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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

🙂

Tophatal  … 01/30/2017

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

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The Long Walk Home or Is It To Nowhere ?

The Long Walk Home or Is It To Nowhere ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🙂

Tophatal …. 2016/07/15

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The pride and the passion ..

The pride and the passion

With so much happening over the last few days within the sports’ world, fans have not had enough time to collect themselves and to digest all of the information and news emanating from each avenue. The NBA Draft came and went , with little of note beyond the New York Knicks and in particular Phil Jackson proving that he is simply no better or worse than Isiah Thomas as an NBA executive. Granted, Thomas was able to achieve a great deal of havoc within and outside of the organization without having much success on or off the court. In the case of Jackson , he set about presiding over one of the worst seasons ever witnessed in the history of the New York Knicks.

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Phil Jackson and the coaching staff , then set about making their picks in this draft , taking as the fourth overall pick from the first round, Serbian Kristaps Porzingis . To understand the decision, one would also to have to acknowledge the fact it was deemed bewildering by the franchise’s fans who yearned for a player would be able to have an immediate impact for the Knicks. Porzingus in most circles is considered a project and not much else beyond that.

If the New York Knicks are to succeed, then they are going to need players, who are ready to play in the league and not be developed over the course of the next two to three years .

Given the fact beyond Carmelo Anthony, there seems to be no one else on the current Knicks’ roster able to provide the team with anything meaningful by way of productivity , and it easy to understand the bewilderment of their fans and the lack of progress seen or otherwise throughout much of last season with the New York Knicks.

With the choice of Porzingis in the first round by New York, then to be followed by their trading of Tim Hardaway Jr to the Atlanta Hawks for Jerian Grant , acquiring Willy Hernangomez from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for two future second draft choice and money. Somehow, it is hard to explain what Phil Jackson and the front office hope to gain from the acquisitions much less the draft choices , given the poor coaching acumen shown by head coach Derek Fisher and his coaching staff. Fisher for his part has been unable to explain, why it was the team failed to meet his expectations and that of the fans. Granted, Carmelo Anthony missed a sizable chunk of the regular season schedule, managing to play in only forty games during this past regular season.

Anthony has never provided much leadership on the court, simply being nothing more than an offensive minded player . Yet, it is now being reported the former NBA scoring champion is disgruntled at the moves made by the organization. Is it really that much of a surprise to begin with ? Never-mind the fact Carmelo remained with the Knicks in the pursuit of money , rather than seeking to fulfill a goal of playing for a contender. Regrets , most definitely, but the idiots providing the player with their input, as well as the Knicks’ front office, have provided nothing but comedic value to the season , along with the player’s own asinine insistence he remained in New York to fulfill his ambition of winning an NBA title. Four decades and counting, the New York Knicks have barely sniffed or touched the Larry O’Brien Trophy , while being able to call it their very own and signifying themselves as champions.

Injuries asides , there should be no excuses made for the team’s lackluster performances and poor record, but it remains one of the main focal points of another pitiful season, one of no passion from the players, much less among the coaching staff or from within the front office. Team owner James Dolan remains an executive who seems disinterested, simply knowing the franchise remains the most valuable and profitable of the NBA’s thirty teams.

The NBA hierarchy tries to make more out this annual farce, with the NBA Draft barely drawing any notice among the viewing public by way of its broadcast with ESPN or the league’s own cable outlet , the NBA Network. Yet for all sense and purpose the NBA makes more of it than is utterly necessary. In the aftermath of witnessing a less than exhilarating NBA Finals , where the Golden State Warriors had the better of their opponents the Cleveland Cavaliers and the asinine apologies being made by the LeBron James’ supporters. It begs the question , where does the league now go from here ? Six NBA Finals’ appearances for the four-time NBA League MVP and two wins , has now left many wondering if the ten-year veteran will win another NBA title. Clearly , without a team to complement his skill-set, James cannot do it all by himself , in spite of the ongoing ridiculous comparisons being made with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Apathy and clear stupidity seems to be the norm among the protagonists of that particular debate.

I have often been told athletes now compete for the glory , but in the world of professional sports , it now has become about the “ bling-bling” , selling an image , brand management , fame and fortune . In the world of the NBA , it has become paramount and one of the primary reasons the league has become stale and vapid . Current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver may well be pursuing ideas, seeking to realign the league’s image , but I believe his predecessor David Stern placed the league on its downward slide , with it all taking shape over the past two decades. There is no pride or passion within the NBA and it has become a soulless entity , without character and a real identity.

With Golden State having claimed their first title in four decades , the franchise will now set about the task of improving for next season . Two key pieces are already in place with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson seen as the keys to the Warriors’ long-term future. Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr has the backing of an organization ambitious to build upon this season’s success . Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , alongside consultant Jerry West have laid a formidable foundation from which to build upon and made the Warriors a desirable destination for a free agent to seek out winning an NBA title.

From my own perspective I believe the franchise will be a prohibitive favorite to win the title next season, even with the odds-makers in Las Vegas bearing down on the Cleveland Cavaliers , simply because of the LeBron James’ factor. Predicated upon what the Cavaliers’ front office is able to achieve , re-signing Kevin Love is most certainly a pressing need for the Eastern Conference champions, but it is nowhere near a forgone conclusion , Love wishes to remain in Cleveland. Cleveland’s needs are many and it remains to be seen what decisions are likely to be made by GM David Griffin and head coach David Blatt.

Warriors’ GM Bob Myers after his successful season at the helm of the organization had a very good draft class and it will be interesting to see how the new rookies acclimatize themselves to being members of an NBA championship team , even if they are likely to be losses from the team’s roster. The nucleus of the team will remain intact as Golden State looks to make a successful defense of their title this upcoming season.

A woefully inept season after the era of LeBron James and the success attained has left fans of the Miami Heat feeling bitter and sour. Now it appears the organization might well be willing to move on after what appears to be conflicting rumors concerning the long-term future of Dwyane Wade. The former Finals MVP has been nowhere near the player who brought the franchise their first NBA title and with it being the ” Pride of South Beach” . Wade might well have been part of Miami’s two later successes, but much of that can be put down to the exploits of his former teammate and close confidante LeBron James. And as close as the two players are said to be , I wonder if Wade was made aware of James’ intent to leave the Eastern based franchise at the end of the previous season after the disappointment of losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals.

During the off-season, Pat Riley and his closest advisers within the front office will have several meaningful decisions to make concerning Wade and several of the other Heat unrestricted free agents. Riley will have to consider the cap as well as whether or not it would be in the best interests of the Heat to retain a player who in recent years has become injury prone and less of a contributory factor , lacking leadership and a proven offensive weapon, beyond Luol Deng and the sporadic play of Chris Bosh , who like Dwyane Wade has his best years behind him , far behind him, that he can barely see it from the view of a rear-view mirror. In some respects the roster of the Heat might well have gotten younger , but several of these players have yet to show the ability that they are capable of playing in this league. Erik Spoelstra and his coaching staff will be back at the drawing board searching for answers once again after such a disappointing season.

It will be interesting to see if Dwyane Wade joins LeBron James in Cleveland or jumps to another contender, either in the East or Western Conference. Wade’s years of earning a top-notch salary have now passed and the thought appears to be he is likely to sign a minimal deal , one likely to be in line with a player of his experience and not much else beyond that.

As an avid San Antonio Spurs’ fan the disappointment of seeing the team bow out in the early stages of the NBA Playoffs was not only disappointing, but I felt the team lacked direction heading into the postseason. Granted , Kawhi Leonard coming off a sensational season and his Finals’ MVP run , a great deal more was expected from this Gregg Popopvich coached team.

The aging wonder , Tim Duncan is still able to play at a high level , even if he has lost a step or two. Teammates , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli are still able to work their wizardry when called upon to do so. But now is the time for the young guns on the roster to step up and take the lead , if the success of the franchise is to continue.

Five-time championship winning head coach , Popovich has written his legacy in the record books and his achievements speak for themselves. Peter Holt and RC Buford have been no slouches with their wizardry and custodianship of the Spurs’ franchise. The two are indelibly linked with the head coach , the famed trio now on the roster alongside perhaps San Antonio’s best player in its history , The Admiral , David Robinson .

I certainly believe the San Antonio Spurs will be able to challenge for postseason honors this upcoming season given the consistency shown by the franchise over the last eighteen seasons. They are likely to be seen as one of the favorites within the Western Conference alongside the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies , Los Angeles Clippers and the reigning champions , the Golden State Warriors. San Antonio simply went about their normal business during the draft , as they have often done over the past few years , managing to pick up players who are then able to the readiness of the team. Nikola Milutinov and Cady Lalanne have become the newest members of the Spurs and it will be interesting to see their development within the organization , with their being placed within the development structure of the franchise before making their professional debuts within the NBA during a regular season game.

Picture gallery. By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture alongside a narrative.

Do you believe the state of the NBA is one of the teams lacking passion and a great deal of pride ? Or has it more to do with the state of the game being one of sheer greed and a lack of insight , leadership within the union , hierarchy and the owners ?

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Tophatal

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Horton Hears A Who ….


Horton Hears A Who ….

In the aftermath of the mental breakdown ,which took place during the waning moments of the Superbowl (SBLXIV) leading to the New England Patriots’ dramatic win. The real cause-celebre’ has been Seattle Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll’s explanation as to the reason behind why and his last minute change of play .

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With running back Marshawn Lynch having caused the Patriots’ secondary all kinds of problems through large segments of the game, the defending champions needed only a red-zone rushing play to guarantee themselves a successful defense of the title won last season. Instead, as millions of us witnessed, inexplicably , Russell Wilson rifled a pass meant for Seahawks’ wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, only for rookie defensive player, Malcolm Butler to make the game-saving interception, leading to New Englands’ historic win and their their placein Superbowl history. As to what this now means for and to the psyche of the Seahawks’ players and the fact, Carroll’s explanation in his post-game interview seems somewhat unconvincing, leads me to believe a great deal of blame for the loss rests squarely upon his shoulders, as well as that of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell for the play-calling and specifically, this one play, likely to be repeatedly shown on television and become a bone of conjecture and debate among fans across the NFL.

Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) carries the ball for a touchdown in the second quarter past New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) and Brandon Browner (39) in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Even to the uninitiated, this maneuver by the Seattle Seahawks made absolutely no sense, but somehow the head coach and offensive coordinator felt it the right thing to do at the time. The ramifications of this loss will be far reaching without delving into the fact as to where the blame ought to be apportioned for this mea-culpa and undeniable mess. There have been games in Superbowl history with a great deal of controversy, but never one where within the blink of an eye , victory was simply snatched away because of the sheer idiocy of a decision made by the coaching staff of a team. Seahawks’ players never one to shy away from their own self-belief and specifically, their defense known as the “Legion of Boom”, must now be wondering how and why things got so out of hand, when they played to the best of their ability in keeping the offense in the game, only for the coaching staff and offensive players to have irrationally choked away this contest through their sheer stupidity.

“Deflate-Gate “ and whatever idiocy, else comes out of that particular storyline , leaves the league hierarchy in an impossible situation. Allegations,being what they are, the real blame does lie with the game officials(referees) who oversaw the AFC championship game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots, staged at Gillette Stadium , Foxboro’, Massachusetts, on the 18th January, 2015.

Colts’ owner Jim Irsay and GM Ryan Grigson have said very little on the issue, leaving it instead for the ongoing league investigation to take its full course, with their findings and outcome yet to be made public. For the Indianapolis Colts the abrupt end to their postseason foray, was epitomized by the loss to the Patriots, but where the highs of the postseason, was represented by their complete annihilation of the Denver Broncos and what was said to be one of the best defenses entering into the postseason and for much of the regular season. That was clearly not evident in their divisional round contest played at Sports Authority Field-Mile High Stadium in Denver , Colorado on the 11th January , 2015.

Tom Brady now joins Hall of : Fame quarterbacks , Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as the only players to have won four Superbowl titles, while being the quarterback for the very same team. Bradshaw achieved that feat with the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Montana’s success was borne out of his career with the San Francisco 49ers As to where Brady might now rank among the all-time greats to have played the position will be the subject of many debates and obvious conjecture. Now as a three-time winner of the Superbowl MVP . Tom Brady’s postseason legacy has been set, with an indelible mark left on NFL postseason history play among quarterbacks . Needless to say, the player will still have his critics, borne out of jealousy and the ongoing allegations of cheating which continues to surround the Patriots’ franchise. My question for the naysayers out there, if Brady were the quarterback on the team you allegedly support, would the feelings of hatred still remain the same ?

From my own standpoint, while the adjudicators felt Brady was worthy of the Superbowl MVP, my own choice would have been the team’s wide receiver Julian Edelman, whose performance was scintillating to say the very least. New England’s head coach Bill Belichick may well have won the plaudits’ praise ,but defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has now found his niche among the league’s top coordinators. The Patriots’ defense was very good and negated the best the Seahawks had to offer.

Away from the field of play, it will be interesting to see what steps are likely to be taken as the New England Patriots seek to defend their title next season. The first step likely to be taken by GM Nick Caserio and the impending free agents on the team’s roster and the cap obligations the franchise will face. Darrelle Revis , Devin McCourty , Shane Vereen , Stevan Ridley and Jonathan Casillas are among the list of players who are free agents, where the team’s cap figure will be in excess of $152 million and the projected cap for next season at an estimated $160 million , leaving the franchise with very little wiggle room should they seek to retain many of the aforementioned players.

Tom Brady’s ‘window of opportunity’ for possibly a fifth Superbowl victory at present doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility , not when you consider the tandem of he and his head coach Bill Belichick continuing their quest for NFL ” immortality” . Certainly , we know with the ongoing claims as to the veracity of several of their seasons continually coming into question , what cannot be denied, is the very fact the success achieved has been astounding , if not incredible , six Superbowl appaerances , four wins , six AFC conference championships as a coaching quarterback tandem , twelve AFC East divisional titles , of those twelve , six have been consecutive , since 2009, with the duo along the way, having won just about won every singular regular season award possible for their respective fields. What is likely to dictate this pursuit, will be the willingness of Brady’s teammates to follow his lead, while at the same seeing the challenges ahead, acquiescing to the need for not only to continuity, but also to make necessary financial sacrifices and resources available to GM Nick Caserio for that pursuit. It is not often something done in today’s NFL, when far too often, the real issue among far too many of the players is that real ‘need to get paid’ , and to be paid what they believe to be commensurate to their talent-level , skill-set.

Somehow , I am beginning to wonder if Jay Cutler , with the “yoke around” his neck of his seven-year, $127 million contract, wouldn’t trade that all in for another appearance in the Superbowl and an actual victory, rather than the continued notion of his being an overpaid and talentless buffoon, as he’s now deemed to be and ridiculed in NFL circles ! The same I might add, has to be true of Tony Romo and his continued mediocrity witnessed during the postseason, albeit, with his group of supporters, they , very much like the player , continue to apportion blame elsewhere for his failures, rather than acknowledging his lack of leadership and the very fact the Dallas Cowboys are not only overrated, but the mere fact, de-facto GM and team owner , Jerry Jones over the past eight years, has simply been allowed to run amok, unchallenged, with a number of his personnel decisions, far too often coming into question. Yet, those Cowboys’ fans remain ever-royal, showing an unwillingness to question the authority of the owner and those recent failures by Jones or Romo. I guess apathy remains strong, alongside stupidity, as has often been the case with ” America’s Team ” and their vapid fans .

It never ceases to amaze, the apathy shown among fans of the NFL who seek to overlook the bad behavior the players while like the league’s commissioner Roger Goodell , all they simply point to, are the ever-increasing revenues, the popularity of the game, while Goodell’s glaring incompetency is being embraced by these anal retentive fans and the franchise owners alike. Pornography remains popular, but not everyone subscribes to it as a wantoned piece of pleasure and the same should be said about the league in its present guise. The Players’ Union (NFLPA) remains a constant joke, with their proxy, the commissioner oversteps his boundaries , however the Executive Committee of the NFLPA and its Executive Director DeMaurice Smith have failed miserably, in addressing the repeated misconduct of their members throughout the years, while pointing to what they believe to the autocratic and dictatorial rule of Roger Goodell. I am suppose to believe the popularity of the NFL, far outweighs the glaring issues , that besets this league each season ? One postseason finale , does not make the NFL an ideal league or the game itself, at its zenith, but yet that remains the asinine proxy lame @ss fans are prepared to adhere to. Being anal retentive, seems to have found its niche among the majority of NFL fans !

With so many teams having failed their fans miserably during the NFL regular season this off-season, becomes more about rebuilding and throwing mis-assembled pieces placed together to make up many of last season’s rosters . Nowhere was that more glaring than with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose season was one big mess , with the team setting out on what appeared to be a predetermined desire to be viewed as not only incompetent, but also without a clue in any aspect of their game . Head coach Lovie Smith and his coaching staff were brought in to instill discipline, a defensive mindset , consistency to the team and to a franchise, long lacking in those very same traits. Instead, beyond the injuries , what their fans witnessed , were the repeated prat-falls and the continued idiotic post-game rhetoric so often associated with a head coach, when they are at a complete loss for words, when his players are continually incompetent.

Statistically, the Buccaneers’ league-worst 2-14 record was a true reflection of the team and all of the vagaries therein. Not once, was their any real semblance of urgency and the two regular season victories eked out, may well have been seen as a god-send, but in a number of ways, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should have considered themselves extremely lucky their season did not mirror that of the Detroit Lions’ win-less season of 2008.

For the privilege of having the NFL’s worst record of last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the occupants of the top spot in the 2015 NFL Draft and where the question will be , will they make Marcus Mariota their choice , or go with a position player ? The Buccaneers are in need of so many pieces, but the common thread of thought appears to be they would be stupid, to forgo a player of Mariota’s abilities , when they are definitely in need a dynamic passer on the field. Neither Mike Glennon or Josh McCown could supply the team with what was needed last season concerning a passing offense.

With Tampa’s needs, being so glaring at a number of positions, on the current roster and with the defense being so poor, it would not surprise me if Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht traded down in the order, giving up the top pick for an abundance of second, third and fourth round picks, for a player many believe to be the best quarterback in College Football this past season, although those signs were not seen in Oregon’s national championship loss to Ohio State , where Cardale Jones’ play for the Buckeyes in their fantastic victory over the highly favored Ducks, made it seem, he ought to be the player NFL head coaches should be salivating over.

In recent seasons, the Buccaneers’ draft picks have proven to be more misses than outright hits . While it is too early to truly assess the talents of their top rookie draft pick of 2014 , one might conclude Mike Evans barring injuries could be around for a long time serving the franchise’s best interests. He may well have been the sole reason to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014.

This off-season will prove to be a difficult one for the Buccaneers , with their being several decisions likely to be made concerning the future look of the team’s roster and what transactions the Buccaneers’ front office deems to be necessary to secure the long-term ” future success” of the NFC South based franchise. The NFL Draft alone may not predetermine the future of this organization, but it will indeed play a significant part in a strategy now being hatched up by Lovie Smith and Jason Licht as they look to secure some semblance of success.

Zygi Wilf and his fellow executives within the Minnesota Vikings’ hierarchy have managed to finagle a publicly financed stadium out of the Minnesota State Legislature with Governor Mark Dayton (R-Mn) having done about- turn, far more than John Kerry is said to have done during his presidential run for the White House. Dayton for his part, is now seeking to suggest his stance was brought about by Wilf’s commitment have this venue be of benefit to the state and its residents. Personally, I believe the governor has shown his naivete’ in believing the Vikings’ owner has any thoughts about the well-being of the fans, much less the state’s residents. The NFL’s franchise owners’ remains the image of the league, the overriding wish to reap billions in profits while, Roger Goodell continues to wax on lyrically about the league , not ever truly addressing the continued social issues currently engulfing the NFL .

Cynicism suggests the NFL hierarchy has never cared what the hell the fans think, while the apathy of the fans, is the response of, the NFL is is simply a business and not much else . The league’s moral compass was lost long ago and the idiotic rhetoric, forthcoming from the league, owners and union,simply shows it to be bereft of real leadership. If the fans who continue to point to the idiocy of the popularity will be the lone concept which will benefit the NFL’s long-term success will sooner, rather than later be rationale, which will begin to have major corporate sponsors shy away from the NFL. Consider, Roger Goodell’s response concerning the fallout of the Ray Rice affair and how it was viewed by women, who in shape or another make up a large portion of the NFL’s fan-base, without acknowledging the fact they are also mothers, daughters, without also acknowledging the fact, female victims of sexual abuse and assaults are victimized not just by their assailants, but also the entire legal process, from its start to not necessarily what is deemed to be a just ending to the legal process.

The NFL with Goodell’s asinine comments and response, shows him to be without a clue and most definitely no idea , what a woman has been subjected to , after a sexual assault, without his ever acknowledging how poorly he and the league have dealt with the actions of the players and their continued misconduct, especially where allegations of assaults have taken place. What more now needs to be said ? Oh, your response remains, the NFL is really popular and can withstand this type of negative publicity ? Only a complete idiot would continue to hide behind this premise.

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What were your impressions of the events, that unfolded during the Superbowl and do you believe the Seattle Seahawks will be able to overcome the psychological aspects of the loss suffered at the hands of the New England Patriots ? Also, if there is blame to be apportioned in the defeat, where it should it lie ? Is it with Pete Carroll and Darrel Bevell or the Seahawks players ? Finally, with the disastrous season of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, having just passed , do you believe the front office should draft Oregon quarterback, Marcus Mariota as their number one pick in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft , or should trade the pick and move lower down the order , seeking multiple picks in the latter rounds ?

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(1) GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 01: Malcolm Butler (21) of the New England Patriots intercepts a pass by Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks intended for Ricardo Lockette (83) late in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. A pass play involving Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch was thought to be the strategy for the team in the red-zone , but head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Revis went with “the pass “ leading to the game-winning defensive interception and play by Butler. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

(2) Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) carries the ball for a touchdown in the second quarter past New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) and Brandon Browner (39) in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

(3) Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks looks on after his pass is intercepted by Malcolm Butler (21) of the New England Patriots late in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Kevin C Cox

(4) Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks makes a pass in the second half against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images / Andrew Lyons

(5) Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) catches a touchdown pass in front of Seattle Seahawks corner-back Tharold Simon (27) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

(6) New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady is seen here alongside head Bill Belichick after the team’s triumph in Superbowl 49 over the Seattle Seahawks, the franchise’s fourth triumph in their seventh Superbowl appearance . The tandem have won four Superbowls together, joining Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw for the most titles won together. Brady also joins Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with four Superbowl victories. Brady may well seek to win an unprecedented fifth victory if franchise can keep this current roster together with Belichick remaining as the head coach , Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniel as part of the Patriots’ coaching staff. GM Nick Caserio has been the architect of the franchise’s most recent appearances and successes in the postseason. Getty Images / Grant Wilson

(7) Patriots’ GM Nick Caserio , left, is seen here with head coach Bill Belichick at the team’s practice facility in Foxboro, Massachusetts ,. Caserio in conjunction with Belichick , have been the main architects of the franchise’s most recent success as well as the ongoing rebuilding of the roster over the past six seasons. AP Photo / Mark Howard

(8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Josh McCown (13) is seen here congratulating teammate Mike Evans (13) from the sidelines after Evans made decisive play during a preseason season game against the Miami Dolphins played at . Seen in the background is Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith whose first season as the head coach has been an unmitigated disaster . AP Photo/ David Ross

(9) Marcus Mariota , left, of the Oregon Ducks is seen here congratulating Jameis Winston of Florida State after a game between the two teams . Mariota and Winston are the last two winners of the Heisman Trophy and considered to be the consensus top-two picks in the upcoming NFL Draft as well as being the two best quarterbacks in College Football . Buccaneers’ GM Jason Licht will be making a decision which is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the franchise as well as the whole draft process this off-season . AP Photo / Amy Douglas

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Tophatal

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Seattle Seahawks’ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell , left is seen here alongside head coach Pete Carroll on the sidelines talking to the team’s quarterback Russell Wilson .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery .

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

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A la-carte menu ? As the world turns, the NBA still meanders

A la-carte menu ? As the world turns, the NBA still meanders

Early in the season , the NBA was in awry as the return to the league of two its most high-profiled and visually recognized faces made impact-ful returns to franchises where initially their names were made. With LeBron James having left the Miami Heat after a postseason of angst and tremendous disappointment with the Heat falling to the San Antonio Spurs in five games , James felt it best to resume his career elsewhere and where better than with the franchise where he got his professional start , having been drafted as the number one overall draft pick in the 2003 NBA Draft?

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Phil Jackson’s return to the New York Knicks was treated with equal regale as the former player and eleven time championship winning head coach was introduced to the convened press fans as the Head of Basketball Operations and SVP with the New York based franchise. While this might well have been somewhat surreal , the reality has been as the season got underway for the Knicks with a new head coach Derek Fisher and coaching staff in tow , the real issues for the team this season has been the fact winning has become something of a rarity on the road or at home.

The four-time or League MVP’s return to the Cleveland Cavaliers was heralded as a coup-de’-gras for team owner Dan Gilbert and fellow executives . The fans in their appreciation , simply went out and began a feeding frenzy , as they purchased LeBron James’ memorabilia and season tickets , single-game home tickets for the team’s games at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Ohio,.

Now at the midpoint of the season and it would be fair to suggest both the the Cavaliers and Knicks have failed miserably in meeting the expectations of the fans and NBA analysts alike and I believe it is reflected in their conference and divisional standings ! The Cleveland Cavaliers as of the 13th January have gone 1-10 in their last ten games, losers of seven consecutive. Only the New York Knicks have managed to exceed the futility exhibited during that spell .

I certainly believe the woes affecting both the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks comes down to the fact both teams are in transition having changed their coaching staffs during the off-season , with the hire of David Blatt in Cleveland and Derek Fisher with the Knicks. While Blatt’s experience in Europe goes without question , his NBA experience has been this season’s ” baptism of fire” and the same with his New York counterpart. As to this idiocy , Phil Jackson will provide Fisher with his coaching acumen and insight , well that has failed to take place at any point during this season , as seen with the team’s record and play.

LeBron James led his teammates to their last victory on which came by way of ” downing ” the Charlotte Hornets on the 2nd January , 2015. New York with their recent player upheaval , last gained a win when they defeated the Boston Celtics on the 12th December , 2014. If there is any frustration brewing within the front offices of the Cavaliers and Knicks then it is not being outwardly shown by the respective executives.

Derek Fisher and the Knicks will continue their quest for a meaningful victory when they face what appears to be a rejuvenated Milwaukee Bucks’ team coached by Jason Kidd . LeBron James and his teammates will face a Los Angeles Lakers’ team sorely in search of something meaningful to their season. . Kobe Bryant’s presence has been as competitive as usual but his being sidelined , leaves the Lakers missing real offensive output and no one on the ready to step up and follow the veteran’s lead.

Having a billionaire owner in the NBA hasn’t done the league any harm, by way of the image of the teams or having the owners display their often outrageous behavior . As to the idiots , who have tried to suggest because of the philanthropic deeds of some , it outweighs their pubic comments , my question to those fools , what happened to common courtesy and decency ? Hiding the veils freedom of speech, without facing the fact such behavior has its ramifications, seems to be lost on those , who continually to use this premise as a proxy.

Mikhail Prokhorov , the Russian billionaire and owner of the Brooklyn Nets . For this past fiscal year the Eastern Conference based franchise has seen mounting financial losses and a team not in sync with the ambitions sought by their owner. Hard to see how the Nets can try and justify entering the season with a payroll exceeding $90.4 million and little to show for it by way of respectability within the NBA. Lionel Hollins and his coaching staff have struggled to get this team of overpaid stars playing with any semblance of credibility. A six-game losing streak has not helped the Nets’ credibility or standing in the belief the team is simply good enough to be viewed as a legitimate playoff contender , no matter how mediocre the East Conference just happens to be . Granted , injuries have plagued the Nets this season , but it should not be considered an excuse for a franchise , which in recent years has been known more for trying to outspend their rivals , rather than for their achievements on the court . As if to further emphasize how bad the Nets are , their current six game losing streak places them as the eighth seed 1 1/2 games ahead of the Charlotte Hornets and a game behind the sixth placed Miami Heat. The Brooklyn Nets’ last victory came on the road when they defeated the Orlando Magic , with a two-point road win (100-98) .

There can be no denying whoever comes out of the Western Conference as the representative in the NBA Finals will be battle-tested and ready to take on their Eastern Conference opponent. Year in and year out the teams in the West have been involved in their annual dogfight for the right to the conference representative. Last season the San Antonio Spurs posted a 62-20 record , best in the conference and then played with a great deal of resilience on their way to a fifth NBA title .This season Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich has the team playing with the usual type of consistency one would come to expect of the champions with the coach resting his mainline stars as he sees fit . No fines being meted out by Adam Silver , but then again , what would you expect when his predecessor, David Stern treated the league as if it were his own personal fiefdom and stomping ground , with his imbued idiocy and piousness .

To overlook San Antonio at this point of the season by , waxing on lyrically about teams such as the Golden State Warriors , Portland Trailblazers , Houston Rockets , Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks would be extremely foolish , but it does seem to be the norm at present . Nonetheless, as the season progresses, we will get to see the best of this team and the conference in general .

James Harden has proven to be an extremely productive player for the Rockets this season and even more versatile than anyone might have imagined. Harden has been by far the best player on the Rockets’ roster leaving no one in any doubt who is more pivotal on the team . Dwight Howard is simply an adequate foil for his teammate’s exploits as Kevin McHale guides Houston with the aim of making the playoffs.

Currently, the third seed in the West , with a record of 27-11 the Houston Rockets are comfortably placed to make a solid run during the second half of the season. Next up for McHale and his players will be a game against the Orlando Magic at the Amway Arena in Orlando , Florida on the 14th January , 2015.

Mark Jackson outlived his usefulness in the state of California and in particular, his tenure with the Golden State Warriors . It was one thing to try and force feed your beliefs upon the players, but it is another to then repeatedly ignore the warnings from your employer , concerning your behavior and intent . Jackson’s ideology led to his demise, without delving into the issues of his hypocrisy. Joint team owners , Joe Lacob and Peter Guber wasted no time with the hiring of Steve Kerr to succeed his predecessor and Kerr to for his part, has imparted a great deal of wisdom , player oversight, but above all a keen eye for details as well as coaching acumen , which has been of a great deal of benefit to this young Warriors’ team . Perhaps there’s room for learning for the likes of Derek Fisher and Jason Kidd, from someone with Kerr’s abilities ? The Warriors are riding high with the best winning percentage in the league and on course to break the franchise record for most wins in a season . Led by players Steph Curry , Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes this is not a team solely built around offense , but clearly under the auspices of head coach Steve Kerr, this team will also willingly play defense when called upon to do so.

Golden State’s current seven-game win streak is not their best of the season, but it does point to the fact how consistent the team has become over the course of the NBA schedule . The Warriors’ most recent game , saw the team simply trounce the Utah Jazz by an eleven-point margin and prior to that , clinically dismantled the Cleveland Cavaliers with the utmost of ease . A home game against the Miami Heat on Wednesday evening at the Oracle Arena in Oakland , California will tell us a great deal about the Warriors and their season-long quest to be seen as legitimate contenders within the NBA. I am inclined to believe this Steve Kerr team could make things extremely difficult for their conference rivals over the remainder of the season and into the playoffs !

There are no do-overs in the NBA and it is something which will not be afforded the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers with their abysmal season , they will not be offered the opportunity of reversing their tide of mediocrity on any level . With their fans pointing to the future and hopes of obtaining marquee free agents in 2016 , 2017 and 2018 , perhaps it hasn’t occurred to their myopic fans , team owner Jim Buss , GM Mitch Kupchak and SVP Jeanie Buss have failed miserably in placing a competitive product on the court over the past two seasons without taking into account their current situation . It begs the question , where is there any common sense to be found within the organization beyond the idiotic pragmatism being imbued by Jeanie Buss , in the wake of the sheer stupidity exhibited by her brother and Kupchak ? If it is her belief the franchise will be competitive three years from now , then surely , she can show a morsel of evidence to support her claims ? To paraphrase Don King ” only in America ” or in this case, only in the mind of a Lakers’ executive would you hear such absurdities .

The Lakers are likely to fix their woes by spending a great deal of money to acquire a a free agent, because they sure as hell haven’t shown the acumen to draft a player of any note over the past eight years . Yet I digress , because what use is it to point out those facts when their fans are simply oblivious to such realities ? Snooze , you lose __________ bit#hes .

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12-27 is a sold recipe for disaster and a season and it not have been concocted up any worse , even without injury woes of Kobe Bryant . The eighteen-year veteran is now on the decline and nowhere near the competitive force which once made him the most dominant player in the league. Those years are long gone and we rarely now see those moments of brilliance from the future Hall of Fame inductee. As if to further exacerbate the ongoing idiocy to be found within the Lakers’ organization, head coach Byron Scott believes it will be in the franchise’s best interests to rest their veteran guard once the team is out of playoff contention. Perhaps there is a great deal of naivete’ on my part , but at 12-27 , the Lakers’ chances of making the playoffs this season are beyond remote, when you consider the team sits 11 1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff position within the Western Conference and they not even close to being competitive enough to challenge within the Pacific Division for the divisional title. Byron Scott must believe in divine intervention or he remains the eternal optimist at heart.

Having won just three of their last ten games , hopes of the Los Angeles Lakers being able to pull themselves out a mess of their own making, is something I have no wish to see ! This team was simply assembled from ill-fitting pieces, with no real means of assuring victory on any level , at home or on the road. A three-point home loss to the Miami Heat , shows the Lakers continue to do themselves no favors and simply in the self implosion mode as it relates to their season . One seriously doubts in their next contest they will fare any better when they face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California on the 15th January ,2015.

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Picture gallery .

As the first-half of the NBA season comes to a close, what do you believe to be the best the league has had to offer their fans and what do think has been the most disappointing aspect of the league this season ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details .
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(1) Dennis Schroder (17) of the Atlanta Hawks attempts to control the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on January 13 , 2015 in Philadelphia. Getty Images / Jesse D. Garrabant

(2) LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives the ball past Alex Len of the Phoenix Suns of the NBA game at US Airways Center on January 13, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona . Getty Images / Christian Petersen

(3) Bismack Biyombo of the Charlotte Hornets goes for the tip off against Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs at the Time Warner Cable Arena on January 14, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina . NBAE/ Getty Images/ Brock Williams-Smith

(4) Mason Plumlee of the Brooklyn Nets backs up to the basket against the Memphis Grizzlies as Zach Randolph seeks to make the defensive play in the game at the Barclays Center on January 14, 2015 in Brooklyn. NBAE/Getty Images Jesse D Garrabant

(5) Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball against Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons on January 14, 2015 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills. Getty Images / Allen Einstein

(6) Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against John Wall of the Washington Wizards on January 14, 2015 at the United Center in Chicago. . Getty Images / Joe Murphy

(7) Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball in a game played against the Miami Heat on January 14, 2015 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. Getty Images / Noah Graham

(8) Cleanthony Early of the New York Knicks shoots the ball against the Charlotte Hornets during the game on January 10 , 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. The Knicks were on the wrong side of a lopsided loss to the Hornets . Getty Images/ Nathaniel S Butler

(9) Jeanie Buss and her brother Jim Buss are co-owners of the Los Angeles Lakers . The team has been through a rough season and seemingly out of contention in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference . The Lakers have also struggled when Kobe Bryant has been out of the lineup and not much has gone right for head coach Byron Scott and his coaching staff over the course of the season . AP Photo / Giles Parrish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery.

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

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Picture and slideshow gallery .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Looking for all of the right answers in all of the wrong places

Looking for all of the right answers in all of the wrong places

In all the fallout leading to the ongoing criticism of the NFL and its league hierarchy, it seems remarkably strange that not one owner has spoken out in criticising Roger Goodell for his handling of the Ray Rice affair . Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti has been somewhat naive in his belief , he was misled in how the league would deal with the situation , albeit , he and GM Ozzie Newsome would have been within their right to suspend the running back , rather than leaving it to league to mete out its form of punishment . In light of the issue and the back and forth between the NFL and the beginning of an investigation by the NFLPA (Players’ Union) , the belief remains, the commissioner and many of his subordinates made a horrendous mistake in their handling of this affair. It also goes to the question, if the league can now ban Rice for his actions , but belief no such action is warranted after the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive player has readily admitted in an interview, he beat his pregnant girlfriend , it leads me to believe the NFL and Roger Goodell maintains a “double standard” in spite of the changes about to be made concerning player misconduct as it relates to domestic violence and spousal abuse.

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As a face-saving exercise and makeover the NFL has called upon two former federal civil servants , Robert S Mueller and Louis Freeh to conduct an investigation , start a policy to be adopted by the league and its teams , seeking to address the conduct of players and specifically the issue of domestic violence. Given the fact it has taken numerous incidents for the league to reluctantly pull their collective heads out of their own asses . I simply do not believe any measure now being taken will likely force a player to rethink their pattern of behavior . No deterrent set by the league has stopped players when it comes to misuse of a banned substance , and then collecting misdemeanor charges for DUI , or a felony for having an unlicensed firearm , but rather with a great deal of naiveté on the part of the NFL , the commissioner and a number of rather apathetic fans things are now about to change. Roger Goodell , has never looked himself in the mirror and simply address the fact he has been a poor leader and executive for the NFL , not unlike the poor stewardship seen during the final years of David Stern’s leadership of the NBA .

Three weeks into the NFL and there are few positives be taken away, as the league enters week four and then close out the first quarter of the season. The divisions have not yet provided us with a clear picture as to the likely contenders for the Superbowl , but there have been one or two surprises concerning the play of a number of players through the first three weeks of the season.

Rex Ryan head coach of the New York Jets has begun to mull over whether or not Geno Smith remains the team’s best option to win at this level within the NFL , with the quarterback already showing signs of the traits which plagued him for much of last season with his errant plays , fumbles and proclivity for throwing interceptions . Through three games for the Jets this season , Smith has now become more of a liability rather than an asset for the franchise.

A sloppy and indifferent performance against the Chicago Bears in a home loss has pretty much summed up why Rex Ryan may well seek to sit Geno Smith , given the team’s woes in terms of the offense and their passing game . Defensively , the issues for the Jets point the fact the average points per game being given up by the defense. The alternative for Rex Ryan would be to insert seasoned veteran Michael Vick into the starting lineup , but I seriously doubt at this stage of his career , Vick has very much to offer to the team , while simply seeking to enhance his status as one of the elder statesmen in the league currently playing the quarterback position.

On Sunday afternoon the New York Jets will play hosts to the Detroit Lions Lions and it will be interesting to see whether it will be Smith or Vick lined up to take the snap in the contest.

In the aftermath of the Miami Dolphins’ dour lack of competitiveness in 2013 and the franchise’s off the field issues . It seemed only natural to think the Dolphins would show signs of improvement in 2014 . Instead head coach Joe Philbin has been left wondering , how could things remains so awry , with the team still playing without any passion which is reflected in the Dolphins’ record (1-2) and their standing within the AFC East as well as the AFC .

Ryan Tannehill the starting quarterback for the Dolphins has been far from consistent for the team this season , and it places the head coach in something of a dilemma as to what he should do with the incumbent starter. Matt Moore is Tannehill’s backup , but Moore’s career in the NFL has simply been , one of not too many top-notch moments or what could be described as exhilarating plays. It has been several years since the Dolphins had an offense that would pose a threat to anyone in terms of passing or rushing game and it has to be said , neither Ryan Tannehill or Matt Moore would evoke such a memory or pose such a threat.

Dennis Allen’s …. Oakland Raiders will have the Miami Dolphins as their guests this Sunday in an all AFC clash which will both teams overlooking to overcome their very indifferent starts to the season . For the Raiders in particular , this might well be Allen’s last season as the head coach of a team which has underpeformed with their being barely any signs of life from this roster , even in spite of the spirited play of rookie quarterback Derek Carr . Team owner , Mark Davis and GM Reggie McKenzie , this off-season will likely assess the merits in keeping Dennis Allen based upon how the season pans out as well the retention of certain players on the roster . I firmly believe , we will see another merry-go-round, as another head coach is sent packing from a franchise where their average tenure over the last decade and a half has been less than three seasons.

The expectations were high but the returns now being seen have been an extreme disappointment as Lovie Smith , his coaching staff and this Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ team have performed poorly , getting off to an 0-3 start within the NFL , a record shared with the Oakland Raiders , making the two teams the worst in the league from a record standpoint . I believed Smith would have brought some discipline to a team sadly lacking in that last season , but it has become abundantly clear , the players lacked not only a great deal of discipline and there seems to be no vocal leader , much less a great player on the team willing to lead by example . Vincent Jackson no longer poses the offensive threat as one of the better tight ends in the NFL and the Buccaneers' pass attack can best described as simply mediocre. Neither Josh McCown or Mike Glennon have proven to be the answer this regular season and the signs were there to be observed during the preseason. The Buccaneers were a walking disaster in their 56-14 loss to divisional rivals the Atlanta Falcons , and it was somewhat fortunate for Tampa the Falcons missed several opportunities to build a wider margin of victory in their big win .

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a poor excuse for an NFL franchise and the issues which plague the team covers just about every facet of their game . I do not believe the team can become competitive enough where they are likely to be seen as a credible challenger within the NFC South . Tampa is certainly not good enough this moment to be defeat either the Carolina Panthers or New Orleans Saints and their return visit whereby they will play host to Atlanta Falcons in week ten could very well likely provide us with a similar result as I do not believe the Buccaneers can make that much of an improvement , given their dire situation at present.

Week four will see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pit their wits against the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania , this upcoming Sunday. Pittsburgh for its part will be looking for the win and place themselves into contention for what has now become a tightly contested AFC North division where the Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) maintain a slender lead.

Ben Roethlisberger is not yet back at his very best , but as long as the Steelers have a great running game and a top-five defense then this team can be considered a legitimate contender within the AFC and quite possibly for a deep run in the postseason and to the Superbowl title, itself.

I don’t know what it will take for the Jacksonville Jaguars to be taken seriously as credible NFL franchise . Years of indifference, through poor coaching and needless to say an owner who did not seem to be all that ambitious when Wayne Weaver owned the team. Now with Shahid Khan owning the Jaguars the management has been put into place with a view to making this Jaguars’ organization a legitimate concern within the NFL. Other than the era of Tom Coughlin as the franchise’s head coach, there has been little to cheer about concerning the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mark Brunell and Tony Boselli became synonymous with the franchise but over the past eight seasons , things have been very lean for the organization . With Gus Bradley on board as the head coach and
several
changes
having
been made in terms of free agent acquisitions and the drafting of Blake Bortles , the belief seems to be, things are about to change for the better.

Chad Henne the Jaguars’ starting quarterback for 2014 has proven to be very ineffective and some might say a waste of space and cap money for the franchise. Bortles was seen as a project , and likely at some point to be the team’s starting quarterback next season . Off to a win-less start , with an 0-3 record shared alongside the Oakland Raiders , Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it is now easy to understand why Bortles had his baptism of fire during the closing stages of Jacksonville’s week three game against the Indianapolis Colts , which ended in a 44-17 loss for the AFC South based franchise.

Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers will host the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qualcomm Stadium this Sunday , where the Chargers will be seeking to prove their impressive start to the season was no mere fluke. Given what Rivers has been working with over the past few seasons , it has come as something of a surprise to see the Chargers off to such a very good start. In what will likely be a very competitive AFC West division , not including the woefully inept Oakland Raiders . I believe the division could very well become a three-horse race if Andy Reid and Alex Smith can actually figure out what is wrong with the Kansas City Chiefs . The Denver Broncos remain as competitive as ever , with Peyton Manning leading the way for the team .

With a bye-week in Week four , the Denver Broncos can rest their injured players while gauging what their divisional rivals are likely to do. Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs have a potentially tough game against the New England Patriots at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City , Missouri on Monday night , part of the season of scheduled games for the Monday Night Football. A win is very much a must , for the Patriots after their labored and non-too too convincing victory over the Oakland Raiders in week three , where Tom Brady had one of his less memorable games against Oakland .

At the start of the 2014 season , many believed the New England Patriots were capable of having a thirteen win season. My only belief , was that the Patriots would not be severely challenged within the AFC East , where they have been the dominant force within the division of the past decade. I see no reason for the premise to change given the issues of the Buffalo Bills , Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. Bill Belichick remains the ” Mad Scientist” , self-absorbed, over-confident and often abrasive with the press and at times with his players with the exception of his renowned quarterback. Brady and Belichick are joined by an umbilical cord , but the cord will likely be severed in the next two or three years. The departures of Ryan Mallett and Logan Mankins shocked not only Tom Brady , but the fans of the New England Patriots and definitely members of the media . And as good as the team might seem to be , there still remains a number of deficiencies which Bill Belichick has clearly failed to address during the off-season . Jimmy Garoppolo might well be waiting in the wings to take over from the franchise’s all-time leader in a number of offensive passing categories, but I do not believe this rookie will have the type of impact seen with Brady over the past decade.

I have always maintained if you cannot provide the consumer or fan with anything insightful , then it is best to say nothing at all . ESPN /ABC has become a behemoth and monolithic sports’ broadcast entity that leaves it competitors in its wake . In terms of its content and on air presence, there are few if any real bright spots to the medium , but yet , there it is filling the airwaves and the television screens with a great deal of banality , while being hypocritical , misogynistic , sexist and without any real moral virtue. However, what makes the outlet simply tick is its economic clout as a billion dollar money-making entity for parent company , Walt Disney Company . The three other major network outlet pale into comparison as money-making entities and yes folks , that includes the upstart NBCSports Network and Fox’s almost redundant FS1 Fox Sports Network (FS1) , whose content might be just as mediocre and convoluted as its broadcast relative Fox News . CBS Sports remains something of an archaic and dated embodiment of the broadcast network in terms of its appeal and demographic skewered towards those aged fifty-five and over .

ESPN made the decision today , to suspend on air personality Bill Simmons for being critical of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Granted , the league remains one of the outlet’s primary broadcast partners with whom they have a multi-year, multi-billion dollar contract . Hate to say , but ESPN would rather not bite the hand that feeds it but would willingly kiss the ass of the NFL , even when the league is known to have acted egregiously and erroneously. In reality , some fans couldn’t give a #hit much less really care what Bill Simmons might have to say about anything, given his rather clown-like dexterity for making a complete @sshole of himself , when offering up commentary on issues concerning the world of sports. Simmons’ suspension is something of a non-story but in many ways it simply reflects the ongoing hypocrisy of a network and its willingness to cow-tow and remain in obeisance of a paymaster (NFL) which is just as complicit with its behavior and lack of morals . Unfortunately , there seems to be no one with the balls to say it about ESPN or the NFL , but I am ready to do so and will continue to do so without fear of being sought out by their blow-hard cronies or like-minded representatives.

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Where and when did you feel the league erred in dealing with the Ray Rice affair and do you believe the NFL can get its house back in order , much less regain the confidence of its fans and many of their commercial sponsors ? Three weeks into the NFL season and what has been the biggest surprise to you concerning the games and the teams ? Your comments as always are very welcomed and by all means do feel free to chime in with your own thoughts concerning not only the NFL but the world of sports in general .

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(1) Steve Bisciotti troubled owner of the Baltimore Ravens, who in the past few days has faced mounting criticism of his and the franchise’s handling of the Ray Rice affair. Getty Images / Greg Parsons …

(2)Quarterback Geno Smith (7) of the New York Jets speaks with head coach Rex Ryan before a game against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium on September 22, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Getty Images North America / Elsa Martinez …

(3) Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) whose record with the franchise as a starter is not impressive (16-19-0) , going into week four where the Dolphins will face the Oakland Raiders in an all AFC match-up at the O Coliseum in Oakland , California , on Sunday afternoon . Miami Herald / Hector Nunez …..

(4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith , center, watches his players stretch after returning from a lightning delay during NFL football training camp in Tampa, Fla., Friday, July 25, 2014. The Buccaneers have gotten off to an awful start to the season with Smith in his first year as the team’s head coach . AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(5) May 9, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Blake Bortles (Central Florida) poses with his family after addressing the media at the Upper West Touchdown Club at EverBank Field a day after being selected as the third overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars…. John David Mercer / USA Today Sports
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(6) Tom Brady , left , of the New England Patriots is seen here with his back-up , rookie Jimmy Garoppolo . The youngster has been learning all the tricks of the trade from the franchise’s career leader in passing statistics. As a college player, Jimmy Garoppolo had a distinguished career . AP Photo / Martin Kline

(7) Bill Simmons an editor in-Chief at Grantland.com , columnist and on air personality of with ESPN has been suspended (three weeks) by the broadcast outlet for his profanity laced rant , accusing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell of being a liar . The San Francisco 49ers suspended their television broadcaster and analyst Ted Robinson for his rather idiotic criticism of Jenay Parker-Rice , wife of Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice . Robinson is his opinionated criticism of Parker-Rice suggested she was in part to blame for the abuse suffered at the hands of her then fiance. Clearly , Robinson has no clue or common sense when it comes to the issue of domestic abuse or domestic violence. UPI / Ross Mitchell …. …

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Losers , winners and mere simpletons ..

Losers , winners and mere simpletons ..

Repeated pratfalls by the NFL and it would seem some fans believe a less than forthright apology by Roger Goodell now rectified the idiotic decisions the commissioner made in light of the league’s handling of the Ray Rice “affair”. Escalating acts of misconduct by the NFL’s players over the years and it would seem that neither league hierarchy , the commissioner or many of the NFL’s apathetic and lame ass fans have learned a damn thing about the league, much less the fact the commissioner is so damn clueless. Theirs seems to be the belief as long as the NFL trudges along providing the fans with a banal on the field product , with a group of pompous and asinine on air prognosticators, the league can survive in its present guise.

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The players and their union (NFLPA) continue to hide behind privacy rights and the issue of due process , but at a time where the league has seen a rise in misconduct , the Players’ Union has done little to discuss the issue, much less player representatives or union Executive Director DeMaurice Smith have done little to rein in the misbehavior of their players or sought to discuss the issue publicly.

With news coming to light, where certain executives within the Baltimore Ravens organization might well have been privee’ to the taped incident of Ray Rice assaulting Jenay Parker , it begs the question, if the franchise was indeed in receipt of this information , then why was it not passed on to the league head office ? The NFL and the Ravens have been complicit in another unsavory cover-up and an episode which further suggest the ongoing incompetency of the league during Roger Goodell’s disastrous tenure. If to make matters worse, the commissioner is now of the belief in bringing in former FBI Directors Robert Mueller and Louis Freeh , it adds credibility in his seeking to rectify the problems he has long ignored concerning player misconduct. Nothing could be further from the truth , as we have seen in the lackadaisical way , with which the commissioner has failed to show consistency in how he metes out punishment to players guilty of misconduct.

Freeh and Mueller are essentially bureaucrats being brought in as the commissioner suggests in assisting the league to formulate a code of conduct and policy to be followed by all of the NFL’s thirty-two teams . If such a provision was never properly enacted or there was never a firm policy in place , then Roger Goodell is being a mere fool , if he now believes such a policy will be willingly accepted by the union and the players , when there has been a continued mistrust between the two parties all along.

Week three in the NFL offered the fans very little respite with the usual amount of anomalies one would now come to expect , with several teams giving the type of performances they and their fans would rather forget. This was highlighted by the inept display of the league’s worst team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , who were on the wrong side of a lopsided loss , in their 56-14 defeat suffered at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons. Lovie Smith , his coaching staff are now coaching a roster with the worst record in the NFL , with the Buccaneers now 0-3 , having posted this record for the third time in the last six seasons in a start to a regular sixteen game NFL schedule. Where Tampa now goes from here is anyone’s question, with the team showing little signs of life , in terms of competitiveness or any real leadership from the players. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which will be a Sunday afternoon game for the two teams in question, part of the week four schedule for the NFL.

A 2-0 start to the season may well have had everyone believing the Buffalo Bills were off to very good start , but they were quickly brought back down to earth as they fell 22-10 to the San Diego Chargers at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park , New York. For the Bills’ new owner , billionaire developer Terry Pegula , this was definitely not the way he wanted to start off his reign as the franchise’s and the NFL’s newest owner. The defeat , brings the Bills back to the pack as they share the lead in the AFC East with the New England Patriots , whose hard-fought victory over the Oakland Raiders was one of the less memorable games in the NFL over this past weekend . New England will look to follow-up with a second consecutive victory , when they face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium , in Kansas City, Missouri in week four.

It is still early days yet in the NFL season, but I believe not until after week five can we really have a real insight how good the teams are , and the likely direction they will be heading. Granted, one or two teams are already showing signs they are likely to be uncompetitive as witnessed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.Yet, there is every reason to believe the likes of the Buccaneers , Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders will likely struggle over the remainder of the season given their lack of competitive play at this point of their respective schedules.

Kirk Cousins is now providing something of a lovely headache for Jay Gruden and the Washington Redskins’ coaching staff. The Redskins’ backup quarterback is proving to be a more than adept substitute for the usual starter Robert Griffin III , whose first two years in the NFL have proven to be somewhat erratic. Griffin however, is seen as the face and future of the franchise without delving into the financial investment made in the player, who was taken as the number two overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft , where he was drafted behind Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts.

While Washington is rooted at the bottom of the always overrated NFC East , it has to be said other than the Philadelphia Eagles , who have found a way to distance themselves from the rest of the pack within the division, the other three inhabitants are pretty much the best of a rotten bunch of apples.

Jay Gruden will take the Washington Redskins will be at home in week four where they will meet up against divisional rivals the New York Giants who will be led by Eli Manning , as the Giants’ quarterback will be looking to resurrect what was a very disappointing season in 2013 for the player. If the New York Giants fail to gain a postseason berth this season , then there are likely to questions raised, concerning the long-term future of Tom Coughlin , his coaching staff and the ten-year veteran quarterback of the NFL.

With a week to go before the end of the MLB season , several of the divisional races have all been sewn up. The Washington Nationals have clinched the NL East over a very disappointing Atlanta Braves team which did not provide much of the competitive race or competition for the Nationals over the course of the season. Now there seem to be rumors surfacing that GM Frank Wren will be shown the door by Braves’ organization. My own beliefs are , he front office should also be assessing the failings of Fredi Gonzalez and his managerial staff , as well as certain members of the team who failed miserably . At the end of the season, a decision is likely to be made concerning Frank Wren , but it is not likely to be the only changes made concerning the internal makeup of the front office , managerial staff and playing roster going into next season .

Elsewhere, there has to be a great deal of adulation within the state of California , with the knowledge both baseball clubs in the greater Los Angeles area have made the postseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers swept through to an easy defense of their NL West title and now look to make up for last season’s failings in the MLB postseason. The Dodgers’ AL counterparts the Los Angeles Angels made light work within the AL West dethroning the two-time defending divisional titlists the Oakland Athletics , bringing the Angels their first divisional title in five years , their last coming in 2009.

With there now being talk of a possible all Californian World Series’ finale, with the Los Angeles Angels facing off against the Los Angeles Dodgers . I would dare say this would be the sort of showcase finale baseball requires and needs, in light of the failure of the New York Yankees not being part of baseball’s postseason fare. Derek Jeter bows out of baseball after two decades of a career, which can be best summed as being exemplary. By contrast, it has to be said the AL East new divisional champions the Baltimore Orioles come into the postseason , with several notable achievements for the team , but a major blemish to their image, with Chris Davis having been suspended for failing the league’s steroid policy , all of this , from a player who swore blindly he had never once used a banned substance. Personally, if Davis can afford to be tutored by Brady Anderson , whose career was always suspect, given one standout year in an otherwise under-achieving career. There isn’t much else that really needs to be said concerning the accomplishments of both players and the apathy of the Orioles’ fans who believe Chris Davis and Brady Anderson, can be considered genuinely great players for the franchise .

Buck Showalter will take the Baltimore Orioles on the road where they will be the guests of the New York Yankees at Yankees Stadium in New York City, New York , on Monday evening. On the mound for the visiting team will be Bruce Chen as he faces off against Michael Pineda of the Yankees.

In the space of fifteen days the Kansas City Royals have gone from a sure thing, to a team intent on self-imploding as the final month of their season seems to be falling apart at the seams. The Royals are now 1 1/2 games behind of the Detroit Tigers within the AL Central , with only eight games left to salvage their year or otherwise , become part of the wildcard foray, where they are likely to face the Oakland Athletics in the wildcard round of the MLB postseason, In what is simply a one and done contest , such a game between the two teams is not likely to favor the Royals , who would have to face the A’s at the O Coliseum in Oakland, California , with the winners going on to the divisional round (ALDS) of baseball’s postseason fare. Kansas City may well be leading their season series in 2014 , having won five of their seven meetings , but it would take a real betting man to believe Bob Melvin and his staff will allow his players to let the Kansas City Royals run over them , given the A’s recent postseason experiences, for which the last visit for the visiting team their last such foray came two decades ago. Kansas City has been in meltdown mode and their last ten games (4-6) have been ample evidence of that very fact.

The Kansas City Royals will take on the Cleveland Indians as they look to make inroads into the lead of the Detroit Tigers . Brad Ausmus and the Tigers will be remain at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan where their guests will be the lowly Chicago White Sox . That particular match-up should prove to be a lopsided contest if their season series is anything to go by , with the game favoring the home team.

The Boston Red Sox as the reigning World Series’ champions were expected to contend this season not only within the AL East, but also in the American League (AL). Unfortunately. for John Farrell and his managerial staff this was to be a season of more lows than highs , with the team showing no signs of competitiveness or leadership from anyone on the roster. A far cry from last season, when the team swept through the postseason with the utmost of ease and they were barely challenged within the division of having out-gunnned their divisional rivals.

David Ortiz may well have been the World Series’ MVP last season and while his stats for this year have been far from impressive , but the real issue has been , why the falloff from a ball-club which was so competitive and decisive in 2013? One could possibly point to the issue of GM Ben Cherington choosing to assemble a roster which failed to live up to expectations . with several players nowhere near as good as was first thought. How and why AJ Pierzinski was ever thought to be a player with the ability to lead , much less provide the type of productivity sought has to be as bewildering as the acquisition itself by the ball-club. Boston has not only fallen out of contention, but will finish with its worst divisional placing in several years. With no game scheduled for Monday 22nd September, the Red Sox will resume their schedule on Tuesday 23rd September when they play host to the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park in Boston Massachusetts , in a contest between two AL East teams heading in the wrong direction . direction.

If the NFL is said to be rife with incompetence and utter stupidity, then NBA cannot be all that far behind ! It took the utter audacity and bigotry of Donald Sterling to in some ways show what is now going on behind the closed doors of this old boys’ fraternity made of up buffoons among the league’s hierarchy and owners , without delving further into the stewardship of former NBA Commissioner David Stern or his neophyte successor Adam Silver . Having to deal with the damage to its image, caused by the racial insensitivity of the tirade of Donald Sterling , which in some circles was simply being treated rather apathetically by fans ,as merely an owner having the right to freely express himself .

The NBA has since had to deal with the rather nonsensical uttering of two Atlanta Hawks’ executives further reiterating how bigoted and racially intolerant this league just happens to be. And for the idiots trying to suggest because of the makeup of the NBA is largely ethnic based, with a preponderance of the players being minority in their background. It simply cannot hide the fact, Bruce Levenson and Danny Ferry were showing a now obvious side to the league , which both Stern and his successor have failed to address over the years. If both Levenson and Ferry can be allowed to get away with such behavior and then one adds the depraved rants of Rich DeVos into the mix , while trying to negate DeVos’ idiocy with the fact, he might well have donated thousands of dollars to the transgendered and gay causes, it simply cannot detract from the statements made by the Orlando Magic owner concerning a specific demographic within society. This is not a not fictional drama being played out , but real life events , and in many ways , fools are now seeking to excuse such behavior as being acceptable within society , without ever mentioning the words , “ common decency and the respect of others “ .

You have to hand it to Glenn Taylor of the Minnesota Timberwolves who continues to bitch and whine about having to trade All Star power forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers . Things would not have become so farcical for the Timberwolves had either Taylor or Flip Saunders sought to build a roster competitive enough which would have persuaded Love to remain with the franchise . Instead , both executives have continued to take parting shots at the now departed star. As if to further exacerbate the situation, the front office now has to deal with a disgruntled Ricky Rubio,perhaps the only valuable asset left on the roster. The Spaniard has let it be known he is not entirely happy with the direction the franchise is now heading in , with even head coach Flip Saunders seemingly unsure about what his best lineup is likely to be during the exhibition season as well as starting the Timberwolves’ regular season schedule which sees the team with an opening against the Memphis Grizzlies. Saunders as the de-facto GM and head coach will have to make a decision before the start of the season or seek persuade Ricky Rubio to remain with the team , while he seeks to bolster the roster. Easier said than done , as I believe Rubio no longer has any desire to be with the Timberwolves . It certainly will be interesting to see what transpires between now and the start of the season, as the Minnesota Timberwolves seek to placate another disgruntled star.

Rex Chapman come down and take a bow. Having earned over $22 million over the course of your professional career in the NBA , you took it upon yourself in retirement to prove you were nowhere as intelligent as many believed you be . As a former Kentucky Wildcat may well have achieved some semblance of collegiate success , but in the aftermath of that career and the nondescript years in the NBA , you have now brought some unwanted attention upon yourself , being accused and then being charged with nine counts of theft of $14,000 worth of items from an Apple Store and then seeking to pawn those very same items in a pawn shop in Scottsdale , Arizona. Pardon me for saying this , but , how much of an asshole is Rex Chapman and are certain collegiate alumni from Kentucky that frigging dumb ?

While Rex Chapman is no longer a part of the NBA fraternity, the ex-player’s behavior is somewhat typical of the ongoing idiocy one continues to see within the league and player misbehavior. If left to the general managers , owners and league hierarchy to deal with such issues , more often than not the NBA tends to treat the players with kid gloves” . As to those who prescribe to the fact the Justice System has a way with dealing the misdeeds . State Attorney Generals at the state level and then at the county level , tend to seek a plea deal from the offenders who are then offered rather lenient sentences in such instances or if a case should go trial, you tend to have a jury not often aware of the law, even when under the advice being given to them by a presiding judge. Justice for all ? No , justice tends to be given to those who can afford the privilege of being treated with leniency, while the victims have no real rights of recourse.

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Picture gallery.

In light of baseball’s season now almost reaching its culmination, what do you believe have been some of the major highlights of the season ? Secondly, the NFL season is becoming more known for the off-the field issues , rather than for the play on the field . Do you believe the league has been able to deal with these issues appropriately ? Finally , how do you see the NBA season panning out and do you believe Ricky Rubio will be a player for the Minnesota Timberwolves at the start of the season or will he be traded ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the topics raised in this article.

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(1) From left to right , Baltimore Ravens’ executives, team President Dick Cass , GM Ozzie Newsome and team owner Steve Bisciotti . Bisciotti has been critical of the claims being made by ESPN that the franchise had been receipt of the taped evidence showing Ray Rice assaulting his then fiancée Jenay Parker . The Ravens’ owner refutes the allegations but does state he wished he had approached the league earlier to decide whether not the franchise could take action against the player directly, rather than leaving the matter in the hands of the league hierarchy to deal with. AP Photo / Richard Walker …

(2) Tight end Levine Toilolo (80) of the Atlanta Falcons fumbles the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a game at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images North America/ Kevin C Cox …

(3) Running back Antone Smith(35) of the Atlanta Falcons gets tangled with corner-back Johnathan Banks (27) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a fumble during a game at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …

(4) Buffalo Bills’ quarterback EJ Manuel looks to make a play in the game against the San Diego Chargers this past Sunday. San Diego would end up being the victors the in this contest defeating the Bills 22-10 . AP Photo / Paul McGee …. ….

(5) Oakland Raiders defensive end LaMarr Woodley (58) puts pressure on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass. AP Photo/Elise Amendola … ….

(6) Deposed GM Frank Wren who o summarily fired by the Atlanta Braves with a six games left in the regular season . Braves’ team President John Scheurholz made the decision in consultation with senior executives within the organization. John Hart will assume the role as interim-general manager until a permanent successor can be found. About the only real bright spot to the season has been the productivity of Braves’ outfielder Justin Upton who led the team in a number offensive categories in 2014 . AP Photo/ Gerry Parsons …

(7) Ricky Rubio (9) is seen here alongside his former teammate Kevin Love (42) . The pair led the Minnesota Timberwolves in a number of offensive categories last season but it was simply not enough for the team to get into the postseason. Love has since been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers leaving the Timberwolves without a proven scorer on the current roster. Rubio has voiced his displeasure in the trading of his former teammate and it is believed he too will seek a trade away from the franchise. Getty Images/ Adam Harris …

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For whom the bell tolls …

For whom the bell tolls ….

The NBA is now gearing up for an emphatic season , but a great deal of off-court news has somewhat created a dilemma for the league . Granted , with sale of the Los Angeles Clippers and abandonment of the Sterling family , of which Donald and Rochelle Sterling are no longer owners of the once besieged franchise , it now leaves the NBA to start afresh , or so we thought. Atlanta Hawks’ owner Bruce Levenson for some inexplicable reason in an e-mail he sent, saw fit to go on a racial tirade stereotyping African-American players and individuals of the ethnicity in a very repulsive way. To further exacerbate the situation we then had the franchise’s general manager Danny Ferry be extremely critical of then free agent Luol Deng who chose not to sign with the Hawks during the off-season.

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Ferry’s statements attributed to an e-mail he read from , states the player was of low intelligence often seen with players of ethnicity and those from the African continent . Danny Ferry has now taken a leave of absence while offering very little by way of an apology for his remarks . Bruce Levenson sold his majority stake in the franchise with Michael Gearon now assuming control of the Atlanta Hawks. In the midst of his all , NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has not seen fit to reprimand either Ferry or Levenson for their actions , instead Silver has seen fit to issue a statement in support of the Hawks while not necessarily distancing the league from Ferry’s remarks.

The NBA’s handling of the Donald Sterling saga was a complete embarrassment for the league and the criticism of the league was more than warranted. Such incompetency and hypocrisy by the league , its owners and the union (NBPA) in general, had many questioning what the mindset was said to be within the league hierarchy, not just under the present commissioner , but also his predecessor, David Stern . The latter has been given a pass, while his legacy seems to remain intact , with this continued idiocy , Stern was of great benefit to the league, because of the rise in profits and revenues of the NBA in general and his custodianship of the league. In truth, David Stern simply fought the battles he felt would benefit his image and raise his profile even higher among his peers , the fans and public in general.

One could continue to be critical of the NBA, but it would be of little benefit because the league, like the NFL , MLB and NHL are simply bereft of leadership and creativity. It will continue to be that way, no matter what changes are proposed by the hierarchies under the existing leadership. One simply has to look at the current mess within the NFL and the poor handling by the hierarchy, as led by Roger Goodell.

The Atlanta Hawks will face a tough season in the NBA, as the team opens up their schedule with a game against the Toronto Raptors on the opening night of the league on the 29th October ,2014. The exhibition season for the franchise will begin on the 6th October , and there the Hawks will begin their preseason schedule with a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Philips Arena, in Atlanta , Georgia,. Head coach Mike Budenholzer and his coaching staff will be under pressure to succeed with the team that is light on experience, but is likely to play with a great deal of fortitude as the season begins. Atlanta will be looking to seasoned veterans such as Elton Brand , Kyle Korver and Al Horford to provide the team with much-needed leadership while rookies , Adrian Payne and Walter Tavares are not expected to make a great contribution in the first half of the season , while still learning the ropes at the professional level. Jeff Teague is likely to be the player with which Budenholzer is expected to see the biggest improvement as he provided the Atlanta Hawks with a great deal of leadership throughout much of last season and is expected to do the same again this year. For the moment however, this remains Al Horford’s team, as he is still by far the best player on the roster.

LeBron James is back in Cleveland, much to the chagrin of the Miami Heat and team President Pat Riley , but as they say, ” the show must go on “ .Unfortunately, for the Heat the cast is now a bunch of nondescript coupling, with an aging Dwayne Wade who is now past his sell by date , along with a very inconsistent Chris Bosh who has been in essence the ” third wheel” , as part of the franchise’s former ‘Big Three’ . As to what that now says about the current roster remains to be seen before they embark upon their preseason schedule as well their regular season sojourn. With the roster as it is, I certainly do not believe the Miami Heat will be good enough to win their division but they are likely to gain a postseason berth, if Wade and Bosh can play at an optimum level while leading the team. Erik Spoelstra will be counting the duo’s experience along with Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen .

An eight-game exhibition season, will give the Heat head coach just about enough time to gauge how competent his players are likely to be, before their first regular season encounter when they take on the Washington Wizards at home in the AA Arena in Miami , Florida. LeBron James’ departure simply placed a monkey wrench in the plans of Pat Riley, but to my mind this departure while a surprise came about because of the executive’s unwillingness to bolster the roster in the ways needed and if it meant the decoupling of the Big Three , then it should have been done, rather than this asinine belief James could continue to carry the team on his back. He was barely supported throughout last season and during the postseason , his teammates were literally nowhere to be seen as shown in the lopsided series’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals . Not much more needs to be said beyond that !

Steve Ballmer may well have paid for the privilege of owning the Los Angeles Clippers with his audacious bid of $2 billion , simply blowing any competing bid out of the water. Ballmer was needed more by the NBA, than they would actually care to admit because of their poor handling of the Donald Sterling affair. Nobody can yet justify the value of the Clippers was on the mark , in terms , of the final sale price , but here is what we do now know , every single owner in the NBA must be now salivating , because of the sale price and the belief the value of their respective franchises will continue to rise.

With Donald Sterling’s departure, the Los Angeles Clippers can set about re-imaging the franchise , but it will be down to head coach Doc Rivers and the two mist visible members of the roster , Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to bring about a new change in how the public view organization. The Clippers for their part last season proved themselves the better of the two Los Angeles’ based franchises winning the Pacific Division , with the Los Angeles Lakers bringing up the rear within the division. As to what this suggests about the decline of the Lakers , can be best summed up by the upheaval within the franchise with the departure of Mike D’Antoni , his being replaced by Byron Scott and the departure of several players from last season’s roster. From my own perspective , I firmly believe Mitch Kupchak has lost his touch , with Jim Buss simply being clueless about what is needed in resurrecting the fortunes of this now fast declining basketball club.

Kobe Bryant remains part of the current Lakers’ roster and the likely only chance of survival the team will have this upcoming season. Their contests with the Clippers should prove to be engaging , with the belief Blake Griffin , Chris Paul and their teammates having the upper hand in the season meetings , which was definitely the case this past year. The first of those highly anticipated games will take place on the 31st October , with the Clippers being the visiting team at the Staples Center , in Los Angeles , California , on the night in question.
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As tumultuous as the off-season was said to be for both the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers, both franchises are thought to have fared reasonably well in the NBA Draft , but clearly, the Clippers are ready to be deemed contenders now , rather than later . For Byron Scott and his coaching staff , this will likely be a season where he is simply left to gauge the makeup of the roster and let things fall where they may.

The Los Angeles Clippers had a memorable season , but their postseason foray ended abruptly with a conference semi-finals’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder . Kevin Durant would prove to be the star of the series, leading all players in scoring average and points scored in the series . Oklahoma for its part , would fall the to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals , where defense played its part in the Spurs’ success, but in essence it was systematically the all round play of the team , which led to the victory.

Disappointment in 2013 and 2014 , and it would seem the Thunder are found wanting , with / Scott Brooks being unable to get his teams over the hump during the seasons in question. He has the reigning MVP in Kevin Thunder and one of the most dynamic players in the NBA with point guard Russell Westbrook . There is also the defensive prowess of Serge Ibaka , but somehow the team last season was lacking the killer instinct needed to get the job done. Oklahoma was favored to come out of the Western Conference and likely to seen as a real threat to the Miami Heat , but it was all to no avail , as witnessed in the series’ loss to the eventual champions the San Antonio Spurs. This season the Thunder will be under a great deal of pressure , but Kevin Durant will be severely tested as to his acumen and appetite as he chases after that elusive first NBA title of his career. Frustration has begun to build for the player and recent statements attributed to him, suggest he would like to play somewhere else, at some point in the future. Albeit , he has not stated where , Durant is a native of Washington , DC and the likelihood of his suiting up in Washington Wizards’ uniform for the moment might seem remote , but it would prove to be a tremendous morale booster for the beleaguered franchise .

Durant will not become a free agent until 2016 , but he can opt out of the final year of his contract in 2015 , which seems to be the likely outcome for the player who is represented by the up and coming sports’ management agency RocNation Sports , home to several high-profiled professional athletes. If Durant can be persuaded to remain with the Oklahoma City Thunder, then Scott Brooks , GM Sam Presti and the franchise’s ownership group will have to move heaven and earth to prove to the player, they all share the same goal and that is to bring an NBA title to the franchise and the city of Oklahoma, where this basketball team has been well supported ever since their relocating to the city.

We have seen a marked decline in the play of the Dallas Mavericks over the past two seasons and with Dirk Nowitzki in the waning years a of an outstanding career with the franchise. It will hard to imagine how the team in its present guise can be viewed as major contender within the Western Conference. An aging roster led by Nowitzki , with veterans such as Devin Harris , Jameer Nelson , Richard Jefferson , Raymond Felton , Tyson Chandler and coached by Rick Carlisle . If the Mavericks are to succeed this season , then these veterans will have to be the leaders on the team as the likes of Jae Crowder , Ricky Ledo and Gal Mekel make their way through the season where it will be a rigorous schedule for the players. The Mavericks’ first regular season game will pit them against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas on the 28th October, 2014 , opening night of the regular season within the NBA .

For the Dallas Mavericks’ owner , the larger than life Mark Cuban , he and GM Donnie Nelson can only hope this will be the season in which Dirk Nowitzki can bow out on a high note. I view this team as one which will go through the motions in trying win a second NBA title , but in reality , this group of players, will face a tough task even making it out of their division much less garnering a playoff berth this upcoming season , as the Western Conference is likely to very competitive, throughout the year.

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Picture gallery.

With the upcoming NBA season , which teams or players do you believe will have the biggest impact on the league ? Also, in light of the problems now besieging the NFL , do you think the NBA hierarchy will be able to deal with any major issue likely to affect their image should it be a problem concerning the behavior of a player ? Your thoughts on this and anything else are more than welcome concerning this article .

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Picture gallery and slideshow details below.
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(1) Donald Sterling and his now estranged wife Rochelle Stein-Sterling are now the former owners of the Los Angeles Clippers . Banished by the league , Donald Sterling having lost his case concerning the sale of the franchise to Steve Ballmer , has a civil case pending against the league hierarchy in US Federal Court in California . The former owner is seeking $1 billion in damages from the league with punitive damages on top of the proposed figure mentioned . AP Photo / Keith Morris …

(2) Steve Ballmer , former Microsoft Chairman and now the league’s newest NBA owner . The billionaire paid an astonishing $2 billion for the franchise far exceeding most expectations in the value of the Los Angeles Clippers . Getty Images North America / Steve Matthews … …

(3) Former Atlanta Hawks’ owner Bruce Levenson , foreground is seen here with team general manager Danny Ferry . The two executives have been caught up in furor concerning racial epithets and stereotypes used in something of a very derogatory way to describe African-Americans . Levenson has since sold his majority stake in the basketball franchise and Ferry has taken a leave of absence from the team. Neither individual has been punished by the NBA for their actions. AP Photo/ Christina McIntosh …

(4) Miami Heat team President Pat Riley , left, introduces the team’s draft pick Shabazz Napier to the press at a press conference. Seated center , is Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra . The Heat’s roster will have drastically changed from last season , after the departure of LeBron James and several other players. AP Photo/ Paul Mason ……

(5) Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder is seen here with head coach Scott Brooks during a game played at the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma,. Getty Images / Paul Ross ….

(6) Court-side from left to right , Rick Carlisle , Jose Barea and Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks. Getty Images/ Leon Patterson … …..
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No soliloquies needed here .

Not so newsworthy moments in the world of sports and then there are some, that are worth contemplating


Not so newsworthy moments in the world of sports and then there are some that are worth contemplating

Well, after a rather lackluster display by the Miami Heat , the consensus favorites for this season’s NBA title , were summarily given a lesson in humility , and Heat power forward Chris Bosh had to eat crow. As to the whining by fans who felt that the title was the Miami Heat’s by divine right, begs the question, are they really as dumb as they tend to sound and look ? During the off-season, Heat Team President Pat Riley and team owner , Micky Arison will be left to ponder whether not paying out the ” big bucks” actually amounts to anything, when the organization was counting on making history this past postseason. Four consecutive NBA Finals , two victories and two rather embarrassing losses in which the Heat were favored both times , now leaves the league deciding, what can they do next to sell the fans by way of an image. David Stern and his successor , Adam Silver, have never been the ones to champion the less glamorous teams within the NBA and most certainly it would seem, that the only people favoring the San Antonio Spurs to win the title, were the Spurs fans themselves and perhaps the uninitiated and first time observer of the NBA.

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A 4-1 series’ win and in many ways reminiscent of the Detroit Pistons annihilation of the 2004 Los Angeles Lakers , in that season’s NBA Finals . This series provided the fans of the NBA another lopsided contest , during which the game’s best player LeBron James , could not single handedly defy the odds stacked against him, while seeking pull his team out of a hole that they dug for themselves during the NBA Finals. Where the Miami Heat now goes from here is rather dependent upon the mindset of the front office led by team owner , Micky Arison and Team President Pat Riley . There is no doubt that the roster will have to be rebuilt from the ground up , with several of the players being jettisoned. One , if not two members from the Heat’s core of their Big Three are likely to be shed and the likelihood that Dwyane Wade could very well be the player seen as superfluous to the team’s needs.

The astonishing achievement of the San Antonio Spurs cannot be praised enough, with a fifth title to the franchise’s already impressive history, beyond the Spurs making the postseason for the sixteenth consecutive season. Something that has not been accomplished by another NBA franchise since Bill Russell was a member of those memorable Boston Celtics’ teams that won nine championships during an eleven-year span.

The NBA has never been truly appreciative of their teams, but the t hierarchy is now inclined to sell their superstars to the public along with the persona built up by a litany of agents, lawyers, advisers and image consultants. Unfortunately, what should be seen as a team sport has now become all about individualistic achievement , with the fans buying into the garbage being sold by the league. The San Antonio Spurs’ win of the title might not necessarily change the face of that premise but it might somehow change the landscape if only momentarily , with some fans actually getting to know what the meaning of team achievement is all about.

As the NFL off-season is summarily about the chance for the rookies acclimatizing themselves with the rigors of playing football at the professional level. The league suffered a heart rendering loss with the passing of four-time winning Superbowl coach , with the death of Pittsburgh Steelers’ legend Chuck Noll . The eighty-two year old former head coach died this past weekend and will be sorely missed by the Steelers’ fans as well as the rest of the NFL. There might not have been a more revered coach in NFL history than Noll, perhaps with the exception of Vince Lombardi , whose name adorns the Superbowl Trophy. I am sure the league as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers will find a way to commemorate Noll during this upcoming season . Pittsburgh has always been appreciative of their heroes and Chuck Noll was certainly a great deal more than that, within the steel town. He lived and breathed the game and the success attained was symbolic of what the franchise was said to be about, during his reign as the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Last season would prove to be disappointing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, within Mike Tomlin’s players failing to make the postseason with the team performing poorly within the AFC North, AFC and the league .

The Steelers’ failure was more to don with GM Kevin Colbert not seeking to bolster the team’s roster after some significant departures of several seasoned veterans. Cost-cutting by the front office might well have seemed prudent , but it severely hampered the chances of the team to be competitive last season. This off-season proved to significant for the coaching staff , front office , with Tomlin and Colbert seeking to make what they feel were the necessary adjustments needed by way of the draft and free agent acquisitions. . I truly believe that the Steelers will only go as far as Ben Roethlisberger is capable of carrying the team and in recent years the Steelers’ quarterback knows that he has failed to do at the level leading many to believe that the two Superbowl victories were not a simple aberration. Troy Polamalu, a teammate of Roethlisberger over the past few years and member of the rosters in the franchise’s most recent victories in the Superbowl, is essentially in the twilight of his career. Injuries , have begun to plague the defensive player and this could very well be his last season with the team.

It will be interesting to see how the Pittsburgh Steelers fare during the regular season ,with their preseason merely being viewed as a dress rehearsal for the team’s sojourn in 2014. Pittsburgh will being their season with a week one divisional contest against the Cleveland Browns . Cleveland for their part will want to start a new chapter afresh, even with the advent of the hyperbole surrounding their drafting of Johnny Manziel . Whether or not Manziel can beat out the presumptive starting quarterback, Brian Hoyer , remains to be seen. Browns’ heads coach Mike Pettine believes Hoyer to have the edge over his rookie teammate. Yet, with the Cleveland fans likely to be clamoring to see the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, it will see interesting to see how this duel will pan out over the course of the Browns’ schedule.

I am not one to always start shouting, ” buyers beware” ,but with the career of Josh Freeman now in complete tailspin , it is hard to imagine how Jon Gruden will z be of any real aid to the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting quarterback . While the winning of a Superbowl can add some legitimacy to a coach’s resume’, in the case of Gruden after that victory, his career simply spiraled downwards, while his ego took on gigantic proportions. Now an NFL analyst for ESPN , the former head coach spends a great deal of his time now assessing the quarterbacks recently drafted in the NFL. As to his thoughts on Freeman, well those are not publicly known. I can only surmise, Jon Gruden still believes that Josh Freeman is capable of being a starting quarterback in the NFL or quite possibly a capable backup in the league. Having been let go by the Buccaneers in late 2013 ,Freeman was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings whose passing game was definitely challenged with Christian Ponder holding down theposition as the team’s starting quarterback. Ponders’ lack of leadership and with their being very little faith in his abilities , along with a the preponderance to be injury prone, has led to not only his likely demotion, but his career possibly coming to an end with the franchise.

Josh Freeman regaining any type of form , is unlikely to see his career resumption as a starter in the NFL. He was unable to command the respect of teammates while with the Buccaneers and his later playing time with the Vikings can be best described as being mediocre.

The passing of a legend in any sport has to be met with a moment of solitude and solemnity. Hall of Fame baseball player Tony Gwynn’s death at the age of fifty-four comes not only as complete shock, but as a complete surprise to those who knew him best. He might well be viewed as one of the greatest players in San Diego Padres’ history and to my mind the greatest pure hitter of his generation and one of the top-ten in baseball history. Gwynn’s accomplishment as a seven-time NL batting champion and the player who has come closest to hitting the .400 plateau in the modern era. A feat last matched by another Hall of Fame player who was as much beloved as Tony Gwynn by his peers and his successors. Ted Williams remains among the pantheon of baseball greats as does Tony Gwynn and it seems sacrosanct to think that a game where we once applauded the achievements of Gwynn and Williams are now overshadowed by the failings and deceit by players such as Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez .

Baseball’s failure under the leadership of Bud Selig , remains a microcosm of what only bedevils the sport, but sports in general and one simply has to look at the ongoing idiocy within the NBA., NFL and the lack of leadership being shown by Adam Silver and Roger Goodell . Gwynn’s passing and the difficulties now facing the San Diego Padres is another painstaking reminder of what can happen with the continued failings of a once proud baseball franchise . There is little to suggest that the Padres can be competitive within the NL West this season and while the San Francisco Giants now seem to be running away with the division. Two months into the MLB season and the Giants are not only the best team in the NL but they are by far in a way the best ball-club in baseball , based not just on their record, but also in terms of their all-round play. Bruce Bochy’s players are playing with a great deal of intensity and with their pitching staff being remarkably consistent along with an offense that seems to be getting some timely hitting when least expected.

Coming into today’s game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington , the Padres are the losers of eight of their last ten games, while on a two-game losing streak . For manager Bud Black , his coaching staff , and the team in particular , these are some trying times for ball club now sitting in third place within the NL West just above the Arizona Diamondbacks (30-43) who have a better overall record , but from a percentage standpoint they sit at the bottom of the divisional standings. On the mound for the Padres will be Eric Stults facing off against Roenis Elias of the Mariners in an inter-league game between the two ball-clubs.

How baseball now chooses to honor Tony Gwynn’s passing will say a great deal as to how much they revere their heroes . Certainly, the Padres’ player was one of the most beloved players of his era and most definitely his induction into the Hall of Fame was justified and a worthy bestowing upon Gwynn. There have been few players who carried themselves with such grace and poise on and off the field ,while being appreciated by the fans and his fellow peers alike.

Far be it for me to suggest, but witnessing the falling apart of the Tampa Bay Rays’ season from their own self- inflicted wounds , has been very much like a child who has been repeatedly told not to place their hands upon a hot stove. Coming into the this year , there were those lauding the Rays as the best team in the AL East and the favorites to in that highly competitive division outright. Instead, we have witnessed a team playing with little consistency , lacking leadership among the playing and coaching staff . As to the rather asinine rhetoric coming from manager Joe Maddon . You simply have to ask yourself is the best he can come up with, in spite of the claims he is one of the best managers in the game of baseball. Maddon may well have been able to achieve miracles over the years , with the organization paring down salary to compete with the very best, but there comes a point where you have to ask , how much longer can this go on and how much tolerant will the fans be? It should be noted also, the Rays play at Tropicana Field , where their fan-base is marginally above 15,000 in attendance , but there remains the constant cry that they are in need of a new venue. Clearly, the front office , their fans and baseball’s hierarchy are not in a position to understand the lack of feasibility of a ball club that is far from being self-sustaining from a business standpoint . Whenever I have posed the question to a die-hard Rays’ fan about the ball-club moving to a new venue. The response has often bordered on being absolutely idiotic and nonsensical , with their giving an answer , the money is there to make this all happen.

If the owners of the Tampa Bay Rays, can barely afford to have a payroll in excess of $65 million , while remaining uncompetitive. Then what would lead them to believe that fans or should I say, the city of St Petersburg, Pinellas or Hillsborough County would be willing to make that sort of financial outlay for a baseball stadium, that would be barely filled for an eighty-one game schedule? If the MLB hierarchy are unwilling to assist the Tampa Bay Rays , then clearly the issue at hand is not simply about baseball , but it does seem to have more to do with Bud Selig playing favorites , while looking down upon some teams and their owners. Anyone care to offer up another viewpoint on that particular issue, given the fact , Selig came to the aid of New York Mets , New York Yankees and Miami Marlins in the building of new stadiums for the three organizations in question ?

The world’s biggest sporting spectacle is now under way and with due respect to the Superbowl , that specific sporting event, cannot in any way measure up to the Summer Olympics or the FIFA World Cup now being staged in Brazil. The host country , in the opening game of the tournament came away with a lackluster 3-1 victory over Croatia and England’s chances may well have been severely hampered with a 2-1 defeat suffered at the hands of Italy , in their opening game. Jurgen Klinsmann , head coach of Team USA saw his players come through unscathed with a very good win over African powerhouse Ghana . Though Klinsmann , might now feel extremely worried with the injuries suffered by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey during what was a very physical contest. Reigning champions, Spain , may well have seen their hopes go up in flames when they fell to the Netherlands in a 5-1 thrashing , that was the largest margin of defeat suffered by a world champion during the World Cup tournament.

As this tournament proceeds , we are likely to see the boisterous passion of the fans be exhibited. Behind this all, lies a country where there exists a great deal of distrust of the government and where the allegations of bribery and corruption have been revealed with the Interior Ministry and FIFA making claims that the allegations are unfounded. Unfortunately, there exists a pattern of behavior by soccer’s governing body that has become endemic within the world of sports. Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, FIFA’s President has been the subject of close scrutiny in recent years and his tenure as that body’s highest ranking executive has left him untouched by the scandals, even some of his closest allies and subordinates have been embroiled in a variety of misdeeds. Falling on the sword for your superior is one thing, but for him to also point the finger while also swinging the blade above your head , might be something different altogether . Explain that to me, if you can ?

Now Blatter has sunk the level of those, whom he believes have begun to make sport of soccer so vile , by suggesting that those who have been critical of the officiating during the tournament , are nothing more than avowed racists. That is now all we need to bring the game down to the gutter level now witnessed within the NFL and NBA. Thanks, but, no thanks !

The second golf major of the PGA season came and went without a great deal of excitement and with no home-grown player, from the US, being able to mount a credible challenge to Martin Kaymer of Germany, as he completely dominated the US Open at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst , North Carolina. Kaymer’s margin of victory had more to do with his exceptional play over four rounds of golf as his fellow competitors simply struggled . It was the German’s second major of his professional career , having won the 2010 PGA Championship , pushes Kaymer back up the world golf rankings , where , having moved seventeen places to sit in the eleventh spot of the rankings. Current world number one Adam Scott is followed by Henrik Stenson , Bubba Watson , Tiger Woods , Matt Kuchar and Rory McIlroy , rounding out the top five.

With Tiger Woods having missed the US Open , there remains mounting speculation as to whether or not he can or will make a successful return to the PGA Tour this season. Woods may well be saying the right things, while trying to remain positive ,but the issues with the player, have become his physical health and the state of his overall game .His performances this season have been lackluster and under-achieving by even his own lofty goals. With official tour prize money winnings in excess of $100 million , off-course earnings exceeding $65 million annually and estimated fortune of $600 million . I am beginning to wonder if Tiger Woods has now become tired of the drudgery of being full-time professional on PGA Tour! At the same time, his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ eighteen Grand Slam major victories , once seen as a certainty , now seems all the more distant with each passing misstep by the player, as he seeks to pass his idol.

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At this point of his career Tiger Woods has proven himself to be the best player of his generation , but he will continue to be adjudged against the accomplishments of Jack Nicklaus. Unless Woods is able to surpass Nicklaus’ mark of Majors’ wins , then he will be always be thought as second best and not much else beyond that. Your thoughts on the points raised and what other sports’ stories have been of interest to you over the past ten days ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Members of the San Antonio Spurs celebrate their winning of the 2014 NBA Finals after their lopsided game five victory over the Miami Heat. Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs was named the Finals’ MVP , after an astonishing Finals’ series by the player. AP Photo / Garry Heard …

(2) Peter Holt , CEO & owner of the San Antonio Spurs is seen here taking receipt of the Larry O’Brien Trophy from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver , signifying the franchise being crowned the 2014 NBA champions . This was the Spurs’ fifth win of the title in their history with all five championships victories having been coached by Gregg Popovich . AP Photo / Amy Jones …..

(3) “The big three” of Manu Ginobili , Tony Parker and Tim Duncan have won four NBA championships together. Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images …

(4) Chuck Noll , a legendary coach who died at the age of eighty-two, having led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four of their six Superbowl victories. An inductee in the Hall of Fame , Knoll joins a hallowed group of individuals associated with the franchise. Courtesy of ESPN

(5) ESPN analyst and commentator Jon Gruden is seen here with Josh Freeman . Gruden has agreed to take the player under his wing while seeking to assist Freeman in resurrecting his game. The player a first round draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , with an uneven group of performances littering an otherwise understated career in the league . AP Photo / Rick Fowler ….

(6) .Hall of Fame player Tony Gwynn whose death from cancer has come as a shock to the baseball world . For the past few years he was rarely seen in public , with his health deteriorating from this particular form of oral cancer (parotid cancer of the salivary gland). A career .308 hitter , Gwynn’s career was littered with accolades , and his legacy with the San Diego Padres are well chronicled as are his noted feats of achievements . Getty Images North America / Ron Smith …

(7) Clint Dempsey (8) celebrates his goal after eleven seconds into the first half of Team USA’s game against group opponents Ghana . The win places the US team in a favorable position to advance to the next round , but their next two games will prove to be extremely difficult . REUTERS/UPI / Tony Harris …

(8) Jun 15, 2014; Pinehurst, NC, USA; Martin Kaymer poses with the trophy in front of the leader board during the final round of the 2014 U.S. Open golf tournament at Pinehurst Resort Country Club #2 Course. Kaymer won the event with considerable ease and was never seriously challenged < leading wire to wire throughout the tournament. Kevin Liles/ USA TODAY Sports ……..

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Highlights, low-lights and no lights at all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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tophatal ………..

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A recap of sorts

Well, the NCAA Tournament has to come a close , with the vestiges to that competition reaching a finality . Two storied programs were there the combatants in the Finals , were John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats facing the University of Connecticut (Huskies) coached by second-year coach, Kevin Ollie , a former mainstay within the NBA . With U Conn prevailing in a six-point triumph , Ollie joins a select group of coaches to have won a national title within their first three years of coaching a program . For Shabazz Napier and the leadership shown in leading his teammates to this triumph, is likely to open doors , not previously thought about in great depth , with several general managers around the NBA , likely to be showing an interest in a player , who should he declare for the upcoming NBA Draft , is likely to be taken quite high in the first round .

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I am sure that the administration within Storrs, Connecticut, are truly overwhelmed at this triumph and the Huskies’ second title in the past four years , with the program’s last triumph in the Men’s NCAA Tournament coming in 2011 , when Jim Calhoun and that team triumphed over Brad Stevens and Butler . As we know, the Huskies women’s program , coached by Geno Auriemma , has been triumphant several times , with six national titles during his reign, as the coach of the now famed women’s program. Auriemma is back again as a finalist in this year’s tournament where the opponent will be a heated rival , with Notre Dame (Fighting Irish) staring across at their adjoining number one tournament seeds. That game , will be played tonight at the Bridgestone Arena , in Nashville, Tennessee,.

A week into the MLB season and there is not really a great deal to report , beyond the fact , there appears to be more money now seated ? on the disabled list , than would actually make up the payroll of the league’s lowest paid team , in this case , that privilege belongs to the Houston Astros with an estimated payroll of $44.5 million . Yet, somehow , it was the intent of Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow to field a competitive team this year , while trying to avoid a fourth consecutive season of one hundred losses or more ? I guess , Astros’ manager Bo Porter and his managerial staff were fed another boatload of “ bull” , by the executives entering the season , about the ball-club’s ambitions for the year.

With a record of 3-4 , the Astros are competing in what is likely to be a competitive AL West division this season , where the main competitors for the divisional title are likely to be the defending champions the Oakland Athletics , who in turn , are likely to be challenged by the Texas Rangers , Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners . For Robinson Cano and his hefty $240 million contract , signed in the off-season, having left the New York Yankees , for what he believes to be greener pastures. This season , is likely to prove to be a tough one for the former Yankees’ infielder, as he seeks to prove that contract. Coming off a 6-3 loss to the Oakland A’s , Seattle will in their next game face the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington , where James Paxton will take to the mound for the Mariners to face off against Hector Santiago , in what should prove to be a very competitive pitching match-up , between the two starting pitchers .

As beleaguered as the issues are for the Houston Astros are now , I am not so sure, that the team will simply be good enough to avoid another one hundred loss season for a fourth consecutive time. Bo Porter’s staff simply does not have the acumen , and there is not a player on the staff ready, to assume any type of role of leadership or be presumed to be, looked upon as a leader. Tuesday’s scheduled meeting against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Center ,in Toronto, Ontario, where Brett Oberholtzer will pit wits with his opponent for the Blue Jays’ Mark Buerhle .

It is beginning to look as if Mark Teixeira’s career will become known for being injury prone , rather than for anything achieved on the field of play , since he was acquired by the New York Yankees to bolster the team’s roster and add to what was believed to be an already explosive lineup by way of the team’s offense. In his first season with the team in 2009, Teixeira proved to be as productive and well worth the contract , as it appeared to be at the time. The player we are told, will resume light exercise with a view to returning to the team and perhaps playing in his first regular season game by mid-April, but in all likelihood , I believe that Joe Girardi and the staff will not have their first baseman return too soon , until they believe that he is fully fit .

The Yankees’ 4-2 victory, over the Baltimore Orioles , places them atop of the AL East with a one game lead over the second placed Tampa Bay Rays (4-4) . How the season, now plays out for the New York Yankees will undoubtedly be predicated upon the play of mainstays, such as Teixeira , Derek Jeter , Ichiro Suzuki , Brian McCann , Kelly Johnson, CC Sabathia , Hiroki Kuroda , Carlos Beltran , Alfonso Soriano , Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury . The team will once again , play host to the Orioles today, when they meet at Yankees Stadium , in New York City, New York on Tuesday afternoon , where the opposing pitchers will be Wei Yin Chen and Ivan Nova .

On this date in MLB history , one of the great achievements within the game of baseball was attained , when Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hit , what was his seven-hundred and fifteenth home run (715) to move ahead of Babe Ruth in the all-time career home runs’ list. Granted, that record has since been surpassed by Barry Bonds , whose legitimacy about that mark , still comes into question, but not by the MLB hierarchy or that of the Elias Stats’ Bureau . While, there has never been a positive drug test on record to somehow negate Bonds’ achievement of the career home runs’ record or that of the single season mark for home runs. The persistent questions still lingers, about Bonds’ claims, that he never intentionally or knowingly, took what he believed to be a banned substance. In the court of “public opinion” , the now retired player’s claims, are not believed and the legal system has deemed Barry Bonds to be untruthful and indeed deceitful, with his denials and the statement offered at his perjury trial .

For Hank Aaron and the opposing pitcher on the day , when the record was broken , Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the event have been posthumously recorded . However, in the run-up and the aftermath, of Aaron , having broken the record, baseball historians have tended to gloss over the fact, the Hall of Fame inductee came under death threats , racial threats , along with the lives of the immediate members of his family being threatened by bigoted racists . Poignant, when you consider the claims being made at the time that , the nation had indeed progressed , that the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr , the integration of baseball and it being woven into the fabric of society , had indeed made the world a better place. Four decades later, those claims do not hold true , even with the nation’s first African-American President Barack Obama midway through his second Presidential term and the deaths of James Byrd Jr and Alfred Wright are seen as mere footnotes and the apathy of idiots are still within our midst , about the claims of racial bigotry has in fact ended .

We are now less than a week away from the culmination of the NBA regular season and several of the divisional races have been all but decided. In the Eastern Conference, only the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat , are the two teams apiece, to have garnered more than fifty wins. Counterparts within the West, where the San Antonio Spurs , Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers , are three of five teams to have accumulated more than fifty wins each . Somehow, one gets the feeling that in the East, theirs is a conference, where competitive basketball, which is claimed to being played, is simply an acronym for complete mediocrity .

For the New York Knicks , the past seventy two hours has seen the team play themselves into contention for a playoff berth, to once again showing the trait, that has been on display , all season long and that simple inconsistency . Their fans and the print media within the local market , may well decry the fact, the team, is now likely to miss the postseason , altogether. Yet, what else can you say, when there really has been absolutely no one willing to step up to the plate? As to this utter idiocy, that Carmelo Anthony ought to be given a worthy mention as a legitimate MVP candidate , has to be viewed with the utter contempt that the claims deserve. Anthony, has been playing on a team , that at no point during the regular season, have they led their division , nor have they strung together double-digit wins in terms of a consecutive wins’ stretch.

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An eleven point loss to the Miami Heat , may well have placed the “nail in the coffin” of Mike Woodson’s players and any last vestiges of hope, that they might well have had, in gaining a playoff berth. The team’s only hopes, now rest with the Atlanta Hawks simply imploding, with six games remaining on the Hawks’ schedule.

The seismic shock waves from the Superbowl and the lopsided loss suffered by the Denver Broncos , must be seen as something of a precursor, about what we have witnessed by way of the waiving of players and the contracts lengths now being offered new contracts by their new teams . It’s pretty much safe to say, with a number of franchises, seeking to make themselves “cap-friendly” , the luring of marquee free agents , while preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft , has been the one thing , that the front office executives have been using a great deal of due diligence in some of that preparation.

Veteran quarterback , Michael Vick has now found himself a new home , having signed with the New York Jets , where he is likely to be the backup to incumbent starter, Geno Smith , whose propensity throw interceptions during a game , are as frequent, as the guests at a wedding, throwing rice to celebrate the nuptials of a just-married couple. I am not suggesting that Smith is a terrible quarterback, but he has shown no inclination to improve his game and the coaching staff of the Jets, have done little to aid the player during his rookie season. The team’s problems during the season and the fact, they were simply of no relevance within the AFC East , simply summed up the Jets’ year and the fact , they performed so poorly.

It will be interesting to see how the New York Jets do during the off-season in the build-up to the NFL Draft, as GM John Idzik , seeks to rebuild and revamp the roster, while also seeing the type of influence, that Michael Vick will provide for Geno Smith.

The waiving of running back Chris Johnson , is likely to come back and haunt the Tennessee Titans , at some point , during their future . Yet, I am not entirely surprised by the move , considering the ongoing stupidity that we have witnessed from team owner , Bud Adams , down the years. Cap issues or not , the explanation now being offered by the front office , makes about as much sense , as Sarah Palin offering up her assessment as to the country’s foreign policy or what her alternatives might be to Barack Obama’s healthcare initiative and the program that has now taken effect. Johnson , at the time of his release, was one of the franchise’s most productive offensive players, and all, but a mere handful of running backs in the NFL, have more rushing yards in the league, over the past five seasons .

With a slew of teams, now said to be interested, in Chris Johnson , many of them in need of a productive running back, to aid a franchise with a woefully inept rushing offense . Rex Ryan is said to be keenly interested in acquiring the free agent running back , but the asking price , might well be too high for the New York Jets to meet at this juncture .

Johnson and his agent, Joel Segal are likely to look for an offer, that best meets the need of the player, while giving him the chance to play for a legitimate Superbowl contender. As to where that offer is now likely to come from, will be open to a great deal of conjecture and speculation over the next few days. With the NFL Draft, just over a month away , one seriously doubts that Segal would still like to have his client unsigned, with their being some depth to the ” draft class” of running backs said to be part of this group of rushers , as well as the other unsigned free agent running backs , who might come at a less steeper price, than his own client, Chris Johnson.

“Bang the drums more loudly” , as the consensus seems to be, that the South Carolina Gamecocks’, Jadeveon Clowney , is still being viewed as the number one pick for the NFL Draft. Now, whether or not, the Houston Texans and their front office led by GM Rick Smith decide to go this route, in making Clowney that number one overall pick , will be clearly dependent upon the assessment of the player made by head coach Bill O’Brien and his staff . The Texans’ needs, as a team overall, are great and the simple thought, that the defensive player is an answer to all of their needs , is merely ludicrous and not warranting an answer, that is simple. Defensively , the secondary was a mess, throughout last season , and that fourteen-game losing streak was a clear indicator as to several of the reasons why, beyond the poor play of the often injured Matt Schaub and an offense, that has been nowhere near as explosive, as in seasons past . Yet, for all the talk of Clowney’s impact as a defensive player , one cannot help but ask, is Bill O’Brien actually willing to pass up on an array of quarterbacks in this upcoming class , that many feel might be as good and is being compared to in some circles , as good as the 2012 NFL quarterback class , that saw Andrew Luck , be taken as the number one overall pick , a grouping that I might add, that also included Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles , Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins .

Quarterbacks, may well come and go , but can a team that certainly in need of one afford to pass on the likes of Blake Bortles , Johnny Manziel , Teddy Bridgewater , Zach Mettenberger , Bryce Petty , Tajh Boyd , A J McCarron and Tom Savage ?

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