Make Up To Break Up ….

Make Up To Break Up …

So to round out week seven of the NFL regular season the New England Patriots faced their AFC East divisional rivals the New York Jets. It was a master-class as these two teams were divergent with regard to their aspirations for the season.

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Adam Gase the current Jets’ Head Coach is a former assistant with Bill Belichcik , Head Coach of the Patriots for the last twenty-three years during which he’s coached the franchise to eight
Superbowl
appearances, winning on six occasions with the Patriots . Tom Brady , the quarterback for New England during each of those triumphs, continues to be as consistent as ever. Last night’s performance by the player was once again a work of art , where he clearly outplayed his Jets’ counterpart Sam Darnold , a first-round pick among the quarterbacks from the 2018 NFL Draft . This game was a complete rout with the Patriots’ defense coming away with several interceptions and the sacking of Darnold on multiple occasions. Patriots’ defensive player Devin McCourty , a seasoned veteran might well be having his best year ever as a player with New England . With the result being a 33-0 beating of the New York Jets and New England now moving to 7-0 . The question now being asked is there a team within the AFC capable of beating the New England Patriots at this juncture ?

With the New England Patriots now having acquired Mohammed Sanu from the Atlanta Falcons for a future second-round draft pick , this bolsters the receiving corps of the Patriots and provides them with additional depth on their roster . In week eight , the half-way mark of the regular season the New England Patriots are set to meet the Cleveland Browns in a conference road game .

Say what you will , but injuries have begun to plague the teams around the NFL , causing dire situations for many of them. The Carolina Panthers remain without Cam Newton , albeit , that his back-up , Kyle Allen has shown a great deal of maturity, as the Panthers continue to surprise many in the absence of Newton being on the field. Kyle Allen has proven to be an exceptional understudy , while leading the Panthers to a very good start to their season in 2019. Up next for Allen and the Carolina Panthers will be a game against the unbeaten San Francisco 49ers in an NFC conference match-up . If will be interesting to see how both of these opposing quarterbacks will fare in this contest.

Tuesday, 22nd October and it is the Opening Night for the NBA regular season schedule. Defending NBA champions , the Toronto Raptors will begin defense of their title , which they won convincingly, defeating the Golden State Warriors last season. Toronto will tip-off against the New Orleans Pelicans , who will be without their rookie sensation Zion Williamson . The former Duke star will be sidelined for the next six to eight weeks as he recuperates from surgery, having torn his meniscus. In his absence, it is expected that Lonzo Ball will be expected to lead this team alongside veteran player JJ Redick . Though they’re not expected to be in contention within their division , it will be interested to see how the Pelicans will fare through their regular season schedule and especially within their conference . . Williamson’s first game back, if everything goes to schedule , his first professional season game will see the player and his teammates face the Detroit Pistons on the 9th December .

Anthony Davis has found a new home having left the New Orleans Pelicans to join LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers . The trade which brought Davis to the franchise , saw Lonzo Ball and players superfluous to the Lakers’ needs head East to the Pelicans. Davis was seen as one of the marquee players moved during the off-season , and the one who’s expected to have the greatest impact of all. Yet to mind , that will not be the case , as I expect both Kawhi Leonard with having joined the Los Angeles Clippers and Russell Westbrook , whose departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder to play alongside James Harden of the Houston Rockets , could very well prove to be major factors, as to who poses the biggest threat within the Western Conference and in all likelihood be seen as the prohibitive favorites for the NBA title this season.

The Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers will meet on Opening Night and their regular season series over the course of this season should prove to be very interesting if last season is anything to go by.

There is no denying in my mind , that the New York Knicks are likely to be once again among the worst teams in the league this upcoming season. Team owner James L Dolan and the entire front office remain completely bereft of intelligence in terms of knowing what it takes in building a successful NBA franchise. David Fizdale , Head Coach enters another season with a roster , that will be hard pressed to succeed within the Eastern Conference this season. The opening month will see the Knicks play five games against varied opponents . Fizdale and the team open up their schedule with a match-up against the San Antonio Spurs and it will be a marked surprise by way of the expected match-ups. It will be interesting to see which player steps up to the plate for the Knicks this season, whereas last season it was Tim Hardaway Jr , who this season will be with the Dallas Mavericks .

Jose Altuve once again proved why he’s been so invaluable to the Houston Astros , as his postseason heroics continued apace for the ball-club. Altuve sealed the Astros’ postseason performance in the ALCS against the New York Yankees , guiding the team to their second World Series’ appearance since 2017 .

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Carlos Correa , left is seen here with his Houston Astros’ teammate Jose Altuve .

Tonight , Tuesday, 22nd October will be the opening game of the World Series with the Houston Astros playing in front of their home crowd at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas as they face the Washington Nationals . Opposing pitchers for this game will be Max Scherzer of the Nationals facing Gerrit Cole of the Astros . Cole for his part will be a highly desired free agent , this off-season with his being viewed as the marquee player among the crop of free agent starting pitchers.

Gerrit Cole is a native of California and with the Los Angeles Angels , having acquired Joe Maddon as their manager. It is widely believed that GM Billy Eppler and owner Arte Moreno will seek to acquire the player and likely make him the highest paid starting pitcher in baseball , by way of base salary.

This series between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals could very well be the most anticipated Fall Classic in recent history, with two teams, with pitching staffs considered to be among the best in baseball .

The world of sports has it’s many issues and the stories as they unfold will make for an interesting spectacle for the consumers and fans alike.

Tophatal ………

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NFL news …

NFL standings (division)

NFL schedule week eight

NFL schedule (full season)

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NBA news ….

Week 1 NBA regular season schedule

NBA standings (division) …

NBA transactions …

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MLB news

2019 MLB Postseason

MLB World Series’ schedule (first three games)

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I Spy With My Little Eye ….

I Spy With My Little Eye   …..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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NBA news ……..

2019 NBA Playoffs

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2019 NFL schedule (regular season)


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MLB schedule three days at a glance (15th May to 17th May)

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

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 ……..

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2019 NBA Playoffs Brackets

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Take A Walk on The Wild Side ….

Take A Walk on The Wild Side ….

In their frustration to get back to winning ways the Philadelphia Phillies , all but broke the bank in signing Bryce Harper to a thirteen year , $330 million contract . That deal certainly makes Harper the highest paid player on the Phillies’ roster as well as well as the highest paid player in all of baseball by way of a contract. His deal surpasses the one paid to Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees whose original contract was structured by the Miami Marlins . Many believe the game of baseball to be in a healthy financial state due to the continued profitability of the teams by way of revenues and their income. In reality however, with the salary cap in place instituted by the Major League Baseball hierarchy. It’s safe to say the level playing field envisaged by baseball’s s governing body has been anything but that.


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Major League Baseball , much like the NBA and NFL are continually looking for various ways to stream their content to an even wider audience by way of the internet , broadcast television and even on the international scale. The game itself remains popular in Latin America , the Caribbean and within certain Asian countries. Unfortunately, Bud Selig and his successor current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred eschewed their chance to have baseball remain forefront on the international stage by failing to come to terms with the conditions laid out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) . With the sport no longer being part of the Summer Olympics , it’s now left with the less than celebrated World Baseball Classic to provide that international stage for the sport to be more widely recognized. To date, it would be fair to suggest that the WBC (World Baseball Classic) has been far from being a resounding success.

This upcoming season could be a very important one for the Philadelphia Phillies with both Bryce Harper and Pirates’ veteran Andrew McCutchen looking to place this ball-club back among the elite teams within the game. Within the National League , it’s going to be hard to suggest which of the teams will rise to the occasion while looking to usurp the dominance shown by the Boston Red Sox , who many now believe to be the best team in all of baseball. There is no doubt in my mind that they have the deepest roster in all of baseball , with several All Stars at various positions on the depth chart of the roster. The Phillies’ acquisition of Bryce Harper might well be one of the most active off-seasons in recent baseball history , with Manny Machado having been signed by the San Diego Padres to an extraordinary deal and then we had Nolan Arenado remaining with the Colorado Rockies , having been signed to another gargantuan deal.

We’re now just over three weeks away from the start of the regular season within baseball, but for the moment , the Spring Training schedule remains active. There are several games scheduled for Monday afternoon , 4th March as teams seek to find a rhythm before embarking on the Opening Day Schedule, 28th March , 2019. From my own perspective , I don’t believe the teams will actually find their full rhythm until mid-May , early June , with their having several games under their belts.

The NBA has entered the last month of the regular season and there are still a number of spots up for grabs , most notably , only one division appears to be all but decided , while conference berths for the NBA Playoffs are from being decided. It’s strange to see the Boston Celtics struggling along with fellow Eastern Conference representatives the Philadelphia 76ers . Inconsistency as well has injuries, have at some point plagued both teams. Boston for their part have played much of the season without the use of veteran point guard Kyrie Irving , and with their being continued speculation, that Irving might consider leaving the franchise to rejoin former teammate LeBron James who’s now playing for the Los Angeles Lakers . It remains to be seen, how that whole scenario will actually play itself.

The roster of the Boston Celtics was built to win now , with both Al Horford , Gordon Hayward and Irving being the seasoned veterans on the roster. GM Danny Ainge had the blessing of team owner Wyc Grousbeck to do whatever it takes to make the Celtics a competitive force within the league this season. Add in the coaching astuteness shown by Head Coach Brad Stevens and there can be no denying the team has not met expectations sought for this season. However, I do believe, if Irving is back in the lineup , given the team’s experience , they have to be considered among the favorites within the Eastern Conference to reach the Conference Finals for this season.

If there’s a question concerning the Philadelphia 76ers , then it comes down to the lack of coaching acumen of Brett Brown and the use of his players during games and their lineups at certain points during a contest. While point guard Ben Simmons has been lauded for his play there have been times where questions have arisen concerning his being unable to take over games and stamp his dominance in those contests. Joel Embiid , might well be considered the best all-round player on the roster, but again his inconsistency has continued to be questioned and the same can be said of
JJ Redick .

At this point last season , things were very contrived as the teams were seeking to parlay their season into something meaningful. Defending champions , the Golden State Warriors remain the team to beat and as a burgeoning dynasty , I seriously doubt they’re going to be overthrown anytime soon. Kevin Durant and fellow Warriors’ teammate Steph Curry might well be the best one-two combination in the league in terms of their combined offensive prowess.

Make no bones about it, Los Angeles Lakers’ fans might well have felt with LeBron James coming to the City of Angels , things were about to change , but the Los Angeles Lakers have been far from convincing this season. A sub .500 record was not expected of this team at this point of the season and it’s my own belief having not landed Anthony Davis at the trade deadline, has only further solidified the fact that the Lakers are from being the desirable destination , even with the four-time League MVP being there to attract a big name. Should the Lakers miss the NBA Playoffs, then the repercussions could very well be truly damaging and damning for the organization.. The remainder of the Lakers’ schedule is a very tough one and it will be interesting to see how the team fares as they wind down their regular season schedule. The team will be in action this week and their next game will be against the Denver Nuggets at home , a conference rival within the West.

Gonzaga are now back atop of the NCAA Men’s Basketball rankings and it will be interesting to see how this team will fare during their conference championship and in particular within the NCAA Tournament , which begins on the 19th March . While much of the talk in recent weeks has been the loss of Zion Williamson , the player many believe will be the consensus overall number one pick in the NBA Draft. Gonzaga now takes center stage as they seek to win a national title.

OK , with the NFL simply a year round news’ cycle within the North American sports’ market panacea . All eyes now will be set on the upcoming NFL Draft , with the New England Patriots having landed their sixth Superbowl victory within the last eighteen years. One now has to wonder what is now left for the coaching and player tandem of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady . Both are sure first ballot Hall of Fame bound for Canton , and I’d dare say that team owner Robert Kraft will likely join that illustrious duo , pending his current legal status. The Patriots are a dynasty in spite of what naysayers will have to say, Cheating asides, we all know that it’s something that is widespread within the NFL and professional sports in general.For the puritans out there , it’s time to just shut the fuck up and face facts, professional sports is no longer about playing fairly , but making sure you just don’t get caught.

The upcoming NFL Draft could prove to be very interesting along with the current batch of free agents likely to hit the market within the next few days. With teams having until the 9th March to put their affairs in order with regard to retaining players guaranteeing roster and incentive bonuses , this off-season could prove to be a very interesting one , just as it was at this point in 2018 in the lead-up to the 2018 NFL Draft. The consensus appears to be that either Nick Bosa or Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray will be one of the two players taken as the number one overall pick for this Draft. . There is a glutton of quarterbacks who have declared their intent , and it will be interesting to see if Murray’s name is announced as the number one overall pick, joining a long list of passers having been taken in the first round as the overall number one pick. As to the success the player is expected to have , it’s going to be dependent upon where he lands and the coaching acumen shown by the coaching staff involved. The Arizona Cardinals will be the team with that first pick and it’s my belief Kyler Murray will be that player taken by the franchise as their first overall pick .

It’s time for the New York Giants to move on from Eli Manning in spite of the player’s achievements for the franchise. In the last three years alone , Manning has proven his best years are now indeed behind him and that this present Giants’ roster is far from equipped to compete with the best that the NFC has to offer much less the rest of the NFL for that matter.

From my perspective , it’s not in the best interest for the New York Giants to seek a free agent quarterback when they have to their future on the line and to stick with Manning, would be absolutely nonsensical at this juncture. The veteran can best serve the franchise in nurturing the talent of his heir-apparent , rather than continuing not to be held accountable for his own poor play and the lack of real leadership on the field . Much of that blame also lays squarely on the shoulders of the coaching staff led by Pat Shurmur . The coach will seek to put some resilience back into this lineup through the upcoming NFL and most likely through some worthwhile off-season acquisitions .

Eli Manning is not due to become a free agent until 2020 , but has a high cap value of over $23 million for 2019. Whatever the New York Giants now seek to do , it will be every interesting to see what transpires.

Jon Jones with his latest victory in the defense of his UFC Light Heavyweight Title , has now cemented his legacy within the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Many purists believe him to be, perhaps the greatest fighter the UFC has seen within its history . I think Jones is by far the best fighter of his generation within his weight class and among the top-five UFC fighters of all-time !!! Jones’ clinical dismantling of challenger Anthony Smith might well have been the best fight of the champion’s career in the last four years. Jon Jones to my mind can now name his own price , by way of his own destiny , because I firmly believe he is now the face of this sport and not an ass wipe such as Conor McGregor .

From my own standpoint the UFC is now at a crossroads as the President of the company , Dana White has to place more of an emphasis on the real stars within the sport, rather than his own personal choices as to whom, he best believes fits the bill to become the face of the UFC.

Which have been the main stories over the past few days within the sports’ that have you enthralled ?


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Walk It Like You Talk It ……

Walk It Like You Talk It ….

In the aftermath of the momentous joint victory for Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid , there are now looming doubts about whether or not Roger Goodell as the NFL Commissioner can continue to be granted so much latitude with regard to his wide-ranging powers , as well as how the league hierarchy and team owners can now deal with such issues of player grievances in the future. This was an extremely costly loss the NFL , albeit, with an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) being signed , we will never know the full extent of the compensatory figure paid out to both Kaepernick and Reid as part of their collusion grievance.

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While I believe this might provide some closure to the events surrounding the stance taken by Colin Kaepernick , there still leaves the fact that the former San Francisco Forty Niners’ starting quarterback is still unable to find a role on a team within the NFL. There are now rumors circulating that the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots are showing interest in signing the player whose last game in the NFL took place during the 2016 NFL season . I don’t believe the Patriots are a legitimate option , especially in light of both Tom Brady and the team owner Robert Kraft , being staunch supporters of Donald Trump , a President who was often critical of the NFL’s players and pointedly so towards Colin Kaepernick . It’s clear however, that could all change, in light of the judgment ruling against the league.

With the other alternative for Kaepernick being to sign with the Carolina Panthers, I am not so sure he would be welcomed with open arms by the coaching staff and front office of the organization . As to the current roster of Panthers’ players themselves , unless Cam Newton himself , steps up to the plate and were to make Colin Kaepernick feel welcomed. There again. I am not so sure he would be seen as an ideal fit for the team. The fans being what they are , and the fact that attendance within the NFL has ebbed and flowed since 2015 , and their being a marked decline with regard to an engaged television audience for regular season games . The NFL must now address this chapter once and for all , and bring it to a close. There were idiots, who believed that the NFL would suffer financially , but nothing could be further from the truth and among the league’s biggest corporate sponsors, Nike profited greatly from the exposure gained ,with Kaepernick being a client endorser .

The NBA’s mid-season showcase event was all the talk over the past weekend with the All Star Game taking place. This history of the event might well be the most fan-friendly of the four major professional sports’ events which take place. The NFL has it’s Pro-Bowl Game , but with each passing game, especially over the last decade , the game itself has become less and less popular for the fans and as a television spectacle. Major League Baseball places way too much emphasis on the players and the rather asinine way it has players nominated for an appearance in the MLB All Star Game , has the event seem something of a non-plus along with the Home Run Derby. Granted , the league that wins the All Star , their representative in the World Series is granted home-field advantage throughout the series. Yet, when it’s all said and done in spite of those incentives , the event itself remains something of a chore to watch. For the NHL , well let’s just say their All Star Game , ranks up there alongside watching paint dry or a Congressional Hearing in either the US House of Representatives or the US Senate .

Kevin Durant , already a two-time Finals’ MVP with the Golden State Warriors , might well have begun to ignite the debate as to whether he is now the best player in the NBA and what is with all due respect to four-time League MVP , LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers . James was an active participant in the All Star Game which was played on Monday Night . A high-scoring event where defense was not at an optimum , Durant put on a display of offensive prowess for the winning team and along the way he picked up his second All Star MVP Award.

The second-half of the season within the NBA will pick-up , with the teams looking to jockey themselves into position for the final games of the regular season . With things being what they are , the pressure is now on the Los Angeles Lakers to end their regular season run with a big bang. They’re not capable of winning their division and within the Western Conference , their remains a right race for the seeding’s, five ,
through eight
. LeBron James and his teammates will be on the court for their next game , when they face the Houston Rockets and James Harden at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California , on Thursday, 21st February , 2019. That is the day, when the league resumes its regular season schedule . Meanwhile, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors will resume their regular season schedule with a contest against the Sacramento Kings .

In the Eastern Conference of the NBA , the Milwaukee Bucks led by Giannis Antetokounmpou , are looking to solidify their position as the best team in the conference. Antetokounmpou is proving to be one of the best offensive players in the entire NBA , in spite of his experience . All season long the Bucks have been extremely impressive , on the road or at home . Next up for this well-rounded team will be a game against the Boston Celtics , in a contest , which will provide the fans with a great deal more than just competitiveness and excitement .

If the rumors are to be believed , then James L Dolan might well be willing to listen to serious offers as he seeks to unload the New York Knicks . Dolan is not likely to sell the franchise at a bargain basement price , knowing that a $3,5 billion price tag is not out of the realms of possibility . The Knicks are no longer a viable competitive concern within the NBA , but they remain the most valuable franchise , because of their geographical and demo-graphical location. It’s hard to envisage who might willingly show interest in purchasing the New York Knicks and the possible price that’s likely to be above $4 billion , an exorbitant price to say the very least. The team’s season is in complete shambles and it’s my own belief , their coaching staff would like to ‘tank’ their season , which would provide them with a healthy chance of a Draft Lottery Pick in the first round of 2019 NBA Draft .

Courtesy of USA Today

Knicks shoot down report of James Dolan ‘courting offers’ to sell team

By Chris Iseman , USA Today , NBA Writer

Rumors that James Dolan is potentially interested in selling the New York Knicks have been circulating, and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons has now added more fuel to that fire. Citing people “who know things,” Simmons on his podcast said that he was told Dolan is courting offers. “It’s happening,” Simmons said. “It’s on. It’s go-time. He’s courting offers for the Knicks. That’s what I heard at All-Star weekend from people I trust.” Simmons believes Dolan is more interested in running the company’s entertainment division. But a statement released Monday by The Madison Square Garden Company, of which Dolan is chairman and CEO, denied all accounts of the report. “The story is 100% false,” the statement reads. “There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions – nothing.” In an interview with ESPN’s Ian O’Connor in December, Dolan said he wouldn’t rule out selling the Knicks, mainly because he has a responsibility to his shareholders of the publicly traded company. “They’re not there because they’re fans,” Dolan said in the interview. “You don’t invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a stock because you’re a fan. You do it because you think that the business is going to increase in value, that the stock price is going to go up. You have a responsibility as the guy who runs the place to deliver on that for them, that’s being open and transparent. And so in that position, I could never say that I wouldn’t consider selling the Knicks.”


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David Fizdale , current Head Coach of the New York Knicks presides over a team that is among the worst in all of the league’s vital statistical categories this season.. Over their last fifteen games the Knicks are a bewildering a 1-14 , which  is  among the  worst  in the  league . Next up  for  the  New  York  Knicks  will  be  a  game  against  the the Minnesota Timberwolves at home , where the Knicks are an abysmal 4-23 . It’s hard to envisage where the interest will come from concerning someone willing to buy the New York Knicks outright , but I am sure that the NBA hierarchy will find a way to make this franchise seem all the more alluring to a potential buyer.

So one of the two lynch-pins are down with GM AJ Preller having pulled off perhaps the biggest coup in San Diego Padres’ history with the team having agreed in principle to sign free agent Manny Machado to a ten-year , $300 million deal . It is by far the biggest free agent acquisition made in the Padres’ history and immediately makes Machado the highest paid player on the team’s roster . Machado who spent much of last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers , was by far in a way their best offensive player throughout the postseason , but somehow the Dodgers’ front office didn’t feel he would be a good fit for the team moving forward. I’m beginning to think that several of the front office executives within the Dodgers’ organization are not fully equipped to carry out their various duties along with the managerial staff of Dave Roberts . Where this now leaves Bryce Harper as a free agent and whether or not he’s in the driver’s seat to demand a similar type deal remains to be seen , but it is becoming abundantly clear , the player’s agent Scott Boras will demand something commensurate with his client’s abilities and standing as a former NL MVP and Rookie of The Year . There’s no denying that Bryce Harper is a five-tool player , capable of leading a team to a World Series’ title if the adequate pieces are around him, That was never the case while he was a player with the Washington Nationals .

There are likely to be at least three teams showing an interest in Bryce Harper , but I am not so all three are seen as outright favorites to sign the player. The ball-clubs, I believe still in the running for Harper, are the New York Yankees , Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago White Sox , all of whom would significantly increase their payroll in 2019 over last season . Scott Boras having seen Manny Machado signed to a $300 million contract , would clearly want a great deal more for Bryce Harper. The New York Yankees could easily afford to absorb such a deal, given their vast resources as a ball club and with the revenues of the organization alongside that of the YES Network . Capitalized at over $3.5 billion it is easy to understand why the Yankees remain profitable as well as the most valuable team in all of baseball and one of the most recognized professional sports clubs in the world .

The San Diego Padres will have will have several players reporting for Spring Training over the next few days along with non-roster invitees . Their exhibition season will begin in full earnest during March , with their first exhibition game being played against the Los Angeles Dodgers . Machado and his teammates should have a good workout against their divisional rivals in that game . San Diego will begin its regular season schedule with a game against the San Francisco Giants at home , PETCO Field , in San Diego , California on the 28th March , 2019 , Official Opening Day for Major League Baseball in 2019.

Time is running out for Scott Boras to get a deal done for his client and I do believe that the asking price might well be way too high. In this day and age , I don’t think that there is a team out there willing to commit $350 million , let alone $400 million to one player in a long-term contract , without any type of guarantee of success. One World Series’ title might well be good , but two or three would be better and I doubt that Bryce Harper , is worthy of that contract let alone be able to produce on such a grand scale for an organization .

In light of what’s now taking place in the world sports what are your expectations in the coming weeks and months ?

Tophatal …………


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If it’s not a fall from grace then what is it ?

If it’s not a fall from grace then what is it ?

They were all set to dominate and over the past few seasons these athletes in their own way have shone and then somehow flamed out. While still highly paid in the ultra- competitive world of professional sports, it’s hard to justify some of the salaries now being paid within the NBA , NFL and MLB . Say what you will, but I’ve long maintained a sport that barely has the Nielsen’s Rating flickering is simply not worth my time and so it goes in the world of professional hockey, otherwise known as the NHL .


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When Dez Bryant was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys before the start start of the 2010 NFL season , it was felt the wide receiver would be a game-changer for the franchise. Taken as the twenty-fourth pick overall in the 2010 NFL Draft , initially he lived up to the hoopla, but over the past three years there has been a tail-off in productivity , while being paid handsomely in return by the franchise. Dez Bryant has two more years left on a five-year $70 million contract, but it would appear the player believes he’s in line for a pay raise. My own believe is that neither team owner and de-facto general manager Jerry Jones is willing to offer a new deal to the always rambunctious Bryant. The player and his agent , RocNation Sports will certainly try to prove the Cowboys’ front office wrong , if the rumors are to believed , that he will be cut. He has a cap hit to Dallas which will be over $14,000,000 for this upcoming season. Only Antonio Brown and Larry Fitzgerald will be better paid as wide receivers within the NFL for 2018.

From my own standpoint based on 2017 and 2016 , Dez Bryant has done nothing to suggest he’s even remotely in the class of either of those two players. Bryant being cut by the Dallas Cowboys might not be as big a loss as some might believe it to be. If he falls by the wayside , then I expect a number of teams likely to show some interest , but I seriously doubt that he will be able to get a big multi-year deal of over $100 million .

I have to hand it to Derek Jeter , not only has he been throwing out the bath water , but he’s also made the kitchen sink and all of the wares will be gone, along with alienating the Miami Marlins’ fans. No sooner have he and his business partners assumed control of the franchise , having paid over $1 billion for the privilege of owning the ball-club. He is now stripping it down to all but it’s essential bare bones as a playing staff . Jeter and senior managing partner Bruce Sherman have promised that the Marlins will be competitive in 2018, but I can’t see that happening when the team’s payroll will be way under $90 million .

Derek Jeter right is seen here with Marlins’ co-owner Bruce Sherman.

In this day age within baseball, $90 million might get you across the finish line,but in no way will it make you a leader of the pack, much less a viable contender for the World Series. Assuming there are no more trades to be made , the Miami Marlins’ roster is one with some experience but no real veteran leaders among the squad. Don Mattingly returns for another season to manage the Marlins and it will be interesting to see how the team fares against their divisional rivals this season. Mattingly and the team will begin with their exhibition games as part of Spring Training. The opening game of their regular season will see them face off against the Chicago Cubs at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida on the 29th March ,2018. In terms of the Marlins being able to get the better of Washington Nationals or any of their rivals within the National League , I think it’s pretty safe to say they face an uphill battle , while their Derek Jeter seems so optimistic about the team’s chances.

Do athletes really need to be told, don’t do drugs? Don’t get caught with drugs and surely make sure if you’re going to get caught , make sure you have a sound explanation for your situation. Esteban Loaiza a seasoned veteran within the game, now faces some serious legal charges within the judicial system. Having plead not guilty on the charges of possession and the distribution of more than 10 kilograms (twenty-two pounds) of cocaine, Loaiza if found guilty, could be facing as much as twenty-five years in a California State Prison. Suffice to say his days within the game of baseball are essentially over.

A two-time NL Cy Young Award winner , it should tell you something when a pitcher of Tim Lincecum’s status now finds himself on the outside looking in , hoping to find himself on a Major League roster prior to the beginning of Spring Training. When he was let go by the San Francisco Giants, many were astonished by those turn of events. He was a mainstay on the team and part of the success when they won three World Series’ crowns within the space of five years, between 2010 and 2015. Lincecum found himself with the Los Angeles Angels in 2016 and his role with the team somewhat understated . Having been invited to the Spring Training Camp of the Seattle Mariners , it will be interesting to see if Tim Lincecum can make his way unto their starting lineup for 2018. There is a great deal of depth to the starting rotation as well as middle relief , but Lincecum will certainly have to prove himself if he going to make it unto the team’s final roster. Injuries and inconsistency were the issues which plagued pitcher , which led to his dismissal with the San Francisco Giants and his performances with the Angels at best , were never up to the expectations sought by managerial staff of Mike Scioscia and the front office .

For the Seattle Mariners this will be a make or break season , because over the past five years things have not gone in their favor. This franchise has not been to the MLB postseason since 2001 when they made to the ALCS , only to fall to the New York Yankees losing 4-1 in the best of seven-game series . The likes of Felix Hernandez , Robinson Cano and others will have to be front and center , playing great baseball if the Mariners are to make a return the postseason. Seventeen years is a long drought for a ball-club where former greats Alex Rodriguez , Ken Griffey Jr and Edgar Martinez made their names. I can see the Mariners vying for the AL West division in 2018 where their stiffest challenge is likely to come from reigning World Series champions the Houston Astros . Seattle will begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Cleveland Indians .

Big splash in New York, when he was acquired by the New York Knicks , but no one within the front office knew what to do in order to complement the talents of Carmelo Anthony . At the time , it was thought the trade that brought him to the Knicks from the Denver Nuggets would be the stepping stone needed for Anthony to prove himself among the elite players within the NBA. Instead , he has now become an afterthought while barely contributing to his present team the Oklahoma City Thunder .

While the Oklahoma City Thunder are challenging within their division and there’s been a spirited run within the Western Conference . There is a belief had Carmelo been contributing more, the team would be in a much better position all-round.

Well he’s now on this third team inside of a year , having been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kyrie Irving as the Boston Celtics moved to get younger and more productive at the point guard position. Isiah Thomas’ stint in Cleveland barely lasted the first half of the season and now he’s with the Los Angeles Lakers , where he will be teamed up alongside Lonzo Ball in the Lakers’ back-court . This should prove to be very intriguing as the team looks to make a push for a playoff berth within the West Conference . The depth of talent is far greater than anything they faced last season and even with the belief that Luke Walton and the coaching staff can motivate the players, against the top teams in the conference , I just don’t think there isn’t enough talent at Walton’s disposal. When the team resumes its schedule , they will face the Dallas Mavericks in a home game on the 23rd February. This will mark the return of the league in the aftermath of the All Star Break .

It’s not often I choose to be political when it comes to sports, but in light of the venal attacks seen from politicians and their demeaning remarks about athletes. I believe there comes a time when you have to stand up and take note. America has become a legitimate cesspool of garbage, with much of it on display not only from the politicians but also media whores, notably from the right and left of the political aisle. We have seen the President Donald Trump with his ham-fisted portrayals of patriotism and well-orchestrated acts of compassion after the recent tragic events in Parkland , Florida. With that in mind, the comments recently made by Laura Ingraham , a doyenne of the Conservative arc of idiocy and racial bigotry. I can only surmise that Ingraham must feel that she’s the wife of a white slave owner from the Deep South , who likes to see her niggers slaves kept in place . Her comments about high profiled NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant were not only demeaning, but it was clear that Ingraham simply didn’t care about what either of the players had to say concerning the social injustice being seen within the country at present.

Courtesy of New York Daily News

How Black America dispelled Laura Ingraham’s racist comments about LeBron James in a single weekend

By Carron J Phillips

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson started “Negro History Week,” today it is known and celebrated as Black History Month.

lebron-james-laura-ingraham

LeBron James (left) and Laura Ingraham

And this past weekend, multiple events took place that prove why Black History Month is still so necessary, because even when African-Americans have the shortest month of the year to celebrate our history and culture, we still have to deal with intolerance and ignorance.

You would think that asking America not to be racist for 28 days would be a simple task, but this past weekend proved that even in 2018 it’s a big favor to ask that of a country that once counted us as three-fifths of a human being.

Before last week, the only time I’d ever heard of Laura Ingraham was when she made headlines for appearing to give a Nazi salute at the end of her speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention in support of Donald Trump — which is why her infuriating words on Thursday about a video of LeBron James and Kevin Durant discussing Trump with ESPN’s Cari Champion shouldn’t have been a surprise when you think about it.

LeBron James responds to Laura Ingraham on Trump comments
By now, you know that Ingraham referred to James as a “dumb jock,” said his elocution skills were “barely intelligible” and “ungrammatical,” wrongly described a video segment as a podcast, falsely claimed that James attempted to leave high school early, and doesn’t think athletes should speak on politics — even though her network has had the likes of Joe Namath, Bobby Knight, Curt Schilling, and even Dog the Bounty Hunter come on air to discuss politics — and still refuses to believe the President makes racist comments.

So, when Ingraham told James to “shut up and dribble,” it was just further proof that she views black athletes as nothing more than court jesters.

And for all of you who are still in shock and don’t understand how someone like James, who’s the best basketball player on the planet, could have the N-Word spray-painted on the front gate of his L.A. home last summer, Ingraham is a big reason why these things still happen.

After the incident, people immediately started to weigh in to defend James, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts quickly adding their names to the list.

Chris Long takes Laura Ingraham to task over LeBron gripe
“I’m incredibly proud of our players for using the platform they have as players in the NBA and on social media to speak out on issues that are important to them,” Silver said. “I was proud of LeBron and Kevin’s response to the comments that were made about them.”

“Between LeBron’s 40 million followers and Kevin Durant’s 17 million followers on Twitter, Laura Ingraham has now introduced herself as intolerant and narrow-minded to 57 million people and the world,” Roberts added. “We stand with our players.”


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LeBron James’ response to Laura Ingraham’s comments were insightful and very polite without taking aim directly as to the commentator’s racial biased overtones and comments. Needless to say , her supporters have suggested she said nothing out-of-place while , the players’ fans have voiced their concerns and thoughts via social media platforms of both James and Steph Curry .

Five decades ago Muhammad Ali , Tommie Smith and John Carlos were vilified by the press and nation at large for their outspokenness. Much of the criticism came from white America because they were simply afraid and in fear of anything a black man has to say. Circa 2018 and not much has changed other than the fact we now have a President who feasts off this divisiveness and racial bigotry , while Laura Ingraham is emboldened to carry on with that type of behavior and behind it all, as freedom of speech.

Simply chime in with your comments concerning the points raised within this article.

Tophatal …


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From Good To Mediocre And The Band Played On …

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

  Tophatal     ……  


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The Old Man And The Sea ………

The Old Man And The Sea

Of late, with all of the political in-fighting , backbiting and basic nonsense that seems to encapsulate the landscape of American politics on the domestic and international front . I’ve begun to take a look at some of the asinine things now out in print within the various news’ formats and social media platforms. The latest piece de resistance would appear to be the issue of what is meant to be ‘ White Privilege’ . From my own perspective I simply believe it to be the social basis, whereby Caucasians will continue to cling to power , be it politically, socially and economically. The fact that in large part, they feel it is being perpetuated by minorities when in fact, minorities have never been seen or be treated as their equal is somewhat perplexing, but here we are at a point in the nation’s history, where a President can simply be bold enough to insult a panacea of ethnic groups and it’s seen as his right as freedom of speech , while he also claims to be uniting the country as a whole.

Last I looked , President Donald Trump had little understanding of the rule of law let alone the Constitution. Be that as it may, nine months into his Presidential reign , his supporters remain staunch in their support while his detractors continue to look for ways to take him down.

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Away from the political landscape , the World Series is now in progress and the two best teams in baseball are now providing the fans with what should be an exciting series. I believe this series could and should go to a full seven games given the abilities of the two teams, the AL’s Houston Astros and the NL’s Los Angles Dodgers . The Dodgers have the highest payroll in the game as well as being among the best supported teams in baseball. Dave Roberts and his Houston counterpart, AJ Hinch could be up for managerial honors in 2017 , given their achievements this season. As for the teams themselves, after the first two games , they’re now square at one game apiece with game-three set to take place on Friday night at Minute Maid Field in Houston , Texas. The opposing pitchers will be Yu Darvish of the Los Angeles Dodgers against Lance McCullers Jr of the Houston Astros.

Not to take away from the spectacle of the World Series , but the other big story within the game has been the New York Yankees making the decision not to renew the contract of team manager Joe Girard . His four-year contract was due to expire and it was thought the front office might well be leaning towards a renewal . It wasn’t to be and after ten years in charge , Girardi is out the door and no chance his making another $16-$20 million over the next four years. Luckily enough with vacancies now in Washington with the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia with the Philadelphia Phillies, Girardi has his pick of two viable alternatives. Though I do expect there to be one or two more possible vacancies coming up within the next few weeks.

Joe Girardi was able to guide the New York Yankees to a World Series’ title in 2009 , but since then, their appearances in the postseason have often ended in failure before the Fall Classic itself. Brian Cashman general manager of the Yankees’ organization is also in the last season of his existing contract and the siblings controlling the ball-club, Hal Steinbrenner and Hank Steinbrenner have not expressed their sentiments in keeping Cashman in his current role. If changes are to be made concerning the roles of the manager and general manager then now would be the time to do it. Gary Denbo was allowed to leave the organization to join Derek Jeter within the front office of the Miami Marlins , where Jeter now serves in the role of Chief Executive Officer while Denbo serves in his capacity as Vice President, Player Development & Scouting .

In terms of a new manager, where the New York Yankees go from here is anyone’s guess , as they could promote from within to fill the vacancy left with the departure of Joe Girardi or they could go out and seek a more high-profiled name to succeed Girardi. One thing is certain , the core of this roster , where several of the younger players made their mark this season. It leaves this ball-club in a very healthy situation, though I do believe several of their highly overpaid veterans ought to be shown the door because of their lack of productivity. I don’t believe there can be any justification for the return of CC Sabathia , Matt Holliday , Jacoby Ellsbury , Michael Pineda and Aroldis Chapman . I know that the Yankees like to do things a certain way , but when you’re shelling out over $20 million a year and getting very little in return . Then , there comes a time when you have to rethink your strategy entirely.

Ideas above their station and the belief, they continue to remain relevant . It has been several years since the Florida Gators were striking fear into their opponents. This season , the only thing being struck are the players’ egos , as they realize they’re way in over their heads, while the coaching staff of Jim McElwain looks to take down not an opponent, but fans who have become sick and tired of the mediocrity shown by the team . After a recent game , McElwain could be seen berating a fan who called for the dismissal of the entire coaching staff. It’s funny , I was under the impression some college coaches were thick-skinned. Clearly, Jim McElwain’s skin is softer than a baby’s ass and is of a really delicate nature . The loss to Texas A&M brought about the capitulation of the Gators’ season and the end to their postseason hopes of a playoff berth. Up next for the Florida Gators will be a game against the number three-ranked Georgia (Bulldogs) to be played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville , Florida on Saturday 28th October , 2017 .

Nick Saban will continue to rewrite the history books in terms of modern College Football . His legacy is there for all to bear witness to. With the number one ranked team in the nation , Saban has Alabama (8-0) firing on all cylinders as they look to have another unbeaten season. Their upset loss in the national title game to Clemson were what dreams are made off as Clemson in a game of cat-and-mouse , beat their more well-established opponent . The path to this season’s national title game will be a pleasant one for Alabama , as they have nothing else left to lose , other than their dignity. Dabo Sweeny and his fans knows that the program still has a great deal to live up to . In week nine Clemson will to face Georgia Tech . Alabama for its part will be looking to make it nine consecutive wins in a row when they take on LSU (Tigers) on the 4th November , 2017 .

The number of unbeaten teams in the NBA now stands at three , with the Los Angeles Clippers (3-0) , Portland Trailblazers (3-0) and the San Antonio Spurs (4-0) being the only franchises without a loss. Pretty much safe to say by the end of the season all of the teams will have suffered a defeat . On Thursday night there were five games taking place with the most interesting being the contest between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics . For the Bucks, Giannis Antetkounmpo has lived up to the expectations based on his performances of last season for the team . This season Antetkounmpou has proven to be equally effective alongside a considerably improved starting lineup. The next game for the Milwaukee Bucks will be a match-up against the Atlanta Hawks on the road at the Philips Arena in Atlanta , Georgia on October 29th .

At this moment in time I believe Giannis Antetkounmpo to be one of the top-ten centers in the league and among the best forwards now playing !

It will certainly be interesting to see what the Milwaukee Bucks are capable of achieving this season within their division as well as the league overall . I don’t see them a s fifty-win team, but they are certainly able to play themselves into contention, f we see the coaching acumen of Jason Kidd rise to the fore. He is by far in a way one of the most innovative coaches in the league today , though not yet on the plateau of Gregg Popovich , the five-time championship winning coach. Popovich has been able to coach All Stars , but he has also been able to groom and develop talent turning them into All Stars . Those claims cannot be made for the likes of Phil Jackson , Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra , because they were handed the keys to a Ferrari and then merely asked to take it for a spin before going on their respective journeys. Doubt my word , then simply look at the facts ?

Gregg Popovich continues to be a miracle worker and his record is remarkable. This season the San Antonio Spurs are without their best player , Kawhi Leonard , but somehow they remain in contention . Once Leonard is back in the starting lineup , then I expect to see this team really challenge the likes of the Golden State Warriors , Houston Rockets , Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder within the Western Conference . As contentious and competitive as that conference continues to be , by contrast the Eastern Conference will remain mediocre. Those who are on the know cannot deny that very fact. Popovich will lead the San Antonio Spurs out for their next game against the Orlando Magic , as he seeks to win the one thousand one hundred and fifty-fifth regular season of his professional coaching career.

Injuries we know tend to plague a season no matter what the professional sport and it is the case once again within the NBA. How the teams fare will be dependent upon what the coaches seek to do in rearranging their lineups from day to-day. Midway into month-three of the schedule , I believe the teams will have found their rhythm while playing some competitive basketball.

So all of the hoopla and hype cannot hide the fact of what we already know , the Miami Dolphins are not a very good team . Having lost Ryan Tannehill for the regular season , the front office saw fit to seek out the retired Jay Cutler , offer him a one-year $10 million deal . Adam Gase seemingly had no faith in Matt Moore who led the team to the postseason in 2016 , in one of the Dolphins’ most recent appearances. Cutler’s lack of consistency has derailed any hopes they may have had within the AFC East as well as obtaining a postseason berth within the AFC . The team’s defense cannot mask the fact they’re simply not that good to begin with. With Jay Cutler now suffering an injury , it would appear team owner Stephen Ross will continue to tow the league line by having nothing to do with Colin Kaepernick . This might well come from the fact in recent weeks under the advice of his legal counsel , Kaepernick has filed a grievance within the US Federal Courts with the charges of collusion by the NFL and team owners . There may well be grounds for the suit, but the preponderance of proof will be by that of the plaintiff and his being able to prove his case. However , what has been glaringly obvious team owners have paid this issue very little lip service , while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to hide behind a great deal of rhetoric while in the background. What also is astoundingly clear, the NFLPA leadership and their Executive Director DeMaurice Smith have shown very little support for Kaepernick.

The Baltimore Ravens played host to the Miami Dolphins in a Thursday night game played at London’s Wembley Stadium . This match-up proved to be eventful as Joe Flacco was lost the Ravens , even though they routed their opponents in a 40- 0 clubbing of Miami. Matt Moore’s performance itself was far from satisfactory and it should tell you something that prior to the start of the game , Miami had seen fit to sign David Fales to a contract. As I alluded to earlier , I do believe there are grounds for Colin Kaepernick to proceed with his suit against the NFL. Now his detractors are likely to suggest that Kaepernick is not that great a player if you base it on his play during 2016 , but I would suggest he is far from being the worst quarterback in the league last season and his statistics would be favorable over number of players in the league who have played two or more games in the league during this season . If we really want to make comparisons concerning the ability of Colin Kaepernick and how he measures up against Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco , perhaps we might take a look at their statistics .

As for understanding the reasons behind Colin Kaepernick’s stance , let’s just say when it comes to real activism by the NFL , it tends to favor their making money and placing what they believe to be a pristine image rather than actually taking a noticeable stance. As for the issue of privilege , be it Black or White , let’s just say that whole issue has never been addressed in the true sense of the word . Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones suggests that the players on the Cowboys’ roster are his property. Last I looked, in spite of their current mediocre record , the Cowboys wasn’t a plantation , but I am beginning to deduce Jones’ slave mentality approach is something that might be shared by several of his fellow owners .

Donald Trump’s idiotic rants calling for the NFL players to be fired from their teams for showing a lack of patriotism when the national anthem is played., indicates he has no concept as to the rule of law , let alone the issue of free speech ( freedom of expression) , yet he considers it appropriate to denigrate people of color and the families of fallen war veterans , using the language and tact you’d come to expect of a highly uneducated person. My bad , I forgot his education at Brown University and Wharton Business School actually allows him that privilege. Bigoted ‘white privilege ‘ run amok . Jerry Jones like Donald Trump , they don’t lack candor , but what they do lack, is respect for another person’s right to express themselves freely. What might be even more hypocritical about the owner , has been his willingness to support players on his team who’ve ran afoul of the law under suspicion for acts of battery , spousal abuse and even felonious assault. The reason behind his support , simply from the fact, it would lessen the chance of the Dallas Cowboys winning a game.



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Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit with regard to the points raised within this a rticle.

Tophatal …….. 10/26/2017

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Continue reading “The Old Man And The Sea ………”

Ten Days In The Valley and There’s Not $hit To Do Except Laugh …

Ten Days In The Valley and There’s Not $hit To Do Except Laugh …

Well the state of California is being decimated by wildfires likely to cost the state billions of dollars and with large payouts of claims , much to the detriment of the insurance companies. Don’t shed a tear for the companies involved , because at the end of the day, the consumer will always ending up paying. As to the state of the professional sports’ franchises active within the state, other than the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Dodgers , everyone else is in a state of disarray. Granted, fans of the NBA are hoping that the teams within Los Angeles will be able to provide some glamour as well as some competitiveness. Yes , I am talking about the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers . It’s like talking about two of the hottest girls you’d like to take to the prom , only to find out that both have self-esteem issues , where both lack eloquence and elegance. Anyone who believes that either of these two teams will be able to beat the best that the West has to offer much less the rest of the NBA has to be severely delusional.


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The Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers will begin their respective regular season schedules on the 19th October when they play each other on the Opening Night of their season. With both lineups afresh with new talent beyond the rookies, it will be interesting to see if Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Luke Walton of the Lakers can get the best out of their teams while seeking that first victory to start the season.

Weekend results in the NFL , proved one thing , injuries and lack of consistency will continue to ruin the boldest of ambitions for the teams. Taking Colin Kaepernick out of the equation , but how much worse can things get for the San Francisco 49ers (0-6) ? This is a team that is badly coached , lacks motivation , but above all, the players themselves apparently don’t seem to care. Call it too much kneeling (pardon the pun) or plain and simple, head coach Kyle Shanahan is in way over his head. Team GM Jon Lynch in his first executive position within the NFL has gotten off to a preposterous start. For all of the idiots who believed his draft class for the Forty Niners was one of the best in the franchise’s recent history. I have to ask, what the hell were they looking at when they came to that particular assessment ? The rookies and sophomores on the roster are not particularly good , the defense is abhorrent and let’s just say the quarterback play is way beyond mediocre. If Brian Hoyer is your starting quarterback, simply imagine your team sinking in quicksand. I am not about to suggest the Niners will go 0-16 , but if they do, I won’t be surprised at all. However , I do feel if things get much worse over the next two weeks , then Kyle Shanahan could very well become the first coaching casualty of the season.

In week seven the San Francisco 49ers are due to meet the Dallas Cowboys , for whom this season has already turned into a nightmare . Give Jerry Jones his due , his comments notwithstanding , he is now proving himself to be a monumental asshole , albeit that he has sought to backtrack after his recent comments drew criticism from players on the Cowboys’ roster.

The Oakland Raiders are having struggles of their own and the loss of starting quarterback Derek Carr certainly hasn’t helped. This team simply takes a step backwards without Carr in the lineup. As he goes when at his best , then so does the team. Oakland was in action against the Los Angeles Chargers whose season to date hasn’t met expectations. With veteran quarterback Philip Rivers in the twilight of his career , it’s difficult to see how the team will contend over the course of the season. Sunday’s game at the O. Coliseum provided the fans the chance to see what both of these AFC West teams are made of . The Chargers came away with a narrow one-point margin of victory , while David Carr back in the lineup , played as best he could . Inevitably the Raiders are expected to challenge for the division this season , but as I alluded to earlier it will all be predicated upon the play of the young quarterback . Lofty expectations for a player whose recent contract negotiations led to him being given a hefty pay raise and contract . No doubt the Oakland Raiders will b e looking to make a second consecutive appearance in the postseason, something which they haven’t done in a number of years. Next up for Oakland will be a home game against the division leading Kansas City Chiefs , who are led by the rejuvenated Alex Smith . The former Niners’ quarterback , great during the regular season in recent years has been unable to lead this Andy Reid coached team into making a deep postseason run. Perhaps this will be the year in which they are able to achieve that feat ? Smith’s years with the Forty Niners were ridiculed , but when you take into account the disarray there was with the franchise and the lack of competitiveness , much of the blame should have been laid upon the front office led at the time by former GM Trent Baalke and the coaching staff of Jim Harbaugh , whose relationship with Baalke was seething and coming to a boil. Alex Smith’s last season in San Francisco was in 2012 with the team ending with an 11-4-1 record and their making the Superbowl . Smith was on the roster , but did not take part in the championship game .

Stanley Kroenke might well be one of the richest owners in all of North American professional sports. Forget Michael Jordan’s , $1 billion fortune or Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones . They all pale into insignificance when measured against Kroenke’s and then you bear in mind he is married to Ann Walton-Kronke whose late father Sam Walton was the founder of Walmart , the world’s largest retailer. Their combined net worth would be well in excess of $15 billion , if not more. As the owner of the Los Angeles Rams , whose relocation from St Louis , Missouri to the outskirts of greater Los Angeles , gives the city two NFL franchises , with the other being the Los Angeles Chargers . With the Chargers having their own misfortunes this season, it has been left to the Rams to pull up the slack. Who would have thought at this point of the season the Rams would be riding high, sitting on top of the NFC West ? Led by Jared Goff , a second-year starter in the league , along with Todd Gurley , this team appears to have a pretty potent offense. It remains to be seen if head coach if Sean McVay in his first year in charge can get the best out the Rams while possibly leading them into the postseason. It would certainly be the shock of the season , given the visibility of the Seattle Seahawks who have been the dominant team within the NFC West in recent seasons. The regular season meetings between these two teams should prove to be entertaining once they take place. The first of which happened in week five, with the Seahawks taking that game by the score of 16-10 . Their next scheduled meeting will be in week fifteen on the 17th December , 2017.

What can go wrong for the Los Angeles Dodgers at this stage of the MLB Postseason ? They have a 2-0 lead on the reigning World Series champions the Chicago Cubs and the Dodgers’ pitching staff has proven to be exceptional not only during the NCLS but also throughout this postseason. Yet , there is a caveat and a lesson to be learned . The Dodgers have a way of self-imploding, having a series well within their grasp , only to be caught like a deer in headlights. Against the Cubs , this is not a team you want to let off the hook , having caught them on the end of your line. Joe Maddon as a manager should not be underestimated , as he will find a way to place the Chicago Cubs back in this series.

Game three of the NLCS will revert back to Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois, when when the Chicago Cubs will play host to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A win for the home team will put them right back into the series . Losing and it places the Dodgers in the driver’s seat , having to take only two of the remaining four games in the series. The heroes for the Los Angles Dodgers have been Justin Turner , Kenley Jansen and Kenta Maeda . However , it has been a solid team effort which has led the Dodgers to be just two games away from making their first World Series’ appearance in over twenty-five years. Tommy La Sorda was the last manager of this ball-club to take a team to the World Series and win it outright. Current manager Dave Roberts seeking to achieve what his seven previous predecessors have been unable to do. Were he to achieve the feat , Roberts would become only the second African-American manager to have won a championship after back-to-back series’ titles won by Cito Gaston as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993 .

Alabama (6-0) still reigns supreme atop of College Football as they remain unbeaten and already guaranteed a playoff berth in the reformatted system . Elsewhere, in the once highly touted PAC 12 Conference , the once mighty powerhouses seem to have fallen on hard times. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide were hardly tested over the weekend when Alabama faced off against Arkansas , walloping their guests 41-9 in a home stand. The PAC 12 might still be revered , but I have always felt , defense was never part of the makeup of programs within the conference and where offense always remained a constant. The USC Trojans , Washington Huskies and Washington State are the top three teams within the conference based on their overall records . All three teams will be in action this upcoming weekend as will many of the top programs within College Football.

I have no doubt the SEC will produce this season’s National Champion and it seems all but a certainty Alabama will once again be in the mix. They will face Tennessee (Volunteers) in a game to be played on Saturday 21st October . Everything seems to be pointing towards a seventh consecutive victory for the Crimson Tide at this juncture. If Alabama’s fortunes are said to be on the rise then consider the problems now facing conference rivals Florida (Gators) . Let’s just say head coach Jim McElwain , his staff and players have some real issues to discuss. McElwain has seen this team simply fall apart at the seams and it’s not likely to get any better unless the players show signs of improvement. Up next for Florida will be a match-up against Georgia (Bulldogs) in Gainesville , Florida in a game being played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium . One more loss and the Gators will be out of the running for a lucrative Bowl Game once and for all.

It’s official , the Athletics Department of the University of Louisville had their fill with Rick Pitino , Head Coach of the Basketball Program for the university. With all of the mounting evidence and repeated infractions in spite of the denials from Pitino . He was fired with no formal comment from the coach after his dismissal . The writing was on the wall, because in spite of Louisville’s record , the off-court issues were far too much to bear for the fans and school itself. Rick Pitino’s character , lack of judgment , deceit and lies had finally caught up with him . No amount denials or excuses by his supporters or the man himself was ever going to be enough for him to escape the inevitable. There was no way he could continue in his role as the coach of the program under any circumstance whatsoever. Serious violations of NCAA rules, repeated infractions and the lack of oversight all fell on Pitino’s shoulders and that of the Athletics Department headed by AD Tom Jurich , who has since been replaced by Vince Tyra . The Sword of Damocles was wide-reaching as it led to Greg Postel being named Interim University President.

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Rick Pitino , now the former Head Coach of the Louisville Men’s Basketball Team. Pitino along with AD Tom Jurich were fired from their respective positions after revealed improprieties concerning the basketball program. There is also a federal investigation of Pitino and four other NCAA Basketball Head Coaches , which could lead to further penalties of the programs involved. Rick Pitino has denied any wrongdoing on his part or by any of his associates. There is mounting evidence to suggest the head coach has been less than truthful with some of his comments.

Rick Pitino’s future now looks bleak and his chances of returning to the collegiate ranks as a Head Coach are less than zero .

The firing of Rick Pitino might be the best thing to happen within the world of College Basketball , because for far too long , coaches like Pitino have been placed on a lofty pedestal not just by the fans, but also by the idiot members of the media , who would rather write meaningless stories , rather than seek out the truth when there is wrongdoing on the part of these coaches. It might even lead to coaches not skirting the rules , taking heed and changing how they conduct themselves professionally. Jim Boeheim’s denials concerning his assistant Bernie Fine , still leaves a disgusting taste in one’s mouth. A sexual predator whose proclivities rival that of Jerry Sandusky , whose close confidante was none other than Joe Paterno , then Head Coach of Penn State . Needless to say, the ensuing cover-up initiated by certain members of the Board of Trustees of Penn State , dragged the school’s reputation further into the ground.


Picture gallery and by clicking on an individual frame you can view that image in a reformatted size along with a narrative.

From rags to riches and back to rags again, this is what we are likely to see over the remainder of the sporting year as it relates to the sporting topics raised in this article. What thoughts if any do you have on the subject ?

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Tophatal …..

Long Time Coming ….

Long Time Coming

In the aftermath of another gun tragedy , we have the President making a complete @ss of himself once again. One year removed from the Pulse Nightclub Shooting , Donald Trump and his minions were once again looking to place the blame at the doors of a terrorist cell in the responsibility for the Mandalay Bay Resort shooting in Las Vegas , Nevada , without their being any evidence to substantiate his thoughts. Bear in mind his recent criticism of the Mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico smacked of a petulant child , who doesn’t wish to told of their bad behavior. It seems that the President would rather make comments without first taking in all of the facts and it has led to justified criticism of not only himself but also members of his Cabinet and inner circle of advisers .

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Away from the daily bind of national news , the NFL is still in a state of discord as the impasse has been widened by Donald Trump’s comments about the players as well as his calling for players who fail to stand when the national anthem is being played, he states that they ought to be fired . Clearly , for a failed former owner of an AFL (American Football League) franchise , a league which is now defunct, there is a great deal that the President simply doesn’t understand about the NFL and how it conducts business. Perhaps he also needs to be reminded , the US Congress allows the league (NFL) to remain tax-exempt due to their antitrust status ? As for the NFL itself, perhaps due to indifference, lack of quality games or just the fact , fans are sick and tired of sports now being embroiled in politics, viewership is down for the games televised. Comparisons with regard to game attendance can be measured in a number of ways . If things carry on as they are , I believe the NFL will be able to weather the storm. In reality however, the attention and memory span of the fans remains exceedingly short in terms of history and acts of social activism when it comes to athletes.

We’re now four games into the NFL season and several teams have failed to meet expectations , including the reigning Superbowl champions the New England Patriots (2-2) . Sixteen and 0 (16-0) won’t be ion the cards for this season as I believe the team will be no better than 11-5 or 12-4 . Quarterback Tom Brady isn’t his customary self , but what might be more worrying is the fact the Patriots’ defense has become so complacent and lackluster. Bill Belichick and the team will be back on the field this weekend for their week-five contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night , 5th October, a game being played at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa , Florida.

Through one hundred and sixty-two games, we saw a great deal of inconsistency as well as mediocrity from baseball’s teams. Divisions were up for grabs and there were no real major surprises when it came to the divisional honors . Teams making the wildcard berths were something of a surprise , with the New York Yankees perhaps being the biggest surprise of them all. Personally, I didn’t feel the team was up to the task of challenging within the AL East , as I felt their pitching was so vulnerable. However, a glorious season from Aaron Judge who led the AL in home runs , as he was ably abetted by teammates Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorious .

Having made the MLB Postseason the New York Yankees will find themselves up against the Minnesota Twins in a single-game eliminator , with the winner moving on the Divisional Round of the postseason. The NL Wildcard game will see the Colorado Rockies taking on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday 4th October .

There is no doubt in my mind the two favorites within the NL , the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers are on a collision course meeting in the NLCS , but first , both will have to get past their respective opponents in the divisional round of the postseason. They have been by far the two best teams within the NL and that is with due respect to the Washington Nationals , but at the end of the day , these two big-market teams seem destined to meet in this championship series.

A giant shadow has been cast over the entire Atlanta Braves’ organization with the abrupt resignation of GM John Coppolella . The ball-club was under investigation by baseball’s league hierarchy after it was revealed that Coppolella might well have been making illegal payments to procure players through the international market-place . If the league’s investigations substantiate these allegations , then there could very well be some serious ramifications for the Atlanta Braves. They could be severely punished for Coppolella’s actions, something which I find to be completely idiotic and asinine. Atlanta’s season was simply underwhelming , with the players rarely showing any competitiveness during 2017. Over their last ten games of the regular season the Atlanta Braves were a paltry 3-7 in those contests . Brian Snitker might well be shown the door as the Braves’ manager after such a disastrous season, where Sun Trust Park was sparsely attended in the ball-club’s first year of usage of the venue. While there seems to be a great deal of praise for the Braves’ farm system , considered to be one of the top-five farm systems in all of baseball. Even if John Coppolella was the principal architect of the system , it begs the question what has he done to acquire those players and others over the past three years ? This is something which baseball needs answers to and I don’t believe that Atlanta is the only organization operating under such a guise . They just happen to be the first ball club caught by the league.

Never let it be said that Derek Jeter will always seek to be a popular owner . In what will be his first role as one of the lead partners which purchased the Miami Marlins . Jeter is promising to make what will be the first of some very unpopular decisions . The former New York Yankees captain and star has let be known things are going to change , with the likelihood , several players on the current roster are likely to be traded. Atop of that list could very well be Giancarlo Stanton , the team’s highest paid , best and most popular player. Stanton still has ten years remaining on his current contract which pays him an average of $25 million a year. Details show that the slugger will be paid in excess of $28 million in 2018 if he remains on the team’s roster.

The Miami Marlins remain an unprofitable franchise, while also being among baseball’s least supported teams , when looking at the attendance figures for this and last season . From my own standpoint , I believe the $1.26 billion purchase price paid was far too much. Outgoing owner Jeffrey Loria will walk away with more than a pocket filled with cash., as he laughs all the way to the bank. Baseball fans are left scratching their heads, as another deceitful owner dupes the league hierarchy into stupidity. Rob Manfred remains as gullible and as out of touch as his predecessor , Bud Selig .

First and foremost Derek Jeter and his partners have an obligation to turn things around off the field as well as on the field. If it means stop the hemorrhaging of red ink by slashing payroll , then so be it , even if it means the for the sake of not being competitive for a couple of years.

Someone is going to be mighty upset this season within the world of basketball . The NBA off-season has been littered with trades sending players to new destinations . For some teams , they will be on the rise , while others will be at a standstill or simply regress. Take my word for it , neither the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks will be winning more than thirty games this season. Their respective rosters are lightweight and will become insignificant by mid-season, just as they were last season . LaVar Ball might be singing the praises of his son, Lonzo Ball who was drafted by the Lakers. In some circles the young rookie is seen as the second coming of Magic Johnson . Tall praise indeed , but the team is nowhere as good as some might believe them to be. This will be a learning experience for Lonzo Ball and his teammates over the course of the regular season and at the same time , I am not so sure how Luke Walton will acquit himself. It was all well and good , being on a championship winning team with the Golden State Warriors., but when you take a step backwards and down, simply because , the heralded name of the Los Angeles Lakers is meant to mean something. You just have to remember it has been almost a decade since the Lakers made their presence felt around the league. The team would defeat the Boston Celtics (4-3) during the 2009-10 NBA Finals .

Even if the Los Angeles Lakers are waiting for LeBron James to bring his considerable talents to the City of Angels, I for one don’t believe the four-time League MVP will be coming to a team that is sparse on talent in so many areas of its game. Beyond Lonzo Ball , there  isn”t one player who one might suggest is a real game-changer by any stretch of the imagination . Granted all of the hype concerning Ball has more do with one or two games in the Summer League than his appearances for the Lakers in the preseason to date . Front office executives Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka will be under a microscope this season. The Lakers have three more preseason games to find their groove before hitting the ground running, to begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers in their home season opener .

Well, we had the hype , then the gripe and now the retirement. Floyd Mayweather (50-0) made light work of his opponent Conor McGregor (0-1) , with both fighters bringing home a six-figure payday from a fight which was short on excitement and thrills. The fact that UFC President Dana White chose to make refunds to fans who felt they had been misled and cheated with this alleged extravaganza . McGregor’s debut as a boxer was basically a sham , with the Mixed Martial Artist barely showing any boxing skills whatsoever. It was this type of incessant hype and bravado brought to the spectacle , which caused the fans to feel that they had been cheated. This fight was a frigging farce from start to finish and it should be seen as nothing more than that .

So let me get this straight , Adalaide Byrd , wife of a senior executive within the WBA was allowed to be a ringside judge at a world title fight between Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘ Canelo’ Alvarez ? This bout was well on its way to being one of the fights of the year , but the official result was somehow concluded to be a draw. Golovkin  clearly won the fight , but Byrd’s scorecard suggested the fight in her eyes was a ‘draw’ . Pardon me for saying this , but what the fuck is going on in the world of boxing ? Overpaid and over-hyped fighters and now this , a fucking judge , who on her best day couldn’t differentiate a dog’s ass from a hole in the ground.

Saul Alvarez and his promoter Oscar De La Hoya are clamoring for a rematch and somehow while I think it is a possibility , I do hope that the proposed rematch is not staged in Las Vegas or anywhere in the state of Nevada ! The city and state may well be the Mecca of the boxing world , but it is also one of the most corrupt places on the planet , bar none. It’s not just the sport but just about everything the state represents along with the State Athletic Commission .

Andre Ward was a world champion in two weight divisions and he retired as an unbeaten champion. His decisive win over Sergei Kovalev for the World Light Heavyweight title was enough to seal his legacy . Ward was certainly one of the best boxers of his generation, but sadly, with his lacking the charisma and his bringing his religious faith with him into the ring. It did not provide for a great spectacle for the ordinary boxing fan. However, were we to only discuss his professional career, then we would have something to genuinely talk about. Andre Ward had a promising professional start in the world boxing , being a successful amateur and as well as a > former Olympic competitor. How Ward will be judged by boxing historians as well as the fans will be open to a great deal of debate and conjecture .

Jon Jones has twice climbed to the top of the Mixed Martial Arts’ world, having twice won the UFC Light Heavyweight Title , but as with his career, he is now open to the question . ‘ Are you a cheater Jon Jones ‘ ? Jones in his most recent bout challenged former champion Daniel Cormier , won the bout decisively with a technical knockout (TKO) , only to then to told, he tested positive for a banned substance. A second mandatory test nullified the first test result , but the USADA (US Anti Doping Agency) recommended to the UFC and California State Athletic Commission that the right result be stricken from the record and be shown as a no contest.

Jon Jones (right) is seen here prior to his second fight against Daniel Cormier for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title. Jones won the fight , only for it to be later revealed that he failed a drug test . This has been the second time the MMA fighter has failed a test under the UFC . A second test sample however came back negative but the damage had already been done to Jones’ reputation. He was stripped of his belt the bout was declared a no contest and he now faces a second suspension. Many of his contemporaries are calling for him to receive a lifetime ban by the UFC. If that were to happen the sport and in particular the UFC would lose one of its biggest attractions and stars

While Dana White has not recommended Jones be suspended , many of his contemporaries and former UFC stars are calling for a lifetime ban for the two-time former champion. Having won the belt in the octagon , Jon Jones has been stripped of the title and Daniel Cormier has regained the Light Heavyweight Title belt by default .

The UFC is now in a state of disarray , as two of its biggest stars at decisive points of their respective careers. Conor McGregor needs to remain in the UFC and away from the world of professional boxing, while Jon Jones has to rethink his whole professional mindset and whether or not he continues his professional career as an MMA fighter under the UFC banner.

Picture gallery. Click on an individual frame to view that picture along with the accompanying narrative.

Which current or most recent sports’ story do you believe has been the most important, where there is substance to it all along the way ?

Tophatal …….

USA Today News

NFL news

MLB news and MLB Postseason schedule

NBA news

Boxing news (Yahoo Sports)

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The Art of The Deal …..

The Art of The Deal

It was meant to be a book that would provide an insight into the business world and the mind of an entrepreneurial genius. Instead , the consumer / reader was offered a bunch of hogwash and outright bile. For those who still wallow in the glare which is said to come from Donald Trump , forty-fifth President of the United States. Well let’s just say , his first one hundred and eighty days in office , has brought nothing but mayhem , incompetence and calls for his impeachment. What you see is what you ought to expect, because there has been nothing coherent about this President , let alone his administration .

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If you thought this President has issues, then simply take a look at the plight of the NBA at present. Last season’s beaten NBA Finalists the Cleveland Cavaliers are in complete disarray. Team owner Dan Gilbert is now at odds with two of the best players on the roster and it is now rumored that the relationship between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James is at an all-time low . To further emphasize the mayhem of the off-season , Gilbert made David Griffin the franchise’s sacrificial lamb with his firing . Koby Altman has succeeded Griffin as the Cavaliers’ general manager and his first course of business will be to dissuade Kyrie Irving and convince the point guard his future lies with the franchise. Irving has been disgruntled with the team and has two years left on his existing contract , where he’s owed just over $41 million . He can become a free agent in 2020 , but I seriously doubt the player will want to remain a part of the organization given the present turmoil.

Dan Gilbert has sought to deflect the negative vibes within his franchise , while pointing to the promotion of Kobe Altman, a third successive appearance in the NBA Finals and what he believes to be another successful draft class for the Cleveland Cavaliers. There is a great deal of uncertainty concerning the long-term of commitment of LeBron James and his wish to end his career with the Cavaliers. James has a no trade clause in his current contract , which he can opt out of after this upcoming season. Dan Gilbert has seen his franchise lose in excess of $110 million over the last two seasons, but as anyone knows , unless there is an attempt to show some fiscal prudence in spite of the rising revenues , if you continue to overpay while placing a mediocre product on the court, then you are certainly doomed to fail.

Having signed Derrick Rose as a free agent within the last week, it will be interesting to see if Koby Altman can be persuasive enough to keep Kyrie Irving as a part of this Cleveland Cavaliers’ team. Derrick Rose is no longer the player who was the NBA’s youngest League MVP and this past season with the New York Knicks , he simply proved his best years are behind him and not head of him. I seriously doubt he will be able to offer the Cavaliers what they seek and for the franchise . If the Cleveland Cavaliers are to maintain their status as the best team in the Eastern Conference , then there will have to be an even greater emphasis on improving the roster.

So the hype has begun and Lonzo Ball has a great deal to prove as he now becomes the face of the Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise. There hasn’t been hysteria over a player with the Lakers since Kobe Bryant had his breakout season in his first with the Western Conference franchise . Having been named the Summer League MVP , you can easily understand the hype and the level of expectation over Lonzo Ball . The fact that there were other rookies who performed better than Ball during what can be best described as a nondescript Summer League schedule . Ball has been overshadowed by the antics of his father as the elder LaVar Ball , has sought to dictate his son’s worth to possible commercial sponsors. Clearly , LaVar Ball doesn’t understand the harm he is doing to his son’s image or negativity he brings to the table. This is all so symbolic of a situation where you have a parent trying to takeover his son’s business dealings and making a mess of it all .

For the Los Angeles Lakers , this now becomes their moment of truth , moving forward , with a revamped roster, an all new lineup of executives in the front office , Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka having been brought on-board by Jeanie Buss to oversee the running of the Lakers’ Basketball Operations . If both executives are counting on luring LeBron James to the city of Angels , then their task has become a whole lot tougher, as I believe the only ways James leaves Cleveland for a second time , is if there’s a commitment and willingness on the part of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to submit to all of his wishes and whims . Not something likely to happen and unlikely situation where Lonzo Ball and LeBron James being able to coexist. The Lakers are in a state of disarray and only an idiot would now try and suggest otherwise. The team in its current guise is not competitive and Luke Walton has yet to find his footing as a Head Coach with the franchise.

Phil Jackson is out , Steve Mills has been promoted and in comes Scott Perry as the general manager , but the one remaining constant is James Dolan as the imbecilic owner of the franchise. It’s somewhat laughable to hear idiots extol the expertise of Jackson as a head coach , but these very same idiots could not or would not be critical of him as a front office executive. In his three years with the Knicks, Jackson earned almost $60 million , while bringing nothing but sheer incompetence to an organization which hasn’t appeared in a Conference Finals in over two decades. To understand why the Knicks were so abysmal last season , you simply have to look at their decision-making concerning the structure of the team and the lack of productivity from their bench . With both Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis ‘ minds elsewhere , Jeff Hornacek’s lackadaisical coaching approach , bearing no signs of progress , there was never any doubt the Knicks would have a failing grade and season .

Scott Perry will now be entrusted with the rebuilding of the New York Knicks , with the likelihood that both Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis being dealt , rather than having both disgruntled stars on the roster. The Knicks are more than a dysfunctional franchise , they are simply out of their depth on and off a basketball court and will remain that way , as long as James Dolan is the owner. Once a storied franchise , the New York Knicks are among the biggest laughing stocks around the NBA.

We know the NFL has a twenty-four-seven (24/7) news’ cycle and there’s nothing better for the league to dredge up an old story to try and show their altruism. Again it focuses on the issue of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) . Constant denials throughout the years led by the hierarchy of Commissioner Roger Goodell and the union that players suffered minimal injuries with regard blunt force head trauma and other neurological orders from playing professional football , have proven to be the lies NFL wanted to perpetuate. Having settled a billion-dollar lawsuit in recent years , the league has done very little concerning player safety in spite of their insistence that there is ongoing research being conducted by the NFL. There has been more research conducted by academia than anything done by the league over the last two decades. Noted neurologist and researcher Dr Bennet Omalu may well have been at the forefront of it all, but such was the league’s insistence to discredit his findings , that the NFL can no longer be trusted to tell the fans or the public the truth .

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Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco is questioning the intent of the front office to sign free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick . Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti in a recent interview in the presence of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would not commit to signing the player , but suggested the option was there to do so. There are many who believe the NFL has systematically sought to black-ball Colin Kaepernick’s return to the NFL , with Goodell and the owners leading the charge.

With a little less than a week before the NFL preseason begins, free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned by an NFL team . Roger Goodell has sought not to intercede in any way. Yet somehow , the likes of Riley Cooper and Richie Incognito were able to obtain a second chance in the league after their racially insensitive remarks. Let’s just say team owners around the league are intent on black-balling the former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback. In recent weeks it was rumored that the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens were interested in pursuing Kaepernick , but no sooner had the rumors hit the airwaves and print media , they were immediately shot down by those teams themselves. Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco is said to be incensed the front office was interested in acquiring Colin Kaepernick. Far be it for me to suggest, but since his Superbowl MVP performance for the Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco has not been able to meet those expectations or lead by example.

From my own perspective , I believe there remains a great deal of hypocrisy within the NFL and those idiots who believe the league isn’t rife with racial bias, they really do need to look at the fact, the NFL has never really sought to have an African-American owner within their midst. Bear in mind the only person of color who happens to be a franchise owner in this league is a Pakistani-born American citizen , Shahid Khan . Unfortunately for Khan, his ownership of the Jacksonville Jaguars has yet to bring about any semblance of success. Five years in and Khan has yet to see the franchise win a divisional title or make the NFL postseason. Make of it what you will, but just because the league heralds diversity , it doesn’t mean there is diversity in the true sense of the word .

If Colin Kaepernick is welcomed back into the NFL, I certainly hope that he can prove his detractors and doubters wrong. The issues with the San Francisco 49ers last season were not of the player’s making and less we also forget, the Niners’ front office placed their faith in the incompetent and overrated Chip Kelly , whose failure with the Philadelphia Eagles was there for everyone to see

There’s trouble brewing in paradise as Jerry Jones has another off the field issue to deal with , as the Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliot might well have flouted league rules , as well as falling foul of the law . With Jones, once again it comes down to sheer hypocrisy concerning his own conduct as well as those within his organization , in particular the players on the Cowboys’ roster. Jerry Jones has never met a player with a great deal of baggage that he wasn’t prepared to sign. With Ezekiel Elliot , it all comes down to the excuses the franchise will make to obfuscate their own responsibility while also apportioning blame elsewhere. Quarterback Dak Prescott has to show that 2016 was no flash in the pan, as he and his teammates seek to prove themselves worthy of being considered among the favorites for the Superbowl this season.

Though the Dallas Cowboys will begin their quest with the preseason, it will be the regular season which everyone will be focused on. Their first five games of the schedule should provide us with a great indicator as to how good they could be. In week one the Cowboys will meet divisional rivals the New York Giants to open the regular season. There will be a lot riding on this game for both teams , especially for Eli Manning and the Giants .

Far be it for me to suggest, but this baseball season has become nondescript and really lacking a breakout story , which has captured the fans’ imagination . Teams are sitting pretty and now look to the closing stretch , with the final two months of the regular season schedule . This week will begin with Monday’s scheduled contests , with the New York Yankees in action against the Detroit Tigers in a game being played at Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx , New York. Joe Girardi’s Yankees are currently trying to play catch-up to the Boston Red Sox within the AL East . The race between the two teams is so tight that neither can afford to make a mistake over the next ten days. John Farrell and his managerial staff will have the Boston Red Sox ready for their game against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park in Boston , Massachusetts on Monday evening. It has been somewhat strange to see neither Boston or New York make a major trade at this point of the season, but with the Pablo Sandoval experiment having come to an abrupt end with the Red Sox , Sandoval has returned to his old stomping ground, reacquainting himself with the San Francisco Giants .

While I believe there is still to play for , there is no team more at risk than the Los Angeles Dodgers . They are the highest salaried team in all of baseball and failure at this juncture is not an option. Mark Walter and Magic Johnson have a vested interest in seeing the ball-club succeed. When you spend over $2 billion for a professional sports franchise , there is an expectation of success and not repeated failure. Yet, with no long-term strategic planning, all the Dodgers’ ownership have to show for the purchase , are near misses and being ridiculed endlessly for money not well-spent. Art of the deal or simply misjudging the opportunity altogether ?

With a healthy lead atop of the NL West the Los Angeles Dodgers have been barely tested within the division. Having the best record in all of baseball , this team has yet to prove they can be consistent , playing at a high level. Manager Dave Roberts will see if the Dodgers can increase their divisional lead when they face the Atlanta Braves at Sun-Trust Ballpark , in Atlanta , Georgia , with Kenta Maeda on the starters’ mound for Los Angeles to take on Lucas Sims of the Braves. Clayton Kershaw is having another exceptional year for the Los Angeles Dodgers as he leads the league in victories among starting pitchers . He is my consensus favorite to win his fourth NL Cy Young Award , joining a select group of players to have won three or more of baseball’s top pitchers’ award. Kershaw’s next projected start will be mid to late August, based Dave Roberts’ own deliberations those of the managerial staff and team doctors . The Los Angeles can ill-afford to lose a player of Clayton Kershaw’s caliber, as he has proven to be an invaluable asset to the team , beyond being the highest paid player on the roster. Coming back from an injury , there is no need to rush him back onto the pitchers’ mound.

There was a time when the names of Cliff Lee , Cole Hamels and Roy Halliday struck fear into the hearts of opposing hitters when they faced the Philadelphia Phillies’ trio of starting pitchers. Well, those days are long-gone along with the fortunes of the Phillies. This franchise is now literally on baseball’s scrap heap , incapable of winning or playing with any signs of competitiveness. It has been almost a decade since the Phillies won their last World Series’ championship , which came in 2008 , with Cole Hamels , Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins being part of that triumphant team over the Tampa Bay Rays . Fast forward to 2017 and the Philadelphia Phillies in their current guise are a shell of a team with the worst record in all of baseball. No longer with the likes of Ryan Howard on the team being paid in excess of $22 million a year , it is easy to understand why the franchise has fallen so fast. Changes within the managerial staff as well as the front office along with departure of several veterans, have brought some change , but without much success. Even the Minor League prospects for the club have yet to meet expectations.

The Philadelphia Phillies will a meet the Atlanta Braves on Monday night , before embarking on a road series against the Los Angeles Angels . A victory in that series would be a morale booster for the Phillies .



Picture gallery and by clicking on an individual image you can view that frame alongside the accompanying narrative .

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

Tophatal ……… 07/29/2017

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NBA news

NBA team transactions and trades

NBA team caps (2017)


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NFL transactions


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In The Pursuit of Happiness

In The Pursuit of Happiness

With the second round of the NBA Playoffs almost in full swing , now would be the time to start assuaging the chances of the teams now left at this stage of the Playoffs. Clearly , last season’s finalists are seen as the presumptive favorites to make a return to this season’s NBA Finals , where many are hoping to see either Cleveland Cavaliers make a successful defense of their title or the Golden State Warriors rebound to reclaim the title they won in 2015. From my own standpoint, while many believe the NBA is need of a dynasty as well as a rivalry to create more excitement within this league. I firmly believe what the NBA is lacking , are truly talented players .

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While no one can deny the astonishing season had by Russell Westbrook , who averaged a triple-double throughout the regular season, the point guard failed to ignite the postseason for the Oklahoma City Thunder , as the team failed miserably in their series against the Houston Rockets . The Thunder’s failings came from the lack of coaching acumen shown by head coach Billy Donovan and his coaching staff . During this off-season I expect there are likely to be several changes made to the team’s roster beyond their own draft selections in the upcoming NBA Draft (2017) .

It would be in everyone’s interests not to make too much of the San Antonio Spurs’ blowout loss to the Houston Rockets in the opening game of their Western Conference Semi-Final Series. The Spurs are far too experienced a team to simply lay down , without putting up much of a fight. Head coach Gregg Popovich is a Master in his role and I would expect him to make the necessary adjustments to negate the strengths of the Rockets in preparation for game-two.

If you’re looking for a definite outsider within the Eastern Conference who could possibly upset the apple-cart, then your best bet could very well be the Boston Celtics who surprised everyone by being the number-one seeds in the conference this postseason. Having dispatched the Chicago Bulls in their opening series with summary ease , the Celtics now find themselves facing the Washington Wizards in their conference semi-finals’ series. Already up 2-0 in the series , a game-three victory would pretty much place the Celtics on the path to their first conference title appearance in eight years . Teammates Al Horford and Isiah Thomas might be the primary reasons why the Celtics now find themselves on their way a possible conference finals’ appearance . During the regular as well as the postseason the two have combined to lead the team to the victories seen on-court.

Trouble in paradise ? Well , in the City of Angels , known to us all as Los Angeles , both of the NBA franchises residing in the city , the Los Angles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers , have seen their fair share of mediocrity during the regular and postseason . In the case of the Los Angles Lakers, it was another sub-par effort from a team completely devoid of leadership and play-making ability . It just seems unfortunate Luke Walton inherited a group of players who have no ambition or pride and in the case of veteran leadership, Metta World Peace has offered little to the Lakers throughout the season. Away from the basketball court, familial tensions reared its ugly head, as siblings , Jeanie Buss , Johnny Buss and Jim Buss squabbled over control of the Lakers. Magic Johnson , was brought in to become Head of Basketball Operations , while Mitch Kupchak was ousted to be replaced by Rob Pelinka as the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers. I guess during this off-season , the Lakers as well as their fans, can hope Magic will be able to talk a high-profiled free agent into signing with the franchise , which in many respects looks more like a lunatic asylum , rather than a professional sports’ franchise.

Billionaire tech entrepreneur Steve Ballmer purchased the Los Angeles Clippers for $2.2 billion and since acquiring the franchise , they have failed abysmally during recent NBA Playoff appearances. Failing to get beyond the conference quarter finals and it’s easy to understand how overrated the Clippers are. I think it somewhat asinine , reading comments from clueless NBA fans, who have pretensions of insight concerning this franchise, at times describing the Los Angeles Clippers as one of the few NBA successes of the past six seasons. A highly paid roster of players and clearly with Chris Paul not getting a great deal of help from either Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan , it is easy to understand why the Clippers remain so abysmal.

The significance of the Los Angeles Clippers’ first-round series loss to the Utah Jazz has not been lost to a number of fans. If Gordon Hayward can almost single-handedly outplay the Clippers’ , leading the Jazz to their 4-3 series’ first-round upset . Hayward and his teammates now have the unenviable task of facing the Golden State Warriors in their conference semi-final series.

Steve Ballmer as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is bound to be displeased with the lackluster effort of his team, but I dare say, he is likely to be peeved with the lack of coaching acumen shown by head coach Doc Rivers and the entire Clippers’ coaching staff . From my own perspective , I believe it is time for Rivers to relinquish his dual role within the organization , as Head of Basketball Operations and just remain in charge of the playing staff as the Head Coach . Rivers is placing even greater pressure on himself and for the moment , while Steve Ballmer remains loyal to his head coach , I can’t help but get the feeling , another season playing second-fiddle to the Golden State Warriors as the second-best franchise based in the state of California will not sit well with the larger than life owner.

MLB prides itself on being the first professional team sport in North America to integrate its players. Jackie Robinson is stated as being the first African-American player to play in a Major League ball-game , but in reality , Robinson was not the first. He was merely the first to play for a professional team in the twentieth century. Jackie Robinson was a the subject of such racial abuse through much of his career , albeit , that we’re told it only related to the his initial years with the Brooklyn Dodgers .

Seven decades after Robinson’s debut, it would appear racism remains alive and well within the game of baseball. We should be reminded , on the night Hank Aaron broke the career home run record held by Babe Ruth , he came under a torrent of non-stop racial abuse , threats of violence aimed at himself as well as his family. Now in , 2017, those taunts are now being aimed at players of African-American ethnicity , though it’s not being widely reported, simply because MLB’s hierarchy would rather keep this all under wraps.

In a recent game between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox , the Orioles’ Adam Jones was subject to a torrent of racial and verbal abuse . Now consider, the fact this game was being played at Fenway Park , in Boston, Massachusetts , and with the Red Sox itself , having several players of ethnic minority on the roster . It does seem somewhat repugnant that Red Sox fans would seek to act in such a way with such repugnant and repulsive behavior. Then again, it should be seen as a sign of the times , when the President of the country , Donald Trump can show his utter disregard for not only women but also minorities in general , with his own outlandish behavior and he is simply given a pass by the public and the media , specifically the right-wing cabal of Conservative leading members of the press. So why would we expect any different from a bunch of inherently racist and insensitive group of Red Sox fans ? If the league hierarchy has failed to even question the behavior of the fans in this incident and when there has been no formal comment from the front office of the Boston Red Sox. I can only surmise they either condone the actions of the fans in question or they are simply apathetic and oblivious to what went on.

If you believe this incident concerning Adam Jones is an isolated situation , you should think again as it has become more common place within the game of baseball . There has been a rise in this type of behavior , though it is not widely reported in the media or through any research done by Major League Baseball , because where its leadership remains middle-aged and predominantly overseen by Caucasians , the last thing you would expect , would be for the league hierarchy to admit there is not a tinge of racism within baseball . There has been a rise in this type of behavior , though it is not widely reported in the media or through any research done by Major League Baseball , because where its leadership remains middle-aged and predominantly overseen by Caucasians , the last thing you would expect , would be for the league hierarchy to admit there is not a tinge of racism within baseball. It is common-place but just as in this game on Monday , MLB’s own coverage of the contest failed to indicate what occurred and the racial epithets directed at Adam Jones. Once again indicating, White America loves to paint this pageantry of all inclusiveness, when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth, because they would rather run with the apathy and the nonchalant belief all is right with the world.

Courtesy of Newsday

CC Sabathia backs up Adam Jones’ experience with slurs at Fenway

By Roger Rubin , Special for Newsday

HIGHLIGHTS

‘When you go to Boston, expect it,’ Sabathia says
Red Sox apologize for fans’ racial taunts toward Orioles outfielder

While Major League Baseball and the Red Sox organization reacted with revulsion and condemnation that Baltimore’s Adam Jones was taunted with racial slurs and pelted with a bag of peanuts during Monday night’s game at Boston’s Fenway Park, CC Sabathia had a different take.

“It’s happened to me — not surprising,” the Yankees left-hander said. “It’s bad. You get called names — the N-word, all kind of stuff — when you go to Boston . . . I’m glad that he spoke up. It’s disgusting.”
“I heard something that caught my attention and I’m like ‘I hope I really didn’t just hear what I thought I heard,’ ” Jones recounted in an MLB Network interview. “I’ve played against the Red Sox for 10 years and I understand booing the opponent . . . but not the racial stuff. It [expletive] that it’s still going on in 2017.”

Asked if he’d heard similar accounts from other African-American players, Sabathia replied “there’s 62 of us and we all know: when you go to Boston, expect it . . . I’ve never had it anywhere else except there . . . even shagging in the outfield before the game, sometimes you get it.”

“It’s nothing new to any of us,” Braves outfielder Matt Kemp said. “He let it be known that’s what we go through. I mean, it’s pretty much normal, especially in some of these different cities. I’m not going to name all the cities, but there’s some pretty tough cities where people say some pretty ruthless things. There’s . . . nobody holding anybody accountable for some of the things these fans do.”


Click on link to read this article in full.
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Erwin Santana (5-0, 0.66 ERA) and Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.21 ERA) are the two best pitchers in baseball at this point of the season. with both starting pitchers unbeaten in their respective starts for the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros . Unfortunately , this is not reflected in the records of either team and where they stand within their respective divisions . The Twins sit in second place within the AL Central , but that division is likely to become even more competitive and congested as the season progresses. Given the fact the Minnesota Twins have struggled to make the postseason in recent years. I do not expect the team in its current guise to be considered a serious challenger for the AL Pennant , much less the World Series . In the case of the Houston Astros , they appear to be as good as advertised , but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were to falter by the latter part of June. With both the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins in action today , 3rd May , it will be interesting to see how the teams fare in their respective games. The Twins will play host to the Oakland A’s , while the Astros have the Texas Rangers coming to Minute Maid Field for a game in Houston, Texas.

There are several milestones likely to be met this season in baseball and for all of the idiocy in print over the length of a home-run being hit. I would like the think the productivity being seen in such cases leads to the outcome of the player producing , is doing so for a team with a winning record or at least competitive within their division . Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees is now making a name for himself this season as he leads the team in home runs as well as several other team categories on offense . Let’s just say in spite of the Yankees’ deficiencies elsewhere, it’s good to know they now have someone on the roster capable of producing when it matters. Needless to say, Judge and his teammates still have a long way to go in convincing anyone they are capable of winning the AL East , much less have the aspirations of bringing the franchise another World Series title . The Yankees were in action on Wednesday evening when they faced the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx , New York. An 8-6 victory over the Blue Jays inched the Yankees closer to becoming the first team to twenty wins on the season in baseball for 2017 .

Major League Baseball works professionally within the state of Florida because , with an elderly population, the game does seem to have a lot to offer the fans during the exhibition schedule (Spring Training) . During the regular season , there are sparse crowds in attendance for the home games of the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays . In spite of the statistics provided by the league, it is obvious to even the most knowledgeable of fans, both of the Florida based teams cannot fill their respective stadiums to capacity for a home game. Marlins Ballpark and Tropicana Field have become something of a joke to those in the know. Economic impact for the cities of Miami and Tampa may well be minimal and the combined valuation as well as revenue provided by both ball-clubs pales into insignificance when measured against teams in a similar market size or bigger. From my own perspective , I believe a great deal of the blame for the lack of success with both the Marlins and Rays stems from a lack of real ambition from the respective ownership groups . Granted , pending the league’s approval , the Miami Marlins will become subject to a new ownership group led by Jeb Bush , a former governor of the state, whose partnering with Derek Jeter could see a raise in the profile of the still impoverished Marlins. Meanwhile , Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg continues to act like a petulant child whose pacifier has been taken away from him.

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I would like to think in the coming months both the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays are able to compete , while the MLB season itself is something the fans can truly revel in. Yet , for all sense and purpose we all know that is not likely to be the case.
As to the incident s which took place during the game between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox, I think it speaks volumes to the never-ending social issue this country has failed to address since its inception and that is the issue of race. It is a telling sign when the President , Donald Trump > can simply make racial bigotry a focal point of his electoral campaign and the apathy of the public is there for all to see. I don’t believe we can expect anything more from a country or its political leaders , when they are simply not willing to show any form of decency or respect of others. The continued banality seen , is something which will remain ever-present and I don’t expect it to change anytime soon !

The NBA Playoffs will continue to be a wild ride , with teams looking to achieve success and for the fans , it will provide some form of happiness or joy as the case maybe.

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Tophatal ……………………… 3rd May 2017

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Save It ….

Save It …

Not a great deal has been happening within the world of sports , albeit that, there are still some ongoing stories to be played out. NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned, though the San Francisco 49ers’ newly installed general manager John Lynch has stated the franchise would not be averse to resigning the player. From by own standpoint , the ongoing hypocrisy of the NFL and the fact as a business entity there leaves a great deal to be desired concerning the claim this league is all-inclusive and has a respect for one’s right to express themselves freely. This league down the years has condoned some of the most heinous actions conceivable by players, without the NFL hierarchy of the NFLPA (union) seeking to address many of those issues. Needless to say, the longer Kaepernick remains unsigned , the more the matter will become open to conjecture and speculation.

The NFL has shown itself to be a hypocritical organization, where front office executives have excused the behavior of players who are known rapists , misogynists , racists , spousal and child abusers , but the moment a player takes a stance on a social rights’ issue and are well within their right do so, owners and general managers take the stance , that Colin Kaepernick is unpatriotic. Well , I guess if Kaepernick has spent in excess of $3 million of his own money to aid the cause of homeless veterans within the greater San Francisco area , as well as setting up a charitable foundation for at risk teenagers , it really does make him unpatriotic and conceited ? This country has short-term memory , lacks the intelligence to understand what is happening under its very nose and seems to forget that athletes such as Muhammad Ali , Jack Johnson , Jesse Owens , Jackie Robinson , John Carlos and Tommie Smith also took a similar stance to Colin Kaepernick , were vilified in some circles , and praised by others. I wonder , if the San Francisco 49ers , had the team won the Superbowl when they faced the Baltimore Ravens , even after the stoppage , which clearly changed the momentum of the game , would the San Francisco quarterback still be persecuted and have become persona non-grata within the league and by numerous fans ? Just a thought , mind you !

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Major League Baseball begins its regular season schedule with a slew of games to be played on Opening Day, 3rd April , 2017. The Chicago Cubs , as the reigning NL Pennant winners and World Series champions will be looking to be the first team since the New York Yankees to make a successful back-to-back defense of their title. The feat was last accomplished in 1998 and 1999 . Chicago’s opening game of their regular season began with a loss to divisional rivals the St Louis Cardinals with a 4-3 defeat . These two teams will meet again on Tuesday afternoon, in a game to be played at Busch Stadium , in St Louis , Missouri,.

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Jack Johnson , the first African-American to hold the Heavyweight Title and whose career in the boxing ring was questioned due to his association and fraternization with white women. Johnson was never able to find acceptance in America and fled to Europe where he gained the respect of fans and boxing promoters alike. Always a vocal opponent of racial and social injustice the boxer was vilified by fans , also by the press (print media) and by members of the US government. Not unlike the same treatment now being meted out against NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick .

Already a World Series’ MVP and among the best of the starting pitchers to be found in all of baseball , the San Francisco Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner continues to mesmerize not just with the ball , but also with his bat . In the Giants’ opening game of the season, Bumgarner became the first pitcher MLB history to hit two-solo home runs in a game. Manager Bruce 

, his managerial staff and the team will be looking to bounce back from that initial loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks when the San Francisco Giants resume their series on Tuesday. Johnny Cueto of Giants will be on the mound to face Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks.

For the past two seasons Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been the highest salaried player in baseball. When Kershaw takes to the mound for the Dodgers’ game against the San Diego Padres , his 2017 salary will be greater than the entire payroll of the opponent he faces on Tuesday afternoon .

Don’t say you weren’t forewarned , but there was a great deal of idiocy, surrounding the future of Klay Thompson as the Golden State Warriors acquired Kevin Durant . For some reason there was this insistence that Thompson and Durant would not be able to co-exist on a team , already with two superstars without adding a third. Klay Thompson has proved to be an invaluable asset alongside Durant and two-time League MVP , Steph Curry . The Golden State Warriors also seem to have rebounded from their NBA Finals’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and will end up with the best record in the NBA for the second consecutive season . It should also be noted, with the swoon of the Cavaliers and their recent record , LeBron James and his teammates are by no means a certainty to repeat as champions much less win the Eastern Conference title.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers still laboring and possibly a tough match-up coming their way when they face the Orlando Magic and then Eastern Conference leaders the Boston Celtics . The Golden State Warriors under the calming influence of head coach Steve Kerr has guided his team with a great deal of aplomb and not worrying about what critics might have to say . Personally, would rather listen to the insight of Warriors’ special consultant Jerry West than the asinine thoughts of analysts and fans who clearly have no damn idea as to what it takes to build a championship contender much less a winning team ! Jerry West has been able to do that with the Los Angeles Lakers in the run-up to their championships won , when he was the architect of the teams led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal . He would then rebuild the Memphis Grizzlies into a contender before being brought on board of the Golden State Warriors at the request of co-owners , Joe Lacob and Peter Guber . Looking to round out their season on a high , the Warriors are unlikely to be a seventy-game winner this season. The best the team can hope for is a sixty-eight and fourteen record (68-14) to end their season , winning the five remaining games on their schedule. The first of those games will be against the Minnesota Timberwolves , a game where I expect the Warriors to come through unscathed !

Tiger Woods surprised no one with the announcement that he would skip this season’s first Major on the PGA Tour schedule , The Masters being held at Augusta G & CC , Augusta , Georgia . Woods has made one appearance on the PGA Tour this season and he has very little to show for it overall . Even if fully fit and had he declared himself ready to play, I do not believe Tiger Woods’ game would at his very best. Woods’ confidence is at an all-time low and he is kidding himself, if he still believes he can go shoulder to shoulder with any of the top-five players in the world. From being acclaimed the number one golfer in the world Tigers Woods is now at a crossroads in his career , with only the record of Jack Nicklaus to surpass , in terms of the number of Grand Slam tournaments won. Woods’ fall from grace has been his own undoing , with his well-chronicled sex escapades , lack of honesty , infidelity issues during and after his marriage.

Augusta will be the center of the Golf World when the tournament begins this Thursday and it will be interesting to see of Jordan Spieth can further enhance his career as being the best golfer , America has produced in the past five years.

For all of the ” hype” seen during the Men’s NCAA Tournament . The final game of College Basketball’s season turned out to be a downright “dud” and a truly ugly spectacle. Gonzaga the prohibitive favorites, took on North Carolina (Tar Heels) in a contest that was filled with numerous turnovers , ugly play and not much to redeem either of the two teams. Roy Williams adds another title to his already impressive resume’ , but at the end of the day, that is just about all one could say concerning the game .

Things have become stagnant within the UFC , as the banner organization is now more reliant on aging fighters , than some of its younger stars to raise its profile further. The return of Georges St Pierre is a further indication of that with the former UFC Welterweight Champion coming out of his self-imposed retirement to challenge the current Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping for his title. The fight will offer Bisping the biggest payday of his career and the chance to beat a legend. While the UFC has undergone a change in ownership after the organization was sold for a reputed $4.5 billion to William Morris Endeavor Group , a sports’ management and entertainment company known globally. What we do know , is that UFC President Dana White will remain on board in his current role as the UFC’s lead executive. White for his part, is now changing his stance with regard to the proposed fight between Conor McGregor , currently the biggest star within the organization and his facing multi-titlist , Floyd Mayweather , who is willing to come out of retirement to face McGregor. This is the sort of circus antics needed by both sports , which appears to be seeing something of a downturn in attendance for some of their high-profiled bouts and PPV events (pay per view).

The UFC has a very interesting upcoming event with , UFC 210 taking place this Saturday at the Key Bank Center in Buffalo , New York. Main event on the card will be Daniel Cormier defending his Light Heavyweight title when he faces Anthony “ The Rumble “ Johnson . For Cormier , this might be the most formidable opponent he has faced over the course of his career. Johnson tends to end his fights in spectacular fashion and is an excellent grappler and Ju-Jitsu artist . Cormier’s strengths lay in his wrestling and his power , but don’t be dissuaded by the fact that he doesn’t know how to knock an opponent out. All signs point to what should be a very good fight , while waiting in the wings as a possible future opponent for the winner , is the division’s former champion Jon “ Bones” Jones . For Jones in spite of his issues outside the octagon , there is no denying he’s sorely missed and if things fall into place , his being in line for a title shot would be the best thing that could happen to the sport and in particular for the Light Heavyweight division .

So , here’s the question , can MLS Soccer rise to the point where it can stand on its own , where fans and observers it can be taken seriously enough to challenge the top Soccer Leagues around the globe ? Granted , fan attendance for the league’s games have seen a gradual rise over the last eight years . Yet for all of that, the Men’s National Team has never seen the success attained by the Women at the international level. Furthermore , there has been only one player produced by the country who could ever deemed to be considered world-class , since the sport became something of a household pastime . Tim Howard has to be considered the greatest player in US Soccer history in spite of the idiotic glorification of Landon Donovan

Don Garber , the CEO of MLS Soccer and his national counterpart Sunil Gulati with US Soccer are now working in conjunction to create the traction needed whereby Soccer as a sport , can stand alone and be considered the nation’s fifth national pastime behind the NFL ( Football) , NBA , MLB , the NHL and with all due respect to NASCAR , a sport where athleticism is not actually a real focus , when your machine (car) is simply going around in circles (left turns , averaging 155 mph). No team in MLS Soccer has really risen to prominence at the club level internationally and while DC United and the Los Angeles Galaxy (L A Galaxy) are considered to be best franchises in the league’s history. Were it not for the splash made with the signing of David Beckham , I seriously doubt the game much less these two teams would have been the focus of some of the top stories within the sport over the last decade. David Beckham and his business partners are still struggling to bring a MLS franchise to South Florida, currently in something of a combative mode with MLS Soccer and municipal authorities to finance a stadium for the proposed franchise.

The aura of the Beckham name has already lost its luster from a commercial standpoint with regard to its connection to MLS Soccer, while the former soccer star , believes he and his partners will prevail in the end. There seems to be ever-growing signs of impatience from Don Garber and his fellow executives within MLS Soccer.

With growing revenues now coming from commercial sponsors, the league’s television rights are substantial , but nowhere yet on par with the deals now in place with the NBA , NFL or even MLB. It should also be noted the highest paid player within the sport earns a mere pittance in comparison to his counterparts in the aforementioned sports.

The only way for the MLS to succeed , is for the level of the game to be raised where it is on par with the top leagues around the globe , with more homegrown talent and the success of the Men’s National Team at the international level. Then and only then , will the sport actually capture the hearts and minds of the American public , rather than the belief the World Cup and its quadrennial staging is the sole course to be taken .

Which particular sports’ news story at present has you asking the question , is that it and why is this worth mentioning ?


Tophatal …… 04/03/2017

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Rarefied air and toxicity ….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  Tophatal    …… 


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Heark The Herald Angels Sing

Heark The Herald Angels Sing  …

As the world of sports enters into the Christmas season and all of the festivities one would come to expect at this time of the year , we can also reflect on what has taken place during 2016. In the world of College Football , was there ever any doubt the Alabama Crimson Tide would be riding high at the top of the College Football world ? This team has simply ran roughshod over the opposition all season long and they now find themselves in the playoffs , as head coach Nick Saban looks to win another national title in the modern era. Suffice to say , the only thing likely to deny the Tide their chance of winning a title will be the complacency shown by the team. From my own standpoint, I do not believe Alabama will be that naive or over-confident.

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Well, we’re almost through with the NFL season and who would have thought the Dallas Cowboys would be considered the best team in the NFL throughout much of the season? The team’s rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has been sensational in leading the Cowboys to an eight-game winning streak , though as of late the team has slipped up. Having already qualified for the postseason and winning the NFC East with consummate ease . The question being asked , can the Cowboys win their first Superbowl title in over a decade ? Certainly , on paper Dallas does appear to be good enough, but the postseason is a completely different environment from the regular season.

Dak Prescott in his rookie season shown a great deal of maturity , but one has to wonder if he will be able to show all of the mental traits needed to win. Jerry Jones , the team’s owner , knows he has experienced veteran Tony Romo to call on, but anyone with an ounce of common sense will know Romo’s record in the playoffs can be best described as being mediocre. In week fifteen the Dallas Cowboys will be in action and it will be interesting to see if the decision is made to give Tony Romo some playing time in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) in what might be the best game on the schedule this upcoming weekend.

If the Dallas Cowboys are said to be flying high, then the woes of the Cleveland Browns’ (0-13) record is a sign of not just a bad team , but one which has been lacking confidence all season long . The Browns now seem to be well on their way of equaling the unnerving season of the Detroit Lions in 2008 . For all of those who have forgotten Detroit somehow managed to go 0-16 , a mark in history which goes down in infamy. All of the signs with the Lions are now to be witnessed with the Cleveland Browns and their inauspicious season , as it unfolds . For head coach Hue Jackson , he cannot be blamed for the team’s woes and the fact there appears to be no leadership from anyone on the roster. Needless to say, heading into week fifteen after thirteen consecutive losses , there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of hope the Browns will be able to avert a fourteenth straight loss. Cleveland will be on the road when they meet the Buffalo Bills on Sunday 18th December in Orchard Park , New York at New Era Field (Ralph Wilson Stadium). Defeat there and most certainly the odds-makers will be shortening the odds on the franchise not averting losses in weeks’ sixteen and seventeen .

The death of 1994 Heisman Trophy winner and former Chicago Bears’ running back Rashaan Salaam came as a shock to many . Salaam had a four-year career in the NFL , which never lived up to hype or heights of his collegiate career . His apparent suicide, is still under investigation by the authorities , but it would appear there are mitigating factors now coming to light , as to why he would choose to take his own life , with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Rashaan Salaam is just another in a long line of former NFL players suffering from acute or chronic neurological disorders brought on by the impact of playing not only at the collegiate level but also in the NFL , where brute force seems to be the norm , with bone-crushing hits fitting of a gladiatorial theater . Meanwhile , the NFL hierarchy under Commissioner Roger Goodell , continues to create the perception , the league is doing to enough to protect the players and aiding in the well-being of retired players. In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth , as proven with the league seeking to fight the civil suit and settlement of $1 billion in US Federal Court , filed against them as defendants.

As an $8billion a year behemoth , it is easy to understand why the NFL seeks to protect its brand and image , but with no clear transparency and the autocratic rule by Roger Goodell and the team owners goose-stepping on queue behind him, anyone with the belief the league has a compassionate nature to it , is sadly mistaken.

So here we go and it’s the off—season in Major League Baseball and the free agency market is now heating up , as teams make a big splash signing players to deals , which in many respects , we should now come to expect. Team payrolls in some cases , are likely to increase over last season, with the Los Angeles Dodgers once again leading the pack in 2017 with the highest payroll in the game. Dodgers’ GM Farhan Zaidi and the club’s Head of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman will try to put together a roster which they believe will be able to compete in 2017 . This past season proved to be a monumental disappointment for the Dodgers, as they were expected to challenge for the NLCS Pennant in 2016.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ NLCS loss to the eventual World Series champions the Chicago Cubs was an embarrassment of riches for the Cubs. Chicago manager Joe Maddon and his team were gifted the series , because simply put, the Dodgers have come to be known as “chokers” when it comes to their recent forays in the postseason. Consider the fact, it has been over twenty-five years since their last appearance and victory in the ” Fall Classic” and you have to wonder why their narcissistic fans believe they are always good enough to win ? The Dodgers’ biggest move of the off-season was the signing of pitcher, Kenley Jansen to a five-year deal . Whether or not Jansen can prove to be as productive for the team this upcoming season as he was in 2016 remains to be seen. As a closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers , Kenley Jansen was among the best relief pitchers in the game last season . While I expect the Dodgers to be competitive this upcoming season , I am not holding out any hopes of them being considered to be a legitimate contender for the World Series. They have yet to learn anything at all from their recent postseason appearances and it will continue to be a problem for the organization.

With the recent announcement Allan ‘ Bud’ Selig and Atlanta Braves’ Team President John Schuerholz will be among the inductees into the Hall of Fame in 2017. I have to wonder what were the precise merits for Selig to have met the criteria for his induction ! I have no problem with the induction of Schuerholz as his resume’ simply speaks for itself concerning the success attained with both the Kansas City Royals , but even more so with the Atlanta Braves. The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have their very own set of rules and the Veterans’ Committee continues to be a bastion of sheer stupidity , but in reality the institution itself remains an endeavor of comedic delight and idiocy. This has to be one of the very few institutions , who believe itself to be above reproach and who clearly believe they know what they are doing at every given moment. When your vote can be bought and sold at the drop of a hat , concerning a nominee , it simply smacks of incredulity , connivance and deceit on the part of the BBWAA.

Bud Selig was among the longest-serving Commissioners in Major League Baseball and while it could be said he presided over the growth of a game , to the point where it is now a mult-billion dollar commercial enterprise annually. It has to be said, the game has seen its fair share of mistakes made by the hierarchy under Selig’s guidance. I find it extremely difficult to laud someone , who remains unwilling to admit his mistakes as Bud Selig has failed to do repeatedly over the years ! During the ” steroid tainted era “ , when the likes of Mark McGwire , Sammy Sosa , Barry Bonds , Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro were among the notable names known to have taken an illicit substance. Bud Selig as well as the members of the BBWAA and other journalists failed to investigate in-depth , the cheating which took place.

Steroids remained rampant during the last decade and it was rampant within the Minor Leagues , something which Selig failed to acknowledge. During his tenure also, baseball was no longer an Olympic sport, as MLB and the sport’s international governing body failed to reach a compromise on comprehensive drug testing within the sport. This was a requirement of not only the IOC (International Olympic Committee) , but also the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) . Now in spite of claims maintained by the former commissioner , as well as his successor Rob Manfred , the sport still finds itself in something of a quandary. Both Bud Selig and Rob Manfred are hoping for baseball’s return to the Summer Olympics along with the sport of Softball. The IOC remains reticent about the game’s return to the Summer Olympics and it is unlikely either sport will be welcomed back with open arms.

With the sport of baseball no longer having an international presence MLB in conjunction with the World Baseball & Softball Federation have come up with the grand idea of an international team competition called the World Baseball Classic . This quadrennial event will return to the international stage in March 2017 , at a time when teams in baseball will be in the midst of Spring Training . Team USA will be a participant in the competition along with teams from thirty-one international countries .

As for the aspirations of the US Team , with their having never won this tournament , it could be stated without a victory and even with the competitive nature of the competition . It does seem remarkable with the talent at the coaching staff’s disposal , they have failed miserably on each occasion the event has been staged . Claims of the tournament being an instantaneous success has been mixed and the television audience domestically, has been nowhere near the levels anticipated by MLB . On an international front , the attendance levels have been high , as too have been the television audiences around the globe, but the sport has not really grabbed the public’s attention in the way baseball’s hierarchy and the game’s international body had anticipated.

In what might be deemed a highly competitive NBA season after the major trades which took place during the off-season. It has to be said a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals might be the most appealing thing the fans could wish for. Reigning champions the Cleveland Cavaliers would like nothing better than to make a successful defense of their title, while the beaten finalists the Golden State Warriors will be attacking this season with a renewed vigor. The addition of Kevin Durant to the Warriors’ lineup makes this team the most formidable in the entire league . Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr and the coaching staff are still showing the acumen seen last season as the Golden State Warriors’ dominated the league , but fell short in the NBA Finals.

This season the Golden State Warriors have proven themselves more than up to the task, as they dominate within the Western Conference and have opponents in the East quaking in their boots. The dynamics of this Warriors’ team, is one where they have a three-pronged offensive attack led by Steph Curry , Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. It would also be foolish to overlook the contributions of others on this team. In their most recent game the Golden State Warriors defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves by an eight-point margin on their way to a 116-108 victory .

Golden State will be back on the on the court this Tuesday night , when they will face Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans in all Western Conference clash . This game should prove to be a very interesting contest between two very determined teams.

At this point of the season, the leading candidate for League MVP might be none other than point guard Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder . Westbrook has been on a unique tear , having recorded six triple doubles this season , a franchise record . The league record in a season for triple-doubles is nine , recorded by NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain . It will be interesting to see if Russell Westbrook can break the record of Wilt Chamberlain , but for a player who is often criticized as being selfish, but I feel the point guard has taken on the mantel of being a leader of this Thunder roster , after the departure of Kevin Durant. Westbrook has picked up the slack , but has to be aided by his teammates if the Oklahoma City Thunder are to have any chance of success this season.

Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder will be on the court to face the Portland Trailblazers this Tuesday.

College Basketball has gotten underway and already there have been one or two surprising results. Sitting at the top of the heap are Villanova (10-0) , unbeaten and looking like the top team in the nation . In their last game the Wildcats laid down the “smack” in taking apart Notre Dame , winning by an eight-point margin, 74-66 , in a contest where had they taken every opportunity available , the margin of victory would have been far greater.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright and his coaching staff know that they and the team are now under a microscope , as they have a target on their back as the number one team in the nation. Wright and the Wildcats’ next game will be against Temple (Owls) on Tuesday, 13th December , 2016 .

Storied program or not , you have either come to love or hate the Duke Blue Devils . Head coach Mike Krzyzewski continues to have a commanding respect from legions of Duke fans across the country. Granted , of late the famed head coach has been under a great deal of criticism and justifiably so , but at the end of the day , you simply cannot deny his achievements . Krzyzewski and the team have suffered an early defeat on their season schedule , but as we all know , the season is about the NCAA championship and not much else. Duke will set its sights on another title , as Mike Krzyzewski seeks to add to his already astonishing legacy. Next up for the Blue Devils will be a game against Tennessee State . in a contest which should offer the fans a real treat. For Duke to win the NCAA title this year , I do believe this team has to be more consistent all-round , with their being total dominance by their best player , Luke Kennard who is averaging 20 ppg , 3.2 assists has a 52% field-goal percentage for his season’s statistics .

Now considered to be a PGA Tour veteran, former world number one , Tiger Woods made his return to the Tour , although his first appearance at the Hero World Challenge was not in an officially sanctioned tournament by the PGA . Woods no doubt, wants to regain the form which made him the most dominant golfer on the Tour for several years, having won fourteen Grand Slam Major tournaments , second only to golfing legend , Jack Nicklaus .

There was a time when a Tiger Woods’ sighting on a golf course during a tournament, a Grand Slam Major in particular, actually meant something. However, due to recurring injury problems , a drop off in form and his well-chronicled personal issues, Woods has now become something of an aging fossil among his contemporaries . Tiger Woods has now dropped so far down the World Golf Rankings , you need to turn several pages just to see a mention of his name , never-mind his standing among the Fedex Cup listings. Woods’ next appearance in a PGA Tour event might well be the subject of a great deal of conjecture and speculation , as the player himself has not made us a ware of his playing schedule for the current list of PGA Tour tournaments. If his body can withstand the rigors of the Tour, then I expect Tiger Woods to play a minimum of fourteen tournaments , including all four Grand Slam Majors . I do not believe he will regain the form to make him a legitimate contender for a Grand Slam tournament , but there is the possibility, we might well see Woods lifting a trophy , having won an officially sanctioned PGA Tournament. Jason Day , Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will seek to made those variables seem less likely. The triumvirate are all ranked in the top-ten of the world rankings .
As entertaining as this sporting year has been , with a slew of great performances , singular and team-wise , I can’t help but wonder if thing could have been better during 2016 and what 2017 will have in store for the fans ! At the end of the day, we will be left with memories , some good and some bad. The sporting gods are watching and the likelihood will be, a great deal more is about to happen , expected and unexpected. there are

Tophatal ……………. 12/13/2016

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