Ah Those Lovable Scoundrels …….. !

Ah Those Lovable Scoundrels …….. !

It seems the depths of ineptitude continue for one of baseball’s great franchises in the Chicago Cubs . The ownership group led by Tom Ricketts sought to fire GM Jim Hendry after his seventeen years loyal service with the organization . Given the history of the players associated (Hall of Famers) with this organization many of whom have been enshrined in Cooperstown , at the Hall of Fame it has to be said that their fall from grace has been absolutely horrendous .

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I would hazard a guess that Tom Ricketts and the members of the family could no longer withstand the ridicule and the mere fact that the long faithful and loyal fans in attendance at Wrigley Field essentially had enough of the lackluster displays and the sheer ineptitude of the team and managerial staff . To say that this team has underachieved this season would be to suggest that Peyton Manning had an off-day at the office but that he’d been doing so repeatedly over the last decade. Highs and lows over the course their history , more lows than highs if anything but it has to be said that the Tom Ricketts had high hopes for the organization . And as we know the postseason hasn’t exactly been kind to the Chicago Cubs . There’s a saying …… “always the bridesmaid never the bride ” . In the case of the Cubs that hasn’t happened in over 100 years for this ballclub laying claim to the World Series .

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Chicago Cubs interim general manager Randy Bush talks to the media before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 21, 2011 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by David Banks/Getty Images …….

It’d be remiss to suggest that Jim Hendry might just be the worse front office executive in the game today but given the slim pickings in terms of the sheer ineptitude shown by the now defunct executive one might hazard a guess that Hendry’s name would be considered a worthy nomination. Cubs’ manager Mike Quade now has to endure a season of speculation as to whether not he’ll retain his job until the end of the year . And at this juncture no one can actually be sure of that , with no successor named to succeed Hendry , and no formal statement coming from the owners .

At this point it’s hard to say what the all consuming Chicago Cubs’ fan ought to expect from this organization . Certainly , ever since Tom Ricketts assumed control of this team having purchased the organization that had been placed into bankruptcy proceedings by then multi billionaire mogul Sam Zell . I am not about to suggest that Zell gave up on this organization by jettisoning the ball-club but you simply get the impression that the “curse of the goat” simply remains in tact. No amount of refurbishment to Wrigley Field can offset the ineptitude shown on the diamond by this team . What glimmer of hope there might have been, has been few , if at all ! Certainly from the future standpoint of the club everything points to the future as the moves made by front office and the draft choices made. The bright spots also are the prospects within the organization and its farm system where there appears to a number of players looking to contribute for the Chicago Cubs .

As we have all come to know injuries will play a part in team’s season and how the players they simply chooses to acquit themselves . There seems to be no real leadership coming from the veterans on this team and for the likes of Alfonso Soriano , Carlos Pena , Geovany Soto , Kerry Wood and Starlin Castro have offered little hope if anything to show the fans there’s imminent hope that things are about to make an immediate turnaround .

There are few teams within the game of baseball that in terms of attendance that can consistently draw in excess of 2,500,000 fans each season and the Chicago Cubs just happens to be one of those teams . Considered a big market team with a storied history , loyal supporters and litany of devoted followers nationwide it is extremely hard to see how a ball-club can seemingly remain in such an abyss of mediocrity. But herein , lies the drama and ever evolving cycle that encapsulates what the Chicago Cubs seems to be about.

The now infamous Steve Bartman ‘incident’ and his confrontation with Moises Alou over a fly ball in a postseason game played between the Cubs and Florida Marlins will go down in Chicago Cubs’ folklore. If ever there were a time to sympathize with the ball-club then that might have been it. Bartman was vilified not only by the fans , the city of Chicago but also the team’s broadcasters who covered the game.

Tom Ricketts may seek to promote from within in terms of a successor to Jim Hendry or they may well seek to go outside that comfortability zone and bring in someone with the experience they seek in terms of a front office executive. The opportunity is there for the right candidate but the speculation remains as to when a decision will be forthcoming from the ownership group.

One of the major fallouts from the whole unsavory episode now surrounding the University of Miami and its now soured athletics program could well be the form of punishment imposed on the school by the NCAA . Mark Emmert as president of collegiate athletics’ governing body that upon the finality of its investigations into the claims made by the now disgraced Canes’ booster Nevin Shapiro , who is now serving a multi year sentence in a federal penitentiary will make a decision as to what punishment he feel is appropriate to be levied against the university. Watching all of this closely will be USC Trojans’ athletics director Pat Haden with the school having been severely punished in light of school’s own problematic program _____ in particular the football program and the allegations surrounding former player Reggie Bush .

Donna Shalala , Shawn Eichorst and David Reed in conjunction with Hurricanes’ football coach Al Golden have all tried to suggest that the school still has a great deal of integrity and that the students have been the embodiment of what character is all about. But such has been the systemic violations and the mere fact that the aforementioned quartet closely aligned themselves with one of the school’s major boosters in Nevin Shapiro , that it is hard to believe any statement uttered by Shalala and her subordinates.

Pat Haden having succeeded Mike Garrett will watch with a great deal of interest as to the form of punishment that is meted out to the university of Miami. Clearly with the sanctions placed upon USC , with the school having to vacate a championship season , multiple student athlete scholarships and postseason appearances _____ anything short of that as a form of action levied against the Canes’ program will be viewed as being biased . What might be even more suspect as this situation unfolds is that Paul Dee a former athletics director of the University of Miami now chairs NCAA’s Infractions Committee . My own opinion , is that Dee will have to recuse himself if a decision has to be made over a program that he was once an administrator of , as by perception alone , the appearance of a conflict of interest comes into being. Haden would have a valid point in appealing any ruling that Paul Dee is a part of , in rendering a decision that imposes any sanction that is viewed to be somewhat light in terms of its severity.

I am not about to suggest that the NCAA isn’t above some type surreptitious activity , given the inconsistency shown in the forms of punishment levied against certain programs. But herein lies my biggest concern , if the NCAA shows its unwillingness to punish the school with impunity then what does that say about that institutional body as a whole ? Mark Emmert and the institution he presides over (NCAA) not only has a credibility problem but also an image problem that certainly needs to be addressed. It’s one thing to suggest changes that he would like to see but at this moment in time the NCAA president has done little to suggest that he is indeed a man of action. Instead he seems to be ready foist upon the public meaningless and asinine sound bytes merely to curry favor with the public at large .

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With the firing of Cubs’ general manager Jim Hendry where do you now see the ownership going in terms of a successor and do you view Mike Quade’s job as still being safe at this juncture ? Also how do you team’s season panning out over the remainder of the year ? Do you also feel that any that Pat Haden will be justified in lodging an appeal should Paul Dee preside over any deliberations as it concerns the punishment that may well be levied against the University of Miami ? Simply leave a comment on the points raised as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal …….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1) St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina, left, and Fernando Salas celebrate the Cardinals 6-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs after a baseball game on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Jim Prisching …..

(2) Chicago Cubs’ catcher Geovany Soto, left, looks on as the St. Louis Cardinals’ Albert Pujols celebrates his solo home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Jim Prisching ………

(3) Chicago Cubs interim general manager Randy Bush talks to the media before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 21, 2011 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by David Banks/Getty Images …….

(4) Hendry (left) is seen here alongside Tom Ricketts whose family are the primary owners of the Chicago Cubs . Ricketts wealth came from the online stock trading company Ameritrade founded by his father patriarch J. Joseph Ricketts . The company now known as TD Ameritrade Inc. . Ricketts is also the CEO of Chicago financial concern Incapital LLC . He plays an active concern in both companies as well as the day to day operations of the Chicago Cubs of which each of his siblings are also involved with the organization in various capacities . AP Photo/ Matthew Barnhart ……

(5) Hendry ,left is seen here alongside now incumbent manager Mike Quade , center and Tom Ricketts , owner of the Chicago Cubs. There is now mounting speculation as to whether or not Quade will be retained by the club beyond this season . Interim general manager Randy Bush hasn’t indicated what the organization’s plans are other than to suggest the Mike Quade remains the team’s manager for the moment. AP Photo/ Rich Howard ….

(6) Donna Shalala right is seen here alongside former Miami booster and now incarcerated felon Nevin Shapiro (center) . Shalala has tried to distance herself and the school’s athletics department staff from all of the perceived wrongdoings concerning Shapiro and his claims. Courtesy of Miami Herald .

(7) Paul Dee (background-far left) is seen here with Donna Shalala . Dee , now the chairman of the NCAA’s Infractions Committee would have to preside over the hearings concerning the University of Miami’s alleged improprieties . However, in lieu of this Pat Haden the AD of USC is questioning the impartiality that can be shown as Paul Dee once served as the athletics director of the Miami Hurricanes’ program . ……….. AP /Getty Images / Humberto Cruz …..

(8) Pat Haden the current AD of USC having succeeded Mike Garrett . He has been entrusted to clean up the school’s tarnished image in light of the violations and subsequent punishment meted out by the NCAA. The USC Trojans’ AD has made it public that he will be closely scrutinizing actions of the NCAA and how they treat the University of Miami in light of the allegations and any sanctions levied against the school. Also coming into question as broached by Haden will be the fact that Paul Dee as chairman of the Infractions Committee will preside over the hearings concerning the school . One has to bear in mind that Dee served as a former athletics director of the Canes’ program as well as teaching law at the school. AP Photo / Mitch Marshall ……..

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It’s Not What You Know But It’s Also Who You Know ….

It’s Not What You Know But It’s Also Who You Know ….

I must admit that few things to my mind have really changed since I lived in South Florida and was a frequent attendee to football games played by the Miami Hurricanes . Having moved from South Florida up to the central part of the state, I try when I can to attend a few scheduled games of the program. Not since the heydays of Howard Schnellenberger , Dennis Erickson , Jimmy Johnson and Larry Coker when the football program was winning national titles and lauded as being one the premiere college teams in the nation ___ has there really been much to laud concerning the the Miami Hurricanes . However in the last few years the program has seen a decline in its attendance , the loss of Randy Shannon because it was deemed he wasn’t high profiled enough to lead the team.

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With that fall from grace has come criticism from former players who are now lauded within the NFL or who have entered into the Hall of Fame but who still see the school as their fraternity of brothers . Players such as Michael Irvin , Ray Lewis and Clinton Portis have all been pretty vocal as to what they see as the way that things have been done wrong by the school. What no one can deny is the mere fact that the Miami Hurricanes has always been the center of controversy and some might say the school simply courted incidents merely to gain even more notoriety . Now comes word that the NCAA is conducting an investigation into the school and the fact that a now indicted felon Nevin Shapiro , who conducted a multi-million dollar Ponzi Scheme , is said to have lavished members of the football team with monetary gifts , invites to numerous sporting events whereby they attended per-gratis. It is also being alleged that Shapiro for his part made sure that students were aided in aided obtaining none specific off campus work for which it is unclear how the players were being compensated .

Courtesy of The Boston Herald

NCAA visiting University of Miami regarding allegations

By Barry Jackson and Susan Miller Degnan / McClatchy Newspapers

MIAMI — The NCAA is investigating claims that convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro gave gifts and services — such as use of a yacht — to Hurricane football players while they were attending the University of Miami, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation and Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez.

Perez said Monday she has been in contact with the NCAA, on Shapiro’s behalf, for several months and has conveyed Shapiro’s claims that more than a dozen former or current Hurricanes players have received gifts and other benefits that would constitute a violation of NCAA rules. Shapiro also has spoken to the NCAA directly, she said.

Perez said the NCAA informed her that it would visit the Coral Gables, Fla., university on Monday. When reached by phone Monday night, University spokeswoman Margot Winick said, “My understanding is the NCAA was on site, but we’re not prepared to comment now until we know what they’re looking into.”

Though there is a four-year statute of limitations on NCAA violations, Perez said some of the incidents occurred within the past four years, while others occurred before that.

“It’s not about giving money — it’s about giving favors,” Perez said of Shapiro’s allegations. “It’s giving suits, giving jewelry, paying for entertainment, letting them use his boat twice a week.”

Perez said she has not tabulated the monetary value of gifts and benefits that Shapiro said he gave players, but “it’s well over thousands of dollars. It took $2,000 just to fuel up the gas tank of the yacht at Riviera Club.”

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Somehow in the midst of this latest mea culpa that has embroiled the University of Miami , the school’s president former cabinet member Donna Shalala , now has to try allay the fears of the fans and public in general that the school isn’t once again embroiled in a mess of its own making . What I would like to know in all of this , is how is it that a school can allow either boosters or for that matter any individual full access to the campus merely to heighten their presence amongst the student athletes ? It is clear that problems will always continue to arise when such an incident as is now being reported concerning the actions of Nevin Shapiro ___ his interaction with the school. There is a great deal that we have yet to be made aware of concerning the ongoing investigation by the NCAA but it is now becoming clear that there were errors in judgment not simply by school but also the lack of accountability from within the school’s own system.

And this upcoming season coach Al Golden not only has to deal with these allegations now surfacing but he and his coaching staff will now have to how to get the very best out of a football team that very much underperformed (7-6) last year within the ACC .

If there’s one thing that has become abundantly clear with the college coaches be it within basketball or football it is that they are self serving and think of themselves above the law. In a recent symposium that was hosted by ESPN to which they had a number of well known coaches , college sport’s analysts participate in this panel. It became clear that Nick Saban , Mike Bellotti , Bob Stoops feel that they are not answerable for the actions of their respective coaching staffs or even where they may well have stepped into a gray area as it relates to the NCAA regulations .

Stoops, Saban and Bellotti stated that nothing gives them greater pleasure than meeting a potential athlete in the parents’ home and discussing their future . And as altruistic as that may well seem we all know what lies beneath the maneuvering that is made by these coaches. It certainly has nothing to do with the players actually gaining an education but more to do with how the school can gain financially from acquiring that athlete if they are especially talented in their chosen sport. I am not about to suggest that the antics of Nick Saban , Mike Bellotti or Bob Stoops are untoward , but it does beg the question when Nick Saban begins to state that the real issues facing the underlying collegiate athletics , is the mere fact that agents are ruining college sports through their illicit acts . I might hasten to add nowhere has Saban sought to question the actions of one of his former peers in Jim Tressel and his culture of deceit and likes while coach of Ohio State and the school’s football program. If nothing else Treseel’s actions were culpable and the inaction by university president E Gordon Gee and school AD Gene Smith left a great deal to be desired . And in the midst of this all has been the inaction of the NCAA and their complete lack of action when necessary .

At some point I would like to know when it is that coaches such as Stoops , Saban and Bellotti will choose to question either their own inaction or for that matter the lack of action by a compliance officer or an athletics director when they choose not to act appropriately in the case of their lack of not wanting to do the right thing ? If cases such of Ohio State and the ongoing investigation of Auburn as it relates to the Cam Newton’s eligibility status while attending the school . Gene Chizik the school’s football coach has denied culpability in any action that might have violated any NCAA rules. Chizik in a recent confrontation with a senior official of the NCAA had been quite vocal in asking why the body was still investigating the school , in the aftermath of Auburn’s own internal investigation. That official stated the NCAA wasn’t of the belief that the school’s own investigation was as thorough as they were led to believe and that was in light of further allegations that have since arised .

So the Bernie Machen the president of the university of Florida has let it be known that the SEC for the time being will remain a conference of twelve schools . As we know this is simply a university president posturing for the public at large . Machen knows that sooner or later the conference will have to be enlarged if it is to compete with the other major conferences bowl or otherwise as they seek to a greater source of the monetary pie courtesy of the nation’s sports broadcasters. The Texas A&M Aggies are being courted and a move into the ACC or but moreover the SEC would be highly profitable for the school. With the school’s highly publicized and successful athletics program it would prove to be a great coup for any conference acquiring the school. And it has to be said that the SEC would deem it more of a triumph than perhaps the ACC.

The SEC already boasting a plethora of top notch schools that have made the BCS national championship its own fiefdom over the past few years , they would welcome Texas A&M with open arms. But such a maneuver has to be achieved in a way that it doesn’t create a backlash against either the school or conference itself. Inasmuch as we have seen recent realignments of number of conferences , anyone who believes that it is being done for altruistic motives clearly can’t see the overall big picture. These moves aren’t being done to create a more competitive balance within collegiate athletics but merely to create an even bigger cash windfall for the schools and conferences in question. Collegiate athletics is simply no longer about the apparent education or producing more productive citizens but a way and means of garnering talent as production for the schools themselves and then on to the professional level for the students in their chosen sporting endeavors.

There’s a great deal of money to be made but on the face of it one at times has to question the motives of the schools when one tends to see little if anything that is tangible coming out as a bye product of the activities in question. So much so that now instead of the landscape being about competitive athletic prowess much of the dialogue surrounds alleged acts of malfeasance not only the part of the student athletes but in some cases the AD’s , coaches and compliance officers of the very schools themselves. And in the midst of this cesspool of deceit and corrupt action stands the NCAA at times playing Pontius Pilate one minute and then meting out punishment like Judge Roy Bean the next.

Mark Emmert as president of the NCAA, either has to act swiftly and corral the activities of the schools or he can simply keep the status quo as is , by looking the other way and then choosing to punish with impunity as he sees fit merely to create the perception that he and his esteemed body are not without power . But in reality we know that the NCAA has already aligned itself with the Devil , in this case their paymasters , the broadcast and cable networks who pay out hundreds of millions of dollars each year for the broadcast rights for collegiate sports. As to the money trail and where much of those funds actually ends up, is anyone’s guess at this juncture , even if we are being assured that is to benefit the schools and student athletes as a whole . We can only those establishments at their word but in reality in this day and age what can we actually believe ? It is not as if a university president or athletic director isn’t above being culpable in an act of stupidity or simply being naive to begin with ! Simply look at the actions of E Gordon Gee , Gene Smith, Jim Tressel , Butch Davis and Dick Baddour of the former athletics director of UNC and ask yourself who can you really trust to tell the truth ?

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Are you at all surprised by the alleged improprieties that has now further tarnished the image of the University of Miami ? And what actions if any do you believe appropriate for the school if the allegations are found to be true ? Also in light of the statements of Nick Saban and some of his peers who were participants in that recently sponsored ESPN symposium do you feel that the NCAA really should have the power as to how a school goes about recruiting a potential college athlete beyond the measures already in place ? Leave a comment as to your thoughts on this topic and anything else you believe to be salient as to the points raised within this piece.

Alan aka tophatal ………… https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) FILE – This Feb. 2, 2011 , file photo shows Miami head coach Al Golden during an interview in Coral Gables, Fla. Golden says some of his player may have made mistakes that prompted an NCAA investigation into convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro’s role with the program. AP Photo/Alan Diaz ……

(2) Ex President Bill Clinton is greeted by university President Donna Shalala of the University of Miami . The former cabinet minister has held the post as president of the college since 2001. She now has to deal with the current controversy concerning members of the football team receiving gratuities from now indicted felon Nevin Shapiro . The school itself is also expected to conduct its own internal investigations as what improprieties took place in lieu of the NCAA’s own inquiry into the matter . Courtesy of AP Photo / Miami Herald / Hector Guttierrez …………

(3) In picture Paul Fishman the US attorney in the state of New Jersey whose indictment of Nevin Shapiro the former co founder of Capitol Investments USA Inc . who was indicted on grand larceny and creating a Ponzi Scheme said to have defrauded clients out of $ 800 million . Shapiro is also embroiled in the latest controversy surrounding the University of Miami and the fact that he’s said to have lavished gifts upon current and former players of the Canes’ football team. The NCAA as well as the school are now conducting separate investigations concerning the matter . The Star Ledger (N.J) / Mitsu Yasukawa …………

(4) Nick Saban standing addresses Jay Bilas (right), and ESPN College Football analyst Robert Smith during a symposium conducted by the broadcast outlet on the state of college sports and in particular on College Football . Courtesy of ESPN Jay Faraoni ……

(5) Bernie Machen president of the University of Florida has been somewhat adamant that the SEC will not be seeking to increase the number of schools within the conference in spite there being rumors that Texas A&M was said to being courted by the SEC and ACC to make the jump from the Big 12 . Sooner rather than later the the Aggies may well make the jump if it proves to be financially advantageous for the school. Getty Images / Michael Sprouse ……

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Miami Hurricanes Official website

Link provided here to the Miami Herald’s own coverage of this ongoing story . NCAA visiting University of Miami regarding allegations