A year to savor …

A year to savor

In the blink of an eye the remnants of the last few monents of 2014 disappeared before our very eyes and from a sporting standpoint it was mainly a big disappointment from my own point of view. Nothing said or suggested mediocrity more than a regular NFL season so embarrassing , with the incompetence of a litany of teams. Major disappointments came thick and fast , along with the customary off-season firings and walkouts by either front office executives of head coaches. Jim Harbaugh now rides off into the sunset , assured that he will be welcomed with open arms by the Michigan faithful as he seeks to resurrect their fortunes and status among College Football’s fraternity. San Francisco 49ers’ front office executives may well have parted ways with their former head coach by mutual agreement , but if the rumors are to be believed , Harbaugh’s relationship with GM Trent Baalke , CEO , Chairman & team owner , Jed Yorke had deteriorated to such an extent , communications between the executives and Jim Harbaugh were simply cordial , professional , and nothing more than that. Off the field issues may well have also played a part in Harbaugh’s downfall beyond the complacency shown by the team throughout the course of the season, with the players simply lacking leadership and Colin Kaepernick seemingly more concerned with his growing public image and own self-importance , rather than his performing at a very high level in comparison to last season.

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The San Francisco 49ers failed to make the postseason and barely challenged within the NFC West , where they finished a disappointing third within their division, behind the Seattle Seahawks as the newly crowned divisional champions and perhaps the NFC’s surprise team of the season the Arizona Cardinals who finished in second place. Where San Francisco now goes from here will be solely dependent upon the choice made by Trent Baalke as he goes in search of a successor to fill the vacant head coaching position with the NFL franchise. There will be a litany of candidates qualified and not so qualified looking to be interviewed for the position. It’s safe to say, the question now becomes about who wants to be out on the West Coast coaching a team with a great deal of talent, but now lacking direction and a real sense of purpose ?

Having won their sixth AFC East title in succession the New England Patriots will now be looking to cement their status as the best NFL franchise over the past decade and a-half. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady remain the main building blocks of this franchise , but the Patriots’ long-term future will soon be about the younger players on the roster and the organization seeking a successor to Belichick , at the time of his choosing to ride off into retirement. As the number one seed in the AFC , New England has a bye in the first round of the postseason . Their closest rivals within the conference the Denver Broncos squandered their chance of positioning themselves to take that mantel by falling apart in the last few weeks of the regular season . Hopes of a Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning match-up is still very much on the cards, if both of these teams play to their true potential during the postseason. That very premise could take place in the AFC championship game.

The wildcard round of this postseason has some very intriguing games on the schedule, where the match-up between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys takes center-stage among the NFC contests . In the AFC , the ongoing rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers takes off on another chapter of what has been often described as one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL and certainly one, which tends to provide a great deal of drama , if not explosive outcomes . John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin will also get the chance to match wits against each other as the opposing coaches on the sidelines .

The drama surrounding this postseason will not be lost on the fans or the broadcast outlets alike , as they seek to pour over the events as they unfold. One can only hope the fans are not disappointed by the games or the sense of foreboding as things unfold over the course of this weekend.

Money is aid to be the ” root of all evil “ and that definitely would be the case in the world of politics, where the politicians’ greed is not only furthered by their avarice , but also by their sheer contempt of the electorate and the very fact that they believe themselves to be above reproach . That same analogy I believe can be used in the world of baseball (MLB) , where during this off-season we have seen some major moves in the free agency marketas well as a number of teams striving to either deplete themselves of talent or take on the pretext of proving to their fans they are ready to compete .

For the past two seasons the Los Angeles Dodgers have been the biggest spending team in Major League Baseball , making an outlay in excess of a half-billion dollars ($500,000,000) during the time span in question. Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff have proven to be adroit during the regular season, but in 2013 as well as last year the ball-club failed to meet the expectations of their fans and the front office , with abysmal performances during the playoffs . The decision by Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten to hire Andrew Friedman to become the Head of Baseball Operations indicates the franchise has decided to change their philosophy somewhat, when it comes to acquiring talent and not overpaying , but taking into account, there are several players on the current roster earning in excess of $15 million a year , it is hard to see how anyone can take the Dodgers seriously as they seek to turn over a new leaf.

Don Mattingly and his team capitulated to the St Louis Cardinals in this past season’s NLDS , a series where it was inexplicable to surmise how bad the Los Angeles Dodgers were said to be on all counts . The Dodgers’ offense may well have been anemic , but their pitching by comparison was nowhere to be seen . As the Dodgers embark upon their off-season sojourn before they begin their preparations for Spring Training and then the 2015 regular season , there will be some new faces as part of the roster , after the departure of several familiar figures who were a staple of the club over the past few seasons. One of those departing faces was Matt Kemp , now a member of the San Diego Padres .

It would be fare to suggest the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants provided baseball fans with one of the more memorable World Series in recent years , with the perceived underdogs the Royals looking usurp the NL franchise . Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy and the team triumphed in a thrilling seven-game series downing the Kansas City Royals in a climactic final game . In a pitching performance for the ages Madison Bumgarner brought back memories of the postseason performances of pitching legends Sandy Koufax and Don Larsen . It seemed only fitting Bumgarner was named World Series MVP . GM Brian Sabean during the off-season replenished the team’s roster with several acquisitions likely to make the ball-club stronger at several key positions while also knowing there are a number of players within their farm system ready to make that leap up to the Majors .

The “stain” which remains part of baseball’s folklore, beyond the ” Black Sox ” scandal will forever be the “steroid era ” and the fact Bud Selig failed miserably in reining the abusers , who sought to cheat the fans and the game of baseball by smearing some of the most historic feats within the sport. With the departure of Roger Clemens and others associated with that sordid chapter , baseball still has the remnants of Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun still within our midst , albeit , both players have served league mandated suspensions for their egregious transgressions with somewhat asinine acts of contrition on both their parts. Rodriguez will make his long awaited return to the New York Yankees and to a ball-club in the midst of change with the retirement of Derek Jeter after a two-decade long career with the ball-club. In the throes of this upheaval GM Brian Cashman will be looking to several of the veterans on the current roster to assume the mantel of leadership , the role Jeter assumed for several years as well as being the team captain. If Cashman now believes Rodriguez can fit the role , then he is sadly mistaken, along with the belief the player can provide the productivity needed to challenge within the AL.

New beginnings and a resurgence of a franchise still seeking its first NBA title. This was meant to be the storyline for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season . The return of LeBron James brought back Cavaliers’ fans to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio in droves. The four-time League MVP brings with him his productivity and an all-round game that has become the envy of the league and erstwhile fans alike. James’ departure from the recent two-time defending NBA champions the Miami Heat shook the foundations of the organization and simply took everyone off guard including his former former teammates. Miami’s failure in last seasons NBA Finals indicated a flawed team whose over-reliance on LeBron , was simply overwhelming the player during that Finals’ series. That heartbreaking loss may well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to his decision to leave the Miami Heat.

As The Prodigal Son, whose return was welcomed with open arms by the organization led to the upsurge in ticket sales , increased merchandize revenue and the appreciation in the value of the Cavaliers. This has been the impact LeBron James on the NBA and the franchise. Beyond his salary , the player’s annual income along with corporate endorsements places him among the upper echelons of international athletes and the top-paid NBA star . Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin sought to bring in also ,a wealth of experience by way the team’s roster . Point guard Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are meant to be the complementary foils guiding the ambitions of the team this season. A rookie head coach , David Blatt and his coaching staff have struggled to gain any real semblance of consistency the Cavaliers this season .
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Cleveland’s record (18-14) places the team five games behind the the Central Division leading Chicago Bulls (23-10) . Now with the reported loss of LeBron James for two to three weeks due due to a lingering injury , this will likely put a severe dent in Cavaliers’ divisional title hopes as well as the possibility of a high conference seeding within the Eastern Conference. James in the Cavaliers’ lineup offers the team the best chance of winning , rather than his being seated on the bench . The Cavaliers without LeBron James in the lineup after the announcement of his injury , saw the team take on the Charlotte Hornets in a road game at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte , North Carolina . All hands were on deck for the Cavaliers as Kevin Love led the team in scoring as they defeated the Hornets 91-87 .

Next up for Love and his teammates will be a home game on the January 4th , when they clash with Dirk Nowitzki and Rajon Rondo of the Dallas Mavericks at the Quicken Loans Arena . This contest could one of the highlights of the games scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Dallas comes into the contest on a four-game winning streak , with Rondo’s acquisition having set the tone for the team , as they move forward . The trade of the former Boston Celtics’ point guard immediately provides an uplift for the Mavericks and gives the a facilitator who is among the best in the NBA and who will also provide them with a very good defensive presence. Mavericks’ Mark Cuban’s insistence and pursuance of this deal that acquired Rajon Rondo , has certainly made the team a lot better and an almost certainty of being among the top contenders for the number one seed within the Western Conference this season. It would take a rather foolish individual to bet against this team and its pursuit of a second title, to add to the crown won in 2011 .

I’ll fight the good fight in support of a sport , just as long as I feel it will be of benefit to the masses ! Yet for all of the showmanship and acknowledged popularity of Floyd ‘ Money’ Mayweather , I have gotten to the stage , where I find the sport of boxing to be a complete comedy of errors and tragic parody of a once proud sport , which captured the fans’ imagination and held it drawn with its excitement and intensity !. No longer can it be case or where anyone can try to justify it, as still being truly relevant. Other than the world welterweight champion, there is not really a major draw in spite of the fact his greatest rival just happens to be an aging Manny Pacquiao . These two fighters for one reason or another have never sought to face each other at the prime of their careers , instead , often choosing to face lesser opponents along the way , to pad their statistics and the pursuit of multi-million dollar payday .

Mayweather and Pacquiao have passed the pinnacle of their respective careers and the legitimacy they each now seek will not be determined by final contest between the two , because in essence it will prove nothing at all. A proposed mega-fight would likely gross well over $200 million in revenues worldwide with each fighter guaranteed a minimum of $50 million apiece , but in the end of what profit would be to a sport now dying on its knees when there are no other high-profiled boxers on the horizon with the charisma or talent to be seen as the face of the sport and its long-term future? Multiple international governing bodies preside over boxing and there is no real uniformity other than the mandatory twelve rounds of boxing for a world title fight at the international and national levels dependent upon the allegiances of the national boards of the sport worldwide.

The alphabetical melange of who’s who , and the pecking order of the IBF, IBO , WBA , WBC and WBU created this actual nonsense within the sport of boxing and even now , with the pursuit and support shown by current WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman for a unified world champion primarily within the heavyweight division . The appeal for such distinction is lost on the fans and the litany of claimants of the various versions of the crown in question . It has been almost two decades since boxing had a undisputed heavyweight champion , with the last claimant being Lennox Lewis and it should be noted there is not an undisputed champion in any of the weight categories in the sport of professional boxing . Yet , this is the sport Senator John McCain (R-Az) , by his rationale believes relevant , while denouncing its upstart rival the genre of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) as being barbaric , with their being no rules or etiquette ? McCain’s idea of barbarism should be considered a joke , while he ought to be looking at his own legacy within the Congress and its lack of productivity over the last six years .

The rise in prominence of the UFC and the sport of MMA over the past decade and half , ought to be seen as how to brand , manage and package sport , where its reach is now global and in many ways has surpassed the branding and marketability of both the NBA and NFL. NFL combined . Dana White , UFC President along with the Fertitta brothers own the UFC and its affiliated concerns , a company with an estimated value of over $2 billion ($2,000,000,00) , making the three primary partners in this enterprise , extremely wealthy individuals . Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta , were already self-made billionaires , having made their fortunes in the casino and hospitality and hotel management business . Now their primary goal is to expand the growth of the sport globally , which they have been extremely successful in doing , with a stable of fighters from around the world signed to their company , as well as having affiliated associations across the globe.

In 2015 , UFC will ring in its schedule (UFC 182) with its first major title bout of the year, when Light Heavyweight Champion , Jon ‘Bones’ Jones makes a defense against challenger Daniel Cormier . Jones , the division’s best fighter is making his record ninth defense of his title. On January 3rd , 2015 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas , Nevada , UFC will unveil UFC 182 with an under-card of several terrific bouts, along with the marquee title title fight , with Jones’ Light Heayweight crown being on the line. Jon Jones , can be seen as the protagonist , with Cormier viewed as the antagonist , but there is the feeling the titleholder may well be looking to play ” the villain ” of the piece , because of the apparent ‘bad blood’ between he and the challenger , Daniel Cormier. Undoubtedly, Jones has become one the biggest names within the sport , with perhaps only Ronda Rousey , UFC’s most prominent female fighter, Cain Velasquez , Anthony Pettis and Jose Aldo among active fighters , considered to be extremely popular among the genre’s mass appeal of fans . The title fight itself , could be a contest, where Jones’ experience will out-match the simple bravado of his challenger Daniel Cormier . A thrilling five rounds of combative MMA should tell us a great deal about the champion and his opponent on Saturday night .

Tiger Woods remains the biggest draw in the world of golf, but he is no longer the best player in the game . I once read an asinine comment by someone, who determined because of his drawing power , it made him not only the best but also the only relevant person on the PGA Tour . Granted his having won his own version of the Tiger-Slam and having a career Grand Slam (the feat of winning golf’s four major tournaments [ US Open, PGA Championship , The British Open & US Masters]) gives him that aura of actual invincibility. Quite rightfully so, but over the past eighteen months , Woods’ game has been on the decline , he knows it and only an idiot would try and suggest otherwise , much like the buffoon and his comments concerning the former world number one ranked golfer. Tiger Woods’ legacy is unquestioned, but my question____ is beyond his off the course sexual peccadilloes , where he does he stand on social activism, his well-staged and manufactured philanthropic efforts ? Tiger Woods remains a damn hypocrite of the highest order, while trying to be a role model to young kids . Far too many of today’s professional athletes as well as those within the collegiate level, fit that very mold. Unfortunately, the media and fans alike, with a great deal apathy and naivete’ would prefer the salaciousness and candid sordid details , rather than witnessing great feats of athletic achievement . Never-mind the fact , when many of these athletes are continually caught in a lie, they will repeatedly seek to apportion blame elsewhere.

This upcoming season on the PGA Tour , it will be interesting to see whether or not Tiger Woods can wrestle away the number one ranking from Rory McIlroy , by far the greatest challenger to Woods’ once dominant presence on the PGA Tour . Phil Mickelson remains an afterthought , because more often than not , his challenges to Woods have ” petered out”, because of his missed opportunities. With over $265 million in official prize money being offered on the Tour(PGA Tour) , golf has now become one of the most lucrative way of earning a nice income from professional sports, without taking into account the enormous bye product of commercial endorsement from national and international corporate behemoths .

At the peak of his earning power, Tiger Woods earned well in excess of $100 million annually , now that figure is down to $65 million , still not bad for a player whose last Grand Slam Major victory came by way of the 2008 US Open in La Jolla, California ,. Yes, I can see why Woods is still considered a draw , with that victory , six years later , still toiling for his fifteenth Grand Slam victory , while Jack Nicklaus’ giant shadow and his own accomplishments in the Majors are simply glossed over by idiots and a buffoon with little knowledge of the sport or the African-Americans who created the legacy for Woods’ access to the game. Far be it for me to suggest this @sshole , has any damn idea what he is talking about to begin with .

Billy Horschel (three career wins) was feted , having won the FedEx Cup (2014) and with it a $10 million annuity as prize , but even with his consistency on the Tour in 2014 , the player was never a fixture or a major threat in any of the Grand Slam Majors , but yet I am being asked to be transfixed by character-less stereotypical androids who now make up the bulk of the players on the PGA Tour ? I think not !

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Picture gallery .

What sporting event of 2015 is likely to have you closely watching a performance or set of performances during this year ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery below.

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(1) Ryan Lindley (14) is here along the sidelines speaking with teammate Drew Stanton during a brief interval. A decision will be made by head coach Bruce Arians as to which of the quarterbacks is liable to be the starter for their wildcard round game to be played against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte , North Carolina , on Saturday, 3rd January , 2015 in the first of the two scheduled wildcard contests to be played on the day. Neither of the Panthers’ quarterbacks has any postseason experience playing in the NFL . The visiting Cardinals are deemed to be the slight favorites in the NFC contest. AP Photo / Keith Mitchell …

Ryan Lindley(14) of the Arizona Cardinals passes in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ersat Levi’s Stadium on December 28 , 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images North America/ Ezra Shaw ..

(3) Former San Francisco 49ers’ head coach Jim Harbaugh is seen here on the dais having just been introduced as the new head coach for the Michigan Wolverines program by AD Dave Brandon.Harbaugh and San Francisco formally parted ways by mutual agreement , but it is rumored the head coach had outlived his welcome within the organization because of his brash behavior . The Forty Niners for their part, thanked the head coach for his contributions and the resurrection of the team’s fortunes during his tenure . AP Photo / Jenny Hart ..

(4) Tom Brady (12) and Rob Gronkowski(87) of the New England Patriots react after Gronkowski caught a touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 14, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. . Getty Images / Jim Rogash ..

(5) Los Angeles Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten , left is seen here team manager Don Mattingly ,center and senior managing partner Mark Walter . The organization in the past two years have committed in excess of $500 million on payroll , only see the team squander their chances in the postseasons of 2013 and 2014. In both cases , the Dodgers fell in those hurdles to defeat the hands of the St Louis Cardinals . The decision was made to bring in Andrew Friedman to head up the Baseball Operations of the Dodgers with Ned Colletti given a lateral move within the front office, on becoming a special assistant and adviser to Kasten. Some changes have been made to the playing personnel , where fan favorite Matt Kemp was traded to the San Diego Padres. It is unlikely this will be last major move made by the Dodgers during the off-season . AP Photo / Ted Ross ..

(6) LeBron James(23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a call by the referees during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 30, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. James will be sidelined for a prolonged period believe to be between to two three weeks as he seeks to recuperate from an injury , leaving his teammates to pick up the slack as they contest several games in the upcoming weeks. LeBron James is not the only major NBA star to be felled by an injury , with Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks also out , adding to the Knicks’ turmoil this season and their moribund record . Getty Images /Kevin C Cox …

(7) Considered the best fighter of his generation and the linear champion within the welterweight division , Floyd Mayweather has never really shown the inclination to meet Manny Pacquiao in the ring in spite of his denials . At the same time, a proposed mega-fight between the two fighters has never taken place , because of disputes in how the purse would be split or the antagonism created by Pacquiao’s main promoter in the US Bob Arum and his continued disdain for Mayweather. In 2015 , the fight many have yearned for may well be scheduled but do not hold your breath waiting for the event to actually take place . Mayweather is likely have at least two fights placed on his schedule as he seeks to fulfill his $200 million fight-deal with cable broadcast outlet Showtime (CBS subsidiary) . AP Photo / Matt Engle ….

(8) Jon Jones ,left is seen here facing his challenger Daniel Cormier for the UFC Light Heavyweight title fight due to take place at the MGM Grand Casino & Hotel Resort Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada on the 3rd January, 2015. The main marquee event is the headliner for UFC 182. Range Finder Inc . @ all rights reserved copyrighted material …

(9) From left to right , background UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer , Jon Jones , UFC President Dana White , Daniel Cormier and comedian and fight analyst Joe Rogan . There have repeated physical altercations between Cormier and Jones with the insults hurled at an alarming speed between the two. Whether or not this is being done to publicize the bout remains to be seen but UFC is expecting a high PPV audience for the clash . …

(10) Jack Nicklaus, left , an eighteen-time Major winner also having won a carer Grand Slam of golf’s four major tournaments (The Masters British Open, US Open and PGA Championship ) is seen here alongside Tiger Woods . The two are considered to be greatest players of their respective generations and two of the greatest players in the history of the game. Woods seeks to emulate his idol by surpassing his historic tally of eighteen Majors wins . Yet his record pales in comparison to Nicklaus not solely because of fourteen wins of the four Grand Slam tournament but the mere fact Woods has not had as many top-five or top-ten finishes in each of the four tournaments in question , albeit, Tiger Woods has yet to compete in as many Slam tournaments over the course of his career. AP Photo / Eric Messner .. ….

(11) Rory McIlroy the world number one in the official World Golf rankings is already a three-time Major tournament winner, with only the The Masters yet to be added to his resume’ of Grand Slam victories . McIlroy joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to have won the first their first three Grand Slam tournaments before turning the age of twenty-five.. The Irish player is seeking to improve on his triumphant 2014 season, where he topped the PGA Tour and European Tour winners’ list in official prize money earnings . Getty Images Europe /. Henrik Thorstvaldt .. …

(12) Billy Horschel is seen here at the 2014 Valero Texas Open at the TPC in San Antonio , Texas . The tournament was won by Steven Bowditch. Horschel would go on to claim the FedEx Cup prize and with it a $10 million paycheck (annuity) . Billy Horschel has three PGA Tournament victories to his name and over $8.2 million in career prize money earnings. AP Photo / Eric Parsons ….

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Tophatal

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Related articles : Basketball (NBA) , Boxing , PGA Tour (Golf) , Football (NFL) , MLB , UFC , MMA

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Had Your Dose Of Sports Over The Weekend ?

Had Your Dose Of Sports Over The Weekend ?

Well for myself the sporting weekend transitioned itself around Rory McIlroy simply decimating a world class field at the US Open at Congressional Golf Club in Bethesda , Maryland . The margin of victory not withstanding a resounding 8 stroke victory by McIlroy over his closest rival Jason Day . Now the whole world will want to know what awaits McIlroy and how would he have fared had Tiger Woods been in the field ? From my own perspective given Woods’ recent run of form I doubt that the result would have been any different ! Suffice to say while Woods remains the yardstick against which the current contemporaries are to be adjudged , in reality the Tiger of old isn’t currently around .

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Things are now beginning to look rather bleak for the Florida Marlins . In the month of June this team has won only one of their last eighteen games and the fact that manager Edwin Rodriguez simply walked away from the organization and team having tendered his resignation simply indicates how dire things had become for the NL East franchise . Now with eighty year old Jack McKeon being asked by GM Larry Beinfest to assume control of this beleaguered team I am not so sure that things can be drastically turned around .

Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress soon have his freedom having been incarcerated at the taxpayers’ expense . And for the player who now looks to resurrect his NFL career it will be interesting to see what teams if any take an open interest in the former Pro Bowl wideout . Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has made it his desire to have Burress become a teammate of his with the Eagles . But I doubt that either team coach Andy Reid or GM Joe Banner are seeking to make another reclamation project out of another troubled NFL player . Vick in spite of his successes last season still has a long way to go to prove to everyone that he’s actually back to his very best as a player but even more so as a leader .

There’s no doubt in my mind that Burress still has something to offer to a team but given the player’s predilection to self implode , if I were a general manager much less an NFL team owner his joining my organization would have to be based upon his demeanor and actual acknowledgement that he has now changed for the better as a human being . Beyond that not much else would really matter other than him being productive on the field of play .

There’s no doubt in my mind that the rules of the NFL are there for a reason especially where it involves the players concerning gambling. It is now being widely reported that as many twenty five NFL players are known to be investors in a gaming concern in Alabama . The owner of the casino Country Crossing —- Ron Gilley is under indictment by the Justice Department along with two lobbyists for offering state legislator millions of dollars in bribes in order to facilitate the approval and building of the casino in Dothan , Alabama .

The NFL’s rules are very clear on this matter wherein it states that current NFL players are barred from being involved in any type of gaming concern from a business standpoint . In doing so it creates the perception that in some way that there could be a conflict of interest and any type of impropriety that a player or players whilst on the field of play could effect the outcome of game . Well given the fact that the league as such welcomes to the actions of gamblers betting on their games I can’t see how they feel that an NFL player hasn’t been wagering on the games where they are already participants ! It would be naïve to think otherwise , albeit that no one has been caught but I think it is pretty safe to say that the players around the NFL have their own proclivities when it comes to games of chance . Tens of millions of dollars are wagered each year on the Superbowl and I am quite sure that there have been a number of players around the NFL that have profited directly or indirectly from placing a bet on the game . The NFL hierarchy if they do decide to conduct an investigation into this matter than the ramifications could well be very serious for the players involved at the center of this drama .

I’ve never been one to get completely enamored over the glare of the limelight or the very fact that some athletes tend to think of themselves as being bigger than the game. But in light of the recent meltdown of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals and the mere fact that the team’s All Star LeBron James has began to chastise the fans for his and his team’s own shortcoming has me now believing more so than ever before that this is the monster that David Stern has created ! Instead of the NBA being a team sport it has now become a heartless ego driven endeavor where upon it is the stars/ marquee players that we are meant to be enthralled by rather than the teams themselves .

If James’ behavior and that of his teammate Dwyane Wade wasn’t enough of an indicator of that then I for one don’t know what is ! ! Self aggrandizement and the mocking of an opponent who at the time was said to be ill shows the lack of class in the two aforementioned players . But yet team President Pat Riley continued to bitch and whine when any criticism was being leveled at the team or his famous duo of stars . In the end nothing could have been much sweeter than seeing the Miami Heat juggernaut being derailed by the Dallas Mavericks and Finals’ MVP Dirk Nowitzki . When all said and done the better and far more deserving team proved to be victorious and laying to rest the myth that having a trio of superstars elicits a win of a title . Teams win titles , where the endeavor is meant to about showing cohesiveness and a genuine will to win and nothing resembling that was ever on display by the Miami Heat throughout the NBA Finals and their series loss to the Dallas Mavericks !

I was never enamored with the NHL and I don’t think I ever will be ! In light of the Boston Bruins having won the Stanley Cup in defeating the Vancouver Canucks . The display by Canucks’ fans in the aftermath of the team’s game seven loss was enough of an indicator that it simply doesn’t matter where the fans are from their baser instincts are always the same ! Act like a Neanderthal and you’ll viewed as such ! The fans went on a postgame riot , looting , burning cars and damaging businesses in the city of Vancouver that in the could run into several million dollars worth of damages . But what might be even more ludicrous may well have been the public statement issued by the city’s police chief , Jim Chu in stating that the incidents and acts of violence resulting in over 100 arrests and 150 people injured were merely the acts of the criminal element with nothing better to do . I wonder if Chu’s mindset would still have been the same had there been far more serious injuries resulting with someone’s death ? Isn’t it bad enough that his city was shown in a thoroughly bad light after these riots , never mind the fact that the game’s image has been tarnished by the events that took place ?

Granted, no sport is ever without its bad elements but the mere fact that Chu chooses to write this off as a criminal element choosing to take advantage of a sporting events smacks of sheer stupidity on his part . If anything it furthermore paints a poor picture of his city and the fact that those involved are nothing more than a marauding bunch of hooligans . That asides , if the hockey fan out there becomes this disgruntled because their team loses in the game’s showcase event then it simply shows another reason why the game continues to flounder in more ways than one from a commercial and professional endeavor .

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

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as your thoughts .

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

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) U.S. Open golf championship winner Rory McIlroy, or Northern Ireland, right, is handed his U.S. Open trophy by Francois-Henry Bennahmias, left, president and CEO of Audemars Piguet (North America) Inc., during an event at the Willowbend Country Club in Mashpee, Mass., Monday, June 20, 2011. AP Photo/The Cape Cod Times, Merrily Cassidy …

(2) Bethseda, Maryland: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and his father Gerry McIlroy pose with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images …

(3) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks with the media after his eight-stroke during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images …

(4) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks onto the eightenth green before winning the 111th US Open by eight strokes over Jason Day with a record 268 at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011, in Bethesda, Maryland. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON …..

(5) Florida Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest, left, talks to reporters as interim manager Jack McKeon looks on during a news conference in Miami, Monday, June 20, 2011. Beinfest announced McKeon’s second term as manager of the Marlins. AP Photo/Alan Diaz ……

(6) Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields , right, is congratulated by catcher Kelly Shoppach after throwing a four-hitter in the Rays’ 2-1 victory over the Florida Marlins in a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Sunday, June 19, 2011.

(7) Former New York Giants wide receiver, Plaxico Burress is seen holding onto a cup of coffee and wearing a Philadelphia Phillies hat while out in New York City. On June 6th, Burress was released from prison after nearly spending two years behind bars on gun charges. Courtesy of Pacific coast news.com ….

(8) Former NFL wide receiver Plaxico Burress attends a press conference at National Urban League on June 13, 2011 in New York City. Getty Images North America / Joe Corrigan ……

(9) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles takes the field before playing against the Green Bay Packers in the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Getty Images /Al Bello ….

(10) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles walks of the field after losing to the Green Bay Packers during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles would lose to the Packers 21-16 Getty Images / Al Bello ….

(11) FILE – This June 1, 2011 file photo shows Miami Heat President Pat Riley talking to reporters in Miami. Riley says he will not return to coaching, and says the team has a strong leader in Erik Spoelstra . Riley spoke Tuesday, June 21, 2011, at his annual end-of-season wrap-up and touched on several topics including the disappointment of Miami’s loss in the NBA finals to the Dallas Mavericks. AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File …

(12) Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki, of Germany, fights back tears as fans cheer following his introduction during a celebration following the team’s victory parade, Thursday, June 16, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks earned their first NBA basketball championship by defeating the Miami Heat. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ……

(13) MIAMI, FL – JUNE 12: LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat walks into the interview room to answer questions after the Heat were defeated 105-95 by the Dallas Mavericks in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida.

(14) Riot police walk in the street on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver broke out in riots after their hockey team the Vancouver Canucks lost in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images …..

(15) Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron carries the Stanley Cup aloft as he walks through a crowd of onlookers from Tia’s Restaurant in Boston on Thursday, June 16, 2011, one day after the Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in Game 7 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ….

(16) Police on horseback move down a street during a riot following the Vancouver Canucks being defeated by the Boston Bruins in the NHL Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday, June 15, 2011. Angry, drunken revelers ran wild Wednesday night after the Vancouver Canucks’ 4-0 loss to Boston in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, setting cars and garbage cans ablaze, smashing windows, showering giant TV screens with beer bottles and dancing atop overturned vehicles. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz ….

(17) Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu seen here speaking with the convened press . copyrighted material @ All rights reserved Post Media News / Ethan Baron ……

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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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Slide show for your perusal .

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 News in general

MLB News

MLB Schedule 3 days at a glance

MLB Scoreboard

MLB Results 16th June

MLB Probable starters

MLB Standings

MLB Standings wildcard

NBA News

NBA Draft

NBA Draft Order 2011

Minnesota Timberwolves history

Minnesota Timberwolves news

Minnesota Timberwolves front office

Minnesota Timberwolves’ roster

Minnesota Timberwolves team stats

Coach Kurt Rambis

NFL News

PGA Tour news

2011 US Open Leaderboard

The Weekend In Sports And Other Select Observations …………

The Weekend In Sports ……… And Others Select Observations ………

Well the NBA season is all but over with merely two games left to played on the schedule for most teams . The Los Angeles Lakers are limping into the postseason as reigning champions having lost 5 straight and in reality this is a team that is in complete disarray . Anyone who believes different simply ought to look at the box-score in their lopsided ( 120-106 ) loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder .

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If the Lakers are to fare well in the postseason then the team will have to be on the same page of their coach Phil Jackson and his coaching staff led by Jim Cleamons and Brian Shaw . I know that the team’s perennial All Star Kobe Bryant has come out openly and stated that he’d like to see Shaw succeed Jackson as coach of the team should he indeed retire at the culmination of the postseason. But I’m not so sure that that’d still be the case should the Lakers bow out early in the postseason , which given their performance against the Thunder is a distinct possibility . But then again it’s remiss to merely to take one game as a gauge for a team’s overall strengths and weakness. But as I mentioned earlier the Lakers have lost straight games and at no time were you under the impression that they were ever in with a chance of winning anyone of those games. But for the play of Kobe Bryant , Paul Gasol and Lamar Odom coming off the bench I’d say that one could describe the Lakers season as something of a failure when adjudged by their own lofty standards.

With that being said I’m not yet prepared to count the Los Angeles Lakers as being down and out , not while they’ve still Phil Jackson in their corner as coach ! Should he and the Lakers make a successful defense of their title then to my mind this would be his most impressive victory over the course of his storied career. I mean who else within the annals of the game has achieved his success while at the same having been denigrated by many because he was only able to coach superstars as we’ve so often been told ? These last two Finals triumphs are a testament that he can not only coach a team that plays a team but and are also willing to defer as and when needed . If the Lakers can regain their resolve then I would still favor them to come out of the Western Conference and that is with due respect to my beloved San Antonio Spurs the team with the best record in the conference and the NBA as a whole .

Sunday’s results if anything painted a clear picture as to where a number of teams now stand . Suffice to say teams seated on the bottom rung of the conference ladders , such as the Cleveland Cavaliers , Minnesota Timberwolves , Sacramento Kings , Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors can now begin to mull over their draft decision as to whether or not they ought to take Kemba Walker as the consensus overall number one pick in the upcoming NBA Draft . But oh wait we have to wait for Commissioner David Stern pick that little ball out of that revolving drum to assure us who’ll have the privilege of having that first pick.

I’ve got to admit I’ve read some idiocy in my time going around this medium but never have I read something without so much insight than a contributor’s claim that Rory McIlroy is a wasted talent merely because his final round in The Masters imploded . I suppose when you’re still young naive and have about insight on the world of golf and you do little research before writing a piece you’re entitled to come up with such absurd notions ? But then again I for one simply don’t succumb to such a notion because I feel if you’re going to make any sort of a claim then you ought to have the disposition to show both sides of the argument . If that’s the case then this particular observer has about knowledge of the game as Hall of Famer Johnny Miller whose own absurd notion that the Europeans simply aren’t capable of winning a Grand Slam title . Has Miller not simply noticed the most recent results in the Grand Slam Majors over the course of the last eighteen months , much less the fact that the US had its ass handed it by the Europeans in the Ryder Cup in 2010 ?

This tournament was as such merely heightened by the fact there was a Tiger Woods’ sighting and that he made a spirited attempt at winning the tournament which in the end would be in vain. However, the former world number one ranked golfer would end up tying for third in the first Major of the season . The eventual winner would Charl Schwartzel a staple on the European Tour and who after this win will rise up the world rankings from his present position of #11 to inside the top ten perhaps as high as number 5 . As to the contributor who should remain nameless I can only hope that he aspires to be productive in his chosen career because with regard to even have minuscule knowledge of the sport of golf even with the amount of information that there is to be gleaned this individual has merely shown that he’s completely out of his depth .

OK so what else can be said after the abrupt retirement of Manny Ramirez from the Tampa Rays’ organization ? Having tested positive for a second consecutive time for a banned substance and knowing that he’d have to face a mandatory 100 game suspension the slugger chose to retire instead. What to my mind is even more asinine is the very fact that a spokesman for the Rays’ front office states that they were completely taken aback by this and the fact that the player tested positive for a banned substance, albeit that this took place during the Rays’ Spring Training Schedule . Am I missing something here but is the coaching staff as well as the Rays’ ownership group led by senior managing partner Stuart Sternberg and GM Andrew Friedman that dumb , stupid and naive ? Never mind the fact that the league hierarchy had to have made the Rays’ front office fully aware of the test results prior to it being made public .

In the wake of this all Ramirez says he’s happy with his legacy . I’d say he’s happy alright because he’ll simply be looked at as a cheat , albeit , that his career as such would suggest otherwise having won two World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox . In the aftermath of this all the Tampa Bay Rays are left to pick up the pieces as one part of their experiment has come to a quick and unsatisfactory end . I’ve got to feel sorry for some of those Rays’ fans who’d hoped that the Rays would prove to be competitive and wherein Tropicana Field would be an enjoyable place to be. There’s now more of a chance to see a UFO sighting at the Rays’ home venue than this team seeking to be competitive at this juncture .

Unfortunately for the Rays their season started off inauspiciously having lost their first two series before eking out a much needed win (9-7) against the Chicago White Sox . The team however finds itself languishing at the bottom of the always ultra competitive AL East
and that 1-8 record simply doesn’t look at all look that enviable even if we’ve yet to exit the first month of the regular season . And the team’s efforts won’t at all be now helped with their best player Evan Longoria now being on the disabled list (DL) for what we’re told could be as long as three weeks with a strained right oblique muscle .

Can things now get much worse for the Rays ? Yes it can as they now have to face the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in a three game series where I fully expect the Red Sox’s offense will be looking to tee off on the Rays’ somewhat average pitching rotation . At the same time the Red Sox’s own pitching staff has been very susceptible this season . So it could be that the fans in attendance over the course of the next three days are liable to be thoroughly entertained .

So Football Spring Football has started and teams at the D1 level will be looking to get themselves ready for the upcoming season. From my own perspective given what took place over last season and the never ending controversy of teams , players and coaches contravening rules , I merely look at this upcoming season of one that’s about to be littered with controversy once again. I mean it’s not as if the NCAA in its sanctified much less than exalted position can do a damn thing to begin with ! I mean where have they been in the aftermath of the latest allegations concerning Auburn and the fact that several players on their teams from 2004-07 were recruited , induced through monetary gain, through having sex on campus with female co-eds as well as strippers ? And who can forget the debacle of Ohio State and in particular the actions of Buckeys’ football coach Jim Tressel ? Needless to say that Buckeye and Tigers’ fans will try and reassure us that this is merely regrettable and that they’re not the only ones doing this . And while I’m inclined to agree at the same time I’ll state this ………… it’s against the fu_king rules so why go down that route to begin with ?

In the SEC (Southeastern Conference) where they can boast national champions consecutively for the last six years . One can simply understand the reason why the SEC is deemed to be the powerhouse it is at the collegiate level in terms of BCS national title aspirations.

I read with a great deal of interest where South Carolina Gamecocks’ quarterback Stephen Garcia has one again ran afoul of his coaching staff as well as the school as a whole . To understand the problems of Garcia you simply have to know this , he simply attracts trouble like flies tend to hover around fecal matter because of the aroma and because they can feast off whatever there tends to be in the vicinity. With Garcia it’s no different !

The fact that he’s merely been suspended indefinitely , at first that wasn’t the case , though it has to be said at it still creates the impression that Steve Spurrier still believes that the player has something to offer the team . Whatever it is , I wouldn’t consider it to be his football talent or acumen in spite of how impressive his stats may well be. Why have a malcontent and disruptive influence on the team which usually in the long run leads to even more problems ? As has been the case here with Stephen Garcia , his never ending transgression of team rules and having ran afoul of the law enforcement on repeated occasions .

Courtesy of USA Today

Another suspension for South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia

By Erick Smith , USA Today

The future of South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia is in doubt after the rising senior was suspended from the team indefinitely.

It’s the fifth time in Garcia’s career he has been suspended and the second time this spring. The school did not specify the reason for the decision. The Gamecocks play their annual spring game on Saturday.

“We have expectations for our student-athletes and we make them aware that there are consequences for their actions,” athletic director Eric Hyman said in a statement released by the school. “Stephen has exhibited behavior that is unacceptable for one of our student-athletes.”

The loss of Garcia, who threw for 3,059 yards and 20 touchdowns in 14 starts, would be a blow to South Carolina, which won the SEC East for the first time in 2010. He was expected to lead an offense that also features running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey.

That responsibility would likely fall to rising sophomore Connor Shaw, who was Garcia’s backup last fall.

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And with regard to the Gamecocks competing this upcoming season within the SEC I’m liable to think that they’ll struggle but at the same time eke out the wins they’re expected over the course of their regular season schedule . In place of Garcia , Spurrier will have at his disposal qb’s Dylan Thompson , Andrew Clifford , Connor Shaw and Seth Strickland . I’ve no doubt that the coach and his coaching staff will assess the strengths and weaknesses of each of the likely candidates before coming to a decision as to who’ll be the like starter in the Gamecocks’ first game of the season against East Carolina on the 3rd September , 2011. Garcia on the other hand will now have time reassess his future and determine whether or not it lies within being a student athlete or simply a thug , because of now he’s simply been a disappointment to those around him who expected a great deal more of him as a player as well a leader and human being .

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Picture galley for your perusal .

What sporting events or news if any over the past weekend piqued your interest and what if anything are you hoping to see during the NBA playoffs and the month of April as it relates to the baseball season ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on the matter .

Alan aka tophatal ……………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Andrew Bynum (17) of the Los Angeles Lakers defends James Harden (13)3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106 Getty Images / Jeff Gross …….

(2) Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks draws up a play for his team during a timeout in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106 . Getty Images/ Jeff Gross ……

(3) Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers argues a foul call in the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106. Jeff Gross / Getty Images …..

(4) Kevin Durant (35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder rebounds a ball over Kobe Bryant(24) of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half at Staples Center on April 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Thunder defeated the Lakers 120-106. Jeff Gross / Getty Images ………

(5) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeff Niemann , right, adjusts his cap as he listens to catcher Kelly Shoppach during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox in Chicago, Sunday, April 10, 2011. AP Photo /Nam Y Yuh ……

(6) Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) tags out Chicago White Sox’s Juan Pierre during the second inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, April 10, 2011. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ……

(7) The Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon shakes hands with Manny Ramirez (24) of the Tampa Bay Rays as Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during a press conference at Tropicana Field on February 1, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Ramirez announced his retirement over the weekend rather than face a league mandated 100 game suspension having tested positive for a illicit banned substance for the second consecutive time over the course of his career. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……….

(8) Charl Schwartzel of South Africa celebrates his two-stroke victory with his wife Rosalind behind the 18th green during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. AFP Photo/Getty Images/ Robyn Beck …..

(9) Last year’s champion Phil Mickelson (left) puts the Green Jacket on Charl Schwartzel from South Africa after Schwartzel wins the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.
AFP Photo/ Getty Images /Robyn Beck …….

(10) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks off the 18th hole green after finishing the final round with a final score of four under par at the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK

(11) South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw (14) looks for receivers during South Carolina’s Garnet and Black spring NCAA college football game Saturday, April 9, 2011, in Columbia, S.C. AP Photo/The State, Tracy Glantz ………..

(12) In this Dec. 29, 2010, file photo, South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia throws a pass during practice for the Chick-fil-A Bowl NCAA college football game against Florida State in Atlanta. Garcia has been indefinitely suspended from the football program. Athletic Director Eric Hyman announced the suspension Wednesday, (6th April) but did not give a reason. AP Photo/David Goldman …….

(13) Head coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks walks to congratulate quarterback Stephen Garcia (5) for his passing touchdown against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. Getty Images North America / Kevin Cox …….

(14) Coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks lines up with players after play against the Alabama Crimson Tide October 9, 2010 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. Getty Images/ Al Messerschmidt …….

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😛

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R Kelly ………………… “Ignition”

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Let Me Tell You A Story …………….

Let Me Tell You A Story

It looks as if history could be made today at Augusta National Golf Club , Augusta , should things pan out as is being envisaged at The Masters __ the first Grand Slam Major of the PGA Tour season . Standing atop of the leaderboard is Irishman Rory McIlroy one of the young guns of the PGA Tour . McIllroy -12 under par leads Jason Day by four shots having led or in part be amongst the leaders over 54 holes .

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Slide show for your perusal .

It’s said that during The Masters , Saturday is moving day but Sunday over the course of the final round is where the stories are written and the drama is all played out. And that most certainly is the case as it appears that a rejuvenated Tiger Woods is now lurking on the leaderboard merely waiting for those ahead of him to make a mistake and for him to make a charge over the final eighteen holes . From my own perspective with the former world number one back in contention I’m still not thoroughly convinced that Woods’ game is where it needs to be for him to make an asserted effort actually win a major Grand Slam tournament much less a tournament on the PGA Tour schedule. His game tailed off to such an extent that I don’t even believe his confidence is even in tact . But with Woods performing at 55 -60 % is a great deal better than the vast majority of the players on the PGA Tour to begin with !

For the leader, as he looks to become the youngest player to don a Green Jacket since Tiger Woods won in 1997 at the age of 22. The Irishman , McIlroy would certainly like to join Woods as one of the youngest Grand Slam Major winners ever but that’d be predicated upon his composure over the final round and whether or not any of the other players deemed to be in contention can make a successful attempt to erase the deficit and take the lead. It’s possible but given the play of McIlRoy over the course of this event the scenario seems unlikely to arise . He certainly hasn’t played capriciously and his treated Augusta National with the deference and reverence it deserves.

The tournament itself hasn’t really been filled with any major surprises albeit that briefly there were thoughts that Fred Couples would be providing those in attendance as as well the televised audience something of a thrilling spectacle . Sad to say that now doesn’t appear to be the case . Albeit that he’s within 6 strokes of the leader Rory McIlroy with a flurry of others all looking to make their move over the final round . Asides from Jason Day , we also have K J Choi , Charles Schwartzel , Angel Cabrera , Luke Donald , Adam Scott and Woods within the top ten on the Masters’ leaderboard . Granted, things could drastically change over four even five or six holes but I do believe it now comes down to experience and the wherewithal of the players and whether or not they can keep their emotions in check .

Of all the tournaments of the PGA Tour , The Masters might just be the most revered of the four Grand Slam Tournaments ( Masters , British Open , PGA Championship & US Open ) because of what it means to the players on the Tour . Long steeped in tradition albeit that there’s still a certain amount of controversy that surrounds some of the anomalies that have continued to raise its head concerning Augusta and the traditions of its members in particular its hierarchy headed by Billy Payne . And Payne who was preceded by William ‘Hootie’ Johnson has tried to make Augusta a more appealing club especially amongst minorities seeking to increase its membership and profile specifically amongst that demographic. And though the advancements can be viewed as minuscule it has to be said that it’s a great deal better than it was a decade and half ago. Were it not for Woods’ historic win in 1997 one seriously doubts that the private club would have sough to change its protocols . And who can forget that rather insidious and rather racially sensitive remark by Fuzzy Zoeller ………. concerning the traditional dinner that’s normally hosted by the champion in the ensuing year ? Zoeller says that his remark wasn’t to viewed as being racially insensitive but repeatedly he made light of the remark that ‘ Woods would make sure that collard greens , fried chicken and grits’ would be served for the players competing in the ’98 Masters Tournament . Fuzzy Zoeller was never able to live that episode even in light of his apology to Woods and his fellow players on the PGA Tour at the time .

This tournament should it be won by McIlroy would not only solidity the player’s status on the PGA Tour but also prove that the European Tour and its players are no longer fearful of the apparent dominance of the US players on their own domestic tour . If anything the decisive manner in which Europe defeated Team USA in the Ryder Cup (2010) was enough to signify that fact . And the rather inane and idiotic analysis that’s provided by such golf analysts as Johnny Miller , Alex Van Pelt and some of inane idiot on and off air analysts of The Golf Channel who’d have you believe that the European players simply aren’t good enough to win The Masters . Have they looked at some of the most recent results in the ‘Majors’ or the world rankings for that matter ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As the tournament winds its way to what may well be an inevitable ending with there being either a first time winner or a claimant who’s already won the tournament previously . I’d certainly like to think that the game is back where it ought to be with there being a great deal of intrigue suspense and excitement to be had by not only the fans but also from the competitors themselves.

Are you of the opinion that the game in terms of where it is now at with there being a group of young up and comers looking challenge the dominance of players such as Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are good for the game ? And do you think Rory McIlroy is capable of winning the Masters Tournament . Or are of the opinion that the game’s profile is better when there’s a dominant and competitive Woods reigning over golf’s competitive landscape ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the topics raised within this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ……………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

😛

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Tiger Woods of the US lines up a putt during the final round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. Woods is now one shot behind leader Rory McIlroy , leading us into what may well be a rather thrilling final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament . AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. Clary ……..

(2) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his approach shot to the seventh green as his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald looks on during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia . Photo by Harry How/Getty Images ………

(3) Ryo Ishikawa of Japan walks on the green during the final round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck ……

(4) Jason Day of Australia hits a drive on the seventh hole during the final round of the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 10, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. AP Photo/Matt Slocum …….

(5) Angel Cabrera of Argentina hits a shot on the 2nd hole during the final round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. Clary ……..

(6) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits from the bunker on the second hole during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images …….

(7) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his putt at the 1st hole during the final round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. CLARY …………….

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Masters Leaderboard

😉

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Notorious Big …… aka …… Biggie Smalls ……….. feat’g J Cole ………….” Can I Get Wit Ya’ “.

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J Cole ………………… “Losing Your Balance”

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