Brief But Not Breaking Sports Stories …………..

Brief But Not Breaking Sports Stories …………..

Well I’m not about to bore you all with my thoughts on the ongoing NFL labor dispute because I think for the most part the majority of us are fed up with the lack of any form of compromise having not been met or agreed upon as of yet. Inasmuch as with each passing second ESPN and Foxsports tries to keep us all abreast of the latest developments as if it’s going to be breaking news , merely the mention of either Roger Goodell or DeMaurice Smith’s name in essence simply makes me want to puke ! Suffice to say , even with the NFL coming out with a 2011-12 schedule and wherein they’ve essentially leaked the fact that they’ve a contingency plan in place that would have the season start at Week 3 and all teams playing that week would then have a bye-week later on in the calendar of the season’s schedule . Of what comfort that will be to the fans in question I can’t at present tell you . My bone of contention is that the NFL in spite of itself , in terms of PR, they continue to make the situation worse knowing full well each snippet information leaked won’t in fact undo the damage that has already been done. At the same all of the hoopla that one would come to expect has been created with the hyperbole surrounding the upcoming NFL Draft . What, the fact that a season as the fans had hoped for but yet the NFL wants to lure us all into that false sense of security with three days of the dumb diatribe and where the likes of John Clayton , Mel Kiper and Chris Mortensen will induce us all into wanting to throw something at our tv sets because of their self absorbed overblown analysis ! Simply inform the viewer that’s all we want , nothing more nothing less , it’s as simple as that .

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Three weeks into the MLB season and it seems the fans are abuzz with the play of the teams and the very fact that the divisions are playing themselves out rather nicely . And while the talk of now seems to be the fact that the MLB hierarchy has seen fit to take over the day to day running of the Los Angeles Dodgers , wherein team owner Frank McCourt has been forced to relinquish control of his debt laden organization. I can’t help but wonder why it has taken Bud Selig so long to come to making this decision . I can only surmise that he sought counsel not only from the league’s legal representative but also in large part many of the most prominent team owners within the game . I surely cannot believe that they would have agreed to this action unless they felt that it was imperative that something needed to be done. With the facts being laid bare that McCourt had sought a loan from the local Fox tv affiliate of some $30 million merely to pay primarily the players’ salaries and meet other budgetary expenses for the month of April . I can’t see how Frank McCourt can still believe that the organization isn’t in dire financial straits . Good God almighty we’re barely a month into the Dodgers’ season and the Dodgers couldn’t afford to pay the salaries of its employees ? If you don’t think that’s strange then tell me what is ?

The further we delve into this sordid mess the more murky it becomes because it’s becoming abundantly clear that many of the Dodgers’ front office executives were either simply powerless to stop McCourt in his tracks or they completely suborned his actions without taking into account what could go wrong should things begin to fall apart . Certainly GM Ned Colletti now seems perplexed because in giving a public statement when asked if he was in control of the organization as its senior most executive outside of the owner , Frank McCourt , his reply was ‘ …… I’m not so sure what I can really tell you at the moment ‘ . If you’re an ardent Los Angeles Dodgers’ fan how must you feel at the moment ?

The Dodgers’ as a team hasn’t really let the off the field problems get in the way of their on field efforts . And in their game against the Atlanta Braves we saw them give a heroic effort defeating the Braves 5-3 at Dodgers’ Stadium with walk off 2 run home run from Matt Kemp in extra innings . If that didn’t lift the spirits of the players and the fans in attendance then nothing else may well have done , other than knowing that McCourt is no longer in charge of the team for the time being. Frank McCourt has however said that he is quite prepared to challenge the league’s authority by legal means , in filing a restraining order in the US Federal Court in Los Angeles , California . That legal recourse could either be swift or it could well be a battle of wills between the embattled owner and that of the league hierarchy. Either way, no one actually wins because the damage has already been done to the game’s credibility and that of the Dodgers themselves .

With that in mind I can’t help but wonder if Bud Selig will now challenge the authority of New York Mets’ ownership group and their financial situation as it now stands . One can’t but help notice that Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz as lead managing partner and team president are carefully trying to portray themselves as victims of the Bernard Madoff ‘Ponzi’ scheme and scandal. Suffice to say, with the duo and their company Sterling Equities as well as the Mets’ organization being named as defendants in a civil lawsuit claiming that they profited greatly from the scheme which defrauded clients of an alleged $59 billion ($59,000,000,000 ) . The plaintiffs represented by lawyer Irving Picard are seeking the return of a sum believed to be anywhere between $450 – $750 million that the duo is said to have received over the years by the defendants and their business entities, while Madoff’s scheme was said to be ongoing . What that says about the claims of both Katz and Wilpon that they unaware that the monies received was in fact due to fraud , has to be questioned , given the exorbitant rates of return at the time on their own then alleged investment in the scheme . Both as co-founders of Sterling Equities either had to be completely naive and ignorant or they in fact weren’t duped into believing that their gains were legal _____ they knew all along that something was awry and just simply didn’t care how they derived of this monetary gain.

Personally , I’m of the opinion that Katz and Wilpon knew exactly what was going on but thought that they were never in any danger of being seen as crooked should the scenario play itself out for the press’ and public’s consumption. The fact of the matter may well have been they viewed themselves as bastions of ownership hierarchy within baseball , where as such , the owners there are viewed as captains of industry or self made multi millionaires and not white collar criminals . My feeling is , if you’re involved within the inner workings of Wall St you’re a crook because who else but high ranking executives have profited so greatly from this economic blight wrought upon the nation ?

As the NBA postseason plays itself out we’re beginning to see a number of players come into their own during the playoffs . Dwight Howard has been playing at a high caliber and if anything has been the primary force on the Orlando Magic as they’ve leveled their series (1-1) against the Atlanta Hawks . That being said watching the Altanta Hawks waste a golden opportunity in this series only further emphasizes what I’ve always thought about this team , they’re gunshy and literally scared of their own shadow . If Larry Drew and his coaching staff can’t get this team to play any better than they’re now said to be doing then this series will be closed out on its return to the Amway Center in Orlando , Florida . This much I am certain off , teams cannot afford to waste opportunities when given to them in the playoffs because there’s no looking back and saying ……’ what might have happened if only we’d done that ‘ ?

If the Hawks are to stand any chance of actually winning this series then Joe Johnson will have to step up to the plate and show that he’s indeed the leader of this team rather than an overpaid and less than compelling athlete . How he was able persuade the Hawks’ front office into offering him a 6 year $96 million contract for his less than stellar figures is way beyond anything that I for one can imagine ! I can only surmise that because there weren’t any serious takers for his talents during the trade deadline he saw fit to dupe the Hawks’ management into thinking he as their primary role player on this team would be their best chance of success and a shot at the NBA title .

As the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference the Hawks are a vastly different team from last season if anything they’ve tailed off somewhat but then again this in essence is the same team that was so convincingly swept in the first round by the Orlando Magic last season in the of the NBA Playoffs . That 4-0 series drubbing had to have left a bitter taste in the mouths of the players and the Hawks’ fans . Are we about to see history repeat itself once again this series with only a slight change somewhat in the outcome ? It remains to be seen whether or not the Atlanta Hawks can acquit themselves and redeem some honor as the rest of this series unfolds .

Is a team as good as the coach they’re playing under or does it happen to be , the players or a marquee player that in essence makes the coach’s name ? Could one as such affix that moniker to the likes of Phil Jackson , Gregg Popovich or Red Auerbach for that matter in terms of their unprecedented success ? The reason I say this is because there are those who believe that the Chicago Bulls aren’t genuinely a legitimate contender because of their youth , inexperience and the fact that they’ve a first time coach in Tom Thibodeau . But there has to be a reason why this team was so successful this season and easily ran away with their division and in becoming the number one seed in the Eastern Conference . It solely wasn’t down to the heroics of Derrick Rose and his sensational season because he was ably assisted by his teammates who all bought into Thibodeau’s coaching philosophy , strategies and the lessons of his coaching staff .

The Bulls in the first round have had their struggles against the Frank Vogel coached Indiana Pacers . But in essence if the Bulls are being viewed as inexperienced then how should one judge the Pacers as a team overall …………… over achievers having made it into the playoffs with a 41-41 record ? Last night’s victory by the Bulls in game three essentially sowed up the series with a hard fought victory and all but insurmountable 3-0 series lead . The Pacers’ best player Danny Granger had a chance of winning the game in the dying moments but his three point attempt was a belated and off target effort . TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley was succinct as ever in describing the effort as ‘ garbage’. But if anything Granger wasn’t at all to blame because on close inspection were it not for the harassing defensive play and effort by the Bulls’ Luol Deng the shot may well have been a game ending winner for the Pacers. Instead they now face a series saving game four on Saturday against their conference rivals . Staving off defeat, elimination and living to fight another day is what both Vogel and his team are looking to achieve. But given the effort that has been put forth by this team and the fact that they seem to be their own undoing at the most inopportune of moments I for one can’t see them having the wherewithal or temerity to pull off the win and then trying to win the series outright ! They simply haven’t played consistently enough to convince me that they’re anywhere near the equal of the Chicago Bulls as a team.

As to the chances of Tom Thibodeau as a first year coach taking his team to the NBA Finals , well those chances seem to have improved greatly based upon his team’s efforts so far. One more win and the Bulls make the Eastern Conference Semi Finals where they would meet the winners of the series between the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks . And that series at the moment favors the Celtics with Doc Rivers’ team now up 2-0 in the best of seven series . Game two at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston , Massachusetts , saw the Celtics eke out a hard fought 96-93 victory over the Knicks . But for the heroic efforts of Carmelo Anthony and his 40 plus points in the game the Knicks would surely now be looking even demoralized . But instead they may well be even more galvanized knowing that the the next three games of the series are to be played at their home venue of Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York.

Though Tom Thibodeau may well be viewed as a first year coach, his coaching background and pedigree has proven to be invaluable. If anything the experience of having been assistant to both Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers gives him something of an advantage over the other coaches left in the Eastern Conference playoffs other than Rivers and the Magic’s Stan Van Gundy. His presence having been an assistant to a duo of coaches (Rivers and Popovich) who have won 5 NBA titles between has to be an asset rather than a disadvantage but yet I hear the naysayers out there stating that the Bulls simply aren’t good enough. If they’ve been good enough to essentially stroll their way to the conference’s best record with a series of notable team highs in terms of season success then why are they not good enough to win it all ? If their record isn’t an indictment of how good they are and that of their coach and his resume’ then what is ? It may well be the one thing that could stop the Bulls is simply that they don’t believe that they’re capable of winning it all which would be a given but would you really be willing to bet against a team who’ve proven to be hard to beat on their homecourt at the United Center and are just as difficult to beat away from home as their season schedule has undoubtedly shown us ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the topics raised within this piece and as such as the NBA Playoffs unfold what if anything so far has been of great interest you ? Simply chime in with your own comments and anything else that you may well feel pertinent to this piece .

Alan aka tophatal …………………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Indianapolis Colts Vice President and General Manager Chris Polian responds to a question during a news conference in Indianapolis, Friday, April 22, 2011. Polian talked about the 2011 NFL Draft that will be held next week in New York. AP Photo Darron Cummings ……

(2) NFL lawyer Jeff Pash speaks to members of the media after leaving court ordered mediation presided over by Judge Arthur Boylan at the U.S. Courthouse on April 20, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was order after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down last month. Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images ……

(3) NFL lawyer Bob Batterman and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell leave court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on April 20, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was order after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down last month. Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images …….

(4) Catcher Brian McCann(16) of the Atlanta Braves drops the ball as Jamey Carroll(14) of the Los Angeles Dodgers slides safely into home to tie the game in the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Braves 5-3 in twelve innings. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ……..

(5) Matt Kemp(27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a game winning two-run home run in the 12th inning against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Braves 5-3 in twelve innings. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images …….

(6) Matt Kemp, center , (27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers is mobbed by his teammates after hitting a two-run home run to win the game in the 12th inning against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images …….

(7) Dwight Howard(12) of the Orlando Magic shoots over Zaza Pachulia(27) of the Atlanta Hawks during game two Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2011 at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(8) Joe Johnson(2) of the Atlanta Hawks rebounds against the Orlando Magic during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2011 at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. The Magic would defeat the Hawks 88-82 to level the series at one game (1-1) apiece . Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(9) Derrick Rose(1) of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball while defended by Jeff Foster (50) of the Indiana Pacers in Game three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 21, 2011 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Bulls won 88-84 to take a 3-0 lead in their best of seven series . Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ……

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Winners Are Often Made But The Again They Can Be Born

Winners Are Often Made But Then Again They Can
Be Born

All of a sudden it appears that Joe Maddon and his coaching staff has a winning team on his hands with the Tampa Bays Rays having won five straight games and now making their presence felt in the AL East . Now I’m not about to pronounce the Rays as the surprise team of the season as of yet because we’re but a few weeks into an arduous 162 game regular season schedule , where as we know anything can happen.

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As some of you may know I’m fan without a team to support having abandoned the Florida Marlins at the end of last season . I felt I could no longer support an organization where the team owner Jeffrey Loria was simply more about himself , his needs and wants rather than what was in the best interests of the team and the fans in general . It goes without saying that Loria like many of his peers within the game are of the same mindset and that is especially applicable to the owners amongst the small market teams around MLB . They’ll do whatever it takes to make money even if it’s to be done illegally !

The Rays this season having lost Manny Ramirez with his abrupt retirement rather than face the league mandated 100 game suspension after a second failed consecutive drug test thereby breaking the league’s steroid policy , essentially showed himself to be nothing more than a coward ! The heroes of the moment for the Tampa Bay Rays has to be Johnny Damon and Sam Fulds who has proven to be just the impetus needed to turn things around for the team and now make themselves the talk of the town at present as it regards their play. That being said it would be naive to even suggest or think that because of the team’s play they’re ready to contend within their division once again and make a successful defense of their AL East divisional title . Stranger things are known to have happened but then again who know as it concerns the vagaries of this team ?

I’m sorry but anyone of the belief that the New York Mets with their payroll of over bloated stars can contend within the NL East much less the rest of baseball has to be either delirious or still on some form of prescriptive medication . This team much less the organization has no idea what it takes to win much how to go about it with any degree of certainty or authority. I know that manager Terry Collins , his coaching staff will have the assist wherewithal of GM’s Sandy Alderson and assistant general manager J P Ricciardi providing their input as it relates to the personnel decisions but simply put the Mets’ window of opportunity to even be viewed as contenders much less win a World Series title has long gone !

The New York Mets has become a comical caricature of all that is wrong with the game of baseball ! Team President Saul Katz , team owner , senior general partner Fred Wilpon have plunged the team into an abyss of mediocrity and now it also appears the team’s immediate future could very well be at stake . Both Katz and Wilpon as well as the organization has been named as defendants in a civil suit that looks to reclaim $500 million that Wilpon and Katz were in receipt of as part of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme. Both defendants claim that they were unaware that the sums they’d been in receipt of was from fraudulent means . But yet somehow both Katz and Wilpon divested much of the $ 500 million into various entities including a company that both had co- founded —– Sterling Equities . What now awaits both defendants as well as the team remains to be seen .

Well the NBA postseaon has begun and we’ve already seen that what the expectations are meant to be about . Those doubters of the Chicago Bulls after their unexpected 60 plus win season shows why it is that you simply don’t gloss over the achievements of this team and its coach Tom Thibodeau . I’ve read it where some have said because of the inexperience of this team they could very well struggle throughout these the playoffs and that because Tom Thibodeau doesn’t have much of a coaching pedigree it could prove to be an impediment for this team. I simply wish when people make such asinine claims that they simply did a little research than simply speaking out their rear end ! Thibodeau has been the assistant coach on two NBA title winning organizations that collectively have won 5 titles in the last decade and a half . A fact that simply has been overlooked by individuals who’ve chosen not to look at the coach’s resume’ . Being an assistant to such noted coaches as Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich may seem slight but consider this , Thibodeau was the architect of the defensive strategies that has molded the face we see of both the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs .

Game one of the Bulls’ opening round series against Doug Collins’ Philadelphia 76ers . The United Center was packed to the rafters to see the Chicago Bulls play their first postseason game and series at the venue since the heyday of Jordan , Pippen and Phil Jackson . And though I didn’t think that series would be a cakewalk for the Bulls I knew that game one would be a stern test for the team and in particular the leadership qualities of Derrick Rose a potential league MVP candidate . And if anyone is in any doubt why Rose shouldn’t be the league MVP then yesterday’s play in which he blocked Darren Collison’s shot , then in transition dribbled the ball upcourt and then carved his way through the Sixers’ defense for the layup score . Need I anymore on the matter ?

For the better part of three quarters the Sixers had the Bulls on the rack but somehow you simply knew that this team wasn’t about to disappoint their fans and in particular a national tv audience watching. Rose for his part has led this team with authority throughout the season and in doing so we’ve seen both the maturation of Luol Deng , Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah as players . And with the team having acquired Carlos Boozer in the offseason as a free agent we saw the Chicago Bulls rise to the occasion surprising many of their contemporaries within the Eastern Conference .

The Bulls eked out a comfortable victory and will look to resume the series and increase their lead have a 2-0 margin before the resumption of the series in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center ( formerly the Comcast/ Spectrum Arena) . If anything Doug Collins would like nothing more than to even this series at one game apiece before his team’s return its home venue. I know that the Sixers’ coach had to have been disappointed to see his team give up a lead and then see it completely erased with less than 3 and a half minutes to go in the game . From being on the cusp of a surprise upset win the Bulls simply placed a dagger in the hearts of their first round opponents . That’s the way a game ought to be closed out , with complete authority and the mind of a cold boodied assassin !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As a sport’s fan how do you define winning and what it means to you as a fan and no I’m not talking about the ‘term’ now being coined by actor Charlie Sheen ! If anything over this sport’s weekend what result if anything either came as a surprise or met with your expectation ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the topics raised within this piece . .

Alan aka tophatal ………………………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com ……..

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(1) Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon looks on from the dugout during the ninth inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Sunday, April 17, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays would go on to lose 4-2 to the Twins . AP Photo/Brian Blanco ……

(2) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – APRIL 17: of the Tampa Bay Rays of the Minnesota Twins during the game at Tropicana Field on April 17, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………..

(3) New York Mets’ Josh Thole is caught stealing second base as Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, left, makes the tag for an out in the fifth inning of a major league baseball game Sunday, April 17, 2011 in Atlanta. The Mets won 3-2 . AP Photo/David Goldman …..

(4) New York Mets’ Josh Thole, left, beats the tag of Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann to score on an Ike Davis single in the first inning of a major league baseball game Sunday, April 17, 2011 in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Goldman ………….

(5) Fred Wilpon, General Manager Sandy Alderson, New York Mets new manager Terry Collins, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz pose for pictures during a press conference at Citi Field on November 23, 2010 in New York, New York. Getty Images North America / Chris McGrath ……….

(6) Carlos Boozer (5) of the Chicago Bulls and Tyler Hansbrough (50) of the Indiana Pacers battle for position on a free-throw in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99 . Johnathan Daniels /Getty Images …….

(7) Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls of the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images . ……..

(8) CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 16: Joakim Noah (13) of the Chicago Bulls celebrates two blocked shots in the final seconds against the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……..

(9) Derrick Rose(1) of the Chicago Bulls leaps to pass the ball around Paul George (24) of the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Johnathan Daniel / Getty Images ……

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Jon Connor ………… feat’g ………. Elite …………. ‘Keep Your Head Up’

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