And We’re Back With and Into the Silly Season

  And We’re Back With and Into the Silly Season ….

It’s that time of the year again where the world of sports comes into something of a lull. The NBA has seen their NBA Playoffs and postseason come to an end and a new champion has been crowned with the Toronto Raptors (4-2) having overcome the Golden State Warriors (2-4) to win their very first NBA title. Raptors’ player Kawhi Leonard won his second title of his career and along with it his second Finals’ MVP Award . Now if the rumors are to be believed , Leonard will decline the player option of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent , which is likely to trigger a plethora of teams likely to be interested in his services . Kawhi Leonard will likely join players such as Kyrie Irving , Al Horford and several others on the NBA free agents’ market. At this point last season , the list of players who had declined their player option was quite staggering also .

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The common belief also is that the Los Angeles Lakers having made a big splash with their acquisition of Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Lonzo Ball , Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram . How this trade will play out and impact the Lakers and their other needs remains to be seen , as their cap base is not what GM Rob Pelinka might deem fit at this present moment in time. The fans of the Lakers may well feel the acquisition of Davis now makes them a legitimate contender , but in reality they still remain no better than the fifth best team in the Western Conference and hardly likely to challenge their top-tier contenders within their division much less the conference .

The NBA Draft itself proved to be an eventful one with several teams looking to fulfill their needs from among the crop of prospects who’d declared themselves eligible for the Draft. Zion Williamson was taken was the number one overall pick by the New Orleans Pelicans and it remains to be seen how this revamped roster will seek to make itself competitive for the upcoming NBA season. The Los Angeles Lakers for their part sought to fill the holes where needed on the roster, but as alluded to before , this is a franchise which I believe is still a long way off from where they need to be and I certainly don’t believe that their new Head Coach Frank Vogel and his staff will be bringing anything new to the table. Vogel’s career with the Indiana Pacers can be best described as being moderately successful . Moderately successful will not cut it for the Lakers’ fans who are long-starved of success , considering their last NBA triumph of the franchise winning an NBA title took place more than a decade ago. Since then the pickings for the Lakers have been mundane.

Having been dethroned as two-time NBA champions , it could be said that the off-season for the Golden State Warriors could be a troubling one , with several players becoming free agents and their being the likelihood at least one or two stars from the roster leaving. Fans watching the Finals , witnessed the recurrence of the injury suffered by Kevin Durant and then in game six , after a spectacular performance , Klay Thompson had to withdraw from the contest , having suffered a leg injury. If nothing else, what was proven to the fans, the bench of the Warriors was not as strong as many believed it to be. Head Coach Steve Kerr and team general manager Bob Myers will be figuring out a way to bolster the roster ,by way of the Draft as well as through free agency and perhaps re-signing one or two of their free agents.

This past weekend within the world of Major League Baseball , there were several games of interest for the fans. The series between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees proved to be an eventful one and once again the fans got to see the Astros’ young phenom Yordan Alvarez prove that his introduction as a rookie on the team’s roster was no fluke. Alvarez through twelve games for the for Astros has powered his way to some spectacular statistics , something not seen in the game for several decades. While the Astros look to maintain their position at the top of the AL West , it will be interesting to see how they fare over the rest of the month of June in the lead-up to the MLB All Star Game.

The next game up for Yordan Alvarez and his teammates will see the Astros face off against the Pittsburgh Pirates at home on Monday, 24th June , 2019. Meanwhile, for the New York Yankees their next scheduled game will see them face the Toronto Blue Jays at home in an AL East divisional match-up . On the mound for the Yankees will be their veteran starting pitcher CC Sabathia as he takes on Aaron Sanchez of the Blue Jays . The team with the best record over their last ten games just happens to be the New York Yankees who also share a similar mark of 8-2 with the Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Dodgers .

With so much at stake at this point of the season , speculation has begun to arise that a number of teams will be movers and shakers in the lead-up to the trade deadline and once again it looks as if the New York Yankees will be players in that scenario. It is widely known that GM Brian Cashman is looking to bolster the team’s roster with a starting pitcher, to create more depth among the pitching lineup. Two names said to be at the top Cashman’s desired list , are Max Scherzer , currently with the Washington Nationals and Madison Bumgarner with the San Francisco Giants . Cashman and the Yankees’ managing partner , Hal Steinbrenner are not averse to pushing the team’s payroll, well above the current mark of roughly $218 million . Either way, no matter who they obtain , it is becoming increasingly clear that the front office and managerial staff of the Yankees , believe that the team’s strength will be their pitching , rather than relying on their offense .

Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers is just one of a handful of players in the Majors this season who could be on route to hit at least fifty home runs for the year. Yelich along with Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be the runaway leaders for the NL League MVP . It could prove to be an interesting second half to this season if both players are able to keep their current pace. With both teams riding high within their respective divisions , the second half of this season could prove to be very competitive.

If the Baltimore Orioles continue at their present pace the ball-club could end up winning less than fifty games for the season. The team has been less than competitive and it’s hard to see how the managerial staff of Brandon Hyde cannot be blamed for the Orioles’ woes this season. Poor play all-round has been the one evident thing from the players and it’s telling that even with the idiocy of the MLB hierarchy believing every ball-club should have at least one representative on the All Star Ballot. It’s hard to justify any player from the Orioles be included , based on the mediocre play seen this season. The team will be in action today when they face the San Diego Padres at home in a game between two ball-clubs struggling to find some semblance of success this season. Opposing pitchers in this contest are Logan Allen of the Padres against Jimmy Yacabonis of the Orioles.

We know the NFL season , by way of its news’ cycle ; it tends to be year-round and in the aftermath of another tremendous season which saw the New England Patriots triumph on their way to a historical sixth Superbowl victory; the most in NFL history by a modern-day franchise. Coming off that season , the Patriots will now seek to regroup, make their customary off-season acquisitions , re-signings where necessary and also make themselves a cap-friendly franchise within the league.

Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick and his staff , along with team GM Nick Caserio will certainly be synced on the direction of the franchise will proceed in. Tom Brady still remains pivotal to the team’s success and many of the players on the roster are keenly aware of the position. Brady for his part has made it clear that he wants to player for at least another three years, but it’s clear that the front office must be weary that a contingency plan has to be in place with their being a back-up for veteran star. It will be interesting to see how the New England Patriots proceed and which of Brady’s understudies are seen as his possible successor. Jarrett Stidham and Danny Etling are the players in that somewhat unenviable position. Brian Hoyer the holdover from the roster of a year ago, is seen as the primary backup to Tom Brady and his experience will be an invaluable asset to Stidham and Etling, as well as the franchise overall. New England will invariably begin their preseason schedule as befitting the reigning Superbowl champions. The Patriots’ preseason opener will see them face the Detroit Lions in a road game. Their regular season opener , will be a match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough Massachusetts on the 8th September , 2019 .

The NFL player I believe with the biggest mountain to climb and prove that he remains among the elite at his position, Then a case can be made for Atlanta Falcons’ starting quarterback Matt Ryan . The player whose guaranteed money will be among the highest in the league for the upcoming season has to prove that the money he’s being paid is more than justified. . Ryan’s lone Superbowl appearance for the Falcons saw the team succumb to the New England Patriots , in a game where the Falcons had the upper hand for much of the contest. His inexperience and that of his teammates , led to their demise .

It will be interesting to see how Matt Ryan fares this upcoming season where the Atlanta Falcons’ regular season schedule is an undoubted tough one.

What if anything, do you hope to see in the upcoming weeks within the world of sports by way of a good story ?

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I Spy With My Little Eye ….

I Spy With My Little Eye   …..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Take A Walk on The Wild Side ….

Take A Walk on The Wild Side ….

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Walk It Like You Talk It ……

Walk It Like You Talk It ….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of USA Today

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

By Chris Iseman , USA Today , NBA Writer

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tophatal …………


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The Hard and Fast Principle, Is That You Play To Win

The Hard and Fast Principle, Is That You Play To Win

Far be it for me to suggest, but with the NFL season almost coming to a close, the likely dismissals of several Head Coaches were an inevitability. The biggest firing, was not the dismissal of Hue Jackson from the Cleveland Browns , but the firing of Mike McCarthy by the Green Bay Packers , was one of which came to some as a surprise. The Packers’ season has been one which has been woefully inept in certain aspects of their game, but the blame should not be placed solely at the feet of Mike McCarthy alone. He was failed by his team and most notably by Aaron Rodgers perhaps the Packers’ best player on the roster and his twice being named the League MVP . Rodgers has not demanded more of himself or from that of his teammates and it has come to fruition by way of the results on the field and their standing within the NFC North , where there are likely to miss the NFL Postseason for 2018.


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It has become abundantly clear that a replacement for Mike McCarthy is most likely to come from outside the coaching staff , rather than from within. Several names are being considered , notably David Shaw of Stanford , Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots and Jim Harbaugh , Head Coach of Michigan . Green Bay’s front office headed by Mark Murphy will consider all of the aforementioned names as well as others that will cross Murphy’s desk in the coming days. Yet for the moment , the current coaching staff and players must prepare for their final four games starting with their contest against the Atlanta Falcons this upcoming Sunday , 9th December , 2018. A sub. 500 record for the Packers this season would provide the franchise with their worst record in over a decade. Certainly the worst since Aaron Rodgers first entered the league in 2005 as a rookie quarterback for the franchise. Where the Green Bay Packers will now go from here will be open to a great deal of conjecture and debate

Jay Gruden has made it abundantly clear that with the loss of Colt McCoy as the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins , neither he or any member of his coaching staff or anyone from within the front office have a wish to replace McCoy with disenfranchised quarterback Colin Kaepernick . It has been over two years since the player was last seen on an NFL field , but yet somehow the likes of Mark Sanchez and lesser talents have been given a chance in the NFL this season ? Suffice to say , Roger Goodell and the majority of the team owners have no wish to see the player make a return to the league. His banishment continues in the midst of a season where Goodell’s autocratic rule continues.

With the NFC East division still up for grabs with even the Philadelphia Eagles still in with a chance of possibly winning the division , it is quite possible the division itself, will be one ending in carnage. Both teams will be in action this weekend weekend with the Eagles facing the Dallas Cowboys , while the Redskins will meet the New York Giants .

The trigger was pulled and the first salvos of the MLB off-season have been fired . The New York Mets have made everyone aware that they mean business this off-season with the acquisition of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to their roster in what can be seen as a blockbuster trade. This rings in a new era for the Mets’ front office now being ran by newly minted General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen . Adding the salaries of Cano and Diaz to the team’s payroll will certainly bloat the obligations of the ball club, but if it leads to success than , then I doubt that the Mets’ fans will be overly concerned.

While the New York Mets seek to keep up with the rest of baseball , one of the ball club’s National League rivals the Chicago Cubs will be seeking to make a monumental splash of their own as they look to sign Bryce Harper to a long-term deal with the ball club . Cubs’ front office executives , Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein would certainly like to bolster the roster and make Chicago even more competitive for this upcoming season. The addition of Harper to an already formidable offensive lineup would be a boost for this Joe Maddon managed team . It remains to be seen if the Washington Nationals are willing to part ways with Bryce Harper or they will seek to sign him to a deal of their own.

There have been some major signings made within the past forty-eight hours , with several players on the move now getting high-priced deals .

It never ceases to amaze me how naïve and simply out of touch fans and analysts are when it comes to the NBA and the talk of current reigning NBA champion the Golden State Warriors now being vulnerable and not capable of defending their title. We are barely three months into the NBA season and some idiots are already looking to write off this team altogether. From my own perspective until there is a team capable of challenging the Warriors on a consistent basis within the NBA , they will remain the team to beat within this league. Then the argument against this franchise remains redundant . In the Warriors’ most recent game they faced the Atlanta Hawks , winning that game decisively against an Eastern Conference opponent.

If the rumors are to be believed then there could be a major blockbuster trade in the offing , as the Los Angeles Lakers make a play to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans . All signs seem to be pointing that GM Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson have something big planned , but there has yet to be any type of formal announcement made. Lakers’ forward LeBron James has shown his frustration at the real lack of progress made by the team in spite of a winning record at this point of the season. The fact that Lonzo Ball the sophomore point guard is seen as the bait to entice this move, with Davis joining the Lakers. It could be said that this might also send the wrong message to the Lakers’ fans and the long-term future of this franchise. Lonzo Ball is seen as the face of the Los Angeles Lakers once the career of LeBron James comes to an end , because I seriously doubt that at the end of his current contract he will seek to resign with the franchise , furthering his fifteen-year career in this league.

From my own perspective the window of opportunity for the Los Angeles Lakers to win big, is to start winning now. Their biggest challenge will remain being good enough to beat the top contenders within the Western Conference , then knocking off the league’s current dynasty and reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors , by no means an easy task. The first meeting between these two teams this season will take place on Christmas Day when the Golden State Warriors will play host to the Los Angeles at the Oracle Arena in Oakland , California . In all , they will meet four times over the course of this regular season with games being played at home and away.

OK, so it we all knew that the Alabama Crimson Tide would stroll through their regular season sojourn of College Football (FBS) . In all honesty this Nick Saban coached team has been barely challenged and it wasn’t until they faced Georgia (Bulldogs) in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) championship game that Alabama was made to run the gauntlet in a true test of their mettle. . Having won the game in its last waning moments, Alabama booked themselves a place in College Football Playoffs’ Format . As they look to make history by winning another National Title , I truly believe, it will be theirs for the taking unless they become truly complacent .

What if anything do you believe best provides the winning approach with regard to professional team sports at this moment in time ?

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Tophatal ………….

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The Ball Is In Your Court ….

The Ball Is In Your Court ….

We’re not yet a month into the NBA season and already there has been a coaching dismissal within the league when it was announced that the Cleveland Cavaliers fired Tyronn Lue from his position as the Head Coach of the franchise . Lue had coached the Cavaliers to the 2016-17 NBA Finals . Cavaliers’ team owner , billionaire Dan Gilbert and team General Manager Koby Altman have named Larry Drew as the Interim Head Coach for the rest of the season.

Six games into this season and the Cleveland Cavaliers are win-less , with the worst record in the league. Granted , the departure of LeBron James , with his joining the Los Angeles Lakers would definitely leave a gigantic chasm within the organization. Yet at the end of the day, poor decisions made by the front office has led to this debacle. It remains to be seen how the Cavaliers will seek to dig themselves out of this hole , especially as the team enters the Christmas schedule, the play tends to dictate what we would should expect over the remainder of the season.


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The next game up for the Cleveland Cavaliers will see them face the Denver Nuggets , one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference at this point of the season. That match-up will take place on the 1st November at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio , where the Cavaliers are win-less .

With all of the bally-hoo that surrounded LeBron James’ arrival in Los Angeles, with his joining the Los Angeles Lakers. You would have thought that the whole world was about to fall off its axis. Lakers’ fans were replete with their new jerseys bearing James’ name and number. The thinking was , with James’ signing with the franchise , a slew of free agents would be willing to join him as well. It didn’t happen and if you think that Rajon Rondo is going to provide the Lakers with the offense they need, then think again. Rondo’s best years are behind him rather than ahead of him. Coached by Luke Walton , the Los Angeles Lakers have stumbled out of the gate , performing like a team lacking in direction. I understand that it will take time for LeBron James to acclimatize himself to his new surroundings , but his teammates have hardly made their presence felt at all this season.

Next up for the Los Angeles Lakers will be a game against the Dallas Mavericks at the Staples Center , in Los Angeles , California on Wednesday , 31st October. There have been rumblings with the Lakers having begun the season so languidly , calls for the firing of Luke Walton as the Head Coach have been on the rise. I seriously doubt that Magic Johnson , Head of Basketball Operations or GM Rob Pelinka would consider Walton’s dismissal at this juncture.

The Milwaukee Bucks are the only remaining team in the NBA who have yet to lose a game. Led by their All Star, Giannis Antentokounmpou , this is a team where there are great expectations for this season. . With the lineup that the Bucks have and the coaching ingenuity being shown by Mike Budenholzer , there is a very good chance this team could very well make the NBA Playoffs .

All teams will have to go through the Golden State Warriors , if it’s their belief that they have what it takes to win the NBA title for this season. Now while Los Angeles Lakers’ fans believe they will have a say within the Western Conference, they have done nothing at all to convince me that they can compete with the best that the conference has to offer. Klay Thompson might not be the best player on the Warriors’ roster , but anywhere else he might be among the top-two players on any other franchise within the NBA . Thompson chalked up another franchise and personal best in a recent game for the Warriors when he recorded fourteen three-pointers made in a match-up
against the Chicago Bulls , who appeared to be a completely listless team .

I have no doubt in my mind the Golden State Warriors are by far the best team in the NBA and their only chance of not making a successful defense of their title will come through their own complacency !

Well we’ve reached the halfway point of the NFL season and the trade deadline is about to come into play. Yet the main news’ story within the league , has been the dismissal of Hu Jackson as the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley . Gregg Williams has been made the interim Head Coach until the end of the season and could parlay the gig if he is able to lead the team to moderate finish and standing in the NFL by season’s end. Baker Mayfield who was the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft as well as the top quarterback taken , has performed inconsistently through no fault of his own. On defense as well as offense the Browns have been abysmal all season long. Suffice to say, if they don’t end up with the worst record in the NFL , then once again they could be assured of having another top-five pick in the next NFL Draft.

With a record of 2-5-1 , at least the Cleveland Browns are assured of bettering last season’s mark within the NFL. Next up for the Browns in week nine , they will face the Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) in a game that should prove to be very entertaining. Victory for the Chiefs assures them of clinching their division as well as a postseason berth within the AFC .

It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to suggest that Eli Manning is now treading water as it relates to his career ? Two Superbowl victories are > accommodating when padding out his career achievements, but over the last four seasons , Manning has been nothing more than a moderate quarterback at best. His and that of the New York Giants’ record for this season (1-7) is truly reflective of a really bad team on its very last legs. Odell Beckham has proven to be just a player known for spectacular one-handed catches , but when it comes showing leadership and maturity, he is nowhere to be seen . Giants’ Head Coach Pat Shurmur is on the ‘ hot seat’ and it seems unlikely he will be returning next season , given the lack of success seen this season. The New York Giants are in need of an upgrade across their entire roster.

When the Pat Shurmur prepares his team for their next outing let’s hope that the New York Giants’ performance is a great deal better than their last five games combined. The team will be facing conference rivals the San Francisco 49ers in a game where a victory is certainly needed by both teams.

While the Philadelphia Eagles caught everyone by surprise
during
the postseason of 2017 on the way to the franchise’s
first Superbowl victory. This season the team has fallen back to earth with a colossal thud. They’re barely competing within the NFC East , perhaps the most overrated division in all of football. . The only team with a winning record in the division are the Washington Redskins (5-2) as they head into week nine of the regular season. Doug Pederson will prepare the Eagles to face the Dallas Cowboys in week ten of the schedule , while the Redskins will be in action against the Atlanta Falcons during week nine .

The runaway leaders within the NFC are the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams (8-0) led by their quarterback Jared Goff , whose talents have been on display throughout much of this season for his team . Jared Goff has led the Rams to an eight-game unbeaten streak by far the best in the league this season as the team has the best record in the NFL. Goff’s teammate Todd Gurley might well be the runaway leader in the first half of the season for League MVP . His all-round contributions for the Rams have been impressive to say the very least. I fully expect the Los Angeles Rams to extend their winning streak to nine games when
they face the New Orleans Saints (6-1) on Sunday afternoon . This is likely to be one of the better contests taking place in the NFL that afternoon.

I’ve always maintained that with the death of Al Davis , the Oakland Raiders would never be the franchise where there would be a constant interest in . That has rang true with his son Mark Davis taking over the reins of the franchise with Reggie McKenzie still in charge as the General Manager. Unfortunately their luring Jon Gruden out of retirement hasn’t worked wonders for the Raiders this season . Bear in mind Gruden was offered a ten-year $100 million deal , making him the highest coach in the NFL . A 1-6 record at this point of the season , with the Raiders having one of the worst defenses in the league and you can well understand why there might be clamoring for something drastic to take place among the team’s lineup .

If Jon Gruden is building for the future then , it doesn’t bode well for the Oakland Raiders then his track-record should be seen as a warning sign. During his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as his earlier stint with the Raiders, he has never drafted or developed a player of real note. All the optimism in the world among the franchise’s fans cannot hide the fact that this was an erroneous in the hiring of Jon Gruden. The coach will now have to muster the masses as he seeks to get the Oakland Raiders’ second win of the season when this team takes on the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night .

It might well have been the most lopsided World Series in the last decade, with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1-4) falling to the Boston Red Sox (4-1) with the utmost of ease. All of the money spent by the franchise on players since 2012 , has been well in excess of $1.6 billion and then you factor in the $2.2 billion paid by the ownership group to purchase the franchise. You simply get the feeling that there’s been more waste expended by the club than was needed. The lone factor of hope out of this all might well be that the Dodgers’ front office might have solved a glaring need when they obtained Manny Machado in a trade from the Baltimore Orioles. Machado and Walker Buehler were the only bright spots for the Dodgers through much of the postseason.

With Clayton Kershaw now said to be considering opting out of his contract , which still has two years left on one of the most expensive deals in baseball history . It would be foolish if the Los Angeles Dodgers were to allow Kershaw to leave , but at the same I can truly understand the player’s frustration with their continued lack of success during the postseason. They’re unable to play as a team and there sure as hell isn’t any leadership to be found anywhere among the players let alone among the managerial staff of Dave Roberts .

What if anything do you believe has been the most riveting piece of sports’ news of the past two weeks and please state your reasons why ?

Tophatal 10/31/2018……..

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I Don’t Care and There Isn’t A Goddamn Thing You Can Do About It !!!!

I Don’t Care and There Isn’t A Goddamn Thing You Can Do About It !!!! ..

Now that idiots seem to be in an uproar over the fact that sport’s apparel company Nike will make Colin Kaepernick the face of their thirtieth anniversary celebrations . It continues to speak volumes as to what it is inherently wrong with America in general. On the one hand you have the player’s detractors , many of whom are clearly right-wing Conservative fanatics , loyal to Donald Trump . On the other hand , we have supporters of the now disenfranchised quarterback no longer allowed to play in the NFL , because essentially the league hierarchy and franchise owners combined , have seen fit to blackball Kaepernick. Are these same vociferous supporters who call themselves patriots, who were recently parading along the streets of downtown Charlottesville , Virginia and in the nation’s capital , Washington , DC ,with the American flag in one hand and a Swastika in the other ? Suffice to say, there’s an idiot born every minute and they come no brighter than those claiming to proud American patriots, especially the ones who took part in the protests in Charlottesville and Washington.


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In light of that fact, Colin Kaepernick has won the first round in what is likely to be long and hard-fought legal case. In an arbitration hearing , the player and his legal team won the first round, when it was decided by an arbitrator that there was enough evidence to proceed ahead with a legal case against the NFL , with their having colluded to stop Kaepernick with the continuation of his playing career in the league. It has been over two years since the quarterback lasted suited up in a regular season game for his now former team , the San Francisco Forty-Niners . His last game for the team took place in 2016 and since then the franchise has seen their fair share of ups and downs. Niners’ GM Jon Lynch might have found the franchise’s savior when they acquired Jimmy Garopollo from the New England Patriots , in a trade that some believe the Patriots are likely to regret. The Forty-Niners have instantly become a credible threat in the NFC and real favorite to win the NFC West this upcoming season . Over the final five games of the 2017 NFL season , there was not a better starting quarterback in the league as Garopollo led San Francisco to five consecutive wins . That win streak was also the best in the league to end the regular season, even if the team did fail to make the postseason .

Colin Kaepernick’s future might well be impaired, as the league (NFL) will do their utmost to stymie any effort of the player to make a successful return to the NFL . How things now play out will be predicated upon the judgment rendered in US Federal District Court .

There’s less than a month left in the regular season for Major League Baseball and all things look to their being a major disappointment for several teams thought to have been top contenders for the World Series . The Washington Nationals have essentially seen their hopes dashed , having been subjected to another loss , this one at home to the Chicago Cubs , when the two teams met at Nationals’ Ballpark in Washington DC . Led by their two Big League All Stars , Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper , the team succumbed to a Cubs’ team intent on winning their second title in the last three years. The Cubs will be in action over the weekend as they begin a schedule which sees them facing the the Nationals once again as part of their regular season meetings .

With the Chicago Cubs on route to the postseason, the Washington Nationals are left to ponder what might have been . Injuries asides , this team has failed on so many levels and it gives cause for concern as to whether or not they can afford to retain the services of Bryce Harper . The former NLMVP is not due to become a free agent until until 2019, when it is believed he will seek to become the
highest paid player baseball history. Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins is currently afforded that luxury and he’s also the highest paid player at his position in baseball .

The Miami Marlins’ own plight this season has been horrendous with the new ownership group not yet scampering away, making for the hills. Suffice to say, this has been another miserable season for the ball-club. Team manager Don Mattingly will be preparing his players for their weekend series against the Pittsburgh Pirates . Game one of the series begins tonight on the road with the opposing pitchers being Dan Straily of the Marlins against Chris Archer of the Pirates. There is likely to be a major organizational shake-up within the Marlins, with several players likely to be on their way , solely for economic reasons.

With the announcement that this is to be the last season with Mike Scioscia in charge of the managerial staff of the Los Angeles Angels , it will be interesting to see who will succeed the veteran manager. Team GM Billy Eppler and their billionaire owner Arte Moreno ,will be looking for someone with experience and winning ability . The talent is there on the field with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout leading the fray . Trout has long been considered the best player in baseball over the last six seasons.Over the weekend the Los Angeles Angels were in a weekend series against the Chicago White Sox on the road . All three games were won by the visiting team , which as such aided the Angels’ position among the wildcard aspirants . But this will not be the year where the Los Angeles Angels make a return to the MLB postseason . The team will next be in action when they face the Texas Rangers at home , with in a game being played on Monday 10th September at Angels Ballpark , in Anaheim, California ,. Monday will bring about a series of games as part of the regular season schedule . At this point last season things were very much in full swing as the schedule
wound down
.

Serena Williams created something of a furor in Women’s Final at the US Open as she succumbed to a surprisingly lopsided two-set loss to her Japanese counterpart Naomi Osaka . What brought the crowd’s attention to the contest was not the thrilling entertainment provided by these two players , but the out of character behavior by Serena Williams, with her truculent verbal attack on the umpire. At the end of it all , Williams came away as the villain of the piece as Osaka made history as the first Japanese female player to capture a Grand Slam singles’ title in over a decade. Unfortunately, what comes out of this all , now comes down to the fact how much will this hurt the legacy of Serena Williams moving forward and how she’s viewed in the eyes of her fans and contemporaries

What  do  you believe has been  the  most   troubling  scenario   to  have   been  raised within  the  sports’  world  in the past  seven days ?

 

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Tophatal …..

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The Straw That Broke the Camel’s back

The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back

Well once again within the world of sports we have the real winners and the real losers. LeBron James is now considered a winner , having left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-year $154 million deal . The contract won’t make James the highest-paid player in the league contract-wise or on annual basis , but he will certainly be ranked among the top-ten players in both categories. Lakers’ GM Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson , Head of Basketball Operations might have felt they pulled off something of a coup-de-gras in acquiring James, but less than forty-eight hours after the transaction , current NBA champions the Golden State Warriors were able to upstage the Los Angeles Lakers by acquiring DeMarcus Cousins , signing him to a one-year deal , having to pay him no more than $5 million for his services for this upcoming year.


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It would be idiot to suggest that the Lakers haven’t been upstaged and for all of the detractors out there critical of the Cousins’ deal. Do bear in mind five years ago it was James bolting from the Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat and holding the rest of the NBA captive deliberately merely for the public’s attention. In the ensuing years LeBron James has shown a great deal of maturity,but on some levels the player still remains very immature in spite of his fifteen years in the league . His accomplishments asides , he will be truly tested unlike ever before, because he is expected to lead the franchise to championships . This is what Lakers’ fans are accustomed to and having not made an appearance in the NBA Finals in almost a decade has to be worrisome to an organization starved of success in recent years.

A great is definitely being asked of LeBron James , but my own feeling is , how will he co-exist alongside Lonzo Ball , his new teammate as well as the idiotic antics of Ball’s father , LaVar Ball. It is something that the Lakers’ front office will have to address, as Ball Sr has already begun to antagonize the franchise’s biggest star with his antics and comments. Anyone who doesn’t believe James is likely to take some umbrage of that criticism is clearly unaware what makes the player tick.

It seems that the wounds went far too deep than many of might have been aware as the impasse between two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and the front office of the San Antonio Spurs came to an abrupt end as the player was traded to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan . The trade has sent shock-waves around the league , as many felt there was more of a chance that Leonard would remain in the Western Conference where he’s seen as one of the elite players within the conference and considered a top-five player in the league. Magic Johnson had sought to bring the California native back to his home state , but Greg Popovich and GM RC Buford made the decision to send the player East rather than see him in the West simply destroying the ambitions of the Spurs and others in the conference.

DeMar DeRozan for his part was none too pleased with the decision to trade him taking aim at the lack of respect shown to him by the Raptors’ organization . Yet from my own standpoint , I now feel the forward will have more to offer to the San Antonio Spurs’ fans might believe. It was clear that Kawhi Leonard had alienated himself with the fans as well as the Spurs’ coaching staff and Greg Popovich was less than characteristic in discussing Leonard’s departure. As the transition within the playing staff takes place for San Antonio , with the departure of Kawhi Leonard as well as seasoned veteran point guard Tony Parker, with the player joining the Charlotte Hornets .

Another trade seems to be nearing completion which would in the end facilitate Carmelo Anthony becoming a free agent. If the rumors are to be believed as a cap exercise , Anthony will be traded to the Atlanta Hawks , with the Oklahoma City Thunder getting in return , Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala . It is then believed , that Anthony will be waived by the Hawks, allowing him to become a free agent, signing for a team showing interest in the veteran forward. His expiring contract of almost $28 million clearly was one of the main reasons behind the deal and the front office of the Thunder seeking to lower the impact of the luxury tax , based on the NBA’s salary cap .

It would appear that the Los Angeles Dodgers now have their man having swooped in the obtain Manny Machado as a short-term rental from the Baltimore Orioles . Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts knows that his team has its shortcomings and more than anything else , they need to be winning on a consistent basis over the coming months. Failure to make a quick return to the World Series and there are likely to be some serious changes made among the playing staff and managerial staff at the end of the season . Machado can bring a great deal to this Dodgers’ staff by way of productivity , but at the same time their failing is not one from a lack of productivity with their bats but the inconsistency shown through their pitching , notably among their relievers .

Though not in action today , Thursday 19th July , where there is just one game on the schedule with the St Louis Cardinals facing the Chicago Cubs . The Los Angeles Dodgers will be in action on Friday , where their fans will get their first chance to see Manny Machado suited up as the team takes on the Milwaukee Brewers , in the first of a three-game road series as part of their regular season schedule.

For an ailing Baltimore Orioles’ organization , where it would appear Peter Angelos has to be in despair, the future of the ball-club now seems to be far from clear. Their farm system has a modicum of talent , but it’s still early to say what can expect from those players. The managerial staff of Buck Showalter is still searching for some semblance of consistency from the team and with the departure of Manny Machado , that now makes their whole situation a great deal more difficult. Next up for the Orioles will be a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario , Canada.

The team with the best ten-game stretch leading up to the All Star Game , are the Boston Red Sox who will look to increase their lead over divisional rivals the New York Yankees within the AL East . Red Sox starting pitcher David Price will be on the mound for Boston when they face the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park , in Detroit Michigan . This is one of those games that I believe will be a simple stroll for the Boston Red Sox as they take on AL rival. . As contentious as we know the division to be , it will once again become a two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. New York really can’t afford to have any major slip-ups between now and the end of regular season schedule. While neither ball-club have shown that they’ve a wish to be a major player in the market , all signs seem to be pointing to the fact that something will be happening .

Aaron Boone in his first year as manager for the New York Yankees will be hoping that he can lead this team to a postseason berth . Clearly winning the division (AL East ) has to be a top priority rather than being a wildcard berth entrant within the AL. The Yankees are in action this weekend as they begin a three-game series against the New York Mets . There was a time when the Subway Series actually meant something within the world of baseball , but over the last eight years with the decline of the Mets , it’s merely seen as an afterthought. On the mound for Friday’s game , as the starting pitchers will be Noah Syndergaard of the Mets against Domingo German of the Yankees .

To suggest that Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have been negligent as the owners of the New York Mets would be an understatement . They took the ball-club to the brink of bankruptcy , while the organization was actually embroiled in the Bernie Madoff “ Ponzi Scheme Scandal” . Intervention with their receiving a cash infusion, believed to be in excess of $450 million was the only thing which saved the franchise. All of this took place during the reign of Bud Selig as the MLB Commissioner . That being said, with Selig suggesting the books of the Mets showing a great deal of transparency , I have to ask myself was there a point in this whole mess where Bud Selig actually knew what the hell he was talking about ?

With the trade deadline being 31st July , it will be interesting to see what choices will be made by the front office of the New York Mets . Will there be a fire sale , as they implode the roster ? There are several players who are overpaid while having produced nothing of note through much of the season. The New York Mets are simply bereft of real talent in various areas of their game and their Minor League System might well be promising , but in reality there isn’t much there to speak of.

How do you see this off-season within the NBA turning out and what do you expect from the upcoming season? Also as baseball enters the second-half of its schedule which teams do you believe will rise to the occasion ?

Tophatal ……. 2018/07/19


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I’m Calling It A Wip-eout !!!!

I’m Calling It A Wipe-out !!!!

Well the NBA Finals have come to an abrupt end, with the Cleveland Cavaliers being blown out in the Finals by the Golden State Warriors , completing a sweep with a degree of clinical precision not seen in a very long time . Kevin Durant adds to his impressive resume’ as he was named Finals’ MVP for the second consecutive season . His being given this accolade places Durant as one of only two players to have won multiple scoring titles as well as the Finals’ MVP . For the Cavaliers as the losing finalists , the fact that each loss in the four games played was by double-digits or less , emphasizes why there is such a large chasm between the quality of the teams in the Eastern Conference of the NBA and their counterparts in the West.


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Adding more embarrassment to Cleveland’s debacle in the Finals remains the uncertainty concerning the future of LeBron James . The player can choose to opt-out of the final year of his contract and seek to become an unrestricted free agent , leaving to join a legitimate contender within the league. Based on all of the criteria seen, there are at least five or six teams that might be a destination for the superstar.

LeBron James should he choose to leave Cleveland for the second time in his esteemed thirteen-year career, it would once again lead to a great deal of frustration and anger among the franchise’s fans. Bear in mind however, this team in its original guise at the start of the season , was the one which James himself had a great deal of input in assembling . Just before the All Star Break , Cleveland Cavaliers’ GM Koby Altman brought in players he felt would complement the skill-set of LeBron James and Kevin Love . For Love as the second-best player on the Cavaliers’ roster, his productivity during the NBA Finals, could be best described as sparse, while the rest of the players were simply along for the ride. LeBron James has now been on five losing teams in the NBA Finals and he now has on his resume , a second series’ sweep with the first coming when the Cavaliers were summarily annihilated by the San Antonio Spurs during the 2007 NBA Finals , where Tim Duncan led the Spurs to what was an expected series’ victory, but not which was so lopsided.

After-all LeBron James was seen as the face of the NBA and the ” anointed best player on the planet “ . King James as he has often referred to himself , an anointing which many of his supporters and NBA analysts are in complete agreement with.

Whatever the future now holds for LeBron James , be it his remaining in Cleveland or his offering his services to the highest bidder, I would like to see the player come to a quick decision , rather than it being a long drawn out drama , something akin to a very bad soap opera episode.

I’m an avid boxing and Mixed Martial Arts’ fan and over this past weekend both sports showcased events which were meant to lure the fans back to the respective sports, which had been experiencing something of a lull. The UFC showcased their main event , UFC 225 , where the main card , had the top-two contenders within the Men’s Middleweight Division fight for the title , with the winner getting the chance further enhance his resume’. Robert Whittaker of Australia faced Yoel Romero of Cuba, in what could be best described as a war of attrition rather than a about that had a great deal of athleticism or tactical display about it. The fact that Whittaker won on a split decision , should tell you all you need to know about the bout and the fact that it failed to live up to expectation . Far be it for me to suggest, but the UFC is in a sad state of affairs at present in spite of being under new ownership and having a multi-year , multi-billion television contract with Fox Sports (FS1) . . If the ratings continue to decline for a number of their big events , other than premiering big-time PPV match-ups, that whets the appetites of the fans , then UFC President Dana White will continue to have a hard time justifying his comments that the UFC is the premier brand in the world when it comes to MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) .

He has made his return to the professional boxing ring after BBBC (British Boxing Board of Control) mandated suspension for failing a drug test. Former Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury was back in the ring to face Sefer Seferi  of Albania, in what was meant to be a tune-up fight for the former champion, as he seeks to legitimize his position in the Heavyweight rankings. Fury has always been known to talk the talk , but rarely has been able to walk the walk. Other than his victory over a fast declining Wladimir Klitschko , there’s nothing on the British fighter’s resume’ to suggest that he has the potential to reclaim the world title. The two best fighters within the division, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua are on a collision course for multi-million dollar unification bout to settle once and for all who is the best heavyweight fighter on the planet .

Tyson Fury has always questioned the claims that he took a banned substance , but has failed to explain, how after two random test samples the , the test still came up positive for a banned substance. He should consider himself lucky that his suspension was not for a great deal longer than the two years he spent away from the ring. As for his performance against Sefer Seferi, well let’s just say , lethargic and ring-rusty would be apt ways to describe his victory over his Albanian opponent. Fury doesn’t have the prowess to take on either   Anthony Joshua    or Deontay Wilder , let alone beat either of the claimants to their versions of the World Heavyweight title .

Australian Jeff Horn after his somewhat dubious victory over boxing legend Manny Pacquiao , had sought to legitimize himself as one of the best welterweight boxers in the world. His majority decision verdict over the Filipino legend , quickly made Horn a national hero in Australia. In order to further validate that victory , the Australian took on Terence “Bud” Crawford , as Horn defended his WBO Welterweight Title against the hard-hitting American challenger on Saturday night. . Crawford barely broke sweat as the took the title from the Australian champion with a stoppage in the ninth round. Let’s just say Jeff Horn was way out of his class and league , in spite of that victory over Manny Pacquiao .

So as the President, Donald Trump continues to regale us with his insight with the ongoing issues within the world , he recently spoke of his wish to sit down with the players of the NFL to speak with them on the issues of their grievances concerning social injustice. Trump was still basking in the limelight after pardoning Alice Johnson who was serving a life sentence with regard to drug trafficking and money-laundering . Johnson was granted a pardon , after reality show star Kim Kardashian prevailed upon the President to take a look at Johnson’s case.

Alice Johnson freely admits that she knew the risks , but she sought to earn quick money , because of her plight at the time. I guess when your home is being used as a drug cash and stash-house, as well as being a distribution center for a violent drug gang , then any excuse can be allowed for your actions ? The President we know has been extremely critical of the NFL players whom he says are being unpatriotic by refusing to stand for the national anthem. Stating repeatedly, in failing to do so , it dishonors the men and women have fought in wars to protect the rights of citizens in America and freedom across the world. This President fails to understand the real reason why the players are taking this stance and has never addressed the real underlying issues. One of the latest signs of not only complete stupidity on the part of the President but also lack of common sense , was the statement made , where he suggested it was time to grant Muhammad Ali , a full pardon for his crimes. Now bear in mind Ali’s case was overturned in the US Supreme Court on appeal , meaning there were no longer any charges for him to face.

Call me naïve or just plain stupid, but what fucking planet is Donald Trump now living on and does he ever take any advice proffered up to him by the Solicitor General , much less the Inspector General within the US Justice Department or from anyone within his administration ? Or will continue to take advice from his daughter, Ivanka Trump , his two clueless sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr , as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner (husband of Ivanka Trump) .

The day, Donald Trump actually shows signs of interest let alone knowledge of a social issue , rather than chomping off at the bit like a rabid dog in search of a victim . It will be the day that he can be taken seriously for the role for which he was elected into office for.

Rafael Nadal added further to his astonishing tennis career , claiming his eleventh French Open title at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris , France this past Sunday . Nadal’s victory over Dominic Thiem was clinical and surgical in its precision and gave the Spaniard his seventeenth Grand Slam title , three behind by the all-time leader Roger Federer , whose current tally stands at twenty Grand Slam singles’ titles .

Next up for Rafael Nadal by way of the next Grand Slam Tournament will be Wimbledon at the All England Club , where Nadal will be looking to add a third Singles’ title having won previously in 2008 and 2010 . Nadal , Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are the only men currently active on ATP Men’s Tennis Tour to have to have won all four legs of the Grand Slam ( Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open) . With his French Open victory Rafael Nadal holds unto the number one ranking in the world, closely followed by Roger Federer.

So here we go again, fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers are complaining , because their high-priced roster of stars are falling by way the wayside due to injuries . Dodgers’ team manager Dave Roberts seems to have his work cut out again for himself this season as the team struggles to get back on track , being competitive within the NL West and NL in particular. At one game above .500, this is not where the Dodgers expected themselves to be at this point of the season , but even with a record of 7-3 over their last ten games game , you have to be feel that this team is far more capable of producing , than what we’ve seen to date.

In their recent weekend schedule the Los Angeles Dodgers came away with a 2-1 series’ victory over the Atlanta Braves . The two teams are next scheduled to meet on the 26th July when the Dodgers will face the Braves on the road Sun Trust Ballpark in at Atlanta , Georgia as part of their regular season series’ meetings in 2018. However, with the rest of their June schedule not yet in full swing, the next game on the itinerary for the Los Angeles Dodgers will be the team squaring off against the Texas Rangers at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, 12th June , with Bartolo Colon of the Rangers facing a yet to be named opposing pitcher for the contest.

With that type of payroll , it’s about time the Los Angeles Dodgers put up or simply shut and just stop with their continued whining about injuries and all of the other things you’d come to expect of their oh so anxious and at times obnoxious fans.



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Continue reading “I’m Calling It A Wip-eout !!!!”

The Call Of The Wild ….

The Call Of The Wild ….

So the NFL Draft came and went with a whimper and while begin their idiocy of grading the teams based on the level of success achieved through the Draft. I’d just like to say , you can’t make any assumptions as to how these teams will fare when the season has yet to begin and not knowing how competitive the teams and these rookies may or may not be.

Granted, we all know the only reason behind these Draft prognostications stems from the fact many of these analysts seem to have nothing better to do with their time. Let the dominoes begin to fall between now and the beginning of the Preseason and then the teams embarking on their sixteen-game regular season schedule.


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None too surprising during this off-season within the NFL was the announcement that Dallas Cowboys’ tight-end Jason Witten would retire. Witten has been a presence on the roster of the Cowboys for the better part of a decade or more, while breaking a number of franchise records of the Dallas Cowboys. It will be difficult to imagine Jason Witten not being on the roster of this team as they embark upon their preseason schedule and the regular season itself. With Dez Bryant having been cut, as team owner and de-facto General Manager Jerry Jones was unwilling to sign Bryant to a long-term contract , the veteran now finds himself a free agent ,with not too many teams at this juncture willing to pick up the player and sign him to a significant deal. Bryant’s agents Roc Nation Sports will be very hard pressed to seek a deal that will meet the player’s demands of a salary in excess of $15 million a year as a wide receiver. His productivity has dropped off significantly over the last few years, while his relationship with teammates and the Cowboys’ front office is said to have soured.

From my own perspective this upcoming season will be a very tough one for the Dallas Cowboys and with a team which no longer has anyone who can really be deemed a game-changer, it will now be left to Dak Prescott to prove to everyone that he can be seen as leader of this franchise moving forward. Dallas’ Draft Class was nothing more than adequate and I believe that Jerry Jones might be on the lookout to add some depth to the roster during this off-season. For Head Coach Jason Garrett , he will have a to prove himself , because the fans are growing impatient , as too is Jones , with the franchise not having made a long playoff run in several years.

LeBron James has been rewriting the record books in the NBA since he first entered the league as a rookie in 2003. Three NBA titles later along with multiple MVP Awards and the Finals’ MVP Awards , there seems little left to do for the game’s best player currently playing. Where James will rank among the all-time greats at the end of his career remains to be seen. During the current NBA Playoffs, LeBron James has simply been a one-man band for the Cleveland Cavaliers as he guided his team to a stunning series’ victory over the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the East Conference Playoffs . James and the Cavaliers will now meet the Toronto Raptors in the conference semi-finals , in a series that is by no means a certainty ,where the Cavaliers will prevail.

Game one of that series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors will begin on the 1st May,2018, with the Cavaliers going on the road to face the Raptors.The match-up between LeBron James of the Cavaliers and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan should prove to be very interesting. Winners of this particular series will go on to face the winners of the series between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers .

Within the Western Conference , it looks as if the conference finals could provide the fans with the series they’re actually yearning for . Granted, granted that would be predicated upon both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets getting past their second-round opponents . I firmly believe that the winner of this season’s NBA championship will be coming out of the Western Conference !

This season we have already seen the league’s first no-hitter as Sean Manae of the Oakland A’s pitched a gem in a game against the Boston Red Sox played at the Coliseum in Oakland , California on the 21st April, 2018. Manae had the privilege of seeing his Oakland teammate Jonathan Lucroy catch baseball’s first no-hitter of the 2018 Major League Baseball season. The A’s find themselves having to compete in a very tough AL West division in 2018 . Over their last ten games the this Oakland team has managed to notch up a record of 6-4 . Good enough to have them sitting not quite mid-table within the division.In the month of May the A’s will have to perform a great deal better than during the month of April. Oakland will be on the field today when they face the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington , with the two opposing pitchers being Andrew Triggs of the A’s facing Felix Hernandez of the Mariners.

While I don’t believe that the Oakland A’s will be competing for postseason honors , there are a number of teams this season who will have a great deal to prove. Derek Jeter continue to alienate the fans of the Miami Marlins , with the ball-club’s attendance levels being among the worst in all of baseball this season. Jeter as one of the lead front office executives and overseeing the Baseball Operations of the team , has been operating the franchise on threadbare resources. Granted , the team’s payroll is just above the threshold set of $90 million . It is becoming increasing hard to imagine how this team will be able to compete when so many of the players are performing so badly .

Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff will head into the month of May hoping to show a great deal more resilience, while also looking to move their way up the NL East divisional standings. If the Marlins end the season with a record of more than 65 wins I will be pleasantly surprised. They are simply not good enough to compete with the very best that the NL has to offer , even if Derek Jeter believes to the contrary. Miami’s instate rivals the Tampa Bay Rays are not that much better and here again we have an ownership group bereft of ideas , while they continually make excuses for the ball-club’s poor play since 2012 , and the lack local support for a new ballpark to replace the archaic Tropicana Field in Saint Petersburg, Florida .

Playing catch-up with many of their divisional rivals this early in the season is not something unknown to the Tampa Bay Rays . The team will be in action over the next few days as they have series against the Detroit Tigers , Baltimore Orioles , Toronto Blue Jays Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals between now and the 14th May , 2018 . The Rays are on the road today (1st May) , where they will face Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park , in Detroit , Michigan .

Far be it for me to suggest that Mike Scioscia has not done great things for the Los Angeles Angels as the ball-club’s manager. Yet I do feel that after the last few years of their lacking success in the postseason , now might be the time for change. The team has a litany of stars at several positions , but there seems to be a lack of conviction among the managerial staff in spite of the best intentions coming from the front office . GM Billy Eppler and owner Arte Moreno have all but thrown the kitchen sink in seeking to bolster the Angels’ lineup over the last few years. As of Monday night the Angels sat third within the AL West , looking up at the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros . Scioscia will be preparing the team for sets of games against the Baltimore Orioles , Seattle Mariners and Colorado Rockies over the next few days. . The first of those games takes place on Wednesday afternoon as the Los Angeles Angels face the Baltimore Orioles at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California . Teammates, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols have fared well against the Orioles and I would expect the result to be in the team’s favor.

Yu Darvish failed miserably in his stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the evidence there for all to see during the Dodgers’ abysmal displays during the postseason of 2017. Darvish was sent packing by the Dodgers and he was picked up by the Chicago Cubs , whose faith in the Japanese star has to come to fruition. To date ,Yu Darvish has appeared in five games for the Cubs with a 5.26 ERA this season. His next projected start for the team ,will seem him face the Colorado Rockies in a game to be played at Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois on Wednesday 2nd May , 2018 . Darvish is set to earn $25 million for this season, though he is not the highest paid starting pitcher on the team’s roster with that role going to Jon Lester .

This should be a good season for the Chicago Cubs as they seek a return to form which saw them prevail in the World Series in 2016.

They remain the most heralded ball-club in baseball with the most World Series’ wins and AL Pennant victories as well as being the most profitable and valuable team in the game. Hard to believe however that it has been almost a decade since the New York Yankees were last known as world champions.With the ouster of Joe Girardi as the team’s manager , Aaron Boone has succeeded Girardi and will be looking to transform the roster into a competitive and combative unit. With the Boston Red Sox having started off their season on a tear, the Yankees have in essence been looking up at their divisional foe with a great deal envy . Giancarlo Stanton , Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius are seen as the players to lead this team moving forward , with elder statesman Jacoby Ellsbury seemingly out of favor and sidelined also. It will be interesting to see how good this Yankees’ offense can be, while coinciding with their pitching lineup .

Aaron Boone will have his team back on the mound on Thursday when the New York Yankees face the Houston Astros.

Jose Bautista has been one of the most explosive players in baseball for a number of years and his bat has always done the talking for the Toronto Blue Jays . Unfortunately, for both the Jays and Bautista , the ball-club has never been able to meet the expectations of their fans. The organization remains the only professional sport’s franchise within baseball that is not based in America. Toronto , Ontario is home to the two-time World Series champions. I would dare say the owners of this franchise would nothing better than to make it back into the postseason with the culmination of a run to the title itself.

The Jays will begin a weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida this Friday with starting pitchers J A Happ of the Blue Jays facing Andrew Kittredge of the Rays. . As with any of their previous series over the last six years , these contests have always proven to be very interesting. I don’t believe that Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays can win their division , but I do believe they are in with a chance of making the postseason, if they can find some consistency to their game.

At this point last season several teams season within Major League Baseball several teams had yet to find some semblance of consistency and the same can be said today , as the teams amble their way through the month of May.

They may not look like the best team in baseball at present in spite of their record , but Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox is playing like an All Star and based on his stats and WAR , he might just be the best player in the game at present. Betts is having a career year and having just broken one of the most hallowed records of the franchise . It would be fair to suggest Betts has to be seen as the best player on a very talented Red Sox roster. As of the 3rd May Betts’ batting average , .370 on the season with an on-base percentage of .449 and an OPS of 1.299 . It will be interesting to see what this right-fielder can for the Red Sox in his next ten games as the team looks to increase its divisional lead in the AL East.



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For the moment in the world of sports, there are stories yet to unfold , athletes set to explode and we should be seeing something special throughout the 2018 sports’ calendar. So what are your expectations ?

🙂

Tophatal ………


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Not Here To Be Anyone’s Stepping Stone ….

Not   Here  To  Be  Anyone’s  Stepping   Stone

So here   we  are  in the lead-up to  the  Christmas   schedule  of the      NBA     season  and   all  is  not  necessarily  well  for  a  number  of     teams around  the  NBA.    Reigning  NBA champions  the Golden   State   Warriors  are  the  best  team  in  the  league ,  even  if  their   present  record  doesn’t     reflect  that.   Until  they’re knocked  off their pedestal  then  they will  remain  the  bar  against   who everybody  else will  be  judged.   LeBron James remains  the  league’s best  all-round  player ,  albeit   that  the Cleveland   Cavaliers  are  now   having   some  teething issues  concerning  their  lineup.   Head coach   Tyronn  Lue  has  yet  to    figure   out  his   best   starting   lineup   among  his  team  of  highly  touted  stars. The Cavaliers themselves  have already   faced stern tests against some strong opponents early on in their schedule.


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Up next for the Cleveland Cavaliers will be a game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday 8th December, 2017. I’ve no doubt that the Cavaliers will be around for the NBA Playoffs, but I do believe this team might not be equipped to handle the improvement seen in several of their conference rivals if the Playoffs were to start today. While the Boston Celtics continue to take the league by storm , I am beginning to wonder if this Brad Stevens’ coached team are meant to be the real deal. Kyrie Irving is proving to be a force to be reckoned as he inspire the teammates around him. I do believe he has become a difference maker for the Celtics and I expect Boston to be more than an adequate match for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston’s bench has complemented the lineup and it might be among one of the many reasons they are so good this season. .

Brad Stevens will prepare his team for their next game when the Boston Celtics face the San Antonio Spurs on the road this Friday evening. This should prove to be one of the best games of the night on the schedule. I truly believe Brad Stevens is the best young coach in the NBA and his learning curve has vastly improved since he became the head coach of the Boston Celtics . GM Danny Ainge struck gold with his choice of hiring the former Butler coach.

I was once told that the Los Angeles Clippers were considered a legitimate contender for the NBA title during the tenure of Donald Sterling’s owning the franchise. Considering the Clippers’ playoff appearances were sporadic , I believe those claims were laughable to say the very least. This season the Clippers have struggled and the departure of point guard Chris Paul has left a massive vacuum on the roster . Head coach Doc Rivers and his coaching staff are at a loss to explain the Clippers’ poor record and it has become a talking point around the league. Over their last twelve games the Los Angeles Clippers have not been competitive at all and it paints a poor picture of a franchise now on the decline. There could be some drastic changes being made to the Clippers’ lineup if this team finds itself completely out of the playoff race by the trade deadline . Rivers and key members of the front office will have some decisions to make which would have some long-lasting and serious repercussions for the franchise moving forward. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are carrying this team but it’s clearly not enough given the dire circumstances they now face. .

In their next game the Los Angeles Clippers are due to face the the Washington Wizards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on the 9th December , 2017.

Carmelo Anthony has been a scoring champion in the NBA , two-time Olympic gold medalist , multi-time NBA All Star , but the one thing lacking on his resume’ are is an NBA championship ring. His tenures in Denver with the Denver Nuggets and then the New York Knicks has brought little personal or team success for the seasoned veteran. Having been acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder the player seems to be more of a liability instead of being an asset for the team . Barely over .500 , with Paul George , Russell Westbrook and Anthony as part of the lineup it is almost inexplicable to explain the reasons why the team is failing. If it is not Billy Donovan and his coaching staff at fault , then the responsibility lies with the lackluster performances of the players themselves. Other than Russell Westbrook not one player on the roster is among the league’s top-twenty scorers in the NBA .

If the Oklahoma City Thunder are not in a position to challenge for a playoff berth by April then their chances of actually making an appearance is likely to diminish even more so. For the moment this Billy Donovan coached team will have to take it one step at a time , one day at a time. Up next for the Thunder will be a game against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday evening.

Say what you will, but LaVar Ball is certainly making a name for himself on the national pages of the nation’s papers as well as on the sports’ pages . Ball Sr has been in the midst of a spat with President
Donald Trump
and his playing a part in the release of his son, LiAngelo Ball a player with the UCLA Bruins’ basketball team. LiAngelo and two other teammates were arrested by Chinese authorities , after the trio were caught stealing from three department stores in Beijing , China. The Bruins program was in China as part of a goodwill gesture and to take part in a local tournament. The incident caught everyone off-guard, including the State Department , Athletics Department of UCLA , much to the embarrassment of the President and his entourage. In the aftermath of the players’ release , with the help of the US Embassy in the Chinese capital and officials of the State Department . It has to be said that LaVar Ball has not sought to reprimand his son for his felonious behavior. He has seen fit to be critical of the university , after they made the decision to suspend him indefinitely , but the patriarch has since decided to remove his son from UCLA altogether. LiAngelo Ball’s academic future doesn’t seem all that bright and I seriously doubt that he would be accepted by a Division 1 program or for that matter a D2 program in the NCAA . In all likelihood, any ambitions of being seen as a high draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft will be placed on the back-burner . .

LaVar Ball’s eldest son Lonzo Ball is now making a name for himself in his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers . As things now stand , Lonzo and teammate Kyle Kuzma might be the only bright spots on a team still learning the ropes under their sophomore head coach Luke Walton . Over their last eight games the Los Angeles Lakers are a mediocre 2-6 and the teething pains are there for all to see. . It will be interesting to see how the this team maneuvers their Christmas schedule as this becomes one of the most pivotal times of the NBA regular season. Lonzo Ball and his teammates will next be in action when they face the Charlotte Hornets in a road game this Saturday (9th December).

A great deal is expected of the Houston Rockets this season and James Harden is simply looking to prove that his performances of last year as no fluke . Harden leads the league in scoring at this point of the season and his productivity for the Rockets has been scintillating to say the very least . The addition of point guard Chris Paul to the roster has been added bonus for head coach Mike D’Antoni and the franchise’s new owner , billionaire entrepreneur Tillman Fertitta .

I expect the Houston Rockets to be among the movers and shakers within the Western Conference this season and they are certainly one of the biggest threats to the continued dominance of the Golden State Warriors. These two teams are likely to be among the top contenders for the conference title at the end of this season if last season’s competitiveness was anything to go by. While many believe James Harden was a worthy candidate for League MVP and the fact he lost out to Russell Westbrook by a slim margin was a clear indication as to how good both players were over the course of last season .

James Harden could very well end up being this season’s League MVP if he continues at his current pace , though not yet matching the feats of last season. He’s clearly one of the most dynamic players in the league today , even if his defensive capabilities do come into question. Harden and the Houston Rockets have an upcoming game against the Portland Traiblazers which will be a Western Conference road match-up .

Steph Curry , Kevin Durant and the members of the Golden State Warriors might not be setting a blistering pace at present but if there’s one thing clear with or without either of their two big stars , this team remains among the best in the NBA . I am not about to suggest the two are interchangeable concerning the lineup , but in all honesty, any doubters of the Warriors are not that intelligent. Golden State will not be in action over the weekend, but the Warriors will return to the court on Monday night to face the Portland Trailblazers at home.


 


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At this point of the NBA season, which team has impressed you the most and which do you believe has been the biggest disappointment ?

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  Tophatal    ….. 12/07/2017

Milquetoast, Milk and Being Breast Fed

Milquetoast, Milk and Being Breast Fed

So now that the World Series was concluded with a decisive game-seven win by the Houston Astros in their defeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers . We can now put to rest the whining of the obnoxious and continually clueless Dodgers’ fans. Their insights when offered up, were about as useful as being told that the case of gonorrhea contracted, was nothing but a mild scare . The fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t not be as dominant as their fans believed them to be , was just one more indication concerning the fact there are no leaders on the team , certainly not from a vocal point among the managerial staff or among the players themselves. As good as Clayton Kershaw was seen to be during the postseason and in the series itself, once again we had on display another Dodgers’ team which couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain when it came to the postseason. Yet you wonder why it has been almost three decades since they last won a World Series? LOL, LOL, LOL !!!


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During this off-season the front office executives of the Los Angeles Dodgers will have some tough decisions to make concerning the makeup of the roster moving forward. It is becoming abundantly clear the Dodgers cannot continue to amass a roster of stars and pay them handsomely while getting nothing equitable in return. Granted, there are several young stars on the team most notably Corey Seager , Kenley Jansen and Cody Bellinger . Dodgers’ Head of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and GM Farhan Zaidi will contend with the wishes of senior executives Magic Johnson , Stan Kasten and Managing Partner Mark Walter . The purse strings of the roster will have to be lessened and not widened , but knowing the machinations of Johnson and his wish to bring a championship to the franchise , nothing might be off the table including their possible desire to acquire the Miami Marlins’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton who is still owed over $260 million on the remaining years of his current thirteen-year deal with the Marlins.

With the Miami Marlins now under new ownership , led by Bruce Sherman , Senior Managing Partner , with Derek Jeter in a CEO role , along with minority stakeholder , Michael Jordan . It will be interesting to see what steps will be taken by the group as they will no doubt seek to pare down the ball-club’s expenses as well as the payroll . Jeter believes the payroll must be slashed to what he believes is a more manageable sum of $90 million for the upcoming season. If that is to be the case, then all signs point to the trading of Giancarlo Stanton who is due to be paid $25 million in 2018, rising to a high of $32 million in 2025 before falling back to $25 million in 2028 , which would be the final year of his contract. I certainly don’t believe that the Marlins would be in a position to bear the full brunt of honoring the deal , even if the trade of Stanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers were to take place. The Florida based franchise remains one of the most unprofitable in all of baseball , in spite of its recent sale price of $1.2 billion .

Jeffrey Loria’s departure as the former owner of the Miami Marlins couldn’t have come at a better time for the franchise and for baseball in general. Loria remains one of the most despised owners in baseball , but quite possibly among the most hated owners in all of professional sports. He might well be close to rivaling Jerry Jones the always comical owner of the Dallas Cowboys . These two owners share a great deal in common, more than anyone would really care to acknowledge. Of late there would appear to be a growing feud between Jerry Jones and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell , with the Cowboys’ owner seemingly having placed pressure on Goodell, after his uncharacteristic comments , having spoken with other franchise owners over the continued displacement and impeding the return of Colin Kaepernick back into the NFL. Still available as a free agent quarterback, Kaepernick cannot find any takers for his services in the league, while there is growing list of passers now on the injured reserve or PUP list. .

Jerry Jones is also taking aim at the Commissioner, believing that Roger Goodell lied to him about the actions that would be taken against Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliot . Jones it is said, has now hired a top-notch Dallas law firm , filing a lawsuit against the league’s top executive , seeking to block his contract extension. The actions of Jerry Jones comes across as being extremely petty, but given the magnitude of Jones’ claims and the pressure being brought to bear with the continued protest by NFL players , decline in television viewership of the NFL games , as well as Colin Kaepernick’s own lawsuit filed in US Federal District Court against the league and franchise owners , claiming collusion on their part . These are indeed troubling times for the league and the owners in particular. There has been no formal comment from Roger Goodell, but I do believe , he will have his own legal counsel take a look at the suit filed by the Cowboys’ owner.

Ben McAdoo the beleaguered head coach of the New York Giants is said to be contemplating the benching of the team’s starting quarterback Eli Manning . Say what you will, but there can be no denying that the Giants’ 1-7 record is simply a reflection of how bad this team really is . You can make the claim that their woes are not Manning’s fault alone, but I would suggest , Eli Manning is not a vocal leader and he tends to place blame elsewhere for his own failures, not wanting at all to ever take responsibility for his team’s lack of competitiveness. He may well have guided the Giants to two Superbowl victories , but if you take those achievements off his resume’ and you stake a claim, that Eli Manning is not even a worthy borderline candidate for the Hall of Fame .

The lone victory for the New York Giants this season came in week six when they defeated the Denver Broncos by the score of 23-10 . It would be also fair to suggest this was not one of Eli Manning’s best games at this point on the Giants’ schedule. . When Manning and his teammates face the San Francisco 49ers (0-8) this weekend in an all NFC clash , these two teams won’t be playing for anything more than pride.

So after the rather laughable extravaganza put together jointly by the UFC and Mayweather Promotions Inc , which was the highest viewed boxing match in cable history , featuring Conor McGregor (0-1) taking on unbeaten welterweight multi-titlist , Floyd Mayweather Jr . The world of MMA can now get back to its roots, while UFC President Dana White can return from his flight of folly. There might well have been more than 3 .2 million pay-per-view buys for the boxing match between the two stars, but with White now acknowledging , refunds will be granted to dissatisfied customers . I can’t help but wonder if the UFC executive will be trying another PT Barnum spectacle of possibly having another of his UFC stars possibly face Joey Chestnut in a hot-dog eating contest ? It seems that the UFC will go to just about any length to try and promote its brand , even after being bought by entertainment conglomerate WME Endeavors . .

In his long-awaited return to the octagon , former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre would face reigning Middleweight Champion , veteran British fighter Michael Bisping . The bout would provide Bisping with the biggest payday of his MMA career, but it would also lead to his embarrassing defeat . having been tapped out by submission (third round) in a rear naked choke-hold. Michael Bisping having suffered this defeat has vowed to fight on rather than retiring , believing that he’s still capable of competing at an elite level within the UFC and among the current crop of middleweights. St Pierre notwithstanding, I believe he would be hard pressed to defeat the newly crowned champion in a rematch.

Georges St-Pierre joins a select group MMA fighters within the UFC to have won a title in two different weight categories. He’s already considered among the greatest MMA fighters in UFC history and this historic victory simply adds to the illustrious career of the future Hall of Fame bound MMA fighter. . With an estimated fortune in the region of $35 million , St Pierre could rest on his laurels , but to my mind , with his triumphant return , he now becomes the biggest draw in the sport, while being a far more accomplished MMA fighter than Conor McGregor. The champion’s next opponent could very well be Interim Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker , who was ringside when George St-Pierre dethroned Michael Bisping for the title. At this juncture the French-Canadian titleholder , has stated he will be taking a much-needed vacation before speaking with his agent concerning his first defense of the middleweight title.

OK , so all is not right in the world when it comes to the Miami Heat , with former players now taking pot-shots at the two-time championship winning head coach Erik Spoelstra . The latest player to place the coach within his sights is the now retired Ray Allen . For whatever reason, Allen can now count former Heat teammates , Dwyane Wade and LeBron James as foes , while possibly adding Spoelstra to the list. Bitterness doesn’t come close to describing the animus Allen has towards his former coach and it is widely believed , it has been his remarks which also led to his now distant relationship with another former teammate, Paul Piece , Finals MVP when the Boston Celtics last won the NBA title . Allen’s animus towards Erik Spoelstra as well several former teammates has me wondering what the problem might be and whether or not it was due to the lack of their acknowledging his contributions in the championship triumphs of both the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat ?

For the Miami Heat in particular this has been a troubling time for the coaching staff of Erik Spoelstra as he tries to settle on his best starting lineup while seeking to get the best possible results , from this team . Goran Dragic remains the best player on the roster this season , but for the Heat to compete , this team will certainly have to raise the level of their game. Up next for the Miami Heat will be a game against the Washington Wizards at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida,.

As the NBA season begins to take shape several of teams are having issues both at home as well as on the road . By far the three best teams in the league are the Boston Celtics , Houston Rockets , Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons by way of win-percentage . In the coming days all of these teams will be in action as they seek to further their divisional standings. . Considered to be the high point of the regular season, the NBA’s Christmas scheduling should proving to very interesting for the teams in action over that period .

This time of the year in the sport’s world tends to be very entertaining as well as thrilling . What specific event are you most looking forward to as we enter this period ?

Tophatal 11/09/2019 ………


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The Old Man And The Sea ………

The Old Man And The Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Tophatal …….. 10/26/2017

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

If You Snooze You Lose …….

If You Snooze You Lose …

So while the NFL becomes a battlefield and we have the President (Donald Trump) chiming with his own thoughts on the issue of patriotism. Let’s pause for thought, he calls players who choose not to stand “sons of bitches” , but clearly won’t appreciate it is within their right not to stand . Bear in mind , neither Donald Trump or his administration thus far, specifically the US Defense Department seems to have a problem paying out millions of dollars annually merely to have the national anthem paid the league’s regular season games. Am I missing something here ? I guess not !!! The league itself has got off to an inauspicious start and as usual idiots were quick to make prognostications without actually looking at the teams in depth.

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At long last the New York Knicks awoke from their slumber and their first act under the leadership of Scott Perry was to make the decision to trade Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for a bag of Juju beans and pot of gold. I will be exact , Anthony was traded for Enes Kanter , Doug McDermott and a second round unconditional 2018 NBA Draft pick . This trade has Sam Presti coming off looking like damn genius. From my own standpoint, this simply makes the Knicks even more vulnerable while the Thunder becomes a top-five team in the West Conference and a possible contender for the NBA title this upcoming season.

Last season , the New York Knicks were woefully inept in just about every facet of their game and it begs the question, where the hell does this franchise now go from here ? Is Jeff Hornacek as the team’s Head Coach , still able to get the best out of his players and specifically this newly revamped team ? Hornacek is in way above his head and I don’t believe the New York Knicks will be competitive enough this season to win their division much less be considered a playoff contender. This Knicks’ roster is extremely poor , with a lack of scoring after the departure of Carmelo Anthony.

The New York Knicks’ loss becomes the Oklahoma City Thunder’s gain, with the Western Conference becoming a great deal stronger than their Eastern rivals. In all likelihood the reigning champions the Golden State Warriors will be the prohibitive favorites to repeat as champions for the upcoming season . The team’s depth might be even better than last season, with much of its core remaining intact. It will be interesting to see how the Golden State Warriors will fare during their regular season meetings with the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. The first of those meetings will take place on the 22nd November on the road when the two meets for the first time as part of their regular season schedule.

If Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson are to turn around the recent lack of fortune for the Los Angeles Lakers , then these two idiots had better start reading the NBA handbook concerning league conduct , rather than believing they and the franchise are above the league’s rules. It wasn’t by coincidence the NBA hierarchy slapped the Lakers with a rather punitive fine , but I believe Johnson and Pelinka’s actions in trying to lure Paul George to sign with the franchise , when the player had yet to state his declaring status , smacked of sheer conceitedness. George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder by the Indiana Pacers , much to the chagrin of the Lakers , most notably their executives GM Rob Pelinka and Head of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson.

The Los Angeles Lakers will enter this season with one of their weakest teams in franchise history. While there has been a great deal of ballyhoo concerning Lonzo Ball , the rookie has yet to play a game at the professional level . Summer League asides , it will be interesting to see how Ball will seek to break down some of the best defenses in the league , when playing on a team that is actually devoid of in-depth talent . Luke Walton and his coaching staff are likely to have a problematical season as the Lakers seek to find a groove. I for one don’t see a vast improvement on the twenty-six wins by the franchise last season and they will be lucky if they are able to improve on that figure by a significant margin.

Lonzo Ball and his teammates will begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers , which will be the Lakers’ home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California . With the Clippers also in a state of disarray after the abrupt departure of Chris Paul , it could very well be that the City of Angels’ two NBA franchises will be mired in mediocrity this upcoming season. The relationship between Doc Rivers and Chris Paul might well have reached breaking point and with the lack of defensive prowess on the Clippers last season and their fall from grace in the NBA Playoffs might well have been far too much for the veteran point guard to bear.

Somehow the Los Angeles Clippers will try to prove themselves a better team without Chris Paul than they are a team with him. Paul was the glue that held the team together last season and he provided the Clippers with the leadership they were sorely lacking from seasons past. When Steve Ballmer purchased the Clippers for $2 billion , it was hoped the erasing of Donald Sterling’s ownership would be gone for good , bringing about a new era of sanity within the organization. Instead , it has brought about a great deal of intrinsic complacency, far too much power with Doc Rivers not only being the Head Coach but also Director of Basketball Operations . Lawrence Frank might well be the President of Basketball Operations , but I doubt he has that much say in the personnel decisions made for the organization. Far too many Chiefs and not enough Indians . Hall of Fame player Jerry West has since been added to the mix as a Special Consultant . A similar role which he had in being the architect in the successful resurrection of the Golden State Warriors. Needless to say, if both Rivers , Frank and Michael Winger fail to heed the advice provided by the legendary player then the fortunes of the Clippers will sink further into the abyss.

A great deal is now being asked of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan , to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to glory , but I am not so sure either player has the maturity or temperament to get the job done. In the NBA Playoffs of last season the Clippers gave us a glimpse as to why they remain vulnerable and very much overrated . Defense is not a word in their vocabulary and it never has been with Doc Rivers leading the charge as the Head Coach . When the Clippers begin their regular season schedule , it will be interesting to see how this team fares through their first ten games.

It never ceases to amaze me when I read some of the idiotic comments by fans concerning a number of teams within the NBA ! More often than not, there hasn’t been a great deal of thought put into their assessments never-mind the statements made. Recently I read a comment by an avid sports’ fans , in which the individual stated the “window of opportunity” continues to close for the San Antonio Spurs . Less I am mistaken , with twenty straight Playoff appearances, a feat that has not been matched by any other NBA franchise in league history , then there has to be something wrong with the mindset of the individual. Need we be reminded that along the way , the Spurs have won five NBA titles under Gregg Popovich as the team’s Head Coach ? Popovich’s coaching staff is considered to be one of the best in the league and throughout the years a number of his former assistants have gone on to hold head coaching positions around the league. RC Buford has also groomed a lot of executive talent, who have since moved on to hold similar positions as a general manager within the NBA. I don’t believe there are any other teams around the league with that type of credibility as an organization and then you weigh in the consummate class and professionalism shown by Peter Holt . Nothing else needs to be said at this juncture.

It has been over a decade and a half since the San Antonio Spurs had a sub.500 season in the NBA and not win their division. Things began to change in terms of the franchise’s recent history when the Spurs made future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan their first round draft pick from the 1997 NBA Draft . Duncan’s career with the franchise are what legends are made of and it is a testament to the player’s legacy that he is held in such high esteem by his contemporaries . Having retired from the game at the end of the 2015-16 season , Duncan is a franchise leader in so many statistical categories with the San Antonio Spurs. His five NBA titles in tow with Gregg Popovich are symbolic of his legacy and this franchise.

The team which Tim Duncan left behind has now evolved with Kawhi Leonard seen as its leader, but veterans Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli remain part of its core. Leonard has become one of the league’s elite players , having twice won the NBA Defensive Player of The Year Award , his game has now evolved , with his becoming efficient on both ends of the floor.

As long Gregg Popovich is at the coaching helm of the San Antonio Spurs, then this team can never be written off. Only a fool would continue to underestimate the Spurs at their own expense. Last season San Antonio had the second-best record in the league , with only the Golden State Warriors having a better record while going on to win their second NBA title in the last three years. If the Spurs are to compete within a much more formidable Western Conference this season , then their games against stalwarts such as the Warriors , Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder should go a long way in telling us about the team , in particular Kawhi Leonard’s teammates LaMarcus Aldridge , Patty Mills , Pau Gasol , Danny Green , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli.

The San Antonio Spurs’ preseason will consist of will consist of just five games , before embarking upon their regular season schedule beginning on the 18th October when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas .

When Tilman Fertitta agreed in principle to buy the Houston Rockets for a reputed $2.2 billion , the sale price got everyone’s notice. The Rockets are not considered a big-market team , but the exploits of James Harden this past season has placed the franchise back into the stratosphere. Outgoing owner Leslie Alexander wasn’t desperate to make the sale , but he felt in order for the Rockets to move forward , now was the right time and Fertitta was the right owner to make it all possible. With Chris Paul having joined Houston in a totally inexplicable trade , the Los Angeles Clippers’ loss will be come the Rockets’ gain , their greatest gain over the past three seasons that is for sure. There is no doubt in my mind the Western Conference will literally take their opponents in the East this season and simply beat the living crap out of them all season-long !!

James Harden scored against everyone almost at will , keeping up a frenetic pace , to such an extent , it had everyone wondering was there anything else he wasn’t capable of doing last season. The Rockets will be a contender this season and there is no doubt in mind they are more than capable of beating the very best that the East will have to offer. As to their contemporaries within the West, that remains to be seen , but this will be a very interesting season for the franchise. Harden and his teammates will begin their regular season in earnest when they face the Golden State Warriors on Opening Night , 17th October in a game being played at Oracle Arena in Oakland , California .

So LeBron James is giving fans in Cleveland assurances that he won’t be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers anytime soon. Personally, I don’t believe it is a long-term commitment from the player , as his relationship with Dan Gilbert has continued to sour , without taking into account the rumored disintegration of his friend ship with former teammate Kyrie Irving . The point guard was traded to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isiah Thomas . On paper the trade might seem to be equitable, until you take into account Thomas is coming off an injury and off-season surgery. The Cavaliers’ front office failed to use due diligence and threatened to rescind the deal , only to be forced to go ahead with the transaction after some intervention from the league hierarchy and the fact Kyrie Irving made it known he had no wish to remain in Cleveland. The Cavaliers remain the team to beat within the East, but I don’t believe the team in its current guise will have it all their own way within the East over the course of this season !

The Cleveland Cavaliers will have to come out of the starting gates firing on all cylinders , because I believe they will be in for a world of hurt if Isiah Thomas cannot find his footing , because to my mind , Derrick Rose has absolutely nothing left in the tank , whereby he can be productive for the Cavaliers. This much was evident with his play last season for the lackluster New York Knicks. Thankfully, the Cavaliers play in a weak division and a continuously mediocre Eastern Conference. If they qualify as a top four-seed, then the NBA Playoffs within the conference should not prove to be that much of a problem.

Not one , not two , not three , not four , but at least six NBA titles. Well that was the notion of the Miami Heat when they signed LeBron James as a free agent, as the four-time League MVP would join close friends Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh . Heat executive Pat Riley was hailed as a genius and history was quickly made with the franchise. Four consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals , yielded two victories , but then things began to get sour as Riley refused to bolster the roster , much to the chagrin of James. What LeBron failed to understand , while the Miami Heat were winning , the ever-increasing payroll could not keep abreast of the franchise continuing to hemorrhage red ink along its bottom line . It’s still something LeBron James is still not able to fathom in Cleveland with the Cavaliers having lost in excess of $80 million over the last two years.

Dwyane Wade after a nostalgic return to the state of Illinois , where he played last season for the Chicago Bulls , has agreed to a buyout of his contract , then chose to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It had been rumored Riley would have been interested in signing Wade , with the seasoned veteran becoming the team’s leader. The fact that this did not take place speaks to the volume of resentment I still believe there is between the player and the Heat executive . Behind the scenes, Pat Riley has often been ruthless and brutal , but in public he tries to come across as a likable character. Machiavelli has nothing on this particular executive . Like a moth to a flame it appears that everyone wants to be with LeBron , while the player himself has always tried to tell us he’s never played on a Super Team .

John Paxson and Gar Forman of the Chicago Bulls now have the unenviable task of trying to persuade the long-starving fans of the Bulls, they are on the right track to rebuilding this franchise. The glory years of the Jordan led teams to six NBA titles are a thing of the past and it appears an imminent return to those halcyon days are nowhere near apparent. Chicago’s best player of last season Jimmy Butler was sent to the Minnesota Timberwolves , with the belief that a fresh start behind a youth-oriented lineup would be the way ahead. A sighting of Dennis Rodman wearing a wedding dress , professing his love for all things magical now seems to reverberating around the city of Chicago . Lamar Odom now has his eyes on becoming a pharmacist , dispensing medical marijuana to those desperately in need and Bulls’ owner , Jerry Reinsdorf is now on the brink of having a nervous breakdown. Guess what ? You snooze , you lose .

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Which things are you most looking forward to as the NBA preseason and regular season beckons ? Do you believe the Golden State Warriors can make a successful defense or their NBA title ? Also which NBA Rookie do you believe will have the biggest impact on the league this upcoming season ?

Tophatal ….

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Time For Change ……

Time For Change …

Baseball has entered the last complete month of its regular season and there is a great deal on the line for several teams . The likelihood is that there will be major changes within several of the organizations either from a managerial standpoint or among the front office. We already know the Miami Marlins will see a change in ownership with the Sherman group coming in led by Bruce Sherman , Derek Jeter and Michael Jordan . Jeter and Jordan give more visibility to the ownership group because of their high profiles .,instant visibility and name recognition . Yet, I am not so sure that will be enough to turn around an organization which his has been mismanaged and starved of resources by outgoing owner Jeffrey Loria .


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Within the NL East the Miami Marlins have played themselves out of contention for the divisional title and while their hopes are faint for a wildcard berth , they remain in the hunt for one of the two positions on offer. Fans have been salivating over the season attained by Giancarlo Stanton and his having hit a franchise record fifty-four home runs. Sixty remains out of his reach and while this is all admirable for the player , I don’t believe he will be taking home the NLMVP for this season . I believe it would be a great disservice to the other leading candidates who have contributed to a winning season for their teams who have been in the hunt throughout much of the season. The same cannot be said for the Miami Marlins at any point during this season . Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff are likely to be retained but I do believe Derek Jeter will be looking to bring in his own people to run the front office. Jeter’s role will be to oversee the overall operations with the new general manager reporting to him directly.

The Miami Marlins will be in action over the weekend as they continue their current series against the Milwaukee Brewers at home. With very little to play for other than pride , it is imperative the Marlins round out their regular season on a high note.

Say what you will , but I do believe seven years is more than enough for a Big League Manger to try and turn an organization around . The New York Mets have been a complete bust with the triumvirate of front office executives , Sandy Alderson , JP Ricciardi and manager Terry Collins at the helm. The trio have gotten to the stage, where they might be even funnier than The Three Stooges and The Marx Brothers. Comedic pratfalls being one thing, but the level of incompetence seen with the Mets over the past seven years has sunk to a new low. This team has been far from being competitive and there has not been one saving grace to suggest they have been worth watching at any point during 2017. Their fans are not only opinionated . but also clearly delusional and obnoxious as always. The Mets have several free agents at the end of this season as well as players set for arbitration and it will be interesting to see the decisions made by Sandy Alderson as they will undoubtedly make changes.

An injury-prone and non-productive David Wright is of no use to the New York Mets and it is unclear why he remains part of the Mets roster . Wright’s best years are behind him , certainly not ahead of him and it is hard to envisage who is meant to be the leader on a team of highly overpaid players . Granted , the Mets don’t have a payroll which ranks alongside the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees their crosstown rivals . Yet clearly the organization believes they rank up there alongside teams of that caliber, having not shown anything of note this season much less over the past five seasons. Another failed year and the idiocy of continually suggest they have prospects when many of them since 2010 haven’t stepped up to the plate , leads me to believe this organization and their fans are just eternal optimists.

Terry Collins will lead the team into action on Saturday when the New York Mets will face the Atlanta Braves at Sun Trust Park in Atlanta , Georgia . The opposing pitchers will be Jacob deGrom of the Mets as he goes up against R A Dickey , the knuckle-baller who once played for the Mets. This game isn’t critical for both teams but it should prove to be interesting just as many of their regular season meetings have been this season. If this is to be Terry Collins’ last season with the Mets , then his departure can’t come about quick enough along with the dead weight of players who have under-performed over the course of this season. The same can be said for Sandy Alderson and JP Ricciardi .

For Dusty Baker a great deal of weight has been placed upon his shoulders ever since he assumed the role as manager of the Washington Nationals succeeding Matt Williams in the position. With stars such as Bryce Harper , Gio Gonzalez , Stephen Strasburg and Daniel Murphy on the roster , it was assumed it would plain sailing for the ball-club . Instead near misses and a lack consistency prevailed with regard to their postseason ambitions . Washington has seen the rise of the Chicago Cubs with the end of their one hundred and ten-year drought . I get the feeling Baker and the entire Washington Nationals’ organization wouldn’t mind being in the driver’s seat while being called World Series champions.

The Washington Nationals have not made a postseason appearance since 2014 when they appeared in the NLDS losing to the San Francisco Giants in four games . In the three subsequent yeas the ball-club is eager to make another return to the postseason. A commanding lead in the NL East , the Nationals will be there and everything suggests they will be among the favorites for the NL Pennant . . Baker and his team are in the midst of a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers being played at Nationals Ballpark in Washington , DC. Game two of the current three game series takes place today , Saturday 16th September , 2017. It will be interesting to see what Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper are able to do in this series against the Dodgers. Dusty Baker and his managerial counterpart Dave Roberts are different stages of their managerial careers , but both are under a great deal of pressure to succeed.

While I wasn’t surprised by the sale of the Miami Marlins , the price paid by the new owners was simply ludicrous and outrageous. The Marlins are not a big market team and their accessibility by way of marketing revenues is nowhere as great as baseball’s hierarchy would have us believe. Bruce Sherman and business partners may well have paid $1.2 billion for the team , with Jeffrey Loria’s original asking price being in excess of $2.1 billion , but even in this day and age of wealthy owners within the game of baseball. Unless that ball club is competitive , profitable and a perennial contender then there’s no way in hell they’re worth the type of money now being banded about within the game. The only thing driving these upward trends within baseball’s economics remains the television deals and marketing which MLB continues thrive off.

Baseball’s players are some of the highest paid athletes in the world , but their names are not among the most widely recognized or the most marketable , while being able to attract major commercial sponsors. Mike Trout might well be considered the best player in baseball , but beyond North America the two-time ALMVP is not universally known across the planet. It is indicative of one of the many reasons the sport hasn’t really resonated around the globe even in light of the miserably mundane World Baseball Classic which elicits about as much excitement as watching paint dry on hot Summer’s Day . From Bud Selig to Rob Manfred , baseball and its hierarchy is still figuring out to make the game more widely accepted across the globe.

At this stage last season it was difficult to foresee what was about to happen as the postseason approached . It certainly wasn’t the case where there were many believers in the chances of Chicago Cubs pulling off the impossible , changing the course of the club’s history with their improbable run to the 2016 World Series . Once again they have all but sealed the deal , leading the NL Central as they look to round out the season with another divisional title. Having just ended their weekend series against the St Louis Cardinals with a decisive 4-3 home victory , Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon will now take his team on the road to face his old club the Tampa Bay Rays in a nostalgic visit to Tropicana Field , St Petersburg , Florida on Tuesday 19th September .

While Chicago’s fortunes have risen , the same cannot be said for the Tampa Bay Rays since Joe Maddon’s departure from the organization. The Rays remain in a state of disarray and for manager Kevin Cash things have not come easy for himself and his managerial staff . This team lacks confidence even with the leadership of Evan Longoria at the helm of the roster and the continued lack of self-confidence is no longer bewildering . Rays’ front office executives Brian Auld and Matt Silverman will have their work cut out for them this off-season as they will undoubtedly have to make some changes up and down the team. The penny-pinching , continues as team owner Stuart Sternberg continues to gripe over the reticence of the local governmental authorities to build them a new stadium at their expense.

There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of support coming from Rob Manfred as Stuart Sternberg vies to have a new stadium built. A stark contrast to the efforts of the Miami Marlins, New York Mets and New York Yankees. It seems when you have the ear of baseball’s hierarchy , as it actually counts for something, rather than continually being seen and treated as if you are at the bottom of the food chain. Sternberg is unwilling to put up any of his own money as a sign of good faith to even get the possibility of the project started . Furthermore , there is no evidence to suggest even with the new venue the Tampa Bay Rays’ fan-base of a paltry 23,500 would be able to continually support such an extravagance, with the stadium likely to take years to pay for itself were it to be publicly financed.

Kevin Cash’s position is not necessarily in jeopardy, but how his team looks next season is going to be far more different than the opening day roster of 2017. Make of it what you will , but these are the continued dire times for the Tampa Bay Rays who have been plodding from season to season over the last eight years without a real plan for growth and stability. It might well be another four or five years before the Rays make another return to the postseason. This is an organization devoid of leadership a t all levels within the ball-club and it shows. Evan Longoria has long been considered the franchise’ s best player , but he has never really led by example . Pretty much sums up what to expect from professional sports’ franchises within the Tampa Bay area in general .


Picture gallery . By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture while also reading the accompanying narrative.

This MLB postseason could very well be a very interesting one if the teams thought to be in the hunt play to their full potential . As for those on the outside looking in , they simply have to look at their issues and make the changes necessary .

Tophatal ……… 09/16/2017

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