Make Up To Break Up ….

Make Up To Break Up …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tophatal ………

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NFL news …

NFL standings (division)

NFL schedule week eight

NFL schedule (full season)

NFL transactions

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NBA news ….

Week 1 NBA regular season schedule

NBA standings (division) …

NBA transactions …

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MLB news

2019 MLB Postseason

MLB World Series’ schedule (first three games)

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I’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 !!!!”

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 

NFL Playoff picture projections


 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

USA Today Sports

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

 NFL   news  

 NFL   Superbowl  match-up  

 NFL   team  injuries   —–

NBA news

Results to date

NBA schedule 30th January

NBA player stats and rookie stats

NBA standings (division) , by conference and overall standings

2017 NBA All Star Game

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Australian Open Tennis
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MLB news

MLB transactions

MLB Opening Day (2017 Regular Season)

MLB free agents

MLB payroll (2017)

MLB free agents

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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 ?

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Tophatal …. 2016/07/15

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Fallout …..

Fallout …

Well , it all came crashing down around the necks of the Oklahoma City Thunder in their game-seven loss to the Golden State Warriors the defending NBA champions . Golden State advances to the Finals where they will meet the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second successive season. For the defeated Thunder, the ramifications are quite devastating with the speculation GM Sam Presti will be forced to break up the entire roster and start afresh. Fans and analysts alike continue to make their own comments known , with many moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, stating Russell Westbrook should be sent packing , because he’s too much of a ball-hog. Or it’s now time for Kevin Durant to move on and for Presti to try to get the best possible offer available with a sign and trade deal of Durant. Each of those options can be deemed valid, but from my own perspective, I believe with the lack of talent now available from the upcoming NBA Draft and the fact there are very few marquee free agents up for grabs this off-season. The only real alternative for front office is to seek to rebuild but keeping their two most prized assets in-tact with the franchise.

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Billy Donovan in his first season as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder was seeking to guide the franchise to their second appearance in the NBA Finals, but the real issue for the team was its failure to close out the series when the opportunities arose in game’s five and six . That failure was borne out by the fact they allowed the Warriors back into the Western Conference Finals and the inevitable result seen with the series’ deciding game-seven at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California,.

The real issue for Oklahoma City during the regular season and NBA Playoffs was the mere fact beyond Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook was the continued issue there was never much of an offensive presence being provided beyond the duo. Furthermore, from a defensive standpoint , the Thunder failed miserably and were continuously being outperformed in several of the categories which mattered most defensively . These issues were never addressed by Billy Donovan and his coaching staff . The adjustments which were needed on-court to counter the presence of Draymond Green , Klay Thompson and the league’s two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry never ever materialized. So if there is to anyone who needs to be faulted , then all fingers should be pointed towards the coaching staff of Billy Donovan and his players . The idiocy of solely pointing the finger towards Russel Westbrook is simply asinine and without any merit at all !

A second consecutive NBA Finals’ meeting between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will begin and all signs will be pointing to see whether or not LeBron James can lead the Cavaliers to their first NBA title in the franchise’s history . This will be James’ sixth consecutive appearance in the NBA showcase event of the NBA Playoffs. For his many of his teammates , this will provide a chance to avenge last season’s defeat suffered at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. It was as clinical and embarrassing a series’ loss seen in the last ten years . The regular season meetings between these two teams could very well provide us with an indication of how the Finals could very well turn out. Each team’s lineups will also be paramount as to what the fans should expect and I believe game one of the NBA Finals will be a precursor as to what we can expect !

Opposing head coaches Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers are former NBA players with solid backgrounds and postseason experience. Their contrasting styles will also be a part of what the fans also expect from what could turn out to be a very fascinating series. Steph Curry and LeBron James will also give fans the opportunity to decide for themselves who they believe to be the best player in the NBA. Curry won the League MVP with a unanimous vote , much to the chagrin of James and his most ardent supporters. Less we forget , ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith who is an avowed James’ supporter and apologist for the NBA superstar , will be hoping he is vindicated by the four-time League MVP .

LeBron James’ career ever since his entrance in the league has been encapsulated by the highs and lows seen throughout. From 2003 until now it has been a fun-filled extravaganza during which time the player has amassed a considerable fortune and become the consummate businessman and entrepreneur. James does have a great deal to prove and should he and the Cleveland Cavaliers fail in this series against the Golden State Warriors for the second consecutive season. Then the ramifications for the player and the franchise will be considerable, beyond the likely economic cost . Team owner Dan Gilbert has a great deal invested in the team and specifically James , himself . For LeBron James and his twelve-year career in the NBA , failure here at this moment in time , will be seen as a major disaster. Granted , he won his two titles with the Miami Heat and there was the failure to secure a possible three-peat , when the team fell to the San Antonio Spurs and they were highly favored to succeed. Now he will be judged by this series as never before , and that includes last year’s debacle .

Whereas , the Cleveland Cavaliers have sought to build a team around LeBron James with GM David Griffin delving into free agency signing players to lucrative contracts . The path taken by the Golden State Warriors has been one of a steady course with the front office listening closely to the advice proffered by Jerry West which has been heeded by GM Bob Myers . The only major upheaval with the regard to the franchise once it was acquired jointly by Peter Guber and Joe Lacob was the firing of Mark Jackson . The former head coach’s dismissal was a necessity , given his wish to ignore the requests of team owners Guber and Lacob not to make his personal feelings known concerning homosexuality and the coming out of Jason Collins . Jackson would follow this up with homophobic slurs directed towards the LGBT demographic. Given the image problems faced by the league in recent years, it was something the NBA could do without. Steve Kerr’s arrival was a blessing for the long-suffering Warriors’ fans. The roster in place was one which was already established, but just needed to be tweaked to fit the style sought by Kerr and his coaching staff .

A record-breaking season in 2015 and the Golden State Warriors have affixed themselves firmly within the annals of NBA history. Winning a second successive title would be ‘ icing on the cake’ for the franchise. All that now awaits is the start of the series and then the fans can judge for themselves how great this team is said to be.

Someone will have to remind me why anyone should or would take an interest in the plight of either Los Angles Lakers or New York Knicks ? Over the last three seasons neither franchise has really sought to build for their long-term future . Now while both franchises are among the most profitable within the NBA , this might the only thing of relevance either team has going for it at present. Having made a big splash with Phil Jackson joining the Knicks’ front office as an executive. Jackson has shown why he can never be considered an executive with an eye for talent much, less assembling a competitive roster. This much is certain , failure with the upcoming NBA draft and acquiring a prominent free agent and he might as well head back off into a permanent retirement rather than a Sabbatical . There also appears to be cause for concern with his naming Jeff Hornacek to succeed Kurt Rambis’ tenure as the Knicks’ interim head coach. Hornacek’s coaching career has not been filled with anything remotely considered a success. All the more annoying when one considers there were far more suitable candidates available for the vacant head coach’s position. with the Knicks . Then again one simply has to look at the front office of the franchise , its owner James Dolan and then realize the reason why the New York Knicks remain a failure.

The Buss family continue to ruin the Los Angeles Lakers and in the aftermath of Kobe Bryant’s retirement , it is hard to envisage where the Lakers now go from here. Luke Walton has been hired as the new head coach of the team , after his success this season with the Golden State Warriors. During Steve Kerr’s absence , Walton in his capacity as the assistant head coach led the team an impressive run whereby they set a franchise record for wins in a month, as well as the longest unbeaten run in the Warriors’ history. The coaching acumen shown by Luke Walton was obviously something which caught the eye of Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak . With the Los Angeles Lakers not seeking to extend the coaching contract of Byron Scott , Walton being hired was welcomed within the Lakers’ circle of fans and former players who still have long-standing ties and loyalties to the franchise.

While I believe there is a modicum of talent on the Los Angeles Lakers’ current roster , it is going to take a great deal more than the players present to make this franchise competitive enough to compete and the highest level and be taken as a legitimate contender for a divisional title , conference championship , much less an NBA title . Need we be reminded also the Lakers still have to compete in a conference where there are likely to be no better than the tenth best team in the West. All of the optimism and pragmatism now being shown by their fans as well as by co-owners , Jeanie Buss , Jim Buss and Johnny Buss simply show how out of touch they will continue to be. Cap space availability and the lure of playing in Los Angeles will have to the desire to lure any potential big named free agent to sign with the Lakers.

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What have been your observations concerning the NBA Playoffs and which team do you believe will prevail in the NBA Finals ?

Tophatal ……… 2016/05/31 04:43 am

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‘i’ by Kendrick Lamar

 

Cleveland You Have A Problem …

Cleveland You Have A Problem ….

Expectations were high in 2014, when the Cleveland Browns drafted Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel . After a successful college career with the Aggies, within many circles it was felt if Manziel could reproduce the form seen with Texas & AM and then the Browns’ future would be secured with a franchise quarterback. In the ensuing years Johnny Manziel’s notoriety around the NFL has more to do with his off-the field antics than anything achieved on the field for the franchise. Granted, Cleveland Browns are now on their second head coach during Manziel’s short career with the Browns , but the players lack of maturity , sobriety issues and his having been dropped by his agent the LeBron James’ owned sports management company , should indicate the ongoing problems of the player and the fact he hasn’t shown the propensity to change his behavior.

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Even in light of the front office upheaval, with the firing of former GM Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine , it became abundantly clear, the Browns’ issues stemmed beyond Johnny Manziel’s inconsistency and the incompetence shown by Mike Pettine and his coaching staff. During the 2015 season, at no point was Johnny Manziel able to lead the Browns with any degree of success , where the team’s best player either on defense and offense, were Karlos Dansby and Gary Barnidge being the team’s best option on offense. Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel shared the quarterback duties for much of last season , but neither player truly proved to be productive when called upon to lead the team.

The Cleveland Brown’s financial commitment thankfully, has been nothing more than Johnny Manziel’s rookie contract and their likely releasing the player as of the 1st March , provides them with the chance to move forward without the troubled quarterback. Seeking to resurrect the fortunes of the Cleveland Browns will be the team’s new head coach Hue Jackson and his coaching staff . Jackson’s tenure with the Oakland Raiders was well-chronicled and the sheer ineptitude shown by the front office of the AFC West based franchise led to his being blamed for the Raiders’ misfortunes and subsequent firing . From my own perspective , I believe the Cleveland Browns wasted a draft pick on Johnny Manziel when they were far better options for the Browns at the time of making their choice. Such was the hyperbole over Manziel , that forgotten in this all, was the player’s lack of maturity , intelligence and temperament. I certainly don’t believe it would be in a team’s best interest to acquire Johnny Manziel as a backup or a as a third string starter on the roster of any NFL franchise. There are far too many distractions which come along with the player as well as his lack of command and skill-set as a player in the league.

LeBron James is not a coach-killer ? Well it remains to be seen , but with the firing of David Blatt , and the subsequent promotion of Tyronn Lue , leads me to believe things were not smooth as first thought. Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner , Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin made the decision to fire the embattled head coach. What may well have brought about Blatt’s demise were the recent performances and the Cavalier’s embarrassing loss to the Golden State Warriors . During a brief spell in mid-January , the Cleveland Cavaliers struggled as they lost to Golden State and the San Antonio Spurs , the top-two teams in the NBA. The real issue for the Cavaliers I believe , is the very fact they are not getting any real productivity from their bench and we have also seen a real lack of productivity from Kevin Love throughout much of this regular season.

If the Cavaliers are to have any chance of making a successful return to the NBA Finals , then their record against their conference rivals as well as the Western Conference will have to be considerably better than their current record indicates. The return of Kyrie Irving to the Cavaliers’ lineup should help the team a great deal and add to what Tyronn Lue will be seeking from his players in the lead-up to the All Star Break . Cleveland will be back on-court tonight when they face the Charlotte Hornets on the road in an Eastern Conference clash .

David Griffin may well seek to keep the Cavalier’s roster intact rather than perhaps move an impending free agents or make an ill-advised salary dump , or simply look to bolster the lineup , but the one thing I believe which cannot be denied, will the LeBron James’ ‘ factor ‘ as to his wants and needs for this team. f the Cavaliers do take the plunge and make a play for a marquee free agent , then we could see Cleveland make a big play for one of the presumed elite players likely to be on the open market. With a payroll currently set at $109.2 million the highest in the NBA , the Cavaliers also find themselves $39 million over the NBA salary cap and they are likely to be taxed at the league mandated $1-50 for every dollar the franchise remains over the cap . A luxury tax bill of $53 million could make a serious dent in the operational costs and profits of the Cleveland Cavaliers. It is something I am sure Dan Gilbert and the members of the front office are keenly aware of.

Terry Francona seems to have settled in nicely as the manager of the Cleveland Indians , but last season had to be seen as a tremendous disappointment for a team with postseason ambitions . The Indians came up short , playing ‘second fiddle’ to the likes of the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins within the AL Central this past season. Fortune favors the bold and the Indians have not waded into the water to make any major moves , but the front office know the fans of the Cleveland Indians will be expecting more from their team this season. It will be interesting to see if team owner , Lawrence J Dolan seeks to fulfill their wishes of bringing a World Series title to the city of Cleveland and this respected franchise . Postseason appearances for the Indians have been rare in recent seasons and their last appearance in the Fall Classic was in the 1997 World Series which ended in a 4-3 series’ loss to the Florida Marlins, later to become the Miami Marlins .

Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff has expectations too and he expects Terry Francona and his managerial staff have this team ready and prepared for the onslaught of a rigorous regular season schedule . Granted, before entering the fray , the Cleveland Indians’ coaching staff will be assessing the team’s strengths and weaknesses during their Spring Training schedule , as they pour over their forty-man squad as well as their non-roster invitees. The team additions which have come by way of free agent signings and waivers will be seen as beneficial for the ball-club.

The Cleveland Indians ended last season on a losing streak , but had won six of their last ten games to close out the regular season. Cleveland’s final game of the season would result in a 3-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox , with the Indian’s record for the year being 80-81 , with one game being postponed due to bad weather and never fulfilled as part of their regular season schedule. The players on the Indians’ roster who Terry Francona believes can lead the team to success will be seasoned veterans , Mike Napoli , Carlos Santana , Rajai Davis, Josh Tomlin and Corey Kluber. This roster is very young at its core , but great things are expected from this team over the course of the season. Whether or not the Cleveland Indians can contend against their divisional rivals will be based on the mindset of the players and the coaching acumen shown by the managerial staff.

Over the past two seasons the Kansas City Royals have proven to be the cream of the crop and I believe they are the team to beat within the AL Central this year ! As the defending World Series’ champions the title remains theirs to lose and while I believe there will be a spirited challenge from the Cleveland Indians , I do not believe it will be enough to derail Royals divisional or postseason aspirations ! The Indians will begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park , Arlington , Texas on 1st April , but their home opener for the regular season will be on the 4th April against the Boston Red Sox at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio,. Both games should prove to be interesting contests for the Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Browns have not been able to bring a Superbowl title to the city of Cleveland , the NBA franchise within the city in spite of the superstar status of LeBron James , as the Cleveland Cavaliers remain nothing more than an alluring attraction, while the presence of the Cleveland Indians within MLB , seems to be that of a franchise longing to belong , but repeatedly failing to meet expectations. Suffice to say, Cleveland , “ you have a problem “ , because other than the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame there is absolutely nothing on show to offer the visiting sports’ fan by way of real entertainment.

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