A year to savor …

A year to savor

In the blink of an eye the remnants of the last few monents of 2014 disappeared before our very eyes and from a sporting standpoint it was mainly a big disappointment from my own point of view. Nothing said or suggested mediocrity more than a regular NFL season so embarrassing , with the incompetence of a litany of teams. Major disappointments came thick and fast , along with the customary off-season firings and walkouts by either front office executives of head coaches. Jim Harbaugh now rides off into the sunset , assured that he will be welcomed with open arms by the Michigan faithful as he seeks to resurrect their fortunes and status among College Football’s fraternity. San Francisco 49ers’ front office executives may well have parted ways with their former head coach by mutual agreement , but if the rumors are to be believed , Harbaugh’s relationship with GM Trent Baalke , CEO , Chairman & team owner , Jed Yorke had deteriorated to such an extent , communications between the executives and Jim Harbaugh were simply cordial , professional , and nothing more than that. Off the field issues may well have also played a part in Harbaugh’s downfall beyond the complacency shown by the team throughout the course of the season, with the players simply lacking leadership and Colin Kaepernick seemingly more concerned with his growing public image and own self-importance , rather than his performing at a very high level in comparison to last season.

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The San Francisco 49ers failed to make the postseason and barely challenged within the NFC West , where they finished a disappointing third within their division, behind the Seattle Seahawks as the newly crowned divisional champions and perhaps the NFC’s surprise team of the season the Arizona Cardinals who finished in second place. Where San Francisco now goes from here will be solely dependent upon the choice made by Trent Baalke as he goes in search of a successor to fill the vacant head coaching position with the NFL franchise. There will be a litany of candidates qualified and not so qualified looking to be interviewed for the position. It’s safe to say, the question now becomes about who wants to be out on the West Coast coaching a team with a great deal of talent, but now lacking direction and a real sense of purpose ?

Having won their sixth AFC East title in succession the New England Patriots will now be looking to cement their status as the best NFL franchise over the past decade and a-half. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady remain the main building blocks of this franchise , but the Patriots’ long-term future will soon be about the younger players on the roster and the organization seeking a successor to Belichick , at the time of his choosing to ride off into retirement. As the number one seed in the AFC , New England has a bye in the first round of the postseason . Their closest rivals within the conference the Denver Broncos squandered their chance of positioning themselves to take that mantel by falling apart in the last few weeks of the regular season . Hopes of a Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning match-up is still very much on the cards, if both of these teams play to their true potential during the postseason. That very premise could take place in the AFC championship game.

The wildcard round of this postseason has some very intriguing games on the schedule, where the match-up between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys takes center-stage among the NFC contests . In the AFC , the ongoing rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers takes off on another chapter of what has been often described as one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL and certainly one, which tends to provide a great deal of drama , if not explosive outcomes . John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin will also get the chance to match wits against each other as the opposing coaches on the sidelines .

The drama surrounding this postseason will not be lost on the fans or the broadcast outlets alike , as they seek to pour over the events as they unfold. One can only hope the fans are not disappointed by the games or the sense of foreboding as things unfold over the course of this weekend.

Money is aid to be the ” root of all evil “ and that definitely would be the case in the world of politics, where the politicians’ greed is not only furthered by their avarice , but also by their sheer contempt of the electorate and the very fact that they believe themselves to be above reproach . That same analogy I believe can be used in the world of baseball (MLB) , where during this off-season we have seen some major moves in the free agency marketas well as a number of teams striving to either deplete themselves of talent or take on the pretext of proving to their fans they are ready to compete .

For the past two seasons the Los Angeles Dodgers have been the biggest spending team in Major League Baseball , making an outlay in excess of a half-billion dollars ($500,000,000) during the time span in question. Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff have proven to be adroit during the regular season, but in 2013 as well as last year the ball-club failed to meet the expectations of their fans and the front office , with abysmal performances during the playoffs . The decision by Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten to hire Andrew Friedman to become the Head of Baseball Operations indicates the franchise has decided to change their philosophy somewhat, when it comes to acquiring talent and not overpaying , but taking into account, there are several players on the current roster earning in excess of $15 million a year , it is hard to see how anyone can take the Dodgers seriously as they seek to turn over a new leaf.

Don Mattingly and his team capitulated to the St Louis Cardinals in this past season’s NLDS , a series where it was inexplicable to surmise how bad the Los Angeles Dodgers were said to be on all counts . The Dodgers’ offense may well have been anemic , but their pitching by comparison was nowhere to be seen . As the Dodgers embark upon their off-season sojourn before they begin their preparations for Spring Training and then the 2015 regular season , there will be some new faces as part of the roster , after the departure of several familiar figures who were a staple of the club over the past few seasons. One of those departing faces was Matt Kemp , now a member of the San Diego Padres .

It would be fare to suggest the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants provided baseball fans with one of the more memorable World Series in recent years , with the perceived underdogs the Royals looking usurp the NL franchise . Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy and the team triumphed in a thrilling seven-game series downing the Kansas City Royals in a climactic final game . In a pitching performance for the ages Madison Bumgarner brought back memories of the postseason performances of pitching legends Sandy Koufax and Don Larsen . It seemed only fitting Bumgarner was named World Series MVP . GM Brian Sabean during the off-season replenished the team’s roster with several acquisitions likely to make the ball-club stronger at several key positions while also knowing there are a number of players within their farm system ready to make that leap up to the Majors .

The “stain” which remains part of baseball’s folklore, beyond the ” Black Sox ” scandal will forever be the “steroid era ” and the fact Bud Selig failed miserably in reining the abusers , who sought to cheat the fans and the game of baseball by smearing some of the most historic feats within the sport. With the departure of Roger Clemens and others associated with that sordid chapter , baseball still has the remnants of Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun still within our midst , albeit , both players have served league mandated suspensions for their egregious transgressions with somewhat asinine acts of contrition on both their parts. Rodriguez will make his long awaited return to the New York Yankees and to a ball-club in the midst of change with the retirement of Derek Jeter after a two-decade long career with the ball-club. In the throes of this upheaval GM Brian Cashman will be looking to several of the veterans on the current roster to assume the mantel of leadership , the role Jeter assumed for several years as well as being the team captain. If Cashman now believes Rodriguez can fit the role , then he is sadly mistaken, along with the belief the player can provide the productivity needed to challenge within the AL.

New beginnings and a resurgence of a franchise still seeking its first NBA title. This was meant to be the storyline for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season . The return of LeBron James brought back Cavaliers’ fans to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio in droves. The four-time League MVP brings with him his productivity and an all-round game that has become the envy of the league and erstwhile fans alike. James’ departure from the recent two-time defending NBA champions the Miami Heat shook the foundations of the organization and simply took everyone off guard including his former former teammates. Miami’s failure in last seasons NBA Finals indicated a flawed team whose over-reliance on LeBron , was simply overwhelming the player during that Finals’ series. That heartbreaking loss may well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to his decision to leave the Miami Heat.

As The Prodigal Son, whose return was welcomed with open arms by the organization led to the upsurge in ticket sales , increased merchandize revenue and the appreciation in the value of the Cavaliers. This has been the impact LeBron James on the NBA and the franchise. Beyond his salary , the player’s annual income along with corporate endorsements places him among the upper echelons of international athletes and the top-paid NBA star . Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin sought to bring in also ,a wealth of experience by way the team’s roster . Point guard Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are meant to be the complementary foils guiding the ambitions of the team this season. A rookie head coach , David Blatt and his coaching staff have struggled to gain any real semblance of consistency the Cavaliers this season .
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Cleveland’s record (18-14) places the team five games behind the the Central Division leading Chicago Bulls (23-10) . Now with the reported loss of LeBron James for two to three weeks due due to a lingering injury , this will likely put a severe dent in Cavaliers’ divisional title hopes as well as the possibility of a high conference seeding within the Eastern Conference. James in the Cavaliers’ lineup offers the team the best chance of winning , rather than his being seated on the bench . The Cavaliers without LeBron James in the lineup after the announcement of his injury , saw the team take on the Charlotte Hornets in a road game at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte , North Carolina . All hands were on deck for the Cavaliers as Kevin Love led the team in scoring as they defeated the Hornets 91-87 .

Next up for Love and his teammates will be a home game on the January 4th , when they clash with Dirk Nowitzki and Rajon Rondo of the Dallas Mavericks at the Quicken Loans Arena . This contest could one of the highlights of the games scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Dallas comes into the contest on a four-game winning streak , with Rondo’s acquisition having set the tone for the team , as they move forward . The trade of the former Boston Celtics’ point guard immediately provides an uplift for the Mavericks and gives the a facilitator who is among the best in the NBA and who will also provide them with a very good defensive presence. Mavericks’ Mark Cuban’s insistence and pursuance of this deal that acquired Rajon Rondo , has certainly made the team a lot better and an almost certainty of being among the top contenders for the number one seed within the Western Conference this season. It would take a rather foolish individual to bet against this team and its pursuit of a second title, to add to the crown won in 2011 .

I’ll fight the good fight in support of a sport , just as long as I feel it will be of benefit to the masses ! Yet for all of the showmanship and acknowledged popularity of Floyd ‘ Money’ Mayweather , I have gotten to the stage , where I find the sport of boxing to be a complete comedy of errors and tragic parody of a once proud sport , which captured the fans’ imagination and held it drawn with its excitement and intensity !. No longer can it be case or where anyone can try to justify it, as still being truly relevant. Other than the world welterweight champion, there is not really a major draw in spite of the fact his greatest rival just happens to be an aging Manny Pacquiao . These two fighters for one reason or another have never sought to face each other at the prime of their careers , instead , often choosing to face lesser opponents along the way , to pad their statistics and the pursuit of multi-million dollar payday .

Mayweather and Pacquiao have passed the pinnacle of their respective careers and the legitimacy they each now seek will not be determined by final contest between the two , because in essence it will prove nothing at all. A proposed mega-fight would likely gross well over $200 million in revenues worldwide with each fighter guaranteed a minimum of $50 million apiece , but in the end of what profit would be to a sport now dying on its knees when there are no other high-profiled boxers on the horizon with the charisma or talent to be seen as the face of the sport and its long-term future? Multiple international governing bodies preside over boxing and there is no real uniformity other than the mandatory twelve rounds of boxing for a world title fight at the international and national levels dependent upon the allegiances of the national boards of the sport worldwide.

The alphabetical melange of who’s who , and the pecking order of the IBF, IBO , WBA , WBC and WBU created this actual nonsense within the sport of boxing and even now , with the pursuit and support shown by current WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman for a unified world champion primarily within the heavyweight division . The appeal for such distinction is lost on the fans and the litany of claimants of the various versions of the crown in question . It has been almost two decades since boxing had a undisputed heavyweight champion , with the last claimant being Lennox Lewis and it should be noted there is not an undisputed champion in any of the weight categories in the sport of professional boxing . Yet , this is the sport Senator John McCain (R-Az) , by his rationale believes relevant , while denouncing its upstart rival the genre of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) as being barbaric , with their being no rules or etiquette ? McCain’s idea of barbarism should be considered a joke , while he ought to be looking at his own legacy within the Congress and its lack of productivity over the last six years .

The rise in prominence of the UFC and the sport of MMA over the past decade and half , ought to be seen as how to brand , manage and package sport , where its reach is now global and in many ways has surpassed the branding and marketability of both the NBA and NFL. NFL combined . Dana White , UFC President along with the Fertitta brothers own the UFC and its affiliated concerns , a company with an estimated value of over $2 billion ($2,000,000,00) , making the three primary partners in this enterprise , extremely wealthy individuals . Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta , were already self-made billionaires , having made their fortunes in the casino and hospitality and hotel management business . Now their primary goal is to expand the growth of the sport globally , which they have been extremely successful in doing , with a stable of fighters from around the world signed to their company , as well as having affiliated associations across the globe.

In 2015 , UFC will ring in its schedule (UFC 182) with its first major title bout of the year, when Light Heavyweight Champion , Jon ‘Bones’ Jones makes a defense against challenger Daniel Cormier . Jones , the division’s best fighter is making his record ninth defense of his title. On January 3rd , 2015 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas , Nevada , UFC will unveil UFC 182 with an under-card of several terrific bouts, along with the marquee title title fight , with Jones’ Light Heayweight crown being on the line. Jon Jones , can be seen as the protagonist , with Cormier viewed as the antagonist , but there is the feeling the titleholder may well be looking to play ” the villain ” of the piece , because of the apparent ‘bad blood’ between he and the challenger , Daniel Cormier. Undoubtedly, Jones has become one the biggest names within the sport , with perhaps only Ronda Rousey , UFC’s most prominent female fighter, Cain Velasquez , Anthony Pettis and Jose Aldo among active fighters , considered to be extremely popular among the genre’s mass appeal of fans . The title fight itself , could be a contest, where Jones’ experience will out-match the simple bravado of his challenger Daniel Cormier . A thrilling five rounds of combative MMA should tell us a great deal about the champion and his opponent on Saturday night .

Tiger Woods remains the biggest draw in the world of golf, but he is no longer the best player in the game . I once read an asinine comment by someone, who determined because of his drawing power , it made him not only the best but also the only relevant person on the PGA Tour . Granted his having won his own version of the Tiger-Slam and having a career Grand Slam (the feat of winning golf’s four major tournaments [ US Open, PGA Championship , The British Open & US Masters]) gives him that aura of actual invincibility. Quite rightfully so, but over the past eighteen months , Woods’ game has been on the decline , he knows it and only an idiot would try and suggest otherwise , much like the buffoon and his comments concerning the former world number one ranked golfer. Tiger Woods’ legacy is unquestioned, but my question____ is beyond his off the course sexual peccadilloes , where he does he stand on social activism, his well-staged and manufactured philanthropic efforts ? Tiger Woods remains a damn hypocrite of the highest order, while trying to be a role model to young kids . Far too many of today’s professional athletes as well as those within the collegiate level, fit that very mold. Unfortunately, the media and fans alike, with a great deal apathy and naivete’ would prefer the salaciousness and candid sordid details , rather than witnessing great feats of athletic achievement . Never-mind the fact , when many of these athletes are continually caught in a lie, they will repeatedly seek to apportion blame elsewhere.

This upcoming season on the PGA Tour , it will be interesting to see whether or not Tiger Woods can wrestle away the number one ranking from Rory McIlroy , by far the greatest challenger to Woods’ once dominant presence on the PGA Tour . Phil Mickelson remains an afterthought , because more often than not , his challenges to Woods have ” petered out”, because of his missed opportunities. With over $265 million in official prize money being offered on the Tour(PGA Tour) , golf has now become one of the most lucrative way of earning a nice income from professional sports, without taking into account the enormous bye product of commercial endorsement from national and international corporate behemoths .

At the peak of his earning power, Tiger Woods earned well in excess of $100 million annually , now that figure is down to $65 million , still not bad for a player whose last Grand Slam Major victory came by way of the 2008 US Open in La Jolla, California ,. Yes, I can see why Woods is still considered a draw , with that victory , six years later , still toiling for his fifteenth Grand Slam victory , while Jack Nicklaus’ giant shadow and his own accomplishments in the Majors are simply glossed over by idiots and a buffoon with little knowledge of the sport or the African-Americans who created the legacy for Woods’ access to the game. Far be it for me to suggest this @sshole , has any damn idea what he is talking about to begin with .

Billy Horschel (three career wins) was feted , having won the FedEx Cup (2014) and with it a $10 million annuity as prize , but even with his consistency on the Tour in 2014 , the player was never a fixture or a major threat in any of the Grand Slam Majors , but yet I am being asked to be transfixed by character-less stereotypical androids who now make up the bulk of the players on the PGA Tour ? I think not !

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Picture gallery .

What sporting event of 2015 is likely to have you closely watching a performance or set of performances during this year ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery below.

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(1) Ryan Lindley (14) is here along the sidelines speaking with teammate Drew Stanton during a brief interval. A decision will be made by head coach Bruce Arians as to which of the quarterbacks is liable to be the starter for their wildcard round game to be played against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte , North Carolina , on Saturday, 3rd January , 2015 in the first of the two scheduled wildcard contests to be played on the day. Neither of the Panthers’ quarterbacks has any postseason experience playing in the NFL . The visiting Cardinals are deemed to be the slight favorites in the NFC contest. AP Photo / Keith Mitchell …

Ryan Lindley(14) of the Arizona Cardinals passes in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ersat Levi’s Stadium on December 28 , 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images North America/ Ezra Shaw ..

(3) Former San Francisco 49ers’ head coach Jim Harbaugh is seen here on the dais having just been introduced as the new head coach for the Michigan Wolverines program by AD Dave Brandon.Harbaugh and San Francisco formally parted ways by mutual agreement , but it is rumored the head coach had outlived his welcome within the organization because of his brash behavior . The Forty Niners for their part, thanked the head coach for his contributions and the resurrection of the team’s fortunes during his tenure . AP Photo / Jenny Hart ..

(4) Tom Brady (12) and Rob Gronkowski(87) of the New England Patriots react after Gronkowski caught a touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 14, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. . Getty Images / Jim Rogash ..

(5) Los Angeles Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten , left is seen here team manager Don Mattingly ,center and senior managing partner Mark Walter . The organization in the past two years have committed in excess of $500 million on payroll , only see the team squander their chances in the postseasons of 2013 and 2014. In both cases , the Dodgers fell in those hurdles to defeat the hands of the St Louis Cardinals . The decision was made to bring in Andrew Friedman to head up the Baseball Operations of the Dodgers with Ned Colletti given a lateral move within the front office, on becoming a special assistant and adviser to Kasten. Some changes have been made to the playing personnel , where fan favorite Matt Kemp was traded to the San Diego Padres. It is unlikely this will be last major move made by the Dodgers during the off-season . AP Photo / Ted Ross ..

(6) LeBron James(23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a call by the referees during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 30, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. James will be sidelined for a prolonged period believe to be between to two three weeks as he seeks to recuperate from an injury , leaving his teammates to pick up the slack as they contest several games in the upcoming weeks. LeBron James is not the only major NBA star to be felled by an injury , with Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks also out , adding to the Knicks’ turmoil this season and their moribund record . Getty Images /Kevin C Cox …

(7) Considered the best fighter of his generation and the linear champion within the welterweight division , Floyd Mayweather has never really shown the inclination to meet Manny Pacquiao in the ring in spite of his denials . At the same time, a proposed mega-fight between the two fighters has never taken place , because of disputes in how the purse would be split or the antagonism created by Pacquiao’s main promoter in the US Bob Arum and his continued disdain for Mayweather. In 2015 , the fight many have yearned for may well be scheduled but do not hold your breath waiting for the event to actually take place . Mayweather is likely have at least two fights placed on his schedule as he seeks to fulfill his $200 million fight-deal with cable broadcast outlet Showtime (CBS subsidiary) . AP Photo / Matt Engle ….

(8) Jon Jones ,left is seen here facing his challenger Daniel Cormier for the UFC Light Heavyweight title fight due to take place at the MGM Grand Casino & Hotel Resort Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada on the 3rd January, 2015. The main marquee event is the headliner for UFC 182. Range Finder Inc . @ all rights reserved copyrighted material …

(9) From left to right , background UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer , Jon Jones , UFC President Dana White , Daniel Cormier and comedian and fight analyst Joe Rogan . There have repeated physical altercations between Cormier and Jones with the insults hurled at an alarming speed between the two. Whether or not this is being done to publicize the bout remains to be seen but UFC is expecting a high PPV audience for the clash . …

(10) Jack Nicklaus, left , an eighteen-time Major winner also having won a carer Grand Slam of golf’s four major tournaments (The Masters British Open, US Open and PGA Championship ) is seen here alongside Tiger Woods . The two are considered to be greatest players of their respective generations and two of the greatest players in the history of the game. Woods seeks to emulate his idol by surpassing his historic tally of eighteen Majors wins . Yet his record pales in comparison to Nicklaus not solely because of fourteen wins of the four Grand Slam tournament but the mere fact Woods has not had as many top-five or top-ten finishes in each of the four tournaments in question , albeit, Tiger Woods has yet to compete in as many Slam tournaments over the course of his career. AP Photo / Eric Messner .. ….

(11) Rory McIlroy the world number one in the official World Golf rankings is already a three-time Major tournament winner, with only the The Masters yet to be added to his resume’ of Grand Slam victories . McIlroy joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to have won the first their first three Grand Slam tournaments before turning the age of twenty-five.. The Irish player is seeking to improve on his triumphant 2014 season, where he topped the PGA Tour and European Tour winners’ list in official prize money earnings . Getty Images Europe /. Henrik Thorstvaldt .. …

(12) Billy Horschel is seen here at the 2014 Valero Texas Open at the TPC in San Antonio , Texas . The tournament was won by Steven Bowditch. Horschel would go on to claim the FedEx Cup prize and with it a $10 million paycheck (annuity) . Billy Horschel has three PGA Tournament victories to his name and over $8.2 million in career prize money earnings. AP Photo / Eric Parsons ….

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