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 !!!!”

It never rains ,but it does pour and then there’s the 1,000 pound Gorilla in The Room …

It never rains ,but it does pour and then there’s the 1,000 pound Gorilla in The Room …

Well , with the  NFL Pro Bowl   having    taken place   and their being a     victory    for the    AFC    in   defeating     the NFC   , the league can now put to past another meaningless event as part of the      postseason . From my own perspective there is no amount of tinkering which can be done which will make this game all the more appealing for the fans ! These games are always non-competitive and the sole reason for this exhibition , is simply lure the fans out once again and their for them to spend their money needlessly.  NFL   Commissioner    Roger Goodell    and the league hierarchy continue to sell the fans a bill of goods , which is of no real value and then bear in mind , the league still wishes to expand not only the postseason format , but also the number of teams to possibly include a franchise in Latin America as well as Europe. In this day and age , with the current President’s policy of America first, I am beginning to wonder if the league might become all the more jittery concerning President    Donald Trump’s    reach with his new agenda.

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The NFL’s biggest showcase event of the season will take place this Sunday at the NRG Stadium in Houston , Texas, when the Atlanta Falcons will face the New England Patriots in Superbowl LI (51) . This will be the Patriots’ seventh appearance in the big game as they seek to win their fifth Superbowl , while the team’s quarterback Tom Brady will seek to join Hall of Fame players Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana , as the only quarterbacks with four Superbowl victories to their name. Brady and the New England Patriots are likely to be seen as the presumptive favorites in this game, while opposing quarterback Matt Ryan and his teammates will be looking to upset the apple-cart and pull off what would be Falcons’ biggest win the franchise’s history. No doubt Atlanta’s billionaire owner Arthur Blank will be hoping to witness a victory for his team, after the near misses and the real consolation that after the era of Michael Vick , the Falcons can now be viewed as one of the league’s more respectable teams.

If this Superbowl game goes to form , then the fans should be in for a thrilling event , with both teams having been very good through much of the regular season , with each having risen to the occasion in the postseason. Matt Ryan’s record against the New England Patriots is not an enviable one, whereas for Tom Brady , this could be business as usual , considering the three-time Superbowl MVP’s record in the postseason as well as the big game itself. Get ready folks , as the fireworks will be explosive and certainly deafening . The pace of this game could very well be dictated by the pass offense of both teams and the defensive capabilities shown by both secondaries , but it would be remiss not to suggest the rush offense won’t come into play. With over one hundred and fifty million viewers likely to be watching the game domestically and a further 1.6 billion worldwide , this will be the television event of the year as it has been repeatedly over the last two decades.

Two years of frustration and it all led to the firing of head coach Chip Kelly and the subsequent dismissal of GM Trent Baalke by the San Francisco 49ers , as the franchise looks to retrench itself . Kelly was simply abysmal and this constant idiocy of his being a coaching genius , borders on the stupidity of Donald Trump having the wherewithal to defeat ISIS . Ego and outlandish statements cannot make up for common sense and intelligence , for which , both Kelly and Trump are indeed short off ! At no point during his NFL coaching career has Chip Kelly ever been able to get his teams play competitive football. This was clearly indicative of the abysmal season by of the Forty Niners in 2016. How else can you explain the team’s 2-14 record , with a defense which was nowhere to be seen, while the offense continued to spiral out of control faster than fecal matter being flushed down a men’s restroom cubicle ?

In the aftermath of the firing and drama surrounding Colin Kaepernick , the Forty Niners now find themselves at a crossroads , with many calling for the York family to relinquish control of the team and selling the franchise to someone who actually cares about football , as well as the organization itself. The team’s CEO Jed York has now made the decision to replace Trent Baalke and his decision to name a successor , has actually caught everyone off-guard , with the naming of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ strong-safety Jon Lynch . The player has never held an executive role in the NFL , since his retirement and the absurdity of this decision will either come back to bite the Niners in the ass or it will be seen as an ingenious move along the lines of Ozzie Newsome being hired run the operations of the Baltimore Ravens . Newsome has guided the franchise to two Superbowl victories, while several of his picks have produced Pro Bowl caliber players . One could equate Lynch’s hire with that of Matt Millen’s tenure with the Detroit Lions and the abysmal chapter for Lions , while Millen was in charge of all personnel decisions for Detroit. Needless to say , the fans were angered and his dismissal could not come fast enough. I would hate a that a similar fate would await Jon Lynch , but how can anyone have any faith in a member of the York family , as owners of the San Francisco 49ers. Since the departure of Eddie DeBartolo , this franchise has been adrift in an ocean of continued mediocrity .

If Jed York and his family were to consider selling the San Francisco 49ers , then the team could be sold for in excess of $3 billion , based on today’s value alone , without considering their market demographics , as one of the league’s best supported teams. Yet, for the moment, this will all be pure conjecture and a great deal of speculation as to the nature of the ongoing story-lines concerning the Forty Niners.

All of a sudden the Miami Heat have hit a rich vein of form having won seven straight games and placing themselves in with a chance of garnering a playoff berth , but it should be noted with the All Star Game still at the forefront of the players’ thoughts , albeit they still have two weeks of play before the break. It should be noted there has been a great deal of debate about the gross error in judgment by the fans and the continued idiocy of the league hierarchy of allowing the fans have the greatest say in the players placed on the starting rosters for the East and Western Conferences. The omission of Russell Westbrook speaks as to the lack of intelligence among the vast majority of NBA fans and their lack of in-depth knowledge of the game of basketball. To my mind, I feel as if the fans believe they are in fact voting for a contestant on the now defunct television reality show American Idol .

If the fans are being entrusted to with this sort of endeavor in voting for the All Star Game rosters solely based on popularity , then you might as well do away with the game altogether as well as the rest of the festivities which encapsulate the whole weekend encompassing the event. Russell Westbrook is having an exceptional season by anyone’s standards and this idiocy of fans stating their unimpressed shows , might be an indicator of what might be wrong with the NBA in general , they are far too impressed with style over substance. Westbrook has been added to the Western Conference roster as a reserve by Steve Kerr , who will be the coach of the team representing the West. It will be interesting to see how much playing time will given to the point guard during the contest.

Over the past ten days , the league has been very tops-turvy by way of the results and the all too inconsistent play seen from the players and the teams . Yet, still leading the pack within their respective conferences are the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East and the Golden State Warriors in the West. A repeat of last season’s NBA Finals seems to be what the fans want, even if there is once again going to be a great deal of controversy along with the way, with some rather dubious calls from among the officials . There still remains a great deal to play for and the fans seem to be loving every minute of what has been seen this season to date. There will be several games on tap for Monday night , of which the most interesting might be the contest between the Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics , two teams vying for dominance within their divisions as well as having an eye on the NBA Playoffs this season.

Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics has proven himself to be the vocal leader on this Brad Stevens’ coached team . The Celtics have proven themselves to be the surprise team in the East this season , as seen with having the second-best record in the conference behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Serena Williams emphatically stamped her authority on the game of tennis, by winning her twenty-third Grand Slam singles’ title , defeating her sister Venus Williams in the Australian Open Singles Final. In doing so, Williams surpassed the mark of Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Steffi Graf , whose mark of twenty-two has stood for over a decade. Now the question becomes where does Serena Williams rank among the all-time greats among the female players to have graced the professional ranks of tennis?

In what turned out to be a tremendous Men’s Singles Finals , Roger Federer defeated one of his greatest adversaries , Rafael ‘Rafa ‘ Nadal of Spain. This five-set thriller graced the Rod Laver Stadium in Melbourne, Australia , as thousands watched this enthralling game , simply giving the fans everything they could have wanted and a great deal more . Sportsmanship was there to be seen , as was the athleticism and aggressiveness from both of these great players . Sadly, both of these players are now at the twilight of their careers and from my own perspective , Men’s tennis will be all the worse , once they make the decision to make an exit from the game. All due respect to Andy Murray , but your number one ranking , is something of a joke at present !

Spring Training is still over a month away , but already teams have been to assemble their rosters by way of their free agency acquisitions , non-roster invitees and no doubt there will be still more trades to come. Fans are already making a prognosis as to which prospects will be able to contribute for their ball-clubs this season. No doubt the reigning World Series champions will be looking to make a successful defense of the title they won with ease last season.

Major League Baseball really does need to provide the fans with something special this upcoming season and I don’t believe the World Baseball Classic will do anything to add to the perceived notion the game has been losing its way over the past five seasons. Teams continue to be profitable , because of the ever increasing admission prices , concessions and dare one say it , with the renewal of licensing agreements and television contracts, the league hierarchy led by Rob Manfred and the team owners will continue to gloat.

Mike Trout has added another ALMVP award to his resume’ , but the thing one the player desires the most is a World Series ring and championship acclaim. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Los Angeles Angels will getting there anytime soon. With each passing year of near misses or just downright bad luck , this franchise’s continuing downward slide provides little hope for Trout , that his dream will ever come true. Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia , I do not believe he will be managing this team next year, should Los Angeles fall short of Arte Moreno’s wishes. Moreno , the impassioned owner of this team has stood by and given full reign to successive general managers and it has all been to no avail. For Mike Scioscia it’s now all in or bust , or he will be fired with the speed of lightning .

The Los Angeles Angels’ exhibition schedule will be somewhat rudimentary , but the real battles will begin with their regular season schedule and off-course Opening Day . The first game of their 2017 season schedule will be against the Oakland Athletics (A’s) on the 3rd April , 2017 at the O Coliseum in Oakland , California . The struggles of the A’s were apparent for all to see , with their pitching and hitting being inconsistent throughout much of last season . Now with the moves made it will be interesting to see what else will be done by GM Billy Eppler to bolster the roster for the upcoming season. One thing for sure , Mike Trout cannot do it all by himself as he has been asked to do , ever since he first played in an Angels’ uniform in 2012.

When baseball fans start to prognosticate about prospects (up and coming players) it is either , because they have nothing else better to do or they are simply reminding us why their team or teams might have been bad last season. From my own standpoint, these so-called prospects will not be making that great an impact in their first season. Consistency is they key , but not many are able to keep it all up over the prolonged season of one hundred and sixty-two games. Their contributions will be what they are , nothing more and nothing less.

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What aspects of the recent news’ stories have you found to be the most intriguing and with the Superbowl just a few days away , do you believe the game will meet all expectations one feels we are using to seeing ?


Tophatal  … 01/30/2017

Related article : https://tophatal.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new

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So you think you know sports ?

So you think you know sports ?


Well, with the Superbowl slowly approaching and the two participants from the AFC and NFC now in preparation for the NFL’s showcase event. Away from these preparations , we have a litany of news surfacing concerning a number of the league’s franchises. Outside , what appears to be an idiotic remark by Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton interjecting the issue race into the mix, with his stating being a ‘ black quarterback’ in the NFL makes him a target for criticism. I beg to differ Cam, what will make you a target for criticism for the NFL and analysts in general , would be the issue of the Panthers performing poorly and the team not winning. The fact of the matter has been , the Carolina Panthers reeled off fourteen consecutive wins during the regular season , with the team’s only loss coming at the hands of their divisional rivals the Atlanta Falcons.

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Cam Newton for his part through much of the season played at a consistently high level and had several career firsts during the season as well as career records . Head coach Ron Rivera has to be entirely happy with what he saw from his team as they ended the regular season posting a 15-1 record, best in the NFL. Carolina’s opponent for the Superbowl game on the 7th February will be the Denver Broncos , who will be led by their veteran quarterback Peyton Manning. For those questioning Manning’s ability this season , they should consider the fact for much of the year the player was playing injured , something his critics obviously overlooked with their rather asinine prognostication and claiming Manning player was past his prime and his playing days were in fact over. Peyton Manning simply does what he does best and that is to answer those critics by leading the team into the postseason and unto another Superbowl appearance, the third of his career and the second for the Broncos in the last five seasons .

This game is the match-up the fans and analysts undoubtedly wanted to see, with the two best teams in the league vying for the Lombardi Trophy. Carolina are likely to be viewed as slight favorites in the game by the odds-makers in Las Vegas. Gambling on the’ big game’ should run into several hundred million dollars , if not at least one billion or more.

The fiftieth edition of the Superbowl and this is the game the NFL wants to be seen as the event which takes them into the latter half of the decade , with the fans expecting a great deal more. The league and its’ major corporate sponsors will be looking to this game to be a tremendous success competitively and from a commercial standpoint.

The NFL hierarchy has granted permission to the St Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers to relocate to the greater Los Angeles area. Rams’ owner , billionaire real estate and sports’ mogul Stanley Kroenke having bought a vast track of real estate in the town of Industry , California , will now be looking to both municipalities , Industry and the city of Los Angeles to finance a stadium, which will house a proposed new venue for the NFL franchise . While fans of the Rams rejoice about the return of the NFL to the city of Los Angeles , I seriously doubt they are intelligent enough to realize that ramifications involved , both cities proposing the use of taxpayers’ funds for the building of a new stadium for a billionaire who is among the four hundred richest people in America as well as being among the list of billionaires with a net worth exceeding $5 billion . The cities of Industry and Los Angeles still have their fiscal budgetary woes and the league hierarchy likely pressing both cities to facilitate their financing of a new stadium for the St Louis Rams. Stanley Kroenke has not been totally upfront on his proposals , other than to state stadium and the surrounding area will see an aesthetic use of the land with a mixture of commercial and residential use surrounding the $1 billion stadium.

The Spanos family, owners of the San Diego Chargers have not stated categorically, they will relocate the Chargers’ franchise, but all signs seems to be the pointing to the fact , with their negotiations with the city of San Diego at an impasse , their only alternative would be the move to Los Angeles.

The Oakland Raiders after another unfulfilling season in the league , have now sought to make themselves part of the NFL news’ cycle , with front office having met with officials from the city of Las Vegas to discuss their moving the state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas. Over the past two-and-a-half decades the Raiders have long felt the city of Los Angeles has been theirs by territorial right, albeit the franchise has remained noncompetitive since 2004 and have not made a postseason appearance since their loss in the Superbowl to the Tamp Bay Buccaneers . In the ensuing years the Raiders have been a joke and through a string of head coaches since Bill Callahan took the team to their last Superbowl appearance.

Mark Davis as the owner of the Oakland Raiders has remained impervious to the criticism leveled at him by the fans and analysts alike and with each passing season of abject failure , there appears to be no real signs of improvement from any member of the team. Derek Carr was seen as something of a savior for the franchise , but in reality , he cannot do it all by himself and as a quarterback , as he has yet to attain the leadership skills sought to lead the Raiders where they need to be. Carr and the Oakland Raiders were not competitive enough to be viewed as a significant contender within the AFC West or AFC throughout much of this past season. Davis’ reasons for wanting to relocate the Raiders stems from greed and the fact the league hierarchy under Roger Goodell , have never looked favorably on his wish to have the sole territorial rights for the greater Los Angeles area , going unchallenged as the sole NFL franchise within Los Angeles. The NFL would have to grant their blessing for a proposed move by the Oakland Raiders and that is unlikely to happen in time for the upcoming 2016-17 season and so in all likelihood, such a move might not take place for at least another two years .

As baseball enters its silly off-season of movers and shakers among the executives , owners and agents negotiating contracts for free agents and players in arbitration , an interesting morsel of baseball historical news was revealed . Trades and free agent acquisitions have taken place at a fairly rapid pace , with several players signing lucrative deals during this off-season. Yet I believe the biggest news to hit the cycle to hit the world of baseball was the announcement that Ken Griffey Jr and Mike Piazza were to be the two players inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame for the class of 2016. Both players I believe were thoroughly deserving of this illustrious privilege , the highest honor possible for a player outside their winning a World Series’ ring. Future Hall of Fame eligible players for 2017 and 2018 are those who have met the eligibility requirements or those from the past, who will be appearing on ballot as a repeat eligible player .

With each passing year baseball seems to find itself dealing with some form of controversy or this never-ending idiocy of either the MLB hierarchy dumb-founded fans talking about Major League Baseball expansion. Were it not for the fact the hierarchy continues to be so damn clueless , along with the vast majority of the game’s fans and their not realizing the vast majority of the teams are barely financially viable , but yet the talk of expansion continues to raise its ugly head. For the Tampa Bay Rays having seen their hopes dashed repeatedly for a chance to build a new stadium within the city of St Petersburg or the greater Tampa area , as the franchise now appears to be on the verge of leaving the state altogether. Clearly the powers that be , among the civic dignitaries for cities of St Petersburg and Tampa cannot justify or explain to their residents, a thoroughly good reason why public funding should be used to build a stadium for a franchise whose attendance levels have continued to sit among the bottom half of baseball’s thirty teams.

At no time during the Rays’ two decade plus existence has the franchise ever seen those figures be ranked among the top-ten clubs within baseball’s attendance levels . The game is barely viable as a sport during the regular season for the two professional teams within the state of Florida , with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins struggling to remain competitive as well as seeing an upswing in attendance. The game of baseball is barely viable as a sport during the regular season for the two professional teams within the state of Florida , with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins struggling to remain competitive as well as seeing an upswing in attendance.

Baseball only remains relevant within the state of Florida during the Spring Training schedule , because of the abundance of teams who make use of the state for their Spring Training habitat and schedule.

So as the NBA season meanders along we are beginning to see the continued mediocrity of the teams , who are simply fighting to play themselves into contention for a Draft Lottery pick. The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers continue to vie for the worst record in the entire league and with good reason, given the mediocrity seen with their continued play. The Eastern Conference remains abundant with its ineptitude and far be it for me to suggest , but anyone who still believe the Cleveland Cavaliers are even remotely capable beating the top five teams in the West Conference over a seven-game series , then those fans of the Cavaliers had better think long and hard as to how good they believe Cleveland to be.

LeBron James might not have played a part in David Blatt’s firing, but after it was revealed his relationship with Blatt’s successor Tyronn Lue went beyond a head coach , player relationship , one has to wonder what were the behind the scene maneuvers which led to David Blatt’s downfall and his firing by GM David Griffin . The Cleveland Cavaliers will be back on court when they take on the Detroit Pistons on Friday evening , 29th January , 2016.

I have never been convinced the NBA has ever sought to be truly tough on their players, when it comes to reprehensible behavior ! Granted, David Stern might well point to the fact , Latrell Sprewell was fined and suspended for his now well chronicled altercation with P J Carlessimo and then we have the idiocy of Gilbert Arenas and his former teammate Javaris Crittenton trying to prove their manhood , by drawing their guns in the locker rooms of the Washington Wizards as a way of resolving an argument over a gambling debt. Suffice to say beyond that idiocy , we also have to deal with the widespread homophobia and misogyny constantly at play within the NBA . Need we forget also, the league hierarchy’s poor response to Donald Sterling’s ignorant racial rants which took time for the league to deal with in a timely manner. What else would you expect of a hierarchy ran by a group of predominantly aging Caucasian males who preside over the upper echelons of the NBA ?

There are teams we know in the NBA who are seen as perennial contenders within this league and among them one might consider the Los Angeles Clippers to be among the elite teams . However, in light of the news Blake Griffin will be missing from the team’s lineup for the next five weeks , one has to wonder what the player was thinking when he got into an altercation with Mathias Testa , an equipment manager with the Clippers’ organization. Griffin has since issued an apology on Twitter apologizing to his fans and the Los Angeles Clippers for his conduct. This is not the first time Griffin’s temper has gotten the better of him and the player’s lack of maturity must now come into question and what his loss may well mean to the team in the coming weeks.

Doc Rivers , as the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers appears to be more concerned with the loss of the player . rather than Griffin’s conduct and the fact neither he, the Clippers or the league have seen fit to take action against the player. What this suggests about the NBA and perhaps the Clippers to lesser extent , is the feeling unless a player has committed and charged with a a felony , then he should be treated with ‘kid gloves’ and the presumption of innocence. However, when one takes into account a repeat offender as is the case with Blake Griffin, then you have consider the hypocrisy of the league and the Los Angeles Clippers at this juncture.

With the All Star Game a little over two weeks away it will be interesting to see how the teams position themselves for the second half of the season and their continued ambitions over the remainder of the schedule.

With the first Grand Slam Tournament of ATP Tour and WTA entering its final phase it has been interesting to note the speed with which the ATP hierarchy has shrugged off the claims of their being widespread gambling within the world of Men’s Tennis and that certain players had been paid to “ throw matches” . In a report actually commissioned by Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) which governs the men’s sport , they went on to state that the evidence was inconclusive but they would take it under advisement pending a meeting of their Executive Committee before issuing a formal statement. The fact that sixteen of the world’s top fifty players were named in this report, should be a cause for concern, not only among the fans of the game but also for the International Tennis Federation (ITF) but also the IOC (International Olympic Committee) .

Novak Djokovic the world number one among the Men’s Rankings has seen his name associated with this report and the player has acknowledged the fact that early in his career he had been approached to throw a game , which in the end he refused to do.

The Australian Open has always been the first official Grand Slam Tournament on the tennis schedule for the game’s calendar year. Many of the world’s top-ranked men and women will be competing at the event in Melbourne , Australia , with the Men’s Finals taking place on Sunday and the Women’s Finals on Saturday afternoon. This two-week event takes its toll on the players both mentally and physically because of the humidity and heat which remains constant throughout the tournament . Serena Williams will be looking to make a successful start to the season as she once again looks to possibly rewrite tennis history.

Serbian. Novak Djokovic a five-time champion at the Australian Open will simply be looking to solidify his position atop of the Men’s Rankings and win his sixth title at this particular event. The story itself concerning gambling within the sport of tennis is nothing new , but what might be considered unnerving has been the fact the ATP hierarchy has not taken the claims of the investigation seriously, albeit , in the past , at least three players within the rankings have either been fined or suspended after allegations were proven that they had thrown matches for financial gain , to the benefit of the illegal bookmakers bribing the players in the match fixing.

Tennis alongside , professional soccer on the continent of Europe, has long been a target of not only organized crime and their involvement with gambling on sports , but there are claims now being made , many of these criminal enterprises and syndicates would like to ultimately make their way across the Atlantic, get a firm foothold in North America and a piece of the multi-billion dollar gambling industry which takes place here, covering the entire gamut of sports at the collegiate and professional level. We know from years past, illegal wagering and the shaving of points , have taken place within the world of College Basketball . Within College Football and the NFL , one could make allegations , there too , such activity might well have been widespread , but as we know , it is not something the NCAA or the NFL would like to discuss openly in public.

From my own perspective with their being so much money awash within the world collegiate sports and at the professional level , claims of match fixing . corruption and bribery will always be common place and no matter how much oversight is said to be taking place , somewhere and somehow those involved will always be able to find a way to elude the very people said to be overseeing the sport. Does anyone truly believe the sport of boxing remains clean and is still above reproach given the lack of oversight by the numerous international governing bodies now presiding over the sport ? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit on the points raised within this article.

Tophatal ….. 01/29/2016

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Still looking for a hero …

Still looking for a hero

Well this weekend, within the sports world there have been the slew of news’ stories which will likely inspire us or simply let us down. With the US Open recently coming to an end , Serena Williams was unable to make history by completing a Grand Slam of Majors , by seeking to win all four Major Grand Slam tennis title within the calendar year. Williams’ fell in the semi-finals of the US Open where she was surprisingly beaten in three sets by Italy’s Roberta Vinci . William’s conqueror however, would go on to lose in the finals to fellow Italian, Flavia Pennetta , for Pennetta’s first Grand Slam title at the age of thirty-three.

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In the Men’s Open Final , Novak Djokovic won with a great deal of ease , defeating Roger Federer , to win his tenth Grand Slam title of his professional career. For Djokovic , it also cemented his standing as the number one player in the world in the ATP standings. The Serbian can now lay claim to three of the four Majors for this calendar year and looking forward to another successful foray on the ATP Tour . As this season rounds out its schedule on both the ATP and WTA Tours , there can be no denial as to who the best two players in the world have been on either tour. Serena Williams remains the best player of her generation , while Novak Djokovic continues his dominance among the male players , especially true over the past six years.

Serena Williams will seek to add to her career resume’ in the coming year, with biggest quest being an another Grand Slam singles’ title , the twenty-fourth of her professional career which would equal the career tally of Steffi Graf , the last female , achieving the Grand Slam (winning all four Majors – Australian, French , Wimbledon US Open).

It has now come to the point where the sport of boxing remains not only on the decline but the international governing bodies of the sport have become something of a farce. Evidence of this was certainly in place , when welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr faced the latest challenger for his titles , with Andre Berto took to challenging the unbeaten champion. Mayweather sought to equal the unbeaten record of the late heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano , whose 49-0 unbeaten record remains a standard bearer within the sport. Berto , was not considered a worthy challenger to the champion, but as of late, Floyd Mayweather would rather cherry-pick his challengers based on their lack of talent rather than the competitiveness of really being challenged in the ring.

Mayweather entered his bout with his record intact at 48-0 and the chance of boxing immortality were he to equal Marciano’s feat. With the fight being staged at the boxing Mecca for the sport. The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada , was the site for this lavishly staged pay for view (PPV) event where Mayweather was due to receive an estimated $35 million upfront payday without taking into account post-fight revenues . Berto received his guaranteed $ 4milllion purse , but in essence it led to a farce in the ring, with the challenger barely doing anything of note during this bout.

Floyd Mayweather won the fight by a unanimous decision, but there had been a great deal of controversy when it was widely announced that one of the three judges actually scored the bout to be a draw.

Officials from the WBA and WBC were quick to jump to defense of the judges , but with there being no acknowledgment of the scorecards having been revised. One has to question which of the three judges ringside, among Adalaide Boyd , Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld , could have seen fit to believe this title fight had in fact been a draw ?

Where Floyd Mayweather now stands among the pantheon of boxers considered to be among the all-time greats can be best judged by your like or dislike of the boxer or how you view the sport , by what it has become or what it once was. I believe Floyd Mayweather Jr to be an extraordinary talent and a fighter who at his best was supremely gifted. Do I believe him to be better than fighters such as Marvin Hagler , Muhammad Ali, Ray Robinson , Larry Holmes , Sugar Ray Leonard , Mike Tyson or any other of the great boxers over the past six decades who have graced the sport.

Mayweather has stated this was to be his last fight as a professional and to my mind his possibly bowing out , with two rather unimpressive and lackluster victories , further points to why the sport of boxing is in such disarray. The welterweight champion’s last fight against a fighter believed to be his greatest challenger and nemesis proved to be something of great farce as Manny Pacquiao simply put up a less than spirited challenge in their title bout. Pacquiao lost in a unanimous decision and then went to claim that an injury suffered during a pre-fight training session led to his underwhelming performance. Pacquiao himself has suggested his next fight will be his last professional bout before he enters the world of politics, as he seeks to become President of the Philippines during the country’s next Presidential elections.

Week one of the NFL season has now come into focus , with the schedule having began with last Thursday night’s game which pit the Pittsburgh Steelers against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, in Foxboro’ Massachusetts. The Patriots came away with something of a narrow seven-point victory , but in reality Tom Brady in his return to the NFL , could have put up fifty points on a Steelers’ defense which was lackluster and completely out of their element. With the win in the aftermath of the Deflate-Gate Scandal the New England Patriots can set about seeking to make a successful defense of their AFC East divisional title.

Meanwhile, the NFL hierarchy and Roger Goodell will seek to make some sort of amends for the league’s ongoing stupidity and lack of real oversight of a league now completely bereft of intelligence and leadership. Beyond that, there is not much which really needs to be said concerning the league at present.

Of the more surprising results to have taken place on Sunday was the thrilling victory by the St Louis Rams over the Seattle Seahawks in a game filled with missed opportunities by the visiting Seahawks who failed to capitalize on numerous mistakes made by this Jeff Fisher coached team during the contest. The end result was a 34-31 victory for the Rams, as they begin their season with a win. Next up for both teams in week two will be the St Louis Rams taking on the Washington Redskins at Fedex Field in Landover, Maryland, while Maryland, while the Seattle Seahawks will enter the second game of their season where they will meet the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field , in Green Bay Wisconsin on Sunday, 20th September,2015.

The hype of the meeting between the last two Heisman Trophy winners , came by way of the Tennessee Titans facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota , the two players taken in number one and number two in the 2015 NFL Draft , was meant to be a contest of two very astute and good quarterbacks . The events as they unfolded indicated Winston was not the player the Buccaneers hoped for as the home team suffered a rather embarrassing and lopsided twenty-eight point loss , 42-14 to the Titans. Whatever was expected from Jameis Winston was nowhere to be found during this contest , whereas Mariota was able to show a great deal of composure during his first professional start in the NFL. As to what this contest might suggest about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , can be best summed up by the quotes attributed to Jameis Winston during his post-game interview and that of head coach Lovie Smith , as he seeks to make sense of the home team’s lackluster display.

While I don’t believe the Buccaneers will have as abysmal a season as in 2014 , but this team on paper, appears to be no better than the roster of last season where their accomplishment of winning two games was a testament to the incompetence and ineptitude shown by the entire organization from the top down . Lovie Smith has already began to use a great deal of rhetoric and pragmatism to describe what is now becoming an indelible trait for the Buccaneers’ organization and that is to lose with alarming regularity .

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will seek to get back on an even keel when they face divisional rivals the New Orleans Saints on the road at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans Louisiana , in week two of their regular season schedule . I expect Drew Brees and the Saints to overcome their week one failure against the the Arizona Cardinals , which a resulted in a stunning 31-19 loss to their NFC counterparts.

In the space of three years, Robert Griffin III has gone from being the quarterback thought to be the future of the Washington Redskins’ franchise to persona non-grata, as Jay Gruden and his coaching staff continue to show just how out of their depth they just happen to be. Griffin has gone from being the incumbent starter to the either number two or three on the team’s depth chart of backup quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins in the Redskins’ week one encounter has simply shown that he might not be that much better than his counterpart and teammate on the roster. In Washington’s 17-10 home loss to the Miami Dolphins , their display was as abysmal and uninspired a defeat as one might expect of team lacking in confidence , a soul complete lack of leadership and coaching acumen on or off the field of play.

Judging by the outcome of this game, beyond the anemic offense shown by the Redskins and the secondary being equally incompetent . I would dare say the NFC East based franchise will be in for a hell of a torrid time this season . Cousins’ own play was indecisive and was one of the many facets which made this loss all the more probable and likely unacceptable to not only the fans, but also team owner Daniel Snyder and certain members the front office.

Jay Gruden and the coaching staff will have a week to prepare for the St Louis Rams’ visit to FedEx Field on Sunday, 20th September , where I fully expect the visitors to take advantage of the home team on the day , with a win, pushing mark to 2-0 in starting their season.

Josh McCown out and Johnny Manziel is in and with that beckons perhaps, another go around for the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner out of Texas A&M . Cleveland Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine had no other alternative but to give Manziel the second start of his professional career in the NFL. Manziel and Cleveland would start out fast , but the game ended in a blowout loss to the New York Jets in a 31-10 rout of the Browns. I am not about to suggest there has been a remarkable improvement in the play of the Jets, but Cleveland’s defense from the second quarter on-wards, was nowhere to be seen during this game. Todd Bowles and the New York Jets came into this contest well-prepared and looking to make a statement , one that will be widely seen around the NFL. It would not be unfair to suggest the Cleveland Browns might just have the worst secondary and offensive unit in the entire NFL , with the league being only one game into the season.

Johnny Manziel has transitioned from being a very good college player to being a little less than average as a NFL player and quarterback. The blame I believe lies in Manziel’s own ego and the very fact the Browns’ coaching staff hasn’t best figured how to best utilize the passer on the field. The blame I believe lies in Manziel’s own ego and the very fact , the Browns’ coaching staff hasn’t best figured out how to utilize the passer on the field.

Cleveland Browns’ head Mike Pettine is now caught between a rock and a hard place, because I do not believe, having Manziel suit up for the Browns’ next game will be of any benefit to the player’s mental ability when he has shown his game, is still a long way off from where it needs to be if Cleveland are to be considered legitimate contenders within their own division , much less the AFC and the entire NFL. The Browns are now a team low on morale , lacking leadership and where the coaching staff does seem to be completely bereft of ideas .

It now all comes down to this and the last twenty-plus games of the MLB season, with several teams still in contention for a postseason berth. As an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves and witnessing their season-long collapse, has been nothing short of a major disappointment. Idiotic roster moves with the departure of several notable players, has led to a dysfunctional team and coaching staff led by a completely clueless Fredi Gonzalez . The Braves’ roster as it now stands has no one with the leadership ability of Chipper Jones , Tom Glavine , John Smoltz or even Greg Maddux. The playing ability of the players on the current roster is less than mediocre , for which a great deal of the blame must rest with GM John Hart and team President John Schuerholz.

The Braves have been falling apart at the seams for the past five years and their last postseason appearance was simply emblematic of the ongoing issues still facing this organization. Their concentration on the building of a new ballpark is only outlasted by their sheer idiocy in the belief that a new venue (stadium) will be the solution to their problems, when the on-field product has been less than desirable over the past five seasons.

Atlanta remains a small-market team with large-market ideas befitting the likes of the New York Yankees , but in reality, the Braves do not possess the drive or the ambition to really pull off or create the type of success needed to win multiple titles or be a perennial contender for the World Series. The years of success under Bobby Cox are now long-gone and simply looking back to the past without, learning any lessons from those events have gone a long way in placing the Atlanta Braves in their present situation. This season will be one of the worst on record for the franchise with their being a realistic possibility of the Braves being on track to lose 100 hundred games for the very first time in recent franchise history.

As of September 14th the Atlanta Braves were 56-88 , twenty-seven games behind NL East divisional leader the New York Mets (83-61) . As the losers of eight of their last ten games. Victories for this Braves’ managed team have been infrequent and in so many ways, it has been reflective of the game performances of the Atlanta Braves this season.

Coming off another emphatic loss to the New York Mets on the 13th September , 2015 , the Braves will resume their schedule with a home game against the high-flying Toronto Blue Jays when the two teams meet on Tuesday evening at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia ,. John Gibbons , I believe has done a phenomenal job in molding together a team in the true sense of the word , a team which has played with a great deal of tenacity and unison. Gibbons might now be the front-runner for the AL Manager of The Year Award , but there are several noteworthy candidates for the award. Yet , is my belief the owners, would rather see this team not only win the AL Pennant but also top off their season with a triumphant win of the 2015 World Series. Bringing about the first title for the Jays since their back-to-back triumphs in 1992 and 1993.

If the Atlanta Braves are having a lamentable season, then for the Philadelphia Phillies , this will prove to be a year they would rather forget as the entire front office have failed disastrously. Interim manager Peter Mackanin has struggled to get the best out of a team that has simply been a horrendous eyesore. Ryan Howard is being rewarded handsomely , but his statistics this season have been absolutely feeble . To justify his $20 million salary in this day and age when players are earning that sum and a great deal more now is almost inexplicable. Yet bear in mind , the $300 million payroll of the Los Angeles Dodgers and you have to wonder when baseball will seek to get its financial house in order.

The Phillies will be taking on the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Ballpark in the second of a three-game home series. Tuesday afternoon will pit Philadelphia starting pitcher David Buchanan against Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals in this NL contest. Philadelphia’s 8-7 loss to the Washington Nationals where former Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon was the winning pitcher placed the home team in a now untenable position within the NL , with their now having the worst record in the league. There has been now consistency with regard to the play of the Phillies this season and the mere fact they’re now seeking to use players from their farm system at this point of the season further highlights the issues now to be found with this entire roster .

The ouster of Philadelphia Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro is widely expected to take place, with the rumblings of team President Pat Gillick , Chairman David Montgomery , Bill Giles and several senior executives simply dissatisfied and angered with the team’s failure this season. Amaro’s expected departure could also be followed by several impending free agents as well as of a number the high-priced players this season who have been an abysmal failure . .

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The world of sports tends to focus far to much on the stars, because they are often seen as the supposed heroes on a team. Unfortunately, when those athletes tend to fail , blame is apportioned elsewhere, rather than actually seeking out the real stars on a team, the ones who are the leaders and the real heroes____ vocal leaders, ones who are judged by their deeds .

Tophatal ……………..

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And this is what we know …

And this is what we know ..

Over the past week I have not thought to delve back into the world blogging ,regaling readers with my impressions from the world of sports . In reality, I find this time of the year extremely boring , with their being nothing of note to be seen . The NFL remains in a quandary and it would appear that the once respectful relationship between Bob Kraft and Roger Goodell has now come to an unsavory end. NFL Commissioner Goodell , has seen fit to punish not only the New England Patriots’ star quarterback Tom Brady, but also the Patriots’ organization , owned by billionaire Kraft. As to where this now places the New England Patriots among the most hated professional sports’ franchises in the country , let alone history , I am prepared to let you all figure it out , as I believe it would actually make for a great debate among the sports fans’ fraternity.

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With Brady having been suspended for four games and his appeal being unsuccessful , the next step is for the player and the commissioner to once again lock horns in a US Federal Court, where there is likely to be a finality to this idiocy. Personally, I believe both sides to be culpable in this mess , with the track record of the Patriots being there for all to see, while the league hierarchy under Goodell has always been weak, apathetic and without a clue. The Patriots are not the only team in the NFL bending the rules. It just happens to be that they are the only ones to have been caught more than once , albeit , we have seen the antics of the New Orleans Saints under Sean Payton , Gregg Williams and general manager Micky Loomis. How easily one seems to forget the Bounty-gate Scandal .

Entering into the NFL preseason , I am not so sure I would be happy as a fan of the Buffalo Bills , knowing head coach Rex Ryan is unsure who is starting quarterback will likely be for the Bills’ preseason schedule , let alone the regular season. His choices are, veteran Matt Cassel , EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor ,as competing quarterbacks for the starting role. Based on last season’s performances and the statistics noted , it easy to suggest Ryan’s worries might are justified , but then I look at his own experiences with Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith during his last few years with the New York Jets. His failure there, alongside the poor play of the players mentioned, is not only a cause for concern, but it would hardly allay one’s fears as a fan of the Buffalo Bills let alone being a fan of the NFL.

Buffalo with a new owner in tow , billionaire Terry Pegula ,has promised to bring back the luster to a franchise long starved of success. Consider the fact , the last time the Bills won the AFC East was in 1995 and their last playoff appearance was in 1999 and you can well understand why success has been something of a non-factor in the franchise’s struggles over the last sixteen years. The preseason schedule almost in sight , Buffalo’s coaching staff will be looking to use this time to assess not only the quarterbacks on the staff, but also lesser players hoping to make the team’s final roster before embarking upon their regular season schedule.

With the possibility of Tom Brady still being out for the first four games of the regular season , unless the Justice System has a change of heart, then the other three teams within the AFC East must feel they are in with a chance to dethrone the current divisional champions. To my mind the task will not be that easy, as I believe the Patriots will still be a force to be reckoned with should Jimmy Garoppolo start in replacement of Tom Brady , while the three-time Superbowl MVP sits out the first four games of the Patriots’ regular season schedule.

It’s going to be fun watching as the teams embark upon this preseason schedule, when one bears in mind, in 2014, nothing from the preseason pointed us in the direction of how the regular season would finally pan out. Granted, the belief remained the Seattle Seahawks were seen as the class of the NFC , with the Green Bay Packers perhaps their biggest conference rival. What we found out in the end, Peter Carroll while being a very good head coach, needs to show more authority among his coaching staff and place responsibility where it lays when an assistant makes a bone head decision , as seen during the waning moments of last season’s Superbowl . Russell Wilson will never be able to distance himself from the play and I am sure Marshawn Lynch must be feeling a great deal of anger from the fact he was not allowed to make one final dash into the end-zone. Talk about nightmares, there are still thousands of Seahawks’ fans reliving the image of Malcolm Butler intercepting Wilson’s pass during the waning moments of the game.

The Hall of Fame game kicks off this season’s preseason schedule , with the Pittsburgh Steelers facing the Minnesota Vikings at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio on Sunday afternoon. Week one of the preseason actually kicks off on Thursday 13th August ,2015 when the Baltimore Ravens play hosts to the New Orleans Saints , with the two teams being viewed among the favorites for their respective divisional titles and possible contenders for this season’s Superbowl. Opposing head coaches Sean Payton and John Harbaugh will have a great deal to prove this upcoming season for their respective teams.

So if this baseball season has proved to us anything, it has been the fact being complacent is still prevalent within the game. Fallout, has not only been the managerial departures but also what appears to be dissatisfaction between an owner and a front office executive. Jerry Dipoto left the Los Angeles Angels , after what appears to be an internal power struggle , as to who had the ear of team owner Arte Moreno .

In Detroit , the abrupt stepping down of Dave Dombrowski as the general manager of the Detroit Tigers has shocked not only the fans of the ball-club , but the entire baseball community. Michael Ilitch has thanked the executive for his fourteen years of service and the success brought , but with the missing piece to the puzzle being a World Series title. It clearly wasn’t enough for the eighty-two year old owner and his long-held ambitions of a world championship. Al Avila, a protege of Dombrowski now ascends to the position of general manager for the franchise , hoping to turn things around for the team as they enter the stretch run of the season , looking to close the gap on the Kansas City Royals who lead the AL Central and are seen as one of the primary contenders for the AL Pennant this season.

Boston Red Sox team President Larry Lucchino has stepped down from his role within the organization as team owners John Henry and Tom Werner have to be wondering what went wrong this season, as John Farrell , his managerial and playing staff have been so lax with their play and performances this season. With no chance of mounting a sustainable challenge within the AL East the Red Sox aren’t even competitive enough to challenge for a wild-card berth as the schedule enters its final third of the season. Needless to say. GM Ben Cherington will have some major decisions to make once the team’s season comes to an end. Boston’s record since winning the World Series in 2013 have simply been an unmitigated disaster both on an off the field of play.

Mike Trout remains the best player of his generation and has now become the best player in the game, bar none. If you doubt that , then simply look at the player’s statistics since he entered baseball and now having won the AL Rookie of The Year as well as ALMVP . He now has his sights set on a World Series crown with the Los Angeles Angels , something last accomplished by this franchise in 2002 , under their current manager Mike Sciocsia .

Trout alongside teammate , Albert Pujols have led an offensive onslaught for the Angels this season, with the duo likely to finish with a projected combined home run total of ninety-five home runs. The last duo to accomplish the feat of one hundred home runs in a season were Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro as teammates with the Texas Rangers in 2002. The Rangers for their part , as competitive as they were , simply lacked the the stamina for the long haul and also failing to make the postseason. Both Palmeiro and Rodriguez’s careers have respectively taken unexpected turns due to their web of deceit and lies. These two players have become infamous , with their names now synonymous with the use of banned substances with their repeated denials in light of the mounting evidence which suggested to the contrary.

Mike Sciocsia and the Angels have what appears to be an insurmountable lead within the AL West and can be seen as one of the prohibitive favorites within the AL (American League) this season alongside the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees. I certainly believe given their play , the Angels might just be the best team among the aforementioned trio , but the Royals appear to be on a mission of redemption after last season’s heroics during the postseason , ultimately ending with their series’ defeat in the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.

Trout and the Angels will be up against the Baltimore Orioles when they begin a weekend three-game home series at Angels Ballpark in Anaheim, California , starting on Friday, 7th August, 2015. On the mound for the opening game of the series will be Andrew Heaney of the Angels as he squares off against Kevin Gausman of the Orioles.

In recent months the term ” the most dominant athlete in sports” has been banded about like its the only acclaim which can best describe an athletes’ prowess in their chosen field. As to that might be of late , can be best summed by how one might view the accomplishments being lauded over. Serena Williams continues to dominate the WTA Tour like no other female tennis player of her generation , with the last such player to have matched Williams’ feats being the now retired Steffi Graf . There the comparisons can come to an end , because until Williams has actually achieved the Grand Slam of winning the four tennis Majors in the same calendar year, all of this apathetic stupidity can stop. I have always maintained that the North American sports’ fans and members of the media would rather deal in hyperbole, than the evidence actually in front of them. In the case of sports such as tennis , soccer , auto racing outside of NASCAR , the fans and media alike are simply oafs with little or no intelligence at all !

Now comes the case where the comparisons are actually being made among female and male athletes , as to who the most dominant just happens to be . So next up , I guess it will be left to idiots such as Christine Brennan , Stephen A Smith and Bill Simmons to enlighten us all and tell us that Floyd Mayweather just happens to be a better athlete than LeBron James , Ronda Rousey , Serena Williams , and Jimmy Johnson ? While each of the individuals are considered to be among the best in their chosen fields , all of the hype and conjecture simply makes for a great debate and not much else beyond that. Trying to adjudge the dominance of an athlete from differing sports’ endeavors is like trying to count the grains of sand on a one foot square area on a beach . It is impossible to do, especially when you are simply going by what’s said to be their achievements and then not looking at the level of competition.

Ronda Rousey destroyed her last opponent Bethe Correia inside of one round at UFC 190 in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil on 1st August , 2015. It would be fair to suggest Rousey has become the brightest face in UFC at the moment and perhaps its biggest star. With their being no real challengers within her bantamweight division of note and the UFC weight class for female fighters solely tied to the bantamweight and strawweight division . There seems to be little chance Ronda Rousey will be dethroned as the female bantamweight champion within the UFC. She has been by far the best female fighter within the UFC ever since her first appearance inside the octagon and now with growing and unrelenting calls for her to face Cristiana Chris Cyborg Santos , a fighter within the rival Strikeforce organization .

There seems to be growing optimism the fight could take place. However, Santos has ran afoul of Strikeforce having tested positive for a banned substance leading to her being suspended by the organization . Rousey for her part, has drawn this fact to everyone’s attention and the fact she believes Santos has devalued the sport with her suspension, having tested positive for a banned substance. Now as if to keep the feud going ,Cristiana Santos has sought to have her lawyers draw a defamation lawsuit against Ronda Rousey , stating the fighter has defamed her character with unsubstantiated allegations. Much ado about nothing I believe , as Santos is more in need of seeing her profile being raised. while also seeking a big payday for a proposed bout against Rousey.

As if to prove the state of disarray the sport of boxing just happens to be in . Floyd Mayweather has announced his next opponent as he defends his welterweight title belts will be against the lightly taken and exceedingly mediocre Andre Berto . Mayweather may well be seeking to equal and then best the 49-0 record of the late Rocky Marciano , but taking fights against lesser opponents now simply demeans a sport now dying on its feeble and last legs, .

The welterweight title holder (Mayweather) was barely tested in his last fight a unanimous decision over the past his prime Manny Pacquaio . The fact that both fighters split an estimated $225 million purse, only adds further injury to insults, one would still like to throw not only at both fighters, but the various international governing bodies of the sport of boxing. Needless to say , with promoters such as Don King , Bob Arum , Oscar de La Hoya and Mayweather himself , pulling the strings as marionettes , there is little that can be done by the likes of the WBA , WBC , IBF and WBO . Not that the governing bodies in question has ever had the sport’s best interests at heart. Consider the fact , there is not an undisputed champion in any of the weight categories in the sport of boxing and it easy to understand why there is now growing disinterest in the sport. With Mayweather’s likely retirement coming sooner, rather than later , boxing will lose its biggest draw and most acclaimed and gifted fighter of the last fifteen years. Vacuum in the sport ? I guess so !

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Tophatal …

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Champions are made not born .. Can’t knock the hustle

Champions are made not born … Can’t knock the hustle

As the weekend’s events took hold in the world of sports , we witnessed history being made with Novak Djokovic denying Roger Federer his eighth attempt to win a Wimbledon Men’s Singles title. The Swiss born , former world ranked number one tennis player has long reigned supreme atop of the rankings but over the past five years , it has been Djokovic’s rapid rise up the rankings and dominance we have witnessed The Serbian’s slaying of Federer was a clinical display of strong aggressive tennis, with his serve being among the arsenal on display as he would go on to triumph with his third Men’s title and his second in succession, having won the title second year, having defeated his Swiss rival in 2014. This was the fortieth meeting between these two rivals , with their having split their series at twenty wins apiece.

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In the Women’s Singles Finals, Serena Williams proved why she has been the best player of her generation and with her twenty-first Grand Slam singles’ victory she now stands equal to Steffi Graf for Slam victories in the Open Era , but three behind Australia’s Margaret Court. Williams’ victory over Garbine Murguruza in straights sets was as lopsided a victory in a recent Slam tournament. Serena Williams now becomes only the second female player in the modern era also to all four majors at the same time as the reigning champion and with a win in the US Open would look to become again only the third female to have won Grand Slam in the same calendar year, joining only Margaret Court and Steffi Graf to have accomplished the feat. It is hard to envisage where the opposition is likely to come for the American sensation as she seem to be playing her best tennis of the season after her triumph at the All England Club, Wimbledon.

During the ATP and WTA calendar season, both Djokovic and Williams have reigned supreme atop of the rankings while also garnering titles at an astonishing rate. By year’s end I seriously doubt how either of the two will not end atop of the respective world rankings.

Jordan Spieth is having an astonishing season within the PGA and his rapid rise up the world rankings , has the American sitting at number two, with only Ireland’s Rory McIlroy ranked , number one, standing in his way , as he seeks to surpass the Irishman. McIlroy will miss the British Open scheduled to begin on 16th July at St Andrews Golf Club, St Andrews , Scotland. Spieth will likely be the presumptive favorite as he seeks to win his third Major , having already won The Masters and US Open at this stage of his career. The world number two has become only the second American to have won four titles heading into The Open , long seen as the toughest Grand Slam major to win on the PGA Tour schedule.

A promised showdown between Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth was the desired lure of The Open and the very fact Tiger Woods’ play this season has been so erratic , the thought of the former world number one having any type of effect on the tournament seems to be one sheer hope rather than a reality. Woods has been saying all of the right things, but his game has simply been far too inconsistent for him to be seen as a serious contender , much less a threat to Spieth in the tournament. I certainly believe Jordan Spieth’s confidence as well as his game, makes him a legitimate favorite and the possibility of winning the third Grand Slam Major of his young career.

The NBA for its part continues with its own form of the silly season , as free agents either stay put or seek to move on elsewhere . Biggest story to come out of this all , was the decision of DeAndre Jordan to renege on his promise to join the Dallas Mavericks , spurning their contract offer to remain with the Los Angeles Clippers. Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban has remained somewhat mute on the issue, but I would guess with several players on the team’s roster have voiced their displeasure at Jordan and his final decision.

I for one feel the Clippers power forward’s decision was not necessarily about money, but more to do with the fact, I do not feel he would have been comfortable, being the second man in the pecking order on the roster of the Dallas Mavericks. He certainly knew his role with Los Angeles, where he was third in the pecking order behind Chris Paul and Blake Griffin , and even though there was said to be a lukewarm relationship and his Clippers’ teammate Paul was said to have been one of the main reasons Jordan sought to leave the Los Angeles based franchise. In the end calmer heads were said to have prevailed.

If there is now said to be a new-found resolve about the Los Angeles Clippers, then a great deal of that will likely come down to the coaching acumen of Doc Rivers and the sort of vitality shown by the players over the course of the upcoming season.

LeBron James in a recent interview stated, he had begun to have nightmares after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. From my own mindset , I do not believe the result was ever in doubt, even if the Cavaliers had the services of both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love during the series. The Warriors had more depth to their roster and they were better coached, with Steve Kerr proving he was far better than his counterpart David Blatt. James in spite of his heroics during the series, he was not able to pull off a series’ victory which would secured Cleveland their first NBA title.

The Cavaliers will likely be the presumptive favorites within the Eastern Conference for the upcoming season , where their biggest opponents will likely prove to be the Chicago Bulls under new head coach Fred Hoiberg. There is no denying the NBA Finals were an immense disappointment to the front office of the Cleveland Cavaliers, with GM David Griffin having engineered the building of the roster , luring LeBron James back to Cleveland, along with the signing of Kevin Love. The failure however, had more to do with the smugness of the entire franchise and the very fact , there was no clear planned strategy in place, other than the belief James would be Cleveland’s savior , beyond being viewed as the ‘Prodigal Son’. Another rebuilding process will now be underway and once again LeBron James will be key to the Cavaliers’ strategy, with the likelihood his approval will be sought on any move made.

It would be fair to suggest over the past four years, the gloss has faded on the achievements of the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, with both franchises simply bereft of a dearth of talent. Both Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant are well into their respective careers, both players having a decade-long exposure in the league. Bryant having the most success from a personal and team standpoint. In the case of Carmelo, other than being seen as a prodigious offensive talent, his years with the Knicks have simply been wasted , with last season being of no exception.

Anyone who witnessed the play of the team under their rookie head coach Derek Fisher, either had to be disgusted or simply laughing at their exploits. Knicks’ fans themselves, were delusional, as they still are , hoping in 2016, Phil Jackson will still have a ‘ Master Plan ‘ to turn things around. No logical steps were taken by the front office executive and clearly the hiring of Fisher has proven to be an unmitigated disaster. Jackson has no eye for talent and the only reason behind his hiring by team owner James Dolan was to stop the embarrassment and ridicule of being called one of the NBA’s worst ran franchises. Nothing has really changed , with Jackson proving he is no better than one of his predecessors Isiah Thomas , who at one time had dual roles within the organization , as head coach and President of Basketball Operations.

To even remotely describe those years as being a success , would be akin to suggesting Thomas knew exactly what he was doing. Jackson’s ego and failure to admit his mistakes or weaknesses indicates how much of a struggle this past season has been for the New York Knicks and why they still have a long way to be go before being able to turn things around. Carmelo Anthony is not getting any younger and his best years are now behind him.

I have no real wish to go into depth, to explain why both these franchises , the Knicks and Lakers have remained failures over the past five seasons , as these debates have been well-chronicled and have become utterly boring. Fans of the teams in question have become obnoxious , delusional but above all, truly lacking any real intelligence to acknowledge the fact the owners of both organizations have not got a clue. Beyond that, nothing more needs to be said.

As baseball takes its customary mid-season break to engulf itself with the All Star Game and its surrounding events. It would be easy to suggest the first half of the season has been a resounding success. In some ways it has , but for the most part, teams have been struggling to shown any real semblance of consistency or competitiveness. The fairy tale story that was the Kansas City Royals has some additional chapters written , to add to the success of last season . Leading the AL Central , it would appear the Royals are now intent on making a second successive postseason appearance , something not achieved in several years by the franchise . Needless, to say the chances of the team now running away with the AL Pennant and World Series would be predicated upon one’s belief either in fairy tales , the impossible or just plain reality. Kansas’ success this season has been rewarded with several of their players being named to the AL All Star lineup , the most among AL based teams.

Tuesday night’s contest promises to be a grand gala of the game’s best players , with the showdown , being one with a great deal riding on it.

On the mound for the respective leagues when the game gets underway at the Great American Ballpark , Cincinnati , Ohio will be Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros against Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Over their last eight starts, both Keuchel and Greinke have been stellar for their respective teams. Zack Greinke closed out the first half of the season, with the best ERA among starting pitchers in baseball and could conceivably be seen as the clear favorite for this season’s NL Cy Young Award.

Away from the field of play, Pete Rose will be making an appearance at the venue where a great deal of the player’s most renowned achievements too place, , but yet, his yearning to be given that seal of approval with his reinstatement to the game seems a long way off , in spite of assurances by Rob Manfred concerning the issue of Rose’s banishment from baseball. If he is reinstated it by no means guarantees his automatic consideration for the Hall of Fame. Rose still has his enemies on the BBWAA and the Veteran’s Committee of the institution, who have long memories and who still believe Pete Rose’s actions remains a stain on the game of baseball. As hypocritical as the Baseball Writers’ Association just happens to be, they still believe, they have to stand for something, even when they have failed so miserably to address their own mes-culpa , addressing and reporting on the widespread use of steroids within the game of baseball . Anyone who believes there remains some form of journalistic integrity within the field of journalism, specifically sports’ journalism, is in need of a rectal inspection to be followed by a swift kick to the ass.

When the second half of the season gets underway, it will be interesting to see which teams come flying out of the starting gate hoping to make up for a poor start to the first half of their year.

The news’ cycle is and will always remain an around the clock three hundred and sixty-five days a year meat grind and slog to report any morsel of idiocy to be found in the NFL. In the off-season it becomes somewhat like a political campaign, similar to the current undertaking we are now witnessing as the Presidential candidates from both political parties make themselves known , even with their hypocrisy, jingoism and xenophobia is brought along for everyone to witness.

If Roger Goodell were running for the highest political office in the land, I would dare say he would find his fair share of anal retentive supporters. Goodell as the NFL Commissioner, is still wading through the fecal matter of his own making. Irritable bowel syndrome or not , the diarrhea constantly served up by this particular NFL executive has become too much to bear. Personally, I still cannot understand why he has not been asked to step down as the commissioner of the league. His lack of communicative skills , autocratic rule of law and ongoing incompetence are one of the numerous reasons why the NFL remains a complete laughing stock. For the most part , the owners are simply happy reap the financial rewards, as too are the union and the players themselves. Leaving the fans to wallow in the bullshit of a brand that tends to be so watered down , but yet many try attest it is in fact a competitive brand being placed on the field of play throughout the season. 2.

This upcoming season promises to be an arduous one for several teams who last season fell short of expectations. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will enter their season with renewed vigor ,with their number one overall pick Jameis Winston seeking to place all of the negative aspects of his college career in his rear view mirror. I am so sure Winston possesses the maturity to lead this franchise back to respectability , much less be competitive enough to win their division. The NFC South remains one of the NFL’s garbage canisters, where the carcasses of rotting elephants would find it a conducive place to be laid to rest.

Jameis Winston will be hoping to beat out Mike Glennon for the starting role as the Buccaneers’ quarterback in 2015 and it remains one of the primary areas where this is a cause for concern for the franchise .It is among a litany of woes Lovie Smith and the coaching staff will have to address for this upcoming season. At best , the Buccaneers can carve out a six or eight-game win season over the course of their schedule , where I believe the two teams likely to be the main challengers within the NFC South are likely to be the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints . Ron Rivera and Sean Payton are two very good coaches who will be have their respective teams ready to play once the season begins with their two regular season contests likely to be pivotal within the division.

When is an NFL team not actually a team ? Likely one , that is put together by Dallas Cowboys’ team owner Jerry Jones. Last season the Cowboys came apart at the seams in the postseason like Swiss cheese being shredded by a grater. For all of the pretentiousness of Jones and the Cowboys’ fans imbuing on us , the franchise’s greatness , one only has to look at the Cowboys’ failed attempts to make the postseason over the last seven years to see what a mess they have actually been. Rife with excuses after their loss to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the NFL postseason , once again indicated why Dallas remains a farce.

Entering into the season Cowboys will be without their record breaking running back DeMarco Murray , who Jerry Jones chose not to retain , because many believed wide receiver Dez Bryant was far more of a prized asset for the franchise. Bryant has always been a troubled and self-absorbed individual who flashes of brilliance are then countered by his immaturity and lack of leadership. Another trait he actually shares with his teammate and veteran quarterback Tony Romo. With news now emanating Dez Bryant is not willing to report for the Cowboys’ mandatory preseason OTA’s , unless he is guaranteed a long-term deal , one has to ask how could the franchise’s , front office not see this coming ? There remains a great deal of conceit and narcissism within this franchise and most certainly among many of their high-profiled players, of which their Pro Bowl wide receiver can be considered to fit into the that particular category.

If neither Jason Garrett or Jerry Jones can instill discipline on this team , then why would anyone be of the belief the Dallas Cowboys can win a Superbowl , when there is said to be complete lack of leadership and discipline within the organization ? Teams that tend to be successful and consistent are ones which are said to have leaders, role players and a great coaching staff. I seriously doubt that can actually be said of the Dallas Cowboys at this juncture or at any time over the past six seasons.

Jerry Jones may well be an astute businessman , but as an NFL front office executive , he remains something of an oaf, even if his winning what I felt to be a nonsensical award last season, with his being named NFL Executive of The Year . I hear, up next , Joe The Plumber will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts ,also in recognition of his being an avowed Conservative and a detractor of all things Obama related. Sarah Palin, eat your heart out bit#h , because you can still see Russia while pulling down over $100,000 for a speaking engagement and having absolutely nothing new to offer by way of any type of political dialog.

Playing in a mediocre division has its merits for the Dallas Cowboys and I severely doubt they are likely to be challenged within the NFC South , where the defensively challenged Philadelphia Eagles remains a joke under Chip Kelly , where Jay Gruden will likely spend more time soothing the egos and massaging the penises of Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III . Last but not least , Eli Manning will still be wondering why having won two Superbowls, one more than his elder sibling Peyton Manning , he can’t get no love from anyone and that includes the growing cries of New York Giants’ fans who now feel he’s become more of a liability than an asset.

I certainly don’t believe Jerry Jones will offer Dez Bryant a six-year $90 million or $110 million contract , as these are the figures being banded about by close followers of the scenario now engulfing the Dallas Cowboys and where his agent Roc-Nation Sports , overseen and owned by rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z . The only hard knocks Dez Bryant will likely feeling right about now, won’t be coming from opposing defenders but to his ego, as he seeks to earn his piece of cheddar (American Dream) . A contract deal will likely be reached before the Dallas Cowboys embark on their preseason schedule, but if all else fails Dez Bryant will be in camp prior to the start of the regular season. Penalties levied against the wide receiver missing camp could prove costly and one doubts he wants to see a large chunk being taken out of his $12.8 million salary due to him this season. While I believe Bryant to be a very good player , I do not believe he can be considered one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers let alone a receiver who can be considered the leader of a team ambitious enough to win the Superbowl.

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What do you believe is the one trait needed by an athlete to become a champion ? Also of the weekend’s sporting events , which do you believe was the most exhilarating or special in terms of the feat or feats accomplished ?


Tophatal …..


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Can’t knock the hustle’ …. Jay Z & Mary J Blige

It’s my legacy …

It’s my legacy

Well the sporting weekend provided fans with a great deal of spectacle and some great individuals efforts by athletes and teams alike. While in the world of thoroughbred racing American Pharaoh made history as the first Triple Crown winner in almost four decades, having won the Belmont Stakes in Pimlico, New York with effortless ease. It begs the question will the feat itself provide the world of horse racing with enough interest where the “Sport of Kings” is now taken more seriously ?

Thoroughbred racing remains in a rut , and it has not been helped by a litany of controversy and the illegal actions of a number of trainers in recent years with their drugging of the equines (horses) to facilitate their running in races while obviously injured. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association for their part have simply been negligent with their overseeing of the sport on a national basis.

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American Pharaoh’s trainer Bob Baffert now adds to a long list of achievements in his racing career while for jockey Victor Espinoza , he joins a select few of jockeys to have won the Triple Crown , compromising of the Kentucky Derby , Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. It is undeniable that horse racing in North America needed something to take it out of its doldrums and add to its history. Whether or not American Pharaoh now races again will be dependent upon owner Ahmed Zayat and Bob Baffert , but clearly the horse will be worth untold millions by being put to stud , and likely bringing vast sums in breeding fees for Zayat Stables .

The second of Tennis’ Grand Slam tournaments ended in a fizzle rather than a great deal of excitement. Serena Williams won her twentieth Grand Slam singles’ title with some ease (6-3,6-7,6-2) , defeating Lucie Safarova for her third French Open title. For Williams she remains atop of the WTA rankings and by far the best female tennis player of her generation and likely to be seen as one the all-time greats, once she decides to call it quits. There have been few female players as dominant as Williams at her very best. .

For Williams, having already won a career Grand Slam , Australian Open , French , Wimbledon and US Open . All that now remains for the US player , is the fact of winning at several more Grand Slam singles’ titles, while looking to supplant legends such as Martina Navratilova , Margaret Court , Steffi Graf and Billie Jean King as the greatest female player in the history of the game. She will head into Wimbledon as the clear and unequivocal favorite, while looking to win her sixth title at the All England Tennis Club (AETC) .

If Serena Williams was seen as the clear-cut favorite at the French Open, then Novak Djokovic on the Men’s side had to have been viewed in the same light. As the world number one in the Men’s rankings, Djokovic was seeking to win the Men’s Singles title and with it a career Grand Slam. Rod Laver , Andre Agassi , Roger Federer , Rafa Nadal , Roy Emerson , Fred Perry and Donald Budge are the only men to have achieved the feat of winning all four Majors. This event was not to be for the Serbian as he fell to Stanislaw ‘Stan’ Warwinka in the Men’s Singles Finals, in four thrilling sets. As to what this might suggest about Djokovic’s failure, may explain a great deal about the competitiveness of the Men’s game and the very fact many have questioned why there no longer appears to be a truly dominant male player in tennis.

Novak Djokovic has now come to the crossroads, where if he is to be considered one of the greats of the modern era , his adding the French title to his mantel of Slam successes will have to come sooner , rather than later. Granted , Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl , never achieved a career Grand Slam , but the longevity of their individual careers and the titles won has added to their respective legacies.

Baseball’s season is slowly meandering to its midway point and already we have seen the teams have their highs and lows. Players in particular are now looking to make a name for themselves this season, with Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals finally putting together the type of season and productivity , many thought he was capable of doing. Among pitchers, the Tampa Bay Rays’ starting pitcher Chris Archer became the first pitcher in history to have pitched three consecutive games with double-digit strikeouts in each of the contests in question. The Rays for their part are currently challenging the New York Yankees for divisional prominence in the AL East division. Rookie manager Kevin Cash and his managerial staff have seen the team play some inspired baseball over the course of their schedule thus far. .

Both the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays have won seven of their last ten games , with the Yankees currently on six-game winning streak. New York has a home game facing the Washington Nationals , whereas the Rays take on the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida in a slew of games taking place on Monday, 8th Juneand Tuesday, 9th , 2015. From my own perspective, while the season still in its infancy , I believe the New York Yankees , Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals still have a great deal to prove over the remainder of this season !

Alex Rodriguez may well be inching his way to baseball immortality or as some might suggest, infamy. I have to wonder how his career and legacy will be viewed by baseball historians once it comes to an end. . Rodriguez recently passed Hall of Fame great Willie Mays for fourth all-time on the home-runs’ career list and is slowly making inroads on the career RBI list. The seven hundred career home runs’ plateau may not be reached this season by Rodriguez , but two thousand runs batted in , will be the next milestone reached in his career . Something likely to be achieved in his next game for the Yankees as they look to solidify their position within the division.

Chris Archer has proven himself to be one of the better young pitchers on a Rays’ staff , which as an organization has been built upon their pitching rather than their offense. Archer and the Rays will have to play at a high level over the course of this season, if the ball-club is to have any chance of winning the AL East or actually gain a wildcard berth and the chance of making the postseason.

The NBA Finals are now proving to be something of a one-man show as LeBron James seeks to do his utmost to bring the state of Ohio and the Cleveland Cavaliers their first professional sports’ title in the last four decades. Cleveland evened their series , taking game two against the Golden State Warriors , in a thrilling contest marked by several intense performances , but perhaps none more so than James’ triple double performance . Steph Curry may well have been outshone by the performance , but he was no slouch in the contest as the second leading scorer for the Warriors in game two. Certainly Curry played well below par and the expectations sought by Steve Kerr , his coaching staff and undoubtedly the Golden State fans.

LeBron James has been inching his way towards postseason history and is now averaging one of the highest points per game averages in playoff and NBA Finals’ history. The fact he is now doing this all almost single handed, while looking to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA title makes his performances all the more astonishing . Bear in mind the team is without All Star players Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love , while rookie head coach David Blatt is being asked to out-coach his counterpart Steve Kerr, someone with vast playoff experience as a player, having won titles with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs . A pivotal game tonight in Cleveland, Ohio at the Quicken Loans Arena beckons, with LeBron James and the Cavaliers looking to take the upper hand in this series. This will be the third game in the best of seven-game series, where both teams will now be looking to reassert themselves in this series .

If LeBron is able to capture his third NBA title and quite possibly the Finals’ MVP Award , then the continued comparisons now being made with Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson , as to where he now ranks among the all-time greats to have played the game as well as creating a legacy in Playoff history will continue. Certainly, something achieved by both Hall of Fame inductees Jordan and Johnson with both having won multiple titles over the course of their respective careers.

With a reputed $150 million payday after his clinical dismantling of Manny Pacquaio , Floyd Mayweather has no real challenges left on the horizon in terms of his boxing career and legacy. Forty-eight bouts, 48 consecutive victories , with twenty six coming by way of a knockout . The only remaining mark the multi-titled fighter seems eager on pursuing , is to reach a career-goal of making it to 50-0 .

Over the past four years, Mayweather has not fought anyone of significance and while his opponents have been hand-picked , one has to admit an aging and waning Manny Pacquaio was simply a complete waste of time as an opponent . Even if this alleged mega-fight had taken place five or six years ago, when both fighters were deemed to be at their peak , Pacquiao would still have wounded up on the wrong side of a rather embarrassing defeat . The hype over the Filipino fighter simply acknowledged what many already knew , he is not that great a boxer and he simply cannot take a punch . His knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez showed the fighter to have a glass jaw and the very fact he chose to sidestep Marquez and a rematch, instead seeking to pursue a big money fight against Floyd Mayweather, indicates just one thing. Pacquiao was running scared and in need one last big payday as his career is now on the downside .

Floyd Mayweather for his part, will take some time away from the ring , though still craving the glare of the limelight though not always acting like the icon he believes himself to be. He cannot be seen as a role model, but as the best boxer of his generation , that fact is undoubted . As to his being the greatest of all-time, historians and fans can now begin to debate his legacy and list of achievements and estimations of his wealth and influence on the sport of boxing . His retirement will leave a vacuum within a sport which is all but dead and with no real challenger in sight , even if the likes of Amir Khan , Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin are being bandied about as future opponents. Mayweather’s only concern will not be the caliber of his opponent , but how much his next paycheck is likely to be. “ Show me the money mother-##cker or just get the ##ck out of my way “ !

I firmly believe it is hard to adjudge a player and their greatness until their careers have to come to an end ! Making claims or seeking place them among the ranks of the greats of a game is simply meaningless on so many levels, especially when you consider the eras when these athletes are said to have played. It is even more difficult to make such a judgment when seeking to evaluate an athlete in a team sport.

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What, do you believe, defines a dominant athlete during the modern athletic era? Is it their longevity within a sport or the level of consistency shown and the success attained ?


Tophatal ….

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Are we there yet ?

Are we there yet ?

This might be one point of the year that in terms of the sporting landscape the world simply has nothing to really offer . Granted , one can point to other outside events beyond the four major professional team sports in North America . In Europe , the Tour de France has now started and that rancid stench that will continue to emanate across from France over the remaining seventeen days fifteen days of the event might be enough to induce regurgitation of one’s meal . The sport of cycling remains in tatters as to its image , with its international governing body , the ICU (International Cycling Union) still at a loss , as to how to abate the rampant and widespread cheating that still remains within the sport .


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Lance Armstrong still remains a pariah , as he continues to skirt the real reasons why he chose to cheat by using steroids as well as EPO and several other illicit substances . As to what was meant to be an in-depth interview with media maven and mogul, Oprah Winfrey . Well that bile inducing bilge , was about as noteworthy as Clint Eastwood’s appearance at the Republican National Convention , when he stood on stage , asking questions of an empty chair that suggested he was questioning Barack Obama . Well if that is what it takes the GOP , to be seen as enlightened and a party of the inclusive ____ good luck to them . Personally , I am looking for someone and a party that is keenly aware as to how to deal with many of the issues that still beset this country and not a bunch of clowns from either party , simply paying lip service and giving us sound bytes on what they believe that the electorate needs to hear .

The Tour de France is sport of cycling`s premiere event , with only the World Championships and the Olympics having as much prestige . Yet it is the classic French endurance event that brings in widespread acclaim and undoubted wealth for the winner . However , considering that Alberto Contador , Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis , three of the most recent of eight winners of the event , have in some way been caught up in the less savory and most corrupt revelations and side of the sport . Landis and Armstrong had their names stricken from the record books , as to the list of winners of the event . Contador , for some reason still remains a competitor in the sport and is a contestant in this year’s event , though he is not seen as an overall favorite .

As a Brit , I know how painful it is to watch tennis at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club at Wimbledon each year ! It has been almost eight decades since an Englishman has raised the Men’s Singles Trophy denoting a native-born winner . Fred Perry won the last of his three-straight titles in 1936. And since then , no other male player from the United Kingdom has come remotely close to producing a home-grown champion . This year’s hopes rest with the Scot , Andy Murray , who as the reigning US Open and Olympic champion , will have the nation , soundly supporting his efforts . Now, if Murray should make it through his semifinal meeting with Jerzy Janowicz , he will have the dubious privilege of having to meet the number one ranked Novak Djokovik in the Men`s Finals . All odds favor the Serbian whose run through the tournament has been nothing short of amazing . By Sunday afternoon , we may well witness Djokovik adding to his already impressive resume` , as he seeks to rewrite the history books and place himself amongst the modern-day greats of the Open Era.

The United States does not have single male or female representative left , in either the Men’s or Women’s Singles Tournament. Something I believe , that will sternly that will need to be addressed by the USTA (United States Tennis Association) and how they assess the structure and system now in place . Serena Williams has been the most dominant player in Women’s tennis for just over a decade , but as her career has now reached its apex . There is no telling how long the desire will remain for the fourteen-time singles Grand Slam winner . With her amassed wealth estimated $100 million fortune , and outside business ventures , those scenarios could very well be a driving force that sees the thirty year old step away from the sport sooner , rather than later . On the men’s side of the equation , there is not a great deal that could lead one to believe that there is a future Grand Slam winner amongst the best male players in the United States . The highest ranked in the world rankings , is Sam Querrey at number nineteen , and his run at Wimbledon was somewhat short-lived and about as scintillating as being hit in the face by a wet rag , as he succumbed to the unseeded Bernard Tomic in five sets .

The UFC will kick off UFC 162 , with a co-headline event that will see reigning middleweight champion Anderson Silva defend his title against Chris Weidman . For the Brazilian jujitsu practitioner this will be the twelfth defense of his title, as well as seeking his seventeenth consecutive win inside the octagon . All feats are now UFC records and the primary reason by Silva is considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in mixed martial arts (MMA) . As a practitioner (karate & muy-thai) and proponent of MMA , this is now the primary reason why I believe that mixed martial arts has simply left the sport of boxing in the dust . It has now become far more popular as a genre and participant sport , with an ever-increasing demographic, as well as now drawing a large following amongst females . Granted, , with the rise of females fighters such as Ronda Rousey , Jessica Andrade , Liz Carmouche , Alexis Davis and Germaine de Randamie . It is now easy to see why UFC President Dana White finally succumbed to admitting females within the UFC fold , as well creating the bantamweight division weight class for women . Rousey is currently the unbeaten UFC champion within that weight class .

Saturday night’s main and under-card a, provides the most discerning fans of the sport, the chance to see some of the best practitioners of this fast growing sport into the public domain . From my own perspective, I do not believe that Weidman will provide all that stern a test for the champion , simply because of the challenger`s inexperience and the lack of real quality opponents that he has faced over his short career within the UFC ! Silva for his part , has toyed with his opponents , simply making a mockery of the division and the lack of overall talent within the middleweight division . Anderson Silva is not, and has not been thoroughly challenged by any of his opponents over his last sixteen bouts . Those who believe to the contrary , simply point to an instance were that has actually been the case and then point out , what the end result tended to be .

The Mandalay Bay Hotel Resort & Casino Complex , in Las Vegas , Nevada , will be the scene for this latest extravaganza being staged by Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta , as owners of UFC. What started out , as merely a tough man contest where differing fighting styles were pitted against each other , by the respective fighters , has now become a multi-billion dollar global concern , presided over UFC by the Fertitta brothers, in conjunction wit Dana White . In a little more than a decade and a half , from UFC 1 to now , UFC 162 , this sport has become more respectable and more disciplined , in terms of safety issues, than anything shown by the international governing bodies of the sport of boxing . Subsequent events have now become regimented with a greater emphasis being placed on the safety of the fighters . Furthermore , with the misuse of steroids being part of the sports` panacea , MMA under the UFC banner has become one the few sports were their initiative beyond suspending for a first offense , they are also penalized monetarily by the UFC hierarchy and are subject to further punishment in the states where the sport is sanctioned in North America . Can the same be said , with regard to baseball , basketball , football or hockey ? Most definitely not ,when you consider the intransigence shown by the respective bodies , especially under the auspices of Bud Selig , David Stern , Roger Goodell and Gary Bettman .

Baseball has reached the midpoint of its season and a number of teams , I believe can be counted out of contention as it relates to their postseason ambitions . It is pretty much safe to say that barring divine intervention from up on high, the New York Mets (35-47) , will once again be on the outside looking in . Recent results or not , J P Ricciardi and Sandy Alderson can already begin to think about next season , while getting rid of the dead weight on the roster . Far be it for me to suggest , but if it were possible to jettison Fred Wilpon , his son, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz . I for one , believe that we would all breathe a sigh of relief and so too might the majority of the fans within baseball ! One could also preface that, by saying the same thing for baseball`s hierarchy , because under Bud Selig , let us put it succinctly , not everything he as touched , has actually turned to gold . Selig`s imprint on the game has been akin the AIDS` virus and its virulent spread across the globe , specifically on the continent of Africa and in the Far East Asia where it still remains a scourge .

Matt Harvey may well be having a terrific season for the Mets , but beyond his contributions and that of David Wright . It is pretty much safe to say that there is not a great deal that can be taken away from the season as a positive for the franchise , much less by way of the managerial acumen of Terry Collins and his managerial staff . Coming off a 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks the Mets have a mere handful of games before Citi-Field in Flushing, New York, hosts the 2013 MLB All Star Game and all of the festivities we are accustomed to witnessing at the mid-season that is associated with the showcase event .

New York`s next game will pit them against the Milwaukee Brewers (34-50) in a match-up between two desperate ball-clubs seeking redemption at this point of the schedule , after performing poorly through the first half of the season. The rest of the way should prove to be really interesting over the remainder of the MLB schedule .

Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds now has the unique distinction of being the only pitcher in the last decade to have pitched two no-hitters . The fact that he was able to achieve this feat inside the space of eighteen months is all the more surprising . Albeit , that for much of this season in terms of pitching heroics , the buzz has simply been about Matt Scherzer (13-0) of the Detroit Tigers and his phenomenal start to the season , in going 13-0 with a . fourteenth consecutive victory not seemingly out of the question. No-hitters and perfect games are the Holy Grails for a big-league pitcher, and for them to have their names etched in baseball immortality, is not something , that can be taken away or denied. Granted in the age of skepticism and the very fact the game of baseball has been unable to get rid of steroid cheats , makes the fans not necessarily admirers of many of today`s achievements by the players. Especially, when we know that the league hierarchy and the union itself, has done little to rectify the plague that has become widespread within the game . For those of you in doubt , then simply be aware of the fact that over almost two hundred players have now been embroiled in the abuse of steroids covering the game of baseball , covering the Minor League as well as in the Majors . Yet Bud Selig , team owners and Michael Weiner of the MLBPA have simply not offered any explanation for these statistics and the very fact that cheating still remains a blight on and to the game . There still remains the apathy of the fans and analysts alike , which is not unusual, when in large part neither shows a preponderance of showing any damn common sense concerning the issue .

To make things even worse , as it relates to an already tarnished image within the game . The Texas Rangers` GM Jon Daniels signed …. Manny Ramirez , a two-time steroid offender to a Minor League contract . Ramirez who escaped the wrath of a mandatory one hundred game suspension by immediately retiring , then went off and parlayed his services to the highest bidder by playing baseball in the Far East . Now having returned to the game , he has been welcomed back with open arms , as if his actions were never of any consequence . Daniels in a public statement ____ stated, `that taking a flier on Ramirez was well worth the risk`. What I would like to know , is how the ownership group of the Texas Rangers feels that this is in any way beneficial for their image much less of benefit to the game , which is still in a state of disrepair ? Any thoughts on that, at this juncture ?

? Baseball , but for its own stupidity , simply cannot get out of its own way or the repeated pratfalls that it constantly tends to make .

It may not have come as a surprise , given the recent upheavals amongst the coaching fraternity within the NBA . Yet the hiring of Brad Stevens to succeed the nine year tenure of Doc Rivers , may well have taken the whole world by surprise . Stevens who coached the Butler Bulldogs for six successful seasons and then on to two successive NCAA Finals Tournament appearances in 2010 and 2011. . That may well been the sort of composure and coaching acumen that impressed the Boston Celtics` front office staff , led by team owner Wyc Grousbeck and GM Danny Ainge to hire the young college coach . We know the nature of the NBA , where the mindset is to win , now , and along the way place a competitive product on the field of play . With the departures of Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers and the trades tat sent Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets . It would appear that the rebuilding process for the Celtics is now underway. To my mind this maneuver is simply two years too late . Doc Rivers over the last two seasons may well ave been somewhat disgruntled with the direction tat the franchise may well ave been heading in , but it did not seem to negate his intent , tat saw him re-sign with the Boston Celtics , a contract for a three-year extension , paying approximately $ 18 to $20 million over the period in question . Somehow, I get the feeling tat Doc Rivers was simply blowing smoke up everyone`s ass , as to his own discomfort , and $20 million was just a nice way of easing the pain .

Stevens may well bring in his own coaching staff , but a great deal of what may well transpire , will come out of the relationship fomented and built up with Celtics` point guard Rajon Rondo , which will be pivotal the success of the franchise and its long-term future . The team`s draft class and their subsequent transactions may well bring about the success sought , and in light of the cap space created , the franchise will be one of the teams that could be an ideal destination for one of the marquee free agents seeking to make that organization a legitimate contender.

Given Boston`s poor showing in the postseason in their first round loss to the New York Knicks summed up a rather lamentable season for one of the league`s most prestigious franchises .



At this point of the year, what if anything do you most look forward to by way of the sporting calendar and the events that may pique your interest ? Simply chime on in with a comment as you see fit .


Picture and slideshow details below .

(1) Tejay Van Garderen of the United States riding for BMC Racing looks on prior to stage two of the 2013 Tour de France, a 156KM road stage from Bastia to Ajaccio, on June 30, 2013 in Bastia, France. The 100th edition of Le Tour de France commences on the island of Corsica and ends July 21 in Paris. Doug Pensinger /Getty Images North America …

(2) Jan Bakelants of Belgium and Radioshack Leopard celebrates as he crosses the finishing line to win stage two of the 2013 Tour de France, a 156KM road stage from Bastia to Ajaccio, on June 30, 2013 in Ajaccio, France. Getty Images / Bryan Lennon …

(3) Andy Murray of Great Britain embraces Jerzy Janowicz of Poland at the net after their Gentlemen’s Singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2013 in London, England. Getty Image Europe /John Finney …

(4) Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a backhand during the Gentlemen’s Singles semi-final match against Jerzy Janowicz of Poland on day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2013 in London, England. John Finney / Getty Images Europe …

(5) Chris Weidman , seen here speaking with the convened press concerning his upcoming UFC middleweight title about against champion Anderson Silva . The two will square off in the octagon this Saturday at UFC 162 at the Mandalay Bay Complex , in Las Vegas, Nevada ,. MMA Fighter @ copyrighted material …

(6) Anderson Silva , UFC middleweight champion , left , is seen here facing off against challenger Chris Weidman in a pre-fight photo promotion at the Mandalay Bay Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada . Silva is a clear favorite in this record-setting title defense against his less experienced opponent. Getty Images / Matt Berger …

(7) Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws to a Toronto Blue Jays batter during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 3, 2013, in Toronto. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette …

(8) CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 5: Pitcher Homer Bailey (34) of the Cincinnati Reds and catcher Ryan Hanigan (29) of the Cincinnati Reds are presented with lineup cards by Manager Dusty Baker (12) of the Cincinnati Reds to commemorate Bailey’s second career no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants two nights earlier before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Great American Ball Park on July 5, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images ….

(9) Jon Daniels whose decision to sign slugger Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal has raised a few eyebrows around Major League Baseball. The Rangers` front office executive believes the deal well worth the risk and of benefit to the Texas Rangers organization . Getty Images / Elise Amendola …

(10) Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge , left, speaks alongside new head coach Brad Stevens , right, during a news conference where Stevens was introduced Friday, July 5, 2013, at the NBA basketball team’s training facility in Waltham, Mass. Stevens twice led the Butler Bulldogs to the NCAA title game. He replaces Doc Rivers, who was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. AP Photo/Josh Reynolds …..


tophatal ………


Have Balls Will Travel ……………… Anyone For Tennis ?

Have Balls Will Travel ……………… Anyone For Tennis ?

Well the first tennis Grand Slam event of the year has already got the ball rolling on both the Men’s and Women’s Tour . The ATP covers the men’s where the dominant factors are Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer the world number’s one and two in the ATP rankings . The Australian Open as always is the first of the four Grand Slam majors that encapsulates the French Open , Wimbledon and the US Open .


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Slide show gallery for your perusal .

On the women’s side on the WTA Tour the new number one ranked player is Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark albeit that in many eyes a grand slam tournament without Serena Williams is very much like having a four course meal without one of the main hors-d’ouever starters. But with the younger of two Williams’ sisters not a participant it will be left to Venus Williams to carry the familial torch.

Now while the eyes of the tennis world be upon the top two men in the game I’m of the belief that unless both walk into a trap then these finals will be about two pre-eminent players of their generation and perhaps the best two players in the game over the last two decades. Their joint resumes alone is most certainly a testament to that, with each having won a career Grand Slam having won each of the four majors . Nadal will now have the privilege of trying to emulate what only Rod Laver has been able to achieve twice over the course of his esteemed career and that’s to try and win the Grand Slam as it’s designated to be and that’s to win all four majors in a calendar year . There’s the idiocy being paraded out there by observers that Federer’s game is on the decline but like any other player on the circuit players will have ebbs and flows over the course of their careers never mind that they’ll also become susceptible to injuries and that’s something that hasn’t been mentioned in any of the blogs I’ve read concerning the player.

But take this as a fact Federer and Nadal have been participants in 23 of the last 25 tennis Grand Slam Finals either facing each other or another top 10 player at the time . Those being Juan Martin Del Potro and Novak Djokovic who’ve won the two Slam Finals where the names of Federer or Nadal weren’t etched on the trophy. And that’s meant to be a decline in Federer’s career as a singles player ? Less we forget also that the former Swiss number one has made it to 23 straight Grand Slam tennis semi-finals ? Am I missing something here and where what the hell have these individuals been watching and what is that they base their actual thought process on if not the facts that are in front of them ?

The earlier rounds so far for both the men’s and women’s singles competition hasn’t brought about any great surprises as of yet but you can be sure as the second week approaches at the Rod Laver Center in Melbourne , Australia we will be in for a plethora of surprises . The one thing that I feel is abundantly clear is that on the men’s side of the game the once dominant US no longer has a male player of any real note that can challenge for any of major slams on the circuit. Andy Roddick is no longer a real presence on the ATP Tour and simply going through the motions and I can only surmise that marriage and the domesticity it brings with being married to SI model Brooklyn Decker has softened the player somewhat !

If there are to be any challenges offered to the duo of Federer and Nadal then it could very well come from Novak Djokovic , Andy Murray , Fernando Verdasco , Gael Monfils to name but a few . But as I alluded to earlier that would be predicated upon either Federer or Nadal seemingly losing interest and falling into the trap of perhapos of misjudging an opponent. The reality here is given both players’ slam experiences it’s very hard to envisage that happening. Between them they have won a combined 23 Grand Slam Finals and have appeared in 27 altogether. Do you get the feeling that the two know what they’re doing when they’re on the grandest of stages in the men’s game ?

Although the top ranked Caroline Wozniacki has yet to win Grand Slam major her career has been marked with very good tournament wins and 2010 she showed a great deal of consistency and there’s justification as to why she’s ranked number on the WTA Tour. Granted the absence of Serena Williams waters down the competitiveness of the event in the women’s singles but nonetheless it now becomes something of a wide open event where you can pick a winner from amongst the remainder of the top ten in the rankings and feel there’s a cause to be made for each . Certainly Kim Clijsters , Venus Williams , Samantha Stosur and Maria Sharapova can be looked upon as a threat in the competition and perhaps deny Wozniacki the chance to win her first Grand Slam singles title. Sharapova to my mind having been injured hasn’t really played herself into match fit competition but given her experience she could derail the ambitions of others given the right set of circumstances and even with her being outside the top ten she’s still good enough to beat any of the top ranked players on her day. Caroline Wozniacki needs a Grand Slam major win to justify that top ranking on the WTA Tour as it adds legitimacy to her career also. As to whether or not she can achieve that in this tournament remains to be seen but here’s the clear chance for her to justify that to the public and for tennis fans around the globe.

Tennis if anything has its place in the pantheon of sports on the world stage and without the tete-a-tete and rivalry brought about by the likes of Federer and Nadal we’d be left with a cumulative void. There’s nothing coming along from within the US men’s game to suggest that they can regain dominance in the men’s game. And apart from the tradition of the Davis Cup a team even where there too they’ve fallen on hard times _____________ there’s not much else for them and the fans to really look forward and that’s in spite of the changes now being made at the ground level and up within the USTA to seek a change in fortunes and the nurturing of young talent at every level within the game on the domestic front.



Picture gallery for your perusal.

What thoughts if any do you have on Australian Open and how do you see things panning out in the men’s and women’s singles competition ? And as as such do believe that the US men’s tennis can once again become a dominant force on the world stage with the players that it currently has within the ATP Tour rankings ? Simply chime in with your comments .

NB Picture and slide show gallery details .

(1) Gael Monfils of France plays a stroke during his third round men’s singles match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland on the fifth day of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2011. Warwinka leads by two sets to nil as play continues. AFP Photo/William West _______ Photo credit should read William West/AFP/Getty Images ….. copyrighted material …… @ all rights reserved

(2) Kei Nishikori of Japan serves against Fernando Verdasco of Spain during their round three men’s singles match on the fifth day of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2011. Verdasco won 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 . Getty Images /Nikolas Ashfouri ………..

(3) Melbourne , Australia ,. Rafael Nadal of Spain serves in his second round match against Ryan Sweeting of the United States of America during day four of the 2011 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 20, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images …….

<p (4) Roger Federer of Switzerland serves in his third round match against Xavier Malisse of Belgium during day five of the 2011 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. Federer would go on to defeat Malisse in straight sets . Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images ………

(5) Andy Roddick of the United States of America shakes hands after his third round match against Robin Haase of the Netherlands during day five of the 2011 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Lucas Dawson/Getty Images ……….

(6) Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark plays a forehand in her third round match against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia during day five of the 2011 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images ……..

The Australian Open Schedule & Results ——

ATP Men’s Rankings

……………………………. WTA Women’s Rankings ……

Alan aka tophatal …………………………………..


Courtney  Black

Eye candy …………… Courtney Black and pictorial montage to follow.

Courtney parades her wares courtesy of King Magazine .

Courtney  4

Balls are meant to be played with and Courtney most definitely knows how to do that !


U2 ………………. “One”


The Best I’ve Ever Seen ……………

The Best I’ve Ever I Seen

Some of my work colleagues and I were having a discussion as to the best sport stars we’ve seen at (in) their respective sports. I told them that as I wasn’t all that versed to many of the top athletes or teams here in the US that we’ve all seen over the course of our lives. Being a Brit ,I’ve seen my share of stars across varying sports arenas. But across the North American landscape I’ve not seen many of the best, per say.

Having arrived here in the early nineties , the primary US athletes that I knew or were aware of, were tennis players and track stars , John McEnroe , Jimmy Connors , Arthur Ashe , Stan Smith , Pete Sampras , Andre Agassi , Carl Lewis , Lerory Burrell , Mike Powell , Ed Moses and Michael Johnson .

Now don’t get me wrong but as good as those players are . To my mind the best tennis player I’d ever seen was Bjorn Borg ! Over the course of his illustrious career he’d won “eleven” Grand Slam singles titles. But what was even more astounding was the rate at which he won those titles. Five successive Wimbledon singles titles and six French singles titles. All of those titles were won before retired at the age of 27. Borg did make a brief comeback but it was short lived. And people would suggest that Sampras was a far greater player than Borg ? In what universe ? Measure their feats over their comparative ages and you’ll see that Borg had achieved far more and that’s with the fact of him retiring from the game at a comparative early age. Experts my a_s !

Bjorn Borg wins his fifth successive Wimbledon title in defeating John McEnroe in 1980.

Now people might suggest that Sampras was Borg’s equal but anyone who knows the game of tennis will know that Sampras’ game was flawed when it came to playing on clay. Now we’ve seen the rise of Roger Federer and there’s no doubt in that he is the greatest male player of this or any other generation of male tennis players . Fourteen Grand Slam singles’ titles should be proof of that and the fact that he’s made it to the semi-finals of 19 straight Grand Slam singles tournaments. No male or female tennis player in the ‘Open or pre-Open era’ has ever accomplished that feat. And it’s unlikely to repeated or be surpassed by another player in the future. That is complete dominance of a sport , far greater than that of Tiger Woods’ dominance of the PGA Tour .

HBO’s presentation of the now infamous Hagler vs Hearns middleweight bout 1979. One of the most vicious bouts there will ever be in the annals of boxing.

I’ve gotten to the stage where I look at the sport of boxing and just think to myself what the hell went wrong with this damn sport ? The top fighters rarely fight each other anymore. And then we have an ass in boxing promoter Bob Arum telling us that the sport of MMA is ran and by a bunch of racial bigots. This coming from a promoter who once described one of the boxers in his stable …. “as one of the ‘best niggers’ I’ve ever had “. Now forgive me, but if Arum can be that condescending and still hold down his position as one of sport’s most powerful promoters. Then it would suggest to me that the sport is simply devoid of integrity . Both Arum and Don King have made a mockery of the sport.

Ali knocks out George Foreman in Kinshasa , Zaire to win the world heavyweight title.

Now I’m not going to deny that Muhammad Ali is the ‘greatest heavyweight boxer’ of all time and that’s with due respect to Joe Louis . His feats in the ring simply speak for themselves. The three time heavyweight champion of the world. And the fact that for almost four years he was denied the right to defend his title having never lost in the ring. He was stripped of his title for refusing to enlist in the US military and to fight in the ‘Vietnam War’ . As a conscientious objector , it was his right but politically the Lyndon Johnson administration wanted to make an example of the fighter. His epic ‘three epic fights’ with Joe Frazier and then his emotional laden bout with Larry Holmes cemented Ali’s legendary status. Less we forget also, there was ‘the great upset’ when he knocked out the then ‘invincible’ George Foreman in Kinshasa , Zaire. And although growing up I saw many of Ali’s fights. I still felt that when it was indeed time for him to walk away from the sport that he graced for so many years. He simply stayed in it for all of the wrong reasons. He was coerced into this decision by his then promoter Don King. And in King , you had someone who essentially is a parasite who clings to the boxers in his stable very much in the same way that a fly loves to be around fecal matter looking for anything it can derive of it that would be of benefit to them at the time.

My own favorite boxer in the ring was and still is Marvin Hagler . And though many well feel that Sugar Ray Robinson is the greatest middleweight of all time. Which he could well have been but I’m not so sure that a ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson at his best could beat Marvin Hagler ! And though many talk about Ray Leonard being a supremely gifted fighter but I feel that Leonard simply fought to please himself and to make money. And that has been essentially it as far as his legacy was concerned. We’ve since the dominance of Bernard Hopkins within the division and his 20 successful defenses of the middleweight title. But the pedigree of the fighters of this era when measured against the era of Hagler , Leonard and Tommy Hearns pales into comparison. Middleweight fighters of this era are nowhere as skilled or versed as boxers, much less punchers or knockout artists.

Hagler for his part fought all comers and defended his title successfully eleven times before eventually losing it to ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard , in what some still consider to be a controversial split decision to this day. Hagler walked away from the sport angered by the decision. Leonard went on to further glory but to this day he knows that the decision went a long way in leaving the sport befuddled as to the decision making of the judges and the fracturing of the sport. Leonard for his part continued to fight adding to his legacy until he retired from the ring inauspiciously. He made one or two comebacks against lackluster opponents. But problems away from the ring soon blighted his personal life. Substance abuse , allegations of spousal battery and then a rather acrimonious divorce from his then wife.

Ed Moses wins Olympic gold in the 1976 Olympics in the men’s 400 meters hurdles .

When people talk about records and how special they are, the talk about Joe DeMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak in baseball. The UCLA Bruins’ 87 game win streak and Hank Aaron’s home run record. And as phenomenal as those records are. Very rarely do I ever hear the name of track and field star Ed Moses’ name being mentioned and his feat as the world’s greatest high hurdler . Over the course of 122 races at in the 400 meter hurdles event, Moses went unbeaten . And to add to his feat Ed Moses won two Olympic gold medals and multiple world championships on the track over the distance. But that span of 122 successive victories were over the span of a decade . Consider this also, of the fifty fast times ever at the distance , 28 of those times are held by Ed Moses. That is dominance my friends , complete and utter dominance. But unfortunately the sport of track and field is no longer the bastion of US male dominance. It has now become a niche sport that now only gets heightened interest once the quadrennial Summer Olympics comes around . Then and only then, is there a heightened interest in track and field and many of its major star athletes.

Bolt   wins   200m   in   world   record  time  of   19.30  at  the  Beijing  Olympics  .  photo  appears   courtesy  of   bbc.co.uk/sports/  ................

Usain Bolt wins with the men’s 200 meters’ Final at the Beijing Olympics the world record time of 19.30. It would be one of three gold medals won by the Jamaican athlete all in world record times . photo appears courtesy of bbc.co.uk/sports ……………..

The world was more than in awe when Usain Bolt burst unto the world at the Beijing Olympics . His world record shattering feats at the 100 200 meters and 4x100m relay , has left the Jamaican track star at the top of heap in the track and field world. And Bolt looks to successfully defend his titles at the 2012 London Olympics . But before that he’ll also look to defend his IAAF World Championship titles in those events. Bolt to my mind may well have the career that can span a decade if he’s totally dedicated to his sport. At present there isn’t a track star in the world that is his equal ! And the notion that Tyson Gay is even in the same area code as him as a track athlete, is like making the comparison between a Lamborghini Murcielago and a Dodge Pinto . It’s simply not justified at all ! We’ve seen how ordinary Gay was made to look in Beijing and prior to their meeting at the Olympics, Bolt literally took the mental resolve of his American opponent and completely shattered it. When an athlete already has you beat psychologically then inevitably you will be defeated physically.

Bolt wins   gold in the  100 meters   going   away   from  his   fellow  competitors   in   Beijing  in  a  world  record  time of   9.69 .    photo   appears  courtesy  of  Reuters/   David   Duscherre  ...............
Bolt wins gold in the 100 meters going away from his fellow competitors in Beijing in a world record time of 9.69 . photo appears courtesy of Reuters/ David Duscherre ...............

This will be the first part in a series of pieces that I’ll be doing on an athletes that I’ve come to admire during foray into the love of sports . Be sure to look out for part two . I trust that you’ll enjoy the series ? And by all means chime on with a comment of your own concerning the athletes I’ve mentioned here and those who you’ve seen that have left you in awe as to prowess in their chosen sporting endeavor.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………….


Aaliyah feat’g Timbaland ……….”We Need A Resolution”

Pardon The Interruption But That’s Bull !

So Andre Agassi would have us all believe that he became so disinterested in the sport of tennis that he took to crystal meth ? Way to go Andre ! And oh by the way , why’d you pull a former friend under the bus with you ? I’m sure that the young children whom you no doubt benefit through your philanthropic efforts will be somewhat disheartened by this admission. But not to worry, as it was all being done in a good cause wasn’t it ? I mean if you’re going to write an autobiography, then what better way to publicize it all than with an admission that’s bound to cause a great deal of notoriety and add to the sale of the ode itself. It certainly won’t hurt the sales of the book and if nothing else it’ll create an avenue wherein you can appear on of the various talk shows and then be bored by none other than Larry King . As he fawns over you with the meaningless questions that he’s bound to ask.

Open   Andre  Agassi's   autobiography  written in  conjunction with  Pullitzer  prize  winning  author   J R Moehringer    picture appears courtesy  of   sports  illustrated /si.com .................

Open Agassi’s self titled autobiography written in conjunction with Pullitzer prize winning author J.R. Moehringer . The book scheduled for release this month is said to be filled with scintillating stories concerning the players career and his struggles as a professional tennis player. picture appears courtesy of /sportsillustrated/si.com

As for Agassi, the only reason he lied about his situation, was merely because he didn’t want the wrath of the ATP and the ITF brought down around his shoulders were he to admit at the time that he’s been using crystal methamphetamines. As he’d have ended up being banned and no doubt having to lose several multi million dollar lucrative corporate endorsements along the way. It’s as they say …..” once a cheat always a cheat ” !

A  tearful  Andre  Agassi  at his  final  US  Open  in  2006   staged  at  the  US  National  Tennis  Center  in  Flushing,  New York   City,  New York.     picture  appears  courtesy of  ap/photo/  Marcus  Coles ...............

A tearful Agassi at his final US Open in 2006 , staged at the US National Tennis Center in Flushing , New York City, New York. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Marcus Coles ………..

Courtesy of ESPN:

Crystal meth, hair weaves and majors

Andre Agassi knows how low he once sunk because of the grand view he has now

By Rick Reilly, ESPN The Magazine

If image really is everything, why would Andre Agassi admit in his new book that he used crystal meth? Not once but dozens of times? And why would he admit he lied about it to the Association of Tennis Professionals?

Why would a son admit how much he feared his Iranian father — feared him and hated him since the age of 7? And why — why! — would a man admit he wore perhaps the world’s only Mohawk toupee?

Why? Because this isn’t just any book.

This is Agassi’s mea culpa — “Open” (from Knopf, written with Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer) — and from the beginning, he and Moehringer set out to write the most revealing, literate and toes-stompingly honest sports autobiography in history. From the parts I’ve been allowed to read, they might have done it.

“I just tell people, this book is honest,” says Agassi, who worked with Moehringer for a full year, meeting nearly daily at the Las Vegas house Agassi once lived in with Brooke Shields. “It lives up to the title. It’s my life, for better or worse. Get ready, buckle up, and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.”

“Open” is the story of a flawed man who sees everybody’s imperfections, but none more than his own. It’s the tale of a man who knows how low he sunk if only because of the grand view he has now.

Agassi’s early life was not his, never his, not from the beginning, not from the time his Olympic boxer father built a backyard prison especially for him, a tennis court he was figuratively chained to day after day, while his father’s homemade ball machine — the dragon, Agassi called it — ceaselessly spit out balls faster, harder, forever.

In order to read Rick Reilly’s article in its entirety just click on the text link shown

Well folks , we’ve all but reached the mid-point of the NFL season and things basically haven’t changed all that much. And as one can see from the standings , we’re now seeing the contenders ever so slowly make their way from the pretenders. Is anyone really of the opinion that the Detroit Lions (1-6) have improved at all, with rookie first round draft pick Matthew Stafford at the helm ? I’m not trying to suggest that Stafford would be viewed as an earth shaker or world beater in his rookie season . But clearly there’s something awry with this Lions’ team !

Lions'  quarterback   Matthew  Stafford  is  tackled  by  the  St Louis Rams'  Leonard  Little  in  an NFL game  played  at   Ford  Field  in  Detroit  , Michigan ,.   picture  appears courtesy of  getty images/  Gregory  Shamus  ................

Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford is tackled by the St Louis Rams’ Leonard Little in an NFL game played at Ford Field in Detroit , Michigan. The Lions would succumb to a 17-10 defeat, enabling the Rams to win their first game of the season. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Gregory Shamus …….

And the team’s pitiful display in their 17-10 loss to another downtrodden franchise in the St Louis Rams (1-7), would suggest that the NFL may well have reached an alltime low , in terms of the sheer ineptitude shown by many of its franchises. Anyone trying to state the claim that there’s still parity within the NFL . Then I’d suggest to them that they really need to take a long hard look at the product on the field of play. It’s now become about the teams who are very good and who can execute . And the teams that one can best describe as being downright atrocious. Which team is yours at this juncture ?

Phillies'  closer  Brad  Lidge  on  the  mound  in the  ninth  inning   of  game  4  of the   World   Series   against the New York  Yankees.  Lidge  would   give   up  three  runs   in  the  inning,  enabling  the  Yankees  to   earn a  7-4   victory  in  the  game   and  now   go  up   3-1   in the  series.   The Yankees   are now  but  one   win  away  from  winning  their   twenty  seventh   World Series  title.      picture  appears  courtesy  of  ap/photo / Rob  Carr  ...................

Phillies’ closer Brad Lidge on the mound in the ninth inning of game 4 of the World Series against the New York Yankees. Lidge would give up three runs in the inning , enabling the Yankees to earn a 7-4 victory in the game and now go up 3-1 in the series. The Yankees are now but one game away from winning their twenty seventh World Series title. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Rob Carr …………

I can’t help but wonder what or how one can best assist the plight of the Philadelphia Phillies. From a team that came into this postseason with a great deal of heart and playing with a great deal of aplomb. They’re now being beaten up on , much like an overseer would take to a slave with forty whips of the lash. In the World Series thus far , the New York Yankees now seem to have their number having taken a (3-1) lead in the best of seven game series. And poor old Charlie Manuel now has to play a psych and analyst for pitchers Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge. Never mind that the bat of the once dangerous Ryan Howard has about as much ‘pop’ in it , as a bottle as a bottle of soured champagne. Needless to say, if Howard isn’t firing on all cylinders then this team isn’t going to be going anywhere. And that essentially will open the door for the Yankees to lift their twenty seventh World Series title.

Coach John Wooden speaks about life and death and things in between that mean such a great deal to us all.

If there’s one thing that one would expect from a college coach at any level withing the collegiate ranks . It’s that they have character and if nothing else it’s also that they carry that trait of integrity and honesty. After all they’re ensured with the duty of not only coaching the young collegiate athlete but also teaching them life lessons along the way. Perhaps the best collegiate coach ever to do that and that’s to imbue those under their care with a sense of responsibility. Well, to my mind no one more embodied that , than former UCLA men’s basketball coach , John Wooden.

The former Bruins’ coach epitomized what it meant to be coach and a father figure to the players under his tutelage. People may harp on about the likes of Bobby Knight, Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden and Mike Krzyzewski. But it is Wooden, to whom they all pay homage to in the end. They haven’t been able to achieve the type of success not only on the field of play but also off it , when it comes to the athletes that he brought along. But most of all, it is how many of the athletes under his tutelage have fared, that one ought to admire with regard to his achievements. Were it , that they ended making a name for themselves at the professional level in the field sports. Or through another vocation outside the world of athletics. Wooden, the man and the coach has to be greatly admired.

Courtesy of the Associated Press:

Gillispie pleads guilty to DUI charge in Ky.

By Jeff McMurray , (AP)

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — Former University of Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie pleaded guilty Monday to driving under the influence of alcohol and apologized for what he called a mistake.

Gillispie, wearing a dark suit and yellow tie at the hearing in Anderson County District Court, accepted a plea bargain, which included fines and court costs of more than $1,000, a 30-day suspension of his driver’s license and an agreement to complete an Alcohol Drivers Education Program.

During the brief hearing, Gillispie gave one-word answers to questions from Judge Linda Armstrong about whether he understood his rights and the consequences of the plea.

Gillispie filled out paperwork in an undisclosed location in the courthouse, then made no comment to reporters as he darted out the side entrance and got into a car carrying his attorney, William Patrick.

Patrick said Gillispie had left the state by midday but otherwise declined to comment beyond a statement, which included Gillispie’s apology and pointed out the coach had received the maximum fine for a first-time DUI offender in Kentucky.

Click on link to read article in its entirety

Billy  Gillispie seen  here  in  court   in Lawrenceburg ,  Ky,.  Gillispie   pled   guilty  to  a  dui  charge  stemming   from  a  vehicular  stop  by  local  law enforcement   there  in  Lawrenceburg.  Gillispie was given the maximum penalty for a first-time offense in Anderson County, which included a fine of a little more than $1,000, a 30-day suspension of his license and orders to complete an Alcohol Drivers Education Program.   Gillespie's lawyer, William Patrick, is seen on right. (AP Photo/Ben Carlson, Pool)

Billy Gillispie seen here in court in Lawrenceburg , Ky,. Gillispie pled guilty to a dui charge stemming from a vehicular stop by local law enforcement there in Lawrenceburg. Gillispie was given the maximum penalty for a first-time offense in Anderson County, which included a fine of a little more than $1,000, a 30-day suspension of his license and orders to complete an Alcohol Drivers Education Program. Accompanying Gillispie in the courtroom is his lawyer William Patrick. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Ben Carlson ………..

This now brings me to the point with regard to former Kentucky coach , Billy Gillespie . If ever there was a troubled individual within the college coaching ranks. Then a bust of Gillespie should be the landmark for such a person ! Here’s a guy, who had the world at his feet but he thought better , were he to eschew the values that he were to be passing on to the students under his care. He’s proven to be dishonest and a person of low moral standard. But yet he was seen as a fit for such coaching positions at the University of Kentucky , UTEP and Texas A & M amongst others . But perhaps Gillespie’s gravest error has been the fact of his failure to acknowledge his character trait of being an alcoholic and failing to address it. And then using it as a pretense for his misconduct. Hardly the thing that the parents of a potential recruit would want to see from a coach who’d have their son’s best interests at heart. But here he was , a man in a position of trust being accommodated by many parents, not knowing of Gillispie’s proclivity for alcohol and his past indiscretions. That asides , it’s my belief that in some cases his demeanor was overlooked by some of his employers . And this was done , merely because he was a college coach with a name and he’d brought about a modicum of success at several stops along his way.

Now having further tarnished his reputation , I’m not so sure that Gillispie ought to be deserving of a second , much less a third chance as a coach. His moral fiber and integrity has been shot to hell. Furthermore, what faculty or educational establishment would be willing to give him another chance at this moment in time ? It’s not as if he’s learned his lessons from past mistakes to begin with. Much like a repeat criminal offender. Gillispie is not different in this regard to his recidivism . I know that there are many out there who’ll be in support of him , thinking that he’s fully deserving of another chance. But I put this question to you – if you’re a parent and he entered into your home looking to recruit your son. Would you be willing to listen anything that he has to say ? Bearing in mind also that you’re fully aware of his background. To my mind a person of Gillispie’s character is bound to falter again, one way or another.