Still looking for a hero …

Still looking for a hero

Well this weekend, within the sports world there have been the slew of news’ stories which will likely inspire us or simply let us down. With the US Open recently coming to an end , Serena Williams was unable to make history by completing a Grand Slam of Majors , by seeking to win all four Major Grand Slam tennis title within the calendar year. Williams’ fell in the semi-finals of the US Open where she was surprisingly beaten in three sets by Italy’s Roberta Vinci . William’s conqueror however, would go on to lose in the finals to fellow Italian, Flavia Pennetta , for Pennetta’s first Grand Slam title at the age of thirty-three.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


In the Men’s Open Final , Novak Djokovic won with a great deal of ease , defeating Roger Federer , to win his tenth Grand Slam title of his professional career. For Djokovic , it also cemented his standing as the number one player in the world in the ATP standings. The Serbian can now lay claim to three of the four Majors for this calendar year and looking forward to another successful foray on the ATP Tour . As this season rounds out its schedule on both the ATP and WTA Tours , there can be no denial as to who the best two players in the world have been on either tour. Serena Williams remains the best player of her generation , while Novak Djokovic continues his dominance among the male players , especially true over the past six years.

Serena Williams will seek to add to her career resume’ in the coming year, with biggest quest being an another Grand Slam singles’ title , the twenty-fourth of her professional career which would equal the career tally of Steffi Graf , the last female , achieving the Grand Slam (winning all four Majors – Australian, French , Wimbledon US Open).

It has now come to the point where the sport of boxing remains not only on the decline but the international governing bodies of the sport have become something of a farce. Evidence of this was certainly in place , when welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr faced the latest challenger for his titles , with Andre Berto took to challenging the unbeaten champion. Mayweather sought to equal the unbeaten record of the late heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano , whose 49-0 unbeaten record remains a standard bearer within the sport. Berto , was not considered a worthy challenger to the champion, but as of late, Floyd Mayweather would rather cherry-pick his challengers based on their lack of talent rather than the competitiveness of really being challenged in the ring.

Mayweather entered his bout with his record intact at 48-0 and the chance of boxing immortality were he to equal Marciano’s feat. With the fight being staged at the boxing Mecca for the sport. The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada , was the site for this lavishly staged pay for view (PPV) event where Mayweather was due to receive an estimated $35 million upfront payday without taking into account post-fight revenues . Berto received his guaranteed $ 4milllion purse , but in essence it led to a farce in the ring, with the challenger barely doing anything of note during this bout.

Floyd Mayweather won the fight by a unanimous decision, but there had been a great deal of controversy when it was widely announced that one of the three judges actually scored the bout to be a draw.

Officials from the WBA and WBC were quick to jump to defense of the judges , but with there being no acknowledgment of the scorecards having been revised. One has to question which of the three judges ringside, among Adalaide Boyd , Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld , could have seen fit to believe this title fight had in fact been a draw ?

Where Floyd Mayweather now stands among the pantheon of boxers considered to be among the all-time greats can be best judged by your like or dislike of the boxer or how you view the sport , by what it has become or what it once was. I believe Floyd Mayweather Jr to be an extraordinary talent and a fighter who at his best was supremely gifted. Do I believe him to be better than fighters such as Marvin Hagler , Muhammad Ali, Ray Robinson , Larry Holmes , Sugar Ray Leonard , Mike Tyson or any other of the great boxers over the past six decades who have graced the sport.

Mayweather has stated this was to be his last fight as a professional and to my mind his possibly bowing out , with two rather unimpressive and lackluster victories , further points to why the sport of boxing is in such disarray. The welterweight champion’s last fight against a fighter believed to be his greatest challenger and nemesis proved to be something of great farce as Manny Pacquiao simply put up a less than spirited challenge in their title bout. Pacquiao lost in a unanimous decision and then went to claim that an injury suffered during a pre-fight training session led to his underwhelming performance. Pacquiao himself has suggested his next fight will be his last professional bout before he enters the world of politics, as he seeks to become President of the Philippines during the country’s next Presidential elections.

Week one of the NFL season has now come into focus , with the schedule having began with last Thursday night’s game which pit the Pittsburgh Steelers against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, in Foxboro’ Massachusetts. The Patriots came away with something of a narrow seven-point victory , but in reality Tom Brady in his return to the NFL , could have put up fifty points on a Steelers’ defense which was lackluster and completely out of their element. With the win in the aftermath of the Deflate-Gate Scandal the New England Patriots can set about seeking to make a successful defense of their AFC East divisional title.

Meanwhile, the NFL hierarchy and Roger Goodell will seek to make some sort of amends for the league’s ongoing stupidity and lack of real oversight of a league now completely bereft of intelligence and leadership. Beyond that, there is not much which really needs to be said concerning the league at present.

Of the more surprising results to have taken place on Sunday was the thrilling victory by the St Louis Rams over the Seattle Seahawks in a game filled with missed opportunities by the visiting Seahawks who failed to capitalize on numerous mistakes made by this Jeff Fisher coached team during the contest. The end result was a 34-31 victory for the Rams, as they begin their season with a win. Next up for both teams in week two will be the St Louis Rams taking on the Washington Redskins at Fedex Field in Landover, Maryland, while Maryland, while the Seattle Seahawks will enter the second game of their season where they will meet the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field , in Green Bay Wisconsin on Sunday, 20th September,2015.

The hype of the meeting between the last two Heisman Trophy winners , came by way of the Tennessee Titans facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota , the two players taken in number one and number two in the 2015 NFL Draft , was meant to be a contest of two very astute and good quarterbacks . The events as they unfolded indicated Winston was not the player the Buccaneers hoped for as the home team suffered a rather embarrassing and lopsided twenty-eight point loss , 42-14 to the Titans. Whatever was expected from Jameis Winston was nowhere to be found during this contest , whereas Mariota was able to show a great deal of composure during his first professional start in the NFL. As to what this contest might suggest about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , can be best summed up by the quotes attributed to Jameis Winston during his post-game interview and that of head coach Lovie Smith , as he seeks to make sense of the home team’s lackluster display.

While I don’t believe the Buccaneers will have as abysmal a season as in 2014 , but this team on paper, appears to be no better than the roster of last season where their accomplishment of winning two games was a testament to the incompetence and ineptitude shown by the entire organization from the top down . Lovie Smith has already began to use a great deal of rhetoric and pragmatism to describe what is now becoming an indelible trait for the Buccaneers’ organization and that is to lose with alarming regularity .

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will seek to get back on an even keel when they face divisional rivals the New Orleans Saints on the road at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans Louisiana , in week two of their regular season schedule . I expect Drew Brees and the Saints to overcome their week one failure against the the Arizona Cardinals , which a resulted in a stunning 31-19 loss to their NFC counterparts.

In the space of three years, Robert Griffin III has gone from being the quarterback thought to be the future of the Washington Redskins’ franchise to persona non-grata, as Jay Gruden and his coaching staff continue to show just how out of their depth they just happen to be. Griffin has gone from being the incumbent starter to the either number two or three on the team’s depth chart of backup quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins in the Redskins’ week one encounter has simply shown that he might not be that much better than his counterpart and teammate on the roster. In Washington’s 17-10 home loss to the Miami Dolphins , their display was as abysmal and uninspired a defeat as one might expect of team lacking in confidence , a soul complete lack of leadership and coaching acumen on or off the field of play.

Judging by the outcome of this game, beyond the anemic offense shown by the Redskins and the secondary being equally incompetent . I would dare say the NFC East based franchise will be in for a hell of a torrid time this season . Cousins’ own play was indecisive and was one of the many facets which made this loss all the more probable and likely unacceptable to not only the fans, but also team owner Daniel Snyder and certain members the front office.

Jay Gruden and the coaching staff will have a week to prepare for the St Louis Rams’ visit to FedEx Field on Sunday, 20th September , where I fully expect the visitors to take advantage of the home team on the day , with a win, pushing mark to 2-0 in starting their season.

Josh McCown out and Johnny Manziel is in and with that beckons perhaps, another go around for the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner out of Texas A&M . Cleveland Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine had no other alternative but to give Manziel the second start of his professional career in the NFL. Manziel and Cleveland would start out fast , but the game ended in a blowout loss to the New York Jets in a 31-10 rout of the Browns. I am not about to suggest there has been a remarkable improvement in the play of the Jets, but Cleveland’s defense from the second quarter on-wards, was nowhere to be seen during this game. Todd Bowles and the New York Jets came into this contest well-prepared and looking to make a statement , one that will be widely seen around the NFL. It would not be unfair to suggest the Cleveland Browns might just have the worst secondary and offensive unit in the entire NFL , with the league being only one game into the season.

Johnny Manziel has transitioned from being a very good college player to being a little less than average as a NFL player and quarterback. The blame I believe lies in Manziel’s own ego and the very fact the Browns’ coaching staff hasn’t best figured how to best utilize the passer on the field. The blame I believe lies in Manziel’s own ego and the very fact , the Browns’ coaching staff hasn’t best figured out how to utilize the passer on the field.

Cleveland Browns’ head Mike Pettine is now caught between a rock and a hard place, because I do not believe, having Manziel suit up for the Browns’ next game will be of any benefit to the player’s mental ability when he has shown his game, is still a long way off from where it needs to be if Cleveland are to be considered legitimate contenders within their own division , much less the AFC and the entire NFL. The Browns are now a team low on morale , lacking leadership and where the coaching staff does seem to be completely bereft of ideas .

It now all comes down to this and the last twenty-plus games of the MLB season, with several teams still in contention for a postseason berth. As an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves and witnessing their season-long collapse, has been nothing short of a major disappointment. Idiotic roster moves with the departure of several notable players, has led to a dysfunctional team and coaching staff led by a completely clueless Fredi Gonzalez . The Braves’ roster as it now stands has no one with the leadership ability of Chipper Jones , Tom Glavine , John Smoltz or even Greg Maddux. The playing ability of the players on the current roster is less than mediocre , for which a great deal of the blame must rest with GM John Hart and team President John Schuerholz.

The Braves have been falling apart at the seams for the past five years and their last postseason appearance was simply emblematic of the ongoing issues still facing this organization. Their concentration on the building of a new ballpark is only outlasted by their sheer idiocy in the belief that a new venue (stadium) will be the solution to their problems, when the on-field product has been less than desirable over the past five seasons.

Atlanta remains a small-market team with large-market ideas befitting the likes of the New York Yankees , but in reality, the Braves do not possess the drive or the ambition to really pull off or create the type of success needed to win multiple titles or be a perennial contender for the World Series. The years of success under Bobby Cox are now long-gone and simply looking back to the past without, learning any lessons from those events have gone a long way in placing the Atlanta Braves in their present situation. This season will be one of the worst on record for the franchise with their being a realistic possibility of the Braves being on track to lose 100 hundred games for the very first time in recent franchise history.

As of September 14th the Atlanta Braves were 56-88 , twenty-seven games behind NL East divisional leader the New York Mets (83-61) . As the losers of eight of their last ten games. Victories for this Braves’ managed team have been infrequent and in so many ways, it has been reflective of the game performances of the Atlanta Braves this season.

Coming off another emphatic loss to the New York Mets on the 13th September , 2015 , the Braves will resume their schedule with a home game against the high-flying Toronto Blue Jays when the two teams meet on Tuesday evening at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia ,. John Gibbons , I believe has done a phenomenal job in molding together a team in the true sense of the word , a team which has played with a great deal of tenacity and unison. Gibbons might now be the front-runner for the AL Manager of The Year Award , but there are several noteworthy candidates for the award. Yet , is my belief the owners, would rather see this team not only win the AL Pennant but also top off their season with a triumphant win of the 2015 World Series. Bringing about the first title for the Jays since their back-to-back triumphs in 1992 and 1993.

If the Atlanta Braves are having a lamentable season, then for the Philadelphia Phillies , this will prove to be a year they would rather forget as the entire front office have failed disastrously. Interim manager Peter Mackanin has struggled to get the best out of a team that has simply been a horrendous eyesore. Ryan Howard is being rewarded handsomely , but his statistics this season have been absolutely feeble . To justify his $20 million salary in this day and age when players are earning that sum and a great deal more now is almost inexplicable. Yet bear in mind , the $300 million payroll of the Los Angeles Dodgers and you have to wonder when baseball will seek to get its financial house in order.

The Phillies will be taking on the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Ballpark in the second of a three-game home series. Tuesday afternoon will pit Philadelphia starting pitcher David Buchanan against Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals in this NL contest. Philadelphia’s 8-7 loss to the Washington Nationals where former Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon was the winning pitcher placed the home team in a now untenable position within the NL , with their now having the worst record in the league. There has been now consistency with regard to the play of the Phillies this season and the mere fact they’re now seeking to use players from their farm system at this point of the season further highlights the issues now to be found with this entire roster .

The ouster of Philadelphia Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro is widely expected to take place, with the rumblings of team President Pat Gillick , Chairman David Montgomery , Bill Giles and several senior executives simply dissatisfied and angered with the team’s failure this season. Amaro’s expected departure could also be followed by several impending free agents as well as of a number the high-priced players this season who have been an abysmal failure . .

Picture gallery. By clicking on an individual image you can view that frame in reformatted size along with an accompanying narrative.

The world of sports tends to focus far to much on the stars, because they are often seen as the supposed heroes on a team. Unfortunately, when those athletes tend to fail , blame is apportioned elsewhere, rather than actually seeking out the real stars on a team, the ones who are the leaders and the real heroes____ vocal leaders, ones who are judged by their deeds .

Tophatal ……………..

Editor’s advisory notes

ATP World Tour

WTA Tennis



Boxing news (Yahoo Sports)


NFL news

NFL results week one

NFL week two schedule

Monday Night Football schedule (2015)

NFL standings

NFL player stats week one

NFL team stats


MLB news

MLB schedule three days at glance (12th thru’ 14th September)

MLB probable pitchers 15th September

MLB standings (divisional)

MLB standings (wildcard)

MLB schedule important dates

The Best I’ve Ever Seen ……………

The Best I’ve Ever I Seen

Some of my work colleagues and I were having a discussion as to the best sport stars we’ve seen at (in) their respective sports. I told them that as I wasn’t all that versed to many of the top athletes or teams here in the US that we’ve all seen over the course of our lives. Being a Brit ,I’ve seen my share of stars across varying sports arenas. But across the North American landscape I’ve not seen many of the best, per say.

Having arrived here in the early nineties , the primary US athletes that I knew or were aware of, were tennis players and track stars , John McEnroe , Jimmy Connors , Arthur Ashe , Stan Smith , Pete Sampras , Andre Agassi , Carl Lewis , Lerory Burrell , Mike Powell , Ed Moses and Michael Johnson .

Now don’t get me wrong but as good as those players are . To my mind the best tennis player I’d ever seen was Bjorn Borg ! Over the course of his illustrious career he’d won “eleven” Grand Slam singles titles. But what was even more astounding was the rate at which he won those titles. Five successive Wimbledon singles titles and six French singles titles. All of those titles were won before retired at the age of 27. Borg did make a brief comeback but it was short lived. And people would suggest that Sampras was a far greater player than Borg ? In what universe ? Measure their feats over their comparative ages and you’ll see that Borg had achieved far more and that’s with the fact of him retiring from the game at a comparative early age. Experts my a_s !

Bjorn Borg wins his fifth successive Wimbledon title in defeating John McEnroe in 1980.

Now people might suggest that Sampras was Borg’s equal but anyone who knows the game of tennis will know that Sampras’ game was flawed when it came to playing on clay. Now we’ve seen the rise of Roger Federer and there’s no doubt in that he is the greatest male player of this or any other generation of male tennis players . Fourteen Grand Slam singles’ titles should be proof of that and the fact that he’s made it to the semi-finals of 19 straight Grand Slam singles tournaments. No male or female tennis player in the ‘Open or pre-Open era’ has ever accomplished that feat. And it’s unlikely to repeated or be surpassed by another player in the future. That is complete dominance of a sport , far greater than that of Tiger Woods’ dominance of the PGA Tour .

HBO’s presentation of the now infamous Hagler vs Hearns middleweight bout 1979. One of the most vicious bouts there will ever be in the annals of boxing.

I’ve gotten to the stage where I look at the sport of boxing and just think to myself what the hell went wrong with this damn sport ? The top fighters rarely fight each other anymore. And then we have an ass in boxing promoter Bob Arum telling us that the sport of MMA is ran and by a bunch of racial bigots. This coming from a promoter who once described one of the boxers in his stable …. “as one of the ‘best niggers’ I’ve ever had “. Now forgive me, but if Arum can be that condescending and still hold down his position as one of sport’s most powerful promoters. Then it would suggest to me that the sport is simply devoid of integrity . Both Arum and Don King have made a mockery of the sport.

Ali knocks out George Foreman in Kinshasa , Zaire to win the world heavyweight title.

Now I’m not going to deny that Muhammad Ali is the ‘greatest heavyweight boxer’ of all time and that’s with due respect to Joe Louis . His feats in the ring simply speak for themselves. The three time heavyweight champion of the world. And the fact that for almost four years he was denied the right to defend his title having never lost in the ring. He was stripped of his title for refusing to enlist in the US military and to fight in the ‘Vietnam War’ . As a conscientious objector , it was his right but politically the Lyndon Johnson administration wanted to make an example of the fighter. His epic ‘three epic fights’ with Joe Frazier and then his emotional laden bout with Larry Holmes cemented Ali’s legendary status. Less we forget also, there was ‘the great upset’ when he knocked out the then ‘invincible’ George Foreman in Kinshasa , Zaire. And although growing up I saw many of Ali’s fights. I still felt that when it was indeed time for him to walk away from the sport that he graced for so many years. He simply stayed in it for all of the wrong reasons. He was coerced into this decision by his then promoter Don King. And in King , you had someone who essentially is a parasite who clings to the boxers in his stable very much in the same way that a fly loves to be around fecal matter looking for anything it can derive of it that would be of benefit to them at the time.

My own favorite boxer in the ring was and still is Marvin Hagler . And though many well feel that Sugar Ray Robinson is the greatest middleweight of all time. Which he could well have been but I’m not so sure that a ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson at his best could beat Marvin Hagler ! And though many talk about Ray Leonard being a supremely gifted fighter but I feel that Leonard simply fought to please himself and to make money. And that has been essentially it as far as his legacy was concerned. We’ve since the dominance of Bernard Hopkins within the division and his 20 successful defenses of the middleweight title. But the pedigree of the fighters of this era when measured against the era of Hagler , Leonard and Tommy Hearns pales into comparison. Middleweight fighters of this era are nowhere as skilled or versed as boxers, much less punchers or knockout artists.

Hagler for his part fought all comers and defended his title successfully eleven times before eventually losing it to ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard , in what some still consider to be a controversial split decision to this day. Hagler walked away from the sport angered by the decision. Leonard went on to further glory but to this day he knows that the decision went a long way in leaving the sport befuddled as to the decision making of the judges and the fracturing of the sport. Leonard for his part continued to fight adding to his legacy until he retired from the ring inauspiciously. He made one or two comebacks against lackluster opponents. But problems away from the ring soon blighted his personal life. Substance abuse , allegations of spousal battery and then a rather acrimonious divorce from his then wife.

Ed Moses wins Olympic gold in the 1976 Olympics in the men’s 400 meters hurdles .

When people talk about records and how special they are, the talk about Joe DeMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak in baseball. The UCLA Bruins’ 87 game win streak and Hank Aaron’s home run record. And as phenomenal as those records are. Very rarely do I ever hear the name of track and field star Ed Moses’ name being mentioned and his feat as the world’s greatest high hurdler . Over the course of 122 races at in the 400 meter hurdles event, Moses went unbeaten . And to add to his feat Ed Moses won two Olympic gold medals and multiple world championships on the track over the distance. But that span of 122 successive victories were over the span of a decade . Consider this also, of the fifty fast times ever at the distance , 28 of those times are held by Ed Moses. That is dominance my friends , complete and utter dominance. But unfortunately the sport of track and field is no longer the bastion of US male dominance. It has now become a niche sport that now only gets heightened interest once the quadrennial Summer Olympics comes around . Then and only then, is there a heightened interest in track and field and many of its major star athletes.

Bolt   wins   200m   in   world   record  time  of   19.30  at  the  Beijing  Olympics  .  photo  appears   courtesy  of  ................

Usain Bolt wins with the men’s 200 meters’ Final at the Beijing Olympics the world record time of 19.30. It would be one of three gold medals won by the Jamaican athlete all in world record times . photo appears courtesy of ……………..

The world was more than in awe when Usain Bolt burst unto the world at the Beijing Olympics . His world record shattering feats at the 100 200 meters and 4x100m relay , has left the Jamaican track star at the top of heap in the track and field world. And Bolt looks to successfully defend his titles at the 2012 London Olympics . But before that he’ll also look to defend his IAAF World Championship titles in those events. Bolt to my mind may well have the career that can span a decade if he’s totally dedicated to his sport. At present there isn’t a track star in the world that is his equal ! And the notion that Tyson Gay is even in the same area code as him as a track athlete, is like making the comparison between a Lamborghini Murcielago and a Dodge Pinto . It’s simply not justified at all ! We’ve seen how ordinary Gay was made to look in Beijing and prior to their meeting at the Olympics, Bolt literally took the mental resolve of his American opponent and completely shattered it. When an athlete already has you beat psychologically then inevitably you will be defeated physically.

Bolt wins   gold in the  100 meters   going   away   from  his   fellow  competitors   in   Beijing  in  a  world  record  time of   9.69 .    photo   appears  courtesy  of  Reuters/   David   Duscherre  ...............
Bolt wins gold in the 100 meters going away from his fellow competitors in Beijing in a world record time of 9.69 . photo appears courtesy of Reuters/ David Duscherre ...............

This will be the first part in a series of pieces that I’ll be doing on an athletes that I’ve come to admire during foray into the love of sports . Be sure to look out for part two . I trust that you’ll enjoy the series ? And by all means chime on with a comment of your own concerning the athletes I’ve mentioned here and those who you’ve seen that have left you in awe as to prowess in their chosen sporting endeavor.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………….


Aaliyah feat’g Timbaland ……….”We Need A Resolution”

Pardon The Interruption But That’s Bull !

So Andre Agassi would have us all believe that he became so disinterested in the sport of tennis that he took to crystal meth ? Way to go Andre ! And oh by the way , why’d you pull a former friend under the bus with you ? I’m sure that the young children whom you no doubt benefit through your philanthropic efforts will be somewhat disheartened by this admission. But not to worry, as it was all being done in a good cause wasn’t it ? I mean if you’re going to write an autobiography, then what better way to publicize it all than with an admission that’s bound to cause a great deal of notoriety and add to the sale of the ode itself. It certainly won’t hurt the sales of the book and if nothing else it’ll create an avenue wherein you can appear on of the various talk shows and then be bored by none other than Larry King . As he fawns over you with the meaningless questions that he’s bound to ask.

Open   Andre  Agassi's   autobiography  written in  conjunction with  Pullitzer  prize  winning  author   J R Moehringer    picture appears courtesy  of   sports  illustrated / .................

Open Agassi’s self titled autobiography written in conjunction with Pullitzer prize winning author J.R. Moehringer . The book scheduled for release this month is said to be filled with scintillating stories concerning the players career and his struggles as a professional tennis player. picture appears courtesy of /sportsillustrated/

As for Agassi, the only reason he lied about his situation, was merely because he didn’t want the wrath of the ATP and the ITF brought down around his shoulders were he to admit at the time that he’s been using crystal methamphetamines. As he’d have ended up being banned and no doubt having to lose several multi million dollar lucrative corporate endorsements along the way. It’s as they say …..” once a cheat always a cheat ” !

A  tearful  Andre  Agassi  at his  final  US  Open  in  2006   staged  at  the  US  National  Tennis  Center  in  Flushing,  New York   City,  New York.     picture  appears  courtesy of  ap/photo/  Marcus  Coles ...............

A tearful Agassi at his final US Open in 2006 , staged at the US National Tennis Center in Flushing , New York City, New York. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Marcus Coles ………..

Courtesy of ESPN:

Crystal meth, hair weaves and majors

Andre Agassi knows how low he once sunk because of the grand view he has now

By Rick Reilly, ESPN The Magazine

If image really is everything, why would Andre Agassi admit in his new book that he used crystal meth? Not once but dozens of times? And why would he admit he lied about it to the Association of Tennis Professionals?

Why would a son admit how much he feared his Iranian father — feared him and hated him since the age of 7? And why — why! — would a man admit he wore perhaps the world’s only Mohawk toupee?

Why? Because this isn’t just any book.

This is Agassi’s mea culpa — “Open” (from Knopf, written with Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer) — and from the beginning, he and Moehringer set out to write the most revealing, literate and toes-stompingly honest sports autobiography in history. From the parts I’ve been allowed to read, they might have done it.

“I just tell people, this book is honest,” says Agassi, who worked with Moehringer for a full year, meeting nearly daily at the Las Vegas house Agassi once lived in with Brooke Shields. “It lives up to the title. It’s my life, for better or worse. Get ready, buckle up, and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.”

“Open” is the story of a flawed man who sees everybody’s imperfections, but none more than his own. It’s the tale of a man who knows how low he sunk if only because of the grand view he has now.

Agassi’s early life was not his, never his, not from the beginning, not from the time his Olympic boxer father built a backyard prison especially for him, a tennis court he was figuratively chained to day after day, while his father’s homemade ball machine — the dragon, Agassi called it — ceaselessly spit out balls faster, harder, forever.

In order to read Rick Reilly’s article in its entirety just click on the text link shown

Well folks , we’ve all but reached the mid-point of the NFL season and things basically haven’t changed all that much. And as one can see from the standings , we’re now seeing the contenders ever so slowly make their way from the pretenders. Is anyone really of the opinion that the Detroit Lions (1-6) have improved at all, with rookie first round draft pick Matthew Stafford at the helm ? I’m not trying to suggest that Stafford would be viewed as an earth shaker or world beater in his rookie season . But clearly there’s something awry with this Lions’ team !

Lions'  quarterback   Matthew  Stafford  is  tackled  by  the  St Louis Rams'  Leonard  Little  in  an NFL game  played  at   Ford  Field  in  Detroit  , Michigan ,.   picture  appears courtesy of  getty images/  Gregory  Shamus  ................

Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford is tackled by the St Louis Rams’ Leonard Little in an NFL game played at Ford Field in Detroit , Michigan. The Lions would succumb to a 17-10 defeat, enabling the Rams to win their first game of the season. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Gregory Shamus …….

And the team’s pitiful display in their 17-10 loss to another downtrodden franchise in the St Louis Rams (1-7), would suggest that the NFL may well have reached an alltime low , in terms of the sheer ineptitude shown by many of its franchises. Anyone trying to state the claim that there’s still parity within the NFL . Then I’d suggest to them that they really need to take a long hard look at the product on the field of play. It’s now become about the teams who are very good and who can execute . And the teams that one can best describe as being downright atrocious. Which team is yours at this juncture ?

Phillies'  closer  Brad  Lidge  on  the  mound  in the  ninth  inning   of  game  4  of the   World   Series   against the New York  Yankees.  Lidge  would   give   up  three  runs   in  the  inning,  enabling  the  Yankees  to   earn a  7-4   victory  in  the  game   and  now   go  up   3-1   in the  series.   The Yankees   are now  but  one   win  away  from  winning  their   twenty  seventh   World Series  title.      picture  appears  courtesy  of  ap/photo / Rob  Carr  ...................

Phillies’ closer Brad Lidge on the mound in the ninth inning of game 4 of the World Series against the New York Yankees. Lidge would give up three runs in the inning , enabling the Yankees to earn a 7-4 victory in the game and now go up 3-1 in the series. The Yankees are now but one game away from winning their twenty seventh World Series title. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Rob Carr …………

I can’t help but wonder what or how one can best assist the plight of the Philadelphia Phillies. From a team that came into this postseason with a great deal of heart and playing with a great deal of aplomb. They’re now being beaten up on , much like an overseer would take to a slave with forty whips of the lash. In the World Series thus far , the New York Yankees now seem to have their number having taken a (3-1) lead in the best of seven game series. And poor old Charlie Manuel now has to play a psych and analyst for pitchers Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge. Never mind that the bat of the once dangerous Ryan Howard has about as much ‘pop’ in it , as a bottle as a bottle of soured champagne. Needless to say, if Howard isn’t firing on all cylinders then this team isn’t going to be going anywhere. And that essentially will open the door for the Yankees to lift their twenty seventh World Series title.

Coach John Wooden speaks about life and death and things in between that mean such a great deal to us all.

If there’s one thing that one would expect from a college coach at any level withing the collegiate ranks . It’s that they have character and if nothing else it’s also that they carry that trait of integrity and honesty. After all they’re ensured with the duty of not only coaching the young collegiate athlete but also teaching them life lessons along the way. Perhaps the best collegiate coach ever to do that and that’s to imbue those under their care with a sense of responsibility. Well, to my mind no one more embodied that , than former UCLA men’s basketball coach , John Wooden.

The former Bruins’ coach epitomized what it meant to be coach and a father figure to the players under his tutelage. People may harp on about the likes of Bobby Knight, Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden and Mike Krzyzewski. But it is Wooden, to whom they all pay homage to in the end. They haven’t been able to achieve the type of success not only on the field of play but also off it , when it comes to the athletes that he brought along. But most of all, it is how many of the athletes under his tutelage have fared, that one ought to admire with regard to his achievements. Were it , that they ended making a name for themselves at the professional level in the field sports. Or through another vocation outside the world of athletics. Wooden, the man and the coach has to be greatly admired.

Courtesy of the Associated Press:

Gillispie pleads guilty to DUI charge in Ky.

By Jeff McMurray , (AP)

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — Former University of Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie pleaded guilty Monday to driving under the influence of alcohol and apologized for what he called a mistake.

Gillispie, wearing a dark suit and yellow tie at the hearing in Anderson County District Court, accepted a plea bargain, which included fines and court costs of more than $1,000, a 30-day suspension of his driver’s license and an agreement to complete an Alcohol Drivers Education Program.

During the brief hearing, Gillispie gave one-word answers to questions from Judge Linda Armstrong about whether he understood his rights and the consequences of the plea.

Gillispie filled out paperwork in an undisclosed location in the courthouse, then made no comment to reporters as he darted out the side entrance and got into a car carrying his attorney, William Patrick.

Patrick said Gillispie had left the state by midday but otherwise declined to comment beyond a statement, which included Gillispie’s apology and pointed out the coach had received the maximum fine for a first-time DUI offender in Kentucky.

Click on link to read article in its entirety

Billy  Gillispie seen  here  in  court   in Lawrenceburg ,  Ky,.  Gillispie   pled   guilty  to  a  dui  charge  stemming   from  a  vehicular  stop  by  local  law enforcement   there  in  Lawrenceburg.  Gillispie was given the maximum penalty for a first-time offense in Anderson County, which included a fine of a little more than $1,000, a 30-day suspension of his license and orders to complete an Alcohol Drivers Education Program.   Gillespie's lawyer, William Patrick, is seen on right. (AP Photo/Ben Carlson, Pool)

Billy Gillispie seen here in court in Lawrenceburg , Ky,. Gillispie pled guilty to a dui charge stemming from a vehicular stop by local law enforcement there in Lawrenceburg. Gillispie was given the maximum penalty for a first-time offense in Anderson County, which included a fine of a little more than $1,000, a 30-day suspension of his license and orders to complete an Alcohol Drivers Education Program. Accompanying Gillispie in the courtroom is his lawyer William Patrick. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Ben Carlson ………..

This now brings me to the point with regard to former Kentucky coach , Billy Gillespie . If ever there was a troubled individual within the college coaching ranks. Then a bust of Gillespie should be the landmark for such a person ! Here’s a guy, who had the world at his feet but he thought better , were he to eschew the values that he were to be passing on to the students under his care. He’s proven to be dishonest and a person of low moral standard. But yet he was seen as a fit for such coaching positions at the University of Kentucky , UTEP and Texas A & M amongst others . But perhaps Gillespie’s gravest error has been the fact of his failure to acknowledge his character trait of being an alcoholic and failing to address it. And then using it as a pretense for his misconduct. Hardly the thing that the parents of a potential recruit would want to see from a coach who’d have their son’s best interests at heart. But here he was , a man in a position of trust being accommodated by many parents, not knowing of Gillispie’s proclivity for alcohol and his past indiscretions. That asides , it’s my belief that in some cases his demeanor was overlooked by some of his employers . And this was done , merely because he was a college coach with a name and he’d brought about a modicum of success at several stops along his way.

Now having further tarnished his reputation , I’m not so sure that Gillispie ought to be deserving of a second , much less a third chance as a coach. His moral fiber and integrity has been shot to hell. Furthermore, what faculty or educational establishment would be willing to give him another chance at this moment in time ? It’s not as if he’s learned his lessons from past mistakes to begin with. Much like a repeat criminal offender. Gillispie is not different in this regard to his recidivism . I know that there are many out there who’ll be in support of him , thinking that he’s fully deserving of another chance. But I put this question to you – if you’re a parent and he entered into your home looking to recruit your son. Would you be willing to listen anything that he has to say ? Bearing in mind also that you’re fully aware of his background. To my mind a person of Gillispie’s character is bound to falter again, one way or another.