Monte Carlo Or Bust For The St Louis Cardinals ………….

Monte Carlo Or Bust For The St Louis Cardinals ………….

As the St St Louis Cardinals face an uphill battle looking to slowly erase the lead held by the Milwaukee Brewers within the NL Central . I can’t help but wonder what needs to be done by this team in order for them to even have a remote chance of achieving that feat. Granted , in Tony La Russa the organization has one of the most respected managers in the game today and his resume speaks for itself. Along with his coaching staff , La Russa has made this team a formidable threat but unless they actually win this division outright then it will become increasingly clear that the St Louis Cardinals are likely to miss the postseason .

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The team now sits four games behind the NL wildcard leading Atlanta Braves and it has to be said it would take a monumental collapse by the Braves that would allow the St Louis Cardinals to be even with a chance of claiming that berth. The team’s strength has been its pitching and offense . And leading the charge throughout much of the season has been Lance Berkman whose career has been resurrected playing for the Cardinals this year.

GM John Mozeliak know that at the end of this season the organization could very well lose their All Star first baseman Albert Pujols to free agency having not been able to get the player to sign a contract extension that met with both parties’ liking. It is not that the fact that the Cardinals are without the financial resources . Pujols, himself , did not want to go into the season having to negotiate a new deal knowing full well that he would somehow be unable to dedicate his efforts full time on the field of play. Various sources, none of which have been fully established make the claim that the player wishes to be compensated to a deal in accordance with his stature . If that means Albert Pujols seeks a long term contract of 6 years at a cumulative figure of between $120-140 million over that specific period , then it could well be a harbinger of why the negotiations were curtailed between the player’s agent and the Cardinals’ front office . Some may opine that Albert Pujols isn’t worth that sort of money at this stage of his career but I would suggest that the St Louis Cardinals without the player would not be competing at a high level within the NL Central or for that matter be considered a legitimate contender for postseason honors . His productivity alone speaks for itself and the mere fact that he’s the main draw for the fans , there at Busch Stadium adds to his value for the organization .

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ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals heads to third base after a fielding error by the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2 . Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …..

Over the remainder of the season it will be interesting to see how the St Louis Cardinals fare as they make a final push towards either winning the division or obtaining a wildcard berth and entry into the playoffs . Given the history of the franchise’s career in the playoffs you have to admire the success attained by the organization . Albert Pujols has played his part in that success with the organization’s most recent accolade in winning the 2006 World Series in defeating the Detroit Tigers Angels .

With Albert Pujols having been on the DL in recent weeks much of the heavy lifting has actually been by Lance Berkman who seems to have been rejuvenated and showing why he was such a productive player while with the Houston Astros . Berkman along with Matt Holliday , Yadier Molina , Ryan Theriot and Albert Pujols have tried to keep this team in contention with the Milwaukee Brewers from an offensive standpoint. And as productive as the team has been it has been their pitching that has also kept them in close proximity of the divisional leader. Chris Carpenter has been his usual workman life self over the course of this season but like any other pitcher in the league he has had his problems. That asides , he and the rest of the pitching rotation have held their own as needs be , over the course of the year thus far .

It will be interesting to see what changes are liable to be made should the St Louis Cardinals decide to bring up any of their top prospects from the minors . Certainly the organization has some very keen and good young players willing to show that they are ready to take the next step up at the major league level. And it bodes well for the organization at large in that respect and that decision no doubt remains in the hands of Tony La Russa and John Mozeliak . They may well think along those lines should it become more apparent that they are not likely to overtake the Milwaukee Brewers within the NL Central but one never knows as La Russa tends to march to the beat of his own drum in making such decisions. Certainly the St Louis Cardinals’ fans would like to see players such as brought up from the minors merely for them to get a taste of the majors at the big league level. It would be a boost in confidence for those players and most definitely something that they crave for and would appreciate all the more .

Certainly the likes of Zach Cox , Shelby Miller , Oscar Taveras , Joe Kelly and Matt Adams would love the opportunity to display their skills at the top level , and given the chance the organization would be ripe beneficiaries of that situation .

While the Cardinals are no doubt looking to gain ground on the Milwaukee Brewers , the team itself will see this season as one where they have to do something special if they are to have a inkling of a chance to retain the services of Prince Fielder . They have ridden the crest of the wave on the player’s shoulders over the course of the year and while Ryan Braun has contributed greatly to the Brewers’ efforts it has been Prince Fielder who has been the spur for the organization.

Brewers’ manager , team owner Mark Attanasio and general manager Doug Melvin know that that their All Star slugger while appreciative of the organization’s efforts wants to compensated for his efforts. It was felt that at the trade deadline quite possibly a number of teams might have pursued the player with regard to a possible trade. That scenario never materialized and the Milwaukee Brewers were the better for it , and it remains to be seen what efforts will be made by the front office will be made to retain the player at season’s end. Certainly with the sort of money that’s being rumored that the player’s agent is said to be seeking for his client _____ the thought of an seven or 8 year deal north of $175-$180 million does not seem out the realms of possibility. Not many teams within baseball are awash with that sort of money or who are likely to make that sort of long term commitment to player. But such are the vagaries of the game , where it is now the players and agents who can hold sway over the financial future of an organization , where the general managers and team owners are having to make decisions as to their long term viability and financial security in large part .

Ron Roenicke along with his coaching staff know that their biggest beyond winning the division is to have the team playing at a consitently high level down the stretch run of their season . And most certainly they will be looking for players such Braun , Fielder , Casey McGhee , Rickie Weeks , Yunieski Betancourt , alongside the pitching staff led by Zach Greinke , Shaun Marcum , Yovanni Gallardo and John Axford to shoulder the burden in hopes of securing a playoff berth for the organization.

Postseason success for the Milwaukee Brewers has been fleeting at best and the ball-club’s history simply has been littered with highs and lows . But it has been the players associated with this club over the years that if anything has fans feeling some empathy for organization . Whether or not the tide is about turn remains to be seen but I am sure that there are a number of fans out there that will be intrigued to see if the Brewers in their present reincarnation can actually do what has not done by the club in over two decades and that’s a return to the World Series —– then , winning it .

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Do you feel that the St Louis Cardinals will make the postseason or are you of the opinion that they will have their hopes dented by their divisional rivals , the Milwaukee Brewers who will deprive of them of winning the NL Central ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the subject matter or anything else you feel pertinent with regard to the events happening within the game of baseball at present .

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

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(1) ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals heads to third base after a fielding error by the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2 . Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …..

(2) Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a single his second of the night against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ….

(3) Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers returns to the dugout after striking out against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-2. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ……

(4) Mark Kotsay (25) of the Milwaukee Brewers hits an RBI double against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ….

(5) Starter Yovani Gallardo (49) of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts to giving up a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images ……

(6) St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, right, argues with first base umpire Greg Gibson, right, after Gibson threw La Russa out while arguing a call during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011, in St. Louis. Gibson called the Brewers’ Josh Wilson , who scored later in the inning, safe at first and the Brewers went on to win 5-1 . AP Photo/ Jeff Roberson …….

(7) Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, right, and general manager Doug Melvin watch batting practice during a spring training baseball workout at the team’s practice facility Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Morry Gash ……..

(8) St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, left, and general manager John Mozeliak talk during spring training baseball Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010, in Jupiter, Fla. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson ……..

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Horses For Courses And A Great Deal More ……..

Horses For Courses And A Great Deal More ……..

I don’t know whether or not to laugh or simply groan now when I get sight of NBA Commissioner David Stern . It’s simply become so asinine to hear the game’s highest ranking official opine on what he believes to be the NBPA’s lack of good faith in the lockout deliberations . David Stern’s opposition to the union possibly de-certifying is the main reason for the league hierarchy filing suit in US Federal Court while at the same time seeking the intervention of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to act as intermediaries in a government mandated mediation with a judge presiding over the whole deliberation process and then having the right to deliver a binding agreement on both parties. This is something from which neither side can view as a victory should such a scenario arise . David Stern may well be a good poker player but the cards he’s now holding simply do not favor the league or the team owners .

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Should the league vote de-certify which is not against the law it simply lessens the leverage that the NBA feels that they have other union in the negotiation process. It’s something that I’m sure that Executive Director Billy Hunter and union President Derek Fisher saw worked out favorably for the NFLPA during their long drawn out lockout process . The commissioner’s bone of contention all along has been their stance that they now have to rein costs and above salary expenditure . Given the idiocy of that statement and the very fact that teams and the general managers have splurged ostentatiously in signing players to exorbitantly outrageous contracts . And pardon me for saying this but when you see Rashard Lewis as the second highest paid player in the NBA last season earning in excess of $22.5 million has me wondering in what god damn world is where you’re paid to not to get results and be productive ? Other than those mindless idiots within the House and Senate I can’t think of any perhaps more undeserving of that type of reward for the least amount of return ! Mind you as I say this , I should point out that much to my surprise I recently found out that the commissioner himself is handsomely rewarded in terms of his annual compensation package. If the rumors are to be believed then David Stern is earning in excess of $20 million not including incentives . That’s the sort of money one would expect to see a highly gifted athlete or a titan of corporate America to be compensated with. But somehow this portly sized former legal mind is now decrying the fact that the salaries of the players are now far too high . Am I missing something here ? And did hell suddenly freeze over ?

Though this NBA stoppage by comparison to the NFL’s 135 day holdout is meager in its length the closer this entrenchment remains unresolved the more discontent there’s bound to be between the two parties . Never mind the ever growing resentment of the brooding NBA fans. With the preseason team training camps due to commence at the beginning of September it remains to be seen who’s about acquiesce to the others’ will. With the prominent team owners such as Dr Jerry Buss , Mark Cuban , James Dolan , Peter Holt , Mikhail Prokhorov , Michael Jordan , Dan Gilbert and Wyc Grousbeck all for the moment standing firmly in support of David Stern , I fully expect that should the lockout be prolonged more than they envisage then the support could very well be
threatened .

Many of the most recent owners such as Dan Gilbert in making the purchase of the Cleveland Cavaliers was fully financed by way of multi faceted loan instruments. And one should consider that the issues facing the Cavaliers in particular after the departure of LeBron James meant less revenues at Quicken Loans Arena and meager attendances for the team’s home games .

I am not about to castigate the team owners or for that matter the league hierarchy of the NBA as well as the union . From my own perspective I do believe that all of the parties are equally to blame . Given that Derek Fisher , Billy Hunter and David Stern were all aware that their existing collective bargaining agreement was due to expire on the 30th June it’s somewhat asinine that the groups in question sought to start their deliberations once the agreement had expired. Clearly there seems to be little if any common sense being shown from the lead individuals concerned . Billy Hunter whose passion as a lawyer is encapsulated around his struggles during the civil rights’ era. But here it appears to not about what’s viewed as being right but simply a matter of greed and how best to split the revenues from a $4.5 billion piece of the pie . The revenue stream as it now stands favors the players on 53.5 % to 46.5% ratio that the league seeks to lessen that would be equitable in its disbursement . Something of which the union simply does not favor as they feel that the league hierarchy has been decidedly less than truthful in showing real transparency as to their finances.

It will be very interesting to see what transpires over the ensuing weeks as the two sides seek to reach some sort of a compromise . If anything I fully expect this lockout to go on for an extended period of time . Billy Hunter made that situation abundantly clear when he commented that he does not expect there to be fully scheduled season for 2011-12. If that’s not of an indication as to how steadfast the NBPA seeks to be then clearly David Stern has misjudged the resolve of the union and it members .

As the races now appear to be tightening up within NL West and NL Central I can’t help but wonder what might happen should both the St Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants fail to make the postseason. And for both Tony La Russa and Bruce Bochy this certainly test their managerial acumen as they seek to get their respective teams playing with a great deal of resolve over the final months of the season.

The respective divisional titles are up for grabs as it would appear that the wildcard berth will come from the NL East in the form of the Atlanta Braves possibly gaining that spot. If nothing else teams in the midst closely ran races with the Cardinals now duelling with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Giants now finding themselves in an allout brawl with the Arizona Diamondbacks . One wonders if it would come as a surprise were either the St Louis Cardinals or San Francisco Giants to come up short after this ardous season. Certainly the moves made by the Giants was indication of their resolve in looking to successfully defend merely not only their divisional crown but also their NL pennant as well as looking for a return to the World Series and duplicating last year’s feat . The San Francisco Giants over the Texas Rangers was indeed a long time coming and something the Giants’ fans simply yearned for.

That taste of success now has the Giants simply wanting more and it will be very interesting to see whether or not between now and the end of the regular season the reigning champions will still be on that path to repeating last season’s triumph. With the addition of Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants roster . For Bruce Bochy and his assistants knowing that they’ve some added potency on the offense gives the organization something they felt that they needed. There’s no denying that the team’s biggest strengths have been their pitching led by two time NL Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum . But if anything the real surprise amongst the roster has been the play of seasoned journeyman Ryan Vogelsong . If nothing else this season has been an aspiring ascent into the big leagues for the pitcher .

The Arizona Diamondbacks for their part with the play of Justin Upton has this team playing with a great deal of resolve. Given the change of ownership the changes both on and off the field now seems to have been paying dividends not only for the organization but also for the fans in attendance at Chase Field in Phoenix , Arizona . There has been a gradual uptick in attendance and with the play > of the team has many thinking that the organization now in a resurgent mode could now be on the cusp of doing something special. GM Kevin Towers along with the managing partners now know with the resurgence of the organization they have something to build upon . It has been a long time coming for the Diamondbacks given that their greatest triumph came back in 2001 with their surprising defeat of the venerable New York Yankees .

If anything one also should commend the job being done by Kirk Gibson and his coaching staff in getting the Arizona Diamondbacks to play with such zeal. He could very well end up being the NL Manager of the Year when it’s all said and done .

Given the ordeals faced by the St Louis Cardinals over the past few days it’s hard to see how one can’t but have some empathy with the team. Granted with the five game suspension of Yadier Molina and the events surrounding Albert Pujols being hit by an errant pitch it has me wondering now whether or not we’ll see the best or worse of this team !

The Milwaukee Brewers for their part with a thriving Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun have many thinking that after last season’s surprising divisional triumph by the Cincinnati Reds there’s time for some fresh infusion of blood in terms of another NL Central divisional winner . If not the St Louis Cardinals then why not the Milwaukee Brewers under the leadership of their managing general partner Mark Attanasio ?

Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke , his assistants and GM Doug Melvin have assembled a roster that is intent on acquitting themselves with a great deal of vigor and bring the fans back to Miller Park , Wisconsin with a sense of purpose . This Milwaukee Brewers’ team is very much a credible one but it remains to be seen what sort of steely resolve they are prepared to show over the remainder of the season .

If the Brewers are to prevail then it will have to be a concerted all-round effort with both Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder leading the way . There’s a great deal that is at stake and it goes without saying that given the vagaries of this game where one misstep can be the difference between success and failure I can’t help but feel that the players on this team may well feel ………. that now is their time .

In light of what you are now seeing happening with the divisional races at present in baseball which teams do you feel have been the biggest surprise over the course of this season ? And from within the NL Central and NL West which of the teams do you see actually triumphing in the end in terms those races ? Simply chime in with a comment as you would deem fit .

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

Contact tophatal …………….. rapptu@gmail.com

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(1) NBA commissioner David Stern speaks to reporters after a meeting with the players’ union, Thursday, June 30, 2011 in New York. Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday, the sides could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer …..

(2) NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher, right, NBA union chief Billy Hunter, left, and LA Lakers’ Theo Ratliff arrive at a midtown hotel for a meeting with the NBA, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011 in New York. One month after the lockout began, and three months before the season is scheduled to start, representatives for the NBA owners and locked-out players return to the bargaining table. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer …….

(3) Wyc Grousbeck the senior managing partner of the ownership group for the Boston Celtics . Courtesy of Getty Images / Olin James …

(4) SAN FRANCISCO, CA – AUGUST 4: Hunter Pence (3) of the Philadelphia Phillies gets an RBI single against the San Francisco Giants in the ninth inning during a MLB baseball game at AT&T Park August 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Phillies won the game 3-0 . Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ……

(5) SAN FRANCISCO, CA – AUGUST 4: Jeff Keppinger (8) of the San Francisco Giants gets his throw off completing the double-play avoiding the slide of John Mayberry (15) of the Philadelphia Phillies in the seventh inning during an MLB baseball game at AT&T Park August 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Phillies won the game 3-0. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ……..

(6) Jason Marquis (21) of the Arizona Diamondbacks is taken out of the game in the fifth inning by manager Kirk Gibson against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 3, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The D’backs would go on lose the game 8-1 against the San Francisco Giants . Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images ………

(7) Pablo Sandoval (48) of the San Francisco Giants slides in safe at home on a ball hit by Orlando Cabrera(notes) in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park on August 3, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images …….

(8) St. Louis Cardinals players Rafael Furcal, right, and Albert Pujois celebrate after they defeated the Florida Marlins 7-4 in a baseball game in Miami, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. AP Photo/J Pat Carter ….

(9) Matt Holliday(7) of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds third after hitting a three run home run off Clay Hensley(32) of the Florida Marlins during a game at Sun Life Stadium on August 4, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ………

(10) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 03: Casey McGehee (14) of the Milwaukee Brewers steps on home plate to score after hitting his second home run of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park on August 3, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers defeated the Cardinals 10-5 . Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ……..

(11) MILWAUKEE, WI – AUGUST 03: Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers has words with Albert Pujols (5) of the St. Louis Cardinals at first base at Miller Park on August 3, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ……

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The High Flying Tigers And Other Things Happening In The World Of Baseball

The High Flying Tigers And Other Things Happening In The World Of Baseball

If there’s a common consensus at present it could well be that Justin Verlander could very well the runaway winner for the AL Cy Young winner . The player has been on a tear as of late winning six consecutive games ,placing the Detroit Tigers in contention for the AL Central and to viewed seriously as a contender for the AL Pennant . If anything from what I’ve seen of the Tigers as a team this season they are on a mission and for the fans at Comerica Park as well both team owner Michael Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski this has to be have been a long time coming . So much was expected of the team last season and their free fall certainly didn’t help when it mattered most .

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I don’t know if at present there’s a pitcher in the league that is as dominant and foreboding as we’re now seeing from Justin Verlander. Now many may well feel that the Detroit Tigers simply haven’t shown where they’re capable of winning the AL Central and the mere fact that we’ve seen a resurgent Cleveland Indians may well have suggest that the division wouldn’t at all be up for grabs . But at present that has been the case with the top three teams simply not being able to truly separate themselves from the rest of those within the division . The Cleveland Indians leads the division with a 40-35 with the Chicago White Sox 3 1/2 games behind the second placed Tigers . Jim Leyland and his coaching staff know that they will have to lean heavily on their All Star pitching ace as well as the offense led by Miguel Cabrera , Magglio Ordonez , Victor Martinez , Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Inge .

With the All Star Game slowly approaching where it will be hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Ballpark in Arizona , Phoenix . That event should be very interesting given the ensuing political climate within the state at present after the state’s legislature’s passing of their immigration bill ( SB 1070 ). And as contentious as the bill’s passing may well have been the opposition from a number of civil liberties unions as well as the Hispanic community and Latino players within the MLB fraternity promises that this upcoming All Star Game could very well be remembered for the events off the field , as the opposition protesters look to making their voices heard .

I’m not about to suggest that the Houston Astros are having a bad season but the NL ball club seems to be on the cusp of having quite possibly having one of their worst seasons ever . With Drayton McClane having sold the team to Houston businessman Jim Crane , the feeling is that the entrepreneur will assess the whole organization from top to bottom before making a decision whether or not he will retain or bring in his own staff to run the Astros .

In the Astros most recent game against the Tampa Bay Rays it was clear for all to see the numerous problems that the Houston Astros as a team faces . The offense is simply dormant and the pitching simply lacks any real confidence . The Rays offense simpled teed off on Astros coming away with an emphatic 7-2 victory in an intra league game at the Astros ballpark in Houston , Texas.

It is strange to see players such as Hunter Pence , Carlos Lee and Jeff Keppinger are viewed as the present basis for the team but in reality the future of this organization lies in its prospects , draft picks and farm system if the truth be known . A great deal is now being asked of manager Brad Mills and his coaching staff in leading this team to some semblance of respectability within the National League .

The Houston Astros have struggled to make their presence felt within the NL Central in recent years and one it’s hard to view this organization being competitive given the financial difficulties of this organization during the tenure of Drayton McClane and the mere fact that the former owner has simply shown that he has never shown the propensity for winning. It has simply been about garnering the monies afforded it by the rather asinine tax sharing revenue scheme that the league hierarchy has simply sought to dispense to the small market teams around baseball with little thought for actually seeing that the teams in question bolster their rosters as they’re meant to . And one wonders why the game is in such mess from a financial standpoint ? The team owners , general managers around the league are simply far too stupid for their own good with the sports agents simply being way too beguiling for the team owners .

I’m still trying to comprehend how it is that Alex Rodriguez while a player with the Texas Rangers having left that organization in a multi player trade to join the New York Yankees and still some three years after that trade his salary was still being paid for by the Texas Rangers . And as we know Rodriguez at the time had signed what was then the largest contract not only baseball history but also in sports in general , a ten year $250 million contract. Tell me how this all equates with a sound business practice that will actually equate with anything that happens in the real world unless the idiots within the game view themselves as high priced corporate Wall St executives and somehow that’s not how I view the players within MLB , much less the owners whose business acumen we’re suppose to believe in ! I guess that the likes of Frank McCourt , his subordinates within the Dodgers front office along with Fred Wilpon and the ingrates with the New York Mets are to be seen as beacons of corporate affability and sound business judgment ? Cry me a river those of you out there who still believe that the game is still in a healthy financial position !

At some point Bud Selig and his union counterpart MLPBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner seem so intent on merely seeing the status quo remain the same for whatever it’s meant to be worth with regard to the game . And at this juncture what does that actually mean to you ? Some fans are pointing to the fact that there’s said to be competitive parity within the game but let’s get real here , attendances are steadily declining for the vast majority of the teams , with more than half struggling to eke out a financial profit without an assist from the league hierarchy . How is it that the more adept fan out there never really wants to address that specific issue but would rather look at the game through rose colored glasses ?

Much of this season I’ve simply been impressed with the pitching I’ve seen this season and the Cy Young within both leagues is by no means a certainty at this juncture . ERA and wins asides I know that the choice for the adjudicators will be an extremely tough one ! CC Sabathia , Jered Weaver , Josh Beckett and James Shields all appear to be viable candidates within the AL . On the senior circuit there it would appear that Cole Hamels , Jair Jurrjens , Roy Halladay and Tommy Hanson could all be in with a shot if they are able to keep apace with their rivals within the NL .

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What have been your impressions as to the first half of the MLB season and which teams do you believe will in the thick of things at season’s end competing not merely for the divisional titles but also for the wildcard berths ? Also as to the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit .

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

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(1) DETROIT – JUNE 25: Justin Verlander (35) of the Detroit Tigers strikes out 14 for a career-high during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Comerica Park on June 25, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Diamondbacks 6-0 . Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …..

(2) Justin Verlander (35) of the Detroit Tigers is congratulated by Manager Jim Leyland #10 after striking out 14 for a career-high during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Comerica Park on June 25, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Diamondbacks 6-0. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images ….

(3) Don Kelly (32) of the Detroit Tigers celebrates with his teammates after scoring on a Miguel Cabrera(24) single in the eight inning during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Comerica Park on June 26, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Diamondbacks 8-3 . Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …

(4) Detroit Tigers’ owner Michael Ilitch (left) and team GM Dave Dombrowski are seen here taking questions from the press at Comerica Park , Detroit , Michigan , courtesy of Detroit Free Press ….

(5) Wade Davis (40) of the Tampa Bay Rays is called out by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo as catcher Carlos Corporan (22) of the Houston Astros looks up after the play at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images ….

(6) Houston Astros’ Hunter Pence reacts after being called out on strikes to end an interleague baseball game in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday, June 26, 2011, in Houston. The Rays defeated the Astros 14-10 . AP Photo/David J. Phillip ……

(7) HOUSTON – JUNE 26: Carlos Lee (45) of the Houston Astros catches his breath after hitting a triple in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images ….

(8) ST. LOUIS – OCTOBER 19: Houston Astros Drayton McLane is seen during Game Six of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals October 19, 2005 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Astros won 5-1 to win the series 4-2 to advance to the World Series. Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images ………..

(9) Jim Crane the Houston business tycoon and new owner of the Houston Astros . courtesy of AP Photo ….
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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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Sports Stories That Simply Aren’t Worth Reporting But Somehow They’re Out There

Sports Stories That Simply Aren’t Worth Reporting But Somehow They’re Out There

Minnesota Timberwolves’ coach Kurt Rambis is said to be aggrieved as to the uncertainty concerning his impending future with the organization. Given his coaching record and the mere fact that the Timberwolves had another miserable season pretty much sums up what the front office’s thoughts may well be on the beleaguered coach . Team owner Glen Taylor and GM David Kahn surely know that with the upcoming NBA Draft due to take place on the 23rd June they can ill afford to any type of indecision on their part. They either retain the coach or relieve him of his duties and immediately start a search for his successor. Any indecsiveness on their part hurts the image of the franchise and shows complete ineptitude to the fans and across the NBA landscape in general .

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Things are difficult as it as already for the Minnesota Timberwolves without now further opening up themselves to ridicule concerning their coach and his job status. But then again the mindset within this organization can be easily summed up in two words …” woefully inept “.

Now don’t get me wrong I was happy to see the New York Knicks make the NBA postseason but the mere fact that their sojourn there lasted about as long as Usain Bolt would take to run a 100m race , essentially told you all that you needed to know about this team and such the organization. Team owner James Dolan is looking to extend the contract of GM Donnie Walsh the seventy four year old senior executive within the Knicks’ organization . If the rumors are to be believed Dolan wanted offer Walsh a two year contract extension as they seek to rebuild the basketball team . Donnie Walsh in spite of his undoubted NBA knowledge knows that in many ways he’s not getting any younger and at the same time his job placed him under a great deal of pressure allowing him very little time to be with his family. The general manager has told the owner that he will not be returning to the organization next season , choosing instead to relinquish his duties with the New York Knicks .

I certainly would have thought that the New York Knicks would be better prepared in terms of having a long term plan as to successor by having someone within their front office be tutored by Walsh since his original hiring by the organization. But somehow given the plethora of executives that make up board of the New York Knicks you simply knew that sheer incompetency wouldn’t be far behind in terms of the decision making that the organization has come to be known for. If Hank Ratner or any other of his peers aren’t capable of assuming Walsh’s role , then I would hate to think that Knicks would be idiotic enough to rehire Isiah Thomas to a position he once held within the organization. There is no way in hell that the Knicks would consider rehiring their former VP & Head of Basketball Operations , albeit , that Thomas stated that he has no interest in rejoining the organization but then again we are talking about the New York Knicks .

Cyclist Lance Armstrong the seven time winner of the Tour de France continues to maintain his innocence concerning the latest admissions by Armstrong’s former teammates Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie former teammates members on the Radio Shack team ran team manager by Johan Bruyneel . The ongoing cause-de-celebre concerning concerning Armstrong’s innocence , the fact both Hamilton’s and Hincapie’s evidence was sworn testimony under oath given to law officials of the Justice Department . It would be simply idiotic to think that either cyclist would choose to perjure themselves knowing well that a federal sentence would await them courtesy of the Bureau of Prisons within the federal penitentiary system. In the advent of this all Armstrong seeks an apology from CBS News and in particular from the producers of the broadcast outlets news magazine program ’60 Minutes’. Anyone who witnessed the in depth segment on Tyler Hamilton and in particular his allegations concerning his former teammate would be hard pressed not to believe that allegations made by Hamilton . If nothing else Armstrong who has been adding to defense with a legion of of defense attorneys in pursuant of the Justice Department’s decision to seek the indictment of Armstrong for the illegal use of use steroids in particular EPO and several other known illicit substances .

From my own perspective cycling may well be the most corrupt sport on the landscape and the mere fact that UCI the international governing body for cycling has been literally all too slow in seeking to clean up its sport. L’Equipe which oversees the Tour de France has been less reluctant to actually come forward and say that they have not done enough to make this sport more appealing and its image above reproach . Instead L’Equipe’s greatest wish has been simply to make millions of dollars through the event with the broadcast rights of the Tour across the globe. My own wish would be to see the IOC the governing body of the Summer Olympics to simply suspend the sport from the Olympics until UCI has a strict and comprehensive drug policy in place . It would not be too much to ask but the idiocy within the sport of cycling does leave a great deal to be desired ! It has been all talk and with two of the sport’s most visible faces having been embroiled in drug controversy only a complete idiot would take this sport seriously and think that it has something tangible to offer !

Clearly anyone who believes that the Chicago Cubs’ fortunes are about to change hasn’t been watching this team play at all. I’m not saying that the curse of the goat still looms over Wrigley Field but at this juncture if a tornado were to hit that storied edfice the aftermath in terms of the destruction brought it would be a hell of a lot better than what the Cubs’ fans have been asked to endure since the start of the season . The NL Central where the Cubs reside along with the division leading St Louis Cardinals (33-24) whereas the Chicago Cubs have simply been mediocre . This team is on a three game losing streak and has lost seven of their last ten games during which manager Mike Quade and his coaching staff have tried to to the players playing with a great deal more resolve. GM Jim Hendry along with the ownership group headed by the Ricketts’ family has simply tried to instill a sense of purpose of and an eagerness to win . The long terms of efforts can’t go unrecognized with regard to the refurbishment of Wrigley Field in order to make the venue fan friendly. But that in of itself won’t be enough as the organization seeks its World Series title in over a century . Simply put the years of mediocrity that the fans may well have thought long gone still seem to be alive and present. .

So the so called saga concerning Alex Rodriguez’s stance that he simply abused the league’s steroid policy through sheer naivete` and the fact that he and his cousin Yuri Sucart were simply looking to get an edge no longer seems to make any sense . In the aftermath of his admission and apology to the league hierarchy and the New York Yankees still hasn’t stopped the player from associating with his cousin after Rodriguez having been advised not to associate communicate with Sucart on the Yankees’ property or any baseball facility during the season . It would appear that the requests are lost on Alex Rodriguez with there now being evidence to suggest that the player and Sucart have been seen together at the St Regis Hotel in San Francisco prior to a recent game played against the Oakland Athletics at the A’s ballpark . What might be even more unpalatable is the very fact that Sucart has accompanied Rodriguez to several games this season with the player knowing full well that he has been advised by senior executives within the Yankees’ hierarchy not to associate with his cousin.

If one remembers Rodriguez’s apology suggested that he and Yuri Sucart were merely experimenting with the use of steroids and the regimen followed was he says… so ill disciplined that it’s hard to take the player at his word when it has come to light that his name has come up repeatedly , in conjunction with the indictment of Orlando medical professional Dr Anthony Galea . The doctor is now awaiting trial with regard to the sale and transportation of illicit narcotics and steroids across international borders . The Justice Department having arraigned and indicted Galea ____ they are now seeking assistance from the medical professional in seeking the indictment of other subjects to whom he supplied steroids and other illicit substances. Many of the individuals that Anthony Galea is said to have supplied are a professional athletes in MLB , NBA , NFL and NHL and college athletes . If that isn’t now a cause for concern given the fact that Commissioner Bud Selig is still of the belief that the game now has the strictest testing policy in all professional sports , one has to ask what they will now do in light of these latest allegations concerning Alex Rodriguez. And with the player being less than forthright when asked about his name being associated with Galea and his cousin Yuri Sucart can we really now expect anything form of action by the league ? Rob Manfred a senior league official and Head for VP of Player Relations has spoken directly within the New York Yankees concerning Rodriguez’s association with his cousin. If this is what the league believes to be the appropriate action I firmly believe that the league has no idea as to what it takes to stem the flow of the illicit use of PED’s within the game , with players now flouting clear instructions makes a mockery their edicts . Is it any wonder that Manny Ramirez having failed a second drug test was allowed to walk away without any form of punishment levied against him by the league ? That is the complete asinine stance that MLB has with regard to its stance when players flout the rules . As for MLBPA and their Executive Director Michael Weiner and his response to what is now an acute issue that even the league and union have failed to really address .

In the wake of the Jim Tressel fiasco we are now learning that the quarterback for the football team Terrelle Pryor had been driving on a suspended license . What is now coming to light concerning this also is the very fact that the player who drives a 2011 Nissan 350Z which we have been informed was purchased by his mother Thomasina Pryor as a trade in . In light of that however since Pryor’s entrance to Ohio State he has been driving around in a number of vehicles for which there is no substantive evidence that would suggest he owned the vehicles in question or that they were leased by the player. The longer this saga has gone on the more idiotic both university President E Gordon Gee and the AD Gene Smith appear to be in light of their actions and what we now know Tressel had suppressed from his superiors . As the investigation went on both Gee and Smith stood behind their actions of a mere suspension and monetary fine of the coach knowing full well that were other far more serious allegations that had already come to light. Now with Pryor now subject of the school’s own internal investigation we’re now finding out that the NCAA is prepared to conduct their own separate investigation into the player and these latest allegations. And one wonders how corrupt collegiate sports is now said to be ? Why not simply allow the players to be paid, gamble on their games and have done with it ? It is becoming abundantly clear that collegiate athletics no longer can be taken seriously on any level at all !

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Picture gallery for your approval. By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in its original formatted size .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit and as always thanks for the continued support as it is gratefully appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ………………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – APRIL 13: 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. The Timberwolves’ front office is said to be undecided as to whether or the coach will be retained for the upcoming season. Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(2) David Kahn seated right alongside Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. Kahn recently assumed the mantel of being the team’s GM as well as Head of Basketball Operations. He’s also keep the title of President of the Timberwolves’ organizational structure. Besides having to deal with the Rubio situation Kahn also will be in search of a new coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Richard Clarke-Patterson ………

(3) GM Donnie Walsh (seated left) is seen here alongside Knicks’ team owner James Dolan . Walsh has declined the team’s offer for a two year contract extension deciding instead to be with his family , retiring from the NBA having been involved in the sport for over four decades. AP Photo/ Chris Young ….

(4) Lance Armstrong of the USA, riding for Team Astana, speaks with Astana team director Johan Bruyneel before the start of stage six of the 2009 Tour Down Under January 25, 2009 in Adelaide, Australia. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images ….

(5) Tyler Hamilton seen here during his interview with 60 Minutes’ correspondent Scott Pelley reiterates his position that former teammate Lance Armstrong knowingly took EPO amongst other illicit banned substances during competition. Courtesy of CBS News/Getty Images …

(6) Aramis Ramirez (16) of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-RBI double against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on June 5, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Cubs 3-2 in 10 innings. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …..

(7) Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry is seen here with Alfonso Soriano as the player is formally introduced to the convened press . AP Photo/ Tonny Todd ….

(8) Cubs’ manager Mike Quade all smiles for the moment but for how long ? His job isn’t yet imperiled but who knows should the <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/team/roster_active.jsp?c_id=chc&quot;. team continue to lose without any real effort on the part of the players ? Getty Images / Keith Stoddart …….

(9) Yuri Sucart , cousin of Yankees’ slugger Alex Rodriguez and whose name has once again been associated with the player in spite of the warnings issued to the player and New York Yankees’ organization. Both Rodriguez and Yucart were seen together in public at the St Regis Hotel and then again at the A’s ballpark . It would appear that the player has failed to heed the requests of MLB as well as the New York Yankees in not associating with his relative . The player who in his admission to the use of steroids stated that he was supplied with the prohibited substances by Yuri Sucart . AP/Getty Images / Rafael T Aguillar ……

(10) ANAHEIM, CA – JUNE 5: the New York Yankees the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 5, 2011 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. The Yankees won 5-3 . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ….

(11) In this photo taken Monday, May 30, 2011, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor arrives for a players only meeting at the Woody Hayes Complex in Columbus, Ohio. Pryor, the highest profile recruit of former coach Jim Tressel’s 25-year coaching career, is one of five Buckeyes who have already been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for taking money and tattoos from local tattoo-parlor owner Edward Rife, who pleaded guilty last week to federal drug trafficking and money-laundering charges. AP Photo/Terry Gilliam …

(12) Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor arrives in this Nissan 350Z, center, to a players only meeting Monday, May 30, 2011, at the Woody Hayes Complex, in Columbus, Ohio. AP Photo/Terry Gilliam ……..

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