Hits , misses and what the hell was that about ?

Hits , misses and what the hell was that about ?

Well appreciative of the fact, for the first time in twenty-one years , a congratulatory note of applause must be displayed towards the Pittsburgh Pirates and their making the MLB post-season for the first time in that time-span. For Clint Hurdle , his staff , the players and front office , this will be a time to celebrate. Having finished second to the St Louis Cardinals in the NL Central , within that division , the Pirates will be joined by the Cincinnati Reds , for the second of the two wild-card berths within the National League (NL). The celebrations began in earnest after Pittsburgh’s 2-1 victory on Monday evening over the competitively challenged Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field , in Chicago , Illinois. Far be it for to me suggest, but both the Cubs and Chicago White Sox have been two woefully inept teams and an absolute abomination to watch over the course of this season , who have performed with such ineptitude. As to this asinine notion, that Cubs general manager Theo Epstein will be looking towards making the ball-club competitive by no later than 2015 , now seems to be in question after the failure of the team this season.

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Dale Sveum , manager of the Cubs has not been guaranteed that he will be given a contract extension, and it is unlikely that the manager will now return to the organization for the 2014 season , along with a number of members of his current managerial staff . There have been few pluses of note for the Chicago Cubs over the course of their season and for that I believe a great deal of the blame has to fall squarely upon the shoulders of Theo Epstein and what appears to be a clear lack of commitment from the Ricketts’ family , the team’s owners. There has been more money spent on the refurbishing and upgrading of Wrigley Field in recent seasons than one would like to believe. Meanwhile, Tom Ricketts’ commitment seems to be more of treating this ball-club as a bauble, rather to parade it to members of his social circle , than create a competitive professional sports’ franchise and bring back some semblance of respectability to this once esteemed baseball franchise.

For the Pirates, as they wind down their regular season schedule with five games left to play. All eyes, are likely to be placed upon their wild card round game on 1st October against the Cincinnati Reds. Now one could place a great deal of emphasis on the season series between these two teams , but to my mind, a single elimination game will be more about , which is the best prepared to deal with the added pressure .

The race within the AL for the two wild-card berths , now appears to the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians for the losing, as the two teams hold the top two spots in those standings . Yet for all of the drama to be had , this race still seems to be far from over , with the Texas Rangers , Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees , all within four games of a wild-card berth . Of the three teams now vying for that spot, I do believe that the Yankees have essentially played themselves out of contention , albeit , with Joe Girardi and his team due to play the Tampa Bay Rays in a pivotal three game series at Yankee Stadium beginning on Tuesday. It would be fair to suggest that neither team in this series, can afford a slip-up at this juncture.

. Girardi will become a manager without a contract at the end of this season , with their being no guarantee that a contract extension will be forthcoming from GM Brian Cashman or directly from senior managing partner , Hal Steinbrenner . There is the common belief that Girardi is likely to viewed as a managerial candidate for the possible vacant Cubs’ position, if the decision is made fire Dale Sveum. This off-season could be a dramatic one for the franchise, with the retirements of Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera . Compounding this even further, may well be the uncertainty concerning the immediate future of Derek Jeter , whose season was shuttered by the front office , with the short-stop placed on the disabled list . With his skills declining, Jeter only provides leadership and little else, beyond that , albeit, that at times, he can still offer momentary flashes of brilliance in the field .

Three weeks into the NFL season and we already seeing a plethora of really bad performances from a number of teams . Far be it for me to suggest , but those seeking parity in the NFL , are looking for something to hang their hats on . In reality , it is not about parity , but more to do with the caliber of the coaching of the NFL and the quality of the players drafted . Poor performances asides, having witnessed the Denver Broncos’ complete annihilation of the Oakland Raiders on Monday night , to go alongside the Seattle Seahawks’ utter surgical dismantling of the Jacksonville Jaguars , has me believing that this NFL season is likely to be filled with more lows than highs , in comparison to last season.

As Peyton Manning continues to rewrite the record books, with the player already having thrown twelve touchdown passes in the first three weeks of the season. It will be interesting to see whether or not the quarterback can surpass the single season record of fifty touchdowns , a feat managed by Manning’s contemporary , Tom Brady during the 2007 NFL season. Besides the superlatives one could use to describe Peyton Manning’s performances this early in the season , it should be noted that this Broncos’ team seems to have gotten a great deal better on both sides of the ball in comparison to last season. As to where the challenge might well come from within the AFC West and the AFC as a whole , I do believe that there is not a team at present good enough to throw down the gauntlet of meeting that challenge .

Week four , will grant the Philadelphia Eagles the privilege of trying to stop the Broncos’ unbeaten run, when the two teams meet this Sunday at the Sports Authority Stadium , in Denver , Colorado,. The Eagles’ alleged high-octane offense and rather anemic defense , are likely to meet the same fate as the Broncos three previous predecessors . Chip Kelly may well have been an offensive genius at the collegiate level , while coaching the Oregon program , but his introduction to the NFL has been painful to watch , with his ego having been deflated by the team’s two successive defeats. Whether or not, this will be a bounce back game for the Eagles or them simply being bounced all over Mile High, remains to be seen. Yet , given the ineptitude of the Eagles on defense, I am do believe that it will be the latter !

Not one for appearing naive, but I do believe that the NFL’s punishment of Vonn Miller was merely slap on the wrist , being a two-time offender of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The player sought to appeal his original four-game suspension which was upheld , but the league tacked on an additional two games , after it was revealed that Miller compromised his test samples by colluding with a lab technician to substitute another sample , as his own . Miller’s actions not only showed his disdain for the league’s rules, but also for the NFL and bringing a great deal of unwanted attention to the Denver Broncos’ organization , after a successful start to their season. Vonn Miller’s return will not take place until week seven, when the Broncos are hosts of the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium , in Indianapolis , Indiana ,. Surely, if a player is willing to go those lengths and be dishonest as well as committing an act of fraud , then should it not be within the league’s right to punish that player with impunity , rather than being soft and appearing soft on that issue ? My question for Commissioner Roger Goodell , who is he really afraid of in such an instance , the union (Players’ Union) or is it, the fans themselves ? Your thoughts , on this all ?

Three months before the NBA regular season kicks off and the biggest story of the off-season , beyond the marriage of LeBron James to his high-school sweetheart Savannah Brinson and the Miami Heat’s re-signing of Michael Beasley . That story, is the fact former NBA center and All Star, Shaquille O’Neal has become a minority stakeholder in the Sacramento Kings. O’Neil , in association , with a business associate, Mark Mastrov , founder of the health-club gym chain, 24 Hour Fitness, have purchased a 5% stake in the NBA franchise . The deal was with the full approval of team owner Vivek Ranadive , who seems to be of the belief , that the best way to bring back some pizzazz to the downtrodden franchise, would be to add some “star power ” to the ownership makeup of the organization. Perplexing as this may seem, it was not that long ago, that O’Neal described the Sacramento Kings as the “Sacramento Queens” . Unless I am mistaken, not much has changed in the subsequent seasons , since the former player made that infamous statement. The Kings have fallen on hard times, being uncompetitive, being financially mismanaged by former owners Joe and Gavin Maloof , and their siblings. Add to this whole menagerie of stupidity, was the over-inflated price paid ($535 million) for a franchise that is amongst the most poorly supported in the NBA. Yet, it has been under this sort of misleading and often surreptitious model that David Stern continues to paint the facade that the league and its teams are in the healthiest of conditions. All well and good, but it simply does not answer the question , as to the continued struggles of a number of small market teams and the financial imbalance created, with the unwillingness of the NBA hierarchy to adopt a hard salary cap.

Consider the fact, that a number of the teams within the NBA , repeatedly each season , seek to go over the league’s soft salary cap ($58.044 million) . At the same time, when posed the question , as to why a number of teams remain unprofitable , the commissioner has been quick to deflect those questions, by simply pointing to the fact of growing revenues for the NBA and an increasing presence in the global market , in terms the growing popularity of the game in Europe and the Far East. All well and good, but it simply does not answer the question , as to the continued struggles of a number of small market teams and the financial imbalance created, with the unwillingness of the NBA hierarchy to adopt a hard salary cap. I would like to think that the reason behind this , is the fact that the league believes that their current business template this all works to their advantage . Yet , I am more inclined to believe , that the union (NBPA) dictates and has the power to simply make the team owners and powers that be , simply cower in a corner , like a mouse about to be devoured by a hungry feline.

It is hard to imagine how a Kings’ team from this past season that finished with a 28-54 record within the Western Conference . A mark which was good enough for thirteenth place within the conference and only fourth place within the Pacific Division , can be considered remotely good enough to compete in the talent and offensive minded environment of the conference in question and where the King themselves were far from efficient in terms of defense . This is a team built around the somewhat mercurial talents and immature behavior of DeMarcus Cousins . Yet, the biggest issue for the Sacramento Kings is the very fact their head coach Michael Malone will be a first-year rookie , whose previous stop was the coach of Loyola Marymount University . Then you can add in the fact, that on the team’s roster itself , beyond Chuck Hayes, Travis Outlaw and John Salmons , no other member on this squad has more than six years’ experience of playing in the NBA as a professional . as an NBA player d with the Sacramento Kings, A fact which was also mirrored during the 2011-2012 NBA season. This upcoming season , what should fans of this franchise, really expect from a roster with such minimal experience?

A great deal is being asked of Michael Malone and his coaching staff for the upcoming season, something I do not believe that they are likely to fulfill , even with the added experience of Chris Mullin as a consultant to the front office led by GM Pete D’Alesandro . His experience alongside that of Mullin and even with the additional input of Shaquille O’Neal , is unlikely to prove fortuitous , immediately. The returns sought , may well come about in two to three years , if the fans can be patient enough, as the front office assesses the entire roster. To my mind , the Sacramento Kings is unlikely to become one of the first places a prized marquee free agent, is likely to seek out, to further their NBA ambitions. That was never the case over the past five seasons, and it is unlikely to be the case now . Destinations, such as, either one of the Los Angeles franchises ( Clippers , Lakers) , Oklahoma City , Miami , Houston , Chicago , Brooklyn , San Antonio , New York or Indiana would prove to be a far more appealing a destination , than the California state capitol to further one’s NBA career. Success has proven to be fleeting for the Sacramento Kings , and will prove to just as elusive now , even with the experience now gathered within the front office and the ownership group .

The NBA regular season will begin on October 29th, 2013 , with a slew of games . Yet for the vast array of fans, the season does not really get started until the Christmas week schedule comes into focus . The Kings will begin their schedule , with a home game against the Denver Nuggets at the Sleep Train Arena , in Sacramento , California. All eyes, will be focused on the Kings , as they embark upon a new chapter and era in their history. As to what the outcome is likely to , that remains to be seen , but for now , the real challenge is simply to savor the moment .

The death of former heavyweight champion boxer , Ken Norton at the age of seventy, brought back a deepening perspective of a bygone age within the sport . There are few champions , let alone great fighters from that era still alive today. Norton’s untimely passing, reminds us what is sorely lacking in the sport of boxing at present , and that is great fighters , willing to take on all-comers, simply to prove their greatness in the ring. Sadly, today’s fight game, it has become about the “ me mentality” and how much money , a fighter can now gross from one mega-title fight and with no respect for the sport itself , never-mind the ongoing incompetence of the ringside officials .

True fight fans can cling to their memories of the great world heavyweight title fights of seventies , eighties and early nineties. Unfortunately, that was not the case for Ken Norton , who some years ago suffered a near fatal crash, which brought severe head trauma and respiratory problems and a speech impediment for this once great fighter. A CAT scan of Norton’s brain , showed atrophy and severe damage to his brain tissue , brought on from years of pounding, taken to his head , undoubtedly brought on from his fight career . An illustrious career , that also saw three classic bouts with Muhammad Ali . Norton went toe to toe with some of the very best during the prime of his career, but his trilogy of bouts with Ali , are what he is best remembered for , and perhaps his now infamous love scene with British actress Susan George in the movie ‘ Mandingo ‘ . Let’s just say, Norton’s best years were definitely in the ring and not on celluloid, in a tawdry tale of slavery and masochistic sex .

Memories , fading over time for both Leon and Michael Spinks , with a rarely seen in public, Muhammad Ali. It is sad , that even with such legends as Larry Holmes and George Foreman still visible within our midst , the sport of boxing is still sinking into a morass of ambiguity and incompetence . Any suggestion that the likes of Oscar de La Hoya and his company, Golden Boy Promotions Inc , has brought back some semblance of dignity to the sport , has to be met with a great deal of ridicule and suspicion. De La Hoya has his own personal issues to deal with, beyond the fact that his company , has been a litigant in several cases , where the accusation of fraud and larceny, have been leveled against the former boxer and his promotion’s company. Needless to say, the promoter pleads innocent, to all of the allegations made against him and scoffs at the suggestion that his company has acted unprofessional.

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Picture gallery .

There were a number of interesting sports’ stories within the sports’ world this past weekend, but which event to your mind proved to be the most interesting in terms of its relevance ? Do leave a comment, as you see fit on this and anything else you believe relevant to the subject matter .

Picture and slideshow gallery details .
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(1) Gaby Sanchez , Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen celebrate the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 8-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs in a game played on Tuesday 24th September , 2013 ,2 at Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois . For the first time in just over two decades the Pirates will make their first post-season appearance , having gained one of the two available NL wild-card berths . AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast ….

(2) The Pirates’ Gerrit Cole heads to first , after hitting a two-run single off Chicago Cubs’ starting pitcher Chris Rusin , which in turn scored Gaby Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez during the second inning of the game played between the two NL Central teams on Tuesday 24th September , 2013 . AP Photo / Rex Arbogast …..

(3) Chicago Cubs’ GM Theo Epstein , foreground , is seen here with the team’s owner Tom Ricketts . Epstein who became the general manager of the Cubs in October 2011 , has presided over two years of mediocrity of an organization , that has not made a post-season appearance since 2008 , when the team went do the NLDS. This season the Chicago Cubs underperformed and will finish once again with a sub .500 record for the second consecutive season , of which the last time the ball-club had a winning season came in 2009. Getty Images / Jonathan Greene ……

(4) Players from the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate their shutout of their AL East rivals the New York Yankees , in a game played at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday 24th September , 2013. The victory inched the Rays closer to obtaining one of the two available wild-card berths within the American League (AL) . This victory has in essence placed New York pout of the wild-card race and whatever chance the team had of making the post-season but there remains two more games to be played of the current series between the two teams . In 2013 it has been the Tampa Rays who have had the upper hand in the regular season series between the two teams . It also casts doubt on the strength of this current Yankees’ lineup and heightens their vulnerabilities , showing them now to be a team on the decline. AP Photo / Kathy Willens ………

(5) Eric Decker (87) of the Denver Broncos tries to break the tackle of Brandian Ross (29) of the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High , in a game played on the September 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Getty Images ? Doug Pensinger ….

(6) Left guard Zane Beadles (68) of the Denver Broncos and left tackle Chris Clark (75) of the Denver Broncos prepare to defend the blind side of quarterback Peyton Manning (18) of the Denver Broncos as they face the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 37-21 . Doug Pensinger /Getty Images …

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Shaquille O’Neal holds up a shirt with “Shaqramento” printed on it as he poses with Sacramento Kings majority owners Vivek Ranadive, left, and Mark Mastrov, in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013. O’Neal was welcomed as a new minority owner of the Kings and promised to help restore the franchise to its winning ways and mentor to Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli …

(8) Ken Norton , left, seen here facing Muhammad Ali in the third and final fight of their trilogy , which was fought at Yankee Stadium , in the Bronx , New York of September 1976. Norton felt he won the fight but it was given to Ali in a unanimous decision . AP Photo / archives …

(9) Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton exchange blows during their 1973 fight in San Diego, the first of their three bouts against one another. Ali would wind up losing a 12-round decision after Norton broke his jaw early in the fight. Neil Leifer/SI ….

(10) LAS VEGAS, NV – FEBRUARY 18: Former boxer Ken Norton arrives at the Keep Memory Alive foundation’s ‘Power of Love Gala’ celebrating Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena February 18, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event benefits the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Muhammad Ali Center. The former title-holder died earlier this month complications from heart failure and a respiratory condition . AP Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive …..

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tophatal ………. 09/24/2013

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Engine, engine , number nine ….

Engine, engine , number nine ….

The little engine that could and did . Now while all of the rage this season in baseball has been to simply lay siege to the ongoing stories concerning the Biogenesis fallout . Baseball has seen one or two positives by way of the play of the teams . Fans have been fortunate , well at least those in attendance to have witnessed two no-hitters and a near perfect game earlier in the season with the Texas Rangers` ….Yu Darvish . A mere four weeks ago , it was the ascent of the Los Angeles Dodgers as they recovered from an indifferent start , to having risen up the NL West standings, to become the dominant team within the division, with all of the talk being about their rookie sensation Yasiel Puig .

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Well , on the senior circuit of the National League the Dodgers are not the only story to be relished, as the most dominant team in baseball right now, are the Atlanta Braves in the NL East . Some fans have been rather idiotic enough to be talking about the all too momentary ascent of the Pittsburgh Pirates within the NL Central . The team has been far too inconsistent , and wherein at a moment`s notice they are beating teams that they should be defeating, but yet, when challenged by a divisional rival , they seemingly crumble than for no apparent reason, other than being mediocre .

Chasing, a season high fifteenth consecutive win of the season. Atlanta Braves` manager Fredi Gonzalez , has his players playing with a high level of intensity and as a team , nonetheless. Justin Upton seems to be fitting into his role , having been acquired by the franchise in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks . Elder sibling and teammate, BJ Upton , though off to an indifferent start , now seems to be settling in and contributing on the field , while proving to be something of an inspirational leader to the younger players on the roster.

Looking to further extend their lead within the NL East over their closest rivals the Washington Nationals. Atlanta will now look to inflict even further pain upon the beleaguered Miami Marlins, for whom this season has been a total catastrophe and a nightmare for rookie manager Mike Redmond . As to whether or not he remains in his current position along with his managerial staff , will be left to the decision-making team of David Samson, Larry Beinfest and GM Michael Hill. The two teams will meet on Saturday afternoon, at Turner Field (Fulton County Stadium) in Atlanta, and then again on Sunday afternoon, as a finale to their current series.

Undoubtedly, the biggest success this season for the Braves has been their pitching , with their front-line starters leading the way . Mike Minor the team`s leader in wins has been one of the primary reasons behind Atlanta`s efforts along with a supporting cast of Julio Teheran , Tim Hudson , Paul Maholm , Kris Medlen and the mesmerizing NL saves` leader Craig Kimbrel. It would be remiss to merely to suggest that the Braves are simply proficient by way of their pitching alone . The team`s offense have had their moments to shine with Justin Upton spearheading that lineup of power and run productivity .

If the Atlanta Braves are able to withstand the remaining challenges within the their division and the rest of this season . Then it is my opinion that they will have to be seen as one of the clear favorites for the NLCS pennant. They are certainly good enough to win it, but a great deal will be predicated upon team health and whether or not they can keep this current momentum going . Fredi Gonzalez has proven to be a very good manager, although he has been often criticized , as not being tough enough on his players . Yet I believe, that his managerial style is conducive to the current environment and the very fact that he has been able to get a great deal out of this team, seasoned veterans as well as many of the younger players on the roster. Gonzalez I also believe will be amongst the leading candidates for the NL`s Manager of the Year. Others who ought to be considered , Don Mattingly , Clint Hurdle , Mike Matheny, Dusty Baker and Kirk Gibson. These are the only serious candidates worth considering for the award. It may well come down to which of these managers does the best possible job of leading their team into the post-season . And record-wise or not, at present, to determine a winner might just be too close to call.

I will not delve deeper into the issues of Ryan Braun`s suspension and that of eleven of the thirteen possible players named by Bud Selig in the fallout from the latest drug smeared scandal to have hit baseball . Other than to suggest, that if Tony Bosch of Biogenesis and his statements given to the US Justice Department under a subpoena, are to be believed . Then the commissioner and baseball`s hierarchy are indeed hiding something from the fans and the public in general . Bosch, now under indictment for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, stated that as many as sixty players were implicated in a web of deceit , lies and cheating . Yet somehow, MLB can now only come up with only thirteen names. Either my math seems to be off,but there remains forty-seven names still unaccounted for and something that the league hierarchy may not wish to tell us . Your thoughts on that all ?

Baseball this season, has been clouded in scandal , and no matter how one now wishes to address the matter , there are not that many positives that can be taken out of 2013 , even with the stellar play of the game`s up and coming young stars . With a league hierarchy that seems to be non-combative and passive in dealing with scandal . Team owners , who are simply driven by greed and a union that seemingly would rather see the status quo remain , as is . Less we forget also, many of the players who have been non participants in the steroid abuse , yet they have continually remained silent, unless offering up some witticism ,and even when pressed to give a statement . Far too many of them, have simply come up with something that is either hypocritical or simply too banal or idiotic to be deserving of a response . Matt Kemp needs to keep his damn mouth shut and remember that in 2010, he was playing alongside an avowed steroid cheat named Manny Ramirez . Being critical of a former friend , just because you now have displeasure of his cheating and the fact that you finished second to Ryan Braun in the 2011 NL MVP vote , now makes you look as an individual, jealous of that loss. If you can be openly critical of Braun, then why no criticism, of your former teammate , Manny Ramirez ?

As baseball enters the final quarter of its season , what if anything has been the biggest disappointment for you as a fan and what do you feel as brought you the most pleasure overall in terms of the teams` play or that of individual players ? By all means do leave a comment on this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter. Do feel free to peruse other baseball pieces and sports` related content within this site by clicking on the links provided below .

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Slideshow details below .

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(1) Texas Rangers` starting pitcher Martin Perez , right, is congratulated by catcher Geovany Soto (8) after defeating the Houston Astros 6-1 during a baseball game , Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, in Houston. AP Photo/Patric Schneider …

(2) HOUSTON, TX – AUGUST 09: Yu Darvish (11) of the Texas Rangers talks with pitching coach Mike Maddux during a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 9, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …
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(3) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor (36) works in the second inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Atlanta, Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013. Atlanta won 9-4 . AP Photo/John Bazemore …

(4) Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman , center, celebrates with his teammates after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Atlanta, Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013. Atlanta won 9-4 . AP Photo/John Bazemore ….

(5) Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton and Dan Uggla (26) hug after winning 5-0 against the Miami Marlins to keep a 14-game winning streak alive during a baseball game at Turner Field, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Tulis ….

(6) Atlanta Braves` GM Frank Wren is seen here with the team`s newly appointed manager Fredi Gonzalez . The incumbent succeeded Bobby Cox whose legend looms large over the Braves` organization . Gonzalez took control as the Braves` manager in 2010 and in subsequent seasons there has been a gradual improvement in the team`s play, along with newly acquired players becoming a part of the success . AP Photo /Matt Gray ….
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Failure to launch, the growing idiocy within sports and amongst the fans

Failure to launch, the growing idiocy within sports and amongst the fans

As Major League Baseball and the NFL find themselves at their lowest points in their recent histories, respectively. I can`t help but wonder, why the vast majority of fans remain so gullible and downright stupid ! In the NFL, in the past ten days we have seen the arrests of Aaron Hernandez for capital murder, with quite possibly additional charges likely to be added to his indictment . A second, New England Patriots` player, Alfonzo Dennard has been arrested for DUI and resisting arrest . To add the league`s already tarnished image , we now have two front office executives from within the Denver Broncos` organization also being arrested for DUI and failure to stop at the scene of an accident . Yet, within the midst of this all, there has been a failed response from the New England Patriots and that of the NFL hierarchy led by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell .

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From my own perspective, since Goodell`s ascent into the league`s highest executive position, I have found his tenure to be an unmitigated disaster ! His lack of communicative skills , autocratic rule and a failure to understand the rule of law are but a few of the reasons why I believe he is ill-equipped to carry out his role as commissioner . Granted , a great deal as changed within the game since he succeeded Paul Tagliabue , but it would appear that the incumbent has failed to learn anything from his predecessor. Meanwhile, the NFL team owners must be decrying the fact that Goodell has remained silent on the current state of affair within the league and recent arrests. Not that the owners such as Jerry Jones , Robert Kraft , Stanley Kroenke , Daniel Snyder , Jeff Lurie or their peers are prepared to speak openly on the growing discord and the behavioral issues of the players within the NFL . It is also asinine of the fans to try to make comparison in terms of percentages of arrests amongst players in the entirety of the league, in comparison to the populace as a whole . The athletes/players are in the public eye and under scrutiny constantly , and with twenty-four a day news cycle. We should expect that at every turn, athletes` movements and decisions are being constantly monitored .Last I looked, hardened or petty criminals, were not subject to the interests of the paparazzi or prime-time news or sports` broadcast outlets . The media , sports hierarchies and agents build up these athletes not necessarily for failure , but somehow the likes of Aaron Hernandez, Rae Carruth , Donte` Stallworth , Josh Brent and Leonard Little have found a way fail and at the same time bring their own images and reputation into disrepute . The NFL and may well continue to survive, but at what cost to its overall image ?

Now while the legal process must be played out concerning Aaron Hernandez , a great deal of conjecture , speculation and debate will begin as to the reasons why Hernandez has been implicated in a homicide and why was it that with all of the player`s prior troubles were all overlooked . This was not done , by the New England Patriots, but also the NFL, but more importantly by Urban Meyer , Jeremy Foley and the University of Florida . Surely, winning , at all costs , does not mean , you take under your wings, a person whose character as a juvenile was already under, suspicion, and question . Yet, these are the things, which are now being ignored at the professional level, as well as at the collegiate level of sports . Granted , one can subscribe to the fact, that everyone is deserving of a second chance and that we as a nation , look to give offenders another chance to redeem themselves . Somehow, this was all lost on Aaron Hernandez , and the athletics department of the University of Florida .

Baseball will now enter the second half of its season as of next Thursday , but it could be said that the first half of its season has been filled with one or two surprises . For a while, it looked as if the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking to surprise us all, by making a spirited run at winning the NL Central . Now, it looks as if Clint Hurdle`s Pirates are about to make that customary swoon into an oblivion, that we have all become accustomed to seeing over the past few seasons . Do I believe that this team has what it takes to take down the likes of the Milwaukee Brewers , Cincinnati Reds and St Louis Cardinals within their division ? Well, dependent upon what we have seen from the Pirates as of late , they may well have a better than even chance . However , given what we have all witnessed from the Pirates over the years , the answer in the end would have to be a resounding and emphatic no !

Funnily enough , Bruce Bochy , the manager of the NL: team for the All Star Game was placed in a position where the Pirates , who as of four days ago , had the best record in baseball , but the players from their team included on in the NL roster , were not amongst the active starters for the mid-season showcase event . Pardon me for saying this, but if having the best record in the league means not a goddamn thing. Then why all of the hoopla over this event, with the downright fastidiousness of the fans calling for players, but with no than thirty or forty games under their belts to be included in a voting process that is simply nothing more than a popularity event ? The only thing that make this whole premise all the more asinine, were if the if the rules applied to the reality show American Idol , were adopted for the mandates needed to be included on the All Star Game rosters . Better yet, why not adopt the rules of Miss USA Beauty Pageant and have the players answer questions of note on specified subjects ? Please note, foreign-born players, would not be subjected to stereotypical and racially motivated questions built around certain biases .

Yasiel Puig has been voted off the island , having not made the roster for the NL team . Now let the inane ranting begin , because fans want to see the young stars grace us with their presence and athletic abilities . Would this be the very same fans , who in spite of the mounting evidence of the past decade plus of rampant steroid use within the game , are now calling for changes to be made by baseball`s hierarchy ? Don`t get me wrong, while I have been impressed with the skill-set shown by Puig , as he has been on a tear with the Los Angeles Dodgers . Let`s not fool ourselves into thinking, were it not for the lackluster production from their more high-profiled stars , the player would not have been called up and become a starter this season . Furthermore , the moment Yasiel Puig goes into a distinct tailspin, do not be surprised if he were to be demoted . With a payroll , now in excess of $230 million . Don Mattingly and his managerial staff can ill-afford to have this season become a monumental bust . And it certainly is not the reason why managing partners and team owners , Mark Walter , Todd Boehly and Magic Johnson spent $2.15 billion to be seen as an afterthought at the season`s end . A roster, filled high-priced stars and the biggest story concerning the franchise this season, just happens to about a young Cuban exile .

Winners of eight of their last ten games , the Los Angeles Dodgers now stand a game and a half behind the division leading Arizona Diamondbacks (48-44) within the NL West , and a further 4 ½ games out of a wildcard berth within the National League. The division itself has been one of the poorer performers in all of baseball throughout much of the season . That is simply because, so many of its inhabitants, have hovered around the .500 mark , in terms of their respective records . If that is not an overall bad indictment of how mediocre the baseball being played has been during the first half of the season . Then clearly , the fans of the teams in question could very well be privileged with seeing a great deal worse during the second-half of the schedule . The Dodgers` next scheduled game will be against the Colorado Rockies at Dodgers Ballpark , in Los Angeles , California , this Friday , between the two divisional rivals .

Away from the Yasiel Puig drama , could there be anything more comedic and disastrous to find out that baseball as once again found itself involved in even more melodrama ? Steroids, rears and raises its ugly head , and again the story is nothing new . Ryan Braun , Alex Rodriguez and Nelson Cruz are three of the central figures involved in the latest escapades of “As The `roids Turn“ . This time fans, to top it all, a two-time drug offender , we should now feel privileged to know has returned to the game . Albeit , that Manny Ramirez , is now playing in the Minors, with a Texas Rangers` affiliate , and to date , Ramirez`s crimes have gone unpunished in true sense of the word . The next time I hear an idiot, calling for changes to be made within the game . The only thing I will be asking , is what fucking changes do you want to see made and by whom ? Because to date , all the said changes made in the game by Bud Selig with regard to a steroid testing policy , still has not deterred players from cheating .Selig has been hog-tied , by the MLBPA (Players` Union ) because of their unprecedented powers ___________ which seems to be something these so-called fans seem to be completely ignorant of, because of their plain stupidity. A fifty-game suspension , a one hundred-game suspension and even the threats of a lifetime ban , have not deterred players from cheating at the Major or Minor League Level and that is in spite of the claims made by Bud Selig .

Braun having met with league investigators concerning his alleged association with Anthony Bosch of South Florida supplements` company Biogenesis , has been totally uncooperative , refusing to answer any questions posed by the investigators . Yankees` third baseman Alex Rodriguez is due to meet at the New York headquarters of Major League Baseball on Friday to answer questions . It remains to be seen whether or not the player will be cooperative or like Braun , he will seek to not answer any questions . Given what we already know about the player , who has yet to suit up for the Bronx Bombers this season . My question is , will he be calling on his now infamous cousin Yuri Sucart , to see if he is willing to once again take one for the team , as in Team Alex . In 2010 , in that rather inane act of contrition, that was very unconvincing. Rodriguez went on to suggest that the steroids he used from 2001 to 2004 , were supplied by his cousin , who obtained the performance enhancing drugs from a pharmacy in the Dominican Republic. In fact all of the statements made by Alex Rodriguez on that day, were a complete lie . Yet in the midst of it all, the press and the New Yankees` front office bought into the tale of remorse and regret of the now disgraced player , never once conducting their own in-depth investigation into the matter. The same must be said of Bud Selig , who in the aftermath of it all , went on to suggest that the matter was close and that he wished Rodriguez well . Yep, that`s baseball`s commissioner for you , a complete bumbling buffoon and one monumental pain in the ass !

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Picture gallery .

At a time when neither the hierarchies of baseball or football has a real leg to stand on , it does seem strange that fans are now looking for ways to make sense of it all , while also seeking out answers as what can best be done to stop the irreparable damage that has already been caused . Consider the fact of the steps taken by the respective hierarchies over the years on the litany of issues faced . Then ask yourself the following , are either of the sports better off now , than they were perhaps five years or even a decade ago ? Both Roger Goodell and Bud Selig have a great deal of work to do in convincing the fans that they actually know what they are doing and that they are leading their respective sports along the right path ? Your thoughts on this and anything else you may well feel is pertinent to the subject matter ? Chime on in with a comment .

Slideshow and picture gallery details below .
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(1) FILE – In this Jan. 20, 2013 file photo, New England Patriots corner-back Alfonzo Dennard walks along the sideline during the second half of the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, Mass.Dennard has been arrested and accused of driving drunk in Lincoln where he once starred as a Nebraska defensive back. Lincoln police say 24-year-old Dennard was pulled over southeast of downtown Lincoln just before 2 a.m. Thursday, July 11, 2013. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(2) In a photo provided by the Douglas County (Colo.) Sheriff’s Department, Tom Heckert , the Denver Broncos’ new director of pro personnel, appears in a photo after he was arrested on June 11, 2013, and charged with driving under the influence and careless driving. Another Broncos executive, Matt Russell, was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of driving under the influence. AP Photo/Douglas County Sheriff’s Department …

(3) Matt Russell , the Director of Player Personnel for the Denver Broncos is seen here on Draft Day for the franchise as he and members of the scouting staff and front office personnel go over their draft determinations . Russell is the second of two Broncos` executives to ave been arrested in the past ten days for a DUI . Team owner Pat Bowlem and Head of Football Operations John Elway have yet to determine how both Matt Russell and Tom Hekckert ought to be punished for their alleged offenses . AP Photo / Tim Paul ….

(4) Pittsburgh Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez watches his single that scored a run , off Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Tommy Milone during the third inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, July 10, 2013. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar ….

(5) New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez runs after a hit during the first inning in his second rehab game with the Charleston River Dogs in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Rodriguez was put out on the play. Alex Rodriguez will meet league officials on Friday to discuss is association with Antony Bosch and his supplements` company Biogenesis . The player is said to be one of as many twenty prominent figures in the game named in documents , in which Bosch states he supplied with performance enhancing drugs , as well as, several banned substances prohibited by Major League Baseball. The MLB hierarchy has stated if there is substantive evidence to prove the players` guilt, then they are likely to be banned for as many as one hundred games . Rodriguez , the game`s highest paid player would likely miss the rest of the Yankees` regular season and the postseason . AP Photo/Chuck Burton …

(6) National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) greets NFL Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw (R) as Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig looks on before testifying to the US House Subcommittee on Commerce- Trade and Consumer Protection about the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports on Capitol Hill February 27, 2008 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee also heard testimony from officials from the US Olympic Committee , National Thoroughbred Racing and the US Anti-Doping Agency. Getty Images North America / Chip Smodevilla …..

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Hot chic pic of the day Sharon Leal .

Put Up Or Simply Just Shut The Fu#k Up !

Put Up Or Simply Just Shut The Fuck Up !

I’ll say this repeatedly when it comes to the analysis being provided within the sports’ world can be so ridiculous and no amount of asinine jingoism and xenophobia can hide my disdain for many of these commentators. The third major of the season on the PGA Tour The Open has no rhyme or reason when you have the likes of Andy North be ing so ridiculous with his analysis in insisting that the American players have what it takes to be dominant in the majors and win . When it mattered most other than Phil Mickelson no one amongst the American players thought to be in with a chance had the stomach to show what they’re capable of in terms of facing real adversity.

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The British Open is by far the most difficult of the four majors to win and where a player simply doesn’t rely on his talent alone but also with their mental abilities . Well with the workman like effort of Darren Clarke and along the way Ireland secure its second successive major after Rory McIlroy’s historic 2011 US Open win . The course at the R&A’s Royal St George at Lytham St Anne’s , Sandwich , Kent , has always proven to be a very difficult with its numerous obstacles on this par 72 course . And for the competing players who sought to tame the greens and fairways on the fourth and final day of the tournament , well let’s just say if you choose to play with fire then you are liable to get burned .

It would appear while being passionate about the game Andy North’s insight of it tends to be inflated and over the top ! I’d hate to think how he will try summarize Clarke’s win and what it now means to the game . What I do know, it simply will prove that America’s once dominant stranglehold on the game is now slipping . The world rankings would suggest that its upper echelons that tree now is more diversified than ever before . And with the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek , Atlanta , Georgia , being the lone major left on the Tour schedule it will be very interesting to see who steps up to walk the walk .

Are my eyes mistaking me ? But scouring the papers in search of the latest tidbit of new within the world of baseball I almost fell out of my seat. But low and behold, it would appear that the once lowly Pittsburgh Pirates are riding high within the NL Central and are out to prove that they’re capable of challenging the likes of the Cincinnati Reds , Milwaukee Brewers , St Louis Cardinals . And what might be even more scary is that Clint Hurdle’s team is playing above .500 ball , enjoying themselves and they could very well be on their way to posting their first winning season almost two decades . Strange as it may seem the eyes of the world now appear to placing a great deal of scrutiny on on this team assembled with a mixture of youth and some veteran experience . Hurdle and his coaching staff along with GM Neal Huntington have to be very pleased what they are seeing from this team and their play this season at PNC Ballpark in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania .

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HOUSTON – JULY 17: Center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated by Neil Walker (18) and Alex Pressley (44) after making a sliding catch on a fly ball off the bat of Clint Barmes (12) of the Houston Astros in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park on July 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

If there’s a star on this Pirates’ team then one has to consider it to be Andrew McCutchen the outfielder and the exuberant leader of this young roster . As eventful as the season seems to have be for the Pirates the very thought that the organization could possibly be a part of the postseason now seems to be dawning on their fans as what could be in the offing . From my own standpoint I think that the biggest surprise would be to finally post winning season for the first time in over decade and a half . If that were to happen then you cannot deny Clint Hurdle the NL Manager of the Year Award in having led the team to a winning record for the season . Now over the final two months of the season we may very see the true character of this team and how they acquit themselves down the final stretch of run of the season .

The Pittsburgh Pirates through a great deal of resolve have proved themselves worthy adversaries for their rivals within the NL Central as well as the rest of the National League at large . And though I do believe that the team in its present guise are very good, I simply do not believe that they are good enough to win the division ! However , with that being said with the undoubted character and it appears the maturity being shown , it does bode well for the future of the team. I still have my doubts as to the intention the team’s owner Bob Nutting and his partners as I view the senior partner as being nothing more than a predatory raider or more akin to a vulture hovering above the dead carcass of animal looking to gnaw away at its remains ! For years Nutting has literally complained and plead nothing but poverty as the team has struggled to be competitive on the field of play and also from a financial standpoint. And having bought the team from the McClatchy family every effort we were led to believe would be sought in turning this organization around.

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Bob Nutting has made sure that the team’s payroll has remained amongst the lowest in the league but while that facade has continued the team has profited greatly from the league hierarchy’s tax revenue sharing scheme . If only one could simply take Nutting at his word when he continues plead his case that the team isn’t making any money. But the benefits reaped from paring down the the salary of the team and then reaping the dividends of the revenue scheme leads me to believe that the owner has less than economical with the truth ! So much so that now with the team now playing with a great deal more zeal it could very well be that the organization will be forced to become a buyer in the free agency market if they are to prove to their fans that there intent is to win. And with that very deadline due on the 31st July it could determine what we are to expect from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As the NFL lockout continues and with both sets of lawyers for the league and union now intent on working out the legal verbiage for what will be a new 10 year CBA (collective bargaining agreement) , I would like to think that the owners within the NBA and league hierarchy are carefully taking note of the events taking place between the two sides. If it’s apparent that the NBPA is not at all interested in conceding to any of the requests being made of the by the league then the fans will bear witnesses to what very well be a very contentious battle .

Commissioner David Stern and his opposite number within the union executive director Billy Hunter are now looking for the league accede to their wishes. And once again both sides are showing their intransigence while at the same not wanting to back down in the eyes of the public. It seems abundantly clear both sides are underestimating the goodwill and patience of the fans and much like the idiocy shown by their counterparts in the NFL it may well take a prolonged lockout before we see both sides actually come to their senses.

From being a scoring champion to perennial All Star the fall from grace of Tracy McGrady simply has been astounding . Last season the player simply slipped further down in our conscience from that once formidable offensive threat to someone who if anything has become more of an enigma and conundrum all rolled into one. The player this upcoming season should there be one will be a free agent and he has stated that he feels that he can be a contributor to any team willing to take a chance on him.

In 2010 we saw Tracy McGrady as a member of the Detroit Pistons and as we all know the team had a miserable season . GM Joe Dumars had a contentious relationship with coach John Kuester and it has to be said with new owner , billionaire Tom Gores now in place I for one seriously doubt that the Pistons in their present guise will be a team to be reckoned with. Dumars’ own position within the Pistons’ front office could very well become somewhat tenuous as I firmly believe that the new ownership could very well be intent on bringing in someone who they feel that they are more likely to work alongside . Kuester was summarily fired by Dumars after last season’s disappointing record and lack of play all round.

At this stage of his career , as a fifteen year veteran in the league I seriously doubt that Tracy McGrady has that much left to offer a team , other than his experience . Most notably as a player his skills simply have declined to a point where he has become more of a liability rather than an asset to a team . And that to my mind simply doesn’t bode well for any franchise who might take a chance on the player .

The coaching position with the Detroit Piston still remains vacant and with Tom Gores , incoming as the new team owner , there’s no doubt that he will assess the situation and needs of the organization before coming to a decision as to who ought to succeed John Kuester . Joe Dumars may well feel that it is either time to step down or continue to work within the Pistons’ organization in conjunction with the new owner.

And so the Women’s World World Cup comes to an abrupt end with Japan defeating USA on penalties 3-1 in a shootout after regular and then overtime play. What gave anyone reason to believe why the US ought to be deemed favorites is completely beyond me ! They may well have the experience but in straight laced terms , there were not the best team in the tournament and certainly not based on their play ! If truth be known the Japanese having beaten the two best teams in the quarters and semi finals simply showed why they were deserving of this victory. And this is not meant to demean the achievements of the US team in this tournament . Emotions and the fact that with all that the tiny nation had been through in the aftermath of a natural disaster may well have made Japan an heartwarming favorite . But I believe them to be favorites coming into this game solely based on their play. Throughout the tournament you simply see the Japanese team raise the level of their play and wherein they just played to their strengths and showed that technically they were that much better than their opponents and most notably so in the final match of the competition .

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Bob Ley (left) , Brandi Chastain and Tony DiCicco discuss the role of nerves in the Final, and how this team fits into the legacy of US Women’s Soccer. Courtesy of ESPN ……..

As is usual in such cases ESPN brings in what they deem to be people with knowledge of the game of soccer . Granted , the game still has its detractors and supporters but in all honesty if they are bringing in analysts with insight , then let it be someone whose bloviated bias won’t be so pronounced that you simply are going to be resoundingly bored by their observations and commentary . And that has certainly been the case throughout their coverage of the competition. Brandy Chastain , Briana Scurry and Tony DiCicco simply have been an adulterated busts as commentators and analysts . No amount of impartiality could be shown by either of the trio even if their lives depended on it . Whether or not you are associated or have been associated with the teams as each have at least have the temerity to provide the viewers with something more than your blatant bias . With the loss came the perfunctory excuses as to their views as to why the US failed but their lack of candor in acknowledging the team on the day was simply outplayed leads me to believe that they viewed Japan as a minor hurdle in what they felt to be a victory that was guaranteed prior to the start of the game ! Don’t get me wrong if you’re going to state a reason why a team ought to win you have also got to be prepared to state the reasons why they could also fail . Something I feel that ESPN and their so called analysts seemingly forget whilst on air !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

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

Contact ….. rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Northern Irish golfer Darren Clarke poses with the Claret Jug on the 18th green the morning after winning the 140th British Open Golf championship at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, Kent, south-east England, on July 18, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Getty Images/ Peter Muhly ….

(2) SANDWICH, ENGLAND – JULY 17: during the final round of The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George’s on July 17, 2011 in Sandwich, England. Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images …..

(3) Scott Van Pelt (left) of ESPN is seen here with co-host Andy North a former PGA Tour professional and two time Major winner . Courtesy of ESPN/ABC ……

(4) HOUSTON – JULY 17: Right fielder Xavier Paul (38) of the Pittsburgh Pirates leaps but can’t make the catch on a home run by Humberto Quintero (55) of the Houston Astros in the eleventh inning at Minute Maid Park on July 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …

(5) HOUSTON – JULY 17: Center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated by Neil Walker (18) and Alex Pressley(44) after makeng a sliding catch on a fly ball off the bat of Clint Barmes (12) of the Houston Astros in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park on July 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …

(6) Former Pirates CEO Kevin McClatchy and Chairman of the Board Robert (Bob) Nutting discuss the “change of control” within the Pirates ownership. The McClatchy family who owned the team outright sold the concern to Bob Nutting and a consortium of investors in 2007 . Phil Rombach/ Pittsburgh Post Gazette ….

(7) In this April 10, 2011, file photo, then-Detroit Pistons coach John Kuester reacts to a call in the first half of the Pistons’ 112-101 win over the Charlotte Bobcats in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C. The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Kuester as an assistant under new coach Mike Brown, reuniting the duo who worked in Cleveland together. AP Photo/Chuck Burton ……

(8) Pistons’ owner Tom Gores is seen here with the team’s GM Joe Dumars at the Palace of Auburn Hills , Auburn Hills , Michigan, home to the basketball franchise . Gores purchased the team from the Davidson family whose patriarch Bill Davidson died in 2009. AFP/ Chris Gould ……

(9) Tracy McGrady (1) of of the Detroit Pistons drives against James Jones (22) of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on January 28, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Getty Images North America / Mike Ehrmann …..

(10) TOPSHOTS: Japan’s midfielder Homare Sawa (C) celebrates with the trophy and teammates after the FIFA Women’s Football World Cup final match Japan vs USA on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. Japan won 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after the final had finished 2-2 following extra-time. AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ

(11) FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – JULY 17: (L-R) Homare Sawa of Japan winning the adidas golden shoe award as the best player of the tournament and Abby Wambach of USA, winning the adidas silver golden shoe stand on the podium after being rewarded during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final match between Japan and USA at the FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Japan against USA 5-3 after penalty shoot-out. Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images ….

(12) FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – JULY 17: Tobin Heath of USA (3rd R) comforts Sahnnon Boxx of USA (R) after failed shooting a penalty during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final match between Japan and USA at the FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Japan won 5-3 after penalty shoot-out against the USA. Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images ……

(13) Bob Ley (left) , Brandi Chastain and Tony DiCicco discuss the role of nerves in the Final, and how this team fits into the legacy of US Women’s Soccer. Courtesy of ESPN ……..
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Alive And Kicking In Kansas Or Not ………. But Dorothy And Toto Are Still Popular

Alive And Kicking In Kansas Or Not ………. But Dorothy And Toto Are Still Popular

There’s no reason to think that the mindset of an organization is about to change merely because the ownership makes certain pronouncements . The idiocy of this all is that nothing has changed with the Kansas City Royals . Merely because within the AL Central they sit mid table with an under .500 record (22-28) simply means nothing . Based on the team’s most recent form and the fact that this cannot simply find any consistency much less form in their play , consistency some observers feel that the team and organization simply aren’t warranted of any criticism. Well I say this, if abject futility is something that you feel a team is obliged to offer their fans then you simply can’t understand the premise of objectivity much less being subjective .

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In their most recent game played against the Texas Rangers played at Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington , Texas . The Royals were simply out-matched and outplayed by a Rangers team that got the better of the Kansas City Royals and made this team look less than ordinary. I’ve no doubt that team owner David Glass wants the best for this team given the organization’s history but at this juncture I for one feel that this team is so far off from where they need to be that they won’t be challenging for any postseason honors anytime soon ! The Texas Rangers’ offense in this game simply was on fire hitting back to back to back to back home runs and the Royals starting pitcher Sean O’ Sullivan was made to look ordinary at best in the Royals’ 10-1 loss to the Texas Rangers .

At this juncture there’s not much more to say concerning the Royals other than to suggest that their time may well come but it certainly won’t this season or anytime soon . And that’s in spite of their minor league system , draft choices or their top 10 prospects that the organization obviously has a great deal of faith in. Now I might add that although baseball has seen a gamut of financial mismanagement from its hierarchy on down to the general managers and team owners . Please someone tell me how the hell that this travesty within the game can be allowed to continue ? But yet there are those who carry on as if baseball is in a healthy financial state ?

Is it me but the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista is making a mockery of the season in terms of having hit 20 home runs in a mere 50 games for the Blue Jays this season . If Bautista keeps up this pace then quite possibly the single season home run record could very well be in jeopardy . Granted , Barry Bonds’ 73 home runs is still looked upon as being tainted but herein lies the odyssey of this all MLB simply as well as Elias Sports Bureau recognizes this as being a legitimate statistic that’s duly recognized. Can’t say that I blame either organization because as things continue and the records are assailed they will still come under a great deal more suspicion !

In their last ten games the Boston Red Sox (28-22) are 7-3 and are a mere .03 of a percentage point behind the New York Yankees (27-21) within the AL East . The division itself now seems to be a three horse race with the Tampa Bays Rays also making their presence felt , that the AL East is liable to be so competitive and contentious that you’d be hard pressed to pick an outright favorite within the division at this juncture . Each of the three teams in question have been playing at a high level and the mere fact the teams also have their flaws makes the season within the division all the more suspenseful from the fans’ standpoint .

Adrian Gonzalez has had a terrific season thus far for the Red Sox and their initial start to the season now seems to be something of the past . Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona has to pleased with what he’s now seeing from his team and in particular now with Carl Crawford having hit his stride as a Red Sox player. GM Theo Epstein may well have had his doubters when he acquired both Crawford and Gonzalez but the general manager knew that having the duo would make this team a great deal more formidable. All that’s now needed is for their pitching to be far more consistent over the course of the season .

As the first half of the season I’d like to think that the second half will provide us with a great deal of suspense as things play themselves out ! The upcoming All Star Game being played at Chase Field in Phoenix , Arizona could very much be surrounded in a great deal of controversy with the state legislature having passed into law the state’s immigration bill ( SB 1070) which provides law enforcement with the power to request a suspect provide identification as to their immigration status. Now one might take umbrage at that proposal but Gov Jan Brewer (R-Az) felt the need to address this issue knowing full well that the passing of that law would have its consequences amongst its detractors as well as its supporters . With certain provisions in the bill having been struck down by the Appellate Courts at the request of President Obama of which task had been undertaken by the Justice Department . This new bill still gives statewide law enforcement the right to question a suspect as to their immigration status . Something of which many believe should be an issue dealt with by the Department of Homeland Security through the Immigration & Natural Service .

This immigration bill obviously hasn’t sat well with the Hispanic players around the league and I would certainly like to think that the players would be willing participants in the All Star Game but at the same time I understand that they may not favor the enactment of this law within the state of Arizona . This much I do know furor surrounding this emotional issue isn’t about to die down anytime soon , as both sides feel that they have something to prove . The Obama administration may well feel that the state of Arizona has overstepped their boundaries but I do feel that successive Presidential administrations down the years have simply shied away from having a comprehensive immigration bill on the books as a statute. Make of it what you will but simply ask yourself who benefits from the idiocy we are now seeing on both sides of political aisle ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

To the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have on those mentioned and how do you see the season panning out within Major League Baseball ? Simply chime in with a comment as you’d deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ………………………………

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Kansas City Royals’ Jeff Francoeur (21) tosses his bat after striking out against Texas Rangers relief pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama in the eighth inning of a baseball game on Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Arlington. Francoeur went 1-for-4 with no runs in the 10-1 Rangers win. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ….

(2) Texas Rangers’ Mike Napoli (25) is greeted at the dugout by Ian Kinsler, right, and the rest of the team following Napoli’s solo home run off Kansas City Royals’ Sean O’Sullivan in the second inning of a baseball game on Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ……

(3) Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Sean O’Sullivan (37) walks to the back of the mound as Texas Rangers’ Mitch Moreland, rear, rounds the bases following his solo home in the second inning of a baseball game on Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …..

(4) Toronto Blue Jays Aaron Hill swings at a ball from Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Harrell as catcher Ramon Castro and home plate umpire David Rackley look on during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Sunday May 29, 2011. The Blue Jays would defeat the White Sox 13_4 . AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young ….

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(5) Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista watches his three-run home run hit during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Toronto. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese …..

(6) Detroit Tigers’ Andy Dirks, right, scores against Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek from first base on a double by Brennan Boesch in the first inning of game two of a baseball double-header Sunday, May 29, 2011 in Detroit. AP Photo/Duane Burleson……

(7) Adrian Gonzalez (28) of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by teammate Carl Crawford (13) after Gonzalez scored in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs on May 22, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Before this series, the two teams haven’t played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. Elsa Martinez / Getty Images North America …

(8) Digger Phelps throws the ceremonial first pitch prior to the start of the Chicago Cubs’ baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ……

(9) Chicago Cubs starter Randy Wells wipes his face after Pittsburgh Pirates’ Ronny Cedeno’s three-run home run, during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Chicago. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….

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MLB Standings

MLB Scoreboard

MLB scores & results 29th May 2011

MLB Probable starters 29th May

Probable starters 30th May 2011

MLB Schedule 3 days at a glance

MLB News

NB: Can someone remind Digger Phelps that the Chicago Cubs play baseball and not college basketball ! His thoughts during his rendition of ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame ‘ and the thinking that Cubs could overcome a 10-0 deficit with three innings to go against the Pirates simply shows what an asshole this guy is at times ! The Cubs would actually be blanked 10-0 at Wrigley Field by the Pirates .

As of 28th May when this piece was originally written the MLB standings having changed .

Simply Follow The Money Honey

Simply Follow The Money Honey

Just as in the silly season with the PGA Tour where they have their non-sensical and end of season tournaments that’s merely another way for the Tour players to pad their already burgeoning bank accounts the same thing applies to MLB (baseball) as prospective restricted and free agents look to cement their bank accounts also. However whereas golf has a wealth of corporate sponsors eager to have their names associated with the sport although the game’s biggest draw _ Tiger Woods has fallen from grace somewhat ,the sport as such still resonates with the fans whenever he’s on the golf course wielding his clubs and not wielding it in the direction of some buxom nubile young female.

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Continue reading “Simply Follow The Money Honey”

Wall St , Main St Who The Fu_k Can Tell The Difference Nowadays ?

Wall St , Main St Who The Fu_k Can Tell The Difference Nowadays ?

It’s really asinine to hear these late sports’ radio talk show hosts regale us about how passionate they are abourt sports and how they view it as part of the fabric of society. Well if that means lying cheating and stealing then it now most certainly is . Nowhere perhaps more so than within the sport of MLB (baseball) where Bud Selig and his pals have simply shat upon the fans while trying to portray themselves as the paragons of virtue . And for the imbecile who has his own syndicated late night talk show on Fox Sports Radio please shut the fu_k up once and for all as you’re making a complete ass of yourself kissing and licking the ass of Selig as if it’s actually the nectar of the Gods ……………. for the unitiatated that’s wine.

Within the past forty eight hours it’s come to the public’s notice what sort of fraud has been perpetrated upon the public and barely a damn thing will be done neither by the hierarchy of baseball , or for that matter the so called journalists who actually cover the sport in great detail. One thing I can assure you won’t hear anyone from within the so called hallowed halls of ESPN or Fox Sports question the actions of the teams and the office of Bud Selig as it has come to our notice the actions and antics of Bob Nutting ( Pittsburgh Pirates) , Jefrey Loria ( Florida Marlins) and to a lesser extent the Tampa Bay Rays’ front office in their business dealings . We’ve had Congress via the House Oversight & Reform Committee subpoaena Selig and slew of inidividuals within the game and representatives from the MLBPA in order to question them upon the actions that took place during the steroid era. Those hearings have turned out to be a farce and a complete waste of time as nothing has been resolved other than the idiotic claim by Selig that the game now has the most stringent testing policy of the four major sports . When Selig has the mind and wherewithal to blow smoke up someone’s ass he certainly doesn’t confine himself by doing it with half measures . He simply proceeds to commit you to bend over and drive that ramrod right up your rectum for good measure. In light of that I’m now beginning to wonder with the revelations that the profits earned by the Marlins , Pirates and Rays. And with them each having been in receipt of not only monies by way of MLB’s tax sharing revenues but also from the very fact that state governmental agencies as well as municipalities____ have gone out of their way to make sure that these teams have been given overly beneficial tax cuts and exemptions whilst little tangible has been recouped by those agencies in return.

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Slide-show for your perusal .

It never ceases to amaze me when I hear certain individuals state that there ought not to be any government intervention when it comes to sports. Well to hell with that when the federal government has seen fit to give their governing bodies of all four major sports anti-trust exemption and then sit idly by when those hierarchies simply defraud the public and fans alike without doing anything . I beg the question why then did they seek to throw their full wrath against the likes of Bernie Madoff and the entire board of Enron , WorldCom Inc. and a slew of corproate entities who in effect through creative accounting were allowed to get away with bleeding billions out of the pockets of hard working employees and their shareholders. Granted, the SEC couldn’t find its ass from a whole in the ground . Simply another government agency that is about as much use as a piece of fecal matter stuck on the sole of one’s shoes. But when will the members in particular of the House Oversight Committee wake the hell up and actually do their jobs . Because as of now Bud Selig and the team owners cannot be trusted at all tell the truth much less be completely transparent in their dealings. The actions of the team in question though on the surface may appear to be legal but in some respects I do believe that were the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) brought in to take a comprhensive look at the books of not only MLB but aslo each of the thirty ballclubs there would be some eyebrows raised as to what has gone on and what the heirarchy of the game has most certainly allowed them to get away with .


Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Marlins’ profits came at taxpayer expense

By Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports

The swindlers who run the Florida Marlins got exposed Monday. They are as bad as anyone on Wall Street, scheming, misleading and ultimately sticking taxpayers with a multibillion-dollar tab. Corporate fraud is alive and well in Major League Baseball.

A look at the leak of the Marlins’ financial information to Deadspin confirmed the long-held belief that the team takes a healthy chunk of MLB-distributed money for profit. Owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson for years have contended the Marlins break even financially, the centerpiece fiscal argument that resulted in local governments gifting them a new stadium that will cost generations of taxpayers an estimated $2.4 billion . They said they had no money to do it alone and intimated they would have to move the team without public assistance.

In fact, documents show, the Marlins could have paid for a significant amount of the new stadium’s construction themselves and still turned an annual operating profit. Instead, they cried poor to con feckless politicians that sold out their constituents.

The ugliness of the Marlins’ ballpark situation is already apparent, and the building doesn’t open for another 18 months. Somehow a team that listed its operating income as a healthy $37.8 million in 2008 alone swung a deal in which it would pay only $155 million of the $634 million stadium complex. Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County agreed – without the consent of taxpayers – to take $409 million in loans loaded with balloon payments and long grace periods. By 2049, when the debt is due, the county will have paid billions.

Most harrowing is the takeaway that baseball’s biggest welfare case could have funded a much greater portion of the ballpark. In 2009, when the Marlins started spending some of their profits on their portion of the stadium, they still had an operating income of $11.1 million. The team fought to conceal the $48.9 million in profits over the last two years because the revelation would have prompted county commissioners to insist the team provide more funding. Loria, an art dealer with a net worth of hundreds of millions, wouldn’t stand for that. He wanted as much public funding as possible – money that could’ve gone toward education or to save some of the 1,200 jobs the county is cutting this year.

Surely Samson was joking when he called the leak of the Marlins documents and those of five other teams “a crime.” No, the real misdeed occurred when the head of a professional sports franchise misled the public in order to secure money that wasn’t his. When Forbes in 2007 reported the Marlins had the highest operating income in baseball, Samson denied the team profited, saying: “Very often the mistake that’s made is they look at revenue sharing numbers and the team’s payroll and take the difference and see profit without looking at our expenses.”

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Click on the above link to read this article in its entirety .
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Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria and his stepson , team President David Sampson seems aggrieved that documentation has come out detailing the profits of the ballclub and the fact that they have misled the Miami Dade County Government as well as the city of Miami Government with regard to financial well being. And all of this was done during and prior the leadup of the vote that would clear the way for a new ballpark to be built for the team on the land where the Orange Bowl Stadium was situated in downtown Miami. Whilst this has gone we’ve also had the rancourings of Nutting whose simply tried to abate the growing resentment of his actions and that of the Pirates’ front office . Their lackadaisical approach to what Nutting believes is a step in the right direction as to the competitiveness of the team belies what has taken place since he took over the organization. He and his syndicate members have pocketed tens millions of dollars while the team still remains the laughing stock of baseball and around the entire league . As many of you will no doubt know the monies given to the teams via thei league’s tax sharing revenue scheme is meant for the organizations to bolster their rosters in order to place a competitive product on the field of play. In all honesty can anyone actually attest to that the fact that is what has been done by the Pirates who play their games at PNC Park ? In recent years the same could be said of the Marlins , albeit that they have won two World Series titles in the past fifteen years.

Now Bud Selig could well plead to the fact that he simply knew nothing of what has taken place and the actions of the teams therei . But given what we’ve seen from Selig and his handling of the steroid and the total intransigence shown by him and then union Executive Director Donald Fehr . Once again has to ask if he actually knew nothing then he should’ve made it his business to know . It’s not as if the actions of the owners have been completely above board and at the same time the naivete shown by the respective governmental agencies at all levels has to come into question. I mean who the hell nowadays simply takes the word of multi-millionaire or billionaire franchise owner as if their word is gospel ? Only a complete idiot one would hazard a guess but then again simply look at the actions of the present administration and that of both Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke ? Inaction on both their parts and that of what many believe be collusion on the part of Congress and the US Senate has led many to believe that the financial meltdown could have been avoided had both legislative chambers not been in the pockets of the lobbyists of Wall St and beyond. The same can be said of Selig and his interaction with the owners around baseball. How can anyone tell the difference anymore with regard to the actions of those on Wall Street and that of the actions of the owners within MLB ? Can you actually say that there’s no difference between the two given the most recent revelations made ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the revelations that are now coming to light as to how many of the teams within baseball big and small actually now derive their profits ? Do you believe that in any way the government ought to intervene ? Or do you believe that this is best handled by the hierarchy of baseball and the team owners themselves ? Simply chime on in with a comment as to your own thoughts on the matter either way .

Alan aka tophatal …….. 🙂

Sasha Alexander

Actress Sasha Alexander formerly of the CBS hit series “NCIS” and now can be seen on TNT’s new crime drama “Rizzoli & Isles” in which she co-stars alongside Angie Harmon formerly of NBC’s Law & Order