Ten Days In The Valley and There’s Not $hit To Do Except Laugh …

Ten Days In The Valley and There’s Not $hit To Do Except Laugh …

Well the state of California is being decimated by wildfires likely to cost the state billions of dollars and with large payouts of claims , much to the detriment of the insurance companies. Don’t shed a tear for the companies involved , because at the end of the day, the consumer will always ending up paying. As to the state of the professional sports’ franchises active within the state, other than the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Dodgers , everyone else is in a state of disarray. Granted, fans of the NBA are hoping that the teams within Los Angeles will be able to provide some glamour as well as some competitiveness. Yes , I am talking about the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers . It’s like talking about two of the hottest girls you’d like to take to the prom , only to find out that both have self-esteem issues , where both lack eloquence and elegance. Anyone who believes that either of these two teams will be able to beat the best that the West has to offer much less the rest of the NBA has to be severely delusional.


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The Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers will begin their respective regular season schedules on the 19th October when they play each other on the Opening Night of their season. With both lineups afresh with new talent beyond the rookies, it will be interesting to see if Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Luke Walton of the Lakers can get the best out of their teams while seeking that first victory to start the season.

Weekend results in the NFL , proved one thing , injuries and lack of consistency will continue to ruin the boldest of ambitions for the teams. Taking Colin Kaepernick out of the equation , but how much worse can things get for the San Francisco 49ers (0-6) ? This is a team that is badly coached , lacks motivation , but above all, the players themselves apparently don’t seem to care. Call it too much kneeling (pardon the pun) or plain and simple, head coach Kyle Shanahan is in way over his head. Team GM Jon Lynch in his first executive position within the NFL has gotten off to a preposterous start. For all of the idiots who believed his draft class for the Forty Niners was one of the best in the franchise’s recent history. I have to ask, what the hell were they looking at when they came to that particular assessment ? The rookies and sophomores on the roster are not particularly good , the defense is abhorrent and let’s just say the quarterback play is way beyond mediocre. If Brian Hoyer is your starting quarterback, simply imagine your team sinking in quicksand. I am not about to suggest the Niners will go 0-16 , but if they do, I won’t be surprised at all. However , I do feel if things get much worse over the next two weeks , then Kyle Shanahan could very well become the first coaching casualty of the season.

In week seven the San Francisco 49ers are due to meet the Dallas Cowboys , for whom this season has already turned into a nightmare . Give Jerry Jones his due , his comments notwithstanding , he is now proving himself to be a monumental asshole , albeit that he has sought to backtrack after his recent comments drew criticism from players on the Cowboys’ roster.

The Oakland Raiders are having struggles of their own and the loss of starting quarterback Derek Carr certainly hasn’t helped. This team simply takes a step backwards without Carr in the lineup. As he goes when at his best , then so does the team. Oakland was in action against the Los Angeles Chargers whose season to date hasn’t met expectations. With veteran quarterback Philip Rivers in the twilight of his career , it’s difficult to see how the team will contend over the course of the season. Sunday’s game at the O. Coliseum provided the fans the chance to see what both of these AFC West teams are made of . The Chargers came away with a narrow one-point margin of victory , while David Carr back in the lineup , played as best he could . Inevitably the Raiders are expected to challenge for the division this season , but as I alluded to earlier it will all be predicated upon the play of the young quarterback . Lofty expectations for a player whose recent contract negotiations led to him being given a hefty pay raise and contract . No doubt the Oakland Raiders will b e looking to make a second consecutive appearance in the postseason, something which they haven’t done in a number of years. Next up for Oakland will be a home game against the division leading Kansas City Chiefs , who are led by the rejuvenated Alex Smith . The former Niners’ quarterback , great during the regular season in recent years has been unable to lead this Andy Reid coached team into making a deep postseason run. Perhaps this will be the year in which they are able to achieve that feat ? Smith’s years with the Forty Niners were ridiculed , but when you take into account the disarray there was with the franchise and the lack of competitiveness , much of the blame should have been laid upon the front office led at the time by former GM Trent Baalke and the coaching staff of Jim Harbaugh , whose relationship with Baalke was seething and coming to a boil. Alex Smith’s last season in San Francisco was in 2012 with the team ending with an 11-4-1 record and their making the Superbowl . Smith was on the roster , but did not take part in the championship game .

Stanley Kroenke might well be one of the richest owners in all of North American professional sports. Forget Michael Jordan’s , $1 billion fortune or Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones . They all pale into insignificance when measured against Kroenke’s and then you bear in mind he is married to Ann Walton-Kronke whose late father Sam Walton was the founder of Walmart , the world’s largest retailer. Their combined net worth would be well in excess of $15 billion , if not more. As the owner of the Los Angeles Rams , whose relocation from St Louis , Missouri to the outskirts of greater Los Angeles , gives the city two NFL franchises , with the other being the Los Angeles Chargers . With the Chargers having their own misfortunes this season, it has been left to the Rams to pull up the slack. Who would have thought at this point of the season the Rams would be riding high, sitting on top of the NFC West ? Led by Jared Goff , a second-year starter in the league , along with Todd Gurley , this team appears to have a pretty potent offense. It remains to be seen if head coach if Sean McVay in his first year in charge can get the best out the Rams while possibly leading them into the postseason. It would certainly be the shock of the season , given the visibility of the Seattle Seahawks who have been the dominant team within the NFC West in recent seasons. The regular season meetings between these two teams should prove to be entertaining once they take place. The first of which happened in week five, with the Seahawks taking that game by the score of 16-10 . Their next scheduled meeting will be in week fifteen on the 17th December , 2017.

What can go wrong for the Los Angeles Dodgers at this stage of the MLB Postseason ? They have a 2-0 lead on the reigning World Series champions the Chicago Cubs and the Dodgers’ pitching staff has proven to be exceptional not only during the NCLS but also throughout this postseason. Yet , there is a caveat and a lesson to be learned . The Dodgers have a way of self-imploding, having a series well within their grasp , only to be caught like a deer in headlights. Against the Cubs , this is not a team you want to let off the hook , having caught them on the end of your line. Joe Maddon as a manager should not be underestimated , as he will find a way to place the Chicago Cubs back in this series.

Game three of the NLCS will revert back to Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois, when when the Chicago Cubs will play host to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A win for the home team will put them right back into the series . Losing and it places the Dodgers in the driver’s seat , having to take only two of the remaining four games in the series. The heroes for the Los Angles Dodgers have been Justin Turner , Kenley Jansen and Kenta Maeda . However , it has been a solid team effort which has led the Dodgers to be just two games away from making their first World Series’ appearance in over twenty-five years. Tommy La Sorda was the last manager of this ball-club to take a team to the World Series and win it outright. Current manager Dave Roberts seeking to achieve what his seven previous predecessors have been unable to do. Were he to achieve the feat , Roberts would become only the second African-American manager to have won a championship after back-to-back series’ titles won by Cito Gaston as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993 .

Alabama (6-0) still reigns supreme atop of College Football as they remain unbeaten and already guaranteed a playoff berth in the reformatted system . Elsewhere, in the once highly touted PAC 12 Conference , the once mighty powerhouses seem to have fallen on hard times. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide were hardly tested over the weekend when Alabama faced off against Arkansas , walloping their guests 41-9 in a home stand. The PAC 12 might still be revered , but I have always felt , defense was never part of the makeup of programs within the conference and where offense always remained a constant. The USC Trojans , Washington Huskies and Washington State are the top three teams within the conference based on their overall records . All three teams will be in action this upcoming weekend as will many of the top programs within College Football.

I have no doubt the SEC will produce this season’s National Champion and it seems all but a certainty Alabama will once again be in the mix. They will face Tennessee (Volunteers) in a game to be played on Saturday 21st October . Everything seems to be pointing towards a seventh consecutive victory for the Crimson Tide at this juncture. If Alabama’s fortunes are said to be on the rise then consider the problems now facing conference rivals Florida (Gators) . Let’s just say head coach Jim McElwain , his staff and players have some real issues to discuss. McElwain has seen this team simply fall apart at the seams and it’s not likely to get any better unless the players show signs of improvement. Up next for Florida will be a match-up against Georgia (Bulldogs) in Gainesville , Florida in a game being played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium . One more loss and the Gators will be out of the running for a lucrative Bowl Game once and for all.

It’s official , the Athletics Department of the University of Louisville had their fill with Rick Pitino , Head Coach of the Basketball Program for the university. With all of the mounting evidence and repeated infractions in spite of the denials from Pitino . He was fired with no formal comment from the coach after his dismissal . The writing was on the wall, because in spite of Louisville’s record , the off-court issues were far too much to bear for the fans and school itself. Rick Pitino’s character , lack of judgment , deceit and lies had finally caught up with him . No amount denials or excuses by his supporters or the man himself was ever going to be enough for him to escape the inevitable. There was no way he could continue in his role as the coach of the program under any circumstance whatsoever. Serious violations of NCAA rules, repeated infractions and the lack of oversight all fell on Pitino’s shoulders and that of the Athletics Department headed by AD Tom Jurich , who has since been replaced by Vince Tyra . The Sword of Damocles was wide-reaching as it led to Greg Postel being named Interim University President.

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Rick Pitino , now the former Head Coach of the Louisville Men’s Basketball Team. Pitino along with AD Tom Jurich were fired from their respective positions after revealed improprieties concerning the basketball program. There is also a federal investigation of Pitino and four other NCAA Basketball Head Coaches , which could lead to further penalties of the programs involved. Rick Pitino has denied any wrongdoing on his part or by any of his associates. There is mounting evidence to suggest the head coach has been less than truthful with some of his comments.

Rick Pitino’s future now looks bleak and his chances of returning to the collegiate ranks as a Head Coach are less than zero .

The firing of Rick Pitino might be the best thing to happen within the world of College Basketball , because for far too long , coaches like Pitino have been placed on a lofty pedestal not just by the fans, but also by the idiot members of the media , who would rather write meaningless stories , rather than seek out the truth when there is wrongdoing on the part of these coaches. It might even lead to coaches not skirting the rules , taking heed and changing how they conduct themselves professionally. Jim Boeheim’s denials concerning his assistant Bernie Fine , still leaves a disgusting taste in one’s mouth. A sexual predator whose proclivities rival that of Jerry Sandusky , whose close confidante was none other than Joe Paterno , then Head Coach of Penn State . Needless to say, the ensuing cover-up initiated by certain members of the Board of Trustees of Penn State , dragged the school’s reputation further into the ground.


Picture gallery and by clicking on an individual frame you can view that image in a reformatted size along with a narrative.

From rags to riches and back to rags again, this is what we are likely to see over the remainder of the sporting year as it relates to the sporting topics raised in this article. What thoughts if any do you have on the subject ?

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Tophatal …..

Dead On Arrival (DOA), An Autopsy Worth Waiting For Or Was It ? …

Dead On Arrival (DOA), An Autopsy Worth Waiting For Or Was It ? …

Was there really anyone expecting the NBA Finals to be truly competitive ? The first three games of the series were simply a precursor of what the fans were to expect over the course of the series. Kevin Durant led the Golden State Warriors to their second NBA title in the past three seasons . Durant was one of the primary factors behind the his team’s victory , but what should not be overlooked , were the defensive capabilities shown by the Warriors who completely outplayed during this series. Opposing head coaches , Steve Kerr of Golden State and Tyronn Lue of the Cavaliers matched wits, but it became clear , Lue was not the equal of his Warriors’ counterpart.


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The fallout now begins, as fans and analysts begin to question how and why LeBron James was not able to lead Cleveland passed their Western Conference foes. One thing became abundantly clear, the Golden State Warriors were not going to allow the officials to dictate this series , as they were able to do last season during the NBA Finals , when the ejection of Draymond Green turned the tables and ” gifted ” the title to the Cleveland Cavaliers. For LeBron James , a career littered with firsts , he added another to his career by become the first player in NBA history to be on the losing side in five NBA Finals’ series . Questions will be asked as to what went wrong and why . The first of which , who is to blame and is this Cavaliers’ team in its current guise as good as advertised ? Clearly not, after this staggering series’ loss , where the four games lost by the Cleveland Cavaliers were by double-digits and where on one of those games , James accounted for almost half of the team’s turnovers.

Personally, I feel Cleveland’s front office led by GM David Griffin acquiesced to far too many of James’ needs as to how the roster was built to complement LeBron James’ skill-set for this regular season and Playoffs. Seasoned veterans such as Kyrie Irving , Deron Williams , Kevin Love and Kyle Korver were basic no-shows during the series. However , it should be noted when you play in a mediocre conference where you’re barely tested over the regular team schedule , you simply know that the team is likely to be exposed once they get to the NBA Finals , as was the case here against the Golden State Warriors.

It will be interesting to see what decisions could very well be made during the off-season and if David Griffin will allow LeBron James will have a major say, as to which players he would ultimately see signed by the franchise as free agents. Cleveland finds itself in a non too enviable position and will likely to shed one or two of their high-priced players on the roster to make way for a big-money signing .

Kevin Durant having won his first NBA title as well as being named Finals’ MVP has to feel vindicated in his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors. It was a shrewd decision by front office executives Jerry West and GM Bob Myers to lure Durant, while players Steph Curry , Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were all able to play a role in Durant’s acquisition. During this off-season , I believe Golden State will be looking to bolster the roster and I certainly believe they will remain the team to beat within the West as they have been over the last three seasons. Team co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , successful businessmen in their own right have been able to defer all business matter and personnel decisions to a front office staff which is truly exceptional in its own right , with their biggest asset being their Hall of Famer Jerry West.

While people continue to talk about dynasties and rivalries within the NBA, I believe these are now things of the past , as free agency has simply impaired that entire premise. The last great rivalry seen in this league came at the height of prosperity seen with the Boston Celtics’ and Los Angeles Lakers’ days , which are now long-gone . The only way is now up for the Golden State Warriors and for their fans they are now relishing being on top of the world . A second NBA title in three years and every possibility they are likely to go unchallenged over the next few years. Kevin Durant , Steph Curry and Klay Thompson complement each other well enough for me to believe this team in its current guise is far better than the Miami Heat team which had the triumvirate of LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade . The trio would begin to go their separate ways after James’ relationship with Heat President Pat Riley was soured , because of their respective egos and losing sight of their alleged ambitions.

LeBron James being the superstar that he is , puts his own ambitions above all else in his zest to win and be accepted,  but unfortunately , it is to the detriment of others , in particular the organization , namely the Cleveland Cavaliers. And while I agree there is blame to be passed around , I can’t help but feel , the front office of the franchise is now at a loss as to what else they can and need to do .

If the future looks somewhat dim for the Cleveland Cavaliers, then imagine the situation now unfolding with the New York Knicks under the leadership of their erstwhile executive Phil Jackson . The time has now come , where we have to stop reveling in what Jackson has been able to achieve on the court as a basketball head coach and look at his ever-growing failures as an NBA Executive . It has become abundantly clear , that he could not spot talent , were he aided in his quest with a box of Crayola and blotting paper . Other than Kristaps Porzingis , his draft choices and player acquisitions for the Knicks have been an absolute ‘ bust’ . This wasn’t a team built to win , but merely to stay afloat , as has been the way with the organization over the past six seasons under the helm of owner James Dolan , who actually continues to put profits above the team’s competitiveness.

There continues to be discontent and dissension within the New York Knicks’ organization and it has become increasingly clear that among the playing staff , all is not well. I believe Jeff Hornacek and his entire coaching staff are completely out of their depth and that’s Phil Jackson’s zeal for the continued archaic ‘ Triangle Offense’ is another one of the reasons why the Knicks failed so miserably last season. The team’s record was a true reflection of what they have become, unimportant and absolutely redundant .

The NBA needs a competitive league and most certainly a competitive Eastern Conference and most definitely a conference that stand on its own against its Western counterpart. I cannot see this happening anytime soon , because the players are simply not that good !

If NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is hoping fans will be entertained in the coming years , then he had better hope the quality of the players being drafted from among the College Ranks will be as good as advertised . There appears to be a great deal of hype over Lonzo Ball and the possibility of his being taken as the number one overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft . I certainly don’ t believe Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics’ front office will be going that route when the decision is made. From my own perspective , the risks far outweigh the alleged advantages which Ball is said to have. La Var Ball , father of the young UCLA basketball prodigy has courted continued controversy , with outlandish demands and statements concerning his son. It remains to be seen where the player is taken in this Draft, but if the rumors are to be believed , then Ball could very well end up remaining instate and playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Team executives Magic Johnson and Lakers’ GM Rob Pelinka have been heaping a great deal of praise on Lonzo Ball, but given the Lakers’ continued misfires with their draft picks over the last six years , I am not expecting the young phenom to set the NBA alight.

Los Angeles Lakers’ fans are certainly hoping for the franchise to return to former glories of the past , but I feel under Luke Walton and the roster in its current guise , they will remain at least three years away from being competitive enough to challenge the best the Western Conference has to offer as well as the rest of the NBA. Luke Walton can only hope that there will be a marked improvement from the team . Hopes of acquiring a big-time marquee free agent appears to be a long shot , especially when you consider the makeup of the roster isn’t that great.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be missing from the list of competitors competing at the US Open being held at Erin Hills (GC) , Erin Hills , Wisconsin, beginning on the June 15th, 2017. Woods’ withdrawal was to be expected , with the former world number one , having not competed in an officially sanctioned PGA Tour Event in 2017. Mickelson’s absence was announced in advance , when he informed the PGA and USGA of his intent, citing his wish to be at his daughter’s graduation. With two of golf’s most recognizable faces missing from the second Grand Slam Major of the season , it will be interesting to see which player from the field will rise to the occasion .

There can be no denying Tiger Woods has been his own worst enemy for the better part of two years , having not won a tournament of a top-ten finish of any kind anywhere in the world. Woods’ off the course issues have been well-chronicled alongside his current addiction to prescriptive medication. From my own perspective , I do not believe he has the ability to win another Grand Slam Tournament and he is unlikely to surpass the eighteen career Grand Slam victories recorded by Jack Nicklaus .

While I believe Phil Mickelson enjoys being on a golf course and competing , I believe the player no longer relishes tournament play as much he would like us to believe. He has come through some emotional trauma of his own , his wife’s cancer scare, as well his own medical issues , which are ongoing and having taken a physical toll on his body. Mickelson has amassed a sizable fortune while still being among the highest paid golfers in the world.

It should prove interesting , seeing whether or not a top-ten player from the rankings will be crowned the 2017 US Open Champion at the tournament’s climax on Sunday evening . First-round leader Rickie Fowler has a great deal to prove and would undoubtedly like to show many of his contemporaries that he should be considered among the best of the players currently on the PGA Tour.


Picture gallery . By clicking on an individual frame you can view that image in a reformatted size alongside the accompanying narrative.

What to your mind has or was the biggest disappointment during the regular season and NBA Playoffs ? Also, do you believe that the US Open will provide a great deal of excitement as the tournament continues ?

Tophatal ……….. 06/13/2017

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NBA news

2017 NBA Finals

2017 NBA Draft

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PGA Tour news

PGA Tour schedule (tournaments)
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