PTI , it was a weekend, of highs and lows . More lows , than highs , I believe!

PTI , it was a weekend, of highs and lows . More lows , than highs , I believe !

Well just like LeBron James , I decided to take my talents elsewhere , in this case , North to visit the state of North Carolina over the weekend . A number of work colleagues and myself traveled up to Tobacco Road , Blue Devils’ country to take in the game between the Miami Hurricanes and the renowned Duke Blue Devils , coach by four-time NCAA championship winning head coach Mike Krzyzewski . These two titans with the ACC this season , have been on the path of a vengeful rematch , ever since Jim Larrinaga’s players took the Blue Devils behind the woodshed and comprehensively gave them an a$s whooping in mid-January , that not until Saturday afternoon, were the hosts be able to exact some sort of revenge at Cameron Indoor Arena , in Charlotte , North Carolina .

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Slideshow .

Cameron Indoor Arena is a venue filled with heralded history , as well-being home to one of the most well-respected programs in collegiate athletics’ history . And make no bones about it , the success achieved in men’s basketball is primarily down to the program’s now legendary coach, Mike Krzyzewski and his astonishing achievements as a basketball coach.

If there is one thing that we should now be accustomed to, it is that you can never take Mike Krzyzewski team lightly. And where, there w ere many simply looking to “write off the Blue Devils’ season . It was abundantly clear, that the ACC and in particular the season was not yet lost for this team . The players on Krzyzewski’s roster sought to make a statement, that would be seen and heard across the collegiate basketball landscape , as a reminder of what to expect during the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament . And the hero of the hour , in this game on Saturday , just happened to be Ryan Kelly , whose single-handed display took on epic proportions and was described by the Blue Devils’ coach as one of the five best performances ever , by a player that he has coached under his tutelage . High praise indeed , coming from a coach of Mike Krzyzewski’s esteem , and when you consider the players coached by Krzyzewski during his tenure with this program, you have to realize how special Kelly’s achievements were on Saturday afternoon.

Ryan Kelly scored 36 points on 10 of ten fourteen , shooting, hitting seven threes from beyond the arc , as well as , pulling down seven rebounds , and leading all scorers in Duke’s 79-76 victory over the Miami Hurricanes. With both programs also ranked in the top ten of the NCAA rankings and with both having ambitions with regard to the regular season ACC championship crown . This game most definitely went along way letting us know what we should expect once the NCAA Tournament gets underway . I certainly expect both of these ACC programs to be in “ the thick of things “ , the farther along we get into the tournament !

“ Pretense “ and “ pretenders “ do go , hand in hand , as how else would you expect to now hear the bells within Madison Square Garden a faux cathedral to mediocrity , go exceedingly silent quiet ? The cacophony of noise extolling the virtues of the New York Knicks (35-21) were soundly silenced on Sunday afternoon. Mike Woodson’s team played host to their heated conference rivals the Miami Heat (43-14) . In what should have been a game emphasizing the best of what the Easter Conference had to offer . The Knicks simply threw up the white flag of surrender and must now realize that in a seven game series , they will not be remotely in the same area code when it comes to competitive play, especially if they are matched up against the Heat at any stage of this postseason .

LeBron James and his teammates simply overwhelmed the Knicks with an exhibition of teamwork , whereas their opponents were simply struggling for solutions as to how best to stop the league’s best player and one of its most potent offensive weapons . I have always maintained during the regular season , you can put up all the damn points you want on the scoreboard , but if you can’t play a lick of frigging defense , then you are definitely not going to progress deep into the NBA postseason.

Undoubtedly, the front office of the New York Knicks saw this team in its current guise , had ambitions not only to challenge the Miami Heat , but to also lay down the gauntlet to the rest of the aspirants within the Eastern Conference as well as the NBA as a whole. And while I have been impressed with the Knicks in large part , primarily because of the play of Carmelo Anthony . I simply believe that there are still far too many flaws on this team , that GM Glen Grunwald has failed to address ! It would appear that the organization is intent on spending money and acquiring free agents as a way of attaining success , rather than by appearance alone , seeking to nurture talent organically. Having dropped from the second seed to the third seed within the conference , does not aid the franchise , given their recent form of the New York Knicks in their endeavor for the season .

Well , the Baltimore Ravens have their man , having signed quarterback , Joe Flacco in what is now said to be the “ highest salaried contract “ in NFL history. The deal in question , is a six-year $ 120 million compensation package , that makes the player , the highest paid in the NFL as well as the highest paid quarterback in league history. Far be it for me, to suggest, that the player is overrated or overpaid , as I feel that the league , long ago failed to eschew financial accountability , much less intelligence , being shown by Commissioner Roger Goodell , or the league hierarchy , team owners and the front office executives ! Flacco for his part , simply lived up to his team’s and that of John Harbaugh’s expectations , as the Ravens triumphed over the San Francisco Giants in Superbowl 47 (SB47/XLVII).

With the off-season now in full swing and teams seeking to offload impending free agents and players thought to be superfluous to their needs . The player personnel version of “ Black Monday “ has begun , with some notable players having been discarded by their respective franchises . And nowhere was this more evident than with the Atlanta Falcons and their summarily discarding amongst others , running back , Michael Turner , Dunta Robinson and perennial Pro-Bowl defensive player , John Abrahams . The team’s failings this postseason , I believe are a reflection not only of their poor play but also , a clear lack of leadership , and the very fact that quarterback , Matt Ryan , appears to be a “lamb being led to the slaughter” , once the postseason comes around. He’s great during the regular season , yet for some reason any type of postseason foray becomes his “ Achilles’ Heel” .

The fact that head coach, Mike Smith in conjunction with Team President , Rich McKay GM, Thomas Dimitroff have sought to make these wholesale changes , is a clear sign of dissatisfaction as well as the fact that they now believe that they have gone as far as was ultimately possible with the players that they have jettisoned . While the players taken from their most recent drafts have proven to be productive , quite obviously , many of the team’s seasoned veterans simply did not meet expectations. As to where the Falcons now go from here , it remains to be seen, but it becoming abundantly clear that Matt Ryan should he fail this upcoming season to lead this franchise deep into a postseason run. The questions will be raised concerning his abilities and the fact that this first round 2008 NFL Draft pick could very well be viewed as something of a “ considerable bust” . Your thoughts on this , and anything else you believe to be relevant as it relates to the Atlanta Falcons , this past season ?

The fact that head coach, Mike Smith in conjunction with Team President , Rich McKay GM, Thomas Dimitroff have sought to make these wholesale changes , is a clear sign of dissatisfaction as well as the fact that they now believe that they have gone as far as was ultimately possible with the players that they have jettisoned . While the players taken from their most recent drafts have proven to be productive , quite obviously , many of the team’s seasoned veterans simply did not meet expectations. As to where the Falcons now go from here , it remains to be seen, but it becoming abundantly clear that Matt Ryan should he fail this upcoming season to lead this franchise deep into a postseason run. The questions will be raised concerning his abilities and the fact that this first round 2008 NFL Draft pick could very well be viewed as something of a “ considerable bust” . Your thoughts on this , and anything else you believe to be relevant as it relates to the Atlanta Falcons , this past season ?

The NFL Combine while it lasted , was something of a drab display and granted , there are no real players of standout talent . There is this continued belief that teams will be able to pick up “ a diamond in the rough” .Yet , from what many of us have witnessed and the NFL analysts have suggested , there has not been one overpowering performance that has simply blown everyone away. This weekend , Lauren Silberman , sought to make history as the first female to be part of the NFL Draft participants , as part of a combine , by trying out as a kicker . The fact that the tryouts in question , were held at Florham Park , New Jersey , home of the New York Jets’ practice facility , should tell you all you need to know . Gimmick or not , only the Jets as a franchise , would be prepared to subject themselves and Silberman to such ridicule . And the former soccer star with the University of Wisconsin (Badgers) , while trying her best , her two attempted kicks went for a combined 32 yards . Silberman, in her later interviews after her unsuccessful tryouts suggested that the quadriceps injury that she suffered some weeks earlier , restricted her full range of motion and complete movement . My thoughts on this all , there’s a place for Lauren Silberman , within the Lingerie Football League , but most definitely , not in the NFL !

Spring Training may well be here, and the standings as they currently are , within the Citrus and Grapefruit Leagues , do not really give enough of an indicator , as what to expect , once the regular MLB regular season schedule gets underway. Besides , isn’t there an idiotic international competition, that will somehow , interfere with the preparations of the teams? The quadrennial event known as the World Baseball Classic , is now once again within our midst and the group play will commence on the 2nd March , 2013 . The television coverage for the Classic, will be provided jointly by ABC/ESPN , in its entirety. The fact that team USA since the competition’s inception has never had a great showing , indicates one of two things , (1) ____ the top US born players , simply have no interest in a competition where they will not be richly rewarded and (2) ____ this competition devised by the MLB hierarchy and IBAF , baseball’s international governing body simply knows that the sport can gain no traction while it remains under suspicion because Bud Selig has failed miserably to rein in the actions of the ” drug cheats” within the game ,here on the continent of North America .

Team USA manager Joe Torre will be looking to stave off the team’s bad showing in the WBC . Since its inception the organization has failed to make a deep run , whereby it has qualified for the championship game , itself . The current makeup of the roster while extremely talented , it doesn’t create the impression that this is any way the best or most competitive team that could be fielded for what is said to be most prestigious international team tournament , beyond the IBAF World Cup. The team is drawn in Group D in a four team group, which consists of Canada , Italy , Mexico and the USA , itself . They will be based in Phoenix , playing their initial group games at Chase Field , in Phoenix , Arizona , home to the Arizona Diamondbacks . The sixteen team tournament , with its first round of group staged games should make for an enthralling event, as the scenarios begin to play themselves out .

As I alluded to earlier the Team USA roster , while being talented , it is by no means a team that offers the fans the best of the talent available , for what I believe to be a truly competitive team ! The pitching staff led by R A Dickey , also consists of Derek Holland , Mitchell Boggs, Tim Collins , Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez , amongst others . In terms of offense , the lead will be provided by Mark Teixeira, Giancarlo Stanton , Brandon Phillips , Adam Jones , Ryan Braun , David Wright and Ben Zobrist . A real threat to anyone , when you consider the strengths of the other participants as the two-time reigning champions , Japan , Cuba , China , Chinese Taipei and the Dominican Republic .

And the game of baseball faces an uphill battle as it seeks to have the sport reinstated as part of the Summer Olympics . The mere fact that Selig is now pressing Ricardo Farrari , President of IBAF to merge their efforts with ISF (International Softball Federation) , the governing body for the women’s softball as they present a joint bid to have both sports reinstated , spells out for me clearly how low on the “pecking order” both sports have now become on the international sports’ scene. So much so, that IOC President , Jacques Rogge and the fellow members of the IOC Executive Committee have indicated that both sports, were they to be reinstated , the earliest proposed return would not take place until the 2020 Summer Games . Do however , bear in mind that a decision has not yet been made , as to which country and city will be the host for the games in question . Those with a vested interest in hosting the quadrennial event , are the cities of Istanbul , Turkey , Tokyo , Japan , Madrid , Spain , Doha , Qatar, and Baku in Azerbaijan. I am sure that there will be enough intrigue and the atypical connivance of bribery and corruption , that will go along with the bidding process in question ! Not unlike the asinine antics, we have come to expect from the MLB team owners and the league hierarchy , itself .

Inasmuch, as I am looking forward to baseball’s season of ridiculous intent , of luring the fans , in with they believe will be an exciting year . Let’s get one thing straight , the game will still be engulfed by those who have , and those who do not ! The fact that the New York Yankees this year , will have a payroll exceeding $200 million , once again sets us up for a season , where even the Bronx Bombers will be hard pressed to outdo the Los Angeles Dodgers for print space and within the television media , as Magic Johnson and his latest bauble , with their $215 million payroll will try to outdo their AL counterpart , both on and off the field of play. Personally , I am beginning to wonder whether or not the Oakland Athletics and their rather menial payroll of $60 million will be able to reproduce the form , and excitement witnessed last season , at home and away from the O Coliseum and still be competitive enough to compete at the highest echelons of the game ! And dependent upon who you may ask the AL West might either get exceedingly tougher or softer , with the addition of last season’s worst baseball franchise , the Houston Astros (55-107), as they now become the latest member of the American League (AL). Make of it what , you will , but I am sure that the sweetheart deal and sweetener offered ($65 million) to Astros’ owner Jim Crane , will ease the burden and pain of another insufferable season !

Speaking of insufferable seasons, how much longer will the fans of the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates have to endure the years of ignominy in terms of their poor showing from year to year ? Several years ago a patron of this, claiming to be a knowledgeable individual and an employee of a well-known NL Central franchise made the claim , that the Royals were a ball-club on the rise and would be a serious contender in 2011 and 2012. Well, here we are, in 2013 , and the franchise is no better than a .500 team and that is even with the aspiring talent that is made to make up the roster. Personally , I do not believe that the Kansas City Royals’ owner , David Glass , has the slightest interest in seeing the franchise be a competitive concern within baseball. If that were the case, then surely with the resources at Glass’ disposal , in terms of his wealth , then he would have made a concerted effort to change the mindset of this entire organization . Instead , year in and year out , the Royals are the backwaters’ organization relying on the largess of the league hierarchy and the continued asinine tax sharing revenue scheme. Bud Selig believes this exercise has been to the benefit of the small market teams around the league , but in reality , nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ll say this for Pirates’ owner Bob Nutting , he really does know how to blow smoke up people’s ass. Having purchased the franchise from McClatchy family , the Pirates have yet acquire a winning season , during his tenure, as the owner of this ball-club. The lone star, on this Pirates’ team , and the organization’s best player , is their All Star center-fielder, Andrew McCutchen . Granted, Nutting has made an effort to raise and then pare down the Pirates’ payroll repeatedly over the years , dependent upon the ball-club’s degree of success. GM Neal Huntington , has worked in conjunction with the team owner and coaching staff to draft prudently to meet the team’s needs over the last few years (2009,2010,2011 and 2012). With the departure of the Houston Astros , it will be interesting to see if the Pirates can avoid being the bottom feeder within the NL Central this season .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Over this past weekend, which sporting event to your mind, provided you with the most interest ? Also, do you believe that there will come a time when a female can compete, at any level, within the NFL ? Your thoughts on this, and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter . Thanks as always for the continued support of this site, as it is gratefully appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow details for your perusal .

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(1) Duke’s Ryan Kelly (34) drives to the basket as Miami’s Shane Larkin (0) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, March 2, 2013. Duke won 79-76 . AP Photo/Gerry Broome ….

(2) Miami’s Kenny Kadji (35) dunks over Duke defender Ryan Kelly during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, March 2, 2013. AP Photo/Gerry Broome …

(3) Mason Plumlee (5) looks to make a pass during the against Miami Hurricanes at Cameron Indoor Arena , Charlotte , North Carolina on Saturday 2nd March , 2013 . Duke would go on to defeat Miami 79-76. Miami Sun Sentinel / Jorge Vargas ….

(4) Duke fans celebrate after the team’s triumph over their ACC rivals the Miami Hurricanes in a conference match-up between these two teams with NCAA championship aspirations. Before, however , there still remains the conference title as well the championship to be decided . @ copyrighted material …….. all rights reserved .

(5) NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 3: LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat shoots in a game against the New York Knicks on March 3, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Heat would go on to defeat the Knicks 99-93 , and then on Monday night , they would gain their fifteenth consecutive victory by outlasting the Minnesota Timberwolves in a lopsided 97-81 triumph . Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(6) Further emphasizing that the Knicks can’t defend “worth a damn ” . Lebron James goes in , unchallenged for an uncontested dunk against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2013 in New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images ..

(7) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco walks up to a microphone before speaking at a news conference at the team’s practice facility in Owings Mills, Md., Monday, March 4, 2013. Flacco agreed to a contract that will make him the highest paid quarterback in NFL history after leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl XLVII victory over the San Francisco 49ers. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(8) FILE – In this Dec. 9, 2012 file photo, Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) sits on the bench before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C. The Falcons have released Turner, defensive end John Abraham and corner-back Dunta Robinson The moves were announced Friday, March 1, 2013, by a team that came up just short of the Super Bowl. AP Photo/Bob Leverone …..

(9) From left to right , Atlanta Falcons’ team President , Rich McKay , GM Thomas Dimitroff and team owner , Arthur Blank are seen in the executive sky-box suites at Falcons’ home game . McKay and Dimitroff have made the decision to revamp the team’s roster by cutting several players as part of an off-season purge and “salary cap easing” , as they prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft and the possible signing of free agents this off-season . AP Photo / Marcus Richards ….

(10) Lauren Silberman talks to officials after taking two attempts during kicker tryouts at an NFL football regional combine workout, Sunday, March 3, 2013, at the New York Jets’ training facility in Florham Park, N.J. AP Photo/Mel Evans

(11) Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen runs off the field in the rain before a baseball spring training exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall ….

(12) Andruw Jones 25 and Jonathan Balentina (29) of Netherlands celebrate with team-mates after 4-1 victory against Australia during the World Baseball Classic First Round Group B match between Australia and the Netherlands at Intercontinental Baseball Stadium on March 5, 2013 in Taichung, Taiwan. ….

(13) Joe Torre will manage Team USA in the World Baseball Classic . Torre is hoping to lead the team to international success in a competition that the country has yet to win since its inception in 2006 . AP/REUTERS/ Martin Jacobs …..

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If at all interested do take time to participate in the above mentioned poll .

By Tophatal and my bio

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NCAA archive basketball news

NCAA Men’s Basketball rankings

NCAA men’s basketball results 03/03/2013 and results of 2nd March 2013

Men’s basketball schedule 4th March 2013

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NBA news

NBA results 3rd March 2013 & scheduled games for 4th March 2013

NBA standings by division and by conference

NBA playoff picture

NBA team statistics offense

NBA team stats defense

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NFL news & news from the NFL Combine

NFL transactions

NFL Draft 2013

Atlanta Falcons news

Baltimore Ravens news

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MLB news

MLB results 5th March 2013

MLB schedule 6th March

MLB Spring Training Standings —- Citrus & Grapefruit Leagues

World Baseball Classic home page and team brackets

World Baseball Classic news

World Baseball Classic schedule

Stress Test Baseball And See Where That Takes You ?

Stress Test Baseball And See Where That Takes You ?

By tophatal ………

Well the idiocy of the government and in particular the Federal Reserve no longer surprises me ! Chairman Ben Bernanke and his counterpart within the Treasury Department overseen by Tim Geithner now have in place what happens to be a second set of “Stress Tests” which will supposedly test the 20 largest financial institutions in the nation , in order to gauge their preparedness should the US economy be once again be beset by a volatile economic environment . Pardon me for saying this , but weren’t Bernanke and Geithner the ones who in 2009 , stated that the travails and unevenness we were seeing within the economy was merely a minor hiccup that we shouldn’t at all be worried about ? Chairman Bernanke , would further go on to state that the housing meltdown should not be something to be at all overly concerned with . Given the fact that in 2011 the nation would witness in excess of 1.88 million home foreclosures adding to an already stagnant housing market it begs the question why the hell are the duo still in retention of their present positions within the government ? The nation is still very much pissed at the fact that so far of the $ 1.2 trillion dollars ($1,200,000,000,000) that has been spent to prop up the major financial institutions, automotive industry and a number of pet projects of President Barack Obama and a number Senate and House members on sides of the political aisle . It has me wondering , are the two sides of the political divide really that different from one another at all ? Ideology asides, the only thing that separates the two just happens to be a name because avarice has no boundaries and takes whatever shape that just happens to be placed in-front of it .

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Slide show for your perusal .

Obama’s ratings are close to an all-time low, while the chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives might as well be occupied by 535 anally retentive individuals , for all of the good that it’d do ! Their poll ratings might make you feel somewhat more amenable towards the President dependent upon your political ideology. Oh sorry , many of us probably are already under the impression that is now the case ? ! So what the fu#k have we really to look forward to ? In all likelihood the candidate who happens to win the 2012 Republican candidacy seeking to challenge President Barack Obama in the November presidential elections won’t be that much different from the incumbent when it’s all said and done ! I’m no admirer of either of political party to begin with ! So make of it what you will .

I liken the idiocy of both Bernanke and Geithner , to the now damn near lunacy we have come to see from Bud Selig in the last eighteen months at least ! If the Ryan Braun episode wasn’t enough of an indication of that wherein the commissioner and one of his most senior subordinates Rob Manfred questioned the veracity of the ruling rendered by arbitrator Shyam Das , after it was discovered that the chain of custody had been broken by a senior laboratory technician when he saw fit to send samples of the players test specimens to his home rather than to the testing facility specifically used by the league because of a bureaucratic delay . If that wasn’t so bad , this was not relayed to anyone in authority at the laboratory or within the MLB hierarchy . Somehow , Bud Selig and Rob Manfred felt that Das’ decision was solely from his (arbitrator’s) lack of understanding of the protocols set in place by MLB (baseball) . It makes me now wonder what in God’s name were the owners thinking when they saw fit to extend Bud Selig’s contract for an additional four years , after Selig had in implied in late 2010 that he would step down in his role as the game’s highest ranking executive in 2012 ? Instead fans of the game of baseball will have to endure a further four years of Selig’s buffoonery and nonsense .

Under Selig’s watch in the past eighteen months we have seen Frank McCourt plunder the coffers of the Los Angeles Dodgers solely to keep himself and his then ex-wife (Jamie McCourt) in the lap of luxury to which they’d both become accustomed . And at no time did it occur to anyone within the Dodgers’ front office to question the owner’s actions , which contravened many of the rules of the game as it relates to an organization’s finances . But you’d have been hard pressed to tell that to some individuals who claim to have an insight as to the economics of the game of baseball . Well I say to those assholes who still stand in support of Selig , you now have what you deserve ! An ignoramus presiding over the game ! And if that wasn’t enough under the commissioner’s watch we now have the yet unfolding morass that just happens to be the New York Mets and their ongoing financial strife . I can guarantee you this , before the season’s end , this Mets’ team in its current guise will certainly change in its complete makeup !. We have already seen that with the front office’s willingness to let Jose Reyes depart , but that came about from financial concerns in terms of the payroll issues that a number of teams now face. Wouldn’t it be nice to see what is likely to happen were Selig to apply a so-called “stress test” now as to financial viability of the ball-clubs within baseball with there being an in-depth audit of all 30 franchises ? Care to answer the question as to who you’d feel would come out on top and who’d definitely be at the bottom of the list ?

Granted, unlike the idiotic bureaucratic bean-counters who presided over the tests of the financial industry that has now allowed the likes of Goldman Sachs , Morgan Stanley , Citigroup , Bank of America , GE Capital/ Financial to still re-enter the same audacious and riskiest financial and practices without there being any oversight and transparency as to their practices . That being said I’m not so sure that there’s anyone within baseball’s hierarchy with a clear insight as to the acute issues that the game faces. It’s not as if Selig , Manfred or anyone from within the commissioner’s office has ever addressed this matter but they’ve had the temerity to address two congressional committees ( House Energy &Commerce Committee House Govt’ Oversight & Reform Committee ) as to the fact that the game now has the strictest testing drug testing protocols of the four major sports . If only that were true ! If memory serves me correctly the reason why baseball and softball were thrown out of the Olympics came about primarily because of the MLB hierarchy’s unwillingness to adopt a strict drug testing policy in line with the criteria set by the IOC in conjunction with WADA . Bud Selig’s stance , was that it would be an invasion of the players’ privacy but truth be known , the commissioner had no stomach for a confrontation with the MLBPA or its Executive Director at the time Donald Fehr , who now holds a similar position with the NHLPA . I’d dare say that IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge laughed at the MLB commissioner , his antics and that of the senior executives of the game’s international governing body the IBAF who sought to plead the case for baseball remaining part of the Summer Olympics schedule . That became unlikely when the IOC Executive Committee voted overwhelmingly to exclude baseball and softball from the Summer Games . Unfortunately , in spite of the pleas of IBAF President Riccardo Fraccari the intransigence shown by Bud Selig shows him to be an individual whose self serving and simply interested in his self-preservation and that of his legacy . A legacy to my mind that is tarnished by his ambiguity and sheer stupidity !

Both Baseball and Softball are making a push for their respective sport’s reintroduction at the 2020 Summer Olympics . As to whether or not this will be a joint effort between the IBAF and that of the International Softball Federation remains to be seen . I would like to think that if the ISF had any common sense, then they would choose to plead their case alone, rather than jointly with the IBAF , especially with a pompous ass such as Bud Selig in tow with the US delegation led by Paul Seiler of USA Baseball ! That would be akin to trying bringing two incompetent lawyers to plead a clemency case for a defendant who after years of being incarcerated has yet to comprehend the complexities of their crime in light of the serious ramifications. Bud Selig clearly doesn’t understand the international landscape of international sports on a global scale . And that is even in spite of the introduction of the World Baseball Classic . Not quite the resounding success that he hoped it would be , but it still serves something of a purpose in the overall grand scale of things , it by no means has the exposure created , were the sport still part of the Summer Olympics. There’s a difference between 300 million people watching globally and 1.35 billion but you’d be hard pressed to convince the commissioner of that , I believe !

Now we can all opine as to the said imbalances “ within the game of baseball” from a financial standpoint . The h New York Yankees remain atop of the heap in terms of the payroll structure of the teams within the game. And then when one takes into account of the salaries of the highest paid players it begs the question when the front office executives and team owners will choose to address the situation , rather than completely ignoring it . It’s not as if anyone within the hierarchy of baseball has the intestinal fortitude to make a statement on the issue . Besides it would appear that the MLBPA (union) only has to “bark” and Bud Selig , and his subordinates simply cower in the corner like a child who has just been frightened by that sound ! Never mind the fact that there’s the unquenchable thirst of the major sports agents within the game such as Scott Boras , Arn Tellem and ‘” Leigh Steinberg simply eviscerating general managers such as Brian Cashman , Sandy Alderson , Theo Epstein , Kenny Williams , Ned Colletti , Ben Cherington , Reuben Amaro Jr , Jerry Dipoto , John Mozeliak , Mike Rizzo , Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill . Thereby making these senior front office executives with years of experience in their chosen profession seem like novices when it comes to contract negotiations with the aforementioned agents .

Now in the aftermath of last season and final standings within the divisions and the wildcard entrants you’d be hard pressed to convince me that the likes of the Seattle Mariners , Minnesota Twins , Baltimore Orioles , Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals will improve to the extent where they’ll make in-roads within the AL ! And the same would go for the following teams within the NL , namely the Houston Astros , Washington Nationals , San Diego Padres , New York Mets , Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs . I’m not saying that the ball-clubs in question are completely bereft of talent but what has been abundantly clear to me , is that the front office executives of those teams are grossly incompetent by way of their dealings in terms of personnel decisions made during the past few seasons and also during this off-season . But then again what’s new ? It’s not as if the Nationals offering Jayson Werth a 7 yr $126 million contract proved to be intuitive or productive for the organization last season at all . And those under the impression that the IQ quotient gets slightly higher once you depart from steps of Capitol Hill , in Washington , DC to the inside of the front office of Washington Nationals , then you’d be sorely mistaken on that score .

GM Mike Rizzo is like no other general manager I have come across recently within the game of baseball ! The team’s payroll though light in comparison to other major market teams light but when one considers the largess of Rizzo the in terms of the contracts offered to Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper . It does make you wonder common sense much intelligence is to be found within the game , much less from within this particular organization . By comparison another of Rizzo’s former peers was Jim Hendry . Anyone who has witnessed the woes of the Chicago Cubs in the past few seasons by way of their record , draft choices , trades and wayward spending will surely understand the premise of my statement .

Both the Cubs and Nationals face and arduous task in terms of competing within the NL Central and NL East respectively this season . The Chicago Cubs embark upon their regular season schedule in their home opener when they two teams face each other at Wrigley Field , Chicago , in what’s sure to be in-front of a sold-out crowd yearning to see Dale Sveum’s and his team get off to an impromptu seasonal opening victory . On th flip side of this coin , manager Davey Johnson , his coaching staff and players are no doubt hoping that this will be a season where they can no doubt make themselves be heard within the NL . There’s going to be a cacophony of differing sounds in within the National League this year but I seriously doubt that the loudest of the sounds in question will be coming from either the Chicago Cubs or Washington Nationals ! . But their long-suffering fans no doubt live in hope .

Now in spite of the buildup to this season and the off-season moves that took place , with a number of high profiled players changing teams and leagues . All of the hyperbole being created will not change what we have seen over the past seasons within the game . The status quo remains the same in terms of the financial balance amongst the teams . The minnows of baseball (small market teams) continue to remain where they always have been and that’s trying to swim upstream trying to catch up the bigger flow of fishes looking for new feeding grounds . Unfortunately , for Selig , his minions, owners and general managers they are simply doing a piss poor job of trying to curtail what is most certainly now on view in-front of them and that’s even with the now transparent events that have taken place . Needless to say , as with all views the various factions the commissioner will have his supporters and detractors. From my own perspective , it may well taking the demise of one of the teams within the game ( simply monitor the ongoing problems of the New York Mets to realize how precarious their situation still remains) before some proactive action is taken by the hierarchy simply for the well-being of the game .

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

As a fan of baseball would you like to see more oversight from baseball’s hierarchy with demands be made at the end of the season , that all of the teams’ finances are closely scrutinized and audited either by the league’s own in-house financial operatives or by an independent outside source , with their findings being directed to the commissioner’s office and also for the public’s view ? Simply chime in with your own thoughts on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter in question and points raised within this piece .

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(1) From left to right Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner , President Barack Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke seen here at the White House speaking with the convened press concerning the issues facing the US economy . AP Photo/ Tom Richardson ….

(2) At the Women in Sports and Events Women of the Year luncheon June 8 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City (from left): Presenter Jonathan Mariner , MLB CFO and EVP, with honoree Wendy Lewis, MLB SVP of diversity and strategic alliances; Sue Rodin, WISE founder and national president; honoree Stacey Allaster , WTA chairman and CEO, with presenter Ari Fleischer , head of Ari Fleischer Sports Communications; and honoree Lisa Baird, USOC -CMO, with presenter Paul Tagliabue , former NFL commissioner. AFP/Getty Images / Mark Gillies ……….

(3) Rob Manfred (left) and Bud Selig are seen here being interviewed by the press prior to the MLB All Star Game in 2011 . Both senior executives were unhappy with the ruling rendered by Shyam Das during the arbitrator’s presiding over the Ryan Braun mediation case . Das sided with the player after it was shown that the testing facility hired by the league failed to follow the proper protocols in its chain of custody in handling Braun’s test samples . AP / Ian Shaw …….

(4) Seattle Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis talks to starting pitcher Felix Hernandez after Hernandez’s four-inning outing against the San Francisco Giants in a spring training baseball game , Sunday, March 11, 2012, in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez ….

(5) Chicago Cubs’ Starlin Castro , right, celebrates his home run with Geovany Soto during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers in Phoenix on Saturday, March 10, 2012. AP Photo/Chris Carlson …..

(6) Chicago Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair can’t get a glove on a ball hit by Milwaukee Brewers’ Logan Schafer as second baseman Darwin Barney looks on during the second inning of a MLB spring training baseball game in Phoenix, Saturday, March 10, 2012. AP Photo/Chris Carlson ….

(7) Bryce Harper (34) of the Washington Nationals poses during photo day at Space Coast Stadium on February 28, 2012 in Viera, Florida. Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann …..

(8) Stephen Strasburg (L), the overall first pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft , arrives for a press conference where he was introduced at Nationals Park August 21, 2009 in Washington, DC. Strasburg, a right-handed pitcher from San Diego State University, signed with the Nationals earlier this week with a record contract for an amateur player. Also pictured are Stan Kasten (C) Nationals Team President, and Strasburg’s agent Scott Boras . Getty Images / Win McNamee ……

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MLB news

MLB Spring Training Standings — Citrus & Grapefruit Leagues

MLB results 12th March 2012

MLB Spring Training schedule 13th March 2012

MLB probable starting pitchers 13th March 2012

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The Fugees ……… “Fu-Gee-La” ………. (Sly& Robbie -remix ) Ichi-ban dub style “

Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels …….Bang You’re Dead !

 
 

Lock  Stock And  Two  Smoking  Barrels ……. Bang  You’re  Dead  !

 

 

 

Not  wanting  to  assail  Major  League  Baseball (MLB)    for   wanting   a  good  thing.  But  I’d   now  like to  know what   was  the  whole   premise   behind   entering  a   team    into  the  World  Baseball   Classic   if  not  to  win  it  ? 

 

Derek  Jeter  far  right  seated   in  the  dugout  knowing  that the  inevitable  is  about to  happen.  The  US  team  would   go  on  to  lose  in the  semi  finals  of  the  World  Baseball  Classic  to  Japan  (9-4) .
Derek Jeter and teammates are seated on the bench in the dugout knowing that the inevitable is about to happen. The US team would go on to lose to Japan (9-4) in a lopsided game. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Stephen Dunn ................

 

 

 

 

To  suffer  the   slings and   arrows   of  outrageous  fortune  or   in  this case misfortune  is  one  thing.    But  in  this  case   the  showing   of  the  team   most   certainly   hasn’t   met  the  expectations  of  the  game’s  hierarchy   domestically.  It  doesn’t   matter  what   they  might   say   publicly.  In   reality   however   it’s   suddenly  beginning  to  sink  in  that   they’re  going  to  have  to   rethink  their    whole  preparation for  a   team  and  the  assembling   of a   roster   for   international  competition. The    event  will   no  doubt  make  a  significant   amount    of  money    for  the parties  concerned.   But  if  anything    it’ll  perpetuate  the  notion    that the  long  held   belief  that   US  baseball  at  the  international   level   if  anything isn’t   as  superior  as the  fans  or   players   may  well  believe.  

 

Japanese   pitcher  Yu  Darvish   celebrates  after  striking   out  Adam  Dunn  of  team  USA  in  the semi   finals   game  of  the  Worl  Baseball  Classic.
Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish celebrates after striking out Adam Dunn of team USA during their semi finals game. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Kevork Djansezian ........

 

 

 

 

If anything   has  been  indicative   of  this,  it   has  been  the   failure   of    team  USA  to  advance   to  the  Finals  of  the  competition.  In   2006  they  were an  abysmal    failure   falling   at the  quarter  finals’ stage.    And    now   in   2009  in  the  semi-finals   they  succumb   to  a   Japanese   team  that   was   very   much  their  superior   in  every facet   of  the  game   right  from the  start.  If  the  final  score  of   9-4  wasn’t  a   reflection  of  that.  Then   those   who  felt   the   opposite    may   well  have  been   watching   through   rose   colored   glasses.

 

 

Japan's   Ichiro  Suzuki   in the  dugout   prior  to the  semi  final   game played   against  the  USA.
Japan's Ichiro Suzuki in the dugout prior to the semi final game played against team USA at Chavez Ravine Stadium , Los Angeles , California . picture appearas courtesy of getty images/ Stephen Dunn .................

 

 

 

All  the  excuses   in  the  world   cannot   make  up   for  this.  And that’s   most  likely  what  we’ll   hear  over  the  ensuing   days   if  not   weeks.  One   can  be  sure   that   not  all  of  the  game’s  fans    domestically   were   enamored   with  the  competition  to  begin  with.   If  anything   it  was   thought   of  as  an   intrusion   in   their    rite   of  passage  as   far  as   Spring   Training  was   concerned.    And  the   fact     that   they’d  be   denied  to  see   many  of  their   idols   play   for  their    professional   teams    at the  start  of  the  Grapefruit  and  Cactus   League’s  season  was   tantamount  to  all    but  abandoning  the  season  itself.  OK  so   they’d   get  to   see   some  of the  younger  players   from  a  team’s   Triple  A affiliate.   But   the  majority  of  the  time  that’s   not   what  the   fans  are  there  to  see.   But   that’s   what   tends  to  happen  when  the   whole   thought    process   and   timing  of  the  event    is  ill  conceived.    But   far  be  it   for  anyone  to   suggest that   the  MLB hierarchy  and     the  game’s   international   governing   body    doesn’t   indeed   know   what   it’s   doing . 

 

 

Evan  Longoria   strikes  out  in  the  ninth   inning  of  the  game  against  Japan  in the  semi  finals  of  the  World Baseball   Classic.
Evan Longoria of team USA having just struck out in the ninth inning of the semi final's game against Japan makes his way back to the dugout. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Stephen Dunn ..................

 

 

 

 

For   Japan   they’ll   now   meet   their  Asian    counterparts  and   rivals    Korea   in  the  Finals.   And with   Korea   themselves    being   the reigning   Olympic    champions.   This   game   will   certainly   not   be   a  foregone   conclusion   in  terms   of   Japan   being   considered  an  overwhelming   favorite.    Korea    has  surprised    everyone   in  this  competition  with  the  level    of  their  play  and   sound   fundamentals.    They   do  almost   everything  with   effortless   ease.   And   if  anything  the   US  team    could  learn    something    from    how  the  Korean  players   apply  themselves  to   the  task  at  hand.    Suffice   to   say  it’s   easy  to    make  the  claim   that  the   players  on  the US  team   were  playing    with  a  great    deal   of  pride   but   the  reality    of  it  all  is  that    pride     wasn’t   borne   out    in  the  level   of  their   overall  play    throughout   the  competition.  If  anything  there   was   a  cockiness  and    over  confidence  that   spelt    disaster   at  some   point.    In  many   ways   it  was  somewhat   reminiscent   of  what   we’d   often  witnessed    from  their   counterparts  in the NBA .  If  anything  the   belief   was  all  that  they    had to   do  was   to  just   turn   and   an  opponent   would   quake   in   their   boots   and   surrender  to  their   will.   The  competition   has  proved   however  that    sum  of  the  parts    doesn’t   equal   the  whole   when   it  came   to   team   USA.    They  labored   under  the  assumption  that  a    roster   filled  with  All  Stars  and  they’d    prevail. 

 

 

 

Roy  Oswalt  the  starting   pitcher  for  team  USA  sits  in the  dugout  watching  the  game's  progression.  Oswalt   had  one  of those   games  that  even  he  would  no  doubt  rather  forget  .
Roy Oswalt the starting pitcher for team USA sits in the dugout and watches the game unfold. Oswalt had a game that even he would rather forget. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Kevork Djansezian ....................

 

 

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