I Spy With My Little Eye ….

I Spy With My Little Eye   …..

So last night within the world of sports  the big  news’  story  was  that of the  NBA Draft   and  the  Lottery  Pick , with  the   New  Orleans Pelicans obtaining  the  top  pick  in the  2019  NBA  Draft  Class  , with the franchise  taking    Duke   player  Zion  Williamson  as  the  number  one  overall  pick.  Williamson   is  seen  as  the  best  player among  the draftees  and  his  case was  made  all  the  more  emphatic,   with  the  statistics  seen during  the NCAA Tournament  , even though   the program’s  appearance  was short-lived.  With  the  drafting rights   of  Williams  ,  there  is the belief that the front office  of the  Pelicans  might now  be  in a strong  position to  convince  their   All  Star  forward   Anthony  Davis  to  re-sign  with  the  franchise rather   than  pursue free  agency .

(1)
Zion Willliamson , second from the right is seen here as the announcement is made that the New Orleans Pelicans will have the number one overall draft pick for the upcoming NBA Draft .

All signs do seem to be pointing to the fact that Anthony Davis’ seven-year career with the New Orleans Pelicans will come to an abrupt end as the player wishes to seek new challenges elsewhere. There would be a litany of teams certainly interested in a player of Davis’ prowess, with his all-round undoubted skill-set . Davis is not due to become a free agent until 2021 and with his apparent unwillingness to remain with the Pelicans, it would be in their best interest to trade the center to another franchise , who could perhaps offer something of merit in return.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James just happen to share the same agent and sports’ management company with Rich Paul as the CEO of Klutch Sports . It is widely known that during the season , James sought out Davis as a potential teammate , with him joining the Los Angeles Lakers . With Magic Johnson still having some influence within the organization , albeit , that he’s no longer Head of Basketball Operations. It remains to be seen if Johnson can still persuade the Pelicans’ forward to join the Lakers’ franchise , with them having to give up a considerable amount of talent in order to acquire the All Star in a trade.

The NBA Playoffs are now in full swing and the respective conferences are now set with their Conference Finals now underway. Within the East , the top two seeded teams will meet with the Milwaukee Bucks playing host to the Toronto Raptors in the best of seven-game series. In the West , reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors will meet the surprisingly resilient Portland Trailblazers , who will be led by their talented point guard Damian Lillard . His performances throughout this postseason have been scintillating to say the very least.The game-one opener saw the Warriors overcome the Blazers to take a 1-0 lead, winning the contest, 116-94 . Game two of the series will take place once again at the Oracle Arena , in Oakland , California on Thursday night, 16th May , 2019 . The Eastern Conference Finals Series’ opener will be on Wednesday evening as previously stated and it will be interesting to see how these two teams will fare .

Away from the NBA Playoffs, other than the Draft Lottery Pick having taken place, the surprising news which made the headlines , was the hire of Michigan Head Coach John Beilein as the latest hire of the Cleveland Cavaliers , to succeed Tyronn Lue as the franchise’s latest Head Coach. It is being revealed , Beilein will be signed to a five-year deal , with Cavaliers’ GM Kobe Altman set to make the formal announcement . This also seems to have the blessing of team owner , Dan Gilbert . Beilein’s ascension to the position would make him also one of the oldest Head Coaches in the NBA , while also being a rookie in the position. Suffice to say , as the Cavaliers seek to rebuild , the learning curve for the coach will be a considerably tough one .

Call it cynicism or just plain awkwardness , but when an athlete believes himself to be something special , while having not having proven themselves in the field of battle , you just have to wonder what is going on in their mind ? Josh Rosen the recently acquired Miami Dolphins’ quarterback is aggrieved that his former team’s GM Steve Keim , failed to offer him the opportunity to prove his worth with the Arizona Cardinals . Rosen claims, he wasn’t consulted by Keim , as the general manager chose to take Kyler Murray as the number one overall pick in the recent NFL Draft (2019) . Last I looked , it wasn’t Steve Keim’s position to consult a player over personnel decisions for a team , much less the fact , Rosen’s play for the Cardinals was far from overwhelming .

Josh Rosen should consider himself lucky , that he was given the chance to move on to the Miami Dolphins , where he will succeed another failed quarterback , Ryan Tannehill , whose tenure with the franchise , proved to be a very unsatisfactory one. From my own perspective the Miami Dolphins will need all the help they can get this upcoming season , as too will the Arizona Cardinals , as each failed miserably last season within their respective divisions and conferences .

When it rains , it certainly does pour and for the New York Jets , this franchise is now beset by a deluge, as the Jets fire their GM Mike Maccagnan , with his being replaced by Adam Gase , current Head Coach , who for the moment will be fulfilling both roles within the Jets’ organization. It is abundantly clear that after last season, the Jets were in need of some radical changes within the front office , coaching staff and among the player personnel. Well the NFL Draft took care of their needs , as did some timely trades. Yet the belief remains , Maccagnan’s tenure and the failure in 2018 , played a big part in his ouster. Far be it for me to suggest, but the Jets are still a long way from where they need to be and they will be in a for a long haul if they’re to make it back to the NFL postseason , given the fact that their last appearance
came
during the 2010 season , when they reached the the conference championship where they faced the Pittsburgh Steelers .

From here-on in, it will be interesting to see how Adam Gase seeks to improve the fortunes of the New York Jets.

The next couple of games within the world of baseball could prove to be very interesting to say the least. I’d like to think at this point of the season should be very interesting in the lead-up to the 2019 All Star Game . With the divisional standings being what they are , the teams are now gearing up to really play with some zeal. . Wednesday and there are several games of real interest to the fans who will be in attendance .

While I believe that the New York Yankees are capable of winning the AL East this season , there are still some doubts as to the veracity of this team and manager Aaron Boone . Since ,2009 when their last World Series’ victory came about , it would be prudent to suggest that team ownership are somewhat exacerbated , having not added to their tally of world championships. The New York Yankees will be in action today when they are due to face the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, New York. This will be part of their regular season meetings during 2019 , with their meetings over the last decade being very eventful.

New York Yankees’ veteran pitcher CC Sabathia , having been the most recent starting pitcher to have hit the plateau of 3,000 strikeouts . Sabathia’s next projected start could take place on the 17th May , when they are due to meet divisional leaders the Tampa Bay Rays . His record against the Rays is a commendable one , since his debut in the Majors came in 2001. If CC Sabathia is to become a Hall of Fame bound player , it will be interesting to see how his statistics will match up against a number of his peers and contemporaries .

It’s hard to fathom how embarrassing the state of baseball continues to be within the State of Florida . Attendance at the Miami Marlins’ Ballpark as well as Tropicana Field , home to the Tampa Bay Rays continues to be truly appalling , by anyone’s standards . Both of these teams will be in action throughout this week and their weekend series will see the Rays face the New York Yankees, whereas , the Miami Marlins will be matched against the New York Mets at home . The Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays will continue their in-state series as of Wednesday, with a game being played at the Marlins Ballpark in Miami, Florida . Between now and the All Star Break , I believe that Derek Jeter as the Head of Baseball Operations for the Miami Marlins in conjunction with Michael Hill will have some serious decisions to make concerning the long-term and short-term direction of this franchise. This season certainly hasn’t helped with the Marlins currently sitting at the bottom of the NL East , with one of the worst records in all of baseball. The future does seem bleak for this baseball franchise, given the real absence of competitiveness.

Another loss was suffered by the Miami Marlins , further making their season all the more plausible, as their being on the way to another losing season. At no point during their game against the Tampa Bay Rays was there any sense of urgency by the players , seeking to make this match-up competitive even from the fans’ viewpoint. Instead , the team wasted a chance to show any form of resilience. The Marlins will be back in session for their next game when they face off off against the New York Mets in a divisional game this Friday , as part of their regular season meetings , with this being a home-based series. The opposing pitchers in this contest will be Jacob DeGrom of the Mets against Trevor Richards of the Marlins.

Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers is certainly proving himself to be a player of value and all the more so, given the salary being paid to the player . He has a become a staple for the Dodgers’ fans this season, as the team blusters into their schedule , slaying many of their opponents with ease in many cases. The Dodgers will be in action over the next few days and it will be interesting to see how they will fare through the month of May as exhibited last season by this Dave Roberts’ managed roster. Roberts and his players will prepare for a weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds on the road , in the three games to be played at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati , Ohio . The first game of this series will take place on Friday evening with the opposing pitchers being Rich Hill of the Dodgers and Anthony DeSclefani of the Reds.

If the Los Angeles Dodgers are to make it back to another postseason appearance, then their play will have to rise to even greater heights than previously seen over the last eight years.

With it still being early in the season , but there are grumblings that several teams might be seeking the upgrade to their rosters , with the MLB Postseason being their clear main motive and the chance of winning the World Series . One player considered to be atop of every contenders’ list, might well be starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel . The pitcher who’s yet to make to make his debut for the Houston Astros this season. His wish is to sign with a big-market team , of which is the New York Yankees, might be the one ball-club with an inside track to land the starter , Also said to be in the mix among starting pitchers who might well be with a new team at the trade deadline , Craig Kimbrel . This season will be an interesting one during the upcoming months as witnessed during 2018.

What are the big stories which you believe will be front and center during the upcoming weeks and months within the world of sports ?


Tophatal ……….


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Continue reading “I Spy With My Little Eye ….”

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.

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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.”


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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 …………


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The Work You Put In Provides You With Results In The End ….

 

The Work You Put In Provides You With Results In The End ….

Well, it’s been a long time coming, after a season of thrills, spills and in some cases utter despair. Now the NFL Postseason is upon us and the wildcard round began in earnest with some thrilling games. None more so perhaps, than the game between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts , two divisional rivals who split their season series in 2018. With so much at stake both quarterbacks , Andrew Luck of the Colts and DeShaun Watson of the Texans had to be at their very best. This was clearly the case as both players sought to exhibit their very best during this AFC Wildcard Round contest.


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Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts steamrolled through a Houston Texans’ defense which appeared non-existent on their way to a 21-7 victory . The Colts will now look forward to meeting the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round of this postseason .

Far be it for me to suggest , but Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys must have known that it had to be now or never to prove himself as the Head Coach of this franchise. Garrett’s record in the postseason has not been an enviable one in comparison to many of his predecessors. In Saturday’s home game against the Seattle Seahawks , the Dallas Cowboys were up against a team looking to make their mark once again. Opposing quarterbacks Dak Prescott of the Cowboys and Russell Wilson entered into this game needing to prove that they were among the best within the league and most certainly among the best within the NFC over the course of the season. Dallas would get the better of the Seahawks in the contest , moving on to the next round where they will meet the Los Angeles Rams on the road , in a game which should prove to be very exciting.

OK , so with the NFL now moving on to the Divisional Round , it will be interesting to see who these match-ups will play out and what the teams will bring to the table by way of their play. Defending Superbowl champions the Philadelphia Eagles were lucky to get by the Chicago Bears , whose defense simply didn’t do enough to allow the team to get any type traction in the game. Mitch Trubisky played well , but his counterpart Nick Foles played with a lot more poise and showed leadership when needed. Of the Divisional Round contests set to take place this upcoming weekend , the most appealing might well be the contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts . Yet I do believe the game between the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots , could provide a major upset as Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers takes this franchise to their furthest appearance in the postseason of the past fifteen years.

The past three days within the NBA and the results seen should be a real indicator of what not actually to expect given the inconsistency seen from the teams. The Los Angeles Lakers have been without LeBron James for the past couple of games during which the team has not fared that well. A blowout loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves , just proved that their victory over the Golden State Warriors should be seen for what it was , merely an aberration . Next up for the Los Angeles Lakers will be a match-up against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday evening , a game where the Lakers will have to be at their very best against a Mavericks’ team looking to play their way into playoff contention . With aging veteran Dirk Nowitzki now playing a slightly less competitive role for the team , it will be interesting to see how Dirk performs against the Lakers in this contest .

Of late both the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs have been on impressive win streaks , with notching a mark of 8-2 . San Antonio’s most impressive victory would have to be the one over the Toronto Raptors , the team with the best record in the league at this juncture , with the Raptors being the first to notch thirty victories this season within the NBA . Since that victory the Spurs have played with consistency , with production coming from all of their players. Next up for the Spurs will be a game against the Detroit Pistons on the road against a very good Eastern Conference team.

The firing of Tom Thibodeau as the Head Coach and as a
front office executive
within the Minnesota Timberwolves’ franchise, sent shock waves around the NBA. After the death of Flip Saunders , there was enough tumult within the organization . Ryan Saunders has since assumed the interim coaching position for the Timberwolves , with Scott Layden assuming the General Manager’s position . Glenn Taylor remains team owner , but his advanced age has seen him relinquish certain roles to subordinates within the Timberwolves’ hierarchy . The upheaval and the constant bickering with Thibodeau unable to corral his players led to the dismissal of the coach for the second time during his professional career , with his first firing coming as the former Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls , who this year fired Fred Hoiberg , after that team’s abysmal start to the season .

It is becoming extremely difficult to see where the Minnesota Timberwolves no go from here. With an extremely young roster , and winning having become extremely difficult for the team. It will be interesting to see if Ryan Saunders can show the pedigree of his late father, Flip Saunders , as he seeks to lead the franchise back to prosperity and success. Over their last fifteen games the Timberwolves are 6-0 , though not among the worst in the league, but their last ten games have shown the team to be in a truly dire situation . In their next game the Timberwolves will be facing the Oklahoma City on the road on the 8th January ,2019 , one of the slew of games being played on Tuesday evening . . With Minnesota having built their roster around the Karl-Anthony Townes , Andrew Wiggins and the veteran presence of former League MVP point guard Derrick Rose . A rebuilding process cannot be allowed to ensue within a franchise which is in such dire straits

If the Minnesota Timberwolves are said to be floundering, then the woes of the New York Knicks continue unabated . This franchise remains in a quagmire even after the three moribund and unproductive years under Phil Jackson’s tenure as a front office executive within this franchise. The fact of the matter is , even with Dave Fizdale coaching this roster , this team is simply not good enough to win on a consistent basis . The longest win-streak put together by this team lasted no more than three games. A sad state of affairs for a franchise considered to be one of the most renowned in the NBA. . Fizdale and the team are in action for their next game which pits the New York Knicks against the Golden State Warriors . This is not a game I believe the Knicks are capable of winning at all and it is likely to end in a rout of the Eastern Conference franchise .

So what was heralded as a memorable slug-fest turned out to be a complete rout as Clemson annihilated Alabama to win their third BCS National Title in the last five years . Alabama long revered as the best program in College Football now sees itself as having been surpassed by this Dabo Swinney coached team . Swinney’s opposite number Nick Saban must now think hard as to what needs to be done in order for Alabama to remain relevant and at the top of the food chain.


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With the sporting events you have witnessed over the past week or so , what do you believe were the biggest failings of the teams or athletes who failed to deliver ?


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The Hard and Fast Principle, Is That You Play To Win

The Hard and Fast Principle, Is That You Play To Win

Far be it for me to suggest, but with the NFL season almost coming to a close, the likely dismissals of several Head Coaches were an inevitability. The biggest firing, was not the dismissal of Hue Jackson from the Cleveland Browns , but the firing of Mike McCarthy by the Green Bay Packers , was one of which came to some as a surprise. The Packers’ season has been one which has been woefully inept in certain aspects of their game, but the blame should not be placed solely at the feet of Mike McCarthy alone. He was failed by his team and most notably by Aaron Rodgers perhaps the Packers’ best player on the roster and his twice being named the League MVP . Rodgers has not demanded more of himself or from that of his teammates and it has come to fruition by way of the results on the field and their standing within the NFC North , where there are likely to miss the NFL Postseason for 2018.


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It has become abundantly clear that a replacement for Mike McCarthy is most likely to come from outside the coaching staff , rather than from within. Several names are being considered , notably David Shaw of Stanford , Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots and Jim Harbaugh , Head Coach of Michigan . Green Bay’s front office headed by Mark Murphy will consider all of the aforementioned names as well as others that will cross Murphy’s desk in the coming days. Yet for the moment , the current coaching staff and players must prepare for their final four games starting with their contest against the Atlanta Falcons this upcoming Sunday , 9th December , 2018. A sub. 500 record for the Packers this season would provide the franchise with their worst record in over a decade. Certainly the worst since Aaron Rodgers first entered the league in 2005 as a rookie quarterback for the franchise. Where the Green Bay Packers will now go from here will be open to a great deal of conjecture and debate

Jay Gruden has made it abundantly clear that with the loss of Colt McCoy as the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins , neither he or any member of his coaching staff or anyone from within the front office have a wish to replace McCoy with disenfranchised quarterback Colin Kaepernick . It has been over two years since the player was last seen on an NFL field , but yet somehow the likes of Mark Sanchez and lesser talents have been given a chance in the NFL this season ? Suffice to say , Roger Goodell and the majority of the team owners have no wish to see the player make a return to the league. His banishment continues in the midst of a season where Goodell’s autocratic rule continues.

With the NFC East division still up for grabs with even the Philadelphia Eagles still in with a chance of possibly winning the division , it is quite possible the division itself, will be one ending in carnage. Both teams will be in action this weekend weekend with the Eagles facing the Dallas Cowboys , while the Redskins will meet the New York Giants .

The trigger was pulled and the first salvos of the MLB off-season have been fired . The New York Mets have made everyone aware that they mean business this off-season with the acquisition of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to their roster in what can be seen as a blockbuster trade. This rings in a new era for the Mets’ front office now being ran by newly minted General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen . Adding the salaries of Cano and Diaz to the team’s payroll will certainly bloat the obligations of the ball club, but if it leads to success than , then I doubt that the Mets’ fans will be overly concerned.

While the New York Mets seek to keep up with the rest of baseball , one of the ball club’s National League rivals the Chicago Cubs will be seeking to make a monumental splash of their own as they look to sign Bryce Harper to a long-term deal with the ball club . Cubs’ front office executives , Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein would certainly like to bolster the roster and make Chicago even more competitive for this upcoming season. The addition of Harper to an already formidable offensive lineup would be a boost for this Joe Maddon managed team . It remains to be seen if the Washington Nationals are willing to part ways with Bryce Harper or they will seek to sign him to a deal of their own.

There have been some major signings made within the past forty-eight hours , with several players on the move now getting high-priced deals .

It never ceases to amaze me how naïve and simply out of touch fans and analysts are when it comes to the NBA and the talk of current reigning NBA champion the Golden State Warriors now being vulnerable and not capable of defending their title. We are barely three months into the NBA season and some idiots are already looking to write off this team altogether. From my own perspective until there is a team capable of challenging the Warriors on a consistent basis within the NBA , they will remain the team to beat within this league. Then the argument against this franchise remains redundant . In the Warriors’ most recent game they faced the Atlanta Hawks , winning that game decisively against an Eastern Conference opponent.

If the rumors are to be believed then there could be a major blockbuster trade in the offing , as the Los Angeles Lakers make a play to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans . All signs seem to be pointing that GM Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson have something big planned , but there has yet to be any type of formal announcement made. Lakers’ forward LeBron James has shown his frustration at the real lack of progress made by the team in spite of a winning record at this point of the season. The fact that Lonzo Ball the sophomore point guard is seen as the bait to entice this move, with Davis joining the Lakers. It could be said that this might also send the wrong message to the Lakers’ fans and the long-term future of this franchise. Lonzo Ball is seen as the face of the Los Angeles Lakers once the career of LeBron James comes to an end , because I seriously doubt that at the end of his current contract he will seek to resign with the franchise , furthering his fifteen-year career in this league.

From my own perspective the window of opportunity for the Los Angeles Lakers to win big, is to start winning now. Their biggest challenge will remain being good enough to beat the top contenders within the Western Conference , then knocking off the league’s current dynasty and reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors , by no means an easy task. The first meeting between these two teams this season will take place on Christmas Day when the Golden State Warriors will play host to the Los Angeles at the Oracle Arena in Oakland , California . In all , they will meet four times over the course of this regular season with games being played at home and away.

OK, so it we all knew that the Alabama Crimson Tide would stroll through their regular season sojourn of College Football (FBS) . In all honesty this Nick Saban coached team has been barely challenged and it wasn’t until they faced Georgia (Bulldogs) in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) championship game that Alabama was made to run the gauntlet in a true test of their mettle. . Having won the game in its last waning moments, Alabama booked themselves a place in College Football Playoffs’ Format . As they look to make history by winning another National Title , I truly believe, it will be theirs for the taking unless they become truly complacent .

What if anything do you believe best provides the winning approach with regard to professional team sports at this moment in time ?

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Tophatal ………….

NFL news …

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MLB news

MLB transactions

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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.


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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 .



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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)

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NFL standings division and conference standings

NBA news

NBA schedule preseason 2nd October

NBA transactions

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NBA team salary cap 2018-19

Highest paid NBA players (2018)

All Of This Power In Just One Man’s Hands …

All Of This Power In Just One Man’s Hands

I’ve said it all along and will continue to say it , the Oakland Raiders are an NFL franchise in need of a fresh infusion of executive leadership and if nothing else a new owner. The halcyon days of Al Davis
, became the latter years of woe with the franchise shipping off Jon Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , where Gruden would come back to bite the Raiders in the ass by leading the Buccaneers to their only triumph in the Superbowl . And while people might say Jon Gruden won with Tony Dungy’s players , the fact of the matter is , after that Superbowl triumph things would never be the same again for either franchise. The Raiders sank to new levels of depravity and the Buccaneers were never able cash in on the success achieved after that victory . Jon Gruden would then be fired by the Glazer family, owners of the franchise , only for the Buccaneers to go through several coaches, who seemingly couldn’t coach or find their way out of wet paper bag , much less proves themselves to be competent in their roles.


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In what could only described as a shocking turn of events, Jon Gruden was lured away from the ESPN broadcast booth to return back to coaching and rejoining the Oakland Raiders. Team owner Mark Davis , son of the late owner Al Davis made the decision in conjunction with GM Reggie McKenzie to sign Gruden to a ten-year $100 million contract, by far the richest deal of its kind in NFL history. Gruden it is believed will carry additional duties beyond that of coaching , having the final say in all Player Personnel decisions as well as the hiring of his own coaching staff. Anyone who’s in the know concerning Jon Gruden’s track record when it comes the drafting of players and their development, will know that his success rate has been very minuscule indeed. As to why Reggie McKenzie and Mark Davis would agree to hand over the reins to Jon Gruden, can only surmised by saying that might well have been the demands made by the head coach and his agent. It was all or nothing as Gruden now seeks to wield that power with the hope of leading the Oakland Raiders back to some semblance of success.

During this off-season the Oakland Raiders have been quick to reshape the team’s roster , through the NFL Draft as well as by free agent acquisitions and the re-signing of several free agents. The main focus however will be on making sure that this will be a team of players able to complement the skill-set of quarterback Derek Carr . As to the player himself , it remains to be seen if he can regain the form that made the Raiders’ front office believe he was worth the six-figure deal signed , as they believed he was on the verge of becoming a marquee quarterback in the NFL . I believe Carr is still a long way off from that particular plateau when judged against his current peers within the league.

It will be interesting to see how good the Oakland Raiders can be during this upcoming season with Jon Gruden steering the team from the sidelines and Derek Carr leading the team on the field. In week one of the regular season the Raiders are set to face the Los Angeles Rams , their in-state rivals in a non-conference match-up , one of several due to take place during the opening week of the season . From my own perspective I feel that the Raiders will face something of an uphill battle this season as Jon Gruden seeks to reacquaint the franchise with success.

Billionaire hedge fund manager and venture capitalist David Tepper has become the newest owner in the NFL , having purchased the Carolina Panthers for a reputed $2.35 billion , making the sale the most expensive in NFL history. Tepper purchased the franchise from the now disgraced former owner Jerry Richardson , whose misogynist and racist behavior had been well-chronicled and known to the NFL hierarchy for years , but somehow Roger Goodell and owners sought to do nothing about Richardson’s behavior. Bear in mind , given the behavior of owners Jerry Jones and Robert McNair , would you really be surprised that Jerry Richardson, is not the only owner in the NFL of or with a similar mindset ? Middle-aged, and older Caucasian males in positions of power showing racist tendencies in 2018 ? Sound familiar , given the antics of Donald Trump on his way to the White House and since becoming President ?

The fact that Jerry Richardson was allowed to get away with his misconduct on such a scale , where they were allegations of sexual misconduct along with racially abusive comments directed at subordinates seems unbelievable but yet this all happened within the confines of the Carolina Panthers’ organization and outside of the franchise. I get the feeling that Roger Goodell was unconcerned by this all , until it began to threaten the image of the NFL , its bottom line and notwithstanding the actions of Colin Kaepernick which really brought so many more things into focus and within the public domain.

With David Tepper now in charge , there will be changes in how this franchise was ran and there will undoubtedly be accountability for everyone within the Carolina Panthers franchise. Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton offered very little commentary as to his own thoughts concerning the departure of Jerry Richardson. Likelihood being, the player believed his departure is now for the better of the franchise and the fans. Seven years into his NFL career and Cam Newton has proven himself to be a worthy adversary and one of the better quarterbacks now in the league. A number one overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and taken by the Carolina Panthers , Newton has now become the face of the franchise. If the Panthers are to succeed this season , then they will have a hell of a fight on their hands in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL where the NFC South is likely to turn into a dog-fight between three of the four teams occupying the division . Sorry Tampa Bay Buccaneers , but this won’t be your year
to bounce back at all !!!!!

Ron Rivera , Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers will be hoping for a fast start to the regular season, as his team looks to reclaim the top spot within the division. . Cam Newton and the Panthers will begin their season with a game against the Dallas Cowboys at home between these two NFC teams. Newton’s record against the Cowboys is even with a 1-1 record and the last meeting taking place in 2015 , week eleven of the season with Carolina , coming through unscathed winning the game 33-14 over Dallas.

John Lynch will have a great deal to prove this upcoming season as the San Francisco 49ers look to carry on from where they left off at the end of last season . Over their final five games there wasn’t a better team in the NFL, with the 49ers lighting up the scoreboard and the team going on a five-game win streak to end the season . As the General Manager of the Forty Niners , Lynch has been entrusted to put the franchise back on the right track . He lucked out in acquiring quarterback Jimmy Garopollo , with the player leading the team with a great deal of maturity and sense of urgency . Lynch in having succeeded Trent Baalke was given full authority by team CEO Jed York to rebuild the roster into a competitive unit. The NFL Draft proved to be fortuitous as have the trade acquisitions made under this new front office regime. With Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and his coaching staff providing insight along the way , there is every reason to believe the San Francisco 49ers could be a very competitive team during the 2018 NFL season .

Jimmy  Garopollo  and his teammates will open their regular season schedule with a game against the Minnesota Vikings on the road match-up between NFC based franchises. As with the NFL’s twenty-nine other teams there will be the customary preseason schedule , starting with the Hall of Fame Game between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens .

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league hierarchy have all but assured the fans, that this upcoming season will begin with controversy after coming to decision where players not standing to the National Anthem while being played at regular season games can be subject to and be fined for their non-participation . From my own perspective , I believe this ruling to be draconian and certainly impugning on the right of a player to freely express himself, bearing in mind First Amendment Rights’ . This is a dangerous maneuver by the league and one that could very well be challenged as a collective by any player seeking legal recourse within the Judicial System at the Federal Level . So far there has been nothing said by any senior member of the NFLPA (Players’ Union) , as I believe they will look for some way to challenge this legally , while there are likely to be continued protests from their rank and file members . New York Jets’ team owner Woody Johnson has stated that, he will stand behind the players on the team who choose not to participate and is willing to pay their fines no matter what the cost .

The fallout from this latest move by the NFL cannot be quantified until the start of the season and then we are likely to see how impactful this all could be . Both sides have a great deal to lose, while proponents of this move will be greatly satisfied by the stance taken by league . President Donald Trump has applauded the move, likening it to the NFL showing that it has a backbone.

It is extremely funny to think that the league (NFL) will seek to punish the players for expressing a right , freedom of speech , but will often overlook player misconduct and sometimes serious legal infractions . Does that make any sense at all ?

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the latest news now emanating from the National Football League ?

🙂

Tophatal ………


NFL news

2018 NFL regular season schedule



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The Call Of The Wild ….

The Call Of The Wild ….

So the NFL Draft came and went with a whimper and while begin their idiocy of grading the teams based on the level of success achieved through the Draft. I’d just like to say , you can’t make any assumptions as to how these teams will fare when the season has yet to begin and not knowing how competitive the teams and these rookies may or may not be.

Granted, we all know the only reason behind these Draft prognostications stems from the fact many of these analysts seem to have nothing better to do with their time. Let the dominoes begin to fall between now and the beginning of the Preseason and then the teams embarking on their sixteen-game regular season schedule.


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None too surprising during this off-season within the NFL was the announcement that Dallas Cowboys’ tight-end Jason Witten would retire. Witten has been a presence on the roster of the Cowboys for the better part of a decade or more, while breaking a number of franchise records of the Dallas Cowboys. It will be difficult to imagine Jason Witten not being on the roster of this team as they embark upon their preseason schedule and the regular season itself. With Dez Bryant having been cut, as team owner and de-facto General Manager Jerry Jones was unwilling to sign Bryant to a long-term contract , the veteran now finds himself a free agent ,with not too many teams at this juncture willing to pick up the player and sign him to a significant deal. Bryant’s agents Roc Nation Sports will be very hard pressed to seek a deal that will meet the player’s demands of a salary in excess of $15 million a year as a wide receiver. His productivity has dropped off significantly over the last few years, while his relationship with teammates and the Cowboys’ front office is said to have soured.

From my own perspective this upcoming season will be a very tough one for the Dallas Cowboys and with a team which no longer has anyone who can really be deemed a game-changer, it will now be left to Dak Prescott to prove to everyone that he can be seen as leader of this franchise moving forward. Dallas’ Draft Class was nothing more than adequate and I believe that Jerry Jones might be on the lookout to add some depth to the roster during this off-season. For Head Coach Jason Garrett , he will have a to prove himself , because the fans are growing impatient , as too is Jones , with the franchise not having made a long playoff run in several years.

LeBron James has been rewriting the record books in the NBA since he first entered the league as a rookie in 2003. Three NBA titles later along with multiple MVP Awards and the Finals’ MVP Awards , there seems little left to do for the game’s best player currently playing. Where James will rank among the all-time greats at the end of his career remains to be seen. During the current NBA Playoffs, LeBron James has simply been a one-man band for the Cleveland Cavaliers as he guided his team to a stunning series’ victory over the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the East Conference Playoffs . James and the Cavaliers will now meet the Toronto Raptors in the conference semi-finals , in a series that is by no means a certainty ,where the Cavaliers will prevail.

Game one of that series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors will begin on the 1st May,2018, with the Cavaliers going on the road to face the Raptors.The match-up between LeBron James of the Cavaliers and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan should prove to be very interesting. Winners of this particular series will go on to face the winners of the series between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers .

Within the Western Conference , it looks as if the conference finals could provide the fans with the series they’re actually yearning for . Granted, granted that would be predicated upon both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets getting past their second-round opponents . I firmly believe that the winner of this season’s NBA championship will be coming out of the Western Conference !

This season we have already seen the league’s first no-hitter as Sean Manae of the Oakland A’s pitched a gem in a game against the Boston Red Sox played at the Coliseum in Oakland , California on the 21st April, 2018. Manae had the privilege of seeing his Oakland teammate Jonathan Lucroy catch baseball’s first no-hitter of the 2018 Major League Baseball season. The A’s find themselves having to compete in a very tough AL West division in 2018 . Over their last ten games the this Oakland team has managed to notch up a record of 6-4 . Good enough to have them sitting not quite mid-table within the division.In the month of May the A’s will have to perform a great deal better than during the month of April. Oakland will be on the field today when they face the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington , with the two opposing pitchers being Andrew Triggs of the A’s facing Felix Hernandez of the Mariners.

While I don’t believe that the Oakland A’s will be competing for postseason honors , there are a number of teams this season who will have a great deal to prove. Derek Jeter continue to alienate the fans of the Miami Marlins , with the ball-club’s attendance levels being among the worst in all of baseball this season. Jeter as one of the lead front office executives and overseeing the Baseball Operations of the team , has been operating the franchise on threadbare resources. Granted , the team’s payroll is just above the threshold set of $90 million . It is becoming increasing hard to imagine how this team will be able to compete when so many of the players are performing so badly .

Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff will head into the month of May hoping to show a great deal more resilience, while also looking to move their way up the NL East divisional standings. If the Marlins end the season with a record of more than 65 wins I will be pleasantly surprised. They are simply not good enough to compete with the very best that the NL has to offer , even if Derek Jeter believes to the contrary. Miami’s instate rivals the Tampa Bay Rays are not that much better and here again we have an ownership group bereft of ideas , while they continually make excuses for the ball-club’s poor play since 2012 , and the lack local support for a new ballpark to replace the archaic Tropicana Field in Saint Petersburg, Florida .

Playing catch-up with many of their divisional rivals this early in the season is not something unknown to the Tampa Bay Rays . The team will be in action over the next few days as they have series against the Detroit Tigers , Baltimore Orioles , Toronto Blue Jays Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals between now and the 14th May , 2018 . The Rays are on the road today (1st May) , where they will face Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park , in Detroit , Michigan .

Far be it for me to suggest that Mike Scioscia has not done great things for the Los Angeles Angels as the ball-club’s manager. Yet I do feel that after the last few years of their lacking success in the postseason , now might be the time for change. The team has a litany of stars at several positions , but there seems to be a lack of conviction among the managerial staff in spite of the best intentions coming from the front office . GM Billy Eppler and owner Arte Moreno have all but thrown the kitchen sink in seeking to bolster the Angels’ lineup over the last few years. As of Monday night the Angels sat third within the AL West , looking up at the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros . Scioscia will be preparing the team for sets of games against the Baltimore Orioles , Seattle Mariners and Colorado Rockies over the next few days. . The first of those games takes place on Wednesday afternoon as the Los Angeles Angels face the Baltimore Orioles at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California . Teammates, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols have fared well against the Orioles and I would expect the result to be in the team’s favor.

Yu Darvish failed miserably in his stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the evidence there for all to see during the Dodgers’ abysmal displays during the postseason of 2017. Darvish was sent packing by the Dodgers and he was picked up by the Chicago Cubs , whose faith in the Japanese star has to come to fruition. To date ,Yu Darvish has appeared in five games for the Cubs with a 5.26 ERA this season. His next projected start for the team ,will seem him face the Colorado Rockies in a game to be played at Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois on Wednesday 2nd May , 2018 . Darvish is set to earn $25 million for this season, though he is not the highest paid starting pitcher on the team’s roster with that role going to Jon Lester .

This should be a good season for the Chicago Cubs as they seek a return to form which saw them prevail in the World Series in 2016.

They remain the most heralded ball-club in baseball with the most World Series’ wins and AL Pennant victories as well as being the most profitable and valuable team in the game. Hard to believe however that it has been almost a decade since the New York Yankees were last known as world champions.With the ouster of Joe Girardi as the team’s manager , Aaron Boone has succeeded Girardi and will be looking to transform the roster into a competitive and combative unit. With the Boston Red Sox having started off their season on a tear, the Yankees have in essence been looking up at their divisional foe with a great deal envy . Giancarlo Stanton , Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius are seen as the players to lead this team moving forward , with elder statesman Jacoby Ellsbury seemingly out of favor and sidelined also. It will be interesting to see how good this Yankees’ offense can be, while coinciding with their pitching lineup .

Aaron Boone will have his team back on the mound on Thursday when the New York Yankees face the Houston Astros.

Jose Bautista has been one of the most explosive players in baseball for a number of years and his bat has always done the talking for the Toronto Blue Jays . Unfortunately, for both the Jays and Bautista , the ball-club has never been able to meet the expectations of their fans. The organization remains the only professional sport’s franchise within baseball that is not based in America. Toronto , Ontario is home to the two-time World Series champions. I would dare say the owners of this franchise would nothing better than to make it back into the postseason with the culmination of a run to the title itself.

The Jays will begin a weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida this Friday with starting pitchers J A Happ of the Blue Jays facing Andrew Kittredge of the Rays. . As with any of their previous series over the last six years , these contests have always proven to be very interesting. I don’t believe that Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays can win their division , but I do believe they are in with a chance of making the postseason, if they can find some consistency to their game.

At this point last season several teams season within Major League Baseball several teams had yet to find some semblance of consistency and the same can be said today , as the teams amble their way through the month of May.

They may not look like the best team in baseball at present in spite of their record , but Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox is playing like an All Star and based on his stats and WAR , he might just be the best player in the game at present. Betts is having a career year and having just broken one of the most hallowed records of the franchise . It would be fair to suggest Betts has to be seen as the best player on a very talented Red Sox roster. As of the 3rd May Betts’ batting average , .370 on the season with an on-base percentage of .449 and an OPS of 1.299 . It will be interesting to see what this right-fielder can for the Red Sox in his next ten games as the team looks to increase its divisional lead in the AL East.



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For the moment in the world of sports, there are stories yet to unfold , athletes set to explode and we should be seeing something special throughout the 2018 sports’ calendar. So what are your expectations ?

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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 .


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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


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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 .


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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.”


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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 …


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King Kong Ain’t Got Nothing On Me ….

King Kong Ain’t Got Nothing On Me ….

It wasn’t the best Superbowl in NFL history , but it will certainly rank up there as one of the most entertaining games in the event’s history. With more an one thousand all-purpose yards of offense and with two teams whose defensive mindset was nowhere to be seen , this game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles , was simply one, where whichever team held onto the ball at the end of sixty minutes , would come out the eventual winner. That was the case, as Nick Foles led the Eagles to their very first Superbowl title in franchise history.   Foles would be named Superbowl MVP in what has been a career season for the backup quarterback of this team . It augurs well for the franchise moving forward, especially if they can keep many of their front-line starters as free agency beckons .


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Slide show.

For Tom Brady and the New England Patriots this was most certainly a game of missed opportunities and while Brady set a postseason record for the number of yards passed in a Superbowl , what cannot be denied was that the three-time Superbowl MVP was somewhat off his mark in spite of a record-setting day. However, I do believe much of New England’s woes stemmed from the fact that neither Bill Belichick or Matt Patricia , the Patriots’ defensive coordinator sought to make any real adjustments to negate the effectiveness of Nick Foles during the Superbowl. Patricia now moves on to become the new Head Coach of the Detroit Lions while it has been reported that Josh McDaniels has shunned overtures to become the successor to Chuck Pagano as the new Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts .

I’ve no doubt in mind that there will be some major changes to the New England Patriots’ lineup during this off-season as the NFL Draft beckons along with free agency. New England’s secondary will have to be addressed and it also remains to be seen if Bill Belichick will promote from within or go outside in search of a new defensive coordinator. . Tom Brady has already etched his mark on the game but , his returning for a seventeenth season in 2018, will be a formidable one for the player, who was named the 2017 League MVP and with good reason, considering his accomplishments during the regular season.

Did the sky fall or was there a thought that the Washington Redskins’ front office felt that they were unable to sign Kirk Cousins to a long-term contract , it would then be in their best interest to acquire a seasoned veteran albeit, they would still have to pay handsomely for the services of that player. Cousins was released and Alex Smith was acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs in a surprise trade. For the Chiefs they now begin a new chapter with Patrick Mahomes . If he’s the future of the franchise then the Kansas City Chiefs are in good hands. For Andy Reid , this could very well be an interesting season as he and the Chiefs seek to acquit themselves in 2018. Mahomes will have a great deal to prove as the successor to Alex Smith , but I feel that Reid , his coaching staff and the front office have a great deal of faith in the young player.

Not content with another season where they were completely embarrassed both on and off the field of play. The Oakland Raiders saw fit to fire Jack Del Rio and apparently sign his successor Jon Gruden to a ten-year $100 million deal . The contract makes Gruden the highest paid coach in the NFL and his salary was compared to players around the NFL , then many would certainly believe the deal to be completely asinine to say the very least .

Derek Carr remains the main hope for the Oakland Raiders moving forward and that he might be saving grace for Jon Gruden. I don’t believe him to be a great coach , but merely a coach when placed in the right environment can take advantage of the best he has to his availability. Injuries might well have been a problem for Oakland last season, but overall
this team
failed miserably,because of the lack of commitment and passion by the players. Jack Del Rio after a successful season in 2016 , the feeling was the Raiders would be unto something special , but as I alluded to earlier, they failed miserably. Gruden for his part will inherit a team filled with promise but I’m not so sure that will be enough when judged against the best of the AFC West and in particular the
AFC
. It’s now anyone’s ball game within the division, but with several of the quarterbacks having reached the apex of their careers and it will be interesting to see what it is likely to take place in 2018.

For all sense and purpose Josh McDaniels had the head coaching job with the Indianapolis Colts . Yet there appears to be discord between the Patriots’ offensive coordinator and his agent Bob LaMonte . The agent has since resigned , no longer wishing to represent the coach after what appears to be McDaniels possibly reneging on taking the position , after it was revealed that the coach spoke with his mentor Bill Belichick , seeking his advice. In most cases , it is a coach’s dream to take the next step and become a Head Coach in the NFL. Josh McDaniels does have that experience , but as we all know his years in Denver with the Denver Broncos was not a monumental success. Having Tim Tebow under his tutelage proved a number of things , Tebow was never an NFL quarterback and that McDaniels’ biggest claim to fame, was the very fact that he’s been nothing more than a sounding board for Tom Brady as a quarterback. That being said, McDaniels clearly placed his former agent in an untenable position. It seemed all but clear, that an agreement had been reached in principle with Chris Ballard , general manager of the Indianapolis Colts. Ballard has now come out and said that McDaniels is a disingenuous and dishonorable individual .

Josh McDaniel might well believe that he is the heir-apparent to Bill Belichick , should the current Patriots’ head coach seek to retire within the next two years. Belichick record speaks for itself and he is Canton bound as the greatest coach in NFL history. I also believe with Tom Brady’s playing career is slowly winding down. It is unlikely that he will be playing in the league on his forty-fifth birthday in spite his intentions. His football mind is as sharp as ever , but without an offensive line there to protect him and a defense capable of protecting leads , Brady might as well be playing all by himself.

The Indianapolis Colts can now pursue a coach they believe will complement their needs , while also possibly looking to upgrade their roster overall. Injuries wreaked havoc on the Colts this past season with Andrew Luck barely being on the field for the team. Chuck Pagano’s failings can be laid squarely on the shoulders of Ryan Grigson and his lack of drafting players who could contribute for the franchise over the past five years. . The Colts barely competing
within the AFC South was something of a shock this past season. We all witnessed the ascent of the Jacksonville Jaguars to the top of the food chain within the division. . Jacksonville’s foray in the postseason was short-lived and with good reason as way too much was being expected of Blake Bortles , the Jaguars’ quarterback. . This upcoming season should prove to an eventful one for both teams as they seek to reposition themselves within the AFC.

We have all seen the fallout from the Colin Kaepernick affair, which led to the player declaring free agency at the beginning of last season , only to remain unsigned by an NFL franchise for the entire 2017 schedule. Call it what you will, but anyone believing Kaepernick wasn’t being black-balled by the NFL , even with the rather idiotic and at times insensitive remarks being made by the President , Donald Trump as well by several owners , clearly doesn’t understand what it was that the former San Francisco 49ers player was championing, as was his right as a citizen as well as an athlete. At one point during the season, it had looked as if the Forty Niners would go their entire schedule without winning a game. However that dubious distinction would be attained by the woefully inept Cleveland Browns (0-16) as they put together an astonishing loss streak . Suffice to say, the Browns now join the 2008 Detroit Lions as they only other team in NFL history to have lost all sixteen of their games on the regular season schedule , an infamous mantel within the league.

When the New England Patriots decided to send Jimmy Garopollo to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for some secondary draft picks, it was felt that Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio had lost their combined senses. There wasn’t an actual backup for Tom Brady until they signed journeyman Brian Hoyer , who will likely be jettisoned during the off-season , as Belichick seeks to work wonders once again with his upcoming Draft Class . Garopollo and the Niners were the hottest team in the NFL as they reeled off five straight wins to end the regular season and providing something of a bright light to their long-term future with their newly acquired quarterback. . San Francisco’s front office has seen fit to reward Jimmy Garopollo with a new five-year $137.5 million contract and the likelihood that the player could be on other incentives if he meets certain those goals. It’s pretty much safe to say, the former Patriots’ quarterback has landed firmly on his feet with a truly bright future ahead of him.

Kyle Shanahan and his coaching staff can now focus on
making
this San Francisco 49ers’ team a great deal better. In terms of the cap they should be well-positioned to acquire at least two marquee players while likely losing one or two players of their through the attrition of free agency . . From my own standpoint , I firmly believe that the NFC West might well be one of the most competitive divisions this upcoming season, especially when you consider the caliber of the quarterbacks now playing there.

This upcoming NFL Draft will make or break several teams and there’s no doubt in my mind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face a make or break season in 2018. There remains a cloud hanging over the future of their quarterback Jameis Winston . This player has never been able to play at a consistently high level, whileputting together a wins’ sequence of more than five games at any one time over the course of his career. Winston is still under investigation by the NFL hierarchy , for another alleged incident of sexual assault and at a time when the country in uproar over the behavior of prominent Hollywood celebrities , powerful political dignitaries and businessmen. It begs the question, what is now an acceptable form of behavior, while idiots continue with their bullshit about political correctness and freedom of expression ? America now lacks morals and cannot believe itself to be any type leader for the rest of the world from a moral standpoint. Built upon Christian principles, my ass !!!!

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will always remain an afterthought, because this franchise over the past five years has simply become an ongoing non-factor. Last season was another clear indicator of how bad the Buccaneers continue to be and are likely to be. Their three main divisional rivals , the Atlanta Falcons , Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints , all fared better than Tampa did over course the regular season. I’m no admirer of the Buccaneers’ coaching staff and I believe Dirk Koetter’s days are numbered as the Head Coach of the team . The best performers on the roster this past season were Mike Evans and Cameron Brate . It will be interesting to see what Tampa will be capable of doing in terms of the free agency off-season and the upcoming NFL Draft.

I firmly believe if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are to be successful this upcoming season, they will have to play more to their strengths while being consistent.



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Continue reading “King Kong Ain’t Got Nothing On Me ….”

All Is Not Fair In Love And War

All Is Not Fair In Love and War

For some reason fans were made to believe this weekend with the divisional round of the NFL postseason under way, the fans would be provided with several great games. Instead what they were able to witness was a cacophony of noise , errant plays and teams who essentially provided a truly mediocre spectacle. I sorry , but this NFL season has been one to truly lament all-round. From my own standpoint, I am not so sure things are likely to get any better once the postseason resumes with the divisional rounds. Then the top-two seeds within each conference will enter the fray against their respective opponents .


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At this point last season everyone appeared to be in awe and again the players proved to be in some cases a major disappointment just us as they were over the weekend.With the New England Patriots about to begin the defense of their Superbowl title it will be interesting to see how they will fare against the Tennessee Titans . Tennessee’s quarterback Marcus Mariota will certainly have to raise the level of his play as he looks for his second career postseason victory . He faces a tough task against Patriots’ franchise looking to make NFL history with a sixth Superbowl title. Tom Brady for his part will be looking to drown out the nonsense of his having created the friction between Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft , which led to the trading of his backup Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers . Garoppolo has since provided the Niners with hope after their stirring finish to the regular season with five straight victories . Hope may well spring eternal for the struggling San Francisco 49ers after-all.

Roll Tide ! Well the National Championship was decided on the determination of Nick Saban’s willingness to take it to the house . That was clear from the very start of the game as Alabama took it to their Southeastern Conference rivals the Georgia Bulldogs . This Alabama team was all it was cracked up to be and then a great deal more . Saban’s coaching resume’ now adds another historical moment as he wins his sixth national title overall.

We all knew that it was bound to happen at some point during the NBA season and quicker than you could swat fly, LaVar Ball has begun to set fire to any type of relationship he might have had with the Los Angeles Lakers’ organization. Not content his back and forth sniping with another dumb-ass , Donald Trump . Ball has now taken aim at both Rob Pelinka , general manager of the Lakers as well as Magic Johnson , Head of Basketball Operations and last but not least Luke Walton the team’s head coach.

Over their last ten games as of the 7th January the Los Angeles Lakers are an abysmal 1-9 , with their lone victory coming in a highly contested game against the Atlanta Hawks , with a eighteen-point victory over their Eastern Conference opponent.

LaVar Ball might not be happy with the fact his son Lonzo Ball with each game is now being exposed an over-hyped and somewhat immature child. Granted, he has been thrust unto a big stage surrounded by non-plus players , but in all honesty was anyone actually expecting the Los Angeles Lakers to be anything special. This team on its best day isn’t fit enough to challenge perhaps a mid-level Southeastern Conference program within College Basketball , but yet their idiot fans were hoping for something more ? LaVar Ball might be stirring more trouble than he can really handle , while at the same time knowing the Los Angeles Lakers’ hierarchy have placed their faith in his son Lonzo Ball and to secure their future, with the aim being to return the franchise to their former glory of winning NBA titles . Ball Sr, cannot continue to harangue the Lakers’ staff without questioning the lack of leadership from his son. Up next for the Los Angeles Lakers will be a game against the Sacramento Kings on the 9th January , before facing another conference rival the San Antonio Spurs on the 11th January . Both games will be played the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California .

Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson have already begun to assess the roster and the waiving of veteran Andrew Bogut as a cost-cutting exercise is simply a start of things to come as they look to place themselves in a position to acquire big-named marquee free agent for the 2018 NBA season. As things now stand , I am not so sure if the Los Angeles Lakers are playing for pride and respectability or simply looking to “tank their season” altogether.

Say what you will for the Los Angeles Lakers, this organization ,but they’re either going to go down in flames or do their darndest to prove to others they are fighting.The Lakers’ counterparts and also residents at the Staples Center , the Los Angeles Clippers are not having the type of season many of their fans had expected. Doc Rivers is struggling to get this team to play with a great deal of imagination let alone intestinal fortitude . Chris Paul was the stabilizing force that made the team click, but with his departure they’re essentially back to the ways of old. Billionaire team owner Steve Ballmer spent $2.5 billion to purchase the franchise with the promise that he was willing to spend whatever it took to win an NBA title. The Clippers have fallen way short of that target , while the front office now seems incapable of making the necessary decisions needed to make them competitive.

Blake Griffin has now been entrusted to lead the Los Angeles Clippers and while he remains the team’s most potent offensive weapon , there is not a great deal to back him up . Doc Rivers has been given far too much latitude in the day-to-day running of the franchise, when he should essentially be concentrating totally on the playing staff and their preparations for each game . In their next contest the Clippers are set to face the Golden State Warriors on the road in a match-up to be played on the 10th January . This should provide Blake Griffin and his teammates with a true test and gauge themselves against the best team in the league.

Make no bones about it , this season everything will have to go through Golden State in terms of determining this season’s NBA champions . If the Warriors are to be challenged as a finalist, then expect their antagonist to be either the Boston Celtics or the Cleveland Cavaliers . Boston has proven this season, they’re more than a match for the Cavaliers, in spite of having been defeated by the Lebron James’ led team . The difference between the two teams , I firmly believe has come down to the play of the respective point guards’ , albeit that Isiah Thomas has only made his debut for the Cavaliers while Kyrie Irving has simply proven , when given the opportunity he can be so much more than just the quintessential point guard .

You’ve had your fun and now you’re on the verge of picking up the pieces. The Los Angeles Dodgers have become the whipping post for any team they tend to face during the postseason. That much has been particularly true since 2012, when the ball-club was purchased by Guggenheim Baseball Properties for over $2 billion . At some point, you have to wonder if the partners of the syndicate group might not spent that sum more wisely by purchasing perhaps an EPL (Premiership) soccer club or even an NFL franchise , were one up for grabs at the time? As profitable as the Dodgers are , their performances on the field during the postseason remain lackluster. The franchise’s last win of the World Series came in 1988 and their actual appearances since then have only provided them with once chance and as we know it all came to an abrupt end when they fell in stunning fashion to the Houston Astros .

Dave Roberts and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ managerial staff are so far behind the ‘eight ball’ , I am not so sure the manager still can provide the acumen needed to take the ball-club and the players over the hump. If the Dodgers are unable to compete this season, then all bets are off and the payroll will have to be reduced significantly, along along with the shedding of some under-performing players.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will go through their customary Spring Training Schedule before embarking on their regular season with a set of home games against divisional rivals the San Francisco Giants . The opening game will take place on the 29th March , 2018, the Official Opening Day for Major League Baseball for this year. The Dodgers have not been major players in the free agency market during the off-season to date. Having missed out on Giancarlo Stanton who opted to join the New York Yankees , there still remains the chance that they will seek out a productive slugger to add more offense to their lineup. Even with Andrew Friedman not being able to entice anyone to take an interest in acquiring Yasiel Puig , the Dodgers will still have a formidable lineup to start the season.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers having been so disappointing this past season , the upheaval within the New York Yankees’ organization was not totally unexpected. Joe Girardi was sent packing by the front office as the team’s manager and I was somewhat surprised that Brian Cashman wasn’t also sent on his way. Granted, he’s still thought of as an astute general manager, but it has been almost a decade since a team built on his acumen has been triumphant in the Fall Classic (World Series). Former Yankees’ favorite Aaron Boone has been brought in to succeed Joe Girardi and it will be interesting to see what Boone brings to the table by way of his own managerial acumen. This will be his first managerial position in the Majors and I seriously doubt there will be a great deal of patience by the fans should this team begin to struggle at any point during the season.

No longer the free-wheeling big spenders in recent years the New York Yankees have tapered off in terms of payroll, but having acquired Giancarlo Stanton , it could be said things are now back to the ways of old. Stanton has a substantial sum still remaining on his existing contract, which in part will be honored by the Miami Marlins as well as the obligations which will have to be fulfilled by the Yankees.

Expectations are high with the combination of Aaron Judge , Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton in this lineup for the New York Yankees. It certainly will be interesting to see if this team is capable of producing two players capable of hitting at least forty-home runs apiece, while driving in triple digit runs batted-in. Aaron Boone is being asked to turn around the fortunes of the New York Yankees and a great is expected of them this season , especially as they hope the win the AL East , a title that they last held in 2012 . That season the Yankees fell in the ALCS , losing out to eventual World Series’ losers the Detroit Tigers who were defeated by the San Francisco Giants in the postseason finale.

As competitive as we know the AL East to be, the New York Yankees’ toughest battles will be against their divisional rivals , most notably their perennial stalwarts the Boston Red Sox . Both teams will be vying for divisional supremacy as well as looking to dominate the other. Their regular and postseason battles have become synonymous with some of the greatest moments history between the two powerhouses of baseball. There’s a reason why they are among the most successful as well as valuable teams in all of baseball. The New York Yankees will begin their regular season with a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in Toronto , Ontario , while the Boston Red Sox begins its regular season schedule taking on the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida on the same day, 29th March, 2018 . The Yankees are scheduled to meet the Red Sox nineteen times over the course of this season at home and on the road . Let’s up they can provide the type of excitement their fans have come to expect from such meetings.


 


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What do you believe were the most fascinating match-ups taking place within team sports during 2017? Do you believe that 2018 will be able to provide with the type of excitement seen last year ?

Tophatal ………


NFL news from around the league

NFL schedule postseason (divisional round)


NCAA Football


NBA news

NBA games schedules for this week

NBA conference standings (conference) and divisional standings


MLB news

MLB transactions (December 2017) and January’s transactions

From Good To Mediocre And The Band Played On …

From Good to Mediocre   And The  Band   Played On   …..

I’ve   always   found  it  interesting  to  see how  dumb  the  average  sports’   fan  just happens  to  be  in  America.  They  will  continue to  bitch  and  whine but  when  it comes  to    ineptitude  among  their teams,  rarely  do  they  speak  out  and  demand  more  of the  owners,    executives  ,  coaches  let alone the players.    This    season within the  NFL  we’ve seen how anemic both  the    Cleveland  Browns  (0-14)  and   New   York  Giants   (2-12)  have  been. The Browns  remain  win-less and  they are  in  with  the chance of  joining  the   Detroit Lions whose 2008  season  has   been chronicled  as the worst in the league’s history .

In  the case  of  the  New  York  Giants, the  firing  of  Ben McAdoo  was to  be  expected  , but  what   follows  as  to  who’s    ultimately to  blame   should  be  laid  at a  number  of   doors and  not  just the  former  head  coach  and his staff and the players themselves. The   front office  remained lackadaisical  and   it should be added   veteran quarterback    Eli Manning has   become nothing more than an appendage   concerning   the franchise.  Granted, he will  be   lauded  as   having  led  the  Giants to two historic Superbowl   victories  over  the New  England   Patriots ,  but  other than  that , the  player’s    resume’   remains   threadbare.


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This   weekend  in  the   NFL  with  just  two   games  left  to   round  out  the   regular  season  schedule  ,  both  the  Cleveland  Browns  and   New  York  Giants  will  be in  action  as  both  teams  look  to   avoid being    at   the  bottom  of their  respective   divisions  as well  as    within  their  conference  and  needless  to   say  avoid  being   anointed    the  worst  team  in  the  NFL   during the  2017   season.  The  Cleveland   Browns   will  face   the    Chicago  Bears  in an   intra-conference    match-up  in  week sixteen ,  while   the   New   York  Giants   will  face the  Arizona  Cardinals .    All   four  teams  will  have   something  to  prove   during  these   respective   games.

I am not so sure what Eli Manning has left to offer the New York Giants’ franchise , but it’s clear the misguided fans of this team, clearly believe some type of reverence is owed. Manning and teammate Odell Beckham might be among the best paid players on the roster, but in return they have offered the franchise very little over the course of this season. The offense remains anemic and the defense simply has been nowhere to be seen and I am not about to make excuses and suggest injuries have been the reason behind their poor showing. I have always felt , to make excuses by stating injuries , when every team in the NFL is plagued such issues , but at the same time isn’t that why each team has a fifty-three man roster ?

So while there seems to be some outrage concerning allegations of conduct unbecoming by Carolina Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson . With the owner having been sexually overt , with his behavior concerning female employees within the organization, as well as racist taunts and comments about his own players and those around the NFL. I am beginning to wonder if this wasn’t all known to the NFL hierarchy led by Commissioner Roger Goodell ? It would appear that this has been an ongoing pattern of behavior by Richardson for a number of years and yet it was somehow kept as the NFL’s own little secret. Now with Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones lending his somewhat asinine support of Jerry Richardson , claiming his loss to the league would be a shame , after it was revealed the Panthers owner would be putting the franchise up for sale. Roger Goodell has stated the league would be conducting an in-depth investigation of Richardson’s behavior. At a time when the NFL has been known to be lackadaisical with regard to player misconduct and their misogynistic tendencies and sexual assaults of their partners and spouses. The last thing the league needed , was for an owner to be embroiled in the latest salacious news concerning sexual misconduct . The NFL continues to have an image problem and we needn’t bother to go with the downward spiral of attendance or viewership being caused by player protests. This has been ongoing for some time , but the league simply didn’t want to reveal those facts publicly. Players could be going around murdering innocent victims for no reason and somehow the hierarchy would continue to do whatever it takes to protect its sullen image.

A bigoted racist among the NFL’s owners is not going to change the mindset of the league , much less their actually being a complaint from the players themselves or from the NFLPA (union) . The union would rather protect their players even in spite of proof of their guilt and it’s something Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has never addressed publicly, because just like Roger Goodell, Smith’s concern continues to be about the bottom line and the overall amount of money the NFL continues to make. A shot across the bow of $8 billion a year industry is like a ripple across a pond to this league , given all of its continued troubles . I don’t expect the NFL to clean up its image anytime soon, in spite of the maneuvers by Goodell and his cabal of idiot owners.

Entertainment mogul Sean P Diddy Combs has spoken strongly about his wish to purchase the Carolina Panthers and it appears he already has some support with the backing of Colin Kaepernick as well as NBA star Steph Curry , but from my own standpoint it will take more than the trio to make this all a reality of the NFL actually having an African-American owner within their ranks. At point in the league’s history, there has never been a person of color within the ownership ranks until 2012, when Pakistani-born US citizen Shad Khan purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars . No ” Rooney Rule ” for the league’s owners, but they sure as hell want to make the fans aware it applies to the hiring of coaches and front office executives. If only that were really true , given the fact with Sashi Brown’s firing as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns , the team’s owner Jimmy Haslam surreptitiously hired John Dorsey without their being a whiff that the Browns had followed league protocol. The NFL is an exclusive club, with the makeup of predominantly elderly white middle-aged males owners, where Shad Khan is the lone exception . Don’t expect for that to change anytime soon, because given the antics of Jerry Richardson , I don’t believe he is the only NFL owner within the league such tendencies. Goodell is simply the overseer on this plantation and he remains answerable to the slave owners (NFL owners).

Mediocrity know thy name and within baseball over the past decade and a half the Tampa Bay Rays’ history and reputation has become synonymous with mediocrity. I know that Rays’ faithful will point to the years when Joe Maddon was the manager of the franchise and they achieved some success. Yet an appearance in the World Series where they were completely embarrassed has now gone by the wayside. In what might be the most startling news in the ball-club’s history the decision was made by the front office to trade their long-time star and third baseman Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Denard Span and some minor league prospects. Where this now leaves the Rays and their long-term future is just about anyone’s guess, but I now believe the team’s depressing attendance numbers at Tropicana Field will now take an even greater tumble with the departure of a fan-favorite.

Evan Longoria will add some offense to the San Francisco Giants’ own productivity which was somewhat anemic this past season. A last place finish in the NL West might have been among the most surprising results in all of baseball and in particular for the team. . I expect the Giants to bounce back and make things tough for the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West this upcoming season and quite possibly be a contender for the NLCS Pennant . Where they would go from there would then be a matter of speculation.

Far be it for me to suggest the front office of the Tampa Bay Rays doesn’t appear to have an end-game, it must be extremely worrying to see player after player simply being set adrift, while claims are being made this is ultimately for the better. Baseball within the state of Florida continues to be a struggle during the regular season for not only the Rays, but also for the other in-state team, the Miami Marlins . Rays’ GM Erick Neander will have to offer up a believable explanation as to why Evan Longoria was traded. It is becoming abundantly beyond the lack of competitiveness, the Rays simply cannot afford to compete economically not only with the big-market teams but also with the ball-clubs in the middle and small markets. Tampa will open its regular season with a game against the Boston Red Sox , their home-opener as part of a three-game home stand against their divisional rivals within the AL East.

He won the NLMVP with stunning numbers being put up throughout much of the season , but you simply knew that once new team owner Derek Jeter made it known it was his intent to lower the payroll of the Miami Marlins , it would only be a matter of time before the Marlins’ fans would see the departure of Giancarlo Stanton . The player had made his feelings known, stating that he would want no part of a rebuilding process under the new ownership regime . And it was abundantly clear with the ball-club hemorrhaging money , while not being competitive in 2017 , something drastic had to be done. Stanton now joins the New York Yankees where he will be part of a formidable offensive lineup that might be the best in the AL this upcoming season . The Marlins’ loss will most certainly be the Yankees’ gain and when you bear in mind Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t the only player Derek Jeter decided to dump because of salary issues , it begs the question with Dee Gordon also being moved , what the hell with the Miami Marlins have by way of a lineup from an offensive standpoint as well as defensively ? Marlins’ manager Don Mattlingly is being left with the bare bones of a team and within their farm system , I don’t believe it is going to get any better !

The Miami Marlins will open their regular season, after a Spring Training schedule that will likely see one or two non-roster invitees actually making it unto the team for the start of their regular season schedule. Their opening game will see them facing the Chicago Cubs , with the visiting Cubs likely to start off with a win to open their regular season . I would be pleasantly surprised if the Miami Marlins were able to win more than seventy-two games this upcoming season based upon their team lineup and the coaching acumen of the managerial staff . That wins’ total wouldn’t even guarantee a top-three finish within the NL East much less a postseason berth within the National League.



Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman co-owners of the Miami Marlins are seen here giving their first official interview after their purchase of the ball-club.

Do you believe mediocrity within sports has become the norm ? If not, then what do you believe is the cause for a team’s malaise?

  Tophatal     ……  


NFL  news

Week  sixteen schedule 

  NFL    standings (divisional)    and   conference standings 

NFL Playoff picture projections


 MLB  news    and MLB  transactions 

MLB 2018 important dates scheduled

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World’s highest paid celebrities

 


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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 .

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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 .

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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 .



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

Tophatal ……… 07/29/2017

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Rarefied air and toxicity ….

Rarefied  air and toxicity
The sports’  world is all aghast and with good reason , we have seen the  New England Patriots reign supreme unmasking  the  Atlanta Falcons  as being something of a fraud, even if the   Superbowl  itself was an exciting game . What cannot be denied as evidenced with the coverage of this game,  was the very fact the Falcons  fell apart during the finals eight minutes of regulation play  before the contest went into overtime,  with New England prevailing for their    fifth win   of the Lombardi Trophy.

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The victory placed Patriots’ head coach  Bill Belichick    and the team’s quarterback    Tom Brady  in   rarefied air , as the only head coach and quarterback in NFL history with five  Superbowl rings to their names. The   NFL remains a year-round league in terms of the ongoing news’ stories to be found and it will be that way throughout much of the off-season as the league now has its free agency period, as well as the upcoming     NFL Draft . The New England Patriots will have the privilege of taking the   last pick     in the  first round    of the Draft, which is befitting the best team in the NFL. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this all Bill Belichick and his      coaching staff    seek to bolster the   current     roster     with a fresh crop of players to add to the Patriots’ arsenal. Break-out players for New England   during   the regular season were     James White  whose heroics in the Superbowl was there for everyone to see. As were the talents of White’s teammates ,who ably abetted Tom Brady as the quarterback would go on to win his fourth Superbowl MVP Award.

This off-season should prove to be interesting for the New England Patriots as well as the other teams around the NFL as they seek to bolster their respective rosters through, free agency , trades and the NFL Draft. It could all prove to be very fruitful for the Patriots based on their past experiences , especially over the last five seasons .

Kyle Shanahan has now become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers , succeeding Chip Kelly , whose firing along with that of GM Trent Baalke did not come as a great surprise to many. However, it was Baalke’s successor which might well have taken everyone off-guard, as team CEO Jed York made the formal announcement that Jon Lynch , former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ player would be hired for the position. Lynch has no NFL front office experience and with Shanahan now assembling his own staff, it will be extremely difficult to see how this franchise can be seen as being in a position to be competitive this upcoming season. This past season was one of sheer incompetence on the part of the coaching staff as well as the players , as the Forty Niners labored both on and off the field of play. Their record was reflective of that very fact with their being no signs of competitiveness at any point during the season. Colin Kaepernick was a mere shell of the player who guided the team to a Superbowl appearance less than five years ago. Kaepernick’s teammate Blaine Gabbert , whom Chip Kelly threw his weight behind as being the team’s starting quarterback at the start of 2016, was equally incompetent in the role. There is no doubt San Francisco will be looking to draft a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft or they will be seeking a free agent passer of proven ability .

Carson Palmer will be returning to the Arizona Cardinals for the 2017 regular season and during his five years with the franchise, Palmer’s leadership has come into question. Under Bruce Arians the Cardinals have become more resolute, but postseason success for this franchise has been lacking. One could seek to blame the veteran quarterback for this or place the blame elsewhere by placing it squarely on the shoulders of the front office , where GM Steve Keim leads the staff. Keim was a replacement to for Rod Graves , but whose tenure as the general manager for the Cardinals, saw highs and lows.

Having failed to make the postseason in 2016, the Arizona Cardinals will have to assess the roster and look at where the improvements will have to be made as to the makeup of this team. If there are deficiencies on the Cardinals then clearly, it starts with the secondary and the fact the defense showed how vulnerable it just happened to be. Larry Fitzgerald the veteran wide receiver on the playing staff, still seeks that elusive Superbowl ring and title as a player. Considered to be one of the best receivers in NFL history , it is hard to believe that during his career , Fitzgerald has never been able to play on the NFL’s biggest stage with an appearance in the “big game ” itself. It was rumored Larry Fitzgerald was considering retirement and were that to take place , then it would leave a considerable gap in the Cardinals’ lineup for next season. It is hard to envisage how the Arizona Cardinals would look without their veteran receiver on the roster, but with the league now being about the here and now , the window of opportunity for this team is now closing fast.

The Atlanta Falcons’ destruction of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game was as embarrassing for the team as it was for not only the NFL, but also for the fans watching. In spite of what Aaron Rodgers might now feel concerning the Packers, this team simply wasn’t prepared for the game. A great deal of the blame must lay squarely on the shoulders of Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff . Green Bay’s front office have already begun to take swift steps to shed players from the current roster , with the first casualties being veterans Sam Shields and James Stark . Yet , I do believe the pairing will not be the only ones to be let go during what is likely to be a turbulent off-season for the Packers !

Aaron Rodgers was among the NFL’s best quarterbacks during the regular season , but his performance and that of his teammates against the Atlanta Falcons left a great deal to be desired as the Green Bay Packers fell to the Falcons , losing by the score of 44-21 .

The fallout from the head coaching dismissals in the NFL was not much of a surprise , but I do believe many of the firings were warranted , as several of the head coaches in question, simply obfuscated their responsibilities , created a toxic atmosphere within their regimes, while also failing to acknowledge their own shortcomings.

Rex Ryan having been dismissed by the Buffalo Bills has continued to behave like a spoiled child whose pacifier was taken away from him , along with his rattle and assorted toys. The fact that he led the Bills into a deeper morass as the season progressed , simply showed that he was completely out of his depth and never capable of leading the players to any type of success envisaged by team owner Terry Pegula or the organization . Buffalo’s downward slide is likely to continue, as the team’s depth is sorely lacking at just about every position imaginable . Many of the players on the Buffalo Bills’ roster are likely to be gone during this off-season , as they seek to pare down their cap , creating enough cap space for some acquisitions beyond their likely draft choices.

Having seen a triumphant New England Patriots’ team win their fifth Superbowl , the fans of the Buffalo Bills can only admire their AFC East rivals from afar wondering what might have been.

Through unconfirmed sources, it is rumored Jeffrey Loria , erstwhile owner of the Miami Marlins reached an agreement to sell the South Florida based MLB franchise for $1.6 billion in what would prove to be the second largest sale of a ball-club in baseball history. Only the $2.156 billion paid by the consortium headed by Mark Walter , Todd Boehly and Earvin Magic Johnson , for the auction ( sale of then bankrupt) of the Los Angeles Dodgers , has there ever been a large sale or purchase of a professional baseball team. The purchasing consortium for the Marlins is made up several businessmen , but one name which comes up as part of the buying group is that of John Kushner , brother to Presidential adviser Jared Kushner , who just happens to be the son-in-law of Donald Trump . Now one can speculate as to whether or not there might well have some sort of White House influence concerning this impending sale remains to be seen, but given the ongoing incompetence shown the current Presidential administration and the idiocy of Trump’s own special adviser Kellyann Conway , it would be reasonable to assume , nothing as of now, would appear to be off-limits.

It should be noted there was no transparency seen when former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was seen consorting with several members of the Miami Dade County Government and the Miami City Council in the lead-up to both government entities taking a vote on whether or not Marlins Ballpark would be a publicly funded expenditure , when the stadium was built at the cost of over $600 million ,through a mixture of taxes , bond issues , which could end up costing both the city and county as much $3 billion , because of the structured financing of the project.

Only now have the chickens come home to roost , while Jeffrey Loria will walk away with a cool $1 billion in his pocket . There hasn’t been this sort of financial malevolence since Frank McCourt , former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers , who filed for bankruptcy protection of the ball-club in the midst of an acrimonious divorce from his wife. McCourt was said to have used the ball-club and several of its assets as part of several private business deals , all of which contravened the bye-laws of Major League Baseball , but not once did Bud Selig or any member of the league hierarchy seek to formally press charges or seek Frank McCourt’s removal as a franchise owner within baseball while this was all going on . It should be noted Selig and then MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner claimed that the Dodgers were a well-ran organization, with its finances meeting the league’s own stringent financial threshold . Clearly , without an audit having been conducted by MLB , this was all a big fat lie.

Jeffrey Loria presided over one of the two World Series’ triumphs by the Miami Marlins , but it has been several years since their last appearance in the MLB Postseason and during that time , little success has been evident for the organization. Managers have come and gone, as too have several famous players . Yet , some how in the midst of this all, Loria , David Samson and GM Michael Hill have pulled the wool over the eyes of the fans. Since the opening of the Marlins Ballpark and its inaugural game , the venue has never been filled to capacity for a home game. Subject to the MLB approval and the ratification by the owners , this proposed sale could be passed unanimously be the next meeting of the league hierarchy and team owners or with an emergency being called. This latest scenario could provide the MLBPA (Players’ Union) with all the ammunition they need to seek a major increase with regard to baseball’s next collective bargaining agreement (CBA) . Something I firmly believe the owners as well as the league hierarchy will want to negotiate from a position of power, rather than staring down the barrel of a sawn off shot-gun with the union firing their volley of shots across the bow of Major League Baseball.

For years as a team owner Jeffrey Loria plead poverty , but yet he in conjunction with Bud Selig, coerced local politicians to finance a deal so outlandish, it places both the city of Miami and Miami Dade County with a fiscal crisis , which many would determine was actually of their own making. Concessions will have to be sought from the new owners of the Miami Marlins that the team will not be relocated and that all agreements now in place will be adhered to. As to the competitiveness of the team in its present form , a great deal of this will be based on the managerial acumen shown by Don Mattingly and his managerial staff .

The death of Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez shook this Marlins’ organization to its very roots, along with the fan-base of the ball-club. It will be hard to replace a player of Fernandez’s stature and popularity. His teammate , Giancarlo Stanton is expected to be the vocal leader of this team alongside seasoned veteran Ichiro Suzuki . While I believe the Miami Marlins to be a good team on paper , I do not expect them to be a legitimate contender within the NL East , much less a favorite for the NLCS Pennant or the World Series itself. There remains far too many flaws in this lineup and I believe Don Mattingly hasn’t proven himself to be a manager capable of winning the big games that really matter !

The Miami Marlins will begin their Spring Training Schedule with a game against the Houston Astros on March 1st at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas , before embarking on their regular season schedule, where their Opening Day Game of the regular season will be against the Washington Nationals on the 3rd April , 2017.

There has to be something real troubling when a former player of an NBA franchise creates more excitement on a basketball court than the home team itself. This was the case when Charles Oakley was arrested and escorted away from his seat at a recent New York Knicks’ game in Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York . The Knicks were playing the Los Angeles Clippers in a home game against their Western Conference opponents . Oakley got into a verbal altercation with court-side staff and the former NBA star directly a profanity laced tirade against the employees. Knicks’ team owner James Dolan has since issued a statement , advising and informing Charles Oakley he is no longer welcomed to attend games at Madison Square Garden , with or without an apology from the former player.

Clearly, Charles Oakley’s behavior was unwarranted, but the banishment I believe was certainly an over reaction from the owner ! The employees were not physically assaulted by Charles Oakley and in the heat of the moment , his anger got the better of him as the situation got out of hand. Oakley’s reputation is well-known around the NBA and it has been chronicled thousands of times , as his play was a reflection of his image and persona , a bad boy, perhaps one of the toughest players in the league among his contemporaries. Just a pity that sort of grit and determination is not shown by the current crop of Knicks’ players. Their loss to the Clippers has been reflective of what is lacking in the team over the course of this season.

Next up for the New York Knicks will be a contest against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon and with New York having lost on Friday night in a game against the Denver Nuggets , I have to now ask myself are the Knicks one of the most incompetent teams in Eastern Conference other than Brooklyn Nets when it comes to facing opponents from the opposing conference ? I will continue to say this about Phil Jackson , he may well know how to win championships and to inspire championship caliber players , but when it comes to assembling a competitive roster , he simply knows nothing at all . It has been his ego all along , which has proven to be fallible and the entire reason why the New York Knicks will continue to be a rather mediocre team ! Jackson brings along his own toxic mess and utter stupidity , while his admirers look on from afar, lapping it all up as if it were perfection .

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What have been your most recent observations taking place within , the NFL , MLB and the NBA which have given you the cause for greatest concern ?


  Tophatal    …… 


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It never rains ,but it does pour and then there’s the 1,000 pound Gorilla in The Room …

It never rains ,but it does pour and then there’s the 1,000 pound Gorilla in The Room …

Well , with the  NFL Pro Bowl   having    taken place   and their being a     victory    for the    AFC    in   defeating     the NFC   , the league can now put to past another meaningless event as part of the      postseason . From my own perspective there is no amount of tinkering which can be done which will make this game all the more appealing for the fans ! These games are always non-competitive and the sole reason for this exhibition , is simply lure the fans out once again and their for them to spend their money needlessly.  NFL   Commissioner    Roger Goodell    and the league hierarchy continue to sell the fans a bill of goods , which is of no real value and then bear in mind , the league still wishes to expand not only the postseason format , but also the number of teams to possibly include a franchise in Latin America as well as Europe. In this day and age , with the current President’s policy of America first, I am beginning to wonder if the league might become all the more jittery concerning President    Donald Trump’s    reach with his new agenda.

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The NFL’s biggest showcase event of the season will take place this Sunday at the NRG Stadium in Houston , Texas, when the Atlanta Falcons will face the New England Patriots in Superbowl LI (51) . This will be the Patriots’ seventh appearance in the big game as they seek to win their fifth Superbowl , while the team’s quarterback Tom Brady will seek to join Hall of Fame players Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana , as the only quarterbacks with four Superbowl victories to their name. Brady and the New England Patriots are likely to be seen as the presumptive favorites in this game, while opposing quarterback Matt Ryan and his teammates will be looking to upset the apple-cart and pull off what would be Falcons’ biggest win the franchise’s history. No doubt Atlanta’s billionaire owner Arthur Blank will be hoping to witness a victory for his team, after the near misses and the real consolation that after the era of Michael Vick , the Falcons can now be viewed as one of the league’s more respectable teams.

If this Superbowl game goes to form , then the fans should be in for a thrilling event , with both teams having been very good through much of the regular season , with each having risen to the occasion in the postseason. Matt Ryan’s record against the New England Patriots is not an enviable one, whereas for Tom Brady , this could be business as usual , considering the three-time Superbowl MVP’s record in the postseason as well as the big game itself. Get ready folks , as the fireworks will be explosive and certainly deafening . The pace of this game could very well be dictated by the pass offense of both teams and the defensive capabilities shown by both secondaries , but it would be remiss not to suggest the rush offense won’t come into play. With over one hundred and fifty million viewers likely to be watching the game domestically and a further 1.6 billion worldwide , this will be the television event of the year as it has been repeatedly over the last two decades.

Two years of frustration and it all led to the firing of head coach Chip Kelly and the subsequent dismissal of GM Trent Baalke by the San Francisco 49ers , as the franchise looks to retrench itself . Kelly was simply abysmal and this constant idiocy of his being a coaching genius , borders on the stupidity of Donald Trump having the wherewithal to defeat ISIS . Ego and outlandish statements cannot make up for common sense and intelligence , for which , both Kelly and Trump are indeed short off ! At no point during his NFL coaching career has Chip Kelly ever been able to get his teams play competitive football. This was clearly indicative of the abysmal season by of the Forty Niners in 2016. How else can you explain the team’s 2-14 record , with a defense which was nowhere to be seen, while the offense continued to spiral out of control faster than fecal matter being flushed down a men’s restroom cubicle ?

In the aftermath of the firing and drama surrounding Colin Kaepernick , the Forty Niners now find themselves at a crossroads , with many calling for the York family to relinquish control of the team and selling the franchise to someone who actually cares about football , as well as the organization itself. The team’s CEO Jed York has now made the decision to replace Trent Baalke and his decision to name a successor , has actually caught everyone off-guard , with the naming of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ strong-safety Jon Lynch . The player has never held an executive role in the NFL , since his retirement and the absurdity of this decision will either come back to bite the Niners in the ass or it will be seen as an ingenious move along the lines of Ozzie Newsome being hired run the operations of the Baltimore Ravens . Newsome has guided the franchise to two Superbowl victories, while several of his picks have produced Pro Bowl caliber players . One could equate Lynch’s hire with that of Matt Millen’s tenure with the Detroit Lions and the abysmal chapter for Lions , while Millen was in charge of all personnel decisions for Detroit. Needless to say , the fans were angered and his dismissal could not come fast enough. I would hate a that a similar fate would await Jon Lynch , but how can anyone have any faith in a member of the York family , as owners of the San Francisco 49ers. Since the departure of Eddie DeBartolo , this franchise has been adrift in an ocean of continued mediocrity .

If Jed York and his family were to consider selling the San Francisco 49ers , then the team could be sold for in excess of $3 billion , based on today’s value alone , without considering their market demographics , as one of the league’s best supported teams. Yet, for the moment, this will all be pure conjecture and a great deal of speculation as to the nature of the ongoing story-lines concerning the Forty Niners.

All of a sudden the Miami Heat have hit a rich vein of form having won seven straight games and placing themselves in with a chance of garnering a playoff berth , but it should be noted with the All Star Game still at the forefront of the players’ thoughts , albeit they still have two weeks of play before the break. It should be noted there has been a great deal of debate about the gross error in judgment by the fans and the continued idiocy of the league hierarchy of allowing the fans have the greatest say in the players placed on the starting rosters for the East and Western Conferences. The omission of Russell Westbrook speaks as to the lack of intelligence among the vast majority of NBA fans and their lack of in-depth knowledge of the game of basketball. To my mind, I feel as if the fans believe they are in fact voting for a contestant on the now defunct television reality show American Idol .

If the fans are being entrusted to with this sort of endeavor in voting for the All Star Game rosters solely based on popularity , then you might as well do away with the game altogether as well as the rest of the festivities which encapsulate the whole weekend encompassing the event. Russell Westbrook is having an exceptional season by anyone’s standards and this idiocy of fans stating their unimpressed shows , might be an indicator of what might be wrong with the NBA in general , they are far too impressed with style over substance. Westbrook has been added to the Western Conference roster as a reserve by Steve Kerr , who will be the coach of the team representing the West. It will be interesting to see how much playing time will given to the point guard during the contest.

Over the past ten days , the league has been very tops-turvy by way of the results and the all too inconsistent play seen from the players and the teams . Yet, still leading the pack within their respective conferences are the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East and the Golden State Warriors in the West. A repeat of last season’s NBA Finals seems to be what the fans want, even if there is once again going to be a great deal of controversy along with the way, with some rather dubious calls from among the officials . There still remains a great deal to play for and the fans seem to be loving every minute of what has been seen this season to date. There will be several games on tap for Monday night , of which the most interesting might be the contest between the Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics , two teams vying for dominance within their divisions as well as having an eye on the NBA Playoffs this season.

Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics has proven himself to be the vocal leader on this Brad Stevens’ coached team . The Celtics have proven themselves to be the surprise team in the East this season , as seen with having the second-best record in the conference behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Serena Williams emphatically stamped her authority on the game of tennis, by winning her twenty-third Grand Slam singles’ title , defeating her sister Venus Williams in the Australian Open Singles Final. In doing so, Williams surpassed the mark of Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Steffi Graf , whose mark of twenty-two has stood for over a decade. Now the question becomes where does Serena Williams rank among the all-time greats among the female players to have graced the professional ranks of tennis?

In what turned out to be a tremendous Men’s Singles Finals , Roger Federer defeated one of his greatest adversaries , Rafael ‘Rafa ‘ Nadal of Spain. This five-set thriller graced the Rod Laver Stadium in Melbourne, Australia , as thousands watched this enthralling game , simply giving the fans everything they could have wanted and a great deal more . Sportsmanship was there to be seen , as was the athleticism and aggressiveness from both of these great players . Sadly, both of these players are now at the twilight of their careers and from my own perspective , Men’s tennis will be all the worse , once they make the decision to make an exit from the game. All due respect to Andy Murray , but your number one ranking , is something of a joke at present !

Spring Training is still over a month away , but already teams have been to assemble their rosters by way of their free agency acquisitions , non-roster invitees and no doubt there will be still more trades to come. Fans are already making a prognosis as to which prospects will be able to contribute for their ball-clubs this season. No doubt the reigning World Series champions will be looking to make a successful defense of the title they won with ease last season.

Major League Baseball really does need to provide the fans with something special this upcoming season and I don’t believe the World Baseball Classic will do anything to add to the perceived notion the game has been losing its way over the past five seasons. Teams continue to be profitable , because of the ever increasing admission prices , concessions and dare one say it , with the renewal of licensing agreements and television contracts, the league hierarchy led by Rob Manfred and the team owners will continue to gloat.

Mike Trout has added another ALMVP award to his resume’ , but the thing one the player desires the most is a World Series ring and championship acclaim. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Los Angeles Angels will getting there anytime soon. With each passing year of near misses or just downright bad luck , this franchise’s continuing downward slide provides little hope for Trout , that his dream will ever come true. Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia , I do not believe he will be managing this team next year, should Los Angeles fall short of Arte Moreno’s wishes. Moreno , the impassioned owner of this team has stood by and given full reign to successive general managers and it has all been to no avail. For Mike Scioscia it’s now all in or bust , or he will be fired with the speed of lightning .

The Los Angeles Angels’ exhibition schedule will be somewhat rudimentary , but the real battles will begin with their regular season schedule and off-course Opening Day . The first game of their 2017 season schedule will be against the Oakland Athletics (A’s) on the 3rd April , 2017 at the O Coliseum in Oakland , California . The struggles of the A’s were apparent for all to see , with their pitching and hitting being inconsistent throughout much of last season . Now with the moves made it will be interesting to see what else will be done by GM Billy Eppler to bolster the roster for the upcoming season. One thing for sure , Mike Trout cannot do it all by himself as he has been asked to do , ever since he first played in an Angels’ uniform in 2012.

When baseball fans start to prognosticate about prospects (up and coming players) it is either , because they have nothing else better to do or they are simply reminding us why their team or teams might have been bad last season. From my own standpoint, these so-called prospects will not be making that great an impact in their first season. Consistency is they key , but not many are able to keep it all up over the prolonged season of one hundred and sixty-two games. Their contributions will be what they are , nothing more and nothing less.




Picture gallery and by clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture alongside a narrative.

What aspects of the recent news’ stories have you found to be the most intriguing and with the Superbowl just a few days away , do you believe the game will meet all expectations one feels we are using to seeing ?

🙂

Tophatal  … 01/30/2017

Related article : https://tophatal.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new

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