What’s Happening In The World of Sports … ?

What’s Happening In The World of Sports … ?

Well now that the MLB season is slowly progressing towards its halfway point and with the league’s midseason showcase event due in July with the All Star Game being hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field , in Phoenix , Arizona. It well be interesting to see how the teams come into the break in terms of their overall form .

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The standings at present reflect that Philadelphia Phillies seem to be intent on running away with the NL East . They currently hold a 5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves within the division and though it’s way too early to suggest that they will be playing for the NLCS during the postseason but it would appear that the only thing that can derail the Phillies’ season would be their own complacency . Within the NL Central and NL West it would appear the races there are too close to call between the top two teams within each division . Tight races tend to add a great deal more excitement to the season and there’s no doubt in my mind that’s what the fans really yearn . And that is liable to be the case at present within both of the divisions in question .

Within the AL it’s business as usual within the AL East where the Boston Red Sox are now prepared to show that their recent form isn’t merely an aberration. On a two game winning streak and winners of nine of their last ten games the Red Sox now look as if they’re look distance themselves from the rest of the division. Their 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field was certainly a hard fought win but that’s simply the mindset of what now is the most competitive division within baseball. This division to my mind will most certainly provide the wildcard entrant for AL without a doubt unless there’s a monumental meltdown by the runner up to the winner of the AL East.

As was the premise with the NL Central and NL West well once again here too the races may well be too close to call within the AL Central and AL West . What we can be certain of within both divisions is that the teams won’t be giving up until the divisions are mathematically out of their reach in terms of winning or possibly attaining that lone wildcard berth .

Now as much as I know that Commissioner Bud Selig the league hierarchy in conjunction with the team owners have proposed expanding the playoffs’ format by adding two more teams within each league . I certainly believe that the hierarchy’s biggest issue is to deal with the financial problems now engulfing a number of teams within the league rather than adding to the playoffs and further elongating the season far more than it needs to be. I mean it’s not as if Selig has actually shown the propensity for being proactive on any issue unless he’s dragged kicking and screaming , then being forced to make a decision. Simply look at the morass created by Frank McCourt with the Los Angeles Dodgers ? If that’s not enough of an indication to show mind numbingly slow Selig was in acting , given the fact that it had been widely reported that the franchise was financially troubled . Then clearly Bud Selig along with the owners and league hierarchy were in fact so naive but perhaps even more so , too damn stupid for their own good .

I’m not about to try understand the fascination with Ricky Rubio and the fact that the player now says he’s ready to play in the NBA . Granted , having been drafted in 2009 by the Minnesota Timberwolves , the player sought to forgo joining the organization and play an additional two years in Europe where the financial inducement there was far greater than the front office could have offered with a rookie contract. Team owner Glen Taylor and GM David Kahn now feel that the player having made the decision to join the team can provide them with the form and maturity that simply belies his age.

In the aftermath of a horrendous season the Timberwolves now have to deal with the disatisfaction of their incumbent coach Kurt Rambis and the mere fact that neither Glen Taylor or David Kahn have assured their beleaguered coach that he’ll be asked to return next season. With there not being a plethora of viable candidates out there to succeed Rambis should he be relieved of his duties . I would have thought that the the general manager and team owner would want to reassure the coach that his job is safe. Furthermore , with the NBA Draft due to take place on 23rd June I certainly would have thought that a coaching upheaval would be the last things that this franchise now needs . But herein lies the idiocy of how the Timberwolves have simply acted , as if in a vacuum and perhaps one of the reasons why they’ve simply had little success over the last five years. Beset by rather asinine personnel decisions made not only by Kahn but also his predecessor Kevin McHale this organization has never gained any traction in terms of success .

With the Minnesota Timberwolves having the number # 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft it will be interesting to see the decision made by the organization. As such there isn’t a genuine consensus number one pick but the thought is that the two most desirable players could well be Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams . From there , it’s anyone’s guess as to what format will be then taken in terms of the players taken in this Draft .

As the NFL work stoppage has already entered its ninetieth day I can’t help but wonder what the optimism amongst the team owners , league hierarchy and players appears to be about ! Hell, both sides have already alienated the vast majority of fans to begin with . And no amount of public statements coming from both sides concerning the progress now being made can simply hide the fact that what we have are two groups of greedy fucking bastards ! The average salary of an NFL player is $1.9 million per year with the median salary $770,000 and the average career span being approximately three and a half years . I understand that the players are entitled the highest possible salary available to them given the inherent risks of the game . But herein lies my question do they try and identify themselves with the fan out there ? I’ve heard a number of players during this stoppage state their issues are no different from that of any employee in the work place . Personally, I seriously doubt that the working fan who attends an NFL game can actually identify with the likes of Tom Brady , Peyton Manning or even Reggie Bush for that matter when their salaries run into the millions each season . Whereas as the average salary nationwide is approximately $44,000 per year , one can well understand that fan can hardly identify with a player who’s compensation package , endorsements notwithstanding can easily exceed $15 million a year.

From a fan’s standpoint , at this moment in time I couldn’t really care if the NFL starts on schedule as planned on the 8th September 2011 . Once this dispute came into being with a stoppage the NFL simply lost me and many others as long term fans . I’m of no doubt that they will however do their utmost to lure us all back with some form of inducement that we might too unbelievable to turn down . It has already began with a number of teams around the NFL in many cases offering deep discounts on for the purchase of season tickets and game day tickets in a number of instances .

So the US Open golf tournament is underway and all of this without the game’s biggest draw in Tiger Woods . The stage is set at Congressional Golf Club in Bethseda , Maryland for any one of a number of players to step into Woods’ shoes and show the fans they can become the main draw for the event . From my own standpoint the moment made the announcement that he wouldn’t be participating in the second Major of the season I simply knew that the tournament could either become a monumental disaster from spectators yearning for excitement . As it now stands the leaderboard for the tournament midway through two rounds isn’t exactly awe inspiring . Rory McIlroy leads the event with an eight stroke lead at -11 (11 under par). And to think that a patron stated that the player’s meltdown in the year’s first Major The Masters was simply because he wasn’t good enough . I guess when your knowledge of the game borders on the level of Palin’s knowledge of jurisprudence and the number of members seated on the US Supreme Court I guess you simply have to take that for all it’s worth ? Sitting solely in second place is Y. E. Yang at -3 , in third place is Robert Garrigus at .-2.

There is still two more rounds to be played in this tournament but if McIlroy is able to keep his composure with the pressure bearing down on him then it is my belief that he can win this tournament and cement his credentials as one of the best young players on the PGA Tour . Having already established himself on the European Tour as well as a member of a winning European Ryder Cup team the future bodes well for the young Irishman . In an earlier article I had intimated that I firmly believe that the US Open could be won by a foreigner as I felt that the US born players have now simply become too disinterested in their national championship and in large , the Majors themselves . With there being vast sums at stake on the Tour schedule and total prize money in excess of $ 225 million it begs the question are they actually interested in winning or merely cashing a check for a top twenty finish ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

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

Picture and slide show for your perusal .

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(1) Philadelphia Phillies’ Ryan Howard (6) celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run against the Florida Marlins in the fifth inning of a baseball game on Thursday, June 16, 2011, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 3-0 . AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr ….

(2) PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 16: PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 16: during the game against the at Citizens Bank Park on June 16, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 3-0. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images ….

(3) Outfielder B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays steals second base as shortstop Marco Scutaro (10) of the Boston Red Sox is late with the tag during the game at Tropicana Field on June 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(4) Pitching coach Jim Hickey (48) of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with pitcher David Price (14) during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on June 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Red Sox would go on to defeat the Rays 4-2 Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(5) Spanish basketball player Ricky Rubio gives a press conference on June 17, 2011, at the Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona, to announce that he was leaving the Catalan team to make his debut in the NBA next season at Minnesota Timberwolves.
AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO /Getty Images …

(6) Head coach Kurt Rambis of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts to a play against the Houston Rockets during a game on April 13, 2011 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images …

(7) T’wolves’ GM David Kahn (foreground) and the team’s owner Glen Taylor answer questions from the convened press at a team press conference. picture appears courtesy of espn.com/ ap/photo/ Martin Geshell ……………….

(8) Tom Brady and Peyton Manning shake hands after an NFL game . The two celebrated quarterbacks are amongst the highest paid players in the NFL . Getty Images/ Jim Rogash ……

(9) BETHESDA, MD – JUNE 17: The handwritten scores of Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in the press room during the second round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images ……

(10) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland swings from the bunker on the ninth hole during the second round of the 111th US Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011, in Bethesda, Maryland. TOPSHOTS/AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON ….

(11) Y. E. Yang, of South Korea, watches his drive from the fourth tee during the second round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament in Bethesda, Md., Friday, June 17, 2011. AP Photo/Eric Gay …..

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Ship Ahoy ………. Look Out For Another Mystery That’s About To Take On A Life Of Its Own

Ship Ahoy ………. Look Out For Another Mystery That’s About To Take On A Life Of Its Own

So here we are and with the ongoing NFL work stoppage now looking as if it’s liable to be a prolonged situation . It no longer comes as a surprise to me that the players are looking to paint the league and the team owners in a poor light. At the same time the league hierarchy isn’t about to make any concessions only seeking to further make this embattled situation more intolerable for the fans . At this juncture it’s pretty safe to say the longer the situation goes on the more suspect that I am the league schedule for the proposed 2011 season won’t commence on time as projected for the 3rd September . Suffice to say that both Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith as the highest ranked executives within the NFL and NFLPA might just be the most despised individuals in professional sports at present.

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Drew Brees in a public statement made the claim that the NFL were circled _____ that their target was indeed the NFLPA like sharks smelling blood after the death of former union executive director Gene Upshaw as they left it would be the right time to seek a change in what was the collective bargaining agreement as it stood at the time. I’m not so sure that I’d disagree with the claims being made by Brees but at the same time I’ve also got to question the confrontational approach of the union as this has all played itself out. From my own standpoint as this idiocy plays itself out and with there now being talk of the NBA quite possibly having their own problems with there also being a lockout there as well I can’t help but wonder when the next shoe will drop. David Stern and his counterpart Billy Hunter are now trying to create the perception that they are capable of acting like mature adults , albeit that the league hierarchy seems to be frustrated at the divergence in the differing views as to what’s best for the league. Union President Derek Fisher and the executive committee has said that the union isn’t prepared to make any concessions without the league itself acceding to the union’s own demands . Given the financial instability of the NBA and the fact that they are projected to lose in excess of $450 million for the fiscal year 2011 .

The NFL is up the creek without a paddle and it appears that the NBA isn’t that far behind as to their stupidity . The NBA’s postseason show case event the NBA Finals are now front and center with the Dallas Mavericks taking on the Miami Heat . A clash of styles and with a quartet of All Stars in Dirk Nowitzki , <a href=”http://nba.com/playerfile/lebron_james/”&gt; LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade . This series has the makings of being a classic if both teams play up to their true potential . But with that being said I can’t help but wonder if the outcome could once again be the same as before when these two teams last met in an NBA Finals in 2006 . The Mavericks would go on to lose that series 4-2 in what turned out to be very much a lopsided finals’ series . The Heat for their part during that series saw Finals MVP Dwyane Wade have a memorable NBA Finals in leading the team to their sole win of a championship. For then coach Pat Riley that would be his fourth NBA title as a coach over the course of his already legendary NBA career.

With Riley now as the team President he now has his protege` Erik Spoelstra coaching this star studded team . The young coach along with his Dallas Mavericks’ counterpart Rick Carlisle are both looking for their first title as a coach. And for Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban and team GM Donnie Walsh they may well now see this as the organization’s chance at redemption. The acquisition of Tyson Chandler has certainly bolstered the mindset of this Mavericks’ team . Certainly throughout this postseason Dirk Nowitzki has been playing like a man on a mission and he’s been ably assisted by a supporting cast that have simply stepped up to the plate .

The Dallas Mavericks for their part made light work of the Oklahoma City Thunder in a thoroughly convincing fashion defeating Scott Brooks’ team —- 4-1 . For many this result may not have come as a surprise but I for one certainly didn’t feel that the Thunder would wilt so easily but then again with this being such an inexperienced team it is understandable that they would succumb under such circumstances.

The Miami Heat are heavily favored to win this series match-up and with their dynamic trio all playing at a </ahigh caliber this postseason showcase event could either be suspenseful or an unmitigated disaster with the Heat simply walking over the Dallas Mavericks with a great deal of ease. I’d certainly like to think that Mavericks will abate all our fears and make this a memorable NBA Finals ! I’ve no doubt that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade would like disprove that although the Mavericks may well have won their regular season series 2-0 the postseason becomes a completely different environment altogether. There’s a great deal more on the line and as such NBA immortality and a legacy to play for as well as an NBA title. That should be enough an incentive for both teams to showcase their undoubted talent and supply the discerning NBA fan with the best possible extravaganza that they can witness . With a worldwide audience approaching 500 million hoping to witness the event ABC as the host broadcast network will be looking to magnify the brand of the NBA as well as their own broadcast talents. And I am sure that David Stern will be hoping that the emerging markets will like what they see. The NBA brand has reached its maturation and saturation point within North America and the league hierarchy now has to look elsewhere to see how best to make the game still a viable and profitable concern. God knows with the mismanagement of the league and the financial mismanagement amongst the teams by their owners and the respective general managers and you can well understand why the league wants a thoroughly entertaining series . Anything that can showcase the league as a entertaining concern would undoubtedly make the NBA a lure for the fan.

As a bye note can someone explain to me how it is that all of a sudden idiocy rears its ugly head with the regard to the comparisons and contrasts with regard to the careers of LeBron James and Michael Jordan . Now looking to add their own thoughts on the matter happens to be none other than Jordan’s former teammate and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Scottie Pippen . The former Bulls’ player stated in a radio interview with hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on their morning radio show “Mike & Mike” would state that Jordan being the game’s greatest scorer but James to his mind can be considered to be the game’s greatest player. Perhaps his statement can be misconstrued but in reality the idiocy of that statement at this juncture simply doesn’t make that much sense . James has yet to win a title and when I last looked two consecutive league MVP awards simply means nothing albeit that there’s a a couple of scoring titles to be added to that resume`. LeBron James needs to win NBA multiple titles before the contrasts and comparison can actually be made . Scottie needs to take a chill pill , quieten down before he alienates himself not only within the city of Chicago but also with his former teammates . If there’s one thing I know…… you simply don’t bite the fu#king hand that feeds you and for Scottie Pippen the hand that fed him was indeed Michael Jeffrey Jordan ! Enough said on the matter I do believe !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Simply chime in with a comment on your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 03: New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees makes his way into the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building for the NFL negotiations on March 3, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo by Rod Lamkey/Getty Images ……….

(2) Drew Brees has organized workouts for his teammates while trying to organize labor negotiating efforts with NFL owners.
Jonathan Bachman/Cal Sport Media ……

(3) Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, right, watches fellow teammate Jason Terry, left, during practice on Sunday, May 29, 2011, in Dallas. AP Photo/Mike Fuentes ……

(4) Miami Heat basketball players LeBron James (left) and Dwyane Wade talk to the media after a practice session in Miami, Sunday, May 29, 2011. The Heat will play the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA basketball finals on Tuesday . AP Photo/J Pat Carter ………

(5) Jordan and Pippen in a moment of triumph , one of many that the duo had over the course of their career with the Chicago Bulls. Also pictured is Steve Kerr a multiple title winner himself.

(6) A young LeBron James (left) gets the chance to meet his idol Michael Jordan . courtesy of je520wordpress.com ……

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It’s Often Best To Be Seen And Not Heard ……………

It’s Often Best To Be Seen And Not Heard ……………

Well with the ongoing NFL lockout you simply knew that ESPN couldn’t live without getting a sound byte no matter how inane it might be. And you can simply count on ESPN to sink to the lowest common denominator to make sure that scenario arises . Reporter Sal Palantonio  in an interview with the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis had me chuckling when he correlated that the prolonged labor stoppage would lead to a rise in crime because the discerning NFL fan would have nothing to with there being no football. I simply wanted to say …” nig_a shut the fu_k up for God’s sake ” ! Ray Lewis knows about committing a crime and actually getting away with it because of the fact that the legal establishment simply obfuscated their responsibility as they often do , when taking a plea agreement or in this case, Lewis simply got off ” Scott free” in the manslaughter death of a victim in a deadly brawl during which two of Lewis’ accomplices actually committed this heinous act . ==================================================================================

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Courtesy of USA Today

Ravens’ Ray Lewis warns of spike in crime if NFL season is lost By Nate Davis , USA Today Ravens star LB Ray Lewis believes if the players and owners don’t soon find a way to resolve the ongoing lockout that people outside the NFL’s family could suffer far more severely than the ones squabbling within it. “We really got to remove pride. Seriously,” he said in an interview with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio. “There’s no other reason the issue is going on. That’s why I don’t get into words and all that other stuff, because it takes away from life — itself. Man there are people who’s really struggling — for real. There’s real struggles out there. What we’re going through right now, we’re affecting way more than us. “There’s too many people (that) live through us, people live through us. Yeah, walk in the streets, the way I walk the streets, and I’m not talking about the people you see all the time.” Lewis goes on to suggest that the livelihoods of many fans and some of the NFL’s subsidiary employees — such as stadium workers — hang in the balance. “Do this research if we don’t have a season,” Lewis says. “Watch how much evil — which we call it crime — watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game. … There’s nothing else to do, Sal.” —————————————————————————————————Click on the link to read this article in its entirety . =================================================================================

Ray Lewis ought to recognize that crime usually goes up primarily because of the harsh realities of an economy goes into the tank ____ it’s now there for all to see. Without a doubt Lewis is either showing his ignorance or he’s merely looking for a way to show that he feels aggrieved because of the league’s actions in initiating the stoppage . And the very fact that the stoppage itself has been legally upheld by a judicial ruling by the 8th District Court of Appeals in Minneapolis , Minnesota he of all people should be concerned with his own union (NFLPA) body has been doing while all of this plays out . The NFLPA has simply been about its own image and self worth while painting the league hierarchy as the villains of the piece . It’s at times like this I’m simply happy that the idiots within the NFL and the NFLPA show that what they lack in common sense is only exhibited by the stupidity that either side has shown in trying to further play to the public’s sympathy by simply looking to blame the other for something that they collectively brought into being .

As respected as Lewis may well be by his peers within the league and some fans across the NFL panacea , I do believe that he could have expressed himself considerably better . Emotional as he may well be about this stoppage , he should remember also that the average fan out there isn’t as lucky to have been attributed with the Lewis’ God given talents and the fact that they would be able to earn a multi million dollar salary each year . And in spite of his image makeover after his legal issues in the aftermath of the trial that took place in the manslaughter death of that male victim by his two accomplices I still believe that Lewis is considerably lucky not to be behind bars ! Were this a mere civilian rather than a high profile athlete the outcome might well have been different. At this juncture there’s not much more that can be really said other than the words I’ve already directed at the Ravens’ player !

We all know the idiocy that has taken place concerning the New York Mets  and the fact that the organization as well two of the team’s most prominent owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon  as defendants are being sued in a Federal Court by the plaintiffs in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme scandal . The plaintiffs are being represented by noted attorney Irving Picard . In light of this Katz and Wilpon have plead their innocence in any wrongdoing and have stated that they are if anything victims of Madoff’s malfeasance rather than being enablers that have profited financially wherein the duo have received in excess of 700 million over the decades that the scheme had been enacted.

Given the grave financial instability of of the New York Mets I found it quite comedic that Fred Wilpon was being critical of several players on this team most notably Jose Reyes , Carlos Beltran and David Wright . Wilpon stated that he felt that Reyes, in the process of seeking a contract extension isn’t good enough to be earning a Carl Crawford type of a contract (7 years / $140 million ) and that Beltran isn’t the same player they signed to a 7 year $119 million contract. Furthermore , he went on to state that the team’s All Star and team captain David Wright isn’t a star in the making or simply good enough to be compared to his cross-town counterpart Derek Jeter  . Strong words indeed for an owner who simply signed the checks on the say so, of then general manager Omar Minaya  . And during Minaya’s tenure it simply wasn’t about attaining players for the sake of it but merely gaining back page coverage in order to compete with the New York Yankees for that coverage on the sports’ pages within the nation’s largest ad market and also on the local television there within the Big Apple. I’ve got to say when you’re that envious, there’s got to be something that you can do better in order to obtain a higher profile rather than spending money so capriciously ! Keeping up with the Joneses ?

This season much like last season it would appear that the New York Mets are simply mediocre and I seriously doubt that things are liable to change anytime soon . And even though the organization sought to bring in Sandy Alderson , J P Riccardi  to head the front office as Exec VP, general manager , assistant EVP general manager it still has me wondering whether or not this will be enough to turn things around for a team that has been engulfed in such an abysmal situation where much of that has been self inflicted by the idiotic personnel decisions made . But it appears even with a new manager Terry Collins and coaching staff in tow it appears that things haven’t changed all that much from his predecessor Jerry Manuel was leading this team. Minaya and Manuel simply took this team to depths of mediocrity and beyond if that’s actually possible . And Minaya simply tried to justify the personnel decisions made that brought this club to where they became somewhat of a laughing stock . Never mind that uber-agent  Scott Boras  and many of his clients made off like thieves in the night as the Mets simply overpaid for mediocre talent .

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Mets owner Fred Wilpon sounds off on his beloved team’s troubles By Tom Verducci , Sports Illustrated New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, as profiled this week in Sports Illustrated, provided a blunt picture of the team’s finances: The team is “bleeding cash” at the rate of a possible $70 million loss this year and his ownership of the team could be jeopardized by the $1 billion lawsuit against him and his Sterling Equities partners. The suit was filed by the trustee of the liquidation of Bernie Madoff’s investments. What does it mean for the baseball operations? In the short term, the Mets likely will cut payroll next year by about 30 percent and give a voice to a new investor that Wilpon expects to introduce in about three weeks — an investor he will treat as a limited partner. Is Wilpon worried that the lawsuit — in which the trustee wants about $300 million in fictitious profits and another $700 million in principal the Sterling partners put into Madoff accounts — could cause him to lose the team? “Not right now, no,” he told SI in an exclusive interview last week. “Because I don’t think anybody thinks that 700 is realistic.” ————————————————————————————————————————-

Click on the link shown to read this article in its entirety .

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At present the New York Mets  6-4 in their last ten games coming off a two game losing streak but they’re already 4 1/2 games behind the division leading Philadelphia Phillies  (28-18) within the NL East . And as spirited a change as many well have thought might have taken place with the Mets this team continues to perform monstrously in the most inexplicably of ways . Injuries or not the explanation being given by Wilpon as to the team’s present woes while in part justifiable it simply doesn’t go anywhere in explaining how it is that he and the front office have simply let things get to where they are at present . Most team owners I would have thought would desire some real effort put forth by its players even in the face of real adversity . Instead all we have seen from this team is an exceptionally inept organization from top to bottom in terms of its performances both and off the field of play.

Now some might say it is still too early to judge Alderson , Riccardi and Collins at present but if things continue to get any worse I can assure you that the fans in attendance at Citi Field for the team’s home games can’t continue to endure the mediocrity that seems to be part of this organization’s current mantra. Er’go it’s akin to the laughable excuses I’ve heard being uttered when some patrons try to state that because a change are in the offing, it solicits that the changes being made even if they are incremental , will be for the better . Since when was the game of baseball not been about what you’re doing now but what you’ll be doing four to five years from now . And that's especially true when teams are struggling not only from a competitive standpoint but also financially as well ! If one is going to delve also into the business of sports at least one should show the acumen to understand that the game simply isn't just about winning but also being a profitable going concern. After all the owners are simply doing this all out of the goodness of their heart but some idiotic fans seem to be under the impression and that making money is the last thing that the team owners simply want to do !

Fred Wilpon and his partners within the Mets’ organization and at his company Sterling Equities of which Katz happens to be a co-founder have a lot to be concerned with given their reluctance to comply with many of the requests of the plantiffs’ attorney Irving Picard with regard to certain financial documents still in their possession concerning monetary movements between the New York Mets and the financial concern under their command. I get the feeling that Wilpon has made this statement simply to deflect the attention he feels that has been unwarranted concerning his actions and Saul Katz’s as it relates to the financial scandal that has engulfed the Mets and their company ! He may well be justified in calling out certain players but he also should be taking a close look at his own actions in all of this , as an owner , he too has a responsibility to voice his concerns but it was clear that was the furthest thing from his mind at the time when he , in conjunction with Minaya and Jerry Manuel decided to make many of the outrageous personnel decisions that have brought the New York Mets to where they presently are.

As this season plays itself out it will be very interesting to see how things pan out for the New York Mets and the steps that might well be taken by the front office come the trade deadline . Win or lose , as of now , the clock is ticking on this organization’s immediate future and the shape that it will ultimately take. The league hierarchy under Bud Selig may well be watching this all with a great deal of close scrutiny because simply put, in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ debacle , their financial woes and the assault of a San Francisco Giants’ fan, Brian Stow , at Dodgers Stadium . The last thing the game now needs is another black eye to further taint its already tarnished image .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? And do you believe that the statements attributed to both Lewis and Wilpon in any way are somehow justified ? Chime in with your thoughts as see fit .

Alan aka tophatal …………..

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Lewis seen here in his interview with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio speaks of what he sees as the ramifications of what he sees will embody and impact this lockout with regard to the NFL fan . ESPN/ Mark Gustaffson …….

(2) Linebackers Ray Lewis (52) and Terrell Suggs (55) of the Baltimore Ravens celebrate a play during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 9, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. Getty Images North America / Dilip Vishwanath …..

(3) From left to right Fred Wilpon , GM Sandy Alderson , team manager Terry Collins , Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon  and team President Saul Katz . Collins was being formally introduced to the public and New York press as the team’s new manager after the abrupt firing of his predecessor Jerry Manuel . Getty Images / Chris McGrath ……

(4) Mike Pelfrey (34) of the New York Mets reacts after giving up a first inning home run to Curtis Granderson (14) of the New York Yankees on May 22, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankees defeat the Mets  9-3 . Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images …..

(5) Chris Dickerson (27) of the New York Yankees hits a double in the seventh inning against the New York Mets on May 22, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankees defeat the Mets 9-3. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

(6) Mike Pelfrey of the New York Mets is pulled in the seventh inning as teammates Daniel Murphy(28) , Willie Harris(22), and manager Terry Collins (10) look on against the New York Yankees on May 22, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankees defeat the Mets 9-3. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ……

(7) Derek Jeter (2) of the New York Yankees and Jose Reyes (7) of the New York Mets share a laugh on May 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankees defeat the Mets  7-3 . Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ….

(8) David Wright(5) of the New York Mets who’s on the team’s DL sits on the bench during the game between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees on May 20, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Mets defeat the Yankees 2-1 . Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ……

(9) Mark Teixeira (25) of the New York Yankees (not pictured) hits a home run just over the leap of Carlos Beltran(15) of the New York Mets in the bottom of the third on May 20, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ……..

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The More You Know ……….. In Reality It’s The Less You Know

The More You Know ……….. In Reality It’s The Less You Know

As the NFL lockout looks as if it’s running its prolonged course I find it all the laughable when I hear fans stipulate that there’s nothing that’ll be lost for some of the teams from a financial and economic standpoint. Well as things now progress we’re now learning that a number of teams are gravely struggling to even sell preseason game tickets much less season tickets for the upcoming season . Amongst the teams looking to stave off the problems now besetting them are the Oakland Raiders . In light of the fact that during the 2010 season the Raiders in terms of their attendance for their home games were amongst the lowest in the NFL . Team owner Al Davis as an added incentive to his staff at all levels within the organization has requested that they each try sell no less than 10% of their salary in terms of ticket sales . This is something that he’s not only asking of the sales staff but all employees within the Raiders’ organization. If the front office is on board in terms of this then it can only benefit the Raiders’ organization as a whole .

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Slide show for your perusal .

There’s a feeling that as the lockout shows no signs of an accord being met between the parties concerned in terms of the damage done to the NFL’s image is now beyond irreparable . NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell along with the team owners now find themselves trying to how best spin this situation wherein in order the premise of the situation is in their favor.
The fans however don’t actually see it that way and if anything they do feel alienated by this whole situation. The NFLPA for its part along with its members are looking to challenge the NFL’s antitrust exemption status within the Federal Court System . Signees to this civil suit are some of the most prominent players in the NFL , each are Superbowl winning quarterbacks Tom Brady , Drew Brees and Peyton Manning . The trial itself is still ongoing and it looks as if it will be a while before the judge renders a verdict in this particular case.

We all can look back on the fact that the 2010 season was quite an enthralling one with the Superbowl itself turning out to be quite an exciting spectacle with the Geen Bay Packers finally hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in their defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers . Superbowl MVP Aaron Rodgers stood tall in the saddle and has pretty much eradicated the memory of Brett Favre amongst the Packers’ fans at Lambeau Field . And given Favre’s antics in the past few years with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings I feel that it’s a great thing that the player has since walked away from the game under his own steam !

In light of Favre’s retirement I must say that in the latter years of his storied career I found the player to be self serving and an ingrate ! If nothing else I have to admit the longer Brett Favre stayed in the game thinking that he could in fact bring a championship to any franchise willing to meet his asking price like a mercenary for hire simply showed what a narcissistic asshole …… Brett Favre had become ! What might be even more comical was the mere fact that the idiot analysts covering the game within ESPN and Fox Sports clung unto Favre’s every word as if he were a deity rendering his thoughts on the NFL and his own aspirations. Statistics asides it’s almost certain that Favre will become a first ballot Hall of Famer having met the criteria for his induction .

I’m not so sure that the Western Conference Finals of the NBA postseason is all that enticing . Granted , we have two offensively minded teams in the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder . Defense seems to have gone out the window as both teams are intent in merely showing us their offensive prowess . In this series we also have two of the most prominent scorers in the game with Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki .

With the series tied at 1-1 , game three’s resumption of this series in Oklahoma City with the Mavericks looking to take the upper hand in the series by taking a 2-1 lead in this best of seven playoff match-up. For Scott Brooks as the coach of the Thunder can ill afford to go down to 2-1 at home in this series knowing full well that they will have dug themselves int a hole. Brooks will have to emphasize to his players that they need to step up their game and be fully aware as to the dangers that this series brings if they continue to remain complacent. Durant in conjunction with Russell Westbrook will have to be weary of what their contributions must be throughout this series . Anything short of their regular season performances and this series will end up being beyond the Thunder’s retrieval .

Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle has in large part instilled a workman like commitment from his players in doing what’s best for the team from a collective standpoint and we’ve seen that in the contributions from a number of players on this roster . Asides from Nowitzki we’ve seen aging veterans Jason Kidd , Jason Terry show their guile . But if anything it has been the play of the bench players such as J J Barea , Tyson Chandler , Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood that have played their part in the Mavericks’ success this season and in the playoffs. Now that the success is now being replicated in this series it augurs well for the Mavericks and their ambition to win their first NBA title .

Mark Cuban as owner of this franchise has long sought to bring success to the organization. Now it may well be finally be within his grasp . The fact that in the organization’s sole appearance in the NBA Finals they came up short to an enlivened Miami Heat team that simply outplayed them in every facet of that particular series . A humbling 4-2 series loss was enough to send the Mavericks packing their bags home and back to the Lone Star State.

I’d like to think that the Dallas Mavericks in their endeavor to make it to the NBA’s showcase event can actually redeem themselves. In the aftermath of that NBA Finals series’ loss I felt that the window of opportunity may well have closed on this organization. But now I know that to be oh so false as the Mavericks have shown me that they finally possess some grit and determination . As this series plays itself out it will be interesting to see how both teams will acquit themselves knowing that there’s a great deal on the line for both of these organizations.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In terms of the NFL’s continued lockout what remedies do you feel would best bring the two sides together in reaching an amicable accord ? And as you observe the NBA Playoff series has there been anything that has come a complete surprise to you as it’s about to reach its latter stages ? Simply chime in with your own thoughts on the points raised within this piece and as always thanks for the continued support .

Alan aka tophatal …….

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) New Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson (L) looks on as Raiders owner Al Davis (R) speaks to reporters after introducing Jackson as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders on January 18, 2011 in Alameda, California. Hue Jackson was introduced as the new coach of the Oakland Raiders, replacing the fired Tom Cable. Getty Images North America / Justin Sullivan …..

(2) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates winning Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 with his family at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on February 6, 2011. Kevin Terrell/NFL) ….

(3) Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre leaves the field after warmups at Ford Field before their their NFL football game against the New York Giants in Detroit, Monday, Dec. 13, 2010. Favre is inactive for the game with the New York Giants, ending his record consecutive starts streak at 297, dating back to 1992. The Giants would defeat the Vikings 24-3 AP Photo/Paul Sancya …..

(4) James Harden (13) of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for a shot against Jason Kidd(2) of the Dallas Mavericks in the second half in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Mavericks would go on to defeat the Thunder 93-87 to take 2-1 lead in the best of seven Western Conference Finals . Getty Images / Ronald Martinez ……

(5) OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – MAY 21: (L-R) Jason Terry(31) , Peja Stojakovic (16) , Brendan Haywood(33), Dirk Nowitzki(41) and Jose Juan Barea (11) of the Dallas Mavericks celebrate on the court in the second quarter while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Getty Images / Ronald Martinez ………

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Questions I’ve No Wish To Be Answered But Yet They Remain Within The Public Domain So Does Anyone Have An Answer ?

Questions I’ve No Wish To Be Answered But Yet They Remain Within The Public Domain So Does Anyone Have An Answer ?

Well inter-league play is now front and center within MLB and though the purists may well be dead set against the idea here it now is. Personally from my own standpoint I see it as a chance for teams within the AL and NL a chance to play each other and for many of the fans to see their heroes up close and personal. Though I’m not an overly admirer of this format until the World Series as I alluded to , it does give the fans a chance to see their favorite players .

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As the season progresses I know that we’re bound to see the teams at their very best and at their worst. But you can be sure that won’t last long as the season heats up and reaches its halfway point by late July . By then a number of the divisions should be taking shape albeit that there still will be a great deal to play for . I’m not about to make any quick announcements as to what I think will happen other than to suggest that the teams playing the best baseball should actually be stepping up to the plate and making their present felt and their class known .

Well over the weekend several of the top NFL’s rookies gathered on the campus of UCLA Berkley for a charity event . Amongst those attending were Cam Newton , Von Miller , Blaine Gabbert and Andy Dalton to name but a few . Many of the players in question suggested that in spite of the league lockout they were happy to be part of the fraternity but their biggest disappointment was not being able to participate in any drills amongst their new teams or at their respective training facilities. In the midst of this all the NFL hierarchy , team owners and the NFLPA , there still remains a chasm as to their differences . Meanwhile the lockout still remains in place after being upheld by the 8th District Appellate Court . The New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees in an interview granted to ESPN’s Ed Werder during which he stated that the reason why he was a willing participant in a civil suit against the NFL wherein he , Tom Brady and Peyton Manning had all signed on to challenge the league’s antitrust status . One of the points that Brees brought up during this interview was the very fact the players are doing this mainly to represent the veteran players that have retired and the very fact that they have been inadequately assisted by the NFL . If anything this might well have been one of the most pertinent points raised in this whole unsavory episode . Because to my mind it certainly hasn’t been only the NFL that has failed the retired players but also the very union who say that they represent those players’ interests. Certainly neither Gene Upshaw or his successor DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA have spoken publicly of their wish in obtaining better benefits for their members, in particular the retired veterans . But such has been the idiocy of this lockout and the very fact that the two sides seem to so far apart in trying to reach an accord as it firmly remains about money and how best to split a $9 billion piece of pie .

Well the daggers are now out for seven time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong as the Justice Department seeks testimony and evidence that would indict the former champion of using performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). Such has been the absurdity of this whole spectacle where we have seen former champion Alberto Contador have his own suspension lifted after positive test which he asserts was due to having ate tainted meat at a restaurant . In light of this all I find it rather asinine that the Tour organizers L’Equipe and the sport’s governing body UCI have yet to reach an accord where there is in fact a really comprehensive drug testing policy. The IOC which oversees the Olympic Games has a part to play in this all but they appear to be taking a hands off approach as WADA and UCI try to make the best of a bad situation by trying to get the appropriate testing protocols in place that is universally recognized.

Much of Armstrong’s problems will now manifest itself even more so with the allegations now being made by former teammates of Lance Armstrong as Tyler Hamilton has stated that he repeatedly saw the former champion inject himself with steroids and other illicit PED’S . In an interview conducted by CBS’s Scott Pelley for their magazine news program ’60 Minutes’ , Hamilton emphasizes that Lance Armstrong was a frequent user of PED’s throughout much of his career , especially during the run-up to the Tour de France. Now it’d be naive to even suggest that Armstrong might not be guilty of anything but at the same time one certainly would have doubts . The other teammate of Armstrong who also has also given testimony to the Justice Department is George Hincapie . OK , so Lance Armstrong has never tested positive while in competition or during the cycling off season but yet the allegations appear and reappear with even more frequency as time goes by . Now while Hamilton has given his sworn testimony to the Justice Department the question I would ask is what does he actually gain from all of this ? He would be an idiot to perjure himself at this juncture knowing full well that lying would mean a jail sentence in a Federal penitentiary . But at this juncture until an indictment is handed down all one can do is merely speculate on the matter . 60 Minutes who tried to get in contact with Armstrong and his legal representatives seeking a statement from the beleaguered cyclist were not met with a response of any kind. However , Armstrong has always maintained his innocence in any wrong doing on his part. For someone who was so beloved after his heroics and the fact that he overcame testicular cancer it would appear that his days now seem to be numbered as he looks keep his legacy and integrity in tact.

The vultures are now hovering and it appears that they are looking gorge themselves on the carcass of Lance Armstrong . Witch hunt or not , this might be one of the most unsavory moments in recent l history as it relates to the sport of cycling, especially as to its relevance here in North America , where Armstrong is still very much seen as the face of the sport.

As the NBA postseason takes shape with the conference finals I can’t help but wonder how the fans now view things as they begin to play themselves out ? The Eastrn Conference Finals have worked out well as the top two seeds meet for the right to represent to the conference in the NBA Finals . The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat so far , have given us an exhilarating two games wherein the series is now tied at 1-1 . And for both coaches Tom Thibodeau and Erik Spoelstra are on the cusp of leading their respective teams to what will their first appearance in the league’s showcase event as coaches. It is extremely hard to believe that other than Phil Jackson , Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers there are no other active coaches in the league that have won an NBA title . But such has been the dominance of that triumvirate as coaches within the NBA that it easy to understand the reasons why they have had the success that they have attained. They are the consummate individuals within their fraternity and have the respect of their peers and their players no less.

The stars on both teams have shone as this series has progressed and it may well take one of those stars to raise their game to another level if their team is to succeed. For league MVP —- Derrick Rose this has been an outstanding season as he has vindicated himself to many by showing why he has been so successful as a player and a leader of this Bulls’ team . With the series now resuming this upcoming Sunday at the AA Arena in Miami , one should expect an explosive and raucous atmosphere in that arena as the Heat’s Dwyane Wade , LeBron James , Chris Bosh and the rest of this roster showcase their skills as they seek to take a lead in the series.

All evidence would point to the fact that should the Heat take game three then they would be viewed as being in the driver’s seat and expected to perhaps look to close out this series . At this juncture I would say that nothing is off the table because this season’s playoffs while exciting , have also been full of a number of surprises as we’ve seen both the San Antonio Spurs and the reigning two time defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers being summarily embarrassed by their respective opponents in the earlier rounds .

In the Western Conference Finals the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder look to up the ante in their series as they each look to regain the upper hand in their series . Dirk Nowitzki after his dominant performance in game one with an emphatic 48 point offensive output in the Mavericks’ 121-112 defeat of the Thunder . This series has see-sawed up and down because of the over powering offensive display of both teams . At the same time I look at the situation where it would appear that defense appears to the last thing on the mind of either team. For both Scott Brooks and Rick Carlisle this is something that has to be remedied if either team is to prevail in the series outright .

Game three resumes in Oklahoma City this Saturday with the series tied at one game apiece . In tying the series the Thunder knew that taking a game at American Airlines Center in Dallas this series is now up for grabs . Much of the post-game scenario played around the benching of Russell Westbrook by Scott Brooks for the entire fourth quarter of the game. Inconsistency or not Westbrook is uniquely aware that he’s not the leader of this Thunder team as that right belongs to the two time league scoring champion Kevin Durant . Westbrook must know that if the Oklahoma City Thunder is to be successful then he will have to defer to Durant as and when necessary . Any other alternative will ultimately lead to the team’s demise and a chance of making their first appearance in the NBA Finals as the NBA’s youngest franchise .

As this NBA postseason unfolds it will be interesting what drama now awaits the participants left the respective series .

After what appeared to be an enthralling bout a rematch was made between former light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and the reigning champion Jean Pascal of Canada. In their first dramatic fight that ended in a highly contested draw , the animosity between the two antagonists actually grew. What is now undeniable is the that Hopkins seeks to further cement his legacy in becoming the oldest world champion in boxing history. The former champion is 46 years old and some eighteen years the senior of his opponent. Their title bout will take place in Montreal this upcoming Saturday (10:00 pm EST) and will be televised by HBO .

Though the state of boxing has now become mundane and pedantic , Hopkins and Manny Pacquiao remain perhaps the two biggest draw in the sport. Unfortunately however , once these two legends of the sport retire boxing will become bereft of real talent and characters that the fans can actually identify with. Pascal for his part knows that if he actually beats Hopkins his ascent up the ranks will only gain him more exposure and greater financial reward. It seems strange at the age of five Pascal he probably wouldn’t have been aware that his opponent would be making his professional debut in the sport. That being said when these two meet again at the Bell Centre , Montreal , it won’t be about Pascal showing any deference to his more experienced foe and it will certainly be vice- versa with Bernard Hopkins. The former champion felt he was cheated out of the decision on the champion’s home turf in their first outing and for that, he expects to right a wrong . And as impressive as Pascal’s 26-1-1 (16KO’s) record might appear to be the quality of opponents he has met over the course of his career pales into comparison when adjudged against that of Hopkins’ and multi-divisional championship record (51-5-1 [32 KO’s])would and resume’ would indicate.

This rematch has the makings of being an instant classic given what is on the line for both fighters. And I think that there is a distinct possibility that the challenger may well walk away with the title belt as he feels that he has something to prove . Certainly Pascal being the much younger fighter knows that he can ill afford to take Hopkins lightly as he had done in their first meeting. And if anything he was extremely lucky to have retained his title with that favorable decision of a draw by the judges . This time around there may well not be a need for the judges to actually give a verdict as this bout may well be decided by knockout . Either way this could be a fight that will dictate the careers of both fighters and the directions that they may well be heading in .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What opinions might you have as to the topics raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as you deem fit and anything else you may well feel pertinent .

Alan aka tophatal ………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Atlanta Braves’ Joe Mather celebrates his one run double in the twelfth inning of an interleague baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Anaheim, Calif. The Braves won 5-4 . AP Photo/Gus Ruelas …..

(2) Alex Gonzalez (2) #2 of the Atlanta Braves scores a run in front of Hank Conger (16) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to take a 5-4 lead during the 12th inning at Angel Stadium on May 21, 2011 in Anaheim, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …..

(3) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 17: Former NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith (second from left), NFL retired players’ lawyer Michael Hausfeld and NFL players’ lawyer Jeffrey Kessler arrive for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ……

(4) Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) of the Seattle Seahawks converses with quarterback Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints after the Saints 34-19 win at Louisiana Superdome on November 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. ….

(5) Cyclist Lance Armstrong holds a press conference during Day 1 of the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting on September 24, 2008 in New York City. Armstrong was speaking on his return to competitive cycling and the work of the Lance Armstrong Foundation in conjunction with the Clinton Global Initiative to fight cancer.2008 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting – Day 1New York, NY United StatesSeptember 24, 2008 . Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage.com @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ……

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) goes up for a shot attempt as Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki of Germany, right, and DeShawn Stevenson, bottom left, defend in the second half of Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference finals basketball series Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Oklahoma City. The Mavericks won 93-87 . AP Photo/Larry W. Smith ….

(7) Dirk Nowitzki (41) of the Dallas Mavericks reacts in the fourth quarter while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Getty Images / Christian Petersen …….

(8) Bernard Hopkins of US shows his tongue after a hit by Jean Pascal of Canada during their light heavyweight championship fight for the WBC light heavyweight championship, on May 21, 2011, at Bell Centre, Montreal in Quebec, Canada. Ring veteran Bernard Hopkins beat Jean Pascal by decision in a World Boxing Council light heavyweight bout to become the oldest major world champion in boxing history at 46 years old. Hopkins came on strong in the middle rounds and hung on in the 12th against the hard-hitting Canadian Pascal to get the decision in front of a crowd of 17,750 at the Bell Centre arena May 21, 2011. Hopkins won a unanimous decision against Pascal in an entertaining rematch of their December 18 draw in Quebec City, Canada. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES/ ROGERIO BARBOSA …….

(9) Bernard Hopkins misses a punch on Jean Pascal during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images …….

(10) MONTREAL, CANADA – MAY 21: Bernard Hopkins punches Jean Pascal during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images ….

(11) Both Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal raise their hands in victory after twelve rounds of action during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The challenger would defeat his younger adversary in obtaining a unanimous verdict from all there judges . In winning the light heavyweight title Bernard Hopkins became the oldest world title holder in boxing history at the age of 46. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images ….

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They Came , They Saw , They Conquered ………………..

They Came , They Saw , They Conquered …………….

Well they came, they saw they conquered and the post-game interview by San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich essentially was magnanimous in defeat but clearly couldn’t explain his team’s inauspicious departure from the NBA Playoffs in the first round . A 99-91 defeat on the Memphis Grizzlies’ home-court at the Fedex Forum , in Memphis , Tennesse left the home crowd fans ecstatic as their team will now make their first appearance in a conference semi finals where they will face the high flying Oklahoma City Thunder .

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Now for only the second time since expansion of the playoff format from a five game first round to the best of seven series’ format has a number one seed bowed out the of the NBA Playoffs in the first round. This 4-2 series loss will certainly have its ramifications and repercussions as the Spurs’ management assess and reassess why they failed so miserably . GM R C Burford and Popovich’s coaching staff will certainly have to look at this roster and note where their deficiencies are . Most certainly to my mind the contributions of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess were minimal at best but what might be even more disturbing was the fact that the Grizzlies man-handled the Spurs with seasoned veteran Zach Randoplh being allowed to shred the defense almost at will . Randolph’s heroics was indicative of what has gone on throughout this series all along with him being allowed to roam free _____ but he was also ably abetted by Marc Gasol , Shane Batter and Mike Conley whose play at the point guard position has developed since his entrance into the NBA . It has been a profound disappointment to me in seeing the San Antonio Spurs bow out of the playoffs but I’ve seen the highs and lows of this organization. Remarkable as this might seem the Spurs have made the postseason for fourteen straight consecutive seasons and have averaged 55 wins per season over that time frame . As an avowed Spurs’ fan it goes without saying that in the aftermath of this series loss the organization will undoubtedly have to make some changes .

As to the Memphis Grizzlies their postseason is now in their own hands and they can essentially write their own story as to their aspirations . This much we do know their season has shown us all what to expect when you have no doubts as to your own will to win . That if anything to my mind was most definitely lacking in the persona of the San Antonio Spurs !

Just when I thought things simply couldn’t get anymore asinine with regard to the NFL lockout it has been reported that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals have rescinded Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s original verdict , which now allows the NFL owners and league enforce the lockout . Never mind the fact that the league hierarchy has gone ahead with the NFL Draft which is being staged at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and culminates with the seventh and final round of picks this Saturday 30th April , 2011. As contentious and litigious as this episode has become I can’t but help wonder why bother with all the facade being created by the league with the staging of the draft ?

I’ve always maintained that the league created this monster with the alleged labor relates issues and that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seriously underestimated the hierarchy of the NFLPA which has now become a trade association. That being said neither party is without fault here with the asinine stance that each party has taken in being unable to decide how to split the $ 9 billion in revenues that the league has coming into its coffers each season . And as ridiculous as it may sound , neither side wants to be viewed as being the culprit here but in essence this has simply been about sheer greed with little if anything really having to deal with any inherent labor issues ! Question if you can’t find a way to seriously deliberate how best find a solution sharing $ 9 billion amenably then what would that suggest to you about both of the parties involved ? Greed or merely that both the league hierarchy and union are simply too stupid for their own good ?

Andy Dalton welcome to the NFL and you now more likely than not will supplant Carson Palmer in the pecking order for the quarterback position with the Cincinnati Bengals . Given the Bengals’ disastrous 2010 season where Palmer and his teammates were an immense disappointment having been the AFC North divisional champions in 2009, 2010 simply showed how much the team had simply regressed.

Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis knows that his job is on the line this season and anything short of a divisional title and postseason berth and effectively his managerial career with the organization will come to an abrupt end . As for Andy Dalton this now becomes his team to lead in light of the continued displeasure of Carson Palmer and his wish to be traded . However with the player’s demands having not been met and the continued scenario within the NFL his only option appears to be to proceed with his original announcement that he would retire if his demands were not met . Personally, if this is indicative of quarterbacks coming out of USC and the fact that they have no heart or will a will to win once in the NFL then my advice to Palmer would be ………. “see ya wouldn’t want to be ya and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out ” !

Unequivocably the game of baseball is in a complete mess and this season has simply been indicative of that. If anything it hasn’t been the play of of the teams on the field that have made the headlines but namely the stories off it. Frank McCourt is now prepared to challenge the league’s hierarchy in providing an outside presence to deal with the day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers . McCourt as the team’s owner has if anything been a complete ass in thinking that he can place this organization in dire financial straits but at the same time fails to address the issue as to why he needed to borrow some $30 million from the local LA Fox affiliate to meet the team’s budgetary expenses for the month of April. Frank McCourt has also maintained that the league hierarchy has within their possession documents related to a possible television deal with Fox that woud pay the Dodgers $3 billion over the next two decades . At this juncture it simply means nothing if that document remains unsigned with the deal not physically in place awaiting league approval .

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for his part stated that his greatest concern were the dire consequences that McCourt had placed the organization in . But here’s the caveat, if as such the Dodgers met all of the league’s rules as it concerns the conduct of its business affairs then how is that they’ve allowed McCourt to systematically d to use the Dodgers repeatedly as collateral in many business deals with outside parties not related at all with the game ? Having installed former US Ambassador to Japan J Thomas Schieffer as the league’s representative while the Dodgers undergoes this period of intense scrutiny . I’ve now got to ask what now awaits the team and organization over the course of the their season ?

If anything this is what has been endemic within the game of baseball and the unwillingness of the team owners and the hierarchy itself to be openly transparent in the conduct of their business affairs . And it goes without saying that this conduct has been suborned by the fact that MLB’s antitrust exemption status allows it carte-blanche /free rein as to how they conducts themselves in almost every facet of their dealings both on and off the field of play . And I’m led to believe that the House Oversight & Gov’t Reform Committee weren’t aware as to the league’s conduct over the past decade and a half ? The league has become archaic , its leadership structure as are the team owners , the MLBPA are simply clueless and are a bunch of blithering idiots ! With the New York Mets’ episode yet to be addressed fully by the league do you get the feeling that MLB would rather the respective owners there Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon removed from their executive posts as well ? Where else could one find such mismanagement within the game but in essence the league hierarchy continues to act as if they’re rearranging the life boats on the Titanic thinking that they’re in no imminent danger .

I know that the MLB season is one of 162 games but the way that the Cleveland Indians have been playing as of late you’d be under the impression that they’re now on the cusp of making the postseason. Winners of five of their last seven games the Indians sit atop of the AL East . If anything they’ve been the surprise team within the division with their play and seems to be infectious amongst the younger members on this Cleveland Indians’ roster .

In their game against the struggling Detroit Tigers the Indians simply showed why they have been playing with the resolve that they have shown since the very start of their season . In a fitting way to end the game Indians’ slugger Carlos Santana hit a walk off grand slam to deny the Tigers victory on their way to a 9-5 win over their divisional rivals . And although it’s still early in the season it’s good to see that for now the Cleveland Indians appear to be relevant once again. With that win the Cleveland Indians now share the best record (17-8) in baseball alongside the Philadelphia Phillies . A nice resurgence for a franchise that seems to have been in the doldrums over the last decade but now appears to be back where they and their fans feel that they belong.

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Whether or not you’ve been watching the initial part of the NBA postseason unfold what to your mind has been the biggest surprise or disappointment from your own standpoint ? With regard to the NFL its Draft and everything that now seems to be unfolding how do you envisage this episode finally ending ? From your own perspective do you feel that there’s now time for a real drastic change within the hierarchy of MLB and also do you feel that the owners should be more transparent in their business dealing in and outside of the game when they are as such using their team as any part of a business transaction ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) MEMPHIS, TN – APRIL 29: Zach Randolph(50) of the Memphis Grizzlies talks with Greg Popovich after the Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 99-91 in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on April 29, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images …..

(2) San Antonio Spurs players watch the final moments of their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of Game 6 of a first-round NBA basketball series on Friday, April 29, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 99-91 to win the series 4-2 . From left are Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Daniel Green, and Steve Novak. AP Photo/Lance Murphey ……….

(3) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, and his fiancee Jordan Jones, left, pose for a picture being taken by the Bengals third round draft pick Dontay Moch, right, after an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ……….

(4) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, left, a quarterback from TCU, and third round draft pick Dontay Moch, a linebacker from Nevada, right, pose with their jerseys during an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ………

(5) Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, left, poses with the team’s first round draft pick A.J. Green during an NFL football news conference, Friday, April 29, 2011 in Cincinnati. Green, a wide receiver from Georgia, will wear number 18 for the Bengals. AP Photo/Al Behrman ……

(6) Gary Guyton (59) of the New England Patriots carries the ball in for a touchdown as Carson Palmer (9) of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to tackle during the NFL season opener on September 12, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Guyton intercepted Palmer’s pass. Getty Images North America / Elsa Martinez …….

(7) LOS ANGELES – APRIL 29: the San Diego Padres the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 29, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …….

(8) Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana watches the flight of his game-winning grand slam off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5. Tigers catcher Alex Avila, left, looks on. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta …….

(9) Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana celebrates as he jumps to home plate after hitting a game winning three-run walk off home run off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5 . AP Photo/Amy Sancetta ……..

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