Don’t Call It A Comeback …..

 

Don’t Call It  A Comeback  …….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tophatal …………..

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PGA Tour news ……..

PGA Tour schedule
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NBA news …….

2019 NBA Playoffs Brackets

NBA Playoffs schedule

NBA players’ stats

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MLB news ….

MLB schedule three day projected starters

MLB standings (divisional)

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NFL news ….

NFL transactions …

NFL Draft …


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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 .



Picture gallery along with accompanying narrative.

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

Tophatal ……….. 10/02/2018


MLB news

MLB postseason schedule

Ryder Cup news

NCAA Football and week five results

NCAA Football Rankings (FBS)

NFL news and week four results

NFL standings division and conference standings

NBA news

NBA schedule preseason 2nd October

NBA transactions

NBA player stats (preseason)

NBA team stats (preseason)

NBA team salary cap 2018-19

Highest paid NBA players (2018)

Don’t Be a Zero Be a Hero

Don’t Be a Zero Be a Hero ….

Well the world of sports is still turning and the stories are coming in thick and fast. Tiger Woods is back on the PGA Tour , confident enough , but still
far away from his peak form when he was in his prime . He came
within one shot of taking the Valspar Championship this past weekend , losing to eventual winner Paul Casey of England. Had Woods won the tournament, he would be an automatic qualifier for the first Grand Slam Major of the season, the Masters Tournament , April 5th to 8th held at the Augusta National CC in Augusta, Georgia. Woods as a previous winner of the tournament will be in the field and it will be interesting to see how he fares in the first Major of the season. Next up on the Tour schedule will be the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Bay Hill, a suburb of Orlando.


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The Arnold Palmer Invitational is one of the most popular tournaments on the Florida swing of the PGA Tour schedule with official prize money of over $8,000,000 with the winner of the event taking home the first prize winner’s check of $1.7 million ($1,700,000). There are also 500 FedEx Cup points going to the winner of the tournament , with the points adding their accrued totals in FedEx Cup points’ standings ,which is currently being led by Justin Thomas with 1573 points , closely followed Patton Kizzire some 259 points drift of Thomas in the FedEx Cup standings.

Tiger Woods for his part , with all of the health issues and personal problems of the past three years , we do know he is not the player he once was. If anything he lacks confidence , while many of his younger contemporaries are playing with such confidence that they’re no longer intimidated by Woods’ once powerful game. As confident as the former world number one golfer might be , I now feel that Tiger Woods’ best days are now behind him and not ahead of him. I could very well be wrong with my assumptions as all it would take for him to get his complete confidence back. Yet given his psyche and lack of confidence in his game prior to and coming off his most recent injuries and personal issues, as I alluded to earlier , Woods remains a long way off from where he needs to be providing a great deal of confidence for the likes of Dustin Johnson , Rory McIlroy , Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

This PGA season should make for a very interesting year in the world of golf.

So Mommy didn’t kiss the boo-boo and you’re still bitching and whining ? Well ,that’s the way it now appears to be at this time of the year within the NFL as the players in free agency seek to get paid , while there are players with a no more than one or two years left on their respective contracts also looking for a larger piece of an ever increasing pie .

With the relationship between Commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones now at an all-time low. There appears to be a great deal of dissension now taking place within the league and the ruling hierarchy . Goodell has set another precedent in terms of his autocratic rule , stating that the Cowboys and in particular the owner (Jones) will be hit with a hefty multi-million fine , believed to be in excess of $2 million for conduct detrimental to the league . Much of this stems from Roger Goodell’s punishment of Dallas’ running back Ezekiel Elliot who had been hit with a multi-game suspension during the regular season for the Dallas Cowboys.

Another troubled player on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster happens to be their wide receiver Dez Bryant . The receiver wants to be paid
like a superstar , but injuries and lack of productivity suggests he is not worth the money he is looking for, in spite of his claims that he is far better than Mike Evans whose contract is up for negotiation with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . Evans for his part has proven to be a consistent performer for a franchise which has failed to live up to expectations over the past two seasons at least . It has been almost a decade since the Buccaneers made an appearance in the postseason , with that appearance coming in 2007 with a loss to the New York Giants in the wildcard round within the NFC . . .Say what you will about the Buccaneers , but I don’t believe that they aim to please !!!

The Dallas Cowboys won’t be cash-strapped by the cap , but I certainly don’t believe that Jerry Jones will be willing to overpay for Dez Bryant when there are far better options for him by way of free agency or during the NFL Draft where there will be a glut of wide receivers.

Tyrann Mathieu is out with the Arizona Cardinals after the front office decided to release the defensive back rather than provide
him with a new contract . So too was the veteran running back and Mathieu’s teammate Adrian Peterson who was shown the door by the franchise. It’s pretty much safe to say, the Cardinals are turning over a new leaf , but I don’t believe they’re at all done with their in-house roster changes . I also believe that Carson Palmer’s days with Arizona are numbered . He has never been able to lead the franchise to a deep postseason run while with the Arizona Cardinals . His retirement did not come as a surprise, given the length of his career and what he was able to accomplish during that time, having been a Heisman Trophy winner . With a new coaching staff in place the franchise will be starting afresh with a slew of new faces and expectations.

So while the Seattle Seahawks couldn’t come to a concrete decision concerning corner-back Richard Sherman as to whether or not they would retain him. Somehow within the front office and probably much to the chagrin of Pete Carroll , it was decided he would be allowed to become a free agent. No sooner was that decision made , the San Francisco 49ers swooped in to sign the Pro Bowl player to a very lucrative contract . Immediately , San Francisco becomes better , with a player who’s likely to provide a great deal of leadership and maturity , while also proving to be a legitimate threat within the NFC West this upcoming season. Add in the fact the offense of the Forty Niners was one of the hottest teams in the league over the final five games of the regular season 2017 . There is every reason to believe not only will they become better , but Jimmy Garopollo might just be the best quarterback in the division and certainly one of the top-ten in the league based on that five-game stretch for the team.

It’s getting to that stage where not everything written will make a great deal of commonsense concerning the NBA . If the rumors are to be believed then LeBron James will have played his last season in Cleveland if the Cleveland Cavaliers were to make it to the NBA Playoffs. Such has been the almost near dissolution of his relationship with team owner Dan Gilbert , I am not so James’ personal friend , confidant and also a minority stake holder in the franchise , Usher (Usher Raymond IV) will be able to persuade James to remain with the franchise. The four-time League MVP is the biggest asset on a young roster , but the fourteen-year veteran is at a stage in his career , where it seems his wish to attain further glory at the team level is beyond his reach with the Cavaliers. is support at best can be described as adequate, but in all honesty against the top-five teams in the Western Conference , I seriously doubt this current roster would be able to hold their own in an NBA Finals’ series much less at this point during the regular season.

For the moment the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in something of a tenuous position within the Central Division and clearly facing an obstacle within the Eastern Conference where they were favored to be dominant at the start of the season. These are now troubling times for the Cavaliers and specifically for the coaching staff as well as the front office . They face a dilemma with not only LeBron James , but also several of the players who are also impending free agents. LeBron can opt-out of the final year of his deal, then either choose to re-sign with Cleveland or opt for a more lucrative contract elsewhere. There would likely be at least eight to ten teams interested in signing the player to a five-year deal paying him on average $30 to $40 million a year.

Over their next ten games I expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to be truly tested as too will LeBron James as he seeks to press his claim for a fifth League MVP Award . Next up for the Cleveland Cavaliers will be a game against the Portland Traiblazers , where James will get to go up against Portland’s Damian Lillard in what should prove to be an intriguing contest.

Reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warrior are on pace to have a sixty-win season, but the loss of Klay Thompson could prove to be worrisome for the team and particular for Steve Kerr and his coaching staff . Thompson is expected to miss the remainder of the Warriors’ regular season schedule and quite possibly the early rounds of the NBA Playoffs. GM Bob Myers might feel it necessary not to risk further injury to their All Star and have him sit out the entire postseason. However, I feel it would be best to have Klay on the sidelines , especially in wake of the recent dominance shown by the Houston Rockets who have proven to be almost unstoppable of their last fifteen games. The Rockets will be back on court when they are due to face the Los Angeles Clippers .

Say what you will , but there will be some major disappointments this upcoming season within the world of baseball. Derek Jeter has already alienated the fans of the Miami Marlins with his imploding of the team’s roster. On Opening Day it will be hard to recognize several of the names donned in a Marlins’ uniform.

As a co-owner of the Miami Marlins Derek Jeter has gutted the roster to such an extent that its payroll barely seems acceptable much less plausible and while I understand the ball-club has been hemorrhaging red ink for the past three seasons. I do believe the sacrifices made are no guarantee of future success. A $70 million payroll in this day and age is not going to cut it when you’re going up against the big boys of Major League Baseball . . It will be interesting to see how the Marlins fare through their first twenty-five games of this upcoming season in baseball. Martin Prado will be asked to lead this Marlins’ team and as quite possibly the best player on the roster it will be down to him to lead by example. Manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff will have their work cut out for them in 2018 as I don’t expect
the Miami Marlins to be that competitive in what will likely be a very good NL East division. Miami will open their regular season schedule on Opening Day with a game against the Chicago Cubs at Marlins Ballpark in Miami, Florida. .


 


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Which athletes do you believe in the coming year
will have to prove themselves more than anything else ?

Tophatal ….


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Dead On Arrival (DOA), An Autopsy Worth Waiting For Or Was It ? …

Dead On Arrival (DOA), An Autopsy Worth Waiting For Or Was It ? …

Was there really anyone expecting the NBA Finals to be truly competitive ? The first three games of the series were simply a precursor of what the fans were to expect over the course of the series. Kevin Durant led the Golden State Warriors to their second NBA title in the past three seasons . Durant was one of the primary factors behind the his team’s victory , but what should not be overlooked , were the defensive capabilities shown by the Warriors who completely outplayed during this series. Opposing head coaches , Steve Kerr of Golden State and Tyronn Lue of the Cavaliers matched wits, but it became clear , Lue was not the equal of his Warriors’ counterpart.


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The fallout now begins, as fans and analysts begin to question how and why LeBron James was not able to lead Cleveland passed their Western Conference foes. One thing became abundantly clear, the Golden State Warriors were not going to allow the officials to dictate this series , as they were able to do last season during the NBA Finals , when the ejection of Draymond Green turned the tables and ” gifted ” the title to the Cleveland Cavaliers. For LeBron James , a career littered with firsts , he added another to his career by become the first player in NBA history to be on the losing side in five NBA Finals’ series . Questions will be asked as to what went wrong and why . The first of which , who is to blame and is this Cavaliers’ team in its current guise as good as advertised ? Clearly not, after this staggering series’ loss , where the four games lost by the Cleveland Cavaliers were by double-digits and where on one of those games , James accounted for almost half of the team’s turnovers.

Personally, I feel Cleveland’s front office led by GM David Griffin acquiesced to far too many of James’ needs as to how the roster was built to complement LeBron James’ skill-set for this regular season and Playoffs. Seasoned veterans such as Kyrie Irving , Deron Williams , Kevin Love and Kyle Korver were basic no-shows during the series. However , it should be noted when you play in a mediocre conference where you’re barely tested over the regular team schedule , you simply know that the team is likely to be exposed once they get to the NBA Finals , as was the case here against the Golden State Warriors.

It will be interesting to see what decisions could very well be made during the off-season and if David Griffin will allow LeBron James will have a major say, as to which players he would ultimately see signed by the franchise as free agents. Cleveland finds itself in a non too enviable position and will likely to shed one or two of their high-priced players on the roster to make way for a big-money signing .

Kevin Durant having won his first NBA title as well as being named Finals’ MVP has to feel vindicated in his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors. It was a shrewd decision by front office executives Jerry West and GM Bob Myers to lure Durant, while players Steph Curry , Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were all able to play a role in Durant’s acquisition. During this off-season , I believe Golden State will be looking to bolster the roster and I certainly believe they will remain the team to beat within the West as they have been over the last three seasons. Team co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , successful businessmen in their own right have been able to defer all business matter and personnel decisions to a front office staff which is truly exceptional in its own right , with their biggest asset being their Hall of Famer Jerry West.

While people continue to talk about dynasties and rivalries within the NBA, I believe these are now things of the past , as free agency has simply impaired that entire premise. The last great rivalry seen in this league came at the height of prosperity seen with the Boston Celtics’ and Los Angeles Lakers’ days , which are now long-gone . The only way is now up for the Golden State Warriors and for their fans they are now relishing being on top of the world . A second NBA title in three years and every possibility they are likely to go unchallenged over the next few years. Kevin Durant , Steph Curry and Klay Thompson complement each other well enough for me to believe this team in its current guise is far better than the Miami Heat team which had the triumvirate of LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade . The trio would begin to go their separate ways after James’ relationship with Heat President Pat Riley was soured , because of their respective egos and losing sight of their alleged ambitions.

LeBron James being the superstar that he is , puts his own ambitions above all else in his zest to win and be accepted,  but unfortunately , it is to the detriment of others , in particular the organization , namely the Cleveland Cavaliers. And while I agree there is blame to be passed around , I can’t help but feel , the front office of the franchise is now at a loss as to what else they can and need to do .

If the future looks somewhat dim for the Cleveland Cavaliers, then imagine the situation now unfolding with the New York Knicks under the leadership of their erstwhile executive Phil Jackson . The time has now come , where we have to stop reveling in what Jackson has been able to achieve on the court as a basketball head coach and look at his ever-growing failures as an NBA Executive . It has become abundantly clear , that he could not spot talent , were he aided in his quest with a box of Crayola and blotting paper . Other than Kristaps Porzingis , his draft choices and player acquisitions for the Knicks have been an absolute ‘ bust’ . This wasn’t a team built to win , but merely to stay afloat , as has been the way with the organization over the past six seasons under the helm of owner James Dolan , who actually continues to put profits above the team’s competitiveness.

There continues to be discontent and dissension within the New York Knicks’ organization and it has become increasingly clear that among the playing staff , all is not well. I believe Jeff Hornacek and his entire coaching staff are completely out of their depth and that’s Phil Jackson’s zeal for the continued archaic ‘ Triangle Offense’ is another one of the reasons why the Knicks failed so miserably last season. The team’s record was a true reflection of what they have become, unimportant and absolutely redundant .

The NBA needs a competitive league and most certainly a competitive Eastern Conference and most definitely a conference that stand on its own against its Western counterpart. I cannot see this happening anytime soon , because the players are simply not that good !

If NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is hoping fans will be entertained in the coming years , then he had better hope the quality of the players being drafted from among the College Ranks will be as good as advertised . There appears to be a great deal of hype over Lonzo Ball and the possibility of his being taken as the number one overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft . I certainly don’ t believe Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics’ front office will be going that route when the decision is made. From my own perspective , the risks far outweigh the alleged advantages which Ball is said to have. La Var Ball , father of the young UCLA basketball prodigy has courted continued controversy , with outlandish demands and statements concerning his son. It remains to be seen where the player is taken in this Draft, but if the rumors are to be believed , then Ball could very well end up remaining instate and playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Team executives Magic Johnson and Lakers’ GM Rob Pelinka have been heaping a great deal of praise on Lonzo Ball, but given the Lakers’ continued misfires with their draft picks over the last six years , I am not expecting the young phenom to set the NBA alight.

Los Angeles Lakers’ fans are certainly hoping for the franchise to return to former glories of the past , but I feel under Luke Walton and the roster in its current guise , they will remain at least three years away from being competitive enough to challenge the best the Western Conference has to offer as well as the rest of the NBA. Luke Walton can only hope that there will be a marked improvement from the team . Hopes of acquiring a big-time marquee free agent appears to be a long shot , especially when you consider the makeup of the roster isn’t that great.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be missing from the list of competitors competing at the US Open being held at Erin Hills (GC) , Erin Hills , Wisconsin, beginning on the June 15th, 2017. Woods’ withdrawal was to be expected , with the former world number one , having not competed in an officially sanctioned PGA Tour Event in 2017. Mickelson’s absence was announced in advance , when he informed the PGA and USGA of his intent, citing his wish to be at his daughter’s graduation. With two of golf’s most recognizable faces missing from the second Grand Slam Major of the season , it will be interesting to see which player from the field will rise to the occasion .

There can be no denying Tiger Woods has been his own worst enemy for the better part of two years , having not won a tournament of a top-ten finish of any kind anywhere in the world. Woods’ off the course issues have been well-chronicled alongside his current addiction to prescriptive medication. From my own perspective , I do not believe he has the ability to win another Grand Slam Tournament and he is unlikely to surpass the eighteen career Grand Slam victories recorded by Jack Nicklaus .

While I believe Phil Mickelson enjoys being on a golf course and competing , I believe the player no longer relishes tournament play as much he would like us to believe. He has come through some emotional trauma of his own , his wife’s cancer scare, as well his own medical issues , which are ongoing and having taken a physical toll on his body. Mickelson has amassed a sizable fortune while still being among the highest paid golfers in the world.

It should prove interesting , seeing whether or not a top-ten player from the rankings will be crowned the 2017 US Open Champion at the tournament’s climax on Sunday evening . First-round leader Rickie Fowler has a great deal to prove and would undoubtedly like to show many of his contemporaries that he should be considered among the best of the players currently on the PGA Tour.


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What to your mind has or was the biggest disappointment during the regular season and NBA Playoffs ? Also, do you believe that the US Open will provide a great deal of excitement as the tournament continues ?

Tophatal ……….. 06/13/2017

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Conclusive …..

Conclusive …

In aftermath of the Golden State Warriors’ (3-4) loss in the NBA Finals and the way in which the defending champions relinquished their title, has the sports’ world talking as the newly crowned champions the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3) hold sway of the NBA world. Finals’ MVP and now a three-time champion , LeBron James now feels vindicated after the franchise’s triumph and the promise of bringing a title to his home state. The Akron , Ohio native fulfilled the promise and now has fans who once taunted for his departure from the Cavaliers now calling him ‘ The King’ once again . For the Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner Dan Gilbert and his partners have seen the franchise’s value rise over 60% in the last four years, with the biggest increase coming immediately after James rejoined the Cavaliers. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ franchise is now worth in excess of $1.1 billion , though their value places them mid-table among the league’s thirty teams .

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Two consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals and the belief appears to be , Cleveland can now dominate the league , but specifically in the Eastern Conference for years to come. As to how many years is actually dependent upon how long LeBron James will continue his career in the league. I firmly believe the twelve-year veteran is now seeking personal goals , winning at least three more titles, three League MVP’s to add to his tally of four . Yet James’ biggest personal achievement could come from his being biggest earning player in NBA history . Having accumulated an estimated $300 million fortune, James’ business tentacles now stretches across a wide variety of entrepreneurial endeavors. LeBron James will likely become a billionaire before his NBA career has ended , with the player now the highest earning athlete in the league and one of the most recognizable faces in the world of sports. Not since Michael Jordan’s reign over the NBA , has there been a player so enigmatic , as athletic and as dominant in this league. Fans may now be seeking a team and player rivalry which are reminiscent of the intense rivalries seen between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics . I do believe those years are long gone and in our rear view mirrors and they are unlikely to return to the NBA !

Golden State’s fall from the heights of the basketball world to the point where many might now be questioning the heart of this team might well be justified. I firmly believe the title was lost for the Warriors , when the referees interjected themselves in the series far more than fans have come to see in previous NBA Finals . In particular during games four , five and six, when there appeared to be anomaly of outrageous calls favoring the Cleveland Cavaliers when they were in the process of mounting their now historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit . Golden State crumbled, while Steph Curry’s play and leadership continued to falter along with his teammates following in tow. The loss of Draymond Green from game-six , was far more telling than anyone would career to admit, but the player went all out in game-seven , as he fought valiantly in seeking to retain the Warriors’ hold Los their title. Cleveland Cavaliers’ four point 93-89 victory sealed Golden State’s fate and brought a title to Cleveland. Green’s thirty-two points in the contest led all scorers in the game. The defeat now leaves the Golden State Warriors and their fans wondering what might have been and whether or not the chase of the single-season record for regular season wins was actually worth it. To a degree there was a great deal of complacency seen during the NBA Playoffs by the Warriors , but this loss to the Cavaliers came down to who wanted the series’ victory more , without apportioning blame squarely on the shoulders of the referees.

There has to be a great deal of disappointment among the coaching staff of the Golden State Warriors , especially with head coach Steve Kerr . Having been fined $25,000 by the NBA for his criticism of the officials and pointed accusations at LeBron James , the thick skin one might have felt was a shell of invincibility with the Warriors had indeed began to crack. This off-season , there are likely to be some changes among the team’s lineup and I firmly believe Andrew Bogut will no longer be a part of the franchise’s future. Bogut’s best years are now behind him and limited availability in the Playoffs was clearly of no advantage to the team. Yet the biggest decision facing Steve Kerr and Warriors’ GM Bob Myers , is whether not they will allow Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli to become free agents or seek to retain both players who were vital to the team’s success during the regular season. The NBA salary cap will increase significantly this upcoming season rising from the current level of $63 million to a proposed $78 million with the luxury tax set at $92 million . Teams will aggressively seek to sign marquee free agents this off-season , very much in a similar vain witnessed last season and the year previously.

Dustin Johnson claimed the first Grand Slam Major of his PGA career having won the US Open at the Oakmont Golf & Country Club , Oakmont , Pennsylvania by a four-stroke margin . The American saw his rankings move up in the world, while also move up the FedEx Cup standings . However, the controversy which resulted in round four stemmed from the officials of the United States Golf Association (USGA) seeking to penalize Johnson for what they believe was an attempted stroke when the player’s club never actually struck the ball while it was on the green. They were either seeking to add insult to injury or as usual , the USGA and PGA in particular are just showing how truly incompetent they remain. Jordan Spieth , Jason Day and Rory McIlroy never made an impression during the tournament and the final leader-board indicated nothing more than Johnson’s margin of victory and his taking the almost $1.8 million first prize . Golf is in need of a great deal of excitement and it is now being provided by the top three players in the world with Jason Day , Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy leading the way.

Phil Mickelson no longer competes to win , merely turning up for what appears to be a guaranteed paycheck , just as long as he finishes in the top twenty -five of a PGA sanctioned event. Tiger Woods remains missing in action and milk carton’s with the player’s image will soon be going on display . Granted , Woods is now too old to be thought of as a missing and exploited child , but I can’t help but wonder what is next for the former world number one golfer ? It has been over eight months since his last appearance in a PGA event and over eighteen months since his last victory world worldwide . It goes without saying if Woods isn’t competing or winning a Major Grand Slam tournament, then fans of the sport are not necessarily interested in the game.

With golf now being part of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil , it will be interesting to see which of the top-ranked golfers will be competing in the events . The Zika Virus remains at the forefront of the news within Brazil , even with the assurances being given by the Brazilian government. Dilma Rousseff , the country’s President has been deposed , amid claims of corruption , mismanagement of the country’s economy as well a litany of claims not substantiated. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent in Brazil on the staging of the Summer Olympics and IOC President Thomas Bach has now began to assure the world the staging of the event will take place without their being any major setbacks. That is of little assurance to many who believe the country has not dealt with the epidemic appropriately or the possibility that the nation’s security forces are ill-prepared to deal with a possible terrorist attack . If the staging of the games are to be a success then it will be incumbent on the country , the IOC making sure all necessary precautions are taken in safeguarding not only the athletes competing but also the guests entering Brazil to attend the Olympic Games.

Maria Sharapova might well be the best known female athlete to have become embroiled in the use of a banned substance. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has proposed a two-year suspension of the Russian tennis star which seems to have the backing of the ITF as well as the WTA , but the Russian Olympic Federation as well as the country’s President Vladimir Putin have called into question the harshness of the suspension of Sharapova. The tennis star offered her apology to her fans and the WTA when the news first broke of her having tested positive for Meldonium , a prescriptive medication commonly used in the rehabilitation of muscle fatigue. The drug has been on the banned list of substances by the IOC for over two years and Maria Sharapova’s explanation concerning the matter remains ambivalent , making absolutely no sense at all. In the midst of this all the Russian Olympic Federation is now questioning the ban by the International Track & Field Association (IAAF) of the Russian track and field team . Several of the athletes who face a mandatory two-year ban are world-class track stars , several of them ranked among the top-ten in their events and thought of as medal contenders at the upcoming games in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil.

This ban instigated by the IAAF might seem draconian and harsh without flexibility as to the decision rendered. Yet it should be noted the Russian Olympic Federation itself , while admitting no responsibility of any wrongdoing have admitted there has been a breakdown in their testing protocols for many of their track stars and other athletes. From my own perspective , I believe the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have been correct in their stance in stamping down on offenders and the associations who have yet to fallen into line with the testing protocols now in place and mandated by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) ! Russia has been one of the biggest offenders in the blatant use of banned substances in the world of track and field athletics over the past three and a half decades. It remains at the epicenter of the rampant widespread use of banned substances along with several Eastern bloc countries . However, it should be noted a number of US born athletes in recent years have also tested positive for the use of a banned substance. Track stars Tyson Gay , Justin Gatlin , Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones are the most prominent names known the public but the most well-known of all remains former seven-time Tour de France Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong . Ambivalence and hypocrisy remains commonplace within the IOC , IAAF as well as within the numerous federations affiliated with the International Olympic Committee.

Maria Sharapova will likely seek an appeal of the ruling of her suspension by taking her case directly to the Council For The Arbitration on Sports (CAS) based in Lausanne , Switzerland which also happens to be the headquarters for the IOC. Many of Sharapova’s contemporaries have not voiced their opinions publicly , but there is the belief the tennis superstar knew all along her actions were contrary the rules of the WTA and that of the IOC. I certainly hope an appeal by Maria Sharapova will not be upheld, as it would certainly open the floodgates for other athletes seeking to overturn decisions concerning their suspensions which were certainly warranted.

With the NBA season now over and baseball now in full swing the Summer months will now take center-stage with Olympics being the focal point for what will be a billion-plus audience watching this two-week spectacle. While I have always been ardent sports’ fan , in light of the recent political events around the world , there will be more the expected anticipation of the events taking place in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil .

In the aftermath with the events of the NBA Finals , do you believe the end result with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the title was a satisfying end to the season ? Also, with the heightened alerts now taking place around the world because of the recent terrorist attacks taking place , do you believe the Summer Olympics in Brazil can turn out to be a tremendous success ?

Tophatal …. 2016/06/21

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The buck doesn’t stop here but it should …

The buck doesn’t stop here but it should …

So  two weeks into the  NFL season and already we’re  witnessing  how  banal so many of the teams just happen to be . Nonetheless, things are likely to get far more problematical for several of these franchise before possibly getting better.

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In the NFC East , the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants having opened their respective season schedule with two consecutive losses are proving to be among the pick of the litter when it comes to sheer ineptitude. Far be it for me to suggest, but head coaches Chip Kelly of the Eagles and Tom Coughlin of the Giants are likely to know their jobs are on the line. Team owners , Jeffrey Lurie and John K Mara cannot be entirely happy with what they have both witnessed from their respective teams to start the season.

The Philadelphia Eagles were on the wrong side of an inept performance , with a week two loss to the Dallas Cowboys , whose 20-10 victory , also saw the loss of quarterback Tony Romo due to an injury. This all could spell some serious issues for the Cowboys, having lost Romo quite possibly for a sizable chunk of their regular season schedule. Dallas’ head coach Jason Garrett will now have to reassess Tony Romo’s fitness and the likelihood of possibly going with his backup, Brandon Weeden , should Romo not be available for Dallas’ week three contest against the Atlanta Falcons on the 27th September, 2015 at Texas Stadium in Arlington. Texas,. Inasmuch as analysts and fans alike try to attribute Tony Romo’s toughness to his abilities , in reality the player lacks real leadership and tends to apportion blame elsewhere when his play has been mediocre.

A great deal is being asked of Brandon Weeden, should he be entrusted with the task of leading the Cowboys into battle against the Falcons next Sunday.

For the New York Giants and their start to the season appears to be inexplicable, but at the same you cannot overlook the fact Eli Manning and his teammates have failed to deliver when all is said to be on the line. Granted, Manning has led the Giants to two highly celebrated Superbowl victories over the New England Patriots in the last six seasons. Losses in week one and week two to the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons respectively, have left many wondering where do the New York Giants now go from here. The Giants’ defense and offense have proven to be equally inept and with receivers Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz yet to show anywhere near the skill-set sought for the team to viewed as legitimate contenders within the league this season. Cruz remains sidelined and there seems to be no indicator as to when the Giants will see his return to their starting lineup. The New York Giants’ next game will pit them against the Washington Redskins on the 24th September , 2015 in a Thursday night contest.

Over the last two seasons , I believe quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford have failed to show what they are capable of players in their respective roles. With the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions both getting off to inauspicious starts to their season , these two teams are likely to be in for a torrid time as the NFL schedule pans out. Neither the Bears or Lions can afford to go through their first three games with consecutive losses , but given their play at present , it simply doesn’t bode well for either of these two teams. Sunday afternoon, we witnessed the Chicago Bears falling to the Arizona Cardinals in a high-scoring contest 48-26. Stafford and the Lions fell to the Minnesota Vikings in a result which simply reflects how bad Detroit just happens to be , as they succumbed to the Vikings 26-16.

While I am not about to suggest at this point of the season the NFC as a conference is less superior than the AFC , there do seem to be pointers which may reflect this position , albeit , two weeks into the schedule should not be truly reflective of the position. By week four , one quarter of the way through the NFL season , the teams should have found their rhythm, as they look to play themselves into divisional and conference contention.

There are thirteen games left in the baseball schedule , for the league’s thirty teams , with several of the divisions still to be decided as of the 20th September . For much of the season , both the St Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals have remained among the two best ball-clubs within the game. Whether or not the two teams will clash in this year’s World Series remains to be seen and will be predicated on their play as schedule plays out to the likely intensity we have seen in recent weeks. The Royals under manager Ned Yost might well be seen as the likely front-runner for this year’s AL Manager of the Year , with among his closest rivals being AJ Hinch , John Gibbons , Jeff Banister and Paul Molitor .

The Kansas City Royals coming off a decisive 10-3 win over the free-falling Detroit Tigers will seek to increase their lead within the AL Central when they face the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington on 22nd September ,2015. On the mound for the Mariners will be Hisashi Iwakuma as he faces Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals.

Kansas now has the inside track on the division, with the Minnesota Twins unlikely to build up a big enough challenge for the AL Central. With the reverberations from the faltering Tigers , in the aftermath with the abrupt departure of former GM Dave Dombrowski . There is now the belief that Dombrowski’s successor Al Avila will make the decision not to extend the contract of the team’s manager Brad Ausmus , leading to further turmoil within the organization. The Tigers’ players have yet to make their thoughts known on the possible departure of Ausmus , but there seems to be a widespread belief Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera are not entirely happy with the situation, in spite of their indifferent seasons and it is easy to understand the many reasons why the Detroit Tigers have failed so miserably this year. The changes for the Tigers during the off-season could very well be dramatic and very nerve shattering, as a number of high-priced players are likely to be jettisoned. Seeking to assess the players , within their farm system is now likely to be an option for Al Avila , as looks to rebuild for next season.

It would be the ultimate tale of sheer stupidity if Mike Matheny was not awarded the NL Manager of the Year Award for this season. He has clearly been the best manager in baseball this year and has been a worthy successor to Tony La Russa . If Matheny can now take this Cardinals’ team in the postseason where they are likely to be the clear favorites for the NL Pennant , then there is no reason to believe why St Louis cannot go on to win their twelfth World Series title, with their last coming in 2011 when they crushed the the Texas Rangers in seven games . The series’ result might suggest the Rangers might have been in with a chance through the entire seven-game series, but at no point did they ever take advantage of St Louis during the showcase series’ finale .

Mike Matheny and the St Louis Cardinals have been a model of consistency throughout much of the season , with their pitching and offense being equally potent on all fronts. To round out their three-game weekend schedule against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago , the Cardinals came away with a well-deserved 4-3 victory over their divisional rivals . On Monday evening the St Louis will play host to the Cincinnati Reds , with John Lamb of the visiting team on the mound to face his opposing number , Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals.

With Tiger Woods now falling off the face of the PGA Tour and this ongoing stupidity he still remains the biggest draw in the game. I have to wonder what type of idiot , there remains within realms of the sports’ world in terms of the fans who simply have no idea as to what the hell they are talking about ! Woods has not come close to winning a tournament on the PGA Tour in almost two years and his last major Grand Slam title was almost six years ago . He has fallen so far down the world rankings (292 nd) , that he is no longer deemed to be a worthy talking point , unless you want to discuss his ongoing medical ailments. A second back surgery , is now in the offing and Woods’ game has deteriorated to such an extent , that only the player himself has any belief he will be able to resurrect his play to the level where he was once considered the heir-apparent to Jack Nicklaus .

There are now much younger players on the Tour , who are just as determined as Tiger Woods , when he was at his best , but they have shown themselves to be more resilient and less prone to litany of mistakes which have become part of Woods’ current persona on a golf course. Jordan Spieth , Rory McIlroy and Jason Day have become the new faces of the PGA Tour , as well being major draws , and a boost to the television ratings.

Jason Day’s five wins on the season which include the PGA Championship , The Barclays Championship and this past weekend the BMW Championship has pushed the Australian to the top of the world rankings , pushing both Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy to second and third within the standings. With those five wins and ten top-ten finishes on the PGA Tour , Day tops the Fedex Cup standings and is line for the $10 million payout which comes with a first place finish in the Fedex Cup overall final placings. If golf and in particular the PGA Tour is to withstand the loss of Tiger Woods and the deterioration of his game. Then the likes of Jason Day , Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will now have to stand tall in face of the overwhelming odds that fans yearn a dominant and charismatic player within the sport. Woods had the game, but his indiscretions and willingness to cite others for his problems, was simply another indication of a self-absorbed athlete who yearns the limelight but when faced with off-field adversity, they simply haven’t the intellect to handle it well.

A top-five finish in the Tour Championship at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta , Georgia , which is the final tournament of the PGA Tour schedule , could see Day come away with the $10 million bonus payout and quite possibly the Player of the Year Honors, albeit , Jordan Spieth’s two Major victories on the year do make his credentials all the more impressive. Yet if consistency is to be the measure on the season , then the Australian has fared better than his American counterpart.

There are howls of laughter as Floyd Mayweather Jr maintains his wish to now retire from the sport of boxing, having defeated Andre Berto in the defense of his WBA and WBC welterweight titles . Still recognized by Ring Magazine and several of the top analysts within the sports as the Pound-for-Pound King of The Ring and best fighter on the planet. I personally do not believe Mayweather can simply walk away from his unbeaten 49-0 record without seeking to push that mark to 50-0 ! Granted , for an athlete who in the last two years has earned in excess of $400 million from the sport of boxing , there might be few challenges left for a fighter of his caliber. He has the admiration of legions of fans the world over , but he has never been able to truly gain the respect of some of the passionate fans of the sport as well many of the women who follow the sport of boxing from afar.

Floyd Mayweather has failed miserably in trying to allay the persona of his misogyny and denigration of women, albeit , his open invitation of Jen Welter to a press conference and to his bout with Berto was met with a great degree of sarcasm and some embarrassment for Welter , who initially accepted the invitation for both events. Yet it cannot be denied , with Mayweather’s well-chronicled troubles concerning his ex-fiancee and the mother of two of his children , there can be little left to believe the boxer is indeed trying to change his ways. His publicists and management company are trying to create the persona of a social activist , philanthropist and boxing promoter seeking to not only clean up the sport, but also show Floyd Mayweather to be a man of the people. Yet, when it is all said and done, the boxer’s actions outside the ring and his outlandish behavior simply proves the persona created has been nothing more than a charade.

Mayweather still yearns the respect of the purists who cover the sport within the media , even with his impressive fight record. Mayweather Promotions Inc , the boxer’s own management company will certainly be surveying the landscape for a fighter seen as his next challenger. A rematch against Manny Pacquiao would simply be a waste , considering the hype over their first fight and lack of competitiveness seen from the Filipino boxer on his way to a unanimous defeat, was not only embarrassing for the sport of boxing, but also a general fleecing of the paying public and the reputed $500 million gross revenues gained from the bout. Mayweather’s reputed $300 million payday before expenses for the highest grossing title and fight in boxing his history, was nothing more than a comedic mess of gigantic proportions.

The international governing bodies (IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO) for the sport of boxing have been nothing more than a travesty , with Mauricio Sulaiman , Gilberto Mendoza , Daryl Peoples and Francisco Varcarcel have simply forgone their obligations to oversee the sport with robust stewardship, instead leaving it to the unscrupulous boxing promoters to reign over the sport, while leaving the Nevada State Athletic Commission with their connivance and corrupt activities continue to make a mockery of boxing . Conflicts of interests, inexperienced ringside judges adjudicating title bouts have seen the state Athletic Commissioner Francisco Aguilar has been quick to suggest the officials who have judged many of the most recent title fights within the state’s jurisdiction have been without reproach. Yet, in the aftermath of the fiasco concerning the judging Mayweather’s most recent bouts against Manny Pacquiao and Andre Berto has left a great deal to be desired about Aguilar’s claims.

If boxing is left in something of a void in spite of the rise of Deontay Wilder as a titleholder among the heavyweight champions. Yet in reality, Wilder can only be seen as seen as either stepping stone for Wladimir Klitschko to further enhance his claims of being the best heavyweight boxer in the world. Klitschko’s own record has been filled with challengers whose records if nothing else, can only be viewed as comedic and idiotic. The rise of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) under the UFC banner , has seen the growth of the fastest growing combative sport in the world. UFC’s fighters are now becoming household names with Ronda Rousey leading the way for the sport along with the sudden emergence of Fabricio Werdum as the undisputed heavyweight champion. Werdum’s devastating victory over Cain Velazquez was not only for the title was not only exciting but it also breathed life into a sport , where in recent months , we had witnessed the fall of established stars such as Jon Jones , Nick Diaz and Johny Hendricks either through misdeeds outside the octagon ring or through poor performances within.

UFC President Dana White has proven to be an autocratic and somewhat tyrannical ruler of the governing body of the sport , dictating his whims as to what he believes best serves the interests of the sport. Unfortunately. White has proven to be less than forthright as to a number of decisions he has made concerning fighters, who are known to have known to have used substances prohibited by the UFC. Dana White has been complicit in allowing fighters such as Jon Jones , Nick Diaz, Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen to have fought , having then been tested for a banned substance.

Sonnen, now an analyst covering the UFC has not issued a statement concerning his twice being suspended for the use of performance enhancing drugs , while Nick Diaz has continually derided White and suggested he will continue with his use of marijuana as and when he pleases. Silva a former middleweight champion will be making his long-awaited return to the octagon, but with the revelations of his testing positive steroidal medication as well as for an anxiety medication during his rematch with Chris Weidman for the middleweight title at UFC 183.

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Sports , amateur and professional sports, have now become a fickle industry promulgated by profligate athletes and hierarchies, where accountability has become a simple bye-word for lack of leadership, athletes without any real integrity and the continued belief that an act of social responsibility paints them as a person moral integrity.

Floyd Mayweather continues to be indicative of such a persona , while Tiger Woods might well now be wishing he could turn back the hands of time. Hierarchy leaders such as Roger Goodell, Adam Silver , Garry Bettman , Dana White , Rob Manfred and Mark Emmert have become oblivious of what needs to be done to actually clean up the mess they preside over , and can only point to the one known fact they actually care about and that is to make millions of dollars at the expense of the consumers , otherwise known as the fans. Accountability remains the farthest thing from their minds while the fans remain apathetic to what is actually now within their midst.

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Tophatal ……. 2015/09/21

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Imagine things getting really bad, before entering the 2015 NFL season, it’s not as far fetched as it seems


Imagine things getting really bad , before entering the 2015 NFL season , It’s not as far fetched as it seems

Over the last few days, I have been inundated with so much work, leading my group of research analysts within our section of a large department within the firm where I am currently employed . Trying to stay abreast of the news’ stories in the world of sports is not unlike sifting through a bucket full of fecal matter , looking for the feel-good story of the moment. In the world of golf , Tiger Woods is still trying to figure out if he can still play the game, much less compete at a high level. Well , based on his season , thus far and in 2014 .

I think we can all agree, Woods’ game has sank to an all-time low , without idiots still suggesting that he’s the ticker that still moves the needle within the sport. That was true at the height of his game , when he was winning tournaments at more than a thirty per-cent clip. That has not been the case in over four years , but you would be hard pressed to convince the idiots , who are still sipping from the porcelain pot that Woods continues to defecate and urinate in. . Such has been the apathy of the anal retentive sports’ fan who can be found in the country.

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In the NFL , the off-season has proven to be more of a surprise than any of us could have imagined. Needless to say , many may well be questioning the moves made by Chip Kelly as he has literally made the decision to tear apart his roster of last season, seeking to build a team more to his liking and built around what he believes will make the Eagles winners. Trading away one of the best performing quarterbacks in the NFL over the past two years, is not a convincing way of assuaging and trying retain the loyalty of a fan , especially a Philadelphia Eagles’ fan, who are known to be not only weary , but also lethal to players, whom they believe are not fit to wear an Eagles’ uniform. Nick Foles’ departure was not only a shock , but has many questioning, who is now running the show in terms of player personnel decisions. Is Kelly, as the head coach or is it GM Howie Roseman ?

In 2015, I am not so sure the Philadelphia Eagles will be a force to be reckoned with , not if Chip Kelly is relying on Sam Bradford to be the quarterback to lead this Eagles’ team ! In what I believe to be a puerile NFC East division , the likelihood of their being competitive football being played there this season , will be dependent upon the coaching acumen of Chip Kelly, Tom Coughlin , Jason Garrett and Jay Gruden . If they should fail, then things will be simply mediocre throughout much of the season .

If there is one thing we know to be true and it is the very fact , no matter how hard they try to rid themsleves of the label of being inept. The Oakland Raiders will not fail to confound us by simply making it a reality. The Raiders over the past six seasons have been the epitome of a franchise waywardly heading nowhere , while casting off head coaches like a quick change artist , changing from one outfit to another. The same can be said of the litany of players who have come and gone over that time-span. Jack Del Rio has been brought in by GM Reggie McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis , with a view to his being able to turn around the fortunes of one of the NFL’s most downtrodden franchises in recent years.

Consider the fact , Oakland has not won the AFC West or made the NFL postseason in over eight years , and only then can you comprehend how bad things have been for the organization. Then take into account , in recent years , profitability for the Raiders , has been hard to come by, in spite of their having some of the most loyal fans in the entire NFL . Yet , the franchise remains one of the most valuable in the NFL .

Oakland’s last appearance in the postseason came during the 2002 season when they won the AFC championship game , only to then fall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superbowl , who were being coached a former Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden . In the subsequent years , abject failure has been the name of the game, while one or two players have made something of a name for themselves donning a Raiders’ uniform.

While I believe Jack Del Rio to be a good coach , I am not so sure if is the right coach or capable enough a being to lead, what in all likelihood will be at its core , a team filled with players who were cast-offs from elsewhere. Add in the fact, the team’s quarterback , Derek Carr will be asked to place the Raiders on his inexperienced shoulders , having had relatively little success in the NFL during his short career . It might be far too bold a suggestion to make , but in this upcoming NFL Draft the Oakland Raiders cannot afford to fail .

Jim Harbaugh’s departure from the San Francisco 49ers was a clear case of a front office dissatisfied with a head coach, who simply had lost control of a team , which lacked discipline and one where many of the players thought themselves above the law , while having inflated egos . The issues of Ray McDonald and Aldon Smith have been well-chronicled without delving further into the less than amicable relationship which had deteriorated during its final days between the Niners’ former head coach , GM Trent Baalke and team CEO Jed Yorke. Photo opportunities featuring Harbaugh and Baalke or Harbaugh and Yorke , had become a rarity. It has to be said, when the two senior executives are said to be distrustful of their head coach , they are in fact sending a clear message, that his tenure , is about to be cut short . No amount ill-conceived diplomacy and well-wishing, upon Harbaugh’s departure could hide the fact, Trent Baalke and Jed Yorke wanted Jim Harbaugh out of San Francisco , faster than a high-speed train.

San Francisco’s demise last season was as much of their own making as was the inconsistency shown by quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his teammates throughout much of the season . Kaepernick for his part having had initial success with a Superbowl appearance, making the postseason in each of his first two seasons in the NFL, fell back down to earth in 2014 , with uneven performances during the Niners’ schedule. While I believe the quarterback played a part in the team’s obvious inconsistencies , the majority of their problems came from the lack of discipline instilled into the team by Jim Harbaugh as the season began to spiral out of control.

Harbaugh is now in charge of the Michigan (Wolverines’) program , seeking to place that school’s footballing glories back upon a pedestal where their fans believe it belongs.

For the San Francisco 49ers, their upcoming season under the leadership of a new coaching staff led by Jim Tomsula could prove to be rather interesting for a number of reasons beyond the new head coach’s lack of experience. If the Forty Niners cannot overcome the continued and recent ascent of the Seattle Seahawks , their ongoing and growing confidence. Then , there is every belief , that it will be Pete Carroll and the Seahawks once again walking away with the NFC West divisional crown with effortless and consummate ease.

There is no denying, while in college Reggie Bush had a sensational career ,but unfortunately, a great deal of it, was built upon a web of deceit and lies , carried out with such bravado and countenanced by the atheletics department of USC (Trojans) while Mike Garrett was the Athletics Director of the program . Garrett played the role of the unassuming unknowing administrator , when in all probability , he was aware as to the machinations , all consuming , wheeling and dealings , which denoted academic fraud within the basketball and football programs , beyond Bush’s acceptance of money from known and unknown parties , while a student athlete at USC . The fact, Pete Carroll left the program, with such speed, all under the guise of accepting the millions of dollars thrown at him by Seahawks’ owner and billionaire entrepreneur Paul Allen can be read in a number of ways. None of which, has Carroll smelling like a bouquet roses and looking good at the time of his departure, with his refusal to provide any insight as to what he he might have known about the allegations at the time , surrounding Reggie Bush and number of other players under his tutelage as head coach of the football program.

With Garrett fired , Pat Haden was brought in to clean up the mess , with Lane Kiffin being hired to succeed Pete Carroll . Kiffin’s tenure at USC was riddled with inconsistency and a great deal of controversy , with the coach having repeatedly stretched the limits of what was deemed acceptable by the NCAA concerning a number of growing infractions , all of which Lane Kiffin claimed, he felt were within parameters set by not only the school, but also collegiate athletics’ governing body. Playing the fool , obviously came easy for Kiffin , and he still acts like a fool , while a member of the coaching staff of Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide of Alabama .

Reggie Bush’s first five seasons in the NFL were spent with the New Orleans Saints where his successes were fleeting and nondescript . Now with his fourth team of his nine-year career, having entered the NFL as a first round draft pick of the Saints in 2006 . Bush now hopes to resurrect his stalled career having 0532i signed one-year $2.5 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers during the off-season. I am not so sure what Bush can bring to Niners at this stage of his career and I certainly don’t believe him to be a better running back than Frank Gore , who San Francisco allowed to leave as an unrestricted free agent , with Gore joining the Indianapolis Colts. What that might suggest about the Forty Niners , might well have a bearing as one of the reasons why this team didn’t to get anything meaningful done during the course of last season. If the coaching staff believed Frank Gore was unproductive , then there has to be something seriously wrong with their mindset. Aging veteran or not, Gore was not one of the primary reasons San Francisco failed so miserably, ending their season with an 8-8 record .

Heading into this season Colts’ GM Ryan Grigson will have to deal with the issues of extending the contracts n of head coach Chuck Pagano and their perennial Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck. You would think , the choice would be an extremely easy one to make . Yet, for some reason Grigson has found a way to bring about extreme tension between himself and Pagano as well the player, who has guided the franchise to playoff appearances in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. It might not take a rocket scientist to assist the general manager to make a quick decision, but if he is need of help , then there are several hundred of these engineers and scientists to found at Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) as well as on the campus of MIT . WTF !

Luck will be in the final year of his original four-year $22.5 million deal signed as a rookie in 2012. Don’t laugh , but by comparison, Jay Cutler last season earned almost as much as Luck has made in his first three seasons in the NFL . You have to pat on the back the decision-makers within the Chicago Bears’ front office for having the temerity of not only offering Cutler that outrageous seven-year $126 million deal , but also the asinine notion of current Bears’ head coach John Fox , whose opinion appears to be Cutler can still guide the Bears to a great deal of success at this stage of his career . Given a choice between Jay Cutler and Andrew Luck , even if I were blindfolded , I would still be able to pick Luck over Cutler, while smelling the stench which still can be tracked, by the fecal matter the Bears’ quarterback calls a career .

The obstacles now facing the Indianapolis Colts will be getting past the New England Patriots be it in the regular season or postseason . Clashes between the two franchises became synonymous with the careers of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning . There is no reason to believe the Colts will be seriously challenged within the AFC South this season . The Tennessee Titans are still struggling to find an identity , the same can be said of the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars , who were among the least competitive teams in the NFL last season .

A great deal is now being made of the NFL Draft and the choices to be made by the teams seeking become relevant within the league. Clearly, with so much conjecture and debate over what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will do as the team with the number one pick in this Draft. The possibility of the Buccaneers not choosing either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston , two players believed to be the consensus two top picks in this year’s draft could come as a shock. Yet , this might not be as big a surprise as pundits believe it will be. Personally, I simply do not put much into the machinations of the NFL calendar at this time of the year ! These college players will either prove to be good or extremely bad and by no means ____ is it a guarantee, a player taken as the top pick is a guarantee of success. The last player taken as the number one pick to have led his team to the Superbowl , was in fact Eli Manning taken in 2004 by the New York Giants . Two Superbowl victories coming from the arm of Manning sealed his legacy, but since that victory, the Giants’ quarterback has not been consistent or led the team another postseason appearance since 2007. Make of it what you will.

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What do you believe will be the likely outcome of this NFL Draft by way of the player taken as the number one overall pick ? Based on the needs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , do you believe it is imperative the franchise take a quarterback or a player of need at another position ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be of relevance to the subject matter.

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A year to savor …

A year to savor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery .

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

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Picture and slideshow gallery below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Keeping your eyes on the prize …

Keeping your eyes on the prize

MLB (baseball) has ended its regular season schedule with the divisional races having reached a conclusion . The most surprising story of the season must be the Kansas City Royals having claimed a postseason berth and entry into baseball’s postseason foray. In doing so it ended the longest drought professional sports’ team history in North America. The last time the Royals were part of the playoffs , came by way of their triumph in the World Series in 1985 when led by George Brett , the team triumphed over the St Louis Cardinals . For the privilege of being a participant in this season’s foray the Royals will face the Oakland Athletics in the wildcard round of the AL postseason scheduling. In a one and done scenario , the AL Central runners’ up will play host to their AL West rivals at Kauffmann Stadium on Tuesday , September 30th , 2014. In the NL contest the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second year in succession have made the postseason and they will play host to the San Francisco Giants .

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Slideshow .

The high-flying Los Angeles Dodgers with their $240 million payroll will be taking on the St Louis Cardinals in the best of five game series which are likely to be a highly competitive contests . In the AL with the New York Yankees not being part of the postseason , the presumptive favorites are thought to the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Angels , the two teams with the best record in the league and by far the two best teams in the AL throughout the year. Buck Showalter , manager of the Orioles and Mike Scioscia of the Angels , will be under no illusions about what is expected of both their teams and a likely match-up in the ALCS seems to be the expected result from this year’s playoff scenario . Granted , the Detroit Tigers are likely to want to turn that scenario upside down as are the Kansas City Royals .

If this postseason can match the excitement witnessed in 2013 , then the fans will be in for a treat and where several players will be looking to add to their stature during baseball’s postseason fare .

Perhaps one of the more unsavory moments of the sporting weekend actually took place across the Atlantic, in the wake of 2014 Ryder Cup , where Team USA fell to the European Ryder Cup Team . Phil Mickelson , a veteran of earlier Ryder Cup teams was severely critical of US Team Captain Tom Watson and his strategy for the entire three-day competition held at Gleneagles Golf Course , Gleneagles, Scotland,. Mickelson’s criticisms were pointed and aimed squarely at Watson , whom the player believes underestimated their European rivals in just about every facet of the competition and the strategies put in place by the team captain. Warranted or not , what was abundantly clear was the very fact this US Team was never in the hunt at any point of the competition with Paul McGinley’s players strolling to an easy victory winning the competition and retaining the Ryder Cup by a margin of 16 1/2 points to 11 1/2 points .

Whether not this was dissension by Phil Mickelson , it seems to have an ugly setting for the player , the PGA and how they came into the competition with the hope of reacquiring one of sports’ most prestigious team prizes . Team USA was simply overwhelmed in this competition and their hopes were simply dashed by not only the great play of their opponents , but primarily from the lack of experience on this team captained by Tom Watson. Watson was aided by his assistants , Vice Captains , Raymond Floyd , Andy North and Steve Stricker .

The 2016 Ryder Cup competition will be held at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska , Minnesota and it will be interesting to see how the PGA goes about choosing their next captain and whether or not any major changes will be made in how the team is decided which now is based upon the Fedex Cup with the captain having two addition picks in conjunction with the top-ten players in the standings being mandatory team members.

Four weeks into the NFL season and the dust has begun to settle , with several teams now on the cusp of seeing their year simply go up in smoke . The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to pull off an impressive road victory in defeating the hapless Pittsburgh Steelers in a competitive game , 27-24 . The win provided Lovie Smith and his team with a timely morale booster as they head into week five , where they will face divisional rivals the New Orleans Saints , who coming off a really horrendous display in a lopsided loss (38-17) to the Dallas Cowboys , in week four.

Sean Payton and the Saints will have to rethink their efforts after a game which saw quarterback Drew Brees at times excel , only to then fall back with some inconsistent play against the Cowboys . The NFC South now becomes something of a farcical division , in the aftermath of the Carolina Panthers also falling in something of an uncustomary way with their defeat suffered at the hands of the AFC South based Baltimore Ravens . It is one thing to have an explosive offense , but it simply means nothing when your defense is simply mediocre and nondescript , as is the case with the Panthers and Saints .

The Arizona Cardinals (3-0) and Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) are the only two remaining unbeaten teams now left in the NFL . Bruce Arians and Marvin Lewis are the two coaches are sitting pretty , as their teams are the best within the NFC and AFC , while looking to make their presence felt within those conferences. By week five , I believe we will begin to get a true picture of the NFL as the contenders will start to make the push to separate themselves from the pretenders .

Arians and the Cardinals will be the guests of the Denver Broncos in the league’s week five schedule , while the Cincinnati Bengals will have to be ready for their all AFC clash when they meet the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough , Massachusetts ,. For Bill Belichick and the Patriots , they will have to get over the spluttering start to the season , where the only strength to the team has been the defense , which currently is the second best in the NFL . Belichick however, will have to get his team ready for their Monday night game which closes out the week four schedule , when they meet the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium , in Kansas City , Missouri .

If the rumors are to be believed and the intent is ongoing where Oakland Raiders’ GM Reggie McKenzie will seek to pull the plug on the disastrous tenure of head Dennis Allen . Then it begs the question, why did the franchise enter this season Allen still retaining his position ? In 2013 , he guided the team to a 4-12 season with their being no signs of life on the field and very little actually happening off the field of play in terms of the NFL Draft or through their free agency acquisitions . Oakland sits at the bottom of the AFC West with an 0-4 record and after their hapless showing against the Miami Dolphins , the question has to be , can things now get much worse for the team overall ?

It is the one boxing match everyone wants to see, but if proposed , it will be taking place at least five years after the proper time . Floyd Mayweather has been padding his statistics over the past five years , having posted a 47-0 record (26 KO’s) without seriously being challenged in his last six fights . Manny Pacquaio for his part has seen his career wanes , albeit , recently he is once again a world title holder , having won his title against a less than impressive Tim Bradley . The Filipino fighter now relishes a chance to get into the ring, toe to toe with Mayweather the linear champion in the welterweight and light middleweight division . A big payday is likely for both fighters should the bout ever take place , but with all of the name calling , heckling and outrageous antics from both boxers . One seriously doubts fans would really being interested in super-fight likely to have PPV subscribers paying in excess of $60.00 for the privilege of seeing two of boxing’s most narcissistic and controversial fighters in recent years.

Mayweather in recent weeks has offered up his views on the troubles facing the NFL and the misconduct of the players there . Less we forget , the boxer is no stranger to the issue of domestic abuse and violence , having threatened his ex-fiance , his children and certain members of her family with violence . The fighter was found guilty , incarcerated within the Nevada penal system for his crimes, but showed little remorse , blaming others for his actions including the press. Recently , I read something of asinine article, where the writer suggested Floyd Mayweather was simply a product of his environment and society . In truth , the fighter , is nothing more than an egotistical self-righteous and self-serving bastard , with little respect for his sport or women in general . Mayweather loves the glare of the spotlight , basks in the fame and fortune amassed , while being the self-proclaimed savior of the sport of boxing .

This mega-fight would likely produce the biggest gross in boxing history if one takes into account merchandising the overseas’ rights and the likely 2 million projected North American market buys . A $250 million gross is not out of the question, with Mayweather likely to take home the lion’s share of the revenue pie . Given the fact from his last fight , the American fighter was paid an outrageous $35 million (he co-promoted) without even breaking sweat in his last bout before earning another reputed $25 million in ancillary fees , it is easy to understand why the fighter is now highest earning sports’ personality on the planet , far exceeding the highest paid players in the NBA , baseball and the NFL .

The sport of boxing has become redundant , with their being no real dearth of talent in any of the major weight categories. Floyd Mayweather may well leave the sport looking to win his fiftieth bout, surpassing only Rocky Marciano as the only fighter in boxing history to have won a world title and retiring unbeaten with a near fifty-fight unbeaten record.

If the sport of boxing is to survive in some guise then it will have to discuss the issue at the national level with all of states’ athletic commissions have a meeting of the minds as well dealing with the numerous international governing bodies which preside over the sport internationally.

The NBA off-season was well chronicled, with the main story being the departure of LeBron James and his rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers , the franchise where he first made his mark in the NBA , having been drafted by the Cavaliers as the number one overall pickin the 2003 NBA Draft . Team owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin have appeased James in rebuilding the roster with a complete makeover in several of the positions with the key elements remaining Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao .

With LeBron James reacquainting himself with the Cavaliers , the expectations for the team this upcoming season will undoubtedly be high , with the odds-makers in Las Vegas making the Ohio based franchise the odds on favorites to be the Eastern Conference representatives in this year’s NBA Finals . Having been to the Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where the team was swept aside by the San Antonio Spurs in four straight games. For James this was bittersweet , but in many respects it cemented the player’s determination to win an NBA title. In his eleven year career, LeBron James has amassed a number of firsts , along with four League MVP’S and two Finals’ MVP Awards . A fifth League MVP Award is likely to be part of the scenario for this upcoming season , but the challenge likely to come from last season’s MVP Kevin Durant , Derrick Rose , James Harden , Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul .

A great deal is likely to be made of this Cavaliers’ team as their season begins , especially under their first-time head coach David Blatt and his coaching staff made up some veteran coaches and former players. Will LeBron James buy into the coaching philosophy and principles of Blatt and what happens when there is likely to be frustration on the part of the player ? These are the things which will likely decide how good this team is likely to be and whether or not they can justify the belief of being the prohibitive favorites within the Eastern Conference. As good as the Cavaliers are likely to be several teams in the Western Conference with greater depth and who will be better coached than the rookie head coach now seeking to make a name for himself in the NBA . When Cleveland opens up its regular season schedule against the New York Knicks , where Carmelo Anthony will be hoping to resume his productivity against a team where has been able to have a great deal of success throughout much of his career.

Anything less than a sixty-win season, divisional title , conference finals’ appearance , the NBA Finals will have to considered a major disaster for the Cleveland Cavaliers and specifically for LeBron James , but also for the Cavaliers’ front office who are banking on this team and its best player.

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Picture gallery .

What do you believe has been the biggest story of this baseball season and which teams do you believe will provide the biggest surprises of the postseason ? Through the fist four weeks of the NFL season what has been the biggest disappointment in your estimation ? Last but not least , with the ongoing nonsensical hype in the sport of boxing is there any chance this sport can still resonate with the fans even with the now considerable popularity of MMA (mixed martial arts) ? If LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fail to make it to the NBA Finals where will the blame ultimately lay ?

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Picture and slideshow details below.
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(1) Paul Konerko (14) of the Chicago White Sox walks the field with his sons for the last time at the end of play against the Kansas City Royals on September 28, 2014 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. Getty Images / Tasos Katopodis

(2) Starting pitcher James Shields (33) of the Kansas City Royals delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on September 25, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Getty Images / Johnathan Daniels …

(3) Steve Stricker , front right , vice captain of the US Ryder Cup Team looks on during play of the Ryder Cup at the Gleneagles Golf Course , in Gleneagles , Scotland . Europe defeated the US 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 for one of the most lopsided defeats in recent history of the competition of the biennial competition . In 2016 the Ryder Cup will be held at the Hazeltine Golf Course in Chaska , Minnesota ,. . Getty Images . Chris Potter ..

(4) Phil Mickeslson , member of the USA Ryder Cup team is seen here greeting fans at Gleneagles Golf Course , in Scotland during this year’s Ryder Cup . The player was extremely critical of team captain Tom Watson and his assistants , suggesting there was no planned throughout the competition , leading to the team’s lopsided defeat at the hands of the European Team captained by Paul McGinley . Getty Images / Chris Potter …

(5) Tom Watson , left , captain of the US Ryder Cup team is seen here with Jack Nicklaus . The two are considered to be two of the very best players to have been part of a US Ryder Cup team , representing the country in the biennial event . Nicklaus’ record in the competition is a monument to his success overall in the competition. Getty Images / Amanda Rice … …

(6) Ben Roethlisberger (7) of the Pittsburgh Steelers is sacked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Gerald McCoy during the game played at Heinz Field this past Sunday . Tampa defeated Pittsburgh 27-24 to get their first win of the season , though the team still remains firmly rooted at the bottom of the NFC South . Getty Images / Harry How … …

(7) Vincent Jackson (83) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers catches a game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter in front of William Gay (22) of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on September 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tampa Bay won the game 27-24 Getty Images/ Justin Haller …

(8) Jon Gruden , center , is seen here alongside his commentary colleagues Mike Tirico , left and Ron Jaworski . With the firing of Oakland Raiders’ head coach Dennis Allen it is rumored the franchise’s general manager , Reggie McKenzie is seeking to gauge Gruden’s interest in returning to coach the team . A Superbowl winning head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003 , it is widely believed Jon Gruden would only return to the NFL to a position where he would have complete control in terms of all personnel decisions for a team . Whether or not McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis would be amenable to such control is now open to a great deal of speculation around the game and within the Raiders’ organization . ESPN/ABC @ copyrighted material …. all rights reserved ..

(9) Floyd Mayweather , left and Manny Pacquiao currently the two biggest names in the world of boxing . The two fighters have never faced each other in the ring after years of antagonism and promises of a meeting will take place . Pacquaio’s promoter Bob Arum is now seeking to engineer a mega super-fight between the two title holders. Mayweather through his promotion’s company Mayweather Promotions Inc have stated their only wish in facilitating such a bout would be for the fighter to gain the largest slice of the proposed $275 million the fight would likely gross , when taking in the merchandising and PPV revenues . AP Photo / Jeff Parsons …

(10) LeBron James , left, is seen here making a defensive play against Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves during a game played between the Miami Heat and the Timberwolves at the AA Arena in Miami , Florida on the 4th April, 2014 . Minnesota won the game in double overtime 122-121 , with James being the leading scorer for the Heat in the contest , while Love led his team in the scoring in this thrilling game. During the off-season , James rejoined the Cleveland Cavaliers and the franchise then acquired Love in a multi-player deal which sent number one draft pick Andrew Wiggins from the Cavaliers to the Timberwolves for the All Star power forward . AP Photo/ Chris Parsons …

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Don’t bother with the platitudes just bring on a dose of reality …………

Don’t bother with the platitudes just bring on a dose of reality …………

Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour , now s have an image problem to deal with beyond the fact golf’s most high-profiled player is likely to be lost to the Tour for a several weeks. Tiger Woods’ career has been derailed in recent seasons by his own behavioral issues and by recurring injuries, most notably his back. This season, it has been injuries which have plagued the player’s year and his play , leaving many in doubt , whether he can reach the heights where he was once golf’s most dominant player and a certainty to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of eighteen Major Grand Slam wins. Nicklaus’ feat might now seem out of reach but the PGA all-time career wins on the Tour does seem attainable for Woods, if he can regain a degree of fitness and form.

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As the PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, cannot be happy with the fact he has suspended Dustin Johnson for a six month banishment , while the player undergoes rehab for a substance abuse problem, which has been determined to be cocaine addiction. Now don’t get me wrong, but my question is , since when were golfers known to be the “bad boys “ of the sports’ world , never mind their partying like perverted rock stars? I guess after the sexual peccadilloes of Tiger Woods , Johnson’s actions had to be expected. If not Dustin Johnson, then who would be the next high-profiled Tour golfer to be caught in a web of lies , deceit and sexual intrigue?

Courtesy of Fox News

Dustin Johnson failed drug tests, fooled around with tour player’s wife, report says

Reports of drug use and sleeping with other tour players’ wives have followed in the wake of Thursday’s announcement by pro golfer Dustin Johnson that he is taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour.

Golf.com cited an unnamed source who said Johnson failed three drug tests in the past five years, including a positive test for marijuana in 2009 and two positive tests for cocaine in 2012 and 2014.

The PGA is not required to make public any player suspensions that result from positive tests for recreational drugs.

The same report also said Johnson “had a sexual indiscretion with at least one wife of a PGA Tour player.”

A rep for the tour did not respond to Golf.com’s request for comment.

Following the report, Fox Sports reporter Robert Lusetich tweeted that Johnson was known to have slept with not one, but two tour players’ wives.

Not a huge secret either that #DustinJohnson had affairs with 2 wives of PGA Tour players. One broke up the marriage.

— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) August 1, 2014

Johnson became engaged to Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, in August, 2013. He issued a statement Thursday that addressed his hiatus from the tour.

“I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced,” he said. “By committing the time and resources necessary to improve my mental health, physical well-being and emotional foundation, I am confident that I will be better equipped to fulfill my potential and become a consistent champion.”

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Now if the allegations concerning Johnson are indeed true, his philandering with the wives of many of the players on the PGA Tour does leave the player in an untenable position in terms of his relationships with his peers. As to what this also indicates concerning the behavior of a number of the Tour professionals does leave a great deal to be desired as well as the wholesome tradition Tim Finchem tries to sell to the public. With over $260 million in official prize money on the PGA Tour, as well as a further $60 million in unofficial prize money , by way of unofficial tournaments that remains in part, a bevy of the schedule, golf remains one of the most lucrative sports by way of the on course earnings afforded their professionals.

The PGA Tour much like the NFL , MLB and NBA , has created a charade of wholesomeness , that in no way could they have maintained , which their respective hierarchies tried to keep up the perception, while conning the fans and public alike their sports remained above reproach. Fact of the matter remains, golf has always been shrouded with some very dubious distinctions of which its greatest was and still remains racism , lack of diversity, and the ongoing bigoted and archaic values within Augusta National , home to The Masters . Only recently, have we seen the change in attitude of members of Augusta and even now, there still seems to be an aversion to real change within that bastion of male chauvinism and bigotry. Before Tiger Woods’ ascent to the top of the world rankings as well as winning fourteen Grand Slam Majors and seventy-four official PGA Tour wins. The last African-American golfers of note on the PGA Tour were Lee Elder and Calvin Peete. Perhaps, this was merely the PGA Tour’s lack of social response or the very fact they felt, the issue did not need to be addressed.

With Tiger Woods’ descent, the rise of Rory McIlroy might well have provided the PGA Tour with a real superstar the sport is now sorely missing. Phil Mickelson does not seem to be the player thought to be ready to lay down the gauntlet and in proving to be a real adversary for Tiger Woods. Bubba Watson appears to be all too robotic in his approach , character and the very fact he does not seem to be a real major draw on the Tour in spite of his career. Jordan Speith’s rise up the world rankings and Fedex Cup standings has simply afforded him a great deal of attention within the print media but until he notches that first real big win on the PGA Tour, he will be merely seen as another wunderkind, thought to be the heir-apparent.

Rory McIroy’s wire to wire-to-wire win of The Open at Hoylake and his most recent win of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational , simply emphasizes why he is now the best golfer on the planet . His world number one ranking , reinforces that fact and his dominance of the game comes at a time when golf is really in need of a genuine superstar and not a robotic character-less prototype thrown up on the PGA Tour , as the next American golfer that will dominate the game.

Dustin Johnson’s suspension and Tiger Wood’s recurrence of a back problem now leaves incoming USA Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson at a loss as to the possible replacements are likely to be , to fill out his twelve man roster for this biannual team competition featuring the US against the best Europe has to offer in terms of the European Tour players. With golf, having now become a global game , the two main tours are the PGA and the European Tour . Europe may well be made the presumptive favorites for the upcoming competition, set to begin on the 23rd September through to the 28th September at Gleneagles Golf Course , Gleneagles , Scotland. Paul McGinley as the European team captain will have a bevy of talent with a group of players made up of Major winners, regular competitors on the European Tour, as well as on the PGA Tour. . The bragging rights and unique distinction of this team competition, makes it one of the most anticipated and talked about sporting events in the world at the time of its scheduling. With Europe looking to take back the Ryder Cup trophy, this September, all eyes will be on Gleneagles , Scotland, once this competition gets underway.

Having won three of the four legs of the Majors which make up the career Grand Slam . Rory McIlroy would like nothing better than to join what is really a select list of golfers to have achieved that feat. Jack Nicklaus , Tiger Woods and Gary Player are three of the group of players to have achieved the feat, with Nicklaus’ eighteen Major wins heading the list of Grand Slam victories. It should be noted the tally would have been far greater for the Golden Bear , when you consider the number of runner-up finishes (second place) he tallied in the Majors over his illustrious career. The Green Jacket of The Masters is the one Major victory McIlroy now seeks to join the illustrious group in question, but this Thursday , with the start of the PGA Championship at the : Valhalla Golf Course in Louisville, Kentucky. The young Irishman will get the chance to win his fifth Major title and second in succession within a calendar year, should he prove victorious in taking the PGA crown. The odds might not favor McIlroy, but who is likely to really challenge him at this juncture, given his present form ?

Misery , sorrow , call it what you will, but the belly aching by the fans who saw the fall from grace of the Miami Heat was enough to make your stomach turn. You had the sheer idiocy of fans suggesting an ailing Dwyane Wade merely had to turn up for the postseason and barely lift an eyelid and the Heat would have swept their way to victory over the San Antonio Spurs . In reality, I know what makes the North American sports’ fan really tick, it is their inane stupidity and lack of real knowledge, only knowing to spurt real absurdities to make themselves sound knowledgeable. LeBron James was afforded as much aid by his teammates in this past NBA Finals as a gunshot wound victim would be given aid , had it been a Band Aid to cover a wound to the abdomen that was still bleeding profusely. Where was either Dwyane Wade or the ” overrated” Chris Bosh in these Finals ? I will tell you where , no fucking where to be seen , and yet the excuses as to the Heat’s demise were still forthcoming. Let’s put it this way , with the dumb ass lack of intelligence being shown by LeBron James’ apologists such as Stephen A Smith and Chris Broussard , I really wonder how the NBA has any real legitimacy with regard to the print media much less the lack of frigging intelligence shown by some fans !

With LeBron James now deciding to pull up sticks and make his way back to Cleveland and bringing a forgiving smile by rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers , all may well be right in the NBA world once again. Throw in for good measure , Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert seems to have had a change of heart about the player he once called self-centered, arrogant and disloyal. One might now ask , what must James now do to make the fans in Cleveland really happy ? An NBA title in the first year of his return will not be happening, even if based on the premise of the Cavaliers trading away their 2014 NBA number one draft pick , Andrew Wiggins to acquire power forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves .

Dan Gilbert, GM David Griffin and new head coach David Blatt , believe the acquisition of Kevin Love can best bolster the team roster, making them a legitimate contender within the Eastern Conference . While likely the case, I believe it too early to make such a presumption, not when you have a Chicago Bulls’ team led by Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah , reigning Defensive Player of the Year and the addition of a still productive veteran Pau Gasol. In the Bulls you have a team coached by the best coach in the NBA yet to win a title, by the name of Tom Thibodeau . Chicago can be considered a real threat and with Rose fit though not yet in real game shape , he is already proving to be his old self in terms of leadership skills, which have been on display while a member of the USA FIBA squad for the upcoming World Cup tournament. And with the injury suffered by Paul George of the Indiana Pacers during a team scrimmage, Rose’s place on the final team roster for the tournament seems assured. If he can merely find some of the form shown when he became one of the youngest players ever to win the NBA League MVP , then one has to look at the Chicago Bulls as a prohibitive favorite within the Eastern Conference this upcoming season. From a defensive standpoint the Bulls are one of the best teams within the conference and the league itself and might just be the most balanced team in the Eastern Conference with the addition of Pau Gasol.

The shakeup within the NBA caused by LeBron James’ defection to the Cleveland Cavaliers did not have desired effect one might have thought. Carmelo Anthony remained with the New York Knicks signing for more money , as if there was any real doubt , he would have left their offer on the table ? Phil Jackson will now seek to bolster what is still a very under-achieving team , with Amare’ Stoudemire still remaining a part of an equation , where his lack of productivity and bloated salary becomes more than an eyesore and afterthought. As to the reasons why Knicks’ fans seem so reassured , might have more to do with the choice of Derek Fisher to succeed Mike Woodson as the team’s head coach than it has to do with the Knicks’ 2014 draft class . Not exactly thrilling, but for the Knicks, anything which takes the spotlight off the organization’s incompetence has to be seen as a positive .

The Miami Heat’s loss of LeBron James has Pat Riley running to the hills , seeking to repair the damage done . During the season Riley essentially stood pat , not seeking to bolster a roster that was flawed in so many ways. Yet , there were fans and analysts alike enamored and in awe of a team playing in a weakened , mediocre division and conference . If any of them , simply took the time to look at what was happening in the Eastern Conference and its divisions, they would have noticed how dire the situation had become was simply ongoing from previous seasons . Instead, it was all about the greatness of LeBron and this team seeking to win back to back to back NBA titles. When you have a product which has become so putrid and bile inducing, as witnessed in the Eastern Conference, with fans are lauding over it as something spectacular , you simply have to wonder what might be going on inside their minds as well as that of the NBA hierarchy? Outgoing commissioner David Stern was lauded by owners and his peers as being a savior of the game, but his apparent willingness to overlook litany of behavioral issues of Donald Sterling and Rich DeVos , shows the former commissioner being an ass, as well as dubious and duplicitous in the league’s ongoing problems . Stern is to the NBA, what the Tea Party is now proving to be for the Republican Party, more of a burden, rather than a considerable boost .

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli , Kawhi Leonard and their teammates showed us what team work was all about during the finals and their clinical dismantling of their Eastern Conference opponents. Leonard showed us why Gregg Popovich had so much faith in the three-year starter in the league. He has matured into a dependable and solid player , likely to be the centerpiece of the Spurs’ future upon the retirement of the franchise’s Big Three of Duncan, Ginobli and Parker. Leonard’s winning of the Finals’ MVP Award was more than justified as he led the Spurs, showing signs of maturity beyond his years, as well as the fans witnessing his great all-round ability during the series. Could the same be said of anyone on the Miami Heat’s roster with the exception of LeBron James ?

In winning their fifth NBA title under Gregg Popovich , the San Antonio Spurs have proven themselves to be league’s most recent NBA dynasty. Something fans were quickly tying to anoint the Miami Heat with , after two titles and four appearances in the league’s showcase finale , during LeBron’s tenure with the franchise. Greatness, is normally afforded to teams and individuals who have achieved something special, but in the midst of the James’ saga, fans were seeking to anoint the player as the rightful successor to Michael Jordan . LeBron James while epitomizes determination , has become self-centered, less charismatic than the brand his handlers suggest him to be. Throw in the ongoing signs of immaturity, petulance and you have yourself an immature superstar, seeking to be in spotlight at all times , with the media there, simply to build him up into something he really is not.

Becky Hammon formerly of the San Antonio Stars of the WNBA and the Spurs’ affiliate within that particular league. In a notable first within the NBA, Hammon will become the first female to be a lead assistant coach in the NBA joining the coaching staff of Gregg Popovich. Also joining Popovich’s roster of coaches will be Ettore Messina whose vast experience and success in Europe cannot be discounted. The Italian brings with him an impressive resume’ in European club basketball. Hammon’s playing career in the WNBA makes her one of the game’s best players in the league’s history, where she is in the upper echelons of WNBA career statistics beyond the success achieved with the Stars. Whether or not her experience and career resume’ can equate with success , the Spurs and her gaining the respect of the male players remains to be seen over the course of this upcoming season. So far, she has the respect of the Spurs’ head coach and many of her counterparts on the Spurs’ coaching roster.

The NBA remains a bastion of male camaraderie , in spite of the league having the WNBA offshoot where women are afforded the chance to show off their skill-set within the game but unfortunately there too as well as within the league (NBA) itself there remains few opportunities for real advancement as a head coach much less as a league front executive.. So much for the hypocrisy of the motto of the NBA _______ the “ NBA Cares “ . This is a league so devoid of leadership and integrity, the only thing that seems to matter, is the amount of money annually pouring into their coffers.

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With the news of Dustin Johnson’s suspension by the PGA Tour and it being the most serious reprimand of a PGA Tour player , do you believe the Tour can survive its image taking such an adverse hit ? With the NBA preseason still a few months away but with the league itself still in a state of turmoil caused by ongoing litigation between Donald Sterling and the NBA, what do you feel will be the final outcome to this whole saga? Finally, what are your thoughts concerning how LeBron James left the Miami Heat after four seasons of substantial success ?

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(1) PGA Tour Chairman Tim Finchem . The chairman has a great deal to worry about concerning the PGA Tour’s image after the suspension of Dustin Johnson after his having failed a drug test for the third time . Johnson tested positive for cocaine but further allegations have surfaced suggesting he had slept with the wives of a number players on the Tour . AP Photo / Barry Mitchell …

(2) PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson who has taken a prolong leave of absence from the Tour schedule to deal with what he says are personal medical issues. A spokesperson for the Tour issued a public statement , noting Johnson has been suspended for a third failed drug test , having tested positive for cocaine use. Further allegations , yet to be substantiated , suggest he has also slept with the wives of several players on the Tour . Getty Images / Gary McAdams ….

(3) US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson is seen here alongside Tiger Woods . Woods hopes to make a full recovery in time to compete in the Ryder Cup for the USA . His standing among the ten players in the FedexCup standings would not make Tiger Woods an automatic choice . Only the top ten players are automatic choices , with the captain then having the discretion to fill out his twelve man roster with two more players to make up his team. Getty Images North America / Chris Woods ….

(4) Rory McIlroy seen here holding the Claret Jug having won the The Open at Hoylake , in Liverpool , England , this year . McIlroy led from wire to wire , never once being seriously challenged by any of his competitors in the tournament . He also recently won WGC Bridgestone Invitational in commanding style , placing himself back atop of the World Golf Rankings as the number one player in the world . Rory McIlroy now heads into Lexington , Kentucky and the Valhalla Golf Course , hoping to add the PGA Championship to his list of career achievements as well his Grand Slam tally in terms of victories . Getty Images / Harry How ….

(5) LeBron James meets young fans in the town of Akron , Ohio , recently having returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The return of the Prodigal Son to the franchise where he began his career in 2003 , will begin anew with a revamped roster , new head coach and coaching staff led by rookie head coach David Blatt . Getty Images / Hugh Davis …

(6) Becky Hammon formerly a player with the San Antonio Stars will now become a lead assistant on the coaching staff of the San Antonio Spurs . Hammon brings along a wealth of experience as a player in the WNBA , where she was a multiple WNBA All Star . AP Photo / Michael Proffitt ….

(7) Ettore Messina one of the most successful coaches in European club basketball history , having won four Euroleague titles . Messina and Becky Hammon will be joining the coaching staff of the San Antonio Spurs . Both assistants already have impressive starts to their careers with the franchise , bringing praises from head coach Gregg Popovich as well as from several players on the team’s roster. AP Photo/ Dean Jones ….

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Nikita Valentin . I just love what she does for this setting !

Nikita with some whipped cream and strawberries thrown in for good measure .

Tic-tac-toe …………..

Tic-tac-toe ……

In spite of his off the course issues, Tiger Woods still remains the most high-profiled and visible athlete on the planet. Granted, one could surmise that NBA player LeBron James , and Barcelona soccer star , Lionel Messi and his counterpart with Real Madrid , Cristiano Ronaldo , might now rival Woods , rival the PGA Tour player, in terms of popularity , if not commercial endorsement earnings . Tiger Woods has regained his status as a global marketing icon and world number one ranking , having earned on average in excess of $65 million a year , over the past six years, far exceeding that of the aforementioned athletes in question .

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In recent years, however, questions surrounding Woods, have been whether or not, he remains capable of winning another Grand Slam Major. Firmly entrenched for the present in second place, with fourteen Grand Slam titles to his name , four behind his icon and hero , Jack Nicklaus , who leads that illustrious list with eighteen titles over the course of his historic career. Needing another four to tie Nicklaus, seems to have been the toughest thing for Tiger Woods to achieve at this juncture, with his last Grand Slam Major win being the 2008 US Open , where he defeated fellow American , Rocco Mediate in a three-hole playoff contest , which was played at the Torrey Pines Golf Course , in La Jolla , California , a club and course well-known to the Californian native.

Woods’ recent off the course issues have been well chronicled and his handling of the issue and the well-orchestrated presentation of the facts, still leave a lot to be desired, as the player in some respects did seek to apportion blame elsewhere , for his personal infidelities , that led to the breakup of his marriage to former model Elen Nordegren . The golfer, is still represented by Mark Steinberg and his Excel Sports Management Agency Boutique . In stepping away from IMG , which still remains the world’s largest sports’ management company, encompassing a wide a variety of areas, beyond representing a litany of athletes around the globe. Woods now has an agent and a glut of Steinberg’s subordinates to deal with his almost every whim, be it something small, to the more complex , in terms of a grandiose request. In many respects, I believe that may well have been what led to Woods’ fall from grace, beyond his sexual peccadilloes!

In having so many people around him, always willing to say yes and to cater to his very need, made Tiger Woods believe that he was impervious to any type of criticism that was likely to come his way or be leveled at him , even when it came to his play on a golf course .

Having won the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award for the eleventh time of his career , when he won only five times on the PGA Tour last year , without a Major to his name. It could be said that Tiger Woods may well have won the award by default , but consider the fact, that in 2013 , no other golfer on the Tour was as successful, in terms of wins. Phil Mickelson , a considerable talent , has long been considered Woods’ greatest rival , but in the true sense of the word, it has been a rivalry built upon a myth, rather than the evidence being there to suggest otherwise. Rarely have the two played alongside each other , when there is said to have been a Major tournament on the line and when that has said to have been the case , one or the other, has failed to live up to expectations, normally , with Woods gaining the upper hand .

The Washington Post

Tiger Woods faces major decisions about his health and future

By Sally Jenkins , Columnist

View pictured timeline gallery of Woods’ career

By Sally Jenkins, Published: March 19 E-mail the writer

It’s impossible to know how serious Tiger Woods’s back problem is, whether it’s a temporary twinge or a serious herniation. But something more is going wrong with his game than back spasms. Woods is having cramps between the ears as well, the kind that come with fraying nerves, the betrayal of aging, and mental self-doubt.

Woods would not have withdrawn Tuesday from his favorite seasonal fire-starter of a tournament, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, unless he was in genuine physical distress. Bay Hill has long been his favorite tune-up, and obviously he sacrificed it because he’s concerned about his ability to be healthy for the Masters.

The problem is that Bay Hill has always been the place where Woods gets his mind right for Augusta. With eight victories in 16 entries, it’s where he convinces himself he’s in good enough form. The larger and more worrying context to his withdrawal is that, at 38, Woods seems increasingly unable to pull together his game, his body, and his head all at the same time in order to compete for major championships . A bad back, for example, isn’t why he’s become so susceptible to three-putts.

The notoriously close-mouthed Woods won’t describe the exact nature of his back problem except to say he’s treating it with “protocols.” Which has set off a frenzy of speculation over what is plaguing him. Which is the cart and which is the horse, his scattered swing or the injury? Has he become so chronically tweaky and injury-prone, with consecutive seasons of knee, elbow, Achilles’, and back ailments, that he’s less able to work on his game? Or is he more tweaky precisely because he has overworked himself, pushing his body in the gym and on the golf course with constant, torquing, insecure swing experiments?

Woods himself may not know the order, the cause and effect of his problems. There just is an overall sense of physical disorganization: in February in Dubai he seemed healthy but was wild off the tee, so he fiddled with his grip. That seemed to fix something. But then he needed 29 putts on 13 greens.

Woods’s former coach Hank Haney hazarded on his SiriusXM radio show back in January that one of Woods’s problems is that he has over-emphasized upper body bulk, at the expense of other parts of his game.

“My opinion is he did too much of that,” Haney said. “He does a lot of the gym stuff. I know you need to do some for golf, no doubt about it. You need to be in shape, you need to avoid injury, but my opinion is he really overdoes that.”

You wonder if Woods compromised his back with so much weight work.

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If the PGA Tour is to remain vital, as well as vibrant, then beyond Woods’ presence , Phil Mickelson, as well as Rory McIlroy , will have to provide more of a presence and a challenge for the best player of this generation and over the past sixteen seasons. As I alluded to earlier, the World Golf rankings , have Woods, back at the top of the table , with Australian , Adam Scott now standing at number two in the rankings . The 2014 PGA Tour schedule now has a revamped format , with the events starting even earlier than usual, for what now has become almost a calendar year-long season . Tiger Woods, is a five-time winner of the event and was due to be a participant , but has withdrawn, due to recurring back spasm pains . If at this stage of his career, the world’s number one of golfer is now suffering from this type of malady , then the likelihood of his surpassing Nicklaus’ eighteen Major Grand Slam wins, may well be insurmountable , never mind the fact that his seventy-nine career wins now stands second all-time on the careers’ list behind the legendary Sam Snead .

Were it not for Tiger Woods , the PGA Tour would not be in a position, where it has gone from a twenty event schedule and with total prize money of just over $ 6 million year , to where it has now become a multi-billion dollar entity, with over fifty-five events , of which officially , forty are PGA sanctioned for the scheduled calendar , with total prize money exceeding quarter of a billion dollars ($250 million) . I doubt that there are very few professional sports’ circuits, where there are such riches to be garnered, even for non-winners of an event , when a tenth place finish, can attract in excess of $100,000 in prize money, if there is not a tie amongst the top ten finishers !

I believe that Woods still remains capable of surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ all time Majors’ win tally , but much of that will be undoubtedly be predicated upon the player’s continued health issues and that of his mental mindset. There is no denying, at his every best or just slightly below it , he remains leaps and bounds , better than over ninety percent of his fellow competitors on the PGA Tour . The continued idiocy, of his peers having caught up to him, in terms of talent , is merely a way to create further debate , when in reality there is none to be had. Woods may no longer be winning at a constant clip , as first witnessed, in the early part of his career , or at the point , where he won four consecutive Majors , a feat not completed by any other golfer in history . To be truly that dominant, does take talent . and none of his current peers of this generation have been able to achieve that . Furthermore, as if to emphasize Woods influence and dominance on the game , consider the fact that , he is currently the only golfer on the PGA Tour to have won a career Grand Slam and to have won more than eight tournaments in a single season . So when we talk about dominance , why not put it into a real perspective and not through the idiocy of the type of asinine analysis that at times has been provided by the likes of buffoons, such as Johnny Miller and Jim Gray or a columnist such as Christine Brennan !

Were Woods still competing at the Bay Hill Invitational and in contention , then in all likelihood the television viewership is likely to be considerably less than anticipated , another reason why the PGA Tour has become reliant upon Woods more than any other golfer in the game’s history for its rise in prominence, beyond the player’s ethnicity. On the flip side of this equation, it is somewhat unfortunate , that the game especially on the PGA Tour has not seen a greater participation of players of ethnicity that are home-grown and of American origin . Other than, Notah Begay III , the only other minority to compete in PGA Tour sanctioned event just happens to be only Tiger Woods. Neither Woods or PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem have been able to give a convincing enough explanation for such an absenteeism , given the disparity and the very fact that perhaps golf’s most prestigious tournament outside of the British Open , The US Masters , until a few years ago was very much restrictive in its allowance of female members at Augusta , Georgia , never mind the fact, that until Woods’ first appearance in that event in 1997 , when he won the tournament. The last player of color to compete in the event as an invitee who happened to be an African-American or ethnic American , was in fact Lee Elder in competing , in the 1975 Masters.

Golf still has a long way to go before it can actually find an acceptance amongst minorities , wherein the game itself is more affordable amongst the masses, rather than continuing to be a sport, that primarily meets the economic reach of a select few. Tiger Woods and his foundation , may well be trying to change that image as such, but with the main emphasis of the organization being to provide a safe haven for at risk youth and that of a starting point in getting an education and learning self-respect. The fruits of the labor, by way of the PGA have yet to be met , nor have they made their own evidence public , as to having met any of the goals that they are said to have set, in making the game more accessible to minorities at large .

The third round of the Bay Hill Invitational is still in progress , with the lead being held by Adam Scott at -14 , a seven-stroke advantage over second-place J B Holmes , shared also by Chesson Hadley and Francesco Molinari , with Keegan Bradley , a further shot back at -6 under par. Scott will be looking at this , as making further inroads into the world ranking points’ lead that Tiger Woods maintains over him at present , while also seeking to find some form with the first Grand Slam Major of the season less than a month away. The 2014 Masters at Augusta, April 10th to 13th, will be where Adam Scott will be looking to become the first player to make a successful defense of the “Green Jacket” , since Tiger Woods in 2002 , with the world’s number one golfer having won that tournament in 2001 , the year previously.

With the Valero Texas Open , at the AT&T Oaks Course in San Antonio, Texas and the Shell Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble , Texas , being the only two intervening tournaments between now and The Masters , it will be interesting to see whether or not Tiger Woods makes an appearance in either contest in the lead-up to the first Major of the season. Without an appearance , it would be extremely difficult to view the four-time winner of that prestigious event, as a prohibitive favorite , but at the same time , it would also be foolish to count him out altogether , given his experience in the event.

Phil Mickelson will be making an appearance at the Valero Open, hoping to sharpen up his game, in preparation for The Masters . Adding another Major to his career , would prove to be of benefit to a former winner of the Green Jacket and solidify his place as one of the best US golfers of the past decade and a half. Elevation into the World Golf Hall of Fame awaits both Woods, with the duo having already met the criteria for induction into that hallowed vestige of golf’s very best. For the moment however, we can simply watch their exploits on the course , with the continued hope, that they can provide us all, with a great deal more excitement , thrills and great golf over the remainder of their collective careers !

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Share your thoughts with regard to this article and what if anything, do you believe Tiger Woods has actually done for the sport of golf overall ?

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(1) Arnold Palmer , is seen here with PGA Tour professional Tiger Woods after the player won the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational at the Bay Hill Course , in Orlando , Florida , in 2013. It was one five tournament wins for Woods , last season , during which he won over $8.556 million in prize money , pushing his career earnings from golf alone to over $105 million , in prize money alone . He is the first such golfer to achieve that feat , even if one were to take into account inflation , concerning earlier earnings . AP Photo / Chris Belcher ……

(2) Tiger Woods shares a few moments with golf legend Jack Nicklaus as they walk the course prior to the start of the 2000 PGA Championship , which was held at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville , Kentucky ,. Woods go on to defeat Bob Tway to win the tournament . Getty Images / Scott Messner …..

(3) From left to right , Phil Mickelson , Tiger Woods and Adam Scott are seen here at the 2013 Tour Championship , which was played at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta , Georgia . Long considered by the Tour professionals as one of golf’s best tournaments , outside of the four Grand Slam Majors , the event was won by Henrik Stenson of Sweden . Stan Badz/ Getty Images ……..

(4) Golf pioneer Lee Elder gets all emotional, having been greeted by Tiger Woods , after the player had just won The Masters . Elder was the first African-American player to be granted an invitation to play in the event , when golf as a professional sport on the PGA Tour became desegregated in 1961 . Ames Bishop / Ebony Magazine ….. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …….

(5) Adam Scott hits from the fairway on the fifth hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Orlando, Fla ,. Will Allen Jr/ AP Photo ….

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The boy who cried wolf …..

The boy who cried wolf

Now inasmuch as I love the game of golf and like the majority of the fans , I believe the sole reason to watch the sport, is primarily the ongoing ‘dominance’ of Tiger Woods , as he chases down with a view to surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ all-time Grand Slams’ tournament wins of eighteen Majors . Woods , the winner of fourteen Grand Slam titles , is already a four-time winner on the PGA Tour for this season , as well as leading the PGA Fedex Cup standings . Not so long ago, I read a rather asinine , yet innocuous and inane piece by a fellow blogger, who suggested Woods’ career was on the decline . Clearly , the piece was written by an individual with very little knowledge of the sport and someone who I believe, had done little research if any , into Woods’ career , let alone that of Jack Nicklaus and many of the all-time greats within the sport . It is all too easy to come out with a rationale , yet to make a statement and not have anything to back it up with , is simply asinine and completely lacking in intelligence . Leave that sort of bullshit to those who espouse it best , the lame ass politicians in Congress !

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In The Players Championship , held this past weekend at the TPC Sawgrass Course in Ponte Vedra , Florida . This tournament often considered to be a “fifth Major” by PGA Tour professionals , had a great deal of thrills and excitement over the four days of competition . Nonetheless , the tournament itself , will now become more known for what has taken place off the course , rather than for any of the exceptional play that was said to have taken place throughout the four days competitive play. Long considered , two of the best players of this era , Tiger Woods and Spaniard , Sergio Garcia , have long held some might say a great deal of animus towards one another . Whereas , Woods has had a considerable amount of success worldwide as well on the PGA Tour . Garcia’s success , if anything , have been fleeting , with no one lingering moment that would indeed make you sit up and take note .

The final round of The Players Tournament would turn out to be a round full of errant play, several players in contention for the lead , with most notably both Woods and Garcia vying for the top spot on the leader-board. As the final holes of this event played themselves out , it was clear for all to see that Garcia was the player under pressure and someone who is not known to handle adversity all that well . Consider the fact that Woods, when in contention for the lead of a tournament from the third round onward , the player is a staggering 52-4 . Pressure ? I’d say that Sergio Garcia might well have been pissing and defecating in his pants , for all of the good it would do ! The Spaniard would suffer a meltdown in the final round of play , twice placing his ball in the water on the fifteenth green as well as double-bogeying that the sixteenth hole , leading to his falling out of contention for a victory . Woods would end up with the victory , his second Players Tournament Championship win and the seventy-eighth of his professional career on the PGA Tour . A mark that now leaves him four behind the all-time leading total of eighty-two wins , held by the legendary and late Sam Snead .

In the aftermath of it all , Garcia would claim that Woods’ conduct was unsportsmanlike , very much unrepresentative of the etiquette of golf . Pardon me for saying this , but since when was there anything remotely resembling the etiquette of golf , much less sportsmanship of the PGA Tour ? Consider the fact, that fairness and sportsmanship is seemingly judged by the interpretation of the rules, as seen fit by Tour Chairman Tim Finchem and members of the PGA Tour Executive Board . And if that wasn’t enough , players are now of a differing opinion , on whether or not belly-putters should be allowed to be used on the Tour by their fellow professionals . One should also not that Tour professional Vijay Singh is now seeking to sue the PGA Tour for loss of reputation and seeking punitive damages for what he says are unfounded allegations that he used a banned substance . With the R&A (Royal & Ancient Golf Club) , international governing body for golf , along with the PGA Tour are now sensitive to the issue of steroids within their sport , as well as now seeking to have te sport reintroduce to the Summer Olympics , first as an exhibition event , in 2016 , and ten formally in 2010 . One could attest to the fact that these are now sensitive times for the sport , as they seek international recognition beyond their already large international fan-base . With WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and and the USOC (US Olympic Committee) and USADA (US Anti Doping Agency) already tackling the issue of illicit use of banned substances within the sport of cycling and the recent behavior of former seven-time Tour De France champion , Lance Armstrong , does anyone truly believe that Tim Finchem now wants to see golf , its image and the PGA Tour dragged through the mud , with its image sullied any further ? Your thoughts on this all ?

Courtesy of ESPN

Vijay Singh sues PGA Tour

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Vijay Singh sued the PGA Tour on Wednesday for exposing him to “public humiliation and ridicule” during a 12-week investigation into his use of deer-antler spray that ended last week when the tour dropped its case against him.

The lawsuit was a surprise, and so was the timing — the day before The Players Championship, the flagship event on the PGA Tour held on its home course where Singh, who has three major championships among his 34 PGA Tour victories, has honed his game for the past two decades.

More from ESPN.com

Vijay Singh’s decision to sue the PGA Tour is misguided and says a lot about the man himself, writes ESPN.com’s Bob Harig. Story

“I am proud of my achievement, my work ethic and the way I live my life,” Singh said in a statement. “The PGA Tour not only treated me unfairly, but displayed a lack of professionalism that should concern every professional golfer and fan of the game.”

Singh filed the lawsuit in New York, where he has a home and the tour has an office. He is in the field at The Players Championship and will start with Robert Garrigus and J.J. Henry at 2 p.m. ET Thursday.

The 50-year-old Fijian, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006, said in a Sports Illustrated article in January that he used deer-antler spray and he was “looking forward to some change in my body.” The spray was said to include an insulin-like growth factor that was on the tour’s list of banned substances. The tour sent a sample from Singh to be tested, and it returned small amounts of IGF-1.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced April 30 that the tour was dropping its case because of new information from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which said deer-antler spray no longer was considered prohibited because it contained just minimal amounts of the growth factor.

The lawsuit claims the PGA Tour relied on WADA’s list of banned substances and methods without doing any of its own research, including whether such substances even provide any performance-enhancing benefits. Singh’s lawyers said the tour “rushed to judgment and accused one of the world’s hardest working and most dedicated golfers of violating the rules of the game.”

“We have not seen the lawsuit, just the statement,” PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said. “We have no comment.”

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Singh’s character to my mind, still remains in question in spite of his worldwide career , and as an inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame . When first questioned, on this matter , the Fijian golfer was reluctant to answer any questions on the matter . Vijay Singh is reluctant to discuss the matter in public , without the presence of a legal adviser . As to what that might suggest , I will let you be the judge of that ! Consider also, the PGA’s own rules on banned substances are ambiguous at best , and with the substance in question known to be used by Vijay Singh , commonly known as Deer Antler juice , known to have slight traces of anabolic steroids . It does beg the question how will the PGA Tour and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club address the issue on the Tour as well as on a global basis ? The spirit of the game be damned , if the ambiguity continues , then to hell with this bullshit of fairness and sportsmanship ! It is now time for Finchem and his cohorts to stop blowing smoke up everyone’s ass, in trying to suggest that golf remains the last true bastion of sportsmanship and professional course etiquette , as nothing could be further from the truth .

Well , with a number of series now about to reach a crescendo in the semifinal stages of the NBA postseason . It is now time to take stock of the teams and how they are said to be faring . If you consider yourself to be a loyal and devout New York Knicks’ fan, do you bury your head in shame by the team’s embarrassment in their continually woefully inept displays against the Indiana Pacers ? Or do you simply decry the fact that this is nothing more than an aberration that the team is now facing a pivotal game four while quite possibly being on the cusp of elimination . All season long , Knicks’ fans and many of their players , were seemingly under the impression that it would be preordained that the team would be on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals , and a potential match-up against the Miami Heat . Well as now , things are not looking so good for Mike Woodson’s players , as they seek to erase a 2-1 deficit against Frank Vogel’s all too competitive Pacers’ team .

Tonight’s game will be a true test of the intestinal fortitude of Knicks’ forward , Carmelo Anthony and his teammates when they face the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana , Indianapolis . Grit and determination has been ever present, but it has been the defensive mindset of the Indiana Pacers throughout much of the playoffs . For all of the talk of the Knicks and playoffs their perceived prowess , other than their first round series victory , there has been very little to suggest in this series they are capable of erasing this deficit (2-1).

Should the Pacers prevail , tonight , then it would certainly cast a giant shadow over the Knicks’ organization . Most notably for team owner , James Dolan , GM Glen Grunwald this would be seen as a truly disappointing season , in light of franchise’s own lofty expectations . Of the remaining participants now in the now postseason , only the Miami Heat have a larger payroll than their Eastern Conference counterparts , the New York Knicks. A commitment that is just under $80 million , with the biggest outlay going to Amar`e Stoudemire , a player who has yet to make a solid contribution of any kind to the Knicks during the regular or postseason for the organization. That being said, if Carmelo Anthony is able to lead this team in erasing this deficit , then it leads to a best of three game series’ finale , in what so far has been a highly entertaining and scintillating series .

In world of theater , the saying “ it is not over until the fat lady sings “ , might just be ringing true as it relates to the Oklahoma City Thunder . The number one seed in the Western Conference , now find themselves in a horrendous hole , after last night’s inexplicable six point loss to the Memphis Grizzlies . Needless to say , that the fat lady off stage near right is simply clearing her throat she gets set to regale us will with an aria . On the other hand , it could very well be that Kevin Durant and his teammates are trying to lull us all into a false sense of security . At this juncture , my money is now definitely on the fat chic ! . Who would have thought that the Thunder would be facing a 3-1 deficit , and that Zack Randolph and Marc Gasol would have been amongst the most explosive offensive duos during the postseason ? Not I said the fly ! Likewise , even with the loss of Russell Westbrook to a season ending injury , I still felt that that Scott Brooks’ players had enough to simply withstand an all-out assault from Lionel Hollins’ players . Now all that awaits this Grizzlies’ team and a path to the conference finals , will be for them to close out their series with a rousing game five victory at the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma on Wednesday night when the two teams meet to resume their conference semifinal series . And the chances are , that will be the likely outcome given the rather inconsistent play from the Thunder over the past two games .

The series as they are now placing themselves out within the Western Conference now seems to be taking on a life of their very own . And nowhere is that now self-evident tan the series between San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors . The head coach of the Warriors Mark Jackson has simply made believers out of is doubters who were dubious of his abilities as a coach in the NBA .From my own perspective I firmly believe that Jackson was greatly overlooked in the NBA Coach of The Year balloting , but this is merely my belief , objective as it appears to be.

For the Spurs` Big Three of Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker , this might well be the trios` last hoorah . In their time together, the triumvirate have garnered several of the game`s highest individual and team awards . That in of-itself will not be enough to satisfy the most ardent of fans of the San Antonio Spurs , who simply wish to see another title brought to the franchise , whose last postseason triumph, the fourth in their history came in 2007 .

With the series now tied at two games apiece (2-2) , it now leaves Gregg Popovich in something of a dilemma , and how he makes the adjustments needed to secure a series` victory . It is clear that from a defensive standpoint , the Spurs are struggling and have struggled to negate the effectiveness of Steph Curry throughout this series . As Curry goes in this contest , then so might the Warriors` postseason foray and the franchise`s aspirations .

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Picture gallery .

In light of the points raised within this article what thoughts if any do you have concerning this article ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site !

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(1) Tiger Woods of the USA plays a shot from the 11th tee during round two of The Players Championship at The Players Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 10, 2013 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images North America … (2) Sergio Garcia of Spain plays a shot from the 11th tee during round two of The Players Championship at The Players Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 10, 2013 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images North America ….

(3) Sergio Garcia (left) and Tiger Woods shake hands on the first tee prior to the start of the third round of The Players Championship from the TPC Sawgrass Course at Pontre Vedra Beac , Pontre Vedrea , Florida , AP Poto / Micael Fletcer ….

(4) Vijay Singh (L) of Fiji talks to Robert Allenby of Australia during a practice round for THE PLAYERS Championship at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 8, 2013 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Singh has field a federal civil suit in US Courts claiming defamation of character , libel and slander in a suit filed against the PGA Tour and Commissioner Tim Finchem . Vijay Singh is claiming that suit derives from the fact that the PGA Tour knowingly leaked details concerning an ongoing investigation of his knowingly taken a banned substance . Singh maintains is innocence stating that he only takes a medical supplement known as Deer Antler juice , which does contain small amounts of anabolic steroids . The player is seeking punitive monetary damages . Many of Singh`s peers believe tat is actions will do irreparable damage and harm to the PGA`s reputation and they have called for him to halt his legal action . AP Photo /Keith Meachem ………

(5) New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony wipes his face as he leaves the court following the first half of Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in Indianapolis. The Knicks would lose game four 92-83 , and now face a pivotal game five on Thursday night , as they are now down 3-1 in the best of seven-game semifinals` conference series . AP Photo/Darron Cummings …..

(6) New York Knicks’ Jason Kidd (5) shoots past Indiana Pacers’ George Hill during the first half of Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in Indianapolis. AP Photo/Darron Cummings …..

(7) San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan (21) is fouled by Golden State Warriors’ Harrison Barnes , left, and Golden State Warriors’ Festus Ezeli also defends during the first half in Game 5 of a Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series , Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in San Antonio. AP Photo/Eric Gay ….

(8) Steph Curry (left) is seen ere looking to defend the lane against the Spurs` Tony Parker during game three of the Western Conference semifinals played at the Oracle Arena in Oakland California on the 10th May , 2013 . AP Poto / Keith McCarron ……

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Tophatal 05/14/2013 aIK

NB : As of 14th May 9:32 pm EST no results were known concerning NBA games being played .

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Lessons learned …………

Lessons learned ….

By Tophatal

I’ve always been told as a student , that one can only learn from the mistakes made, so that they should never be repeated again , unless it is done through complacency . If anything, that was all easily borne out in this past weekend, in a number of sporting events that took place. Nowhere was this more noticeable, than in the events that took place that led to Team USA surrendering a four-point lead (10-6) in losing the Ryder Cup to Europe by the narrowest of margins, in 14 ½ to 13 ½ defeat at the hands of the Europeans at Medinah Golf & Country Club , in Chicago , Illinois. Coming into the final day, of this biennial event the twelve singles’ matches were to be played with twelve points at stake , with team captain, Davis Love III’s team needing only to secure 4 ½ points to retain the bragging rights, as winners of this title. Instead, in an unheralded turn of events , opposing captain , Jose Maria Olazabal’s of the team European team , staged the largest comeback in Ryder Cup history to secure the victory , and to take the trophy back to European soil, while totally humiliating and upstaging their American counterparts and hosts. As to what this signifies about the state of American golf , and the fact that the team simply fell apart , is enough to suggest, that when the challenge was at hand, the US team was simply found wanting , in more ways than one .

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As an avid golf fan, it was intriguing to watch the events unfold as the tens of thousands in the gallery watched , with millions more nationwide and in Europe watching via the television broadcast of this biennial event. Hero of the day for Europe was the German player , Martin Kaymer, who won his match with Steve Stricker to guarantee his team’s victory , leaving a completely befuddled American team wandering ,as to what might have been .

There were some great games that took place in week four of the NFL , with now a number of teams now found wanting , having been exposed as being completely flawed in defeat . Nowhere, was this more profound, than in the New York Jets’ lopsided loss to the San Francisco 49ers , who completely blanked the Jets 34-0. As to the Antonio Cromartie’s suggestion , that in the absence of his teammate , Darrelle Revis, he could now be looked upon as the “best” corner-back in the NFL. I would now like to think that Cromartie is now eating a great deal of crow in the absence of his not turning up and proving his prowess during the game !

This loss now drops the New York Jets to (2-2) within the AFC East the division as well as within the AFC and league as a whole. As to what this defeat says about this Jets’ team and the character of the team, I firmly believe that for all of the hype and pronunciation of Tim Tebow adding a little more heart and determination to the roster. It clearly shows that a great deal more character and that will to win, is needed, rather than downright complacency as exhibited on Sunday. Absolutely nothing, as evidenced by this defeat shows that the New York Jets possesses any heart or soul, if anything , it clearly shows how overrated this team just happens to be , as well as the entire Rex Ryan —- coaching staff that has been assembled for the Jets sojourn in 2012 . Simply adding hyperbole to a substance where there appears to be nothing tangible is merely adding oil to water to see if there’s a mix and consistency. In reality, that scenario lends itself to open ridicule and not much else !

Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez had one of those games I’d dare say he would rather forget , he was simply mediocre at best ! And as the game progressed the New York Jets , simply got worse , as the team lost their best offensive player, when Santonio Holmes went down injured. By then, they were beyond the point of no return! The New York Jets are an over-hyped team , without an offense to speak of , especially by way of a rushing offense. There is no accounting for taste and at present the taste being left by the Jets is not one that is conducive to their fans or anyone else for that matter !

I’ll say this for the New Orleans Saints , as they continue seek the fans’ empathy , having subjected the game to some of the most serious and infamous charges ever lodged against an NFL franchise .What is now happening to the team as they fall to a 0-4 mark, seems so fitting for a team that is still unwilling to accept responsibility for their actions. And it seems only fitting that the team’s best and most respected player, Drew Brees , now seems to be at a loss for words in explaining the team’s latest debacle. And though the margin of the defeat in the Saints’ 28-27 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field , in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This victory seems a small consolation after the travesty that surrounded the Packers’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks , in what can be best described as one of the worse moments in NFL history, as it relates to the incompetency of the game officials . Those incidents pretty much sealed the fate of the replacement officials, as the league hierarchy saw fit to come to their senses and reach a compromise with the NFLRA (referees’ union), that saw their immediate return on last Thursday night with the opening schedule of week 4 games . The Baltimore Ravens played hosts to the Cleveland Browns , as the fans readily applauded the referees’ return , which resulted in a competently officiated game , with the Ravens proving to be victorious in defeating the Cleveland Browns 23-16.

Saints’ interim head coach, Aaron Kromer must now rally his weary team , in preparation for their meeting in a match-up against the San Diego Chargers in week five , in a game to be played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome , in New Orleans, Louisiana on the 7th October , 2012. . The only way is up , from here, for the New Orleans Saints , but the rest of the team’s schedule is not that forgiving, and one seriously doubts that their divisional or conference rivals will be all that generous to a beleaguered franchise that for all sense of purpose, has completely lost direction and is lacking in leadership , both on and off the field of play .

Through the first three games of their season the New York Giants were putting up some gaudy numbers that would suggest that they should be seen as perhaps the best team in the NFC. Unfortunately, those numbers led to a falsehood, that was heightened all the more inexplicably, when the team fell to their divisional rivals the Philadelphia Eagles in a toughly contested game 19-17 . In a match-up between two heralded franchises and two Pro Bowl quarterbacks , Eli Manning and Michael Vick , this game failed to live up to live up the expected hyperbole often associated between these two teams. Instead , the fans were served up an error strewn and often all too physical game that was without in part a great deal of finesse from either team. That being said , it would be remiss to count out the Giants at this point of season , given their propensity for the dramatic over the last few years. In the years Tom Coughlin’s players were able to come away with the Superbowl victories , it should be noted that in 2007 and 2011 , they did not actually excel, until the latter halves of both of those seasons. Are we likely to see the same scenario arise once again in 2012, as this team embarks upon taking another run at making history ? What thoughts if any, do you have upon that premise actually playing out?

Nancy Sinatra , erstwhile daughter of legendary crooner , Frank Sinatra , had a top ten hit in the mid-sixties with the song, “These Boots Are Made for Walking” . The lyrics, and more appropriately the song should be aptly applied to the Oakland Raiders, as this team just seems to be completely out of its depth . At 1-3 in the AFC West , and the Raiders are barely clinging on to life this early into the season. Rookie head coach, Dennis Allen was thrust in at the deep end , and suffice to say , a life preserve might not be the only thing needed to keep this team afloat overt the course of their season . And as evidenced, by the team’s lackluster performance against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos , as the Broncos simply shredded the Raiders’ defense , leaving them without an answer in the aftermath of a completely lopsided 37-6 loss. And one can see considerably, where the problems lie for the Raiders as a team, as they are as equally challenged on defense, as they are on offense , especially, when it comes to putting up points on the board and then defending any type of a lead. Next up for Carson Palmer and the Raiders , after their bye-week , the team faces a resurgent —– Atlanta Falcons’ (4-0) roster looking to parlay their fast start to the season into something far more meaningful.

Your fate lies in your own hands, not in the hands of others , and it has been this premise that the local beat writers and on air television personalities seem to have no understanding of , as the Tampa Bay Rays wind down their 2012 schedule. The head sports’ anchor for the CBS affiliate (WTSP-Channel 10) in the Tampa Bay area market , is simply that naïve or is just looking to make a name for himself , with his often rather idiotic anecdotes and synopsis, concerning the baseball team. The Rays have simply squandered the opportunities afforded them over the course of the season , and Dave Wirth just does not wish to acknowledge that fact .

The Tampa Bay Rays (88-71) currently lie third in the AL East, and three games out of the AL wildcard berth . Three games remaining, and the team’s three-game set against the division leading Baltimore Orioles (92-67). The first of those three games will take place to today at Tropicana Field , in St Petersburg , when the two teams face off against each other , in a series where we may well learn a great deal more about both of the baseball clubs in question. Buck Showalter and his Orioles’ team sits on the cusp of winning their first divisional title since 1997, when the team went to the ALCS that postseason , falling to the Cleveland Indians in six games (4-2).

With the culmination of the regular season ending on the 3rd October , it will be interesting to see how the teams fare over the course of the two remaining days of the 2012 schedule. The divisional rounds of the postseason is set to begin on the 5th October , so we now await the participants in baseball’s postseason fare.

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Picture gallery.

Of the major sports’ events taking place this past weekend , which of any stood out the most by way of their importance ? Chime with a comment as you see fit , on this or anything else you feel pertinent to the subject matter .

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(1) European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal kisses the trophy after winning the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ….

(2) Europe’s Sergio Garcia shows the trophy to some fans after winning the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …

(3) The European team posses with the trophy after winning the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill. AP Photo/David J. Phillip …

(4) USA’s Tiger Woods scratches his head as he walks off the course after the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast …..

(5) Europe’s Martin Kaymer celebrates after winning the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ….

New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes (10) is helped off the field as New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, second from right, and Mark Sanchez (6) show their support during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets lost the game 34-0 . AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ….

(7) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers throws against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 28-27 . AP Photo/Tom Lynn ….

(8) New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees looks for a receiver during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 28-27. AP Photo/Mike Roemer ……

(9) Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer (3) is helped up off the turf after taking a hit by the Denver Broncos during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in Denver. The Broncos won 37-6 . AP Photo/Joe Mahoney …..

(10) Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price throws against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. Price won his twentieth game of the season in the team’s 6-2 victory over the White Sox. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….

(11) A baseball fan holds a sign after the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Chicago White Sox 6-2 in a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

(12) Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham , right, throws to first after forcing out Tampa Bay Rays’ <u? Ben Zobrist during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. Evan Longoria was out at first. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh …..

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It’s Better To Have Loved Than Lost , Than Not To Have Loved At All …. Or To Paraphrase ………. Just Win Baby !


It’s Better To Have Loved Than Lost , Than Not To Have Loved At All …. Or To Paraphrase ………. Just Win Baby !

By tophatal …… 06/04/2012 …….. 07:37 AM (EST)

Well over the weekend PGA Tour golfer Tiger Woods set himself apart from his peers , having officially won for the 72nd time on the PGA Tour . With that victory in The Memorial Tournament at the Muirfield Club, Muirfield Village , Dublin , Ohio , an official tournament hosted by former PGA great Jack Nicklaus . This had a special meaning for both the victor and the host , Woods’ feat tournmanet tied him for second all-time on the PGA Tour official wins’ along with Nicklaud and leaves him only 5 wins behind the all-time Tour wins leader Sam Snead and his total of 78 wins . In winning this tournament , one of the most prestigious on the Tour outside of the four Majors and the The Players Championship , Woods announced himself to the world , that he’s back. Along with the victory , which moves the player up to fourth in the official World rankings , also came the points that now places him inside the top 5 of the Fedex Cup standings .

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What this now does for Tiger Woods , it now gives him a boost in confidence and if anything it now places something of a sense of foreboding for his peers on the Tour. With the US Open due to be played (13th June-17th June, 2012) 7 days at Olympia Club in San Francisco, California , , no doubt the odds-makers in Las Vegas will have Tiger Woods as an odds on favorite to win his fourteenth Major as well as his third US Open . As to what this now signifies for the fans , it’s plain and simple to see . A resurgent Woods means added coverage of the PGATour , greater attendances for tournaments for which he is a participant , but above all it means a wider television viewing audiece for the most popular athlete on the planet . Now for the uninitiated , let’s make one thing clear , that while the likes of Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson are good for the game but unless Woods is actually center-stage then absolutely no one gives a damn what is actually happening on the PGA Tour . PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem knows it , and so do the likes of the aforementioned Johnson , Watson , and most certainly the likes of Rory McIlroy , and Lee Westwood . The latter duo , are the two players now vying for the number one spot atop of the world rankings .

If nothing else , Woods now has to prove that this victory simply wasn’t another flash in the pan , and now go out seek to add to his tally of Majors’ wins ,while at the same time seeking to surpass Snead’s Tour wins’ total.

I’ll certainly say this , for both the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs as they now seem to be making things extremely difficult for themselves as the NBA Playoffs progress . The conference finals are now in full swing , with the home teams having held sway , and each series now tied at two games apiece (2-2). If nothing else this now makes both series more enticing , intriguing and above all else most thrilling for the most avid of NBA fans . There has been some exhilarating play from the likes of Dwyane Wade , LeBron James , Rajon Rondo , Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Tony Parker . And the four teams now vying to be the finalists in this season’s NBA Finals are certainly looking and proving to be the best quartet of teams that entered these Playoffs. playoffs . Now while the postseason has been in full swing , the one remaining constant has been the inconsistency of the officiating during the series that have taken place . Certainly , a great deal of criticism can be leveled at the referees but most notably what hasn’t changed is the very fact that NBA Commissioner David Stern doesn’t seem to believe that there’s any need of urgency to address the the complaints of the coaches or that of the players. Plainly put , if there is one iota of criticism leveled , then the complainant can look forward to a monetary fine from the commissioner , who is not prepared to accept any criticism of the officiating , be it justified or not . Stern , plain and simple terms runs the NBA as if it were his own banana republic whereby he’s the ruling dictator .

Last night’s game in the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat was a ” game ” for the ages . The Celtics having eked out an eighteen point lead at one point , then had to stifle the offensive prowess of the Miami Heat. LeBron James “fouled” out , and so too , did Paul Pierce , leaving a number of role players on either team having to show their somewhat limited abilities in terms of their offense . Dwyane Wade for his part , did as much as he could and in the waning moments had the chance to put the game beyond the reach of the Boston Celtics . However, his three-point attempt came up short , with the Celtics’ players and their fans exhaling that deep breath and taking in the rapture of victory .

Now tied at two games apiece the Eastern Conference Finals all now comes down to a best-of-three-game series . The loser , essentially goes home with their tails between their legs , and absolutely nothing to show for it all , at the end of the day . Tuesday night the series resumes in Miami , with the Heat hosting their conference rivals , in what is sure to be a highly competitive game , that once again will be filled with moments of extraordinary plays and no doubt a number of errors .

In what has been match-up to my mind the two best teams left in the NBA Playoffs , as the Western Conference Finals offers us the San Antonio Spurs and the young upstarts of the Oklahoma City Thunder . Home teams have held sway in this series and it is now becoming clear that neither franchise will “give any quarter” . And that is to be expected given the competitiveness of both sets of players and the very fact that we have two very astute coaches , in , Gregg Popovich of the Spurs and Scott Brooks of the Thunder. And what essentially earlier in the series looked as if the Spurs were intent on making this a quick and painless exit for Thunder as they clinically dissected their opponent in the first two games . We are now seeing Popovich’s players make needless mistakes at the most inopportune of moments , never mind the fact that Tony Parker seems to have been corralled by the defensive prowess of Serge Ibaka . And therein , now lies the story , as the drama unfolds in this series . Defense wins championships and these are two highly skilled defensive teams who also just happen to be highly skilled also from an offensive standpoint . And this has been on display throughout the course of the series played within the Western Conference this postseason. The winner of this series between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder is likely to be viewed as prohibitive favorite against whichever opponent comes out of the East .

The Western Conference series resumes to tonight with game five being played at the AT & T Center in San Antonio , Texas . Gregg Popovich knows that this his team can ill-afford to lose the game , knowing full well that by going down 3-2 , they would then have to stave off elimination in game six . On the flip side of the coin the same such premise would also face Scott Brooks’ players . So what is it to be as of now ? Which player or players are likely to step up for their respective teams at this juncture ? Care to offer up your thoughts and observations ?

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With Woods’ victory in The Memorial Tournament which also was his second Tour victory of the season , do you believe the player to be a legitimate contender for the upcoming US Open ? If so , then clearly state your reasons why ? If not then once again proffer up what you believe will be Tiger Woods’ fate in the third Major of the season ? Now that both series within the NBA conference finals following the pattern on the home teams taking each of the games played where and how do you see an outright victor coming out of each of the the Eastern and Western Conference Finals ?

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(1) Tiger Woods plays during the final round of the Memorial golf tournament Sunday, June 3, 2012, in Dublin, Ohio. AP Photo/Jay LaPrete …

(2) Tiger Woods plays during the final round of the Memorial golf tournament Sunday, June 3, 2012, in Dublin, Ohio. AP Photo/Jay LaPrete ….

(3) Jack Nicklaus , right, talks with Tiger Woods after Woods won the Memorial golf tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, Sunday, June 3, 2012. AP Photo/Tony Dejak …..

(4) BOSTON, MA – JUNE 03: Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers argues with referee Bill Kennedy (55) against the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 3, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images …

(5) Rajon Rondo (9) of the Boston Celtics passes the ball against (from L) Dwyane Wade (3), LeBron James(6) and Shane Battier (31) of the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 3, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images …

(6) Dwyane Wade (3) of the Miami Heat attempts a shot against Marquis Daniels #4 of the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 3, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ..

(7) James Harden (13) of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for a shot between Danny Green (4) and Tony Parker (9) of the San Antonio Spurs in the second half in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 2, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images ….

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Hot chic pic of the day . Actress Paula Patton , who’s not exactly dressed for dinner . My question , define ” dinner” and if she were a meal , would she be the “main course ” or the ” hors-doeuvre ” ?

Put Up Or Simply Just Shut The Fu#k Up !

Put Up Or Simply Just Shut The Fuck Up !

I’ll say this repeatedly when it comes to the analysis being provided within the sports’ world can be so ridiculous and no amount of asinine jingoism and xenophobia can hide my disdain for many of these commentators. The third major of the season on the PGA Tour The Open has no rhyme or reason when you have the likes of Andy North be ing so ridiculous with his analysis in insisting that the American players have what it takes to be dominant in the majors and win . When it mattered most other than Phil Mickelson no one amongst the American players thought to be in with a chance had the stomach to show what they’re capable of in terms of facing real adversity.

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The British Open is by far the most difficult of the four majors to win and where a player simply doesn’t rely on his talent alone but also with their mental abilities . Well with the workman like effort of Darren Clarke and along the way Ireland secure its second successive major after Rory McIlroy’s historic 2011 US Open win . The course at the R&A’s Royal St George at Lytham St Anne’s , Sandwich , Kent , has always proven to be a very difficult with its numerous obstacles on this par 72 course . And for the competing players who sought to tame the greens and fairways on the fourth and final day of the tournament , well let’s just say if you choose to play with fire then you are liable to get burned .

It would appear while being passionate about the game Andy North’s insight of it tends to be inflated and over the top ! I’d hate to think how he will try summarize Clarke’s win and what it now means to the game . What I do know, it simply will prove that America’s once dominant stranglehold on the game is now slipping . The world rankings would suggest that its upper echelons that tree now is more diversified than ever before . And with the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek , Atlanta , Georgia , being the lone major left on the Tour schedule it will be very interesting to see who steps up to walk the walk .

Are my eyes mistaking me ? But scouring the papers in search of the latest tidbit of new within the world of baseball I almost fell out of my seat. But low and behold, it would appear that the once lowly Pittsburgh Pirates are riding high within the NL Central and are out to prove that they’re capable of challenging the likes of the Cincinnati Reds , Milwaukee Brewers , St Louis Cardinals . And what might be even more scary is that Clint Hurdle’s team is playing above .500 ball , enjoying themselves and they could very well be on their way to posting their first winning season almost two decades . Strange as it may seem the eyes of the world now appear to placing a great deal of scrutiny on on this team assembled with a mixture of youth and some veteran experience . Hurdle and his coaching staff along with GM Neal Huntington have to be very pleased what they are seeing from this team and their play this season at PNC Ballpark in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania .

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HOUSTON – JULY 17: Center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated by Neil Walker (18) and Alex Pressley (44) after making a sliding catch on a fly ball off the bat of Clint Barmes (12) of the Houston Astros in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park on July 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

If there’s a star on this Pirates’ team then one has to consider it to be Andrew McCutchen the outfielder and the exuberant leader of this young roster . As eventful as the season seems to have be for the Pirates the very thought that the organization could possibly be a part of the postseason now seems to be dawning on their fans as what could be in the offing . From my own standpoint I think that the biggest surprise would be to finally post winning season for the first time in over decade and a half . If that were to happen then you cannot deny Clint Hurdle the NL Manager of the Year Award in having led the team to a winning record for the season . Now over the final two months of the season we may very see the true character of this team and how they acquit themselves down the final stretch of run of the season .

The Pittsburgh Pirates through a great deal of resolve have proved themselves worthy adversaries for their rivals within the NL Central as well as the rest of the National League at large . And though I do believe that the team in its present guise are very good, I simply do not believe that they are good enough to win the division ! However , with that being said with the undoubted character and it appears the maturity being shown , it does bode well for the future of the team. I still have my doubts as to the intention the team’s owner Bob Nutting and his partners as I view the senior partner as being nothing more than a predatory raider or more akin to a vulture hovering above the dead carcass of animal looking to gnaw away at its remains ! For years Nutting has literally complained and plead nothing but poverty as the team has struggled to be competitive on the field of play and also from a financial standpoint. And having bought the team from the McClatchy family every effort we were led to believe would be sought in turning this organization around.

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Bob Nutting has made sure that the team’s payroll has remained amongst the lowest in the league but while that facade has continued the team has profited greatly from the league hierarchy’s tax revenue sharing scheme . If only one could simply take Nutting at his word when he continues plead his case that the team isn’t making any money. But the benefits reaped from paring down the the salary of the team and then reaping the dividends of the revenue scheme leads me to believe that the owner has less than economical with the truth ! So much so that now with the team now playing with a great deal more zeal it could very well be that the organization will be forced to become a buyer in the free agency market if they are to prove to their fans that there intent is to win. And with that very deadline due on the 31st July it could determine what we are to expect from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As the NFL lockout continues and with both sets of lawyers for the league and union now intent on working out the legal verbiage for what will be a new 10 year CBA (collective bargaining agreement) , I would like to think that the owners within the NBA and league hierarchy are carefully taking note of the events taking place between the two sides. If it’s apparent that the NBPA is not at all interested in conceding to any of the requests being made of the by the league then the fans will bear witnesses to what very well be a very contentious battle .

Commissioner David Stern and his opposite number within the union executive director Billy Hunter are now looking for the league accede to their wishes. And once again both sides are showing their intransigence while at the same not wanting to back down in the eyes of the public. It seems abundantly clear both sides are underestimating the goodwill and patience of the fans and much like the idiocy shown by their counterparts in the NFL it may well take a prolonged lockout before we see both sides actually come to their senses.

From being a scoring champion to perennial All Star the fall from grace of Tracy McGrady simply has been astounding . Last season the player simply slipped further down in our conscience from that once formidable offensive threat to someone who if anything has become more of an enigma and conundrum all rolled into one. The player this upcoming season should there be one will be a free agent and he has stated that he feels that he can be a contributor to any team willing to take a chance on him.

In 2010 we saw Tracy McGrady as a member of the Detroit Pistons and as we all know the team had a miserable season . GM Joe Dumars had a contentious relationship with coach John Kuester and it has to be said with new owner , billionaire Tom Gores now in place I for one seriously doubt that the Pistons in their present guise will be a team to be reckoned with. Dumars’ own position within the Pistons’ front office could very well become somewhat tenuous as I firmly believe that the new ownership could very well be intent on bringing in someone who they feel that they are more likely to work alongside . Kuester was summarily fired by Dumars after last season’s disappointing record and lack of play all round.

At this stage of his career , as a fifteen year veteran in the league I seriously doubt that Tracy McGrady has that much left to offer a team , other than his experience . Most notably as a player his skills simply have declined to a point where he has become more of a liability rather than an asset to a team . And that to my mind simply doesn’t bode well for any franchise who might take a chance on the player .

The coaching position with the Detroit Piston still remains vacant and with Tom Gores , incoming as the new team owner , there’s no doubt that he will assess the situation and needs of the organization before coming to a decision as to who ought to succeed John Kuester . Joe Dumars may well feel that it is either time to step down or continue to work within the Pistons’ organization in conjunction with the new owner.

And so the Women’s World World Cup comes to an abrupt end with Japan defeating USA on penalties 3-1 in a shootout after regular and then overtime play. What gave anyone reason to believe why the US ought to be deemed favorites is completely beyond me ! They may well have the experience but in straight laced terms , there were not the best team in the tournament and certainly not based on their play ! If truth be known the Japanese having beaten the two best teams in the quarters and semi finals simply showed why they were deserving of this victory. And this is not meant to demean the achievements of the US team in this tournament . Emotions and the fact that with all that the tiny nation had been through in the aftermath of a natural disaster may well have made Japan an heartwarming favorite . But I believe them to be favorites coming into this game solely based on their play. Throughout the tournament you simply see the Japanese team raise the level of their play and wherein they just played to their strengths and showed that technically they were that much better than their opponents and most notably so in the final match of the competition .

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Bob Ley (left) , Brandi Chastain and Tony DiCicco discuss the role of nerves in the Final, and how this team fits into the legacy of US Women’s Soccer. Courtesy of ESPN ……..

As is usual in such cases ESPN brings in what they deem to be people with knowledge of the game of soccer . Granted , the game still has its detractors and supporters but in all honesty if they are bringing in analysts with insight , then let it be someone whose bloviated bias won’t be so pronounced that you simply are going to be resoundingly bored by their observations and commentary . And that has certainly been the case throughout their coverage of the competition. Brandy Chastain , Briana Scurry and Tony DiCicco simply have been an adulterated busts as commentators and analysts . No amount of impartiality could be shown by either of the trio even if their lives depended on it . Whether or not you are associated or have been associated with the teams as each have at least have the temerity to provide the viewers with something more than your blatant bias . With the loss came the perfunctory excuses as to their views as to why the US failed but their lack of candor in acknowledging the team on the day was simply outplayed leads me to believe that they viewed Japan as a minor hurdle in what they felt to be a victory that was guaranteed prior to the start of the game ! Don’t get me wrong if you’re going to state a reason why a team ought to win you have also got to be prepared to state the reasons why they could also fail . Something I feel that ESPN and their so called analysts seemingly forget whilst on air !

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

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

Contact ….. rapptu@gmail.com

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(1) Northern Irish golfer Darren Clarke poses with the Claret Jug on the 18th green the morning after winning the 140th British Open Golf championship at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, Kent, south-east England, on July 18, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Getty Images/ Peter Muhly ….

(2) SANDWICH, ENGLAND – JULY 17: during the final round of The 140th Open Championship at Royal S