Hit ’em high, hit ’em low …

Hit ’em high , hit ’em low ….

Well in the world of sports , the news encapsulating recent events have been widespread and intriguing. In the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown , the favorite for the Kentucky Derby , Nyquist romped to a victory and will now be looking towards the second leg of the triumvirate of races which makes up the sport’s premiere racing spectacle. The next race will be the Preakness Stakes to be held at Pimlico Racecourse on May 21st ,2016. Whether or not Nyquist can win the Preakness remains to be seen, but the whole world will be watching if the prohibitive favorite can take the second leg and join a select group of horses to have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown. In 2015, American Pharaoh became the first horse in almost four decades to have won all three races , and there can be no doubt Nyquist’s jockey Mario Gutierrez and his trainer Doug O’Neill will be looking to make this all a reality.

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Away from the world of horse racing the pugilistic world of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) saw the return of former UFC World Light Heavyweight champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones to the octagon. Jones having returned from the UFC mandated suspension was looking to resume his career and getting back to winning ways. Jones’ original bout was set to be against the current champion Daniel Cormier , but with Cormier having suffered an injury , Jon Jones met Ovince St Preux for the interim title. This now sets up a mega-match between the two dominant fighters within the Light Heavyweight Division . UFC President Dana White believes it should solidify the winner as the premiere fighter within the UFC at present given the recent hype over fallen champions Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey . If nothing else, MMA needs the spotlight to be shone brightly on the sport after some rather disappointing results within the octagon in recent months.

In spite of recent denials, there has also been mounting speculation that Zuffa LLC , parent company of the UFC , owned jointly by Frank Fertitta , Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White might be willing to sell the UFC for a reputed $4 billion to a Chinese venture capital firm. If the price is right, I believe the entity could be sold to a foreign entity without their being major controversy being created !

The next major event being staged by the UFC will showcase   Fabricio Werdum     against Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight Title at UFC 198 in Las Vegas , Nevada on May 14th , 2016. Werdum will be making the third defense of his title while seeking to add to his legacy as the division’s latest champion.

With the recent retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr and that of his contemporary Manny Pacquiao , the world of boxing now faces something of a vacuum with their being no widely recognized face to lead the sport for the next decade. Mayweather left the sport with an unbeaten record , having earned in excess of $400 million in career earnings , as well as  being the highest paid athlete in the world. Granted, the sport witnessed the dethroning of linear Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko as he lost his belts to British fighter Tyson Fury . A rematch is scheduled for later this year , with Klitschko vowing to win back the titles he has held for almost a decade. Fury, while being a talented fighter , has yet to make a name for himself in North America , which remains the Mecca for the world of boxing. This has been a sport which has been dying on its last legs for several years and having no unified and undisputed champion at any weight category , simply makes it all the more uninteresting and something of a morass. If boxing is to have any real continued traction among its fans , then real meaningful contests will have to take place and that should start with a title fight between Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin for the unification of the world middleweight titles.

In the world of professional sports , for all of the ambivalent diatribe that tends to be referenced by the media as well as the fans . The one thing you can be sure of is that both will often continue to make excuses for the most repugnant behavior by the an athlete. Recently in the world of baseball we had the reigning NL League MVP and Washington Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper berating an umpire after what he believed was an erroneous call by the official . Harper’s actions , specifically his tone and abusive language directed at the official has been an ongoing trait of a player who remains immature despite his immense talent . Now vowing to accept his one-game suspension mandated by the league, the player initially sought to appeal the suspension. From my own perspective , I believe the hierarchy of Major League Baseball remains weak , and bereft of intelligence along with the continued ambivalence shown by the MLBPA (Players’ Union) .

Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals have been able to set a blistering pace within the NL East and the National League . Standing a half-game behind the division leading New York Mets (21-13) , the Nationals are coming off a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers and where Max Scherzer struck out twenty Tigers’ hitters on his way to a complete game. Harper and the Washington Nationals’ next game , will see them take on the Miami Marlins in Washington, DC.

Injuries will continue to plague so many of the teams this season and it will be up to teammates to step up to the plate when those players are sidelined. For the New York Yankees in recent years , it has simply been an ongoing issue for a franchise which continually failed to develop talent from within their farm system . In their present format the New York Yankees with a bloated payroll and a number of unproductive players on the roster the Yankees are already struggling to make their presence felt this season . The Yankees will continue to struggle while Joe Girardi and his managerial staff will continue to show they are bereft of ideas. This was very much indicative in their last result , where they were on the wrong side of a lopsided 7-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals . Thursday afternoon and both teams will back on the mound . The Royals will have Ian Kennedy as their starting pitcher in the contest when he faces Nathan Evoldi of the Yankees.

The NBA Playoffs are now in full swing as the remaining participants are now playing for a Conference Finals’ berth. Reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors have booked their berth having beaten the Portland Trailblazers in a lopsided series . In the Eastern Conference the Cleveland Cavaliers as the top seeds await the winners of the series between the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors . For the Heat , who were viewed as the presumptive favorites , they now find themselves on the brink of elimination and facing a pivotal game six contest . It’s now or never for the Miami Heat as the roster , with its current makeup is considered to be aging , with seasoned veterans Dwyane Wade , Udonis Haslem and Luol Deng now approaching the end of their respective careers.

In what might now be turning out to be the best series in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder have provided their fans with a wild and suspenseful ride . This series has ebbed and flowed due to the outstanding play from both teams.

Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich will implore his players to put it all out on the court tonight when they face the Thunder in game six , which now becomes a “ must win-game” for the team. Down 3-2 , they cannot afford to be eliminated at this stage of the Playoffs. Thursday’s game at the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma should prove to be truly entertaining as the San Antonio Spurs seek to draw equal in this series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

If there is one thing to be said as the regular season came to an end in the NBA. It was the mere fact, for the teams at the lower end of the season’s standings , theirs was not a season they wish to remember. No no need to have any empathy for either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Philadelphia 76ers . These two teams simply sank to a level of ineptitude not often seen in the NBA, as they continually wore out their welcome at home and on the road during the season. With Byron Scott no longer returning to the Lakers next season, with his successor Luke Walton having been named . It would appear the franchise now believes, change was needed sooner rather than later . For the moment , it would appear Brett Brown’s position within the Sixers’ organization is secure , but I can’t but feel , Jerry Colangelo will be ready to pull the trigger and relieve Brown of his coaching duties with the franchise ! It just seems to make sense given the disastrous tenure of Brown as the head coach of the Sixers.

The 2016 NBA Draft is imminent and both the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers will have the privilege of being Lottery choosers during the whole process in the first round . Mitch Kupchak and his Sixers’ counterpart Jerry Colangelo will be mulling over the Draft Board and making sure the decision they will make will be the right one concerning the needs of their respective franchise in the interest of the long-term future.

Twenty-four-seven , three-sixty-five, year-round the NFL remains part of the sports news’ cycle without fail . The passing of the 2016 NFL Draft , signing of the first round rookies and now OTA’s will be upon us , as well as the beckoning of the preseason .

Tom Brady’s suspension might well have been rescinded with the NFL hierarchy feeling pleased with itself and in particular NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . Yet all signs seem to be pointing to a possible challenge to this latest verdict with a filing to placed on the docket with the US Supreme Court . Let’s just hope for Roger Goodell’s sake Chief Justice John Roberts isn’t an ardent New England Patriots’ fan or else , all bets are off as to the decision likely to be rendered by the Justices .

Johnny Manziel’s career in the NFL came and went in the blink of an eye. Immaturity , lack of real leadership and talent were on display to be seen and his supporters have now ran off to the woods to hide in silence. Good riddance to Manziel and the opinionated morons who simply bleated on like sheep as to greatness of the former Cleveland Browns’ player.

With each passing season over the past eight years we have seen the best and the worst of the Dallas Cowboys . Team owner Jerry Jones still yearns to win another Superbowl and he still has high hopes Tony Romo will be the quarterback to lead the team to the ‘Promised Land’ . Well Romo is no Moses and the parting of the Red Sea as positioned around Tony Romo’s postseason career , can be best described as the Israelites being engulfed by the high seas. God has forsaken the Cowboys and with good reason . He just doesn’t like ugly and the Dallas Cowboys gave simply been damn ugly over the last decade .

The Dallas Cowboys’ draft was somewhat nondescript , but as usual it is still being championed in some circles as one of their best in recent years. Jason Garrett still remains the head coach, with his staff having not really changed over the past two seasons. The Cowboys are coming off another season of exceptional mediocrity and while excuses are being made for the injuries suffered. There can be no denying the issues of the team were widespread and have yet to be address by the coaching staff or the front office .

Dallas’ preseason schedule should prove to be interesting as Jason Garrett and the staff look to assess their roster . However, in week one of their regular season schedule they will have a tough test on their hands when they face divisional rivals the New York Giants in a home game at Texas Stadium , in Arlington, Texas,. Dallas needs to get off to a fast start and in doing so, be in with a chance of winning the NFC East , a division I still consider to be the most overrated in the entire NFL ! If they can at least go 4-0 or 5-1 through their first six games , then it bodes well for the team. From my own perspective I believe the Dallas Cowboys will struggle if Tony Romo is unable to play at a continually high level let alone play a full NFL schedule of sixteen games each season . We know Romo’s postseason record to be abysmal and that is with good reason , his denials as to his own flaws , while also apportioning blame elsewhere. Should the Cowboys make the postseason , then it will be interesting to see how deep they are able to make it during the postseason and how their quarterback is able to acquit himself for the franchise .

 

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What have been your impressions in recent weeks within the world of sports and which unfolding story or stories do you believe will prove to be the most interesting during the coming weeks ?

Tophatal …. 05/11/2016

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Scheduled games for the 12th May

It Wasn’t That Energizing To Begin With ………. !

It Wasn’t That Energizing To Begin With ………. !

Nothing says “thud” like an uninspiring weekend when it comes to sports. And anyone who’d suggest that this past weekend was awe inspiring. Well I’d like for them to suggest what events that actually took place would suggest that ?

The Kentcuky Derby ran at Churchill Downs elicited about as much excitement as watching paint dry and that was given the fact that the premiere race on the NTRA circuit was ran on a rain drenched track. But the only decent thing to come out of it all was that history was made by the winning jockey Calvin Borel . As he became the first jockey to have won the race three years out of four. It now becomes an unprecedented feat. Now we’ll have to wait to see whether or not Borel and winning trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle up winning horse Super Saver for the next two legs of the “Triple Crown” . The Preakness and The Belmont being the other two legs leading to equine immortality.

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Start as you mean to go on . Well that’s at leas the mantra that’ll be used by the Los Angeles Lakers as they go about now taking down the Utah Jazz in the conference conference semi finals of the NBA Playoffs . Now as intriguing as this series may well appear to be. If the Jazz aren’t on the very top of their game then in all probability the Lakers will make light work of the Jerry Sloan coached team . That’s not to say that Deron Williams and his teammates will seek to make the task any the easier for this Phil Jackson coached team .

The other conference semi-finals within the Western Conference pits the Phoenix Suns against the San Antonio Spurs . That series in of-itself should prove to be rather entertaining to say the very least.

In the Eastern Conference semi-finals’ matchup we’ll get to see the Boston Celtics match wits the Cleveland Cavaliers . Can we say that with LeBron James now adding another piece of silverware to his cabinet there’s still work that’s left to be done ? It was formally announced over the weekend that James was the regular season league MVP . And having won the award for the second consecutive season he joins a select few players that’ve won multiple league MVP awards consecutively.

<font face="new times roman" size="3">  Floyd Mayweather Jr. throws a right to the body of Shane Mosley during the welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.   Getty  Images/  Ethan  Miller  </font>
Floyd Mayweather Jr. throws a right to the body of Shane Mosley during the welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Getty Images/ Ethan Miller

The other semi finals matchup within the Eastern Conference will see the Atlanta Hawks taking on the Orlando Magic . And there’s a distinct feeling that Magic will actually convincingly win this series with a blowout of the Hawks. This Mike Woodson coached team had its struggles in the previous round against the Milwaukee Bucks . And if anything they’ll be physically and mentally worn down with fatigue from that particular series . So any expectations of this series going at least five games might see out of the question at this juncture.

Now pardon me for saying this but will the remainder of the NFL offseason be merely about Brett Favre ? I mean I’m no soap opera fan but the only thing that seems to be missing from this particular melodrama as it unfolds has been the lack sexual of intrigue and violence. Oh I forgot there’s been no indiscriminate drug use or the usual homicide to leave us guessing. But who knows what to expect down the road at this juncture ? I’m sure that ESPN’s Chris Mortensen will continue to dumpster dive through Brett and Deanna’s garbage to let us know what they’ve eaten for breakfast and the type of feminine hygiene products that Brett’s wife has become accustomed to using. I mean if there’s a story to be had about Brett Favre and his impending return to the NFL. Then Mort is the man who’ll be bringing us the story. Can I get an amen on that ?

There was a time when Shane Mosley (46-6-1NC, 39 KO’s) was viewed as an elite fighter within the sport of boxing but based on the evidence that was put forth on Saturday night in his welterweight bout against the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather (41-0, 25 KO’s). I can think we can now pretty much say those days have been laid to rest with the thought of Mosley being an elite boxer . Though he wasn’t pounded into submission in a unanimous decision loss to Mayweather. Other than round two of this welterweight bout, Mosley gave little indication that he was even a participant in the fight , much less that he came to fight to begin with.

And the pitiful excuses that came from Mosley afterwards was enough to suggest that the $7.5 million payday was just about enough to make him feel good about himself. Mayweatther for his part earned a guaranteed $22.5 million , with the anciilary rights still yet to be tallied up. But if the projected estimates are to be believed then Mayweather could very well walk away with at least $45-$50 million when it’s all accounted for . What’s a cool $50 million between friends ? I mean at $54-95 via PPV , either you’re making a great many friends or a hell of a lot of enemies ?

With Mayweather now cementing his legacy , all that now awaits, is the highly anticipated bout that all that the fans want to see. And that is a match-up against Filipino titlist , Manny Pacquaio . The Filipino fighter says that he felt slighted when it was insinuated that he was a cheat for not wanting to adhere and take a blood test in adhering to an agreement made between his manager Bob Arum and Mayweather’s people . Stop this bullsh_t Manny , the only person being slighted here are the fans and you damn well know it. You’d feel slighted if someone suggested your mother was a “street walker” . So toughen the f_ck up and let’s get this going with Mayweather !

It’s not often that you’re able to witness someone performing at a high standard at the latter stages of their career. OK , granted we had George Foreman unexpectedly regain the world heavyweight crown by knocking out Michael Moorer . Foreman at the time became the oldest heavyweight boxing champion at the age of 45. But really, was it that much of a surprise ? I mean Michael Moorer couldn’t punch his way out of a wet paper bag were his fists covered with plaster of paris to give him an additional advantage.

On Saturday just in case you missed it you’d have had the privilege of seeing the Philadelphia Phillies’ Jamie Moyer at the age of 47 pitching like a young phenom as he and his team curtailed the New York Mets . At the age of 47 when most athletes are either on the latter side of the careers or they’re pretending to start a new one by entering the Champions Tour of the PGA . Though the limit there is 50 before you’re allowed to enter an official event on the Champions Tour.

Jamie Moyer is simply proving the old adage ……….”that age is most definitely nothing but a number ” . Having now pitched in four decades do you get the feeling that Moyer could pitch well into his fifties if his health holds up ? Admittedly , with Brett Favre not showing signs of slowing down but still having that zest to compete at the highest level within the NFL . I’ve got to admit that it’s not such a bad feeling. But then again it’s Brett’s continuous offseason antics that has me now pis_ed off ! Are we there yet concerning Brett and his imminent return to the NFL and the Minnesota Vikings ?

Moyer for his part rarely complains and merely goes about doing his best to be supportive of his team and leader to the younger players on the Phillies’ roster. And with the experience that he brings as a seasoned veteran on this pitching rotation . I think that the Phillies, if anything , will be the prohibitive favorites within the NL East to take the divisional crown and quite possibly repeat as NL pennant winners at the end of the season .

Saturday’s 11-5 victory for the Phillies , saw Moyer in large part out-pitch the Mets’ ace Johan Santana . And how often is it that we can say that we’ve seen Santana being outpitched by an opponent , much less someone who’s 47 years of age. Santana was only able to go pitch 3.2 innings , have been rocked for eight hits and 10 runs during three innings of work and ending the game with a 10.00 era . I’m not about to suggest that things for the Mets are bad. But given the fact that Santana is the team’s “alleged ace in the hole”. I’d be extremely worried right about now , if I were either Mets’ GM Omar Minaya or team manager Jerry Manuel .

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