Launching paper planes and making excuses

Launching paper planes and making excuses

Isn’t it amazing how soon we forget after proselytizing as to the greatness of a team , and once they have fallen from grace , we tend to start to make excuses for the prognostications and false claims . In the world of politics that has always been the norm. In the aftermath, of the New York Knicks’ exit from the postseason , all of the diagnosis has begun . And I might add, those who bore false witness are now running for the hills seeking still trying to seek some positives from what has been a monumental mess concerning the postseason . Granted , the Knicks and Mike Woodson came through the first round unscathed with a none too competitive first round series’ win over an aging and some might say clearly mismatched Boston Celtics’ team in a rousing 4-2 series` victory .

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The New York Knicks’ season was filled with highs and lows , with the team ending their sojourn with a 54-28 record , good enough to be the second seed in the Eastern Conference , finishing twelve games behind the Miami Heat (66-16) . A great deal of the Knicks’ failures during the postseason can be summed up with the fact that this team is simply not , defensive minded , lacks the competency to play it with any great authority , in spite of the claims of the supporters of the team who claim to the contrary . And a few games , to where the Knicks held the Celtics, to under eighty points in their first round does not point or indicate to the fact that the team can play defense with any presumed authority . To believe that , would be to suggest that the Knicks would be able to make it the norm , as it relates to their play. One ought to note that the Boston Celtics are an offense challenged team to begin with , where scoring is simply not a premium , in where having to place their faith in an aging Paul Piece indicates the magnitude that they had as a unit , when there was no else capable on the roster to carry that burden of scoring .

Having dispatched the Celtics , the New York Knicks were faced with having to go up against the NBA’s best defensive team during the regular and fourth best in postseason . The Indiana Pacers , coached by Frank Vogel , are well coached and play as a team , rather than as a disproportional edifice , where the play of a lone superstar dictates the play overall of that team . Much as it is in the case of the New York Knicks and their having Carmelo Anthony be the “tip of the spear “ and foil for just about everything that they do from an offensive standpoint . There is no doubt that the New York Knicks were favored to win this Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Indiana Pacers , and that is even now with the all too dubious claims of the Knicks’ supporters who would now have you believe that all they were hoping for was simply a berth in the playoffs . All well and good , but in reality , the Knicks’ front office , players and fans , had ambitions and were looking towards a potential Conference Finals’ series against LeBron James and the Miami Heat . Alas , it was not to be , and one could point to a number of reasons behind the team’s failure in the postseason. As laudable as it was , to see the franchise’s presence back amongst the NBA’s end of year showcase , in reality , we all knew that this team simply was not good enough to be even remotely considered a legitimate contender to take down their Eastern Conference rivals , much less the potential win the NBA title .

Where this now all leaves the New York Knicks and in particular the frustration for Mike Woodson and his obvious disappointment , will now be based upon how team owner , James Dolan and GM Glen Grunwald will seek to make any moves as they deem fit , in bolstering the Knicks’ roster . Old at its core , let’s be realistic , the contributions of Marcus Camby , Jason Kidd , Kenyon Martin and Steve Novak as well as Amare Stoudemire , could be best described as being anemic during the postseason . It might not be deemed so comical and idiotic , when it was suggested that Woodson was actually unsure what to expect from Chris Copeland , as a player . I can only surmise that Copeland was viewed as nothing more than a bench-warmer by the Knicks’ coaching staff . In the Knicks’ game five victory over the Pacers , Copeland came off the bench , scoring thirteen points , to be a hero in the team’s second win of the series . And JR Smith may well have won the Sixth Man of the Year Award for his regular season contributions ,but can someone please explain to me , why he was nowhere to be seen during the postseason ?

Of the sixteen participants in the postseason , the New York Knicks’ payroll was amongst the highest of the teams left at that stage of the proceedings . The team’s payroll for the season , of $80.3 million , was not of season’s past , when it exceeded $100 million , hitting the franchise hard in terms of the league mandated ” luxury tax” , which saw teams having to pay a dollar for dollar sum back to the league hierarchy for exceeding the “soft salary cap” . And it would appear that while David Stern sells the idiocy of the NBA being on a sound financial footing , the Knicks for their part will continue to spend their money capriciously on players , who in large part , simply do not pay off as a tangible return on that investment . As proof of that , Amare Stoudemire is still owed an astonishing $45 million on the two years remaining of what still in many eyes , was viewed as a ludicrous and outlandish contract, a five-year $ 100 million deal for the center / power forward . I would preface this by saying, with the idiocy witnessed within the Knicks’ front office, by former head coach and team President , Isiah Thomas , was allowed to simply throw money at players with little or no talent whatsoever . Inasmuch as Thomas’ successor Donnie Walsh tried to steady that ship, it would appear that the idiocy remained , while Jim Dolan craved the success of seeing his franchise back amongst the elite of the NBA .

A decision will have to be made on whether or not a number the Knicks’ impending free agents will be retained , as well as the long and short-term future, as it relates to Amare Stoudemire whose contract remains a yoke around the neck of the Knicks’ franchise , when one bears in mind the league’s existing $58 million soft salary cap , and that the franchise will this season will be remitting $23 million back to the league hierarchy in terms of the luxury tax .

With a $1 billion price tag the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are by far the most valuable franchises in the NBA . For the Knicks being just one of the baubles in the Dolan family sporting interests that makes up parent company holdings for MSG Entertainment Inc / The Madison Square Garden Entertainment Company , it easy to understand why the franchise has been always been perceived as one the bell-weather models of the professional sports’ franchise industry . With that being said , wealth and fortune are by no means a guarantee of competitive success , when there has been poor professional acumen shown by the Knicks’ organization over the past few seasons. Bear in mind also , that beyond the fans within the New York state area , you also have the print , television and radio media simply lauding the franchise at every turn over the course of the regular season . Now that they have been inauspicious dumped out of the NBA postseason play . Fans and the media , are at a juxtaposition , as to how best to explain their team’s fall from grace . Self absorbed, and conceitedness or simply an unwillingness to accept the fact that they are not as good as advertised ? I will leave it for you to be the judge of that !

In what was deemed to be a competitive Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies , who defeated the number one seeds , the Oklahoma City Thunder with surprising ease . The Spurs have nonchalantly dusted down the Grizzlies in the first two games , taking a 2-0 lead before the series resumes at the Fedex Forum in Memphis, Tennessee on Saturday 25th May , 2013 .

The Spurs’ Big Three of Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker have provided the experience and bulk of the offensive output of the franchise during the postseason . Duncan in spite of his age , is having one of his better seasons in what is sure to be undoubtedly viewed as a Hall of Fame career. Game three will be pivotal for both teams and should Lionel Hollins’ Grizzlies suffer a home defeat , then for all sense and purpose this series will be over , bar the ticker tape parade .

Zach Randolph has proven to be the Memphis’ best player during the regular and postseason , is now seeing what it is like to play with a great deal of emotion , only to have the door slam shut in his face . And while in the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder he was ably assisted by Marc Gasol , Tayshaun Prince and Mike Conley . The reality of that first round performance , was that it placed the Grizzlies’ on an emotional high and a physical plane , but now having met the San Antonio Spurs , reality has now finally set in , that their story is only half-written , and the ensuing chapters are now looking , not so bright .

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Picture gallery .

What thoughts if any , do you have concerning the points raised within this article ? Also , in light of the Knicks’ postseason demise , how would you go about addressing several of their personnel decisions that will undoubtedly have to be made ?

Picture and slideshow details below for your perusal .
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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 18: Lance Stephenson(1) of the Indiana Pacers celebrates in the game against the New York Knicks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 18, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.The Pacers won 106-99 . Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images …

(2) New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson talks to Carmelo Anthony (7) during the first half of Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series against the Indiana Pacers . Getty Images /Andy Lyons …

(3) Paul George (24) of the Indiana Pacers battles for the ball against J.R. Smith (8) and Kenyon Martin (3) of the New York Knicks during game three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 11, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Pacers won 82-71 . Getty Images North America / Joe Robbins …..

(4) From left to right , New York Knicks’ owner James Dolan , GM Glen Grunwald and head coach Mike Woodson . In light of the team’s demise in the postseason, all three executives will face some tough decision-making concerning the makeup of the team’s roster as they enter the 2013-14 NBA season . Courtesy of NY Daily News/AP Photo / Drew Pearson ….

(5) New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire , center, is tied up by Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert , right, and forward David West during the second half of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series in Indianapolis, Saturday, May 11, 2013. AP Photo/Michael Conroy …

(6) San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan celebrates with the team as he comes down to the bench during the overtime in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals NBA basketball playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 93-89 . AP Photo/Eric Gay …

(7) Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph argues with an official during the second half in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals NBA basketball playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in San Antonio. AP Photo/Eric Gay ….

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tophatal …………….. 2013/05/24

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NBA news and archived news

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Eastern Conference Finals : Miami Heat (1) vs Indiana Pacers (3)

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Hot chic pic of the day Kathy Lantigua .

Do The Right Thing ……………….

Do The Right Thing ……………..

There’s a great deal to be said about the legacy of baseball , its history and the fact that Jackie Robinson played a part in integrating team sports, being the first African American to play a professional sport where its embodiment was integrated . And granted, were it not for Branch Rickey willing to take a chance on a social experiment that would have lasting ramifications that would reverberate across the landscape of the country , I seriously doubt that we’d have seen the integration of the game at the time we did. Consider this, at the time that Robinson suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers the US military still hadn’t been fully integrated wherein African American soldiers could be part of the same platoon and serve alongside their Caucasian counterparts but yet this myth continues here within this country that it’d rather gloss over this whole episode concerning African Americans within the US military. The US military wouldn’t be fully integrated until 1953 , some eight years after World War II had ended .

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In light of the above evidence a patron (chappy81) of my site and I mulled over the situation with regard to the image of the NFL and that of MLB and the fact that both sports are so image conscious . He remarked about the fact baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day and that baseball also has its Civil Rights —– games played this weekend . But that in of-itself I find to be a real misnomer as it simply means nothing in the greater landscape of things , given the fact that now we’re seeing an attack to repeal many of the advances made under the Civil Rights Act . And whereas Jackie Robinson’s number has been retired by the league I do find it somewhat asinine that the league especially now under the tenure of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has somehow refused to retire Roberto Clemente’s number in honor of the player and his accomplishments but specifically as a human rights activist and philanthropist . If Selig and the league hierarchy simply can’t view Clemente’s accomplishments other than to institute an award in his name , I think it somewhat inane that they simply believe that honor only ought to be bestowed upon Jackie Robinson , merely because he was simply the first person of an ethnic minority to have the game as part of an integrated team at the professional level ! Baseball while steeped in its traditions has become archaic and fully out of touch with the realities of the world .

Given the current problems within the league , financial instability of teams around baseball , team owners who’ve simply put greed above common sense and a hierarchy who for the most part simply show the naivete of an immature child that it’s hard to imagine that the game has made the advancement that it has over the years. Character issue asides of the players past and present I do feel that it is now time for Bud Selig do the right thing and actually retire Roberto Clemente’s number , not just simply as an act of benevolence but also to acknowledge his achievements as a philanthropist .

Now one might suggest that in allowing Clemente’s number to retired it would diminish what Jackie Robinson’s entry at the major league level meant to the game . But I say …no ………. because if anything these are two great players who by their own deeds and willingness to beat the odds has done a great deal to establish the game of baseball across a broad demographic and therein making it relevant socially as well being viewed as America’s pastime .

Well now that the conference finals appear to be set with regard to the NBA Playoffs . The Eastern Conference Finals sets up an intriguing match-up between the top two seeds within the confrence . The Chicago Bulls will host the Miami Heat at the United Center in Chicago on Sunday 15th May in a game one of this best of seven game series . For LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade they see this as a form of vindication having defeated the Boston Celtics in their conference quarter semi final series 4-1 .

So clinical was the defeat of the Celtics that it had many wondering whether or not this might the last charge of the Boston Celtics’ ‘Big Three’ of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Ray Allen . To my mind I do feel that this Celtics’ roster labored because of the fact that is in large part an aging one . And whereas Doc Rivers was able to lead the Celtics to an emphatic triumph in the 2008 NBA Finals . This might very well be a time for a changing of the guard in some part . GM Danny Ainge and senior general partner Wyc Grousbeck may very well have to overhaul this roster if the Celtics are to have any serious chance of challenging for an NBA title next season .

And while it is being widely reported that Rivers is now in the process of accepting a renewed five year $35 million deal to remain with the organization . It may well pretty much put into effect that the Big Three will likely also remain with the Celtics . Beyond that it remains to be seen what now becomes the next saga of the Boston Celtics’ history.

In going back to address this conference finals’ matchup between the Bulls and Heat it will most certainly be an intriguing one. The Bulls swept the season series between the two teams with some ease but that was in large part before the Heat had found any real consistency in their play . If the Bulls are to prove that those results during the regular season were no fluke then they will have to play with a fluidity and resolve that they’ve shown throughout the large part of the postseason . League MVP —- Derrick Rose and his teammates have to be mindful as to the knowledge that will be imparted to them by their coach Tom Thibodeau and his coaching staff if they’re to have any chance of beating the Heat in this series . And for the Heat who’ll no doubt be looked at as the presumptive favorites for coach Erik Spoelstra , he knows that it is now or never for this team which has been looked at to win it all ever since team President & Head of Basketball Operations Pat Riley engineered the moves that brought Bosh and James to the Miami Heat during the offseason.

Not since the Michael Jordan era led Bulls of the 1995-96 season has there been this much fervor over this organization for which the expectations are now extraordinarily high. Should the Bulls prevail in this series then it could be viewed as one of the biggest shocks in recent NBA history , in terms of postseason upsets .

Amazingly enough while the Dallas Mavericks awaits the winners of the series between the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder . I’ve now got to ask myself after this monumental disastrous display by the Thunder in their fourteen point loss to the Grizzlies on Friday night how is it that Scott Brooks can feel that his team can now close out this series ? On a night when league scoring champion Kevin Durant had an abysmal night shooting , that this was a game that I believe that the Thunder would rather forget ! Once again it was left the heroics of Zach Randolph as he led the team in scoring and in taking the lead as its vocal leader in erasing a 3-2 deficit to even this series with everything to play for as game seven brings the two teams back Oklahoma City to bring this conference semi finals to a fitting culmination. As to what that might be , we now all wait to see what unfolds in this exhausting and thrilling series .

If the rumors are to believed as it is now being reported that the Los Angeles Lakers have allowed Phil Jackson’s assistant Brian Shaw to speak with both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets as to both vacant coaching positions. Strange as this may seem , unless the Lakers are extremely confident that Jackson will be returning to the organization then I feel it somewhat less than prudent of them to allow Shaw to seek out an initial interview with either organization . Shaw if anything has to be the favorite for the position as he has the respect of a number of players on the team. But it may well be that GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Dr Jerry Buss may well feel that it is indeed better bring someone anew to be Jackson’s successor. From my own perspective although I’ve heard the name of Rick Adelman being bandied about as a likely successor I do feel that it’d be step backwards for the Lakers should they hire this well respected coach. A retread is very much the last thing that this organization needs in light of their rather embarrassing 4-0 series loss to the Dallas Mavericks . The one candidate I feel who fits the bill as the successor to Jackson would be Tom Izzo of Michigan State and his given his coaching pedigree I think he’d certainly be the appropriate choice ! However , that decision is now in the hands of the general manager and owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and it may well be some time before they come to a final decision .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment and thank as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) From left to right Branch Rickey , Jackie Robinson and his wife Rachel seen are as the former player receives his plaque after his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame . AFP Archives ………

(2) Pirates’ outfielder Roberto Clemente whose tragic death is still mourned to this day . Baseball archives ….

(3) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat gets emotional after closing out the series against the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2011 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(4) Omer Asik (3) reacts with Luol Deng (9) of the Chicago Bulls after Asik drew a foul from the Atlanta Hawks in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C Cox / Getty Images …….

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They Came , They Saw , They Conquered ………………..

They Came , They Saw , They Conquered …………….

Well they came, they saw they conquered and the post-game interview by San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich essentially was magnanimous in defeat but clearly couldn’t explain his team’s inauspicious departure from the NBA Playoffs in the first round . A 99-91 defeat on the Memphis Grizzlies’ home-court at the Fedex Forum , in Memphis , Tennesse left the home crowd fans ecstatic as their team will now make their first appearance in a conference semi finals where they will face the high flying Oklahoma City Thunder .

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Now for only the second time since expansion of the playoff format from a five game first round to the best of seven series’ format has a number one seed bowed out the of the NBA Playoffs in the first round. This 4-2 series loss will certainly have its ramifications and repercussions as the Spurs’ management assess and reassess why they failed so miserably . GM R C Burford and Popovich’s coaching staff will certainly have to look at this roster and note where their deficiencies are . Most certainly to my mind the contributions of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess were minimal at best but what might be even more disturbing was the fact that the Grizzlies man-handled the Spurs with seasoned veteran Zach Randoplh being allowed to shred the defense almost at will . Randolph’s heroics was indicative of what has gone on throughout this series all along with him being allowed to roam free _____ but he was also ably abetted by Marc Gasol , Shane Batter and Mike Conley whose play at the point guard position has developed since his entrance into the NBA . It has been a profound disappointment to me in seeing the San Antonio Spurs bow out of the playoffs but I’ve seen the highs and lows of this organization. Remarkable as this might seem the Spurs have made the postseason for fourteen straight consecutive seasons and have averaged 55 wins per season over that time frame . As an avowed Spurs’ fan it goes without saying that in the aftermath of this series loss the organization will undoubtedly have to make some changes .

As to the Memphis Grizzlies their postseason is now in their own hands and they can essentially write their own story as to their aspirations . This much we do know their season has shown us all what to expect when you have no doubts as to your own will to win . That if anything to my mind was most definitely lacking in the persona of the San Antonio Spurs !

Just when I thought things simply couldn’t get anymore asinine with regard to the NFL lockout it has been reported that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals have rescinded Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s original verdict , which now allows the NFL owners and league enforce the lockout . Never mind the fact that the league hierarchy has gone ahead with the NFL Draft which is being staged at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and culminates with the seventh and final round of picks this Saturday 30th April , 2011. As contentious and litigious as this episode has become I can’t but help wonder why bother with all the facade being created by the league with the staging of the draft ?

I’ve always maintained that the league created this monster with the alleged labor relates issues and that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seriously underestimated the hierarchy of the NFLPA which has now become a trade association. That being said neither party is without fault here with the asinine stance that each party has taken in being unable to decide how to split the $ 9 billion in revenues that the league has coming into its coffers each season . And as ridiculous as it may sound , neither side wants to be viewed as being the culprit here but in essence this has simply been about sheer greed with little if anything really having to deal with any inherent labor issues ! Question if you can’t find a way to seriously deliberate how best find a solution sharing $ 9 billion amenably then what would that suggest to you about both of the parties involved ? Greed or merely that both the league hierarchy and union are simply too stupid for their own good ?

Andy Dalton welcome to the NFL and you now more likely than not will supplant Carson Palmer in the pecking order for the quarterback position with the Cincinnati Bengals . Given the Bengals’ disastrous 2010 season where Palmer and his teammates were an immense disappointment having been the AFC North divisional champions in 2009, 2010 simply showed how much the team had simply regressed.

Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis knows that his job is on the line this season and anything short of a divisional title and postseason berth and effectively his managerial career with the organization will come to an abrupt end . As for Andy Dalton this now becomes his team to lead in light of the continued displeasure of Carson Palmer and his wish to be traded . However with the player’s demands having not been met and the continued scenario within the NFL his only option appears to be to proceed with his original announcement that he would retire if his demands were not met . Personally, if this is indicative of quarterbacks coming out of USC and the fact that they have no heart or will a will to win once in the NFL then my advice to Palmer would be ………. “see ya wouldn’t want to be ya and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out ” !

Unequivocably the game of baseball is in a complete mess and this season has simply been indicative of that. If anything it hasn’t been the play of of the teams on the field that have made the headlines but namely the stories off it. Frank McCourt is now prepared to challenge the league’s hierarchy in providing an outside presence to deal with the day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers . McCourt as the team’s owner has if anything been a complete ass in thinking that he can place this organization in dire financial straits but at the same time fails to address the issue as to why he needed to borrow some $30 million from the local LA Fox affiliate to meet the team’s budgetary expenses for the month of April. Frank McCourt has also maintained that the league hierarchy has within their possession documents related to a possible television deal with Fox that woud pay the Dodgers $3 billion over the next two decades . At this juncture it simply means nothing if that document remains unsigned with the deal not physically in place awaiting league approval .

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for his part stated that his greatest concern were the dire consequences that McCourt had placed the organization in . But here’s the caveat, if as such the Dodgers met all of the league’s rules as it concerns the conduct of its business affairs then how is that they’ve allowed McCourt to systematically d to use the Dodgers repeatedly as collateral in many business deals with outside parties not related at all with the game ? Having installed former US Ambassador to Japan J Thomas Schieffer as the league’s representative while the Dodgers undergoes this period of intense scrutiny . I’ve now got to ask what now awaits the team and organization over the course of the their season ?

If anything this is what has been endemic within the game of baseball and the unwillingness of the team owners and the hierarchy itself to be openly transparent in the conduct of their business affairs . And it goes without saying that this conduct has been suborned by the fact that MLB’s antitrust exemption status allows it carte-blanche /free rein as to how they conducts themselves in almost every facet of their dealings both on and off the field of play . And I’m led to believe that the House Oversight & Gov’t Reform Committee weren’t aware as to the league’s conduct over the past decade and a half ? The league has become archaic , its leadership structure as are the team owners , the MLBPA are simply clueless and are a bunch of blithering idiots ! With the New York Mets’ episode yet to be addressed fully by the league do you get the feeling that MLB would rather the respective owners there Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon removed from their executive posts as well ? Where else could one find such mismanagement within the game but in essence the league hierarchy continues to act as if they’re rearranging the life boats on the Titanic thinking that they’re in no imminent danger .

I know that the MLB season is one of 162 games but the way that the Cleveland Indians have been playing as of late you’d be under the impression that they’re now on the cusp of making the postseason. Winners of five of their last seven games the Indians sit atop of the AL East . If anything they’ve been the surprise team within the division with their play and seems to be infectious amongst the younger members on this Cleveland Indians’ roster .

In their game against the struggling Detroit Tigers the Indians simply showed why they have been playing with the resolve that they have shown since the very start of their season . In a fitting way to end the game Indians’ slugger Carlos Santana hit a walk off grand slam to deny the Tigers victory on their way to a 9-5 win over their divisional rivals . And although it’s still early in the season it’s good to see that for now the Cleveland Indians appear to be relevant once again. With that win the Cleveland Indians now share the best record (17-8) in baseball alongside the Philadelphia Phillies . A nice resurgence for a franchise that seems to have been in the doldrums over the last decade but now appears to be back where they and their fans feel that they belong.

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Whether or not you’ve been watching the initial part of the NBA postseason unfold what to your mind has been the biggest surprise or disappointment from your own standpoint ? With regard to the NFL its Draft and everything that now seems to be unfolding how do you envisage this episode finally ending ? From your own perspective do you feel that there’s now time for a real drastic change within the hierarchy of MLB and also do you feel that the owners should be more transparent in their business dealing in and outside of the game when they are as such using their team as any part of a business transaction ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) MEMPHIS, TN – APRIL 29: Zach Randolph(50) of the Memphis Grizzlies talks with Greg Popovich after the Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 99-91 in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on April 29, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images …..

(2) San Antonio Spurs players watch the final moments of their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of Game 6 of a first-round NBA basketball series on Friday, April 29, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 99-91 to win the series 4-2 . From left are Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Daniel Green, and Steve Novak. AP Photo/Lance Murphey ……….

(3) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, and his fiancee Jordan Jones, left, pose for a picture being taken by the Bengals third round draft pick Dontay Moch, right, after an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ……….

(4) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, left, a quarterback from TCU, and third round draft pick Dontay Moch, a linebacker from Nevada, right, pose with their jerseys during an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ………

(5) Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, left, poses with the team’s first round draft pick A.J. Green during an NFL football news conference, Friday, April 29, 2011 in Cincinnati. Green, a wide receiver from Georgia, will wear number 18 for the Bengals. AP Photo/Al Behrman ……

(6) Gary Guyton (59) of the New England Patriots carries the ball in for a touchdown as Carson Palmer (9) of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to tackle during the NFL season opener on September 12, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Guyton intercepted Palmer’s pass. Getty Images North America / Elsa Martinez …….

(7) LOS ANGELES – APRIL 29: the San Diego Padres the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 29, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …….

(8) Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana watches the flight of his game-winning grand slam off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5. Tigers catcher Alex Avila, left, looks on. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta …….

(9) Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana celebrates as he jumps to home plate after hitting a game winning three-run walk off home run off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5 . AP Photo/Amy Sancetta ……..

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When The Rubber Hits The Road It’s Time To Step Up ……

When The Rubber Hits The Road It’s Time To Step Up ……

When the rubber meets the road it’s time to step up and it appears that the San Antonio Spurs have hit the road with a flat tire. The Memphis Grizzlies have given the Spurs all they can handle a great deal more. A 91-88 victory by the Grizzlies with Zach Randolph leading the charge in his team’s victory . When it’s all said and done a question needs to be asked ….. have Gregg Popovich’s  —- players become complacent or are the Grizzlies simply too good ? ===========================================================================

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Slide show for your perusal .

A 2-1 series lead and it appears with their next victory this series could be the Grizzlies for the taking . At this point Popovich has to get these players playing with a great deal more zeal as the Memphis Grizzlies simply have the Spurs on their heels. It’s seems strange to see the number one seed within the Western Conference simply being outplayed not only on their home court but also in large throughout much of this series as it has unfolded . Throughout much of the season this Spurs’ team played at a high caliber  with players such as Manu Ginobli , Gary Neal , Dejuan Blair , Tony Parker and Matt Bonner stepping up to the plate. However the zeal with which we saw during the regular season has been missing as this series has taken on a life of its own as it seems to be now slipping away from the grasp of the San Antonio Spurs. . If the Spurs are to be in with a chance of reasserting themselves and regaining some sort of momentum in this series then we’re going to have to see more from the likes of Ginobli , Parker and their seasoned veteran Tim Duncan . Granted , Duncan has seen limited time throughout much of the regular season .

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Clearly at this point of the playoffs the contenders ………….. ‘ the real contenders’ step up and separate themselves the pretenders’ . As an ardent Spurs’ fan I get the feeling that the Spurs rather than looking like a contender they’re now beginning to look and play like a pretender ! The four time  NBA champions are no nearer to adding a fifth title than there’s a chance of Donald Trump winning the 2012 Presidential elections based on their play in this series and in particular game three which saw them being completely outplayed by their Western Conference opponents . The credit where it’s due belongs to the Memphis Grizzlies and their belief that they’d nothing to fear in taking the game to the Spurs and forcing them to change their whole way of playing and the fact it has been this Grizzlies’ team in the driver’s seat. At some point we have to acknowledge that the league is now changing and that the so called  teams we believe to be dominant are no longer really that.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers  , Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will have their work cut out for them during these playoffs . Albeit that the Heat and Celtics have series leads as the playoffs progress these teams will face a much sterner test in the second round (conference semi finals) of the NBA Playoffs . As the playoffs unfold we’ll get to see what these teams are actually made of and how each faces adversity when stares at them from across the court . The Spurs are now in a position where they can ill afford to go down 3-1 in this series knowing full well that even on their home court they will be hard pressed to put the Memphis Grizzlies back on their heels. If anything it has been the Grizzles who have placed the Spurs back on their heels looking to stave off a series defeat and if anything what would be the shock of this season’s playoffs series so far. Zach Randolph has put this team on his back and played like a man possessed with something to prove to the doubters and naysayers who felt he’d nothing to offer . And as troubled as his career is said to have been Randolph now seems to have found a home where his talents have flourished and where the Grizzlies’ fans have no doubt shown their appreciation for all that they have witnessed from the player’s contributions on the court and within the local community . If it’s a given that the Spurs bow out of this series then I am willing to admit that I underestimated the Grizzlies but even more so I know that the the Spurs this while while their regular season was impressive if anything it created an illusion and an air of complacency that the lulled and lured their fans into thinking that this team was once again ready to contend and perhaps actually playing with a sense of purpose in marching towards the goal of winning another title .

A series loss would raise a great many questions as to this team and the direction that it is heading in. The triumvirate of Ginobli , Parker and Duncan is an aging one but the thought was that with a young nucleus of players looking to make their mark , instead it looks as if they have regressed lost in situation that in some respect is one of their own making. I certainly do believe that Gregg Popovich and GM R C Buford will have to reassess the qualities they seek in terms of the Spurs’ roster and how best to address the deficiencies that we now know that the San Antonio Spurs have. Now as the postseason plays itself out it will be very interesting to see what happens with each of the series in question . In the case of the Spurs and where a number one seed has previously faced a situation where they could be down 3-1 in the first round of a playoff series, that seed has gone on to win that fourth series game and to win that series four out of the six occasions since the playoff format came into being and where it changed from a best of five series to a best of seven game series . That if anything should be an added incentive to the team . But in reality the Spurs simply don’t need that as an incentive , what they actually need to do is to come out and play a meaningful game and series as if their very lives depended on it .

The 2011 NBA Playoffs have brought us a great deal of thrills and spills , and I must say that while I’d expected some controversy in terms of the officiating it has to be said the surprises if any, have come from the fact that certain teams we’re thought to have favored haven’t played anywhere near their true potential . And that has either been due to them either playing inconsistently or more to the fact that the lesser seeded teams in these playoffs have played well above their potential . It now remains to be seen how things will actually pan out for the teams and their loyal fans who have become engrossed in the NBA’s showcase event _ the playoffs as a precursor to the NBA Finals itself .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What series if anything in the first round of the playoffs has been of interest to you ? And how do you see the series between Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs ultimately ending ? Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts on this piece and the NBA postseason as you now see it.

* NB Is there an NBA team in the state of Texas that actually has a backbone ? The Spurs are in turmoil in their series . The Dallas Mavericks in allowing the Portland Trailblazers to erase a twenty three  point deficit in game four of their series shows us why this Mavericks’ team is simply softer than a roll of Charmin tissue paper ! Mark Cuban you’ve been Punk’d bitch !

As for the heroics of Brandon Roy , it was truly exemplary ! The Houston Rockets having chosen not to seek the return of Rick Adelman  next season are now without an NBA coach . As to who Adelman’s successor will be it remains to be seen but team GM Daryl Morey will be seeking a quality oriented coach who knows how to get the best out of a young team and its players .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….. Picture and slide show details below . ——————————————————————————————————

(1) MEMPHIS, TN – APRIL 23: Zach Randolph (50) of the Memphis Grizzlies celebrates with a little dance after defeating the San Antonio Spurs in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 23, 2011 at FedExForum  in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE /Getty Images …..

(2) Darrell Arthur of the Memphis Grizzlies against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2011 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. The Grizzlies defeated the Spurs 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the best of seven series . Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images………

(3) Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) drives against San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9), of France, during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball series on Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. Conley led the Grizzlies with 15 points and Parker led the Spurs with 23 points. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP Photo/Lance Murphey  …………

(4) Memphis Grizzlies forward Leon Powe  (7) grabs a rebound in front of San Antonio Spurs forward DeJuan Blair (45) and Daniel Green (4) during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball series on Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. Behind Powe are San Antonio Spurs forward Steve Novak (23) and Memphis Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi (15), of Iran. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …..

(5) Trying to instill confidence ? Maybe . San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, center, talks with his teammates during the second half of Game 4 against the Memphis Grizzlies in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …….

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