The Rubber Ball Won’t Come Bouncing Back

  The Rubber Ball  Won’t Come Bouncing  Back..

Urban  Meyer  whose  retirement  from  College  Football  came  as  not  great surprise  even  after the  success of having  won  three  national titles  ,  two  with  Florida (Gators) and  another  with  Ohio State (Buckeyes)  gave the  coach all the credibility he  needed when he chose to ride off into the  sunset.  Meyer  was  able  to  parlay his retirement  into  a well-paying  gig as College  Football  analyst with ESPN.

If the rumors are to be believed then Urban Meyer’s appetite has been whetted with the coach seeking to come out of retirement and make his return to the professional level of football within the NFL ranks with one of the teams with a vacancy at present . Meyer is seeking seeking five-year deal worth $60 million .

With there now being at least three known NFL vacancies now within the NFL after the end of the regular season and the customary bloodletting with the dismissal of NFL Head Coaches. It could be said that the front offices of these teams in seek of a new Head Coach might not be necessarily willing to go after someone without prior league experience. Yet Meyer does offer a coach with a known pedigree of success wherever he has coached. The stumbling block may well be his asking price . That being said, Jon Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders is the highest paid coach in the NFL and he’s yet to take the Raiders to the NFL Postseason since his return to the league. Mark Davis the principal owner of the Raiders was out to make a statement with the hiring of Gruden. but his mistake and naivete was the contract offered to the coach . Jon Gruden’s contract with the Raiders is a ten-year $100 million deal , by far the highest in the league to date .

Among one NFL franchise showing possible interest in the hiring of Urban Meyer, are the Jacksonville Jaguars who had a disastrous season under Doug Marrone , who was fired by team owner Shahid Khan . The Jaguars finished with the league worst 1-15 record, which gives the team the number one overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft . If Khan and Jaguars ‘ GM Dana DesJarlais can negotiate terms with Meyer , then he could become the coach of a team which struggled through much of the regular season .

The Coronavirus has plagued the NFL through much of the season and at differing points of the schedule there were at times at least twenty or thirty players sidelined by the virus . NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell set in place strict protocols which were often ignored which ultimately led to the dismissal of Dwayne Haskins from the roster of the Washington Football Team . Head Coach Ron Rivera seemed to have done an about-face, having first said that Haskins was OK , only then to cut the rookie quarterback of the 2019 NFL Draft . Haskins for now is an unrestricted free agent whose career in the NFL might be as short-lived as that of former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel .

It’s hard to say where Dwayne Haskins can now go from here having imploded his career through self destruction , deceit and lying . One of the contests in question will pit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road to face the Washington Football Team with the home team having nothing to lose , with their having the worst record of any of the postseason teams. Buccaneers’ quarterback Tom Brady will be looking to carry on his postseason record by notching up another postseason victory for his new team .

I’ll say this for the new NBA season , it is proving to be very exciting as the rookies around the league get to whet their appetite for the game against the seasoned veterans . Over the next ten games it will be interesting to see how the teams are going to fare . James Harden and the Houston Rockets are still looking to lay claim as one of the best teams in the NBA but with the departure of Russell Westbrook in a blockbuster trade which sent John Wall from the Washington Wizards to the Rockets, it will be interesting to see what rookie Head Coach Stephen Silas can do with this Rockets’ roster .

Next up for the Houston Rockets will be a game against the Indiana Pacers on the road , in an intra-conference match-up . This contest will be taking place on Wednesday , 6th January , 2021. The Los Angeles Lakers will continue their quest to make a successful defense of their NBA title . The team led by four-time League MVP , LeBron James will next be on the court when the Lakers face the San Antonio Spurs at home in all Western Conference match-up .

Sorry , but I am having a hard time being convinced that Doc Rivers can immediately turn around the fate of the Philadelphia 76ers , turning them into a legitimate contender for this season’s NBA title . Rivers was never able to get the best out of the Los Angeles Clippers during his seven year tenure with the franchise. Granted , he won a title with the Boston Celtics . but that feat was twelve years ago . Over their next ten games I think that we’ll be better able to judge the Sixers on their merits . Their next game will see the Philadelphia 76ers face the Brooklyn Nets on the road between two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams .

Becky Hammon could very well become the first female in North American professional sports to coach a team where the players are male. Hammon is currently a lead assistant on the coaching staff of Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs . Also as part of his staff , Popovich has a future Hall of Fame bound player, Tim Duncan. Given the faith shown by Popovich in his two lead assistants , it is not surprising that he’s allowed to take the helm in the coaching of this team while looks more dealing with the operational side of this renowned franchise . This season however the Spurs find themselves in something of a difficult situation as they seek to transition , with their being several young players on what now appears to an inexperienced roster.

Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff appears committed to these younger players , while the likes of Rudy Gay and LaMarcus Aldridge can still provide the type of veteran leadership needed. This is a roster which can be competitive this season should the right breaks fall their way . In their next contest the Spurs will face the Los Angeles Lakers on the road in an all Western Conference clash . It will be very interesting to see the type of insight likely to be provided by Becky Hammon and Tim Duncan as they assist Gregg Popovich in the coaching strategy for the game .

Major League Baseball ended it’s postseason with a triumphant Los Angeles Dodgers winning their first world title in over three decades with their last victory coming in 1988 . The Dodgers’ triumph over the Tampa Bay Rays was not totally unexpected , but the end results did justify the means by way of the team’s mass spending on star players . Heading into this upcoming season there are high expectations for this Dodgers’ team

There were several off-season moves by a number of teams with salaries likely to go up alongside payroll obligations . Not doubt once the regular season gets underway on the !st April , 2021 , all of the teams will begin to get their wheels in motion . It will be interesting to see which players are likely to be in contention for the singular awards from each league . The MLB hierarchy led my Commissioner Rob Manfred will still be adopting strict protocols with regard to the Coronavirus as the pandemic does not seem to be waning .

So what should we expect of this NFL postseason with the teams now vying to become this season’s Superbowl champions ? The Kansas City Chiefs are there with their quarterback Patrick Mahomes leading the team and quite possibly looking to win his second League MVP Award. The Chiefs will have a first-round bye as the wildcard round gets underway with their games this weekend beginning on Saturday, 9th January , 2021. The most fascinating match-up pits the Washington Football Team at home hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by Tom Brady as the makes another postseason foray with a team other than the New England Patriots . I expect the Buccaneers to be victorious given Brady’s success in the postseason , but it would not surprise me to see Washington pull off the upset .

What if anything are you now looking forward to within the world of sports as we have entered the year 2021 ? One would hope the year will be considerably better than 2020 in spite of the continued news about the Coronavirus .

Tophatal ………..

USA Today Sports …

Takeaway,Breakways & Leave Just Leave It Up To Beaver

Things which we’re now learning, LeBron James is the best players of his generation in the NBA and he now has to be considered among the top-fifteen players in NBA history , having led led three different franchises to an NBA championship , with James having won his fourth Finals’ MVP Award along the way.

LeBron James is seen here during the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat during which the Los Angeles Lakers went on to win the series by four games to two (4-2) to secure their 17th NBA championship tying them with the Boston Celtics for the most titles.

James’s most recent triumph came by way the Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Miami Heat for the Lakers’ seventeenth championship tying them with the Boston Celtics for the most in NBA history . The Los Angeles Lakers could very well surpass that total in making a successful defense during the upcoming NBA season (2020-21). If they keep their current roster in tact or even with their core group of LeBron James , Anthony Davis and Kentavious Cladwell-Pope , the Lakers are certainly going to be odds on favorites for the title next season .

Granted , Caldwell-Pope has already opted out of the final year of his contract , but I’m sure that Rob Pekinka will be looking to convince the player to remain with the franchise and there’s likely to be input from both LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the matter .

With the NBA salary cap likely to ostensibly lower coming at around $115 million in comparison to this past season’s figure of $125 million , it will be interesting to see what type of moves are made with several players likely to be traded or be re-signed by their respective teams. Also with the NBA Draft not far off on the horizon certain franchises might just be looking to make certain deals seeking to position themselves for the drafting of a player that best suits their needs.

Three time champions the Golden State Warriors might we’ll seek to pursue two-time League MVP and current Milwaukee Bucks’ forward Giannis Antetokounmpo . The Greek player is due to become a free agent this upcoming season , though he seek to opt out and seek to re-sign a max contract over five years equating to $205 million .

For GM Bob Myers , and the front office of the Golden State Warriors this off-season will be unlike any other over the past five seasons at least. For much of last season , the roster was without Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for prolonged spells of the their schedule leading to their poor record over this past season and clearly one of their worst over the last decade.

Say what you will , but after two games of the MLB World Series , everyone is beginning to see why Major League Baseball was in need of a great deal of excitement with the two teams in the postseason finale being the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays . With the first two games having been split at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles California . Game three will revert to Tropicana Field home of the Rays where the starting pitchers for that game will be Walker Buehler of the Dodgers against Charlie Morton of the Rays . The difference between these two teams can be best summed up by the divergence in their respective payrolls . Dodgers’ fans are hoping that the ball-club will be able to secure their first title since 1988 .

Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys with their current 2-4 record currently lead the NFC East division and it’s my humble belief that at least another two losses on their schedule could lead to the firing of Head Coach Mike McCarthy . To say that the Cowboys have under-performed would be putting things mildly. This team has not met expectations at all and that is even with the loss of starting quarterback Dak Prescott for quite possibly the rest of the season. In their next game in week seven the Dallas will meet the Washington Football Team on the road . If the Cowboys should end up with another loss , then their season could very well go up in smoke .

Several other teams within the league are having what one could describe as disastrous seasons given their present predicament. The Seattle Seahawks (5-0) with their unbeaten record are among the best teams in the NFL at this point of the season . Led by Russell Wilson , this team is expected to be as competitive as ever , leading many to believe they’re among the best teams in the NFC and clearly a presumptive favorite for the Superbowl this season . Wilson and the Seahawks will be facing the Arizona Cardinals in their week seven game which is a divisional rivalry .

Week eight of the College Football Season and the games should prove to be very competitive . Top ranked Clemson will be in action as they face Syracuse in what should prove to be a very entertaining match-up between the two teams . Perennial powerhouse Alabama will also be taking to the field when they’re matched up against Tennessee (Volunteers) . There will be several more games of heightened interest to the fans nationwide as the programs are moving headlong in to their respective seasons with their being so much at stake .

There’s a great deal to look forward to over this sporting weekend beginning as of today and it will be interesting to see what will pan out over the next three days commencing today , Friday, 23rd October, 2020. .

Tophatal …

NBA news .

USA Today Sports

NFL news and week seven schedule

Change Is Good, Being Willing To Adapt , Not Necessarily So …

Change Is Good, Being Willing To Adapt , Not Necessarily So …

There’s a growing suspicion within the NFL teams , that within the league this season have failed because of a wide variety of reasons . From my own perspective , it usually comes down the same things , injuries and the unwillingness of some coaches adapting to change and the changes which come with the game . In the end it tends to cost someone their job. Clearly, that was the case with the dismissal of Ron Rivera as the Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers . Several games this season were lost by a few meager points while their injury woes continued . The team has been without their starting quarterback of the past few seasons, Cam Newton. In his place, Kyle Allen has stepped up to the plate and played admirably in spells , but at the end of the day , when the team fails , someone had to be blamed and in this case the blame was placed on the shoulders of Ron Rivera . Panthers’ GM Marty Hurney and the team’s billionaire owner David A Tepper will undoubtedly have Norv Turner takeover as the Head Coach for the remainder of the Carolina Panthers’ regular season schedule .

………

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

……

Slideshow.

In week thirteen the Carolina Panthers will be in action against the Atlanta Falcons in a divisional match-up of two failing NFC conference teams. This game will take place on Sunday afternoon.

Ron Rivera might not be the only Head Coach to lose their job by season’s end and the clock is now ticking as to the fate of Dallas Cowboys’ Head Coach , Jason Garrett . If Garrett cannot lead this team to at least the NFC Championship Game , then in all likelihood Jerry Jones will call for his dismissal . Garrett and his game-time decision making has been an absolute nightmare for the Cowboys this season. Other than Dak Prescott , Ezekiel Elliott and a somewhat slower version of Jason Witten , this roster is simply not good enough to play consistent football at the highest levels expected. The NFC East division in which the Cowboys plays, remains the laughing stock of the NFL. A loss this weekend when the Dallas Cowboys are set to face the Chicago Bears , could set the tone for the calling of the head of Jason Garrett.

With the off-season of Major League Baseball now not quite in full swing , the teams are now lining up to ink the names of the marquee free agents now on the market, signing them to new big-time deals . Zack Wheeler was let go by the New York Mets , as the starting pitcher joined the Philadelphia Phillies , whose 2019 season was one of sheer woes all along the way. It will be interesting to see what Wheeler can provide for the Phillies this upcoming season. Seasoned veteran pitcher Cole Hamels is now off to pastures new , having joined the Atlanta Braves after his spell with the Chicago Cubs . Atlanta having won the NL East this past season and advancing the MLB Postseason , where they fell to the St Louis Cardinals in the NLDS , brought about an abrupt end to their postseason foray . This will be the season where the Atlanta Braves are to be judged by the team assembled under the managerial staff of Brian Snitker .

It has been over a decade since the New York Yankees last won the World Series and with the likely induction of Derek Jeter as the latest Yankee into the Hall of Fame in 2020. You would have to believe that the front office and owners would like to see this team succeed once again. . With a team payroll just shy of $200 million , principal owner Hal Steinbrenner is looking to keep that figure below MLB’s luxury tax threshold . . Aaron Boone as the team manager has yet to make any major personnel decisions adding to the player-roster to date . Their Spring Training Schedule will likely provide the managerial staff time to assess some players who will be invitees and those newly acquired.

The failure of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the MLB Postseason signifies that you can’t continue to over spend and then have nothing to show for it by way of anything tangible. . It will be interesting to see if the Dodgers enter what could turn out to be a wild free agency market of available players. . With Gerrit Cole being among the biggest of the free agents still available , the Dodgers could make a play for the AL starting pitcher who still remains an interesting option for his current team the Houston Astros . It has been over three decades since the Dodgers won the World Series and their postseason sojourns since then have been abysmal . . This year will tell us a great deal about this team it’s mindset as well as that of the managerial staff .

Veteran forward Carmelo Anthony who’s return to the NBA , saw him joining the Portland Trailblazers , where he has been one of the major highlights of the team’s season to date . Over his last six games Anthony is proving that his sea-legs still have a long way to go. As a member of the 2003 NBA Draft Class , considered to be one of the best over the past two decades. It’s still hard to imagine that this player has never won an NBA title . It will be interesting to see how the Trailblazers fare through the month of December and over the rest of their regular season schedule. Their next two games , will see the Blazers in action against the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma Thunder in two consecutive home games at the Moda Center in Portland Oregon.

As the season enters it’s Christmas Schedule , the teams vying for the best records will undoubtedly be looking to prove a point. . There will be five games being played, highlighted by the Los Angeles Lakers taking on the Los Angeles Clippers , as two of the league’s best players face off against each other with LeBron James of the Lakers facing Kawhi Leonard of the Clippers.

Well , so much for the New York Knicks and their season to date , with the team among the worst in the league and their record being so bad . It is hard to find a compliment that befits the Knicks , other than to suggest they have some real issues. There is nothing to suggest the Knicks can win their division much less compete within the Eastern Conference. Up next for the Knicks will be a game against the Indiana Pacers at their home court of Madison Square Gardens , New York City , New York.. The team’s Head Coach David Fizdale has struggled to get the best out of his players while the front office is clearly already bereft of ideas. There are rumors now amidst that Fizdale will be fired after the Knicks’ dreadful start . His replacement is likely to someone currently on the coaching staff or Knicks’ President Steve Mills may well seek to hire a former coach, who’s now currently on the staff of another NBA team .

It was meant to be a rematch, with the fans there in attendance for the Heavyweight Title bout between Anthony Joshua and champion Andy Ruiz was meant to be something competitive , Instead , the defending champion , Ruiz put up a poor display , losing the title he won convincingly in their first fight . With Joshua reclaiming the belts , he can now look forward to a possible about against the winner of the upcoming bout between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder . If the anticipation is what it is , then the potential unification bout between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder could be the biggest fight in recent boxing Heavyweight history. I fully expect Wilder to get the better of Tyson Fury in their rematch which is scheduled for the 22nd February , 2020 , though the venue has yet to be set. . In all likelihood the venue could very well be the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vega, Nevada,.

Chime in with your thoughts concerning the subject matter raised.

Tophatal …. 12/06/2019

…………

NFL news …..

…..
MLB news ..

MLB transactions ..

2019 MLB standings ..

NBA news ….

NBA standings (division) .. and conference standings ..

December regular season schedule ..

Yahoo Sports Boxing …

……….

………..
Picture gallery . By clicking on an individual frame you can view that image along with the accompanying narrative.

Don’t Call It A Comeback …..

 

Don’t Call It  A Comeback  …….

Well,  the big  sports’  story  in the world  of  sports   of this  past weekend  was that of  Tiger  Woods  capturing the 2019  US  Masters  Title  in  Augusta ,  Georgia ,   his  fifth  Green  Jacket  and the  fifteenth  Grand Slam  Major title  of his career.  Woods’  last  major title  win  came  in   2005  and  during  that time  the player  has  suffered  through  personal  as well  as  physical   injuries  as well as  a well-chronicled  divorce. During the  2018 regular  season  of  the  PGA Tour there  was  signs  that  Tiger Woods  was on the  way  back when  he  won  the  Tour Championship, signaling his long-awaited return, but his  triumph  in  The  Masters   has to be  considered  his  biggest  victory  to  date.

…..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


……
Slide show.

Tiger   Woods  wasn’t  seen as a  favorite to  win  this  Major  ,  but  it was    his  consistency  seen  on the  greens  through the  first two  rounds  that  provided  a  cautionary  note  of  how great  a player  he just  happens to be.  He was  never  really  out  of  the  running  and  as the  third  round  of this   tournament was under way  there   was  a  feeling  that  something  special  could  be  in the  offing. This victory pushes Woods up the Fedex Cup Standings as well as the World Rankings and will undoubtedly place him among the favorites for each of the three remaining Grand Slam Majors still on the PGA Tour schedule . Woods’ next scheduled appearance on the Tour could very well be either of the four following tournaments , RBC Heritage , Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Wells Fargo Championship and AT& T Byron Nelson Classic , which will be the lead-up to the second Major of the season, the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black , Bethpage , in New York . That particular event will take place between the May23rd and May26th , 2019. It will be interesting to see how Tiger Woods will fare in that tournament and whether or not he can add to his tally of Grand Slam Major wins , as he seeks to close in on Jack Nicklaus’ record of eighteen Grand Slam Major victories.

There’s something to be said for the NBA Playoffs and all that it brings but at present while the opening round of the Playoffs , have begun, but the biggest story of the moment, has to be the resignation of Luke Walton as the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers . With the summary abrupt walkout by former front office executive Magic Johnson . It now leaves this franchise in complete disarray with no Head Coach and the likelihood of real turmoil within the front office and the entire Lakers’ franchise. Having missed the NBA Playoffs with an abysmal record and LeBron James having missed the end of the team’s regular season due to injury, it remains to be seen how they will deal with this off-season. It’s abundantly clear that team owner Jeanie Buss will advise GM Rob Pelinka to come up with a suitable replacement for Luke Walton , someone with a proven track record.

This Los Angeles Lakers ‘ roster has been abysmal throughout much of the season and their record was reflective of that very fact . Much of the Laker’s malaise was self-inflicted , due to the complacency shown by the players and front office staff.

The Opening Round of the NBA Playoffs began on Saturday night , where a number of results were a real surprise. The Philadelphia 76ers somehow fell apart in their opening game as they succumbed to the Brooklyn Nets in what turned out to be a very exciting game . Game two of their series will resume on Monday night . While the Sixers were falling apart , the Denver Nuggets as the number two seeds within the Western Conference , somehow managed to be outshone by the San Antonio Spurs in a totally unexpected loss . The Nuggets can ill-afford to go down 0-2 in this best of seven-game series between these two conference rivals .

With the second set of games resuming as of Monday and Tuesday night , it will be extremely interesting to see if the teams seeking to make up their deficits can actually play with a great deal more zeal .

Well, the MLB season has started off with a
splash and though it’s still early in the season , there have been one or two bright surprises among some of the teams and the players themselves .The ball-club with the best record in the Majors just happens to be the Tampa Bay Rays (12-4) percentage wise , with a very good start under manager Kevin Cash , who has the team playing with a great deal of confidence at this juncture. . Next up for the Rays will be a home game as they face off against AL East divisional rivals the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday , 16th April. Tyler Glasnow of the Rays will be on the mound as he faces off against Dylan Bundy of the Orioles .

While I believe that the Tampa Bay Rays are a good team , I certainly believe that by mid-June, they are likely to fall back within the AL and the division . With erstwhile rivals such as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees likely to put up a spirited challenge this could be a very interesting season for all of the teams within the AL East.

I would like to think that the Atlanta Braves are capable of winning the NL East and making a return to the MLB Postseason . Team manager Brian Snitker and his players certainly seem to be doing all of the right things , but with a young team , with few veteran leaders , it has to be said that they’re likely to be in for a long hard struggle this season. It certainly hasn’t been made any easier with the Philadelphia Phillies having been able to add both Jake Arrietta and Bryce Harper in the last two seasons, with Harper having been signed to one of the biggest contracts in recent league history. The player himself has certainly begun to live up to the hype , having been productive for his new team . Harper and the Phillies will be in action as they take on the New York Mets in a home game on Monday evening . Aaron Nola of the Phillies will be on the mound to face Noah Syndergaard of the Mets .

Big time players, be they pitchers or hitters , know that they’ve got to prove themselves consistently if they’re to make the big money within the game of baseball. Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger are certainly living that dream this season , albeit that Bellinger , remains a novice , in comparison to Trout , who’s considered to be the best player in the game, , Both of these young players are on their way to having what one can only hope will be truly successful careers.

We are now less than a week away from the NFL Draft and by now general managers are around the league are no doubt hedging their bets as to which teams are likely to stay pat in the draft’s pecking order and which are likely to move up as there could be some very interesting draft-day trades possibly taking place. With the Draft Order having been established, it will be the Arizona Cardinals having the first pick in this upcoming Draft and their likelihood of taking Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray as the number one overall pick and the first quarterback taken in this Draft. There is no denying the Cardinals need someone adept at the position , because last season , it was one deemed one of the poorer aspects of the team’s play overall. If Kyler Murray can prove to be great as the statistics suggest he was for the Oklahoma Sooners , then the Arizona Cardinals’ future seems secure.

If the Arizona Cardinals are said to be in the state of rebuilding, the New York Giants have begun to down their entire roster almost down to the bare foundations. Eli Manning a sixteen year veteran with the Giants , is now in the waning years of a good career . Two Superbowl victories on his resume’ does create the perception of greatness , but when it’s all said done , Manning has not proven himself to be the consummate leader many believed him to be. This past season was simply further proof of that fact as the Giants fell apart during the regular season . Eli Manning is not due to become a free agent quarterback until available> 2020 , when he will be joining several other players in free agency that year, I believe that it might be in the New York Giants’ best interest to draft a quarterback in this class as well as acquiring a seasoned veteran free agent to back up Eli Manning for the upcoming season . New York does have a pick
in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft and it will be interesting to see if the front office led by Dave Gettleman and the coaching staff of Pat Shurmur will be asked to get the best possible players to put this team in a position to win this upcoming season .

With the retirement of Rob Gronkowski , the six-time winning Superbowl champions , the New England Patriots headed into the off-season , knowing that they will have to plan judiciously , just as they have done for the past eighteen years. We all know that on the date they secured Tom Brady , things were never going to be the same ever gain for perhaps the best ran franchise in all of football. Granted of late , with the legal troubles of team owner , Robert Kraft , the gloss from the Patriots has been less than amenable . With that being said , it’s back to business as usual for the front office and the coaching staff . Rob Gronkowski’s departure leaves something of a big hole in this team’s offensive capabilities, but I am sure that Head Coach Bill Belichick will be able to overcome those obstacles , as he’s often done before.

There is no doubt in my mind that the New England Patriots will be a prohibitive favorite for the Superbowl , but at the same time , I am also of the opinion the franchise must begin to plan for the future , should Tom Brady decide to hang it all up after the end of this upcoming season. He is definitely a Canton bound , Hall of Fame player and his indelible mark on the NFL has been there for all to see.

What do you feel will be the big highlight news story within with the world of sports during the coming weeks ? Also , do you believe that there’s a chance for a team or an athlete to completely reinvent themselves ?


Tophatal …………..

…………

PGA Tour news ……..

PGA Tour schedule
….

NBA news …….

2019 NBA Playoffs Brackets

NBA Playoffs schedule

NBA players’ stats

…..

MLB news ….

MLB schedule three day projected starters

MLB standings (divisional)

….

NFL news ….

NFL transactions …

NFL Draft …


….

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

Take A Walk on The Wild Side ….

Take A Walk on The Wild Side ….

In their frustration to get back to winning ways the Philadelphia Phillies , all but broke the bank in signing Bryce Harper to a thirteen year , $330 million contract . That deal certainly makes Harper the highest paid player on the Phillies’ roster as well as well as the highest paid player in all of baseball by way of a contract. His deal surpasses the one paid to Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees whose original contract was structured by the Miami Marlins . Many believe the game of baseball to be in a healthy financial state due to the continued profitability of the teams by way of revenues and their income. In reality however, with the salary cap in place instituted by the Major League Baseball hierarchy. It’s safe to say the level playing field envisaged by baseball’s s governing body has been anything but that.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Slide show.

Major League Baseball , much like the NBA and NFL are continually looking for various ways to stream their content to an even wider audience by way of the internet , broadcast television and even on the international scale. The game itself remains popular in Latin America , the Caribbean and within certain Asian countries. Unfortunately, Bud Selig and his successor current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred eschewed their chance to have baseball remain forefront on the international stage by failing to come to terms with the conditions laid out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) . With the sport no longer being part of the Summer Olympics , it’s now left with the less than celebrated World Baseball Classic to provide that international stage for the sport to be more widely recognized. To date, it would be fair to suggest that the WBC (World Baseball Classic) has been far from being a resounding success.

This upcoming season could be a very important one for the Philadelphia Phillies with both Bryce Harper and Pirates’ veteran Andrew McCutchen looking to place this ball-club back among the elite teams within the game. Within the National League , it’s going to be hard to suggest which of the teams will rise to the occasion while looking to usurp the dominance shown by the Boston Red Sox , who many now believe to be the best team in all of baseball. There is no doubt in my mind that they have the deepest roster in all of baseball , with several All Stars at various positions on the depth chart of the roster. The Phillies’ acquisition of Bryce Harper might well be one of the most active off-seasons in recent baseball history , with Manny Machado having been signed by the San Diego Padres to an extraordinary deal and then we had Nolan Arenado remaining with the Colorado Rockies , having been signed to another gargantuan deal.

We’re now just over three weeks away from the start of the regular season within baseball, but for the moment , the Spring Training schedule remains active. There are several games scheduled for Monday afternoon , 4th March as teams seek to find a rhythm before embarking on the Opening Day Schedule, 28th March , 2019. From my own perspective , I don’t believe the teams will actually find their full rhythm until mid-May , early June , with their having several games under their belts.

The NBA has entered the last month of the regular season and there are still a number of spots up for grabs , most notably , only one division appears to be all but decided , while conference berths for the NBA Playoffs are from being decided. It’s strange to see the Boston Celtics struggling along with fellow Eastern Conference representatives the Philadelphia 76ers . Inconsistency as well has injuries, have at some point plagued both teams. Boston for their part have played much of the season without the use of veteran point guard Kyrie Irving , and with their being continued speculation, that Irving might consider leaving the franchise to rejoin former teammate LeBron James who’s now playing for the Los Angeles Lakers . It remains to be seen, how that whole scenario will actually play itself.

The roster of the Boston Celtics was built to win now , with both Al Horford , Gordon Hayward and Irving being the seasoned veterans on the roster. GM Danny Ainge had the blessing of team owner Wyc Grousbeck to do whatever it takes to make the Celtics a competitive force within the league this season. Add in the coaching astuteness shown by Head Coach Brad Stevens and there can be no denying the team has not met expectations sought for this season. However, I do believe, if Irving is back in the lineup , given the team’s experience , they have to be considered among the favorites within the Eastern Conference to reach the Conference Finals for this season.

If there’s a question concerning the Philadelphia 76ers , then it comes down to the lack of coaching acumen of Brett Brown and the use of his players during games and their lineups at certain points during a contest. While point guard Ben Simmons has been lauded for his play there have been times where questions have arisen concerning his being unable to take over games and stamp his dominance in those contests. Joel Embiid , might well be considered the best all-round player on the roster, but again his inconsistency has continued to be questioned and the same can be said of
JJ Redick .

At this point last season , things were very contrived as the teams were seeking to parlay their season into something meaningful. Defending champions , the Golden State Warriors remain the team to beat and as a burgeoning dynasty , I seriously doubt they’re going to be overthrown anytime soon. Kevin Durant and fellow Warriors’ teammate Steph Curry might well be the best one-two combination in the league in terms of their combined offensive prowess.

Make no bones about it, Los Angeles Lakers’ fans might well have felt with LeBron James coming to the City of Angels , things were about to change , but the Los Angeles Lakers have been far from convincing this season. A sub .500 record was not expected of this team at this point of the season and it’s my own belief having not landed Anthony Davis at the trade deadline, has only further solidified the fact that the Lakers are from being the desirable destination , even with the four-time League MVP being there to attract a big name. Should the Lakers miss the NBA Playoffs, then the repercussions could very well be truly damaging and damning for the organization.. The remainder of the Lakers’ schedule is a very tough one and it will be interesting to see how the team fares as they wind down their regular season schedule. The team will be in action this week and their next game will be against the Denver Nuggets at home , a conference rival within the West.

Gonzaga are now back atop of the NCAA Men’s Basketball rankings and it will be interesting to see how this team will fare during their conference championship and in particular within the NCAA Tournament , which begins on the 19th March . While much of the talk in recent weeks has been the loss of Zion Williamson , the player many believe will be the consensus overall number one pick in the NBA Draft. Gonzaga now takes center stage as they seek to win a national title.

OK , with the NFL simply a year round news’ cycle within the North American sports’ market panacea . All eyes now will be set on the upcoming NFL Draft , with the New England Patriots having landed their sixth Superbowl victory within the last eighteen years. One now has to wonder what is now left for the coaching and player tandem of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady . Both are sure first ballot Hall of Fame bound for Canton , and I’d dare say that team owner Robert Kraft will likely join that illustrious duo , pending his current legal status. The Patriots are a dynasty in spite of what naysayers will have to say, Cheating asides, we all know that it’s something that is widespread within the NFL and professional sports in general.For the puritans out there , it’s time to just shut the fuck up and face facts, professional sports is no longer about playing fairly , but making sure you just don’t get caught.

The upcoming NFL Draft could prove to be very interesting along with the current batch of free agents likely to hit the market within the next few days. With teams having until the 9th March to put their affairs in order with regard to retaining players guaranteeing roster and incentive bonuses , this off-season could prove to be a very interesting one , just as it was at this point in 2018 in the lead-up to the 2018 NFL Draft. The consensus appears to be that either Nick Bosa or Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray will be one of the two players taken as the number one overall pick for this Draft. . There is a glutton of quarterbacks who have declared their intent , and it will be interesting to see if Murray’s name is announced as the number one overall pick, joining a long list of passers having been taken in the first round as the overall number one pick. As to the success the player is expected to have , it’s going to be dependent upon where he lands and the coaching acumen shown by the coaching staff involved. The Arizona Cardinals will be the team with that first pick and it’s my belief Kyler Murray will be that player taken by the franchise as their first overall pick .

It’s time for the New York Giants to move on from Eli Manning in spite of the player’s achievements for the franchise. In the last three years alone , Manning has proven his best years are now indeed behind him and that this present Giants’ roster is far from equipped to compete with the best that the NFC has to offer much less the rest of the NFL for that matter.

From my perspective , it’s not in the best interest for the New York Giants to seek a free agent quarterback when they have to their future on the line and to stick with Manning, would be absolutely nonsensical at this juncture. The veteran can best serve the franchise in nurturing the talent of his heir-apparent , rather than continuing not to be held accountable for his own poor play and the lack of real leadership on the field . Much of that blame also lays squarely on the shoulders of the coaching staff led by Pat Shurmur . The coach will seek to put some resilience back into this lineup through the upcoming NFL and most likely through some worthwhile off-season acquisitions .

Eli Manning is not due to become a free agent until 2020 , but has a high cap value of over $23 million for 2019. Whatever the New York Giants now seek to do , it will be every interesting to see what transpires.

Jon Jones with his latest victory in the defense of his UFC Light Heavyweight Title , has now cemented his legacy within the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Many purists believe him to be, perhaps the greatest fighter the UFC has seen within its history . I think Jones is by far the best fighter of his generation within his weight class and among the top-five UFC fighters of all-time !!! Jones’ clinical dismantling of challenger Anthony Smith might well have been the best fight of the champion’s career in the last four years. Jon Jones to my mind can now name his own price , by way of his own destiny , because I firmly believe he is now the face of this sport and not an ass wipe such as Conor McGregor .

From my own standpoint the UFC is now at a crossroads as the President of the company , Dana White has to place more of an emphasis on the real stars within the sport, rather than his own personal choices as to whom, he best believes fits the bill to become the face of the UFC.

Which have been the main stories over the past few days within the sports’ that have you enthralled ?


Tophatal …………………..

………..

MLB news …..

…..

NBA news

This week’s NBA schedule

NBA standings (division) and conference standings
….

NCAA Men’s Basketball

…..

MLB news …

….

NFL news …

……….

UFC news
………………………..

USA Today Sports …..

………..

…..

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

Walk It Like You Talk It ……

Walk It Like You Talk It ….

In the aftermath of the momentous joint victory for Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid , there are now looming doubts about whether or not Roger Goodell as the NFL Commissioner can continue to be granted so much latitude with regard to his wide-ranging powers , as well as how the league hierarchy and team owners can now deal with such issues of player grievances in the future. This was an extremely costly loss the NFL , albeit, with an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) being signed , we will never know the full extent of the compensatory figure paid out to both Kaepernick and Reid as part of their collusion grievance.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slide-show.

While I believe this might provide some closure to the events surrounding the stance taken by Colin Kaepernick , there still leaves the fact that the former San Francisco Forty Niners’ starting quarterback is still unable to find a role on a team within the NFL. There are now rumors circulating that the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots are showing interest in signing the player whose last game in the NFL took place during the 2016 NFL season . I don’t believe the Patriots are a legitimate option , especially in light of both Tom Brady and the team owner Robert Kraft , being staunch supporters of Donald Trump , a President who was often critical of the NFL’s players and pointedly so towards Colin Kaepernick . It’s clear however, that could all change, in light of the judgment ruling against the league.

With the other alternative for Kaepernick being to sign with the Carolina Panthers, I am not so sure he would be welcomed with open arms by the coaching staff and front office of the organization . As to the current roster of Panthers’ players themselves , unless Cam Newton himself , steps up to the plate and were to make Colin Kaepernick feel welcomed. There again. I am not so sure he would be seen as an ideal fit for the team. The fans being what they are , and the fact that attendance within the NFL has ebbed and flowed since 2015 , and their being a marked decline with regard to an engaged television audience for regular season games . The NFL must now address this chapter once and for all , and bring it to a close. There were idiots, who believed that the NFL would suffer financially , but nothing could be further from the truth and among the league’s biggest corporate sponsors, Nike profited greatly from the exposure gained ,with Kaepernick being a client endorser .

The NBA’s mid-season showcase event was all the talk over the past weekend with the All Star Game taking place. This history of the event might well be the most fan-friendly of the four major professional sports’ events which take place. The NFL has it’s Pro-Bowl Game , but with each passing game, especially over the last decade , the game itself has become less and less popular for the fans and as a television spectacle. Major League Baseball places way too much emphasis on the players and the rather asinine way it has players nominated for an appearance in the MLB All Star Game , has the event seem something of a non-plus along with the Home Run Derby. Granted , the league that wins the All Star , their representative in the World Series is granted home-field advantage throughout the series. Yet, when it’s all said and done in spite of those incentives , the event itself remains something of a chore to watch. For the NHL , well let’s just say their All Star Game , ranks up there alongside watching paint dry or a Congressional Hearing in either the US House of Representatives or the US Senate .

Kevin Durant , already a two-time Finals’ MVP with the Golden State Warriors , might well have begun to ignite the debate as to whether he is now the best player in the NBA and what is with all due respect to four-time League MVP , LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers . James was an active participant in the All Star Game which was played on Monday Night . A high-scoring event where defense was not at an optimum , Durant put on a display of offensive prowess for the winning team and along the way he picked up his second All Star MVP Award.

The second-half of the season within the NBA will pick-up , with the teams looking to jockey themselves into position for the final games of the regular season . With things being what they are , the pressure is now on the Los Angeles Lakers to end their regular season run with a big bang. They’re not capable of winning their division and within the Western Conference , their remains a right race for the seeding’s, five ,
through eight
. LeBron James and his teammates will be on the court for their next game , when they face the Houston Rockets and James Harden at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California , on Thursday, 21st February , 2019. That is the day, when the league resumes its regular season schedule . Meanwhile, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors will resume their regular season schedule with a contest against the Sacramento Kings .

In the Eastern Conference of the NBA , the Milwaukee Bucks led by Giannis Antetokounmpou , are looking to solidify their position as the best team in the conference. Antetokounmpou is proving to be one of the best offensive players in the entire NBA , in spite of his experience . All season long the Bucks have been extremely impressive , on the road or at home . Next up for this well-rounded team will be a game against the Boston Celtics , in a contest , which will provide the fans with a great deal more than just competitiveness and excitement .

If the rumors are to be believed , then James L Dolan might well be willing to listen to serious offers as he seeks to unload the New York Knicks . Dolan is not likely to sell the franchise at a bargain basement price , knowing that a $3,5 billion price tag is not out of the realms of possibility . The Knicks are no longer a viable competitive concern within the NBA , but they remain the most valuable franchise , because of their geographical and demo-graphical location. It’s hard to envisage who might willingly show interest in purchasing the New York Knicks and the possible price that’s likely to be above $4 billion , an exorbitant price to say the very least. The team’s season is in complete shambles and it’s my own belief , their coaching staff would like to ‘tank’ their season , which would provide them with a healthy chance of a Draft Lottery Pick in the first round of 2019 NBA Draft .

Courtesy of USA Today

Knicks shoot down report of James Dolan ‘courting offers’ to sell team

By Chris Iseman , USA Today , NBA Writer

Rumors that James Dolan is potentially interested in selling the New York Knicks have been circulating, and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons has now added more fuel to that fire. Citing people “who know things,” Simmons on his podcast said that he was told Dolan is courting offers. “It’s happening,” Simmons said. “It’s on. It’s go-time. He’s courting offers for the Knicks. That’s what I heard at All-Star weekend from people I trust.” Simmons believes Dolan is more interested in running the company’s entertainment division. But a statement released Monday by The Madison Square Garden Company, of which Dolan is chairman and CEO, denied all accounts of the report. “The story is 100% false,” the statement reads. “There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions – nothing.” In an interview with ESPN’s Ian O’Connor in December, Dolan said he wouldn’t rule out selling the Knicks, mainly because he has a responsibility to his shareholders of the publicly traded company. “They’re not there because they’re fans,” Dolan said in the interview. “You don’t invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a stock because you’re a fan. You do it because you think that the business is going to increase in value, that the stock price is going to go up. You have a responsibility as the guy who runs the place to deliver on that for them, that’s being open and transparent. And so in that position, I could never say that I wouldn’t consider selling the Knicks.”


Click on link to read in full.


David Fizdale , current Head Coach of the New York Knicks presides over a team that is among the worst in all of the league’s vital statistical categories this season.. Over their last fifteen games the Knicks are a bewildering a 1-14 , which  is  among the  worst  in the  league . Next up  for  the  New  York  Knicks  will  be  a  game  against  the the Minnesota Timberwolves at home , where the Knicks are an abysmal 4-23 . It’s hard to envisage where the interest will come from concerning someone willing to buy the New York Knicks outright , but I am sure that the NBA hierarchy will find a way to make this franchise seem all the more alluring to a potential buyer.

So one of the two lynch-pins are down with GM AJ Preller having pulled off perhaps the biggest coup in San Diego Padres’ history with the team having agreed in principle to sign free agent Manny Machado to a ten-year , $300 million deal . It is by far the biggest free agent acquisition made in the Padres’ history and immediately makes Machado the highest paid player on the team’s roster . Machado who spent much of last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers , was by far in a way their best offensive player throughout the postseason , but somehow the Dodgers’ front office didn’t feel he would be a good fit for the team moving forward. I’m beginning to think that several of the front office executives within the Dodgers’ organization are not fully equipped to carry out their various duties along with the managerial staff of Dave Roberts . Where this now leaves Bryce Harper as a free agent and whether or not he’s in the driver’s seat to demand a similar type deal remains to be seen , but it is becoming abundantly clear , the player’s agent Scott Boras will demand something commensurate with his client’s abilities and standing as a former NL MVP and Rookie of The Year . There’s no denying that Bryce Harper is a five-tool player , capable of leading a team to a World Series’ title if the adequate pieces are around him, That was never the case while he was a player with the Washington Nationals .

There are likely to be at least three teams showing an interest in Bryce Harper , but I am not so all three are seen as outright favorites to sign the player. The ball-clubs, I believe still in the running for Harper, are the New York Yankees , Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago White Sox , all of whom would significantly increase their payroll in 2019 over last season . Scott Boras having seen Manny Machado signed to a $300 million contract , would clearly want a great deal more for Bryce Harper. The New York Yankees could easily afford to absorb such a deal, given their vast resources as a ball club and with the revenues of the organization alongside that of the YES Network . Capitalized at over $3.5 billion it is easy to understand why the Yankees remain profitable as well as the most valuable team in all of baseball and one of the most recognized professional sports clubs in the world .

The San Diego Padres will have will have several players reporting for Spring Training over the next few days along with non-roster invitees . Their exhibition season will begin in full earnest during March , with their first exhibition game being played against the Los Angeles Dodgers . Machado and his teammates should have a good workout against their divisional rivals in that game . San Diego will begin its regular season schedule with a game against the San Francisco Giants at home , PETCO Field , in San Diego , California on the 28th March , 2019 , Official Opening Day for Major League Baseball in 2019.

Time is running out for Scott Boras to get a deal done for his client and I do believe that the asking price might well be way too high. In this day and age , I don’t think that there is a team out there willing to commit $350 million , let alone $400 million to one player in a long-term contract , without any type of guarantee of success. One World Series’ title might well be good , but two or three would be better and I doubt that Bryce Harper , is worthy of that contract let alone be able to produce on such a grand scale for an organization .

In light of what’s now taking place in the world sports what are your expectations in the coming weeks and months ?

Tophatal …………


USA Today Sports Headlines


Picture gallery and by clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in a reformatted size.

In The Cold Light of Day You Can Always Figure Out The Truth …

In The Cold Light of Day You Can Always Figure Out The Truth …

Well, the Major League Baseball season came to an abrupt end and the Boston Red Sox claimed the best record in the league on their way to a one-hundred win season. The Red Sox were joined by the New York Yankees and Houston Astros as the only other ball-clubs to have achieved the feat during this long and arduous season. Among the players who excelled during the year , we have Blake Snell among the pitchers , who led all starters in the number of wins as well as having one of the lowest ERA’s among the starters. With regard to offense it was another very good season with several players living up to expectation , among them two-time AL MVP and Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout . It was another disappointing season for the Angels as they failed to make the postseason for 2018. It is widely known, that team manager Mike Sciocsia will not be returning to the ball-club in 2019 . Another big league manager also in the same position is John Gibbons of the Toronto Blue Jays , as the front office made it official, that his contract will not be extended.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Slide-show.

The Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals were among the major disappointments within the National League , with Miami having among the worst record of all the teams in the NL (National League) and their barely being competitive within the NL East , where they finished bottom of the division. The surprising winners there , were the Atlanta Braves who finished with a 90-72 record . The wildcard entrant within the NL will be the Los Angeles Dodgers tie-breaker with the Colorado Rockies and the losers of the tie-breaker between the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers . That game is due to take place on Monday, 1st October , with the Cubs playing host to the Brewers at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. . It makes for a fascinating start to the MLB postseason in 2018 , with two tie-breaking series set to unfold . I’d dare say the Los Angeles Dodgers are in a very precarious situation , having to face divisional rival the Colorado Rockies.

Heavily favored, but yet somehow, a team largely made of PGA superstars and they failed miserably as the US Ryder Cup Team lost to their European counterparts in one of the most lopsided results in recent Ryder Cup history. The final score of 17 ½ to 10 ½ didn’t do the Europeans justice as Francesco Molinari led a tremendous team, with the Italian posting a 5-0 winning record , matching a feat only achieved by four other players in the format’s history. This biannual event is the biggest team competition in golf , bigger than the President’s Cup and the World Cup of Golf. In 2020 , when Europe seeks to defend their title , the Ryder Cup will be played on American soil at the Whistling Straits Golf Course , in Milwaukee , Wisconsin. It will be very interesting to see who will be the captain of the US Team will be and whether or not there will be a great deal of camaraderie among the players. Based on the results seen in France, there seems to be a great deal of animosity and among the Americans , with their also being a great deal of finger pointing and backbiting among those teammates.

Five games into the College Football season and it looks like Alabama intends to separate themselves from the rest of the programs at the top of D1 Football. With a 5-0 record there isn’t a great deal that the team has left to prove , other than for Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban to win another national title. Saban has cemented himself as among the greatest college coach in College Football history. On Saturday afternoon Alabama entertained or should I say played and toyed with Louisiana Lafayette on their way to a 56-14 lopsided victory. To say that Louisiana put up any type of resistance would be laughable , as the game was never really close at any time during its duration.

Alabama will like remain atop of the College Rankings , while also heavily positioning themselves to win out within the SEC (Southeastern Conference) once again. . In week six Nick Saban will take his players on the road as they face Arkansas (Razorbacks) on the road for a game to be played on the 6th October , 2018 at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas,. I doubt that this will be the game where Alabama will be upended .

The nearest team to Alabama by way of their play and athleticism based on record , being that there are still several unbeaten teams . might well be Clemson , whose championship winning run and their defeat of Alabama was a joy to behold. . In week six Clemson’s coaching staff headed by Dabo Swinney will prepare the team to face rival Wake Forest on the road . The Georgia Bulldogs might well be ranked as the number two team in the nation and they are very good , but I still believe the Clemson Tigers to be the better team ! Georgia for their part will have a very interesting upcoming game when they take on Vanderbilt .

Well , so much for that 3-0 start to their season by the Miami Dolphins and the claims that this might be the team to beat within the AFC East . That picture was quickly laid to rest as the Dolphins were manhandled and mauled by a New England Patriots’ team looking to make amends for a poor start to their season. Anyone who believed this Patriots’ roster had seen better days , well they were suddenly reawakened by the cacophony of a bang, as New England took it upon themselves to remind the rest of the NFL why this franchise is a five-time winning Superbowl champion. Tom Brady had his best outing of the season by far with both the defense and offense playing their part in this humiliating defeat of the Miami Dolphins. Adam Gase , a former protege’ of Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick , now finds himself having been taught a real lesson by his Master. For Ryan Tannehill and all the talk of his being a leader or this Miami Dolphins’ team , it is becoming increasingly clear he still has a long way to go before he can be remotely considered to be an elite quarterback in the NFL .

Ryan Tannehill’s performance against the New England Patriots saw the player pass for a mere one hundred yards , while barely competing fifty percent of his pass attempts during the game. He would be replaced by backup quarterback Brock Osweiler , who fared no better than his teammate during the contest. With week five of the regular season just around the corner and the Dolphins not having their bye-week until week eleven where they’re joined by the Buffalo Bills , Cleveland Browns , New England Patriots , New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers as the teams with a bye for that week. Next up for Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins will be a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on the road in an AFC match-up . Meanwhile , Tom Brady and the Patriots will be preparing to take on the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium , in Foxboro’, Massachusetts,.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s world and that of the Tampa Buccaneers’ came crashing down to a loss , that was totally unexpected. In many respects , the writing had been on the wall , as the Buccaneers had begun to show frailties long expected and at some point we all knew would be exposed. Chicago Bears’ rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky passed for a franchise-game six passing touchdowns on the way to the team’s 48-10 victory over their conference rivals. The Buccaneers might well be 2-2 at present , but that record is very deceptive , because this is not a two and two one team . If anything, the Buccaneers are lucky to have that record and it begs the question what else can Dirk Koetter now do with a team which continually lets their fans down due to their complacency and inconsistency ?

If Ryan Fitzpatrick’s performance against the Chicago Bears was thought to be bad , then having Jameis Winston come on to replace Fitzpatrick, barely offered the Buccaneers any hope at all, as Winston simply showed us once again why his progress has been mediocre since becoming a first round draft pick for the franchise in 2015 . To suggest that there might be an upside to Winston’s game would be like trying to equate it with walking across the Grand Canyon without the use of a balancing pole to aid the walker on that journey. The hard part for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be to try and convince their doubters that they’re still a team capable of being viewed as a contender within the NFC and worthy of a postseason berth. Based on the four games played to date , I am far from convinced that the Buccaneers are even capable of having a winning season in 2018, let alone making it to the NFL postseason. It will be interesting to see how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seek to rebound from this loss the Chicago Bears when they face the Atlanta Falcons on the road in week six .

Patrick Mahomes might not have been the first quarterback taken in the 2018 NFL Draft , but he’s certainly playing like the top prospect the front office of the Kansas City Chiefs believed him to be. Too early to say as of yet if he’ll measure up to the accomplishments of Carson Wentz, which was seen last season , before Wentz went down due to injury , unable to participate in the Philadelphia Eagles triumphant postseason foray , where their ultimate triumph was the defeat of the New England Patriots in the Superbowl. I am not saying that Mahomes will lead the Chiefs to that sort of postseason experience , but it would certainly be interesting to see what could happen over the remainder of the team’s schedule. The rookie quarterback kept his composure in leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a well-deserved win over divisional rivals the Denver Broncos and thereby keeping their unbeaten record in tact.

Next up for the Kansas City Chiefs will be a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City , Missouri .

The NBA preseason has begun in earnest and it will be interesting to see how the teams will fare , in the lead-up to the regular season schedule which tips off officially on the 16th October with two Opening Night Games. Current defending NBA champions , the Golden State Warriors will certainly be looking to improve upon last season’s record , albeit , that the team didn’t have the best regular season record. Yet , for Steve Kerr , his coaching staff and that of the front office led by Bob Myers . Their wish is to create another dynasty for the league to talk about. The Warriors’ roster led by Steph Curry and Kevin Durant , have to be seen as the prohibitive favorites to make a successful defense of their title. This team as it currently stands with the addition of DeMarucs Cousins might be even more formidable than last season’s championship roster .

The Golden State Warriors will begin the defense of their title with the customary preseason schedule before embarking upon their regular season beginning on the 16th October , when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder at home at the Oracle Arena in Oakland ,

Of the big off-season moves , no one was really surprised when LeBron James made the announcement that he would be moving West to the bright lights and big city of Los Angeles. Joining the Los Angeles Lakers signing a five-year max deal that pays him just over $150 million dollars was not a big expenditure when you take into account this remains the NBA’s most popular franchise and quite possibly it’s most valuable based on attendance levels and ratings.

Lakers’ head coach Luke Walton will be hard pressed to convince me this team has what it takes to take down the Golden State Warriors and the best that the Western Conference has to offer. LeBron James might well have won with less while with the Cleveland Cavalier, but he’s playing with the Big Boys of the West and not the daycare kindergarten kids of the East as was the case last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers . When the Lakers begin their preseason schedule of five games it will be interesting to see how the team will fare. The first of those contests will see them them tip off against the Denver Nuggets at home on Tuesday , 2nd October . . Their regular season schedule begins on the 18th October when they face conference rivals the Portland Trailblazers .

Eight straight NBA Finals’ appearances is an astonishing feat for any player , but even with all of the accomplishments of LeBron James. He will be hard pressed to make it to a ninth consecutive appearance with a team which is short by way of real experience .

OK, so the Los Angeles Lakers might well be the big story in the NBA and for much of this season, that is likely to be the case , but there will be other stories unfolding. The Brooklyn Nets for many years a franchise hemorrhaging more money than having success , is now in the midst of being sold by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov to to Canadian citizen Joseph Tsai , who is of Taiwanese ancestry. Tsai also happens to be the Vice Chairman of Chinese e-Commerce giant Ali-Baba . His net worth is believe to be just over $9 billion , making him certainly among Canada’s richest citizens as well as in China and Taiwan. Before the sale can be finalized , it must have the approval of the NBA’s Board of Governors , before the Joseph Tsai can assume control as the league’s newest NBA franchise owner .

It is not known how much Joseph Tsai paid in purchasing the Brooklyn Nets , but I don’t believe that Mikhail Prokhorov will completely recoup his original investment . The coaching staff of the franchise led by Kenny Atkinson will now have a short period of time to assess the possible wholesale changes likely to be made. Brooklyn’s roster is not overly impressive and not one that I believe will be capable of being very competitive this upcoming season. The first game of the Nets’ preseason will see them facing their in-state rivals the New York Knicks on Wednesday , 3rd October ,2018 . Their opening game of the regular season will see the Nets facing the Detroit Pistons on the road. Given the productivity seen from these two teams last season, it will be very interesting to see how this contest will end .

Another disgruntled star in the NBA and the regular season has yet to begin. The Minnesota Timberwolves now have Jimmy Butler pleading his case by making a request to be traded. No doubt there would be a plethora of teams interested in acquiring one of the league’s best guards. Butler has proven himself to be productive and a leader ; this was clearly the case when he played for the Chicago Bulls . Timberwolves’ Head Coach Tom Thibodeau who also happens to hold a high-ranking position within the organization , is reluctant to let the player go , but he might be willing to do so if he were able to make a trade he deemed fair.

Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves might not reach an agreement where he is likely to leave the franchise before the season starts. In all likelihood , I don’t believe Tom Thibodeau will be pressured into making an unwanted deal . The Timberwolves’ preseason opener will see the team face the Los Angeles Clippers
on the road before embarking on their regular season opener where they will tip-off against the San Antonio Spurs on the road .

The number of players in the NBA who will be earning over $25 million this season is now at an all-time high. It certainly is above the figure of last season. The figure has almost doubled from fourteen to now twenty five and it is clear that the NBA hierarchy led by Commissioner Adam Silver is not at all overly concerned. Not while the league’s revenues to go higher and the value of the teams steadily increase . This season in the NBA could be a very interesting one with just about everyone taking note of what the Los Angeles Lakers are liable to do .



Picture gallery along with accompanying narrative.

What if anything , do you now feel has been the biggest sports’ story to date or over the past week , month or at least the last six months ?

Tophatal ……….. 10/02/2018


MLB news

MLB postseason schedule

Ryder Cup news

NCAA Football and week five results

NCAA Football Rankings (FBS)

NFL news and week four results

NFL standings division and conference standings

NBA news

NBA schedule preseason 2nd October

NBA transactions

NBA player stats (preseason)

NBA team stats (preseason)

NBA team salary cap 2018-19

Highest paid NBA players (2018)

The Straw That Broke the Camel’s back

The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back

Well once again within the world of sports we have the real winners and the real losers. LeBron James is now considered a winner , having left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-year $154 million deal . The contract won’t make James the highest-paid player in the league contract-wise or on annual basis , but he will certainly be ranked among the top-ten players in both categories. Lakers’ GM Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson , Head of Basketball Operations might have felt they pulled off something of a coup-de-gras in acquiring James, but less than forty-eight hours after the transaction , current NBA champions the Golden State Warriors were able to upstage the Los Angeles Lakers by acquiring DeMarcus Cousins , signing him to a one-year deal , having to pay him no more than $5 million for his services for this upcoming year.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Slide show.

It would be idiot to suggest that the Lakers haven’t been upstaged and for all of the detractors out there critical of the Cousins’ deal. Do bear in mind five years ago it was James bolting from the Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat and holding the rest of the NBA captive deliberately merely for the public’s attention. In the ensuing years LeBron James has shown a great deal of maturity,but on some levels the player still remains very immature in spite of his fifteen years in the league . His accomplishments asides , he will be truly tested unlike ever before, because he is expected to lead the franchise to championships . This is what Lakers’ fans are accustomed to and having not made an appearance in the NBA Finals in almost a decade has to be worrisome to an organization starved of success in recent years.

A great is definitely being asked of LeBron James , but my own feeling is , how will he co-exist alongside Lonzo Ball , his new teammate as well as the idiotic antics of Ball’s father , LaVar Ball. It is something that the Lakers’ front office will have to address, as Ball Sr has already begun to antagonize the franchise’s biggest star with his antics and comments. Anyone who doesn’t believe James is likely to take some umbrage of that criticism is clearly unaware what makes the player tick.

It seems that the wounds went far too deep than many of might have been aware as the impasse between two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and the front office of the San Antonio Spurs came to an abrupt end as the player was traded to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan . The trade has sent shock-waves around the league , as many felt there was more of a chance that Leonard would remain in the Western Conference where he’s seen as one of the elite players within the conference and considered a top-five player in the league. Magic Johnson had sought to bring the California native back to his home state , but Greg Popovich and GM RC Buford made the decision to send the player East rather than see him in the West simply destroying the ambitions of the Spurs and others in the conference.

DeMar DeRozan for his part was none too pleased with the decision to trade him taking aim at the lack of respect shown to him by the Raptors’ organization . Yet from my own standpoint , I now feel the forward will have more to offer to the San Antonio Spurs’ fans might believe. It was clear that Kawhi Leonard had alienated himself with the fans as well as the Spurs’ coaching staff and Greg Popovich was less than characteristic in discussing Leonard’s departure. As the transition within the playing staff takes place for San Antonio , with the departure of Kawhi Leonard as well as seasoned veteran point guard Tony Parker, with the player joining the Charlotte Hornets .

Another trade seems to be nearing completion which would in the end facilitate Carmelo Anthony becoming a free agent. If the rumors are to be believed as a cap exercise , Anthony will be traded to the Atlanta Hawks , with the Oklahoma City Thunder getting in return , Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala . It is then believed , that Anthony will be waived by the Hawks, allowing him to become a free agent, signing for a team showing interest in the veteran forward. His expiring contract of almost $28 million clearly was one of the main reasons behind the deal and the front office of the Thunder seeking to lower the impact of the luxury tax , based on the NBA’s salary cap .

It would appear that the Los Angeles Dodgers now have their man having swooped in the obtain Manny Machado as a short-term rental from the Baltimore Orioles . Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts knows that his team has its shortcomings and more than anything else , they need to be winning on a consistent basis over the coming months. Failure to make a quick return to the World Series and there are likely to be some serious changes made among the playing staff and managerial staff at the end of the season . Machado can bring a great deal to this Dodgers’ staff by way of productivity , but at the same time their failing is not one from a lack of productivity with their bats but the inconsistency shown through their pitching , notably among their relievers .

Though not in action today , Thursday 19th July , where there is just one game on the schedule with the St Louis Cardinals facing the Chicago Cubs . The Los Angeles Dodgers will be in action on Friday , where their fans will get their first chance to see Manny Machado suited up as the team takes on the Milwaukee Brewers , in the first of a three-game road series as part of their regular season schedule.

For an ailing Baltimore Orioles’ organization , where it would appear Peter Angelos has to be in despair, the future of the ball-club now seems to be far from clear. Their farm system has a modicum of talent , but it’s still early to say what can expect from those players. The managerial staff of Buck Showalter is still searching for some semblance of consistency from the team and with the departure of Manny Machado , that now makes their whole situation a great deal more difficult. Next up for the Orioles will be a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario , Canada.

The team with the best ten-game stretch leading up to the All Star Game , are the Boston Red Sox who will look to increase their lead over divisional rivals the New York Yankees within the AL East . Red Sox starting pitcher David Price will be on the mound for Boston when they face the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park , in Detroit Michigan . This is one of those games that I believe will be a simple stroll for the Boston Red Sox as they take on AL rival. . As contentious as we know the division to be , it will once again become a two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. New York really can’t afford to have any major slip-ups between now and the end of regular season schedule. While neither ball-club have shown that they’ve a wish to be a major player in the market , all signs seem to be pointing to the fact that something will be happening .

Aaron Boone in his first year as manager for the New York Yankees will be hoping that he can lead this team to a postseason berth . Clearly winning the division (AL East ) has to be a top priority rather than being a wildcard berth entrant within the AL. The Yankees are in action this weekend as they begin a three-game series against the New York Mets . There was a time when the Subway Series actually meant something within the world of baseball , but over the last eight years with the decline of the Mets , it’s merely seen as an afterthought. On the mound for Friday’s game , as the starting pitchers will be Noah Syndergaard of the Mets against Domingo German of the Yankees .

To suggest that Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have been negligent as the owners of the New York Mets would be an understatement . They took the ball-club to the brink of bankruptcy , while the organization was actually embroiled in the Bernie Madoff “ Ponzi Scheme Scandal” . Intervention with their receiving a cash infusion, believed to be in excess of $450 million was the only thing which saved the franchise. All of this took place during the reign of Bud Selig as the MLB Commissioner . That being said, with Selig suggesting the books of the Mets showing a great deal of transparency , I have to ask myself was there a point in this whole mess where Bud Selig actually knew what the hell he was talking about ?

With the trade deadline being 31st July , it will be interesting to see what choices will be made by the front office of the New York Mets . Will there be a fire sale , as they implode the roster ? There are several players who are overpaid while having produced nothing of note through much of the season. The New York Mets are simply bereft of real talent in various areas of their game and their Minor League System might well be promising , but in reality there isn’t much there to speak of.

How do you see this off-season within the NBA turning out and what do you expect from the upcoming season? Also as baseball enters the second-half of its schedule which teams do you believe will rise to the occasion ?

Tophatal ……. 2018/07/19


NBA news

NBA transactions

NBA free agents

….

MLB news

MLB standings and MLB standings wildcard

MLB schedule three days at a glance

MLB transactions

MLB free agents

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum …

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum

It seems in the world of sports, things just get drastic by the second.  In  the   NFL  as  the  league  proceeds to the  lead-up to the  NFL  Draft  , teams  are   positioning   themselves to obtain  the  players   available  from   the  collective    seeking  to  make  their  mark  in  2018.  Away  from the  hotbed  of  decision  making  the  owners  themselves  are   either in  hot  water  or  looking to add more  coal to  the  firing   and  stocking  it  to  the  fan the  flames more  widely .  Houston   Texans’   owner  Robert  McNair  is  doubling  down  on  his  comments   that in  some   aspects could be  seen  as  insensitive  as well  as  racist. Now the beleaguered owner  has  stepped  back  into the fray,   stating  that  he has  nothing  to  apologize for . I  suppose  calling your  players  inmates and  then  caustically  referring  to  them  as  slaves  might  not  seem overly  expressive,  but in  light  of recent  events, I believe  McNair  might  not  be  aware of  what  is  happening  around him  and  elsewhere  in  the  world.  Perched atop  of his  ivory tower  with  his  amassed  wealth ,  it’s   always easy  for an aging  white  Anglo  Saxon  male  to say  whatever  he  wants  and  whenever he  wants,   without  fear  of being  held  accountable .


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Slide show.

Robert McNair  obviously  is  following in the  footsteps  of   President   Donald  Trump  who  has  become known  for  his  caustic  remarks   on   a wide  variety  of subjects.  To  date  as    Trump   tries to  navigate  the  treacherous waters  of  his  Presidency, there  is  growing  belief  with all of  the  controversy  now surrounding  his  Presidency, there will  be  great deal  more  flak  coming  his  way, especially  as he  enters the  midterm   elections  and  the   Republican  Party are struggling to  hold  unto both  chambers  of   Congress.

For Robert  McNair and the Houston Texans   last   season  was a  coming  down  to  earth   for the  franchise as they  played  much of  their schedule  without  two of  their  best   players  , with   JJ   Watt and    Jadaveon  Clowney   missing   much  of  the   Texans’  regular season schedule due to  injury. In  their  wake, it  was  left  to  the  surprisingly resourceful Jacksonville  Jaguars , came  out of nowhere  to  win the  AFC  South  and make  their way to the NFL postseason where  they  would  be  upended in  the AFC  championship game by  the New England  Patriots .   Jaguars’ quarterback  Blake Bortles may  well  have  won himself  over some new  fans, but I’m   not  so sure  it’s enough  to suggest  that he is now  good  enough to  join the  ranks  of  the  league’s  elite quarterbacks.    Jacksonville hit  lightning in a bottle during the  first  two  rounds of the postseason.

It  will  be  interesting to see how  both the Houston  Texans  and  Jacksonville Jaguars will fare  during the NFL  Draft with their  decisions made.

I am no longer  at  a  loss to  explain  why   Colin  Kaepernick  remains   unsigned as  a free agent   quarterback, suffice to  say the NFL   still  seeks to make  him  a pariah .   While  the  former  San  Francisco 49ers’  passer  remains  adrift one of  his  contemporaries    Robert  Griffin III   has  been  signed  as   the  backup   quarterback to  Joe  Flacco ,   a former  Superbowl  MVP  with the  Ravens.   It  will  be  interesting  to  see   Griffin  is  able to mount  a serious enough  challenge  to  unseat   Flacco  as the  starting quarterback  for the  Ravens .Robert Griffin    was  signed  to  a  one-year   deal  with  the  AFC  North  based  franchise.

The   NBA  regular  season  will   come  to   an   end with new  divisional champions ,  but  a sense  of  deja-vu  in terms  of  the  leading  contenders  for  the   NBA  title . Defending NBA  champions  the Golden State Warriors    are  not  as  dominant as  last season and  the   loss of   two-time League MVP  and  All  Star Steph Curry has left  the team looking  somewhat   vulnerable .    With the loss of  Curry over the last  three weeks, the team has  struggled, but they still  remain  a clear  favorite to make it back to the Western Conference Finals where  they  are  likely  to  face the   Houston  Rockets  ,  currently the number  one seed in the conference and the team  with the best record in  the  NBA. Both of these teams will be in action this weekend in games that will be of vital importance .

Tiger Woods is looking to play himself back into contention at The Masters in Augusta , Georgia , and the thought of winning his fifth Green Jacket cannot be far from his mind. However, his second round has been erratic, with him now being twelve shots off the pace behind tournament leader Patrick Reed at seven under par (-7) at this moment in time. As we know the final two rounds of any of the Grand Slam Majors tend to be the most exciting aspects of a contest , because that is where the best players in the world tend to showcase their skills as well as their mental psyche.Woods would have to play some remarkable golf over the final thirty-six holes to be remotely in with a chance of winning this particular Major.

Conor McGregor , remains a gregarious creature of habit , with narcissistic tendencies, a penchant for looking to belittle others, showing that he’s a misogynist and a racist. Let’s not be fooled here, as UFC President Dana White welcomes these elements from the biggest name in the sport. MMA needs McGregor more than he now needs the sport, because with what looks like the apparent retirement of Georges St-Pierre and the ultimate banishment of Jon Jones . The UFC is in need of a major star. They do possess one in Demetrious Johnson , but for some reason White has not done his utmost to promote the most successful fighter in UFC history. McGregor has once again found himself on the wrong side of the law as he faces assault charges from a recent UFC event. If found guilty of these charges he could face possible jail time, but there are indications that he might be willing to accept a plea deal and avoid serving anytime in prison.

If Conor McGregor never enters an octagon again to face an opponent it would not be lost on me, as I dislike the fighter and what he stands for, which has nothing at all to do with the sport.

So as the NBA season winds down , the divisions are all but sewn up but there are still one or two things to be finalized within each of the two conference , East and West . The Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets are now in a dog-fight for the final berth within the Western Conference, with the winner looking forward to a first round match-up against the Houston Rockets , the team with the best record in the league as well as the conference. A series against either of these two teams for the Rockets should prove to be a one-sided affair favoring the top seeds.

For the reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors , having
been without Steph Curry for the past two weeks, the team’s Head Coach Steve Kerr has stated he is willing to rest his All Star point guard for the first round of the NBA Playoffs , rather than risk further injury to the player. Curry himself might not be entirely happy with the situation , but Kerr knows that the deeper their run the Playoffs goes , the better the Warriors’ chances will be in having a player of Steph Curry’s caliber fully fit and able. A first round match-up for the Golden State Warriors would see them pitted against the Oklahoma City Thunder led by point guard Russell Westbrooke . Having split their regular season series at two games apiece , this series might not be as clear-cut as one think.

Tiger Woods couldn’t get the job done at Augusta National Golf Course as he sought to win his fifth Green Jacket and push himself one step closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record for the number of Grand Slam Major victories (18). Woods
had
a disastrous final two rounds of The Masters , the first Grand Slam Major of the season on the PGA Tour . Woods is like to take a week or so away from the PGA Tour missing the next few scheduled events. Patrick Reed for his part simply played some stellar golf over the final two rounds , though Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth sought to make the final two rounds very riveting for the fans.

Patrick Reed’s victory was the first Grand Slam of his career , while it also pushes him up the FedEx Cup Standings as well as the World Golf Rankings . . The next Major on the PGA Tour schedule will be the US Open at Shinnecock Hills , in New York from June 14th to the 17th , 2018 .

Still too early as of yet to make statements about which teams are playing the best in baseball at present , but it’s pretty safe to say with the injuries already suffered by the New York Yankees at this stage of the MLB season , it could be a struggle for them over the remainder of their schedule , if certain players don’t step up to the plate. The divisional standings should have provided us with something of an insight into the psyche of the ball-clubs at present . The Yankees are 5-5 over their last ten games with their pitching and hitting struggling at present. For team manager Aaron Boone this has to be very frustrating seeing his team struggle like this. Giancarlo Stanton will have a great deal to prove to the Yankees’ fans as well his new-found teammates . His salary alone demands it when you consider that he is among the highest paid players in the game and by far the highest paid on the New York Yankees’ roster.

The New York Yankees will not be in action on Monday 9th , April as they prepare for a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox , beginning on Tuesday, 10th April . On the mound for the Yankees in that opening game will be starting pitcher Luis Severino (2-0) facing Chris Sale of the Red Sox. New York is need of a morale boost and a victory over Boston would go some way in fulfilling the angst now to be found within the organization after such a rough start.

While the New York Yankees are having struggles of their own, their divisional rivals the Tampa Bay Rays are pretty much a capsized vessel. Only the Chicago White Sox have a worst team ERA (5.88) at present within the AL as of the 9th April. Rays’ manager Kevin Cash and the managerial staff have to be at a loss to explain the team’s poor play as they head into the second-half of the month of April. They will begin a three-game series on the road against the White Sox on Monday and it will interesting to see how they will fare against their AL rival. . Of the players who are said to be offering any type of production for the Rays, there has only been veteran Denard Span as a stand-out for the entire team.

I certainly feel before anyone can make any real judgment concerning the ball-clubs, we should wait until mid-June before making any real assessment of the teams and how they are likely to fare.

Is it possible for Bryce Harper to have another astonishing season and simply push up his value as he seeks to become a free agent. Harper is off to another good start as he and Washington Nationals seek to have another very good season. The continued issue for the Nationals remains the fact they have yet to make a deep postseason run in their current guise. This has to be very frustrating for Bryce Harper , given his talent and being surrounded by a more than capable group of teammates . If the Nationals are not able to prove themselves this season , then it could lead to GM Mike Rizzo making unwanted sacrifices before the end of this season , while looking to keep Bryce Harper as a long-term member of this organization. There is no doubt the front office remains under a great deal of pressure to succeed. This team needs to win consistently, with their being contributions coming from everyone on the roster over the course of this season. The Nationals will be in action over the next three days as they face the Atlanta Braves in a home series at National Ballpark in Washington, DC.

There will be many sports’ stories unfurling over the coming months and the drama from it all will be played out in all parts of the media for the fans. What are the possible segues that you’d like to see coming out this all with regard to the stories now percolating ?

Tophatal …… 2018/04/06 03:30 pm


USA Today Sports (Latest news)



Picture gallery. Click on an individual image to see it in a reformatted size along with the accompanying narrative.

If it’s not a fall from grace then what is it ?

If it’s not a fall from grace then what is it ?

They were all set to dominate and over the past few seasons these athletes in their own way have shone and then somehow flamed out. While still highly paid in the ultra- competitive world of professional sports, it’s hard to justify some of the salaries now being paid within the NBA , NFL and MLB . Say what you will, but I’ve long maintained a sport that barely has the Nielsen’s Rating flickering is simply not worth my time and so it goes in the world of professional hockey, otherwise known as the NHL .


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Slide show.

When Dez Bryant was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys before the start start of the 2010 NFL season , it was felt the wide receiver would be a game-changer for the franchise. Taken as the twenty-fourth pick overall in the 2010 NFL Draft , initially he lived up to the hoopla, but over the past three years there has been a tail-off in productivity , while being paid handsomely in return by the franchise. Dez Bryant has two more years left on a five-year $70 million contract, but it would appear the player believes he’s in line for a pay raise. My own believe is that neither team owner and de-facto general manager Jerry Jones is willing to offer a new deal to the always rambunctious Bryant. The player and his agent , RocNation Sports will certainly try to prove the Cowboys’ front office wrong , if the rumors are to believed , that he will be cut. He has a cap hit to Dallas which will be over $14,000,000 for this upcoming season. Only Antonio Brown and Larry Fitzgerald will be better paid as wide receivers within the NFL for 2018.

From my own standpoint based on 2017 and 2016 , Dez Bryant has done nothing to suggest he’s even remotely in the class of either of those two players. Bryant being cut by the Dallas Cowboys might not be as big a loss as some might believe it to be. If he falls by the wayside , then I expect a number of teams likely to show some interest , but I seriously doubt that he will be able to get a big multi-year deal of over $100 million .

I have to hand it to Derek Jeter , not only has he been throwing out the bath water , but he’s also made the kitchen sink and all of the wares will be gone, along with alienating the Miami Marlins’ fans. No sooner have he and his business partners assumed control of the franchise , having paid over $1 billion for the privilege of owning the ball-club. He is now stripping it down to all but it’s essential bare bones as a playing staff . Jeter and senior managing partner Bruce Sherman have promised that the Marlins will be competitive in 2018, but I can’t see that happening when the team’s payroll will be way under $90 million .

Derek Jeter right is seen here with Marlins’ co-owner Bruce Sherman.

In this day age within baseball, $90 million might get you across the finish line,but in no way will it make you a leader of the pack, much less a viable contender for the World Series. Assuming there are no more trades to be made , the Miami Marlins’ roster is one with some experience but no real veteran leaders among the squad. Don Mattingly returns for another season to manage the Marlins and it will be interesting to see how the team fares against their divisional rivals this season. Mattingly and the team will begin with their exhibition games as part of Spring Training. The opening game of their regular season will see them face off against the Chicago Cubs at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida on the 29th March ,2018. In terms of the Marlins being able to get the better of Washington Nationals or any of their rivals within the National League , I think it’s pretty safe to say they face an uphill battle , while their Derek Jeter seems so optimistic about the team’s chances.

Do athletes really need to be told, don’t do drugs? Don’t get caught with drugs and surely make sure if you’re going to get caught , make sure you have a sound explanation for your situation. Esteban Loaiza a seasoned veteran within the game, now faces some serious legal charges within the judicial system. Having plead not guilty on the charges of possession and the distribution of more than 10 kilograms (twenty-two pounds) of cocaine, Loaiza if found guilty, could be facing as much as twenty-five years in a California State Prison. Suffice to say his days within the game of baseball are essentially over.

A two-time NL Cy Young Award winner , it should tell you something when a pitcher of Tim Lincecum’s status now finds himself on the outside looking in , hoping to find himself on a Major League roster prior to the beginning of Spring Training. When he was let go by the San Francisco Giants, many were astonished by those turn of events. He was a mainstay on the team and part of the success when they won three World Series’ crowns within the space of five years, between 2010 and 2015. Lincecum found himself with the Los Angeles Angels in 2016 and his role with the team somewhat understated . Having been invited to the Spring Training Camp of the Seattle Mariners , it will be interesting to see if Tim Lincecum can make his way unto their starting lineup for 2018. There is a great deal of depth to the starting rotation as well as middle relief , but Lincecum will certainly have to prove himself if he going to make it unto the team’s final roster. Injuries and inconsistency were the issues which plagued pitcher , which led to his dismissal with the San Francisco Giants and his performances with the Angels at best , were never up to the expectations sought by managerial staff of Mike Scioscia and the front office .

For the Seattle Mariners this will be a make or break season , because over the past five years things have not gone in their favor. This franchise has not been to the MLB postseason since 2001 when they made to the ALCS , only to fall to the New York Yankees losing 4-1 in the best of seven-game series . The likes of Felix Hernandez , Robinson Cano and others will have to be front and center , playing great baseball if the Mariners are to make a return the postseason. Seventeen years is a long drought for a ball-club where former greats Alex Rodriguez , Ken Griffey Jr and Edgar Martinez made their names. I can see the Mariners vying for the AL West division in 2018 where their stiffest challenge is likely to come from reigning World Series champions the Houston Astros . Seattle will begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Cleveland Indians .

Big splash in New York, when he was acquired by the New York Knicks , but no one within the front office knew what to do in order to complement the talents of Carmelo Anthony . At the time , it was thought the trade that brought him to the Knicks from the Denver Nuggets would be the stepping stone needed for Anthony to prove himself among the elite players within the NBA. Instead , he has now become an afterthought while barely contributing to his present team the Oklahoma City Thunder .

While the Oklahoma City Thunder are challenging within their division and there’s been a spirited run within the Western Conference . There is a belief had Carmelo been contributing more, the team would be in a much better position all-round.

Well he’s now on this third team inside of a year , having been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kyrie Irving as the Boston Celtics moved to get younger and more productive at the point guard position. Isiah Thomas’ stint in Cleveland barely lasted the first half of the season and now he’s with the Los Angeles Lakers , where he will be teamed up alongside Lonzo Ball in the Lakers’ back-court . This should prove to be very intriguing as the team looks to make a push for a playoff berth within the West Conference . The depth of talent is far greater than anything they faced last season and even with the belief that Luke Walton and the coaching staff can motivate the players, against the top teams in the conference , I just don’t think there isn’t enough talent at Walton’s disposal. When the team resumes its schedule , they will face the Dallas Mavericks in a home game on the 23rd February. This will mark the return of the league in the aftermath of the All Star Break .

It’s not often I choose to be political when it comes to sports, but in light of the venal attacks seen from politicians and their demeaning remarks about athletes. I believe there comes a time when you have to stand up and take note. America has become a legitimate cesspool of garbage, with much of it on display not only from the politicians but also media whores, notably from the right and left of the political aisle. We have seen the President Donald Trump with his ham-fisted portrayals of patriotism and well-orchestrated acts of compassion after the recent tragic events in Parkland , Florida. With that in mind, the comments recently made by Laura Ingraham , a doyenne of the Conservative arc of idiocy and racial bigotry. I can only surmise that Ingraham must feel that she’s the wife of a white slave owner from the Deep South , who likes to see her niggers slaves kept in place . Her comments about high profiled NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant were not only demeaning, but it was clear that Ingraham simply didn’t care about what either of the players had to say concerning the social injustice being seen within the country at present.

Courtesy of New York Daily News

How Black America dispelled Laura Ingraham’s racist comments about LeBron James in a single weekend

By Carron J Phillips

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson started “Negro History Week,” today it is known and celebrated as Black History Month.

lebron-james-laura-ingraham

LeBron James (left) and Laura Ingraham

And this past weekend, multiple events took place that prove why Black History Month is still so necessary, because even when African-Americans have the shortest month of the year to celebrate our history and culture, we still have to deal with intolerance and ignorance.

You would think that asking America not to be racist for 28 days would be a simple task, but this past weekend proved that even in 2018 it’s a big favor to ask that of a country that once counted us as three-fifths of a human being.

Before last week, the only time I’d ever heard of Laura Ingraham was when she made headlines for appearing to give a Nazi salute at the end of her speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention in support of Donald Trump — which is why her infuriating words on Thursday about a video of LeBron James and Kevin Durant discussing Trump with ESPN’s Cari Champion shouldn’t have been a surprise when you think about it.

LeBron James responds to Laura Ingraham on Trump comments
By now, you know that Ingraham referred to James as a “dumb jock,” said his elocution skills were “barely intelligible” and “ungrammatical,” wrongly described a video segment as a podcast, falsely claimed that James attempted to leave high school early, and doesn’t think athletes should speak on politics — even though her network has had the likes of Joe Namath, Bobby Knight, Curt Schilling, and even Dog the Bounty Hunter come on air to discuss politics — and still refuses to believe the President makes racist comments.

So, when Ingraham told James to “shut up and dribble,” it was just further proof that she views black athletes as nothing more than court jesters.

And for all of you who are still in shock and don’t understand how someone like James, who’s the best basketball player on the planet, could have the N-Word spray-painted on the front gate of his L.A. home last summer, Ingraham is a big reason why these things still happen.

After the incident, people immediately started to weigh in to defend James, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts quickly adding their names to the list.

Chris Long takes Laura Ingraham to task over LeBron gripe
“I’m incredibly proud of our players for using the platform they have as players in the NBA and on social media to speak out on issues that are important to them,” Silver said. “I was proud of LeBron and Kevin’s response to the comments that were made about them.”

“Between LeBron’s 40 million followers and Kevin Durant’s 17 million followers on Twitter, Laura Ingraham has now introduced herself as intolerant and narrow-minded to 57 million people and the world,” Roberts added. “We stand with our players.”


Click on link to read in full .


LeBron James’ response to Laura Ingraham’s comments were insightful and very polite without taking aim directly as to the commentator’s racial biased overtones and comments. Needless to say , her supporters have suggested she said nothing out-of-place while , the players’ fans have voiced their concerns and thoughts via social media platforms of both James and Steph Curry .

Five decades ago Muhammad Ali , Tommie Smith and John Carlos were vilified by the press and nation at large for their outspokenness. Much of the criticism came from white America because they were simply afraid and in fear of anything a black man has to say. Circa 2018 and not much has changed other than the fact we now have a President who feasts off this divisiveness and racial bigotry , while Laura Ingraham is emboldened to carry on with that type of behavior and behind it all, as freedom of speech.

Simply chime in with your comments concerning the points raised within this article.

Tophatal …


NFL news

—-

MLB news

MLB standings

MLB Important dates


NBA news



Picture gallery. Click on image to see that picture along with the accompanying narrative.

The War Of The Roses ………….

The War Of The Roses

So at this point of the NBA season teams are now vying to position themselves for the second-half of the NBA schedule . The NBA All Star Game is not that far away and the news surrounding the league has been the dismissal of Jason Kidd as the Head Coach of the Milwaukee Bucks . It would appear that the organization now wants to go in a different direction. Much to the dismay of Bucks’ player Giannis Antetokounmpou , Kidd’s firing came right out of the blue. Over their last fifteen games the Bucks have managed to put together a 7-8 record over the period. Antetokounmpou tried to intervene on Kidd’s behalf, but it was all to no avail. With his firing , the Bucks will now have Joe Prunty inserted on an interim basis as the new Head Coach. .


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Slide show

In their last contest the Milwaukee Bucks were on court to face the Phoenix Suns whom they defeated by the score of 109-105 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center , in Milwaukee Wisconsin. The team’s home record as well as being on the road has not been all that illuminating .

Moving forward, I am not so sure the Milwaukee Bucks are heading in the right direction without Jason Kidd. He brought some semblance of urgency to the team , but the real issue has been the fact they do not have a proven veteran leader on the roster with a track record of success. Throughout much of this season Giannis Antetokounmpou has been by far their best player . If the Bucks are to have any semblance of success this season then it will be incumbent on the play of their forward and fast-rising star. Up next for the Milwaukee Bucks will be a game against the Brooklyn Nets , as they host the Eastern Conference team at home.

The opportunities for Jason Kidd will not be bleak , as I believe he is quite capable of leading a team to success. However, what it all comes down to at the end of the day, is where will be a suitable fit for one of the league’s most astute Head Coaches

Say what you will, but even with the claims that he’s been a breath of fresh air within the game, LaVar Ball is proving to be more of an off-court attraction than he could be seen as an asset for the Los Angeles Lakers . If Ball Sr is not touting the Big Baller Brand , then a great deal of the time in recent weeks he has been overtly critical of the Lakers’ organization, most notably Luke Walton , Head Coach of the Lakers as well as senior executives within the front office. Suffice to say, while his son Lonzo Ball has barely contributed anything of note to the Lakers other than one or two flashes of brilliance . The guys in purple and gold have become an eyesore on the court, while there now appears to be some dissension of the court , as players are now being asked to take sides . Will it be Team Big Baller Brand and Lonzo Ball or Team Lakers ? I don’t think this was what either Magic Johnson or Rob Pelinka had in mind at the start of the season and I am sure that the Buss family must be besides themselves with the ugliness now being witnessed from this team .

Unable to compete within the Pacific Division and also struggling to hold their own within the Western Conference , it’s best to say that the Los Angeles Lakers should consider “ tanking” their season while senior executives Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka decide what to do concerning the makeup of this team. There’s nothing to suggest that this Lakers’ team is playing with a great deal of confidence. In their last scheduled game the Los Angeles Lakers put up 127 points in a twenty point victory over the New York Knicks . It was a contest of missed opportunities by both teams the match-up . Following up that game , Lonzo Ball and his teammates would face the Boston Celtics where another home victory provided a timely boost for the team’s moral . With an upcoming contest against the Chicago Bulls , it will be interesting to see if the Lakers can put together a consistent winning streak .

He is a four-time League MVP and a three-time Finals’ MVP , but as LeBron James continues to rewrite the history books , the continued comparisons will be made to his idol Michael Jordan . James in a game played against the San Antonio Spurs which resulted in a loss for the Cleveland Cavaliers , he became the youngest player in NBA history to have amassed thirty thousand career points (30,000) during the regular season. The list of players to have passed that threshold now lists as seven . With the exception of Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki , all of the other members are enshrined in the Hall of Fame . James and Nowitzki are the only active players the list to achieved that feat.

As the season has progressed , it has become troubling to see the struggles of the Cleveland Cavaliers continue. The additions of Dwyane Wade , Derrick Rose and Isiah Thomas doesn’t seem to have made up for the loss of point guard Kyrie Irving . With the recent rumors of dissent within the locker room , after it was revealed that Kevin Love may well have feigned an on-court injury during a game and then not meeting for a morning practice with his teammates. One has to wonder whether or not Head Coach Tyronn Lue still commands the respect of this team , but more importantly , can the front office now do anything to appease LeBron James as it appears that things are spinning out of control ?

The Cleveland Cavaliers were seen as the prohibitive favorites to make a successful defense of their conference title and make it back the NBA Playoffs. That will likely be the case , but based on their current play, I am not so sure that they’re a guaranteed thing for a deep run in the NBA Playoffs , much less beat the best that the Western Conference has to offer. Game in and game out , LeBron James continues to give it his all , but I no longer believe this current Cleveland lineup is actually good enough win another NBA title . Over their next six games , the Cleveland Cavaliers will have a great deal to prove to themselves as well as their fans. Up next for LeBron James and his teammates will be a game against the Indiana Pacers at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on the 26th January , 2018.

Head Coach Tyronn Lue is no longer sure what his best lineup should be concerning the roster. Other than LeBron James being automatically being penciled in as a starter, the coach and his staff might as well be drawings names out of a hat to see who will line up alongside the four-time League MVP

The one thing we can be sure of , money doesn’t always guarantee success, but it certainly helps. Last year’s winning team in the NBA Finals the Golden State Warriors was among the costliest lineup in the league’s history. In seeking to make successful defense this season, the Warriors are already back to their very best . With the best record in the league , it will be interesting to see what this team is capable of between now and the rest of the season, as they seek to win their third NBA title in the last four seasons . This season , it has been all about Kevin Durant and his erstwhile teammate Steph Curry as they lead the team in scoring . Over his last eight games Durant has been very impressive , during which time Golden State have continued to show their dominance. However, where I feel the Warriors have greatly improved , has been through the team’s defense. Head Coach Steve Kerr knows what to expect out of his players and holds them accountable for their actions .. Golden State will be looking to up the ante when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves on the 25th January in a game which will be played at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California . This should be a very good match-up between two of the better teams within the Western Conference this season.

The dismissal of David Fizdale led to a great deal of speculation that his firing had more to do with the front office no longer having any faith in their coach . Memphis’ players seemed to admire Fizdale and what he brought to the table and gave it their all . The team’s billionaire owner Robert Pera bought the franchise on the cheap , but the real issue became the fact that for all of the fandom, there was no real plan of action moving forward. JD Bickerstaff has now taken over the reins of the team as the Grizzlies push to place themselves into contention for a playoff berth. . Currently sitting in twelfth place within the Western Conference , the Memphis Grizzlies are 6 ½ games behind the eighth-placed Denver Nuggets . Bickerstaff will prepare the Memphis Grizzlies for their next game when they will meet the San Antonio Spurs at the FedEx Times Forum in Memphis , Tennessee on Wednesday evening.

Dwight Howard seems to be having one of the best years of his career , if you consider the past four years were anything to go by. There was a time when the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year was seen as a great catalyst. Instead , he’s become something of a journeyman toiling around the league , looking for the best contract available, while having shown very little leadership ability for any franchises he’s played for with the exception of the Orlando Magic . Howard now toils away with the Charlotte Hornets (19-27) , where team owner Michael Jordan is still looking for his club to make a deep playoff run during his tenure. Dwight Howard didn’t excel in the Playoffs while he was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and I seriously doubt he still has the capacity to take this Hornets’ team to the next level. Howard might be the second best offensive weapon the Hornets have , but that in of-itself will not be enough if this team has any desires on making it to the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2015.

The next twelve games on the Charlotte Hornets’ schedule should prove to be interesting for the organization and this team. Up next for the Hornets will be a game against the Atlanta Hawks , a former team that Dwight Howard played for.

With the All Star Game and all of its precursor festivities just around the corner, the remainder of the NBA schedule will be impactful . What match-ups are you most looking forward to and which team do you believe could provide the biggest surprise during the second-half of the season ?

Tophatal ………….


NBA news

NBA standings (division) and conference standings

Week’s schedule

NBA players’ stats

NBA Rookie stats

NBA transactions



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

Not Here To Be Anyone’s Stepping Stone ….

Not   Here  To  Be  Anyone’s  Stepping   Stone

So here   we  are  in the lead-up to  the  Christmas   schedule  of the      NBA     season  and   all  is  not  necessarily  well  for  a  number  of     teams around  the  NBA.    Reigning  NBA champions  the Golden   State   Warriors  are  the  best  team  in  the  league ,  even  if  their   present  record  doesn’t     reflect  that.   Until  they’re knocked  off their pedestal  then  they will  remain  the  bar  against   who everybody  else will  be  judged.   LeBron James remains  the  league’s best  all-round  player ,  albeit   that  the Cleveland   Cavaliers  are  now   having   some  teething issues  concerning  their  lineup.   Head coach   Tyronn  Lue  has  yet  to    figure   out  his   best   starting   lineup   among  his  team  of  highly  touted  stars. The Cavaliers themselves  have already   faced stern tests against some strong opponents early on in their schedule.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Slide show.

Up next for the Cleveland Cavaliers will be a game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday 8th December, 2017. I’ve no doubt that the Cavaliers will be around for the NBA Playoffs, but I do believe this team might not be equipped to handle the improvement seen in several of their conference rivals if the Playoffs were to start today. While the Boston Celtics continue to take the league by storm , I am beginning to wonder if this Brad Stevens’ coached team are meant to be the real deal. Kyrie Irving is proving to be a force to be reckoned as he inspire the teammates around him. I do believe he has become a difference maker for the Celtics and I expect Boston to be more than an adequate match for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston’s bench has complemented the lineup and it might be among one of the many reasons they are so good this season. .

Brad Stevens will prepare his team for their next game when the Boston Celtics face the San Antonio Spurs on the road this Friday evening. This should prove to be one of the best games of the night on the schedule. I truly believe Brad Stevens is the best young coach in the NBA and his learning curve has vastly improved since he became the head coach of the Boston Celtics . GM Danny Ainge struck gold with his choice of hiring the former Butler coach.

I was once told that the Los Angeles Clippers were considered a legitimate contender for the NBA title during the tenure of Donald Sterling’s owning the franchise. Considering the Clippers’ playoff appearances were sporadic , I believe those claims were laughable to say the very least. This season the Clippers have struggled and the departure of point guard Chris Paul has left a massive vacuum on the roster . Head coach Doc Rivers and his coaching staff are at a loss to explain the Clippers’ poor record and it has become a talking point around the league. Over their last twelve games the Los Angeles Clippers have not been competitive at all and it paints a poor picture of a franchise now on the decline. There could be some drastic changes being made to the Clippers’ lineup if this team finds itself completely out of the playoff race by the trade deadline . Rivers and key members of the front office will have some decisions to make which would have some long-lasting and serious repercussions for the franchise moving forward. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are carrying this team but it’s clearly not enough given the dire circumstances they now face. .

In their next game the Los Angeles Clippers are due to face the the Washington Wizards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on the 9th December , 2017.

Carmelo Anthony has been a scoring champion in the NBA , two-time Olympic gold medalist , multi-time NBA All Star , but the one thing lacking on his resume’ are is an NBA championship ring. His tenures in Denver with the Denver Nuggets and then the New York Knicks has brought little personal or team success for the seasoned veteran. Having been acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder the player seems to be more of a liability instead of being an asset for the team . Barely over .500 , with Paul George , Russell Westbrook and Anthony as part of the lineup it is almost inexplicable to explain the reasons why the team is failing. If it is not Billy Donovan and his coaching staff at fault , then the responsibility lies with the lackluster performances of the players themselves. Other than Russell Westbrook not one player on the roster is among the league’s top-twenty scorers in the NBA .

If the Oklahoma City Thunder are not in a position to challenge for a playoff berth by April then their chances of actually making an appearance is likely to diminish even more so. For the moment this Billy Donovan coached team will have to take it one step at a time , one day at a time. Up next for the Thunder will be a game against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday evening.

Say what you will, but LaVar Ball is certainly making a name for himself on the national pages of the nation’s papers as well as on the sports’ pages . Ball Sr has been in the midst of a spat with President
Donald Trump
and his playing a part in the release of his son, LiAngelo Ball a player with the UCLA Bruins’ basketball team. LiAngelo and two other teammates were arrested by Chinese authorities , after the trio were caught stealing from three department stores in Beijing , China. The Bruins program was in China as part of a goodwill gesture and to take part in a local tournament. The incident caught everyone off-guard, including the State Department , Athletics Department of UCLA , much to the embarrassment of the President and his entourage. In the aftermath of the players’ release , with the help of the US Embassy in the Chinese capital and officials of the State Department . It has to be said that LaVar Ball has not sought to reprimand his son for his felonious behavior. He has seen fit to be critical of the university , after they made the decision to suspend him indefinitely , but the patriarch has since decided to remove his son from UCLA altogether. LiAngelo Ball’s academic future doesn’t seem all that bright and I seriously doubt that he would be accepted by a Division 1 program or for that matter a D2 program in the NCAA . In all likelihood, any ambitions of being seen as a high draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft will be placed on the back-burner . .

LaVar Ball’s eldest son Lonzo Ball is now making a name for himself in his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers . As things now stand , Lonzo and teammate Kyle Kuzma might be the only bright spots on a team still learning the ropes under their sophomore head coach Luke Walton . Over their last eight games the Los Angeles Lakers are a mediocre 2-6 and the teething pains are there for all to see. . It will be interesting to see how the this team maneuvers their Christmas schedule as this becomes one of the most pivotal times of the NBA regular season. Lonzo Ball and his teammates will next be in action when they face the Charlotte Hornets in a road game this Saturday (9th December).

A great deal is expected of the Houston Rockets this season and James Harden is simply looking to prove that his performances of last year as no fluke . Harden leads the league in scoring at this point of the season and his productivity for the Rockets has been scintillating to say the very least . The addition of point guard Chris Paul to the roster has been added bonus for head coach Mike D’Antoni and the franchise’s new owner , billionaire entrepreneur Tillman Fertitta .

I expect the Houston Rockets to be among the movers and shakers within the Western Conference this season and they are certainly one of the biggest threats to the continued dominance of the Golden State Warriors. These two teams are likely to be among the top contenders for the conference title at the end of this season if last season’s competitiveness was anything to go by. While many believe James Harden was a worthy candidate for League MVP and the fact he lost out to Russell Westbrook by a slim margin was a clear indication as to how good both players were over the course of last season .

James Harden could very well end up being this season’s League MVP if he continues at his current pace , though not yet matching the feats of last season. He’s clearly one of the most dynamic players in the league today , even if his defensive capabilities do come into question. Harden and the Houston Rockets have an upcoming game against the Portland Traiblazers which will be a Western Conference road match-up .

Steph Curry , Kevin Durant and the members of the Golden State Warriors might not be setting a blistering pace at present but if there’s one thing clear with or without either of their two big stars , this team remains among the best in the NBA . I am not about to suggest the two are interchangeable concerning the lineup , but in all honesty, any doubters of the Warriors are not that intelligent. Golden State will not be in action over the weekend, but the Warriors will return to the court on Monday night to face the Portland Trailblazers at home.


 


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

At this point of the NBA season, which team has impressed you the most and which do you believe has been the biggest disappointment ?

—–

NBA   news

  NBA    divisional  standings 

NBA schedule 7th December

This month in NBA history

  Tophatal    ….. 12/07/2017

If You Snooze You Lose …….

If You Snooze You Lose …

So while the NFL becomes a battlefield and we have the President (Donald Trump) chiming with his own thoughts on the issue of patriotism. Let’s pause for thought, he calls players who choose not to stand “sons of bitches” , but clearly won’t appreciate it is within their right not to stand . Bear in mind , neither Donald Trump or his administration thus far, specifically the US Defense Department seems to have a problem paying out millions of dollars annually merely to have the national anthem paid the league’s regular season games. Am I missing something here ? I guess not !!! The league itself has got off to an inauspicious start and as usual idiots were quick to make prognostications without actually looking at the teams in depth.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slide show.

At long last the New York Knicks awoke from their slumber and their first act under the leadership of Scott Perry was to make the decision to trade Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for a bag of Juju beans and pot of gold. I will be exact , Anthony was traded for Enes Kanter , Doug McDermott and a second round unconditional 2018 NBA Draft pick . This trade has Sam Presti coming off looking like damn genius. From my own standpoint, this simply makes the Knicks even more vulnerable while the Thunder becomes a top-five team in the West Conference and a possible contender for the NBA title this upcoming season.

Last season , the New York Knicks were woefully inept in just about every facet of their game and it begs the question, where the hell does this franchise now go from here ? Is Jeff Hornacek as the team’s Head Coach , still able to get the best out of his players and specifically this newly revamped team ? Hornacek is in way above his head and I don’t believe the New York Knicks will be competitive enough this season to win their division much less be considered a playoff contender. This Knicks’ roster is extremely poor , with a lack of scoring after the departure of Carmelo Anthony.

The New York Knicks’ loss becomes the Oklahoma City Thunder’s gain, with the Western Conference becoming a great deal stronger than their Eastern rivals. In all likelihood the reigning champions the Golden State Warriors will be the prohibitive favorites to repeat as champions for the upcoming season . The team’s depth might be even better than last season, with much of its core remaining intact. It will be interesting to see how the Golden State Warriors will fare during their regular season meetings with the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. The first of those meetings will take place on the 22nd November on the road when the two meets for the first time as part of their regular season schedule.

If Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson are to turn around the recent lack of fortune for the Los Angeles Lakers , then these two idiots had better start reading the NBA handbook concerning league conduct , rather than believing they and the franchise are above the league’s rules. It wasn’t by coincidence the NBA hierarchy slapped the Lakers with a rather punitive fine , but I believe Johnson and Pelinka’s actions in trying to lure Paul George to sign with the franchise , when the player had yet to state his declaring status , smacked of sheer conceitedness. George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder by the Indiana Pacers , much to the chagrin of the Lakers , most notably their executives GM Rob Pelinka and Head of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson.

The Los Angeles Lakers will enter this season with one of their weakest teams in franchise history. While there has been a great deal of ballyhoo concerning Lonzo Ball , the rookie has yet to play a game at the professional level . Summer League asides , it will be interesting to see how Ball will seek to break down some of the best defenses in the league , when playing on a team that is actually devoid of in-depth talent . Luke Walton and his coaching staff are likely to have a problematical season as the Lakers seek to find a groove. I for one don’t see a vast improvement on the twenty-six wins by the franchise last season and they will be lucky if they are able to improve on that figure by a significant margin.

Lonzo Ball and his teammates will begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers , which will be the Lakers’ home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California . With the Clippers also in a state of disarray after the abrupt departure of Chris Paul , it could very well be that the City of Angels’ two NBA franchises will be mired in mediocrity this upcoming season. The relationship between Doc Rivers and Chris Paul might well have reached breaking point and with the lack of defensive prowess on the Clippers last season and their fall from grace in the NBA Playoffs might well have been far too much for the veteran point guard to bear.

Somehow the Los Angeles Clippers will try to prove themselves a better team without Chris Paul than they are a team with him. Paul was the glue that held the team together last season and he provided the Clippers with the leadership they were sorely lacking from seasons past. When Steve Ballmer purchased the Clippers for $2 billion , it was hoped the erasing of Donald Sterling’s ownership would be gone for good , bringing about a new era of sanity within the organization. Instead , it has brought about a great deal of intrinsic complacency, far too much power with Doc Rivers not only being the Head Coach but also Director of Basketball Operations . Lawrence Frank might well be the President of Basketball Operations , but I doubt he has that much say in the personnel decisions made for the organization. Far too many Chiefs and not enough Indians . Hall of Fame player Jerry West has since been added to the mix as a Special Consultant . A similar role which he had in being the architect in the successful resurrection of the Golden State Warriors. Needless to say, if both Rivers , Frank and Michael Winger fail to heed the advice provided by the legendary player then the fortunes of the Clippers will sink further into the abyss.

A great deal is now being asked of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan , to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to glory , but I am not so sure either player has the maturity or temperament to get the job done. In the NBA Playoffs of last season the Clippers gave us a glimpse as to why they remain vulnerable and very much overrated . Defense is not a word in their vocabulary and it never has been with Doc Rivers leading the charge as the Head Coach . When the Clippers begin their regular season schedule , it will be interesting to see how this team fares through their first ten games.

It never ceases to amaze me when I read some of the idiotic comments by fans concerning a number of teams within the NBA ! More often than not, there hasn’t been a great deal of thought put into their assessments never-mind the statements made. Recently I read a comment by an avid sports’ fans , in which the individual stated the “window of opportunity” continues to close for the San Antonio Spurs . Less I am mistaken , with twenty straight Playoff appearances, a feat that has not been matched by any other NBA franchise in league history , then there has to be something wrong with the mindset of the individual. Need we be reminded that along the way , the Spurs have won five NBA titles under Gregg Popovich as the team’s Head Coach ? Popovich’s coaching staff is considered to be one of the best in the league and throughout the years a number of his former assistants have gone on to hold head coaching positions around the league. RC Buford has also groomed a lot of executive talent, who have since moved on to hold similar positions as a general manager within the NBA. I don’t believe there are any other teams around the league with that type of credibility as an organization and then you weigh in the consummate class and professionalism shown by Peter Holt . Nothing else needs to be said at this juncture.

It has been over a decade and a half since the San Antonio Spurs had a sub.500 season in the NBA and not win their division. Things began to change in terms of the franchise’s recent history when the Spurs made future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan their first round draft pick from the 1997 NBA Draft . Duncan’s career with the franchise are what legends are made of and it is a testament to the player’s legacy that he is held in such high esteem by his contemporaries . Having retired from the game at the end of the 2015-16 season , Duncan is a franchise leader in so many statistical categories with the San Antonio Spurs. His five NBA titles in tow with Gregg Popovich are symbolic of his legacy and this franchise.

The team which Tim Duncan left behind has now evolved with Kawhi Leonard seen as its leader, but veterans Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli remain part of its core. Leonard has become one of the league’s elite players , having twice won the NBA Defensive Player of The Year Award , his game has now evolved , with his becoming efficient on both ends of the floor.

As long Gregg Popovich is at the coaching helm of the San Antonio Spurs, then this team can never be written off. Only a fool would continue to underestimate the Spurs at their own expense. Last season San Antonio had the second-best record in the league , with only the Golden State Warriors having a better record while going on to win their second NBA title in the last three years. If the Spurs are to compete within a much more formidable Western Conference this season , then their games against stalwarts such as the Warriors , Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder should go a long way in telling us about the team , in particular Kawhi Leonard’s teammates LaMarcus Aldridge , Patty Mills , Pau Gasol , Danny Green , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli.

The San Antonio Spurs’ preseason will consist of will consist of just five games , before embarking upon their regular season schedule beginning on the 18th October when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas .

When Tilman Fertitta agreed in principle to buy the Houston Rockets for a reputed $2.2 billion , the sale price got everyone’s notice. The Rockets are not considered a big-market team , but the exploits of James Harden this past season has placed the franchise back into the stratosphere. Outgoing owner Leslie Alexander wasn’t desperate to make the sale , but he felt in order for the Rockets to move forward , now was the right time and Fertitta was the right owner to make it all possible. With Chris Paul having joined Houston in a totally inexplicable trade , the Los Angeles Clippers’ loss will be come the Rockets’ gain , their greatest gain over the past three seasons that is for sure. There is no doubt in my mind the Western Conference will literally take their opponents in the East this season and simply beat the living crap out of them all season-long !!

James Harden scored against everyone almost at will , keeping up a frenetic pace , to such an extent , it had everyone wondering was there anything else he wasn’t capable of doing last season. The Rockets will be a contender this season and there is no doubt in mind they are more than capable of beating the very best that the East will have to offer. As to their contemporaries within the West, that remains to be seen , but this will be a very interesting season for the franchise. Harden and his teammates will begin their regular season in earnest when they face the Golden State Warriors on Opening Night , 17th October in a game being played at Oracle Arena in Oakland , California .

So LeBron James is giving fans in Cleveland assurances that he won’t be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers anytime soon. Personally, I don’t believe it is a long-term commitment from the player , as his relationship with Dan Gilbert has continued to sour , without taking into account the rumored disintegration of his friend ship with former teammate Kyrie Irving . The point guard was traded to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isiah Thomas . On paper the trade might seem to be equitable, until you take into account Thomas is coming off an injury and off-season surgery. The Cavaliers’ front office failed to use due diligence and threatened to rescind the deal , only to be forced to go ahead with the transaction after some intervention from the league hierarchy and the fact Kyrie Irving made it known he had no wish to remain in Cleveland. The Cavaliers remain the team to beat within the East, but I don’t believe the team in its current guise will have it all their own way within the East over the course of this season !

The Cleveland Cavaliers will have to come out of the starting gates firing on all cylinders , because I believe they will be in for a world of hurt if Isiah Thomas cannot find his footing , because to my mind , Derrick Rose has absolutely nothing left in the tank , whereby he can be productive for the Cavaliers. This much was evident with his play last season for the lackluster New York Knicks. Thankfully, the Cavaliers play in a weak division and a continuously mediocre Eastern Conference. If they qualify as a top four-seed, then the NBA Playoffs within the conference should not prove to be that much of a problem.

Not one , not two , not three , not four , but at least six NBA titles. Well that was the notion of the Miami Heat when they signed LeBron James as a free agent, as the four-time League MVP would join close friends Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh . Heat executive Pat Riley was hailed as a genius and history was quickly made with the franchise. Four consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals , yielded two victories , but then things began to get sour as Riley refused to bolster the roster , much to the chagrin of James. What LeBron failed to understand , while the Miami Heat were winning , the ever-increasing payroll could not keep abreast of the franchise continuing to hemorrhage red ink along its bottom line . It’s still something LeBron James is still not able to fathom in Cleveland with the Cavaliers having lost in excess of $80 million over the last two years.

Dwyane Wade after a nostalgic return to the state of Illinois , where he played last season for the Chicago Bulls , has agreed to a buyout of his contract , then chose to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It had been rumored Riley would have been interested in signing Wade , with the seasoned veteran becoming the team’s leader. The fact that this did not take place speaks to the volume of resentment I still believe there is between the player and the Heat executive . Behind the scenes, Pat Riley has often been ruthless and brutal , but in public he tries to come across as a likable character. Machiavelli has nothing on this particular executive . Like a moth to a flame it appears that everyone wants to be with LeBron , while the player himself has always tried to tell us he’s never played on a Super Team .

John Paxson and Gar Forman of the Chicago Bulls now have the unenviable task of trying to persuade the long-starving fans of the Bulls, they are on the right track to rebuilding this franchise. The glory years of the Jordan led teams to six NBA titles are a thing of the past and it appears an imminent return to those halcyon days are nowhere near apparent. Chicago’s best player of last season Jimmy Butler was sent to the Minnesota Timberwolves , with the belief that a fresh start behind a youth-oriented lineup would be the way ahead. A sighting of Dennis Rodman wearing a wedding dress , professing his love for all things magical now seems to reverberating around the city of Chicago . Lamar Odom now has his eyes on becoming a pharmacist , dispensing medical marijuana to those desperately in need and Bulls’ owner , Jerry Reinsdorf is now on the brink of having a nervous breakdown. Guess what ? You snooze , you lose .

—-

Picture gallery. Click on picture to view that frame and also read the accompanying narrative.

Which things are you most looking forward to as the NBA preseason and regular season beckons ? Do you believe the Golden State Warriors can make a successful defense or their NBA title ? Also which NBA Rookie do you believe will have the biggest impact on the league this upcoming season ?

Tophatal ….

Similar subject matter: https://tophatal.wordpress.com/category/NBA

NBA news

NBA preseason schedule

NBA regular season schedule begins 17th October

2017 NBA Draft

NBA transactions

NBA team payrolls (cap)

Top salaried players (2017)

NBA standings (conference)

The Art of The Deal …..

The Art of The Deal

It was meant to be a book that would provide an insight into the business world and the mind of an entrepreneurial genius. Instead , the consumer / reader was offered a bunch of hogwash and outright bile. For those who still wallow in the glare which is said to come from Donald Trump , forty-fifth President of the United States. Well let’s just say , his first one hundred and eighty days in office , has brought nothing but mayhem , incompetence and calls for his impeachment. What you see is what you ought to expect, because there has been nothing coherent about this President , let alone his administration .

—-

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

—-

Slide-show.

If you thought this President has issues, then simply take a look at the plight of the NBA at present. Last season’s beaten NBA Finalists the Cleveland Cavaliers are in complete disarray. Team owner Dan Gilbert is now at odds with two of the best players on the roster and it is now rumored that the relationship between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James is at an all-time low . To further emphasize the mayhem of the off-season , Gilbert made David Griffin the franchise’s sacrificial lamb with his firing . Koby Altman has succeeded Griffin as the Cavaliers’ general manager and his first course of business will be to dissuade Kyrie Irving and convince the point guard his future lies with the franchise. Irving has been disgruntled with the team and has two years left on his existing contract , where he’s owed just over $41 million . He can become a free agent in 2020 , but I seriously doubt the player will want to remain a part of the organization given the present turmoil.

Dan Gilbert has sought to deflect the negative vibes within his franchise , while pointing to the promotion of Kobe Altman, a third successive appearance in the NBA Finals and what he believes to be another successful draft class for the Cleveland Cavaliers. There is a great deal of uncertainty concerning the long-term of commitment of LeBron James and his wish to end his career with the Cavaliers. James has a no trade clause in his current contract , which he can opt out of after this upcoming season. Dan Gilbert has seen his franchise lose in excess of $110 million over the last two seasons, but as anyone knows , unless there is an attempt to show some fiscal prudence in spite of the rising revenues , if you continue to overpay while placing a mediocre product on the court, then you are certainly doomed to fail.

Having signed Derrick Rose as a free agent within the last week, it will be interesting to see if Koby Altman can be persuasive enough to keep Kyrie Irving as a part of this Cleveland Cavaliers’ team. Derrick Rose is no longer the player who was the NBA’s youngest League MVP and this past season with the New York Knicks , he simply proved his best years are behind him and not head of him. I seriously doubt he will be able to offer the Cavaliers what they seek and for the franchise . If the Cleveland Cavaliers are to maintain their status as the best team in the Eastern Conference , then there will have to be an even greater emphasis on improving the roster.

So the hype has begun and Lonzo Ball has a great deal to prove as he now becomes the face of the Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise. There hasn’t been hysteria over a player with the Lakers since Kobe Bryant had his breakout season in his first with the Western Conference franchise . Having been named the Summer League MVP , you can easily understand the hype and the level of expectation over Lonzo Ball . The fact that there were other rookies who performed better than Ball during what can be best described as a nondescript Summer League schedule . Ball has been overshadowed by the antics of his father as the elder LaVar Ball , has sought to dictate his son’s worth to possible commercial sponsors. Clearly , LaVar Ball doesn’t understand the harm he is doing to his son’s image or negativity he brings to the table. This is all so symbolic of a situation where you have a parent trying to takeover his son’s business dealings and making a mess of it all .

For the Los Angeles Lakers , this now becomes their moment of truth , moving forward , with a revamped roster, an all new lineup of executives in the front office , Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka having been brought on-board by Jeanie Buss to oversee the running of the Lakers’ Basketball Operations . If both executives are counting on luring LeBron James to the city of Angels , then their task has become a whole lot tougher, as I believe the only ways James leaves Cleveland for a second time , is if there’s a commitment and willingness on the part of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to submit to all of his wishes and whims . Not something likely to happen and unlikely situation where Lonzo Ball and LeBron James being able to coexist. The Lakers are in a state of disarray and only an idiot would now try and suggest otherwise. The team in its current guise is not competitive and Luke Walton has yet to find his footing as a Head Coach with the franchise.

Phil Jackson is out , Steve Mills has been promoted and in comes Scott Perry as the general manager , but the one remaining constant is James Dolan as the imbecilic owner of the franchise. It’s somewhat laughable to hear idiots extol the expertise of Jackson as a head coach , but these very same idiots could not or would not be critical of him as a front office executive. In his three years with the Knicks, Jackson earned almost $60 million , while bringing nothing but sheer incompetence to an organization which hasn’t appeared in a Conference Finals in over two decades. To understand why the Knicks were so abysmal last season , you simply have to look at their decision-making concerning the structure of the team and the lack of productivity from their bench . With both Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis ‘ minds elsewhere , Jeff Hornacek’s lackadaisical coaching approach , bearing no signs of progress , there was never any doubt the Knicks would have a failing grade and season .

Scott Perry will now be entrusted with the rebuilding of the New York Knicks , with the likelihood that both Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis being dealt , rather than having both disgruntled stars on the roster. The Knicks are more than a dysfunctional franchise , they are simply out of their depth on and off a basketball court and will remain that way , as long as James Dolan is the owner. Once a storied franchise , the New York Knicks are among the biggest laughing stocks around the NBA.

We know the NFL has a twenty-four-seven (24/7) news’ cycle and there’s nothing better for the league to dredge up an old story to try and show their altruism. Again it focuses on the issue of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) . Constant denials throughout the years led by the hierarchy of Commissioner Roger Goodell and the union that players suffered minimal injuries with regard blunt force head trauma and other neurological orders from playing professional football , have proven to be the lies NFL wanted to perpetuate. Having settled a billion-dollar lawsuit in recent years , the league has done very little concerning player safety in spite of their insistence that there is ongoing research being conducted by the NFL. There has been more research conducted by academia than anything done by the league over the last two decades. Noted neurologist and researcher Dr Bennet Omalu may well have been at the forefront of it all, but such was the league’s insistence to discredit his findings , that the NFL can no longer be trusted to tell the fans or the public the truth .

(5)
(5)

Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco is questioning the intent of the front office to sign free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick . Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti in a recent interview in the presence of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would not commit to signing the player , but suggested the option was there to do so. There are many who believe the NFL has systematically sought to black-ball Colin Kaepernick’s return to the NFL , with Goodell and the owners leading the charge.

With a little less than a week before the NFL preseason begins, free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned by an NFL team . Roger Goodell has sought not to intercede in any way. Yet somehow , the likes of Riley Cooper and Richie Incognito were able to obtain a second chance in the league after their racially insensitive remarks. Let’s just say team owners around the league are intent on black-balling the former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback. In recent weeks it was rumored that the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens were interested in pursuing Kaepernick , but no sooner had the rumors hit the airwaves and print media , they were immediately shot down by those teams themselves. Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco is said to be incensed the front office was interested in acquiring Colin Kaepernick. Far be it for me to suggest, but since his Superbowl MVP performance for the Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco has not been able to meet those expectations or lead by example.

From my own perspective , I believe there remains a great deal of hypocrisy within the NFL and those idiots who believe the league isn’t rife with racial bias, they really do need to look at the fact, the NFL has never really sought to have an African-American owner within their midst. Bear in mind the only person of color who happens to be a franchise owner in this league is a Pakistani-born American citizen , Shahid Khan . Unfortunately for Khan, his ownership of the Jacksonville Jaguars has yet to bring about any semblance of success. Five years in and Khan has yet to see the franchise win a divisional title or make the NFL postseason. Make of it what you will, but just because the league heralds diversity , it doesn’t mean there is diversity in the true sense of the word .

If Colin Kaepernick is welcomed back into the NFL, I certainly hope that he can prove his detractors and doubters wrong. The issues with the San Francisco 49ers last season were not of the player’s making and less we also forget, the Niners’ front office placed their faith in the incompetent and overrated Chip Kelly , whose failure with the Philadelphia Eagles was there for everyone to see

There’s trouble brewing in paradise as Jerry Jones has another off the field issue to deal with , as the Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliot might well have flouted league rules , as well as falling foul of the law . With Jones, once again it comes down to sheer hypocrisy concerning his own conduct as well as those within his organization , in particular the players on the Cowboys’ roster. Jerry Jones has never met a player with a great deal of baggage that he wasn’t prepared to sign. With Ezekiel Elliot , it all comes down to the excuses the franchise will make to obfuscate their own responsibility while also apportioning blame elsewhere. Quarterback Dak Prescott has to show that 2016 was no flash in the pan, as he and his teammates seek to prove themselves worthy of being considered among the favorites for the Superbowl this season.

Though the Dallas Cowboys will begin their quest with the preseason, it will be the regular season which everyone will be focused on. Their first five games of the schedule should provide us with a great indicator as to how good they could be. In week one the Cowboys will meet divisional rivals the New York Giants to open the regular season. There will be a lot riding on this game for both teams , especially for Eli Manning and the Giants .

Far be it for me to suggest, but this baseball season has become nondescript and really lacking a breakout story , which has captured the fans’ imagination . Teams are sitting pretty and now look to the closing stretch , with the final two months of the regular season schedule . This week will begin with Monday’s scheduled contests , with the New York Yankees in action against the Detroit Tigers in a game being played at Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx , New York. Joe Girardi’s Yankees are currently trying to play catch-up to the Boston Red Sox within the AL East . The race between the two teams is so tight that neither can afford to make a mistake over the next ten days. John Farrell and his managerial staff will have the Boston Red Sox ready for their game against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park in Boston , Massachusetts on Monday evening. It has been somewhat strange to see neither Boston or New York make a major trade at this point of the season, but with the Pablo Sandoval experiment having come to an abrupt end with the Red Sox , Sandoval has returned to his old stomping ground, reacquainting himself with the San Francisco Giants .

While I believe there is still to play for , there is no team more at risk than the Los Angeles Dodgers . They are the highest salaried team in all of baseball and failure at this juncture is not an option. Mark Walter and Magic Johnson have a vested interest in seeing the ball-club succeed. When you spend over $2 billion for a professional sports franchise , there is an expectation of success and not repeated failure. Yet, with no long-term strategic planning, all the Dodgers’ ownership have to show for the purchase , are near misses and being ridiculed endlessly for money not well-spent. Art of the deal or simply misjudging the opportunity altogether ?

With a healthy lead atop of the NL West the Los Angeles Dodgers have been barely tested within the division. Having the best record in all of baseball , this team has yet to prove they can be consistent , playing at a high level. Manager Dave Roberts will see if the Dodgers can increase their divisional lead when they face the Atlanta Braves at Sun-Trust Ballpark , in Atlanta , Georgia , with Kenta Maeda on the starters’ mound for Los Angeles to take on Lucas Sims of the Braves. Clayton Kershaw is having another exceptional year for the Los Angeles Dodgers as he leads the league in victories among starting pitchers . He is my consensus favorite to win his fourth NL Cy Young Award , joining a select group of players to have won three or more of baseball’s top pitchers’ award. Kershaw’s next projected start will be mid to late August, based Dave Roberts’ own deliberations those of the managerial staff and team doctors . The Los Angeles can ill-afford to lose a player of Clayton Kershaw’s caliber, as he has proven to be an invaluable asset to the team , beyond being the highest paid player on the roster. Coming back from an injury , there is no need to rush him back onto the pitchers’ mound.

There was a time when the names of Cliff Lee , Cole Hamels and Roy Halliday struck fear into the hearts of opposing hitters when they faced the Philadelphia Phillies’ trio of starting pitchers. Well, those days are long-gone along with the fortunes of the Phillies. This franchise is now literally on baseball’s scrap heap , incapable of winning or playing with any signs of competitiveness. It has been almost a decade since the Phillies won their last World Series’ championship , which came in 2008 , with Cole Hamels , Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins being part of that triumphant team over the Tampa Bay Rays . Fast forward to 2017 and the Philadelphia Phillies in their current guise are a shell of a team with the worst record in all of baseball. No longer with the likes of Ryan Howard on the team being paid in excess of $22 million a year , it is easy to understand why the franchise has fallen so fast. Changes within the managerial staff as well as the front office along with departure of several veterans, have brought some change , but without much success. Even the Minor League prospects for the club have yet to meet expectations.

The Philadelphia Phillies will a meet the Atlanta Braves on Monday night , before embarking on a road series against the Los Angeles Angels . A victory in that series would be a morale booster for the Phillies .



Picture gallery and by clicking on an individual image you can view that frame alongside the accompanying narrative .

What do you believe to be the biggest story of the moment coming out of the NBA , MLB and NFL ?

Tophatal ……… 07/29/2017

——

NBA news

NBA team transactions and trades

NBA team caps (2017)


NFL news

NFL preseason schedule and regular season schedule

NFL transactions


MLB news

MLB standings (divisional)

MLB weekend results

MLB probable pitchers 31st July (2017)

MLB transactions

MLB important dates

In The Pursuit of Happiness

In The Pursuit of Happiness

With the second round of the NBA Playoffs almost in full swing , now would be the time to start assuaging the chances of the teams now left at this stage of the Playoffs. Clearly , last season’s finalists are seen as the presumptive favorites to make a return to this season’s NBA Finals , where many are hoping to see either Cleveland Cavaliers make a successful defense of their title or the Golden State Warriors rebound to reclaim the title they won in 2015. From my own standpoint, while many believe the NBA is need of a dynasty as well as a rivalry to create more excitement within this league. I firmly believe what the NBA is lacking , are truly talented players .

—-

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


—-
Slide-show.

While no one can deny the astonishing season had by Russell Westbrook , who averaged a triple-double throughout the regular season, the point guard failed to ignite the postseason for the Oklahoma City Thunder , as the team failed miserably in their series against the Houston Rockets . The Thunder’s failings came from the lack of coaching acumen shown by head coach Billy Donovan and his coaching staff . During this off-season I expect there are likely to be several changes made to the team’s roster beyond their own draft selections in the upcoming NBA Draft (2017) .

It would be in everyone’s interests not to make too much of the San Antonio Spurs’ blowout loss to the Houston Rockets in the opening game of their Western Conference Semi-Final Series. The Spurs are far too experienced a team to simply lay down , without putting up much of a fight. Head coach Gregg Popovich is a Master in his role and I would expect him to make the necessary adjustments to negate the strengths of the Rockets in preparation for game-two.

If you’re looking for a definite outsider within the Eastern Conference who could possibly upset the apple-cart, then your best bet could very well be the Boston Celtics who surprised everyone by being the number-one seeds in the conference this postseason. Having dispatched the Chicago Bulls in their opening series with summary ease , the Celtics now find themselves facing the Washington Wizards in their conference semi-finals’ series. Already up 2-0 in the series , a game-three victory would pretty much place the Celtics on the path to their first conference title appearance in eight years . Teammates Al Horford and Isiah Thomas might be the primary reasons why the Celtics now find themselves on their way a possible conference finals’ appearance . During the regular as well as the postseason the two have combined to lead the team to the victories seen on-court.

Trouble in paradise ? Well , in the City of Angels , known to us all as Los Angeles , both of the NBA franchises residing in the city , the Los Angles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers , have seen their fair share of mediocrity during the regular and postseason . In the case of the Los Angles Lakers, it was another sub-par effort from a team completely devoid of leadership and play-making ability . It just seems unfortunate Luke Walton inherited a group of players who have no ambition or pride and in the case of veteran leadership, Metta World Peace has offered little to the Lakers throughout the season. Away from the basketball court, familial tensions reared its ugly head, as siblings , Jeanie Buss , Johnny Buss and Jim Buss squabbled over control of the Lakers. Magic Johnson , was brought in to become Head of Basketball Operations , while Mitch Kupchak was ousted to be replaced by Rob Pelinka as the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers. I guess during this off-season , the Lakers as well as their fans, can hope Magic will be able to talk a high-profiled free agent into signing with the franchise , which in many respects looks more like a lunatic asylum , rather than a professional sports’ franchise.

Billionaire tech entrepreneur Steve Ballmer purchased the Los Angeles Clippers for $2.2 billion and since acquiring the franchise , they have failed abysmally during recent NBA Playoff appearances. Failing to get beyond the conference quarter finals and it’s easy to understand how overrated the Clippers are. I think it somewhat asinine , reading comments from clueless NBA fans, who have pretensions of insight concerning this franchise, at times describing the Los Angeles Clippers as one of the few NBA successes of the past six seasons. A highly paid roster of players and clearly with Chris Paul not getting a great deal of help from either Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan , it is easy to understand why the Clippers remain so abysmal.

The significance of the Los Angeles Clippers’ first-round series loss to the Utah Jazz has not been lost to a number of fans. If Gordon Hayward can almost single-handedly outplay the Clippers’ , leading the Jazz to their 4-3 series’ first-round upset . Hayward and his teammates now have the unenviable task of facing the Golden State Warriors in their conference semi-final series.

Steve Ballmer as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is bound to be displeased with the lackluster effort of his team, but I dare say, he is likely to be peeved with the lack of coaching acumen shown by head coach Doc Rivers and the entire Clippers’ coaching staff . From my own perspective , I believe it is time for Rivers to relinquish his dual role within the organization , as Head of Basketball Operations and just remain in charge of the playing staff as the Head Coach . Rivers is placing even greater pressure on himself and for the moment , while Steve Ballmer remains loyal to his head coach , I can’t help but get the feeling , another season playing second-fiddle to the Golden State Warriors as the second-best franchise based in the state of California will not sit well with the larger than life owner.

MLB prides itself on being the first professional team sport in North America to integrate its players. Jackie Robinson is stated as being the first African-American player to play in a Major League ball-game , but in reality , Robinson was not the first. He was merely the first to play for a professional team in the twentieth century. Jackie Robinson was a the subject of such racial abuse through much of his career , albeit , that we’re told it only related to the his initial years with the Brooklyn Dodgers .

Seven decades after Robinson’s debut, it would appear racism remains alive and well within the game of baseball. We should be reminded , on the night Hank Aaron broke the career home run record held by Babe Ruth , he came under a torrent of non-stop racial abuse , threats of violence aimed at himself as well as his family. Now in , 2017, those taunts are now being aimed at players of African-American ethnicity , though it’s not being widely reported, simply because MLB’s hierarchy would rather keep this all under wraps.

In a recent game between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox , the Orioles’ Adam Jones was subject to a torrent of racial and verbal abuse . Now consider, the fact this game was being played at Fenway Park , in Boston, Massachusetts , and with the Red Sox itself , having several players of ethnic minority on the roster . It does seem somewhat repugnant that Red Sox fans would seek to act in such a way with such repugnant and repulsive behavior. Then again, it should be seen as a sign of the times , when the President of the country , Donald Trump can show his utter disregard for not only women but also minorities in general , with his own outlandish behavior and he is simply given a pass by the public and the media , specifically the right-wing cabal of Conservative leading members of the press. So why would we expect any different from a bunch of inherently racist and insensitive group of Red Sox fans ? If the league hierarchy has failed to even question the behavior of the fans in this incident and when there has been no formal comment from the front office of the Boston Red Sox. I can only surmise they either condone the actions of the fans in question or they are simply apathetic and oblivious to what went on.

If you believe this incident concerning Adam Jones is an isolated situation , you should think again as it has become more common place within the game of baseball . There has been a rise in this type of behavior , though it is not widely reported in the media or through any research done by Major League Baseball , because where its leadership remains middle-aged and predominantly overseen by Caucasians , the last thing you would expect , would be for the league hierarchy to admit there is not a tinge of racism within baseball . There has been a rise in this type of behavior , though it is not widely reported in the media or through any research done by Major League Baseball , because where its leadership remains middle-aged and predominantly overseen by Caucasians , the last thing you would expect , would be for the league hierarchy to admit there is not a tinge of racism within baseball. It is common-place but just as in this game on Monday , MLB’s own coverage of the contest failed to indicate what occurred and the racial epithets directed at Adam Jones. Once again indicating, White America loves to paint this pageantry of all inclusiveness, when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth, because they would rather run with the apathy and the nonchalant belief all is right with the world.

Courtesy of Newsday

CC Sabathia backs up Adam Jones’ experience with slurs at Fenway

By Roger Rubin , Special for Newsday

HIGHLIGHTS

‘When you go to Boston, expect it,’ Sabathia says
Red Sox apologize for fans’ racial taunts toward Orioles outfielder

While Major League Baseball and the Red Sox organization reacted with revulsion and condemnation that Baltimore’s Adam Jones was taunted with racial slurs and pelted with a bag of peanuts during Monday night’s game at Boston’s Fenway Park, CC Sabathia had a different take.

“It’s happened to me — not surprising,” the Yankees left-hander said. “It’s bad. You get called names — the N-word, all kind of stuff — when you go to Boston . . . I’m glad that he spoke up. It’s disgusting.”
“I heard something that caught my attention and I’m like ‘I hope I really didn’t just hear what I thought I heard,’ ” Jones recounted in an MLB Network interview. “I’ve played against the Red Sox for 10 years and I understand booing the opponent . . . but not the racial stuff. It [expletive] that it’s still going on in 2017.”

Asked if he’d heard similar accounts from other African-American players, Sabathia replied “there’s 62 of us and we all know: when you go to Boston, expect it . . . I’ve never had it anywhere else except there . . . even shagging in the outfield before the game, sometimes you get it.”

“It’s nothing new to any of us,” Braves outfielder Matt Kemp said. “He let it be known that’s what we go through. I mean, it’s pretty much normal, especially in some of these different cities. I’m not going to name all the cities, but there’s some pretty tough cities where people say some pretty ruthless things. There’s . . . nobody holding anybody accountable for some of the things these fans do.”


Click on link to read this article in full.
—————————————————–

Erwin Santana (5-0, 0.66 ERA) and Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.21 ERA) are the two best pitchers in baseball at this point of the season. with both starting pitchers unbeaten in their respective starts for the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros . Unfortunately , this is not reflected in the records of either team and where they stand within their respective divisions . The Twins sit in second place within the AL Central , but that division is likely to become even more competitive and congested as the season progresses. Given the fact the Minnesota Twins have struggled to make the postseason in recent years. I do not expect the team in its current guise to be considered a serious challenger for the AL Pennant , much less the World Series . In the case of the Houston Astros , they appear to be as good as advertised , but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were to falter by the latter part of June. With both the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins in action today , 3rd May , it will be interesting to see how the teams fare in their respective games. The Twins will play host to the Oakland A’s , while the Astros have the Texas Rangers coming to Minute Maid Field for a game in Houston, Texas.

There are several milestones likely to be met this season in baseball and for all of the idiocy in print over the length of a home-run being hit. I would like the think the productivity being seen in such cases leads to the outcome of the player producing , is doing so for a team with a winning record or at least competitive within their division . Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees is now making a name for himself this season as he leads the team in home runs as well as several other team categories on offense . Let’s just say in spite of the Yankees’ deficiencies elsewhere, it’s good to know they now have someone on the roster capable of producing when it matters. Needless to say, Judge and his teammates still have a long way to go in convincing anyone they are capable of winning the AL East , much less have the aspirations of bringing the franchise another World Series title . The Yankees were in action on Wednesday evening when they faced the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx , New York. An 8-6 victory over the Blue Jays inched the Yankees closer to becoming the first team to twenty wins on the season in baseball for 2017 .

Major League Baseball works professionally within the state of Florida because , with an elderly population, the game does seem to have a lot to offer the fans during the exhibition schedule (Spring Training) . During the regular season , there are sparse crowds in attendance for the home games of the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays . In spite of the statistics provided by the league, it is obvious to even the most knowledgeable of fans, both of the Florida based teams cannot fill their respective stadiums to capacity for a home game. Marlins Ballpark and Tropicana Field have become something of a joke to those in the know. Economic impact for the cities of Miami and Tampa may well be minimal and the combined valuation as well as revenue provided by both ball-clubs pales into insignificance when measured against teams in a similar market size or bigger. From my own perspective , I believe a great deal of the blame for the lack of success with both the Marlins and Rays stems from a lack of real ambition from the respective ownership groups . Granted , pending the league’s approval , the Miami Marlins will become subject to a new ownership group led by Jeb Bush , a former governor of the state, whose partnering with Derek Jeter could see a raise in the profile of the still impoverished Marlins. Meanwhile , Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg continues to act like a petulant child whose pacifier has been taken away from him.

—-


—-

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

I would like to think in the coming months both the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays are able to compete , while the MLB season itself is something the fans can truly revel in. Yet , for all sense and purpose we all know that is not likely to be the case.
As to the incident s which took place during the game between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox, I think it speaks volumes to the never-ending social issue this country has failed to address since its inception and that is the issue of race. It is a telling sign when the President , Donald Trump > can simply make racial bigotry a focal point of his electoral campaign and the apathy of the public is there for all to see. I don’t believe we can expect anything more from a country or its political leaders , when they are simply not willing to show any form of decency or respect of others. The continued banality seen , is something which will remain ever-present and I don’t expect it to change anytime soon !

The NBA Playoffs will continue to be a wild ride , with teams looking to achieve success and for the fans , it will provide some form of happiness or joy as the case maybe.

—-

Tophatal ……………………… 3rd May 2017

—–

NBA news

NBA results 2nd May 2017

NBA schedule 3rd May

NBA Conference Semi-Finals and conference quarter-finals

NBA Playoff Brackets (2017)

This month in NBA history

On this day in basketball

MLB news

MLB standings (divisional)

MLB schedule and probable pitchers

MLB result 2nd April

MLB team stats

MLB player stats pitching and hitting