week seven Miami will go on to play North Carolina (Tar Heels) on Saturday afternoon , while Florida State will host Wake Forest .

Nick Saban , head coach of Alabama will be preparing his team for their game against Tennessee (Volunteers) , in a contest which should bring out the best in both teams .

Michael Bisping may not be the most high-profiled name within the UFC , but having won the UFC Middleweight Title the champion is now trying to cement his legacy within the sport. A well-respected veteran , Bisping’s dethroning of former champion Luke Rockhold , has been the defining moment of his career so far. However, at UFC 204 , Michael Bisping made his first defense of the title by facing fellow countryman Dan Henderson of England. The champion > retained his title with a unanimous decision on all three scorecards of the judges. Effective striking was the key to the victory and it now remains to be seen if a lucrative bout can now be arranged for Michael Bisping , with him taking on the number one contender for the Middleweight Title. UFC President Dana White is said to be leaning towards a possible match-up between Michael Bisping and UFC legend Anderson Silva , the most successful Middleweight fighter in UFC history. Chris Weidman , a former champion , currently ranked in the top-ten , is known to be frantically lobbying White , with a view to becoming Bisping’s next challenger. Either way , for the Englishman , this is the chance he has been waiting for , for a very long time .

It is by far in way the most popular sport in the world with , where the names of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are known all over the world and are considered to be the best two players in the world . Soccer is the art form whereas, NFL football remains gladiatorial in nature , with the fans yearning more for the bruising tackles , the crunching of bones and relatively little finesse being shown by the players within the NFL . Soccer for its part , has the skill-set and excitement one could wish for , but at the same time even when the games are not high-scoring the games can be very exciting. The English Premiership League (EPL) is considered the best professional soccer league in the world and where several of the top teams are among the best on the planet.

Last season , the Premiership was provided with one of the biggest surprises in its history , when Leicester City won the league title for the very first time in its history. This season as the defending champions this team will have its work cut out , seeking to make a successful defense of their title. Mid-table and struggling to keep pace with the league leaders , this Leicester City team has suddenly found they are no longer the hunters , but they have become the prey . In their last Premiership encounter Leicester faced Southampton in a contest which ended in a scoreless draw (0-0). Next up for The Toffees as they are more commonly know by their fans will be Premiership game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in London on the 15th October , 2016 .

With Leicester City’s rise to prominence , along came fame and fortune for the team’s best player Jamie Vardy , has now become the face of Leicester City as well as , one of the most well-known players in the entire Premiership (EPL). If Vardy can continue to show the consistency seen over the past two seasons with the team , then there is no reason to believe his teammates will not follow his lead.

The most successful club in English soccer history is Manchester United and having changed managers this past season , a new chapter begins and there are great expectation under the team’s new manager Jose Mourinho . The new manager with the blessing of the Board of Directors have spent millions of dollars acquiring new players to form a competitive squad . This season United will have to be at their very best if they are to challenge their rivals within the Premiership . Jose Mourinho and his players will be on the field this weekend when they play Liverpool , in what will be one of the best games on the schedule .

Though it’s still early days yet with regard to the schedule , there is still a long way to go in the Premiership season and the games to be played. Teams will strive to be competitive as the season progresses and I believe it will all come down to the consistency shown by the clubs .


With all of the political intrigue and stupidity recently shown by Donald Trump, has it caused to be disinterested in the upcoming election ? Also as baseball , football and basketball makes their impressions upon us , which of these sporting events will now have your undivided attention ?

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Tophatal ………… 2016/10/10

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The Long Walk Home or Is It To Nowhere ?

The Long Walk Home or Is It To Nowhere ?

While there appears to be apparent apathy , indifference and now the fomenting of xenophobia in recent weeks either being perpetuated by the media , political candidates as well as on both sides of the political aisle. The fact of the matter remains , with the recent stance being taken by NBA stars after the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement officers . I have to ask if their actions are not too little , too late , given the fact these atrocities being perpetuated by law enforcement officers. Personally , I believe after the impassioned statement made by actor Jesse Williams , the athletes were shamed once again into taking a stance ! From my own standpoint , I find far too many of today’s athletes are self-indulgent, with their greatest concern being, personal success, how much wealth they can amass, how much money can they earn by way of endorsements and how they are perceived by the public by enlarge.

When you have the likes of Floyd Mayweather bragging about the money he can earn in and outside of the boxing ring ,while still believing himself above the law and then see the ongoing hypocrisy of today’s NBA stars and realize the fact they measure up so poorly in comparison to many of their predecessors when it comes to dealing with and protesting social issues. I have to question their actual motives and whether or not there is genuine altruism on their part !

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The retirement of NBA star Tim Duncan after nineteen-years of unprecedented success with the San Antonio Spurs , brings to an end one of the truly great careers in recent league history. Duncan , a five-time NBA champion , three-time Finals’ MVP , two-time League MVP and fifteen time All Star leaves the NBA and there will definitely a large void left to be filled on the Spurs’ playing staff . The acquisition of Pau Gasol may well go some way in filling Tim Duncan’s shoes , but I get the feeling as good as Gasol just happens to be , he may well never be able to replace a superstar of Duncan’s stature. The Spurs’ power forward who along with Kobe Bryant recently played their last seasons in the NBA have brought about an end to a two-decade span during which both of these players were truly dominant at their respective position and among the best of their generation.

Gregg Popovich who drafted Tim Duncan , has the greatest respect for the player he believes has been the franchise’s greatest asset during his tenure with the San Antonio Spurs .

Over the years , hierarchies behind sports such as baseball , basketball and football have carried a truly poor image when it comes to addressing the issue of social injustice never-mind the issue of race relations. While idiots continue to suggest Barack Obama has done more to create a greater divide in the chasm of race in the country. I have to ask the question , what the hell do those morons think was happening during the Civil Rights’ era and the early twentieth century , when African-Americans were not afforded the right to vote , have equal access to an education , much less be able to use a public restroom without being attacked ? Now within the Justice System many of the alleged advances made by way legislation within Congress and now within the US Supreme Court , are now being repealed or weakened , to make sure the oppressors will always have the upper hand.

MLB will resume the second-half of its schedule and you now have to question if many of the big-spending teams are capable making a genuine run to the postseason, much less be in with a chance of winning their division. Speculation appears to be mounting the New York Yankees will be dumping salary and unproductive players faster than leaves descending from trees during the Fall. Team manager Joe Girardi has seen his players under-perform and having no real chance of winning the AL East . Over their last ten games as of the 14th July the Yankees are 5-5 with their last victory coming against the Cleveland Indians on the 10th July . The New York Yankees will begin a weekend series against divisional rivals the Boston Red Sox where both Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz are having excellent seasons for the Red Sox. Season series between the two teams have become what many of us have expected from two franchises looking to make sense of their season. Steven Wright of the Boston Red Sox will be on the mound when he faces Michael Pineda of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York on Friday evening.

Michael Pineda is thought to be one of the players are willing to trade prior to or at the trade deadline. Desperation has become the new normal within this Yankees’ organization as the front office is steeped in failure with another abysmal season coming into focus. Having made the postseason in 2015, their stay came to an abrupt end suffering a wild-card loss to the Houston Astros . In 2016 there has been no sense of urgency from this Yankees’ team whatsoever and no excuses should be made concerning injuries suffered to any of their front-line starters .

If the New York Yankees are said to be struggling then this season at this point of their schedule has to be seen as one hell of a triumph for both the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers , the two teams with the best records in their respective leagues. San Francisco will be meeting the San Diego Padres in a road game , while the Rangers will be facing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois .

As the saga continues , it might now be time for Tom Brady to bow out gracefully , rather than continue to his futile effort to prove his innocence. Brady’s latest setback in the never-ending episode of Deflate-Gate has taken on every twist and turn. However, with a Federal Appeals Court ruling that his four-game suspension be upheld , the player’s only alternative is to petition the US Supreme Court to hear his case as a final act of binding arbitration . The New England Patriots’ quarterback has been fighting relentlessly to prove a point, while the league hierarchy has simply seen public opinion move further into their corner.

There will not be a great financial loss for Tom Brady , should he decide to sit out the four games mandated by the NFL , as the player renegotiated his contract for this upcoming season which would see him being paid a base salary of $1 million dollars for the upcoming year. Brady’s signing bonus of $13,000,000 would go untouched by the league. Somehow , I believe every scenario which would could have been planned for, was dealt with by the player’s representatives as well as the NFLPA (Players’ Union) .

New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft remains livid as to the latest outcome and I somehow feel his relationship with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will become more strained and great deal more testy. Kraft was among Goodell’s biggest proponents to succeed Paul Tagliabue to the position as the league’s highest ranking executive. Now with the relationship almost untenable , I do not believe there can be any scenario where the two executives can ever be viewed as close confidantes. Head coach Bill Belichick will now seek to have Jimmy Garoppolo ready for the season with the backup quarterback being given a lot of reps during training camp , the preseason and of-course through the first four games of the Patriots’ regular season schedule . If the team can go at worst 2-2 , then it can be considered a success to the start of their season.

Tom Brady’s likely return would come in week five when the New England Patriots are due to meet the Cleveland Browns led by their new quarterback Robert Griffin III , in a game to be played at First Energy Stadium (Paul Brown) in Cleveland , Ohio on October 9th , 2016,.

Through two rounds of the British Open , Phil Mickelson has a one-shot lead at the Royal Troon Golf Course in Troon , Scotland. Mickelson skirted history during the first round of the tournament , when he shot a sixty-two (62) for a nine under-par (-9) , a record for the first round in the Open . Whether or not ‘ Lefty’ as he is lovingly known can win this Grand Slam major , as usually this tournament , considered to be the toughest of all the Majors , tests the wills of the competitors over the final two rounds.

With over $80 million in career prize money , five Grand Slam tournament victories , Phil Mickelson needs only the US Open to notch a career Grand Slam , while also having won forty-two times on the PGA Tour. His career is considered to be one of the best over the past two decades , but the long-held contention that he would prove to be a formidable rival to Tiger Woods has never materialized on the Tour. Granted, Woods’ own career has been in a steady decline over the past three years and while he still remains popular , his is no longer considered to be the best golfer in the world .

The UFC garnered some negative as well as positive coverage over the past ten days. On the negative side UFC President Dana White had to announce for the second time . former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones had been suspended , having tested for a banned substance. The suspension was recommended by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) and a two-year ban was the recommendation of the panel. Jones has the right to appeal the suspension , but the train of thought among many analysts of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is that his career might well be over. Jon Jones and those within his inner circle have vehemently denied any wrongdoing , but his explanation wreaks of inaccuracies . Furthermore , his coming forward with such a tepid excuse of not knowingly taken a banned substance after his first infraction, leaves a lot to be desired. The positive news emanating from the UFC was the sale of the organization for a reputed $4 billion to WME/IMG , making Dana White , Frank Fertitta III and his brother Lorenzo Fertitta extremely wealthy men. All three will still retain a minority stake in the company , with White being retained in his current position. What this now means for the organization and any further expansion remains to be seen, as the new owners survey their latest asset and acquisition.

UFC’s most recent event UFC 200 was not all thrills and spills with the main card , having been decimated after the announcement of Jon Jones’ suspension in the lead-up to his challenging Daniel Cormier for the title he once held. Cormier had to take on Anderson Silva in a non title fight, while the top bout featured Miesha Tate losing her Women’s Bantamweight Title to Amanda Nunes in surprising fashion . Add in the comical return of the overrated Brock Lesnar and you could say the ” circus was back in town ” . Now we have the comical elements of the WWE now entering its ranks , with the organization now pushing more for the idiotic antics often seen in professional wrestling , rather than the UFC seeking to make its mark and inroads into the base once held by boxing .

Floyd Mayweather , gone and so too has Many Pacquiao , with both boxers calling quits , after almost two decades a piece in the sport of boxing . Their super-fight turned out to be a monstrous bore , with fans being overcharged to witness two boxers whose contest came at least five years after both fighters were no longer at the pinnacle of their respective careers. Boxing has now become a lackluster sport , still controlled by major promoters Bob Arum , Don King and Oscar de La Hoya , The latter entered the sport as a promoter after a classic career in the ring. Instead , all de La Hoya seems to be offering the fans are promises which have yet to be fulfilled.

On Saturday night Deontay Wilder will make a defense of the Heavyweight title when he defends his crown for the fourth time when he faces Chris Arreola in defense of his WBC crown . This is not a fight I believe fight fans will be relishing, given the challenger’s lackluster record over his past six fights . Arreola often comes into a bout out of shape and unwilling to fight , in spite of claims he possesses a knockout punch. Wilder will be fighting in his hometown of Birmingham , Alabama at the Legacy Arena , where there will be a sell-out crowd for the defending champion and heavily backed favorite. I expect Deontay Wilder to make another successful defense of the heavyweight title before seeking out a much sterner opponent for his next defense. The thinning of the herd within the division lessens the chance of his meeting a credible challenger . Tyson Fury has his long-awaited rematch coming up as he defends the versions of the titles he now holds , when he meets Wladimir Klitschko . The Ukrainian fighter is hoping to rebound after his astonishing loss to the English-born fighter last year in what was seen as one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history.

Boxing longs for an undisputed heavyweight champion , something which we have not seen in over a decade and it should also be remembered , currently there are no undisputed champions in any of the weight categories of the sport. We have a litany of alphabet organizations governing the sport and none seem to be in unison , seeking to make boxing more engaging for the fans or competitive with regard to the title fights being staged.

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I am being continually told , how far this country has come in the past two-hundred and forty years since its founding and specifically since the end of the American Civil War. The so-called advancements made, have been played out on a battlefield of hate, greed, corruption , cynicism , a great deal of racism and xenophobia . It is certainly being played out in the current political arena on both sides of the political divide. The things which allegedly made America great, are no longer being seen and the country itself , has lost the respect of its closest allies. Only a fool will try to suggest the contrary. The country has to be shamed into doing what is morally right and more often than not has been reactive rather than being proactive. Yet it seeks to be the moral beacon of light for the rest of the world . There is a great deal the country still has to learn and the biggest lesson of them all , has to be the respect of others as well as preserving its own dignity. Something which seems to be lost among its political leaders, athletes and dare one say even among its populace ?

🙂

Tophatal …. 2016/07/15

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Save It For Another Day ….

Save It For Another Day …

OK, so the country is in a state of shock after the events of the past seventy-two hours and I am of the belief , you cannot change a country, when the mindset of the political leaders remains ambivalent , rhetorical and pragmatic . The United States of America no longer remains the Land of The Free , but it has become about the have’s and have not’s . No other country on the earth judges its people than by the wealth amassed and the power one has by the fortune amassed. From my own standpoint , I no longer wish to make any type or real observation concerning the country , because I know in essence, things are unlikely to change , no matter who takes power at the highest levels of political office .

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In the world of sports , the NBA’s off-season has taken shape with a spate of transactions and the ongoing stupidity exhibited by analysts such as Charles Barkley and Stephen A Smith . The duo have taken things to a new level of such idiocy with their statements concerning Kevin Durant’s departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors . How little they seem to remember , when it came to the orchestrated and embarrassing performance by LeBron James , when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat and where James would lead the Heat to two of their three NBA titles while he played for the franchise. Rather than address the fact , the NBA is no longer about team success , but more so about singular titular achievements of the league’s superstars. The fans of the NBA now have to put up with the utter bull$hit exhibited by individuals (Barkley and Smith) who clearly want to proffer up idiotic opinions, with the belief they will be listened to with a great deal of clarity and real intellect.

Dwyane Wade’s shocking departure from the Miami Heat to join the Chicago Bulls was more of a jolt , than Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder. Heat Team President Pat Riley has played footloose and fancy-free over the last six seasons conjuring up the success for their franchise. Yet, his plan had to unravel , because the financial burden for the Miami Heat had become too much to bear. Wade for his part sacrificed professionally as well as monetarily in order to facilitate the wishes of the front office executive Yet at the end of the day , as we all know the NBA has been nothing more than a business , with team success being secondary in nature and nothing more than a bye product of it all.

In reality the league (NBA) has become entity without any heart , soul or real competitiveness, where they are no longer any great team rivalries , player rivalries or in-depth skill-set. There are but a handful truly great players in the NBA , with the coaching also being rather mundane, if not pedantic , bordering on being less than average.

Away from professional basketball , Major League Baseball is on the cusp of taking its mid-season break for the events of this year’s All Star Game being held at PETCO Park , home to the NL’s San Diego Padres . Teams are still vying for divisional supremacy as well a vital playoff berth within each league. Of late things have slowed up for the Chicago Cubs who at one point had the best record in all of baseball. That mark now belongs to the San Francisco Giants who are bring pressure to bear on their divisional rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers whose gargantuan payroll dwarfs so many of their rivals within the NL West as well as the rest of MLB . Over the last ten games played , the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays have been the two best teams in baseball , with each compiling an 8-2 record . Though it is not reflected in their divisional standing within the NL East or the AL East where they sit several games behind the respective divisional leaders.

Coming off their last contest the Toronto Blue Jays were 5-4 winners over the Detroit Tigers in a game played the Rogers Center in Toronto , Ontario. The two teams will face each other again on Friday evening , with the Blue Jays seeking to inch closer the Baltimore Orioles , who currently lead the AL East . In the case of the Philadelphia Phillies , it has been a lack of consistency throughout much of the season which has led to their faltering behind the Washington Nationals and New York Mets within the NL East . Thursday’s embarrassing loss to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver Colorado , proved to be something of a setback for this Phillies’ team , but they will get the chance to rebound from the defeat , when they meet in the resumption of their regular season series this Friday.

At this point last season , the standings within the game gave us no real indication as to how the postseason would play out for the participants . I certainly believe the last month of the regular season will play a part in what we could very well expect during the postseason foray for the teams. For now, the fans will prepare as the All Star Game festivities get underway , with the beginning of the mid-season showcase starting with starting with the Celebrity All Star Game on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s Home Run Derby , with the pinnacle being Tuesday’s big event of the whole showcase. The AL and NL rosters for the game might well have been filled with surprises , but when you consider this is nothing more than love-fest , which comes courtesy of fan voting , rather than on the merits of the accomplishment of the players up to this point of the season. Then there are bound to be a number of grievances from various arenas covering the game of baseball. Yet at the end of the day, the fans simply want to be entertained, while seeing a very competitive contest from the best players the game has to offer.

What should have been one of the biggest promotions in UFC history with the scheduling of UFC 200 , will now turn into something of a nondescript spectacle. One of MMA’s biggest stars, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones has been forced to withdraw from his proposed Light Heavyweight title bout against reigning champion Daniel Cormier . Jones has tested for a banned substance and a mandatory two-year suspension by WADA comes strong on the heels of the fighter just returning to the octagon having tested positive for cocaine after his having originally defeated Cormier in defense of the title he had to relinquish . Jones has pled his innocence stating that he could have only tested positive having taken a prescriptive medication for which he wasn’t aware was among the list of substances banned by the UFC. Plausible or not , Jon Jones has become the unwanted face of the sport because of his past offenses in and outside of the octagon. Jones , alongside Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey , are the three biggest draws in the sport , which at present is truly bereft of a breakout star, given the fact in recent months, each of the three fighters mentioned suffered losses professionally in the octagon or their reputations have been sullied with some negative press, because of actions outside the sport. UFC President Dana White , whose avuncular style and dictatorial leadership of the UFC has drawn negative reviews , is now pressed in having to deal with another damaging blow the sport.

Criticism from many circles concerning the UFC’s business dealings with contracted fighters signed to the company are not misplaced , in spite of claims to the contrary by White , and UFC’s owners , Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta . UFC 200 will still be staged , but the main attraction on the card will mark the return of former Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar who will face Mark Brown , while Miesha Tate will defend her Women’s Bantamweight title against Amanda Nunes . Daniel Cormier is likely to be tested in his bout when he faces off against Anderson Silva the former UFC Middleweight champion. These three bouts will highlight the main card for the evening’s events staged at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas , Nevada on Saturday , 9th July, 2016. If nothing else, UFC needs a shot in the arms after all of the negative publicity surrounding the Jon Jones debacle as well as the uncertainty concerning Conor McGregor’s future within Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The Irishman seems unfazed by the antics of the UFC President , knowing full well the UFC needs him more than he needs the sport. Contract obligations asides , his staged announcement and walking away from sport was nothing more than hyperbole.

Brock Lesnar’s return will certainly give us something of a comedic spectacle, given the fact his reign as the former champion was short-lived . All-American or not , Lesnar has limited skills as an MMA fighter , where his greatest strengths are his wrestling and physique.

Serena Williams will be looking to add to her twenty-one singles’ Grand Slam titles when she faces Angelique Kerber of Germany in the Ladies’ Singles Finals at Wimbledon. Kerber , defeated Williams to win the Australian Open in Melbourne , this past January, depriving the American of her chance to equal Steffi Graf’s modern era Open record of twenty-two Grand Slam singles’ titles. Serena Williams will enter the Finals at Wimbledon as an overwhelming favorite , but I believe Angelique Kerber is not to be underestimated ! Williams is by far the best player of her generation and among the top-five female players in the history of tennis, but it is difficult to suggest she is the greatest female player of all-time. Her career record while outstanding , would pale into comparison when measured against the likes of Martina Navratilova , Steffi Graf , Billie Jean King and Margaret Court .

If Serena Williams fails in her quest on Saturday afternoon , it will not be for the lack of trying , but questions will certainly once again be raised where she ranks within the pantheon’s of the women’s game should she falter again , at the hands of Angelique Kerber.

The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil are just over month away and while IOC President Thomas Bach assures the world at large everything is OK. What cannot be hidden from the public , is that the country remains beset by political scandal , has an outbreak, which many believe Brazil cannot contain , in spite of assurances from the nation’s Health Ministry and the WHO (World Health Organization) . While I believe the ‘Zika Virus’ outbreak is a real cause for concern, my greatest fear, is that Brazil and its security apparatus will be unable to handle a terrorist attack . The whole world will be watching the biggest sporting spectacle to be staged each quadrennial and I have to admit , I will be fascinated to see many of the events unfold. Team USA will seek forge unity , trying to unite a nation divided by racial and economic divides , while idiot politicians and members of the media seek to suggest the nation is more unison, when it faces its greatest adversity. Nothing could be further from the truth, as there remains a perpetuation of xenophobia fomented in the bigoted rants of political commentators , Presidential candidates and even idiot members of the populace , who know little of the nation’s history, much less the reality of the real world .

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Recent tragic events , which we have now borne witness to via media resources, reminds us why very little has changed in the US over the last six decades, much less since the nation came into being. All men are not created equal and they are certainly not treated fairly under the law. Anyone with an iota of intelligence can see that for all sense and purpose the United States remains divided along racial and socioeconomic lines. It is the way in order to keep the status quo as is, with those in power , controlling the wealth and suppressing the freedom of others, specifically those who are of an ethnic background.

Tophatal …………. 2016/07/08

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In aftermath of the Golden State Warriors’ (3-4) loss in the NBA Finals and the way in which the defending champions relinquished their title, has the sports’ world talking as the newly crowned champions the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3) hold sway of the NBA world. Finals’ MVP and now a three-time champion , LeBron James now feels vindicated after the franchise’s triumph and the promise of bringing a title to his home state. The Akron , Ohio native fulfilled the promise and now has fans who once taunted for his departure from the Cavaliers now calling him ‘ The King’ once again . For the Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner Dan Gilbert and his partners have seen the franchise’s value rise over 60% in the last four years, with the biggest increase coming immediately after James rejoined the Cavaliers. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ franchise is now worth in excess of $1.1 billion , though their value places them mid-table among the league’s thirty teams .

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Two consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals and the belief appears to be , Cleveland can now dominate the league , but specifically in the Eastern Conference for years to come. As to how many years is actually dependent upon how long LeBron James will continue his career in the league. I firmly believe the twelve-year veteran is now seeking personal goals , winning at least three more titles, three League MVP’s to add to his tally of four . Yet James’ biggest personal achievement could come from his being biggest earning player in NBA history . Having accumulated an estimated $300 million fortune, James’ business tentacles now stretches across a wide variety of entrepreneurial endeavors. LeBron James will likely become a billionaire before his NBA career has ended , with the player now the highest earning athlete in the league and one of the most recognizable faces in the world of sports. Not since Michael Jordan’s reign over the NBA , has there been a player so enigmatic , as athletic and as dominant in this league. Fans may now be seeking a team and player rivalry which are reminiscent of the intense rivalries seen between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics . I do believe those years are long gone and in our rear view mirrors and they are unlikely to return to the NBA !

Golden State’s fall from the heights of the basketball world to the point where many might now be questioning the heart of this team might well be justified. I firmly believe the title was lost for the Warriors , when the referees interjected themselves in the series far more than fans have come to see in previous NBA Finals . In particular during games four , five and six, when there appeared to be anomaly of outrageous calls favoring the Cleveland Cavaliers when they were in the process of mounting their now historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit . Golden State crumbled, while Steph Curry’s play and leadership continued to falter along with his teammates following in tow. The loss of Draymond Green from game-six , was far more telling than anyone would career to admit, but the player went all out in game-seven , as he fought valiantly in seeking to retain the Warriors’ hold Los their title. Cleveland Cavaliers’ four point 93-89 victory sealed Golden State’s fate and brought a title to Cleveland. Green’s thirty-two points in the contest led all scorers in the game. The defeat now leaves the Golden State Warriors and their fans wondering what might have been and whether or not the chase of the single-season record for regular season wins was actually worth it. To a degree there was a great deal of complacency seen during the NBA Playoffs by the Warriors , but this loss to the Cavaliers came down to who wanted the series’ victory more , without apportioning blame squarely on the shoulders of the referees.

There has to be a great deal of disappointment among the coaching staff of the Golden State Warriors , especially with head coach Steve Kerr . Having been fined $25,000 by the NBA for his criticism of the officials and pointed accusations at LeBron James , the thick skin one might have felt was a shell of invincibility with the Warriors had indeed began to crack. This off-season , there are likely to be some changes among the team’s lineup and I firmly believe Andrew Bogut will no longer be a part of the franchise’s future. Bogut’s best years are now behind him and limited availability in the Playoffs was clearly of no advantage to the team. Yet the biggest decision facing Steve Kerr and Warriors’ GM Bob Myers , is whether not they will allow Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli to become free agents or seek to retain both players who were vital to the team’s success during the regular season. The NBA salary cap will increase significantly this upcoming season rising from the current level of $63 million to a proposed $78 million with the luxury tax set at $92 million . Teams will aggressively seek to sign marquee free agents this off-season , very much in a similar vain witnessed last season and the year previously.

Dustin Johnson claimed the first Grand Slam Major of his PGA career having won the US Open at the Oakmont Golf & Country Club , Oakmont , Pennsylvania by a four-stroke margin . The American saw his rankings move up in the world, while also move up the FedEx Cup standings . However, the controversy which resulted in round four stemmed from the officials of the United States Golf Association (USGA) seeking to penalize Johnson for what they believe was an attempted stroke when the player’s club never actually struck the ball while it was on the green. They were either seeking to add insult to injury or as usual , the USGA and PGA in particular are just showing how truly incompetent they remain. Jordan Spieth , Jason Day and Rory McIlroy never made an impression during the tournament and the final leader-board indicated nothing more than Johnson’s margin of victory and his taking the almost $1.8 million first prize . Golf is in need of a great deal of excitement and it is now being provided by the top three players in the world with Jason Day , Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy leading the way.

Phil Mickelson no longer competes to win , merely turning up for what appears to be a guaranteed paycheck , just as long as he finishes in the top twenty -five of a PGA sanctioned event. Tiger Woods remains missing in action and milk carton’s with the player’s image will soon be going on display . Granted , Woods is now too old to be thought of as a missing and exploited child , but I can’t help but wonder what is next for the former world number one golfer ? It has been over eight months since his last appearance in a PGA event and over eighteen months since his last victory world worldwide . It goes without saying if Woods isn’t competing or winning a Major Grand Slam tournament, then fans of the sport are not necessarily interested in the game.

With golf now being part of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil , it will be interesting to see which of the top-ranked golfers will be competing in the events . The Zika Virus remains at the forefront of the news within Brazil , even with the assurances being given by the Brazilian government. Dilma Rousseff , the country’s President has been deposed , amid claims of corruption , mismanagement of the country’s economy as well a litany of claims not substantiated. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent in Brazil on the staging of the Summer Olympics and IOC President Thomas Bach has now began to assure the world the staging of the event will take place without their being any major setbacks. That is of little assurance to many who believe the country has not dealt with the epidemic appropriately or the possibility that the nation’s security forces are ill-prepared to deal with a possible terrorist attack . If the staging of the games are to be a success then it will be incumbent on the country , the IOC making sure all necessary precautions are taken in safeguarding not only the athletes competing but also the guests entering Brazil to attend the Olympic Games.

Maria Sharapova might well be the best known female athlete to have become embroiled in the use of a banned substance. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has proposed a two-year suspension of the Russian tennis star which seems to have the backing of the ITF as well as the WTA , but the Russian Olympic Federation as well as the country’s President Vladimir Putin have called into question the harshness of the suspension of Sharapova. The tennis star offered her apology to her fans and the WTA when the news first broke of her having tested positive for Meldonium , a prescriptive medication commonly used in the rehabilitation of muscle fatigue. The drug has been on the banned list of substances by the IOC for over two years and Maria Sharapova’s explanation concerning the matter remains ambivalent , making absolutely no sense at all. In the midst of this all the Russian Olympic Federation is now questioning the ban by the International Track & Field Association (IAAF) of the Russian track and field team . Several of the athletes who face a mandatory two-year ban are world-class track stars , several of them ranked among the top-ten in their events and thought of as medal contenders at the upcoming games in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil.

This ban instigated by the IAAF might seem draconian and harsh without flexibility as to the decision rendered. Yet it should be noted the Russian Olympic Federation itself , while admitting no responsibility of any wrongdoing have admitted there has been a breakdown in their testing protocols for many of their track stars and other athletes. From my own perspective , I believe the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have been correct in their stance in stamping down on offenders and the associations who have yet to fallen into line with the testing protocols now in place and mandated by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) ! Russia has been one of the biggest offenders in the blatant use of banned substances in the world of track and field athletics over the past three and a half decades. It remains at the epicenter of the rampant widespread use of banned substances along with several Eastern bloc countries . However, it should be noted a number of US born athletes in recent years have also tested positive for the use of a banned substance. Track stars Tyson Gay , Justin Gatlin , Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones are the most prominent names known the public but the most well-known of all remains former seven-time Tour de France Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong . Ambivalence and hypocrisy remains commonplace within the IOC , IAAF as well as within the numerous federations affiliated with the International Olympic Committee.

Maria Sharapova will likely seek an appeal of the ruling of her suspension by taking her case directly to the Council For The Arbitration on Sports (CAS) based in Lausanne , Switzerland which also happens to be the headquarters for the IOC. Many of Sharapova’s contemporaries have not voiced their opinions publicly , but there is the belief the tennis superstar knew all along her actions were contrary the rules of the WTA and that of the IOC. I certainly hope an appeal by Maria Sharapova will not be upheld, as it would certainly open the floodgates for other athletes seeking to overturn decisions concerning their suspensions which were certainly warranted.

With the NBA season now over and baseball now in full swing the Summer months will now take center-stage with Olympics being the focal point for what will be a billion-plus audience watching this two-week spectacle. While I have always been ardent sports’ fan , in light of the recent political events around the world , there will be more the expected anticipation of the events taking place in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil .

In the aftermath with the events of the NBA Finals , do you believe the end result with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the title was a satisfying end to the season ? Also, with the heightened alerts now taking place around the world because of the recent terrorist attacks taking place , do you believe the Summer Olympics in Brazil can turn out to be a tremendous success ?

Tophatal …. 2016/06/21

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