Taking it all with a pinch of salt …

Taking it all with a pinch of salt …

The weekend within the sports’ world has supplied us with very little news , which was really noteworthy . At St Andrews , in the third Grand Slam Major of the year the PGA has been turned on its head with an amateur leading, heading into fourth round of The Open . Pressure being too much to bear Paul Dunne has now slipped back three shots behind joint leaders Louis Oosthuizen and Zach Johnson with world number two and two-time Major winner for this season , Jordan Spieth a shot behind at twelve under par (-12) at the prestigious St Andrews Golf Course , St Andrews , Scotland.

Whether or not Spieth can make history by becoming only the second player in PGA Tour history to have won the first three Majors of the season. Tiger Woods having achieved the feat , bowed out of The Open,having failed to make the cut , with many now wondering whether or not the former world number one will ever win another Major much less a PGA Tour title , given the slump in his game this season and over the past two years. With the whole world watching it will be interesting to see whether or not Jordan Spieth can win his third Major this season and jump ahead of Rory McIlroy in the world rankings.

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It would be fair to suggest the NBA remains devoid of any type of leadership even when David Stern helmed the league hierarchy. His autocratic rule was simply one of a dictator and the old boys’ club that exists among the owners and league executives remains something of a joke. The NBPA (union) remains all powerful and Stern’s successor Adam Silver has now proven to be just as incompetent as his predecessor. In the wake of the latest troubles bedeviling the career of Ty Lawson , it would appear Silver doesn’t see fit to punish the player for his actions and the very fact in the last six months, this has been the second time the player has ran afoul of the law having been charged with a DUI . Lawson’s former team the Denver Nuggets have seen fit to rid themselves of the point guard and his legal woes sending him to the Dallas Mavericks in a trade. Given the issues of the Mavericks last season and the lack of productivity seen with Rajon Rondo , I am not so sure Lawson will prove to be any better.

Ty Lawson has since admitted himself into a drug and alcohol program of his own volition, but the mere fact the NBA has not seen fit to even address the issue and suspend him for his actions even when there is a precedent to do so , sends a disturbing message about the NBA and the image it is now sending to its fans. Personally, I believe the league itself has become too wrapped up in its self-importance and the chase to increase its revenues rather than dealing so many acute issues now bedeviling the league. Homophobia , misogyny and racism seems to be ongoing and in spite of the actions taken against former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling , where the league’s handling of the situation was simply comedic, simply indicates how out of touch with reality the NBA still remains.

The two best teams in baseball over their last ten games have been the Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals . Both appear to be heads and shoulders above everyone else within the American League (AL). Yet for all of the prowess seen from both teams , the second half of this MLB season will likely prove to be an immense decider as to the fate of both ball-clubs. The Angels’ game against the Boston Red Sox was rained out due to rain and the two teams will make up that game up on Monday with a double-header, day and night game on Monday. On the mound for the Angels for the two games at Angels’ Ballpark in Anaheim California , will be Hector Santiago (6-4) in game one and Andrew Heaney (3-0) in game two of the double-header.

Mike Trout and the Angels are likely to take both games in the home stand, given the inconsistency shown by the Boston Red Sox over the course of this season. This will also prove to be a make or break season for Mike Scioscia after the apparent turmoil within the organization which led to the departure of former general manager Jerry Dipoto . If Scioscia fails to lead the team and their making a deep postseason run. Then there is every belief Arte Moreno will make the decision to rid himself of Sciocsia and the entire managerial staff .

It is becoming increasing difficult to assess how good the Los Angeles Dodgers are said to be. They may well lead the NL West , with a comfortable lead over their closest divisional rivals, but if that were enough of an indicator to suggest how good the Dodgers are said to , one only has to look at their failure over the last two years in the postseason to realize how much of a disappointment this ball-club continues to be. Clayton Kershaw was scintillating last season on his way to winning the NL Cy Young and NL MVP Awards. This season Zack Greinke has been putting up astonishing numbers of the team leading league , NL low ERA. Greinke is on pace to match,if not lower the MLB season low ERA for a starting pitcher during the regular season. Bob Gibson’s record setting stat of 1.12 ERA was once deemed untouchable and the mark set in 1968, puts into perspective how spectacular his season just happened to be for the St Louis Cardinals that season.

For now Greinke and the Los Angeles Dodgers will look to continue their pace, while seeking to distance themselves from their divisional rivals and trying keep apace with St Louis and the Pittsburgh Pirates for the best record in the National League. Monday will see the Dodgers on the road , when they face the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta , Georgia , when Brandon Beachy (0-1, 6.75 ERA) will be on the mound to face the Braves’ Matt Wisler (3-2, 3.10 ERA) .

This may well be the season that the Chicago Cubs are able to turn things around , albeit , they find themselves in a tough NL wild-card race, with the divisional race itself already lost to this Joe Maddon managed team . A great has been made about about the developing talents of Kris Bryant with his having been brought up from the minors this season. Maddon and the front office staff of Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein finally believe they have a team ready to compete at the highest levels of the game. From my own perspective, I do not believe the Cubs are yet ready to compete at the elite within the NL much less the rest of baseball . For years this has been a franchise complacent with its attitude with a loyal fan-base which yearned for success , only for them to witness either blatant stupidity or failing to grasp the opportunities that came their way.

This is unlikely to be the Cubs’ year , but finally , it may well be the season where the fans might feel, there is some hope for their long-term future. When Clayton Richard takes to the mound to face Michael Lorenzen at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati Ohio, for the Cubs . It will be interesting to see how Richard fares against the Cincinnati Reds in this NL Central clash.

Rob Manfred just can’t seem to get out of the way of his own ongoing stupidity and like his predecessor , Bud Selig , the current MLB Commissioner will simply rehash the same old lame ideas , refocus their importance by trying to present them all in a new way. Manfred is currently behind the call for the expansion of Major League Baseball with the possibility of three or four new franchises within the next five years and the increase in the number of participants in the postseason. Pardon me for saying this, but Rob Manfred might be an even bigger @sshole than his predecessor , given his lack of intelligence and his unwillingness to address one of the most acute issues facing the game of baseball. At a time , when several teams are facing financial uncertainty, expansion should be the furthest thing from the hierarchy’s mind. Teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics are having trouble with game attendance, as well obtaining the assistance of Manfred in the possibly of fast tracking their need for a new ball-park.

This commissioner seems to more focused seeking more addition of more teams at a time when baseball’s popularity among teens is said to be on the decline. Their Returning Baseball to The Inner City Initiative (RBI) seems to have fallen on deaf ears , never mind the fact , many of the game’s biggest ball-clubs now spend more money on developing baseball academies in the Caribbean and Latin American than they do in developing home grown talent. Call me naïve , but at what point will Manfred , his associates as well as the team owners realize that they are on the wrong track , with the train having already left the station ?

We are now less than three weeks away from the start of the NFL preseason schedule and it has to be said even in the aftermath of the NFL Draft, fans were still not able to get enough with regard to the latest stories encapsulating the league. From Deflate-Gate down to the latest report of player misconduct or that of Rex Ryan making proclamations as to how good the Buffalo Bills will be this upcoming season . The stories just seemed to be a non-stop flow of relentless media reports , no matter how trivial and asinine they might appear to be on the surface.

There are impact players in the NFL and players, who believe themselves to be players who can impact a game . Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant believes himself to be the former , whereas I believe Bryant , is a very good player , he is not a player who on a consistent basis has known to impact a game much less be an impact player. He lacks maturity , leadership ability, as do several of his teammates on the current Cowboys’ roster , without one having to delve into the lack coaching acumen shown by Jason Garrett . But , as we know the Dallas Cowboys remain the NFL’s biggest whipping posts and one of constant ridicule , as to their aspirations year in and year out , over the last eight years.

This off-season Dez Bryant is holding out , refusing to attend the Cowboys’ OTA’s, until he is given a long-term contract , a deal which he believe he merits , making him among the highest paid wide receivers in the league , by way of a contract and salary . Bryant is not on par with the likes of a Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald and his seeking to be even placed on their level seems absolutely ludicrous .

If Dez Bryant and his agents at Roc Nation Sports are seeking the long-term deal the player believe he is worth , then he might now be placing himself in something of a corner. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones known to be a shrewd businessman has already made one mistake , with his allowing DeMarco Murray to go elsewhere during the off-season , when in reality franchise failed to deal with a player who if anything was more productive than Bryant throughout much of last season. Now Dez Bryant is seeking a six or seven year deal , with a minimum of $45 million in guaranteed money , with a contract worth a minimum of $120 million. Bryant is not a $15 million or $20 million a year player and even if the NFL enters 2016 with revenues at an all-time high and a salary cap likely to exceed $130 million per team . I seriously doubt Jerry Jones is willing to “break the bank” for a player yet to show anything of note during postseason. .

Dallas will begin their preseason in earnest, as Jason Garrett gets to assess his team, the latest acquisitions , and rookies on the roster , before they hit their stride with the first game of their regular season schedule . The NFC East remains a riddle and conundrum all rolled into one alongside a great deal of mediocrity. With the level of coaching now bordering on incompetence and so many of the head coaches on appearance seemingly out of their depth . I certainly believe this upcoming season will be bland and milquetoast in the level of play and hype created by the media !

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What have been your thoughts on the weekend stories emanating from the world of sports ?


Tophatal …

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Tit for tat

Tit for tat …

The first half of the MLB season has decidedly been about the dominance shown by the teams with the best records within their respective divisions . In the AL we have seen the dominance shown by the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros , with the New York Yankees leading a rather languid AL East division. MLB’s mid-season extravaganza proved to be eventful , with the AL winning the All Star Game for the third year in succession and Mike Trout leading the team to a 6-3 victory over their NL counterparts.

Baseball’s second-half to their schedule resumes on Friday and the teams will be looking to position themselves for the long haul, while I have no doubt several managerial positions are likely to be on the line. Most notably of those, I believe will be Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves , whose first half to the season has been absolutely horrendous . Gonzalez and the managerial staff have proven to be uninspiring and the players are equally to blame with their lackluster performances.

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Of the teams likely to be under the most pressure to succeed, the Kansas City Royals may well have the toughest task of all. While a great deal is expected of this Ned Yost managed team , after their high of last season. I believe their task will prove to be very daunting indeed, whereby Yost and the managerial staff must have the players at their best , not willing to let up under any circumstance. The biggest threat to their dominance will likely come from their toughest divisional rival the Detroit Tigers. Brad Ausmus and the Tigers’ coaching staff during the second half of the season must have his team playing at a consistently high level and their games against the Royals may well tell us a great deal about this Detroit staff and their will to win.

Kansas will begin the second half of their regular season schedule with a four-game series on the road against the Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. On the mound for Kansas City will be Edinson Volquez (8-4) as he faces off against Jeff Samardzija (6-4) in a featuring two of the AL’s most consistent pitchers this season. Detroit will have Anibal Sanchez (8-7) taking the mound against Ubaldo Jiminez (7-4) at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan .

Elsewhere around the league , there has been a remarkable turn of events, as the Oakland Athletics seem to be faltering over the course of the season. The A’s now sit firmly rooted at the bottom of AL West with no real signs the managerial staff are capable of instilling any type of resilience to this team. The only signs of life from the A’s appears to be coming from the pitching performances of Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir , while from an offensive standpoint Stephen Vogt , Ben Zobrist , Josh Reddick and Billy Butler seem to be spearheading the offense. Oakland are 5-5 in their last ten games , with their last victory coming on 12th July in a 2-0 win , when they faced the Cleveland Indians in a road game played at Progressive Field in Cleveland , Ohio,.

For GM Billy Beane , Bob Melvin and the managerial staff , there will be decisions made as to how the ball-club moves forward and whether or not some drastic moves will be made as the A’s approach the trade deadline . Certainly , with the team’s payroll not among the highest in the league , Oakland could proceed ahead in their present situation , but Beane is unlikely to take such an approach, perhaps choosing instead to trade a number of players, while promoting several from among their minor league system. At this point they have nothing lose and more to gain in seeing whether or not those Minor League players can contribute productively to the team’s fortunes. Oakland resumes its schedule, facing the Minnesota Twins on Friday at the O.Coliseum , with Sonny Gray of the A’s taking on Ervin Santana .

Baseball’s most renowned and successful franchise the New York Yankees are now in the midst of change. In recent years with the retirements of Jorge Posada , Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera , it could be stated the winds of change have been brisk and come about at an astonishing pace. Last season was something of a misnomer for the franchise , with their having, failed to make the postseason and not even competing within the AL East. Alex Rodriguez has now become a reclamation project on two fronts in terms of his image and playing career. As the third baseman /DH seeks to reestablish his status as one of the game’s best players of his generation , it is almost inexplicable how the fans in general cannot seek to question his achievements over the past two decades in spite of his personal triumphs singularly as a player and a teammate with the Yankees. New York’s last triumph in the World Series came in 2009 and since then their fans and the organization have been impatient with their endeavor to make it back to the Fall Classic.

Rodriguez for his part along with Mark Teixeira , Brian McCann and Brett Gardner have been the mainstays of the Yankees’ offense with their pitching still viewed as their Achilles’ Heel still very vulnerable , albeit , veteran CC Sabathia now appears to be on the downside of a very good career. From my point of view while I believe Joe Girardi’s players are in a very weak division , this team is far from being competitive or consistent enough to win the World Series. The roster is lacking in leadership and the traits desired have not been witnessed from the likes of Alex Rodriguez , Jacoby Ellsbury or any other of the experienced members of this New York Yankees’ lineup.

New York’s trouncing of divisional rivals the Boston Red Sox in their last victory , emphasizes how mediocre the division just happens to be this season, with the top three teams barely above . 500 in terms of their records. A Friday evening scheduled contest against the Seattle Mariners at Yankees Stadium in New York will offer former player Robinson Cano a chance to show his former team what they have been sorely lacking. Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees and Mike Montgomery will be on the mound for the opposing team’s in this pitchers’ duel .

Don Mattingly , manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers will likely be in for a rough and torrid time over the next two months as he seeks to take his team over the hump and beyond the NLCS for the ball-club’s first appearance in the World Series since 1988 when they triumphed over the Oakland A’s 4-1. With a payroll now close to $280 million and an abundance of All Star talent on the Dodgers’ roster it seems inconceivable to think the team might be perceived as the best ball club in the NL based on talent alone. Record wise Los Angels sits behind the St Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates for the team with the best record in the National League. As winners of seven of their last ten games , one could suggest the Los Angeles Dodgers have been playing some of their best baseball of the season. A recent home win over the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the All Star break placed the Dodgers in the driver’s seat and their pursuit of retaining the NL West title . For two years in succession they have simply imploded , while Don Mattingly has increasingly shown he is completely out of his depth in terms of his managerial acumen during the postseason. The patience within the Dodgers’ front office is likely to be growing thin, with executives Stan Kasten , Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi no doubt contemplating changes should the managerial staff fail in their endeavors . However, I cannot help but wonder, will they take the plunge of adding to the roster by acquiring another high priced player for the short-term in their pursuit of a World Series’ crown ? On Friday night the Los Angeles Dodgers will be the guests of the Washington Nationals as the two teams meet in the nation’s capital for the beginning of a weekend three-game series.

I do not believe Fredi Gonzalez will be allowed to continue for much longer in his current role as the manager of the Atlanta Braves. Hard pressed to gain any semblance of real zeal from this current group of players. Gonzalez, his coaching staff and the front office seem to be acting far too nonchalant as the team’s season continues to spiral completely out of control . There seems little chance of the Braves being able to mount a serious challenge within the NL East and a wild-card berth now seems remote as it could be. An 11-3 shellacking suffered at the hands of the Colorado Rockies has simply added to the Braves’ embarrassment over the course of this season and as an avowed fans of this ball-club, the only thing I can say ___ I am truly embarrassed to see how inept this team just happens to be !

Atlanta will make their start to the second half of their schedule with a game at Turner Field , in Atlanta , Georgia , when they face the Chicago Cubs in a contest , featuring two struggling NL ball-clubs. As the season progresses, it will be interesting to see if Fredi Gonzalez will be able to turn around the fortunes of the Atlanta Braves as they seek contention within the National League and the opportunity of a wild-card berth.

In the lead-up to the All Star Game, baseball fans were asked to vote on the four best players to have played for their respective teams over the course of a franchise’s history and at their respective positions. It would be correct to state, for some ball-clubs’ fans, this is a daunting task. With so many great players over the course of baseball’s history, where would one begin to rank these players ? For a young franchise, it might not prove to be so difficult, especially in the case for ball-clubs as the Cincinnati Reds , New York Yankees and St Louis Cardinals . Each has their litany of great players, many of whom are now inducted into the Hall of Fame. To even now try and make a claim as to the greatest player to have graced the game of baseball opens up a very heated and vocal debate among fans of the sport.

Everyone has their favorite among the all-time greats and even the most renowned ball-club in baseball history , it would be extremely to difficult to make the choice of who the ten greatest players are in New York Yankees’ history, let alone their top-four according to fan-voting . What might be even more debatable, were the votes’ tallied for the ten greatest living players alongside the top-four . Now given the controversy surrounding the era of steroids , the inclusion of Barry Bonds among the listing might even create a cause for concern. Yet, I believe the choice was done more so out of fans believing him to be worthy, simply because of his achievements, rather than taking into account the controversy surrounding his steroid use. Make of it what you will and then perhaps come up with your own choices as it relates to each team and perhaps among Negro League players.

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What are you hoping to see during the second-half of the baseball season and which teams do you believe will be in a favorable position to compete for the World Series based on their play witnessed and quite possibly if sustained over the remainder of their schedule ? Chime in on this and anything else you believe to relevant to the subject matter.


Tophatal …… 2015/07/18 — 05:30 am



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Fiasco ? What fiasco ?

Fiasco ? What fiasco ?

Shall I take the money and run or should I stand pat ? Words not to live by , because in the world of sports an athletes’ word is only as good as his last performance or what he believes he’s said to be worth by way of compensation. In the NBA we had a prized free agent DeAndre Jordan renege on his promise to join the Dallas Mavericks after making the franchise aware , it was his intent join the NBA Western Conference based franchise. Instead, Jordan has re-signed with the Los Angeles Clippers after what appears to be the power forward meeting with teammates Chris Paul, Blake Griffin , JJ Redick as well as Doc Rivers and team owner Steve Ballmer . What this all would suggest is the very fact the Clippers would have missed a player who in many respects was the lynch pin that held the roster together for much of last season and into the NBA Playoffs .

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Elsewhere in the NBA , players have moved on to much more greener pastures while being able to secure more lucrative contracts. Two teams who many thought would in the running to sign a marquee free agent, pretty much showed that in spite of the lure of their history , their respective front offices were as effective during this off-season as a stray dog imperiled by a bout of rabies. The New York Knicks after a rather ludicrous draft class are pretty much at a standstill with Phil Jackson and team GM Steve Mills now being looked upon as the class clowns of the NBA , by way of their lack of action in the free agency market. As to those who would suggest Jackson very much has a master plan , well if the plan included the hiring of Derek Fisher and the Knicks ending up with one of the worst records in the league this past season. Then I would suggest that the eleven-time championship winning former head coach was right on track . LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

Los Angeles Lakers’ team owner Jim Buss has pretty much placed the franchise on the fast track to obscurity , in spite of the comments from his sibling , Jeanie Buss that the Lakers are capable of being competitive in during the 2015-16 NBA season. Drafting D’Angelo Russell may well have been the high point of the Lakers’ off-season thus far , but unless Russell can light up the D League and then show that promise once in the league during a regular season game , then I believe the Los Angeles Lakers are likely to struggle even with Kobe Bryant back to his best and less susceptible to injury.

Bryant will be entering his last season in the NBA after a two-decade long career in the NBA, having been drafted in 1996. It would be fair to suggest Kobe Bryant knows this will be his swansong and likely his last chance at a sixth NBA title , with his five previous triumphs coming with the Lakers. Mitch Kupchak , long seen as the architect of the Lakers’ most recent triumphs has been fact a very poor front office executive for the franchise over the past five seasons. Bear in mind the franchise’s last triumph came in 2010 , when they were victorious over the Boston Celtics .

If there was a franchise which might well have profited from this off-season more than most , then it would have to be the San Antonio Spurs and the likelihood of their continuing a long and unprecedented run of postseason appearances. RC Buford and Gregg Popovich pulled off the coup of the postseason , acquiring both LaMarcus Aldridge and David West to solidify what will likely be the deepest lineup in the NBA and most certainly in the Western Conference. The San Antonio Spurs can now be considered a prohibitive favorite within the West and among the league for the NBA title of this upcoming season. Granted , with the Cleveland Cavaliers having retained Kevin Love and GM David Griffin looking to bolster a roster short on offensive firepower with the exception of LeBron James , It has to be said the Cavaliers’ greatest challenge might come from the Chicago Bulls and no one else within the Eastern Conference.

Two years ago the Oklahoma City Thunder allowed James Harden to leave the franchise without much fanfare. In doing so the Thunder threw away the opportunity to be better , because of the fact they were a small market team , but with big-time ambitions. Team owner Clay Bennett and the rest of the ownership group cannot afford to be caught off-guard once again and general manager Sam Presti must make the decision whether not it would be in the organization’s best interest to sign Enes Kanter to a max contract or allow the player to pursue his career elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent. Presti has been saying all of the right things , but there has been little to show by way of intent that he will retain the center. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant, with a year left on his existing contract has to be weighing up his options, while being singular in pursuit of an NBA title. There can be no denying Durant’s loss to the Thunder during the latter half of the season caused the team to fail miserably in gaining a playoff berth and a chance of raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

With a new head coach in place, Billy Donovan succeeding his predecessor Scott Brooks , this might well be the final chance this Oklahoma City Thunder organization has to convince Kevin Durant this is the city and the team where he belongs. As an unrestricted free agent in 2016 , Durant can and will have at least six or seven teams seeking his services , with the player knowing that a contract offered will make him among the highest paid players in the league. Yet this whole scenario concerning Durant’s future could very well come down to the approach taken by Sam Presti and whether or they seek to re-sign Enes Kanter during this off-season. Kanter was solid , though not spectacular for the team over the course of the season. Though there is the widespread belief he has now become an integral part of this franchise’s long-term future alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. What we now await will be the formal statement from the franchise concerning Enes Kanter’s future with the organization. Oklahoma will be impeded by the salary cap , and their current commitments to players on the roster. With it comes to the luxury tax loss to the franchise likely to exceed $35 million .

The NFL to my mind continues to be a place of unadulterated ridicule where the league itself , players. union , owners and hierarchy believe themselves to be above the fray. Consider this past season, beyond the morass of stupidity and behavior of the players we also had Roger Goodell continuing to show his lack of intelligence , but yet we have fans and media types alike, seeking to point to the popularity of the NFL, solely because it makes a great deal of money , has an ever growing television audience , Yet , let’s not be fooled by what we are witnessing , the league has now reached its saturation point within the North American market and is still looking to find a foothold overseas, specifically in what will be the hardest market to crack , the European market , where soccer is ” King “ . Trying to compete with the major European soccer leagues will be an uphill battle for the NFL and its European entities in the various city capitals in the East and Western parts of the continent.

It is a bold ambition by Goodell and the league hierarchy with their never-ending persistence . The NFL Commissioner has support from several prominent owners , including Robert Kraft , Jerry Jones and Steve Bisciotti for the pursuit of an NFL franchise in Europe , specifically for that team to be placed in London , England , believed to be the site most amenable and where the league will garner its greatest support on the continent . With English being the common language and the long held relationship between the UK and US as Western allies, this is likely to part of an NFL marketing strategy to be used in branding and selling the idea to the British fans .

It will be fun to see how this all pans out while the league (NFL) continues to meander its way through continued controversy and the ongoing incompetency shown by Roger Goodell.

I might well have missed something in the premise , but a recent article has the Houston Texans’ defensive player JJ Watt as the ‘best player ‘ in the NFL as voted on by his peers within the league. I have to admit, if this is the case, then either there is a great deal of apathy among the NFL ranks or Watt himself was able to curry votes, because he’s likable guy , rather than for his exploits on the field.

There is no doubt in my mind the Houston Texans’ defensive player is among the top-ten defensive players in the league , but certainly not the best player in the NFL ! There are far more worthy candidates to choose from , who are more impact-ful for their teams than Watt has been for the Texans. His statistics have been impressive , but does anyone believe Watt is a better player than wide receiver Andre Johnson, considering Johnson’s career and impact for the franchise ? Furthermore , if Watt is considered such a standard bearer then why is it the Texans have not had more success in the postseason during JJ Watt’s tenure with the team ? Obviously, these issues were not raised when the polling took place , but somehow objectivity and subjectivity here, fell way short of anything approaching intelligence , much less a sense of reality. One wonders why this league is continually engulfed with stupidity not just among the league hierarchy , but also with the union , owners and members of the media who cover the NFL.

If I were to make a choice of at least ten players who are better than JJ Watt , then in no discerning order they would be Philip Rivers , Drew Brees , Arian Foster , Calvin Johnson , Tom Brady , Andrew Luck , LeSean McCoy, Andre Johnson , Jason Witten , Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Rodgers . Somehow , I guess the players themselves who took part in the polling , merely saw this as an exercise in futility or just adding praise upon a player who having won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award for 2014 might as well as be given something less meaningful to crow about.

With Andre Johnson now no longer part of the Houston Texans’ roster having been acquired as a free agent by the Indianapolis Colts. I believe the Texans will be in for a long hard season , not only against their divisional rivals the Colts , but also among their opponents this regular season. Under Gary Kubiak , Houston was never able to fulfill the promise and expectations many believed they had , and with Bill O’Brien , they still remain a work in progress , even with Jadaveon Clowney , Vince Wilfork and Brian Hoyer as part of their current roster . JJ Watt and this team will embark on their season with their preseason schedule where the player will be asked to lead a defense which was among the worst in the NFL over the past two seasons.

The Texans’ regular season schedule will begin in earnest with a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City , Missouri on the 13th September , 2015, week one of the NFL regular season schedule. The divisional contests against the Indianapolis Colts this season should prove to be very interesting when the two teams meet in weeks’ five and fifteen in their scheduled contests. Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck will be looking to improve his record against the Texans while continuing the franchise’s dominance within the AFC South and over their divisional rivals since Luck began his professional career in the NFL.

Elsewhere around the NFL , I have found the actions of New York Giants’ player Jason Pierre-Paul who for some inexplicable and stupid reason thought it best to be playing with a firework , only to have it then have it explode in his hand , leading to his having surgery to amputate a finger on his in the aftermath of the medical procedure. From my own perspective , with these professional athletes, they must know with the profession they are part of , expectations are required of them by their employers. For the Giants’ front office having invested greatly in one of the few players on the roster who has been productive for them over the past three years , Paul’s stupidity now has to be viewed as not only perplexing but utterly ridiculous. Jason Pierre-Paul is expected to make a full recovery and return to the team for the preseason and regular season , but whether or not his form that of a player to be viewed as a leader on their secondary remains to be seen. Head coach Tom Coughlin has yet to make a public statement on the player’s accident or injury and though former teammates have been outspoken on the matter. One has to ask what the hell was Pierre-Paul thinking and why has he not been severely reprimanded by the organization for his actions ?

Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants .

For the New York Giants I believe this will be a make or break season as I believe we have now seen the best of Eli Manning as a player and I think for the two-time Superbowl winning quarterback , this will be a year in which he will either sink or swim. Manning has seen his game decline while providing very little leadership , choosing to make excuses for his play and lack of leadership . What is at stake for Eli Manning this season, will be his future and whether or not he remains part of the franchise’s long-term future. Failure to at least the New York Giants the postseason or NFL East divisional title this season could signal the end of Manning’s career with the franchise. Not so hard to envisage the scenario, given his failings this past season and that of his teammates. Odell Beckham simply provided one or two spectacular highlights , but in reality , what did the Giants actually achieve at the end of the day ? Anyone care to answer the question ?

Over the past two years it is estimated Floyd Mayweather Jr has earned a reputed $355 million from his ring exploits with at least half the sum in question coming from his most recent bout, a lopsided victory over Manny Pacquiao . Having made several successful defenses of his welterweight title belts , Mayweather made the decision to relinquish his WBO welterweight title , with the governing body threatening the titlist he would be stripped of his belt unless he paid a $200,000 sanctioning fee. A sanctioning fee, for what ? Floyd Mayweather Jr has done to bring the WBO recognition than any of their titleholders , placing entity on the map in terms of international recognition. Now it would appear as a slight to Mayweather , the WBO’s President Francisco Varcarcel will name Timothy Bradley as their new champion within the division. I’m sorry , but that is simply a joke and further emphasizing why this sport remains one of absolute comedic farce in so many areas on the sporting landscape.

Mayweather’s pursuit of a 50-0 record and matching the unbeaten run of former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano seems inevitable, because the division has no real challengers of merit and he will simply pick an opponent which provides him with the opportunity of matching the feat mentioned. Vacarcel struggles to have his institution taken seriously, in spite of his claims of making inroads in cleaning up the sport of boxing, along with it bring back some integrity to a sport lacking the respect of the masses and fans in general .

One more nail in the coffin of a sport still yearning for some semblance of respectability again, along with fights fans actually want to see . Inflated pay-per-view prices and uncompetitive title bouts now seem to be the norm, along with an abundance of untalented fighters in so many weight categories, adds to the idiocy of boxing and where it now stands on the sporting landscape. .

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Of the sporting stories now being reported , which item , do you believe to be the most outrageous or asinine ?


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It’s open season, but the buffoonery continues …

It’s open season, but the buffoonery continues

We are but three months removed from the New England Patriots’ victory in the Superbowl over the Seattle Seahawks and with the NFL Draft having just passed. The never-ending cycle of news which makes the league a year-round spectacle continues unabated. Though it should come as no surprise the NFL champions are now the subject of an even bigger controversy and debate than was first thought. At the center of the latest furor is the question did the Patriots know of the use of the deflated balls during the AFC Championship game and their victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Also , to what extent was the role in this entire drama , played by Superbowl MVP and team quarterback Tom Brady ? The player has constantly denied any wrongdoing on his part and that he knew nothing of these allegations . Yet, the Ted Wells’ report commissioned by the NFL suggests otherwise. In the evidence now made pubic the content of several text messages and e-mails on the surface would appear to be damaging.

Circumstantial as this evidence appears to be, nowhere in the report is there any evidence given by Brady or any senior officials with the Patriots’ franchise . Instead much of the uncorroborated evidence and content are that of t the e-mails and text messages.

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From my own standpoint , I believe where there’s smoke there is fire and the embers have been burning long and hard ever since this story began to shed light in the aftermath of the game between the Colts and Patriots. Winning team owner , Robert Kraft , has been adamant all along, there has been no wrongdoing on the part of any senior official within the organization. However , Bill Belichick and a number of his coaching staff subordinates have been rather less than open as to their knowledge of the events said to have taken place .

With calls for Tom Brady’s suspension , a monetary fine and the taking away of future draft picks , it remains to be seen what steps will be taken by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft was an avid supporter and his succeeding Paul Tagliabue , but along the way the commissioner has made repeated pratfalls and erred with his decision making. Brady’s interview with veteran journalist Jim Gray was less than candid , with Gray simply fawning over the NFL star while a raucous supportive Brady inspired crowd simply challenged the veracity of the case against the player. If the NFL is to have any type of credibility, then their stance against the New England Patriots must and should be one, where the franchise is actually made an example of , rather than their being given a slap on the wrist. During the regular season and this off-season , the walls continue to come tumbling down around the ears of the league and its hierarchy.


New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick is seen here with team owner Robert Kraft on the sidelines of Gillette Stadium , Foxborough , Massachusetts,. The sword of Damocles is not hovering over the head of Belichick this time around but there are vague suspicions that he might have known about the occurrences surrounding the Deflate-Gate scandal. There appears to be a great deal of circumstantial evidence pointing to the fact several members of the Patriots’ equipment staff had prior knowledge to the AFC championship game that game balls and their replacements were under-pressurized at the insistence of Tom Brady . A claim the player steadfastly denies . Getty Images North America / Chris Powell

While Tom Brady continues to plead his innocence , one of the more telling points of his interview with Gray, was the very fact the player never directly addressed the allegations against him, instead, indirectly suggesting he would have to read the Wells’ report before consulting with representatives , and then making a public statement on the matter. Merely suggesting , he will first speak with his lawyers before deciding whether or not there might grounds for a legal recourse.

Jameis Winston was the first overall pick in the NFL Draft and with the choice comes the scrutiny of the fans and the NFL analysts. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ GM Jason Licht stipulated this was the most important draft in the franchise’s history and the future of the Buccaneers will now rest with the former Florida State quarterback.

Tampa Bay will enter into the preseason with a number of decisions to be made , with several places on the roster likely to be up for grabs. The first of the preseason games will take place on 15th August when the Buccaneers face the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Stadium in Minneapolis , Minnesota ,. For the Buccaneers’ rookies , this will be the first opportunity afforded them as they begin their professional careers in the NFL . Jameis Winston for his part will seek to justify Tampa’s decision in making him the number one overall pick , even if there continues to be questions about his character , ability and leadership. Head coach Lovie Smith for his part will certainly have his work cut for him as he seeks to get this team to show some consistency after a lackluster season in 2014.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open their regular season with a home game against the Tennessee Titans in a match-up which will likely pit the two most recent Heisman Trophy winners against each other, when Jameis Winston takes to the field against Marcus Mariota. Former Oregon Ducks’ quarterback Mariota, I believe will be the starting quarterback for the Titans beating out Zach Mettenberger , Charlie Whitehurst and Jordan Palmer for the starting role on the team ! Inasmuch, as there was a great deal of hype about this year’s NFL Draft and the quality of the players overall. Until these athletes here the first snap of the ball, I truly believe we cannot make a firm assessment as to who will be an outright success and who is likely to be a complete failure. Inasmuch, as there was a great deal of hype about this year’s NFL Draft and the quality of the players overall. Until these athletes here the first snap of the ball, I truly believe we cannot make a firm assessment as to who will be an outright success and who is likely to be a complete failure.

The more things change the more they remain the same and the claim can be made for the Oakland Raiders, not much has changed over the last eight years. Jack Del Rio comes in as the new head coach succeeding Dennis Allen in the position . Under team owner , Mark Davis and GM Reggie McKenzie the turn-style approach of firing and hiring a head coach has happened with alarming regularity during the time-frame mentioned. The choices made by the front office will once again come in for a great deal of scrutiny as they have done for the last ten years concerning the NFL Draft. In that time the Raiders have not won an AFC West divisional title or made the NFL postseason . Which begs the question , will this be the year Oakland finally gets things right ?

Drafting a wide receiver for the franchise , with the taking of Amari Cooper gives Derek Carr one more option for a team , which failed miserably on offense throughout much of last season. If the offense was an eyesore to witness, then their defense was not much better , with the team being among the worst the NFL had to offer in 2014.

Reggie McKenzie and Mark Davis placed an emphasis on making changes during this off-season with the acquisition of several unrestricted free agents seeking to bolster the roster. Amari Cooper alongside his fellow rookie teammates will seek to impress Del Rio’s coaching staff hoping to gain a starting role on a team still searching consistency beyond the obvious success once accustomed with this franchise. That whole process will begin with the Raiders’ preseason schedule before heading into the regular season. Their first game of NFL’s preseason will be against the St Louis Rams at the O .Coliseum in Oakland , California,.

Oakland’s first two games of their regular season will not be easy, as they play the Cincinnati Bengals in week one and then face off against the Baltimore Ravens in week two. With both contests being home games , the advantage one might think should favor the home team. Based on last season , the Raiders were simply abysmal at home , just as they were away from the O. Coliseum.

From my own personal standpoint, I believe Philip Rivers to be the best quarterback in the NFL not to have won a Superbowl . His playoff appearances for the San Diego Chargers have been gallant efforts , albeit , he has been ill-served by the coaching deficiencies of Norv Turner and number of other head coaches to have been with the franchise during the player’s career with the Chargers. During the off-season rumors continued to swirl that the organization had the intent of seeking to trade their Pro Bowl quarterback. As the rumors continue, one can’t be sure what the priorities of the franchise might be . Is actually seeking to be competitive this upcoming season or the wish of the Spanos’ family as the owners of the organization seeking to relocate to the greater Los Angeles’ area ?

I have always said there is no common sense to be found in the state of California when it comes to intelligence , much less their teams actually being competitive in professional sports. Granted , the Golden State Warriors had one hell of a season and might just be the prohibitive favorites for this season’s NBA title . Yet beyond that , what has the state got offer by way of recent success concerning their professional sports’ franchises ?


San Diego Chargers starting quarterback Philip Rivers is seen here looking up at the scoreboard as he leaves the field at Qualcomm Stadium , in San Diego , California . Rivers’ career with the franchise has seen the postseason on a few occasions but not a Superbowl appearance. AP Photo/ Amy Hall

Dependent upon one’s view, the San Diego Chargers might just be the second or third best team in the AFC West , with the dominant force being the Denver Broncos. Mike McCoy and his coaching staff this season might have a glimmer of hope as the regression of the Broncos continues. Peyton Manning is not the player of old , and core elements of the team have also began to slow down . With a new head coach succeeding John Fox , it will interesting to see if Gary Kubiak can bring out the best in the reigning AFC West champions. This is likely to be Rivers’ last chance and season with the Chargers, as they strive to win a Superbowl. Those efforts will begin in earnest with their preseason schedule , with game one against the Dallas Cowboys on 13th August , 2015 at Texas Stadium , Arlington , Texas. However , their season will begin with a stern test with their opponents being the Detroit Lions in their home opener at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego , California,.

There is the remote possibility Chargers’ GM Tom Telesco could very well trade the veteran quarterback, Philip Rivers at some point during the season , using the player as trade-bait to obtain a slew of future draft picks. Yet , to my mind , if it were San Diego’s intent to do so , then why not make such a deal during the NFL Draft, rather than possibly seeking to do so midway through regular season ?

Todd Bowles has been brought in to clean up the mess presided over by former New York Jets’ GM John Idzik and then head coach Rex Ryan . Both were fired during the off-season, with Bowles succeeding Ryan and Mike Maccagan replacing Idzik. However, with Bowles likely to be his own man, along with bringing in an entirely a new coaching staff . There is no likelihood, loyalty will be shown to starting quarterback Geno Smith , whose career with the Jets since being drafted has simply been more about misfires on Smith’s part rather than any semblance of success.

Geno Smith’s two-year record as a starter (11-18) reads like a manual of what can go wrong when praised has been heaped on a player who is simply overrated and who has shown no actual signs of progress. Having drafted Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty , possibly as the immediate solution to the Jets’ woes , it will be interesting to witness whether or not Bowles feels there is a need for a quarterback competition for the starting quarterback position for the upcoming season. With Smith still signed to his rookie contract , there is no obligation for the Jets to pick up the obligation of signing him to a long-term deal after this season. I sincerely doubt Geno Smith can meet the expectations sought by Todd Bowles , much less by anyone within the Jets’ front office. Rapper and business entrepreneur , Jay-Z will have a hard time selling his client to any bidder, even if there is a remote smattering of interest . If Smith fails this season , then his future in the NFL would become extremely bleak.

Personally, I do not believe veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick can supply the New York Jets with the ability sought , even if there is the chance of Tom Brady being made to sit out part or the entire regular season, because the AFC East would still be the New England Patriots’ to lose. No other team within the division comes remotely close to challenging the reigning divisional and Superbowl champions.

There appears to be a growing belief among a certain sector of NFL fans and some comedians that Philadelphia Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly is not only delusional , but egotistical and completely out of his mind. Beyond the acquisition of Tim Tebow , which many are still trying to figure out what Tebow has to offer any NFL franchise after three years of failure and not an iota of NFL ability shown at the quarterback position. Kelly has obliterated a roster , seeking establishing a team built in his own likeness , In other words being able to put points on the scoreboard , while showing no real propensity for playing defense. And you wonder why the Eagles can’t win at the highest level under Kelly ? The Eagles’ head coach believes his coaching philosophy seen during his years in the Pac-12 can now be brought to the NFL . Steve Spurrier found out that type of idiocy was not welcomed in the league and his time with the Washington Redskins was not only an unmitigated disaster, but the ramifications are still being felt to this day. As for the Eagles, it would appear team owner , Jeff Lurie and GM Howie Roseman have handed over the reins to Kelly and allowed his drunken stupidity to carry on unabated.

Heading into the season after the departure of Nick Foles it is not difficult to suggest , this Eagles’ team is likely to struggle . Sam Bradford or any of the backups on the depth chart are unlikely to be as effective as Foles , who in is starting role for the franchise proved to be productive. The player now with the St Louis Rams is likely to improve the competitiveness of the Rams , while head coach Jeff Fisher finally has a player he believes capable of providing the team with the offense needed to be competitive in a highly combative NFC West division.


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With the rookie training camps yet to take place, but with some of the draftees now in camp acclimatizing themselves to their new surroundings . What do you believe will be their biggest obstacle as a player heading into the preseason as well as the regular season of the NFL ? Also in light of the findings of the Wells’ Report , do you think the league hierarchy will mete out a severe enough punishment for the New England Patriots ? Your comments are more than welcomed concerning this topic and any other NFL related subject.


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You want balls ? I’ll give you balls . You want results ? Well here they are ___

You want balls ? I’ll give you balls . You want results ? Well here they are ___

So history was made history this past weekend on the PGA Tour as Jordan Spieth placed a href=”http://pgatour.com/news.html”> placed his name in the annals of golfing history with a wire-to-wire win of the —– first —— Major of the —— season , winning The Masters . Spieth’s seventy-two-hole score of 270 , at eighteen under par . As a twenty-one year old , he was the second youngest winner of the tournament, with the feat only having been surpassed by Tiger Woods .

Now as the game looks for a new rivalry and someone the fans can really be drawn to. It would appear that Speith meets all of the criteria sought by the PGA hierarchy as well as the USGA and the R& A .

With Tiger Woods’ game fading , clearly seen by everyone who has any semblance of comprehension of the sports , the former world number one golfer has lost his mojo both on and off the golf course. Rory McIlroy has now supplanted Woods atop of the world rankings and Speith’s own rapid ascent will now likely seem him being ranked among the top-five and creating the sought-rivalry now needed within the game.


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Phil Mickelson , as gallant as his effort was at Augusta National , in the last round , you simply had the feeling , he was one care-free shot away from blowing his assault on trying to overtake Speith for the lead , and Justin Rose was simply no match for the eventual winner, when his game needed to taken up a notch at the most crucial of moments.


Clockwise, left to right. , Justin Rose , Tiger Woods , Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth . Spieth won his Grand Slam tournament , taking command of the 2015 US Masters , winning by four strokes with eighteen under par score of 270. Spieth became the second youngest winner of The Masters , joining Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to have won the tournament under the age of twenty-five. AP Photo/ Lauren Moore

Jordan Spieth, having won his first Grand Slam tournament and Major , walked away with the Green Jacket , signifying his win and now the whole world at his feet . There will likely be a number of major corporate endorsers looking to align themselves with the game’s newest star, as they view him as the new name to hit the game with an impact. His resume’ is already impressive , considering his PGA Tour career is less than three years old. The likelihood of a rivalry being created between Jordan Speith and Rory McIlroy is something that golf needs and longed for , in terms of really attracting fans to the game.

Tiger Woods still remains a draw on the circuit (PGA) , but unless he’s in the hunt for a victory, which of late, it has been a hard slog, something last achieved over four years ago. It would not be out of order, to suggest Woods’ decline is one and something of his own making, rather than this idiocy held by many, who somehow try and suggest he is still a force to be reckoned with. Woods was never in serious contention to win a fifth Green Jacket, much less, the fifteenth Grand Slam Tournament of his career. So the question now becomes, hat is next for Tiger Woods and will he ever win another Major (Grand Slam Tournament)? Woods’ mental psyche is completely askew, much like his game, where he lacks the confidence to make things happen.

Eighty-one games into an arduous NBA schedule , with one game to play by the majority of the teams in the league. The season has been pretty much one of do’s and don’t. The don’ts are ___ continue to laugh at the New York Knicks and their obnoxious fans as well as the over-sized ego of Phil Jackson , his entourage of idiots and those within the front office of the organization. As to the merits of Derek Fisher and his first season as a rookie head coach . Well, let’s just say it has been an unequivocal bust , must like the transparency of the Triangle Offense and the fact , it was something that could not be taught to the players on the Knicks’ roster , whose collective IQ’s might be lower than Paris Hilton’s and Jessica Simpson’s combined . Chicken of the sea ? More like chicken s#it , served up on a platter by the Knicks all season long , leading to the worst record in the entire NBA and not much of an answer from their anal retentive fans or from the idiots espousing Jackson’s greatness but who seem to forget , the former NBA coach . has no real acumen when it comes to assessing NBA talent. Yet when I try and bring this up with his supporters , the best they can actually come up with ___ he has eleven NBA titles as an NBA coach . All well and good , but Jackson has not and cannot walk on water , neither can he turn blood into wine or turn chicken sh#t into foie-gras. Can you idiots , for once, get a frigging clue and at least show some goddamn intelligence ?


A dismayed Dwyane Wade (3) looks up at the scoreboard during a game as the Miami Heat suffers another regular season loss during under-achieving season for the Easter Conference based franchise. A year removed from an appearance in the NBA Finals the Heat are on the brink of missing the NBA Playoffs for 2015. AP Photo / Roy Walsh

The Knicks are 3-9 in their last twelve games of the 14th April, though not among the worst in the NBA over the time-span in question , but nowhere near the best . As evidenced by the records of the other franchises in the NBA with a better record and mark overall . Before their recent run of two straight victories , the last win for the New York Knicks came by way of a victory over the equally abysmal Philadelphia 76ers on the 5th April . Next up for the Eastern based franchise will be game against the Detroit Pistons . The home based franchise will be looking to avoid their sixty-fifth loss of the season . Nothing else needs to be said beyond the facts just stated.

As last season’s losing NBA Finalists the Miami Heat will find themselves in the none too unique position of having missed out on a postseason berth , one year removed from last year’s catastrophe where just about everyone believed that the LeBron James’ led Heat would be strolling their way to a third consecutive title. Instead, what we all witnessed was a self-absorbed group of individuals coached by Erik Spoelstra as a team , simply came apart at the seams, as their opponents the San Antonio Spurs not only rose to the occasion , but completely eviscerated Miami on their way to their own piece of history as Gregg Popovich joined a select group of NBA coaches with more than three titles to their name.

If you thought now would be the time to perhaps written off the reigning champions , then you would be sadly mistaken, as the Spurs have hit their stride , just as we are about to begin the start of the postseason .

In the Western Conference , the talk may well have been about the exploits of the Golden State Warriors , Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies. Yet, it would be a foolhardy individual, who would seek to discount San Antonio , viewing them as a lamb being led to the slaughter. This will be in fact the Spurs’ record-breaking seventeenth consecutive postseason appearance

, with the franchise seeking their sixth title in that time-span. When there is talk, about sports’ dynasties, and specifically the dynasties of the NBA. San Antonio is rarely mentioned as one of the elite franchises in NBA history, let alone considered to be one of the more glamorous of the NBA’s elite and most successful teams. Which begs the question , what else needs to done for them to be considered worthy of more recognition , other than to be considered five-time NBA champions ?

The Spurs’ final game of the regular season , will pit them against the New Orleans Pelicans led by their All Star power forward Anthony Davis , who now seems to be out of consideration for this season’s League MVP Award . That particular race seems to be down to a three-man sprint to the finish line, as Steph Curry , James Harden and Russell Westbrook make their last bold attempts to sway the minds of the voters.

My own feelings are that Curry will be the successor to last season’s popular winner Kevin Durant , albeit , Westbrook still has a legitimate chance to capture the award for the Oklahoma City Thunder as a back-to-back winners of this prestigious accolade and the league’s highest regular season individual honor .

Finally there seems to be some common sense prevailing , where an (professional sports’ franchise) owner seems to be willing to make a stance rather than being dictated to by an outside observer. If the rumors are to be believed , then Los Angeles Angels’ owner Arte Moreno is seriously considering , tossing Josh Hamilton unto the scrap heap, rather than have the player back on the Angels’ active roster .

Currently Hamilton is on the DL , after a stint in rehab, with his admitted use of alcohol and cocaine. In light of a recent decision of an arbitrator to uphold his reinstatement , rather than his having to serve a league mandated s suspension . Moreno must feel the adverse publicity and Hamilton’s lack of candor remains a questionable mark, as to his character, honesty and above all integrity. Never mind, the fact of the monies vested in the player, his multi-million dollar contract remains one of the largest in Angels’ history and among the biggest in the game.

If baseball (MLB) cannot get its own house in order after the rather asinine claims of Bud Selig , as to MLB having the strictest drug and PED testing protocols in all of professional sports. My question for the former Commissioner and his successor Rob Manfred . Why has there been such leniency concerning the likes of Ryan Braun , Alex Rodriguez and Josh Hamilton ? Slaps on the wrist, simply treating the players who flout the rules ,as if they are children in kindergarten, indicates to me, the league hierarchy is no further along in stamping out ‘steroid cheats ‘ and other types of offenders , than the US war on illicit drugs and its rather asinine foreign policy , globally, and specifically with regard to the Middle East . If the US feels Iranremains its biggest threat in the region . Then the country might as well be kissing its own @ss and rejoicing as to its ongoing stupidity , when the dangers of Qatar , Yemen , Saudi Arabia and Egypt are equally as threatening.


Carole Moreno , wife of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim owner Arte Moreno , Josh Hamilton (32) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and wife Katie Hamilton pose for a group photo during the press conference introducing Hamilton as the team’s newest player at ESPN Zone at Downtown Disney on December 15 , 2012 in Anaheim, California. : Victor Decolongon/Getty Images North America

The Angels have gotten off to an inauspicious start , ringing out three wins from their first seven games , placing them third in the AL West behind early divisional leaders the Oakland Athletics (4-4) . It is a division which is likely to among the most competitive in all of baseball , and likely to be far more exhilarating than anything to be offered up in the AL East.

Josh Hamilton’s productivity with the Angels has been average at best and nowhere near the expectations sought by GM Jerry Dipoto or the managerial staff headed by Mike Scioscia . Clearly , any decision now made by front office will have some far-reaching and serious ramifications for the game of baseball. Yet a stance has to be made , rather than the frailty shown by the league and the overwhelming position of strength the union (MLBPA) continues to exert over league hierarchy without itself coming up with a satisfactory solution for one of the biggest long-term threats to the popularity and viability of Major League Baseball. Dwindling television viewership and a constant struggle for a number of mid to small-market teams to fill their stadiums and you don’t have to wonder why the game still has a litany of issues to deal with . Baseball is bereft of intelligence at all levels of its structure , right down to the managers and the players themselves. Hypocrisy remains supreme along with the ongoing abject apathy of the fans who remain clueless and might I even suggest a little idiotic ?

Tuesday’s scheduled games provides the fans with a bevvy of contests which should prove to be entertaining. Topping the list might well be the match-up of the Los Angeles Angels facing the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, where the the opposing pitchers will be Drew Rucinski of the Angels against Nick Martinez of the Rangers.

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell , two years removed from the franchise’s last win of the World Series will be seeking to get the ball-club back on track this season. GM Ben Cherington has restocked the roster with the additions of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez will be a boost to the team and their offense. Competing in a division where the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles , Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays are seen as the main obstacles for Boston Red Sox’s return to divisional supremacy within the AL East .

In the lead-up to the NFL Draft , a great deal is still being made as to what decision will be made by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the undoubted choice to be made between picking either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston as the number one overall draft pick for the 2015 NFL Draft. The two players are seen as the best collegiate quarterbacks available in this particular draft class. For the Buccaneers after the undoubted failures of Josh McCown and Mike Glennon , there is no doubt in my mind the Buccaneers are in need of an efficient passer .


The clock is ticking for Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith (pictured) , with the franchise having the number one overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. All signs seem to be pointing to the fact the choice has to be , the taking of one of the top-two quarterbacks in this particular draft class . Topping the list are Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston . Tampa Bay Times / Michael Jones

GM Jason Licht and Lovie Smith in the lead-up to the draft, are under a great deal of pressure to make the right decision , rather than making a choice if deemed to be a failure , will place the Buccaneers’ franchise in a situation, setting the NFC South organization in an untenable position. This team needs a player ready to play now rather than holding a clipboard on the sidelines , still learning the nuances of the NFL game. A 2-14 record signaled the mediocrity seen throughout the NFL last season. The postseason proved to be exhilarating , with a fitting end , as the New England Patriots overcame the Seattle Seahawks on their way to their fourth Superbowl title in the past fourteen years .

I do not profess to know all of the vagaries of the event that now tends to turn every avid NFL fan into profound experts concerning the NFL Draft, but what I do know and it is, the event can prove to be a major surprise, because of the moves made ! Year in and year out , we have seen this happen and even the experts themselves seem to be at a loss to explain their own misreadings and what they believe to be their insightful analysis being provided to the fans and viewing audiences alike.

Former NFL player and now ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski might not have not gone on record with his belief the Buccaneers are leaning towards taking Marcus Mariota as the first overall pick , with Jaworski suggesting the decision has been all but rubber-stamped by the coaching staff , Licht and head coach Lovie Smith. As I alluded to before , the wrong choice sets the franchise back several years , and the right choice might not equate to immediate success, with their still being several needs to be met for the roster , if the franchise is to succeed long-term . With the event less just over a week away , it will be interesting to see what transpires on the day for all of the league’s thirty-two teams .

This off-season the Saints’ front office made some bold moves , jettisoning tight-end Jimmy Graham and others , as the franchise reevaluates its roster and seeks out a clear direction as to where they believe they need to be. Brees for his part remains diplomatic concerning the maneuvers made, but there can be no denying the blame for the Saints’ woes last season comes from the fact the team was ill-disciplined and lacked leadership on all fronts, from the front office on down , to the coaching staff and the players themselves.

Away from the franchise’s on-field issues, there now seems to be trouble brewing ahead as team owner Tom Benson and members of his family get tied up within the judicial system , fighting over his competency to run and own both the Saints and the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans . This is often the sort of drama played out on television , in one of those prime-time eighties’ television soap dramas. There is a villain , a good-guy hero , patriarch , sibling rivalry and no doubt a dark Machiavellian character in the background looking to manipulate all of the unfolding drama. Sorry folks, but Roger Goodell is not intelligent enough to portray the character in question . Come on now , Goodell’s bark is worst than his bite and we all know that to be true. I doubt the commissioner is completely aware or possesses the acumen to understand the complexity of the issues likely to be discussed and the ramifications for the Saints’ franchise. Roger Goodell has spent more time creating his own fires and firestorms, than providing any positive signs that the NFL is heading in the right direction on a litany of issues social or otherwise.

Where the New Orleans Saints now go from here, will not only be predicated upon the NFL Draft but also their likely acquisitions, but above all the play of their veteran quarterback Drew Brees as he enters his fourteenth season in the NFL .



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The sports’ news cycle remains one, where the fan yearns for the latest tidbit foisted upon them from the various sources within the media mainstream , but at the end of the day what we choose to believe or digest as fact , remains our choice alone. Over the course of the past few days which sports’ event has caught you r undivided attention ? Also , with the upcoming NBA Playoffs and NFL Draft about to come into focus , do you believe these two events have been or will be over-hyped ? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit on this article and anything else you believe relevant to the points raised concerning the subject matter .



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Marketability, likability and appeal …

Marketability , likability and appeal

Well the detractors will now look to take a look at another way of knocking down the Duke (Blue Devils) after the thrilling win over the Wisconsin ( Badgers) in the title game of the NCAA Tournament . Mike Krzyzewski has coached the program for over twenty-five years, notched up some notable achievements , while coaching the Blue Devils to their fifth national title in the Men’s NCAA Tournament. A number of players on the team will end their collegiate careers on a personal high. None more so than the impressive , Jahlil Okafor , who might not be seen as high first round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft in June.


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Elsewhere, John Calipari and the Kentucky (Wildcats) ended their season of hope , wondering hat might have been. It was the team’s complacency and that of the coaching staff’s which led to their undoing in the semi-finals’ loss to the Wisconsin Badgers. Beyond that , not a great deal else needs to be said. Several players on the Wildcats’ team will not be returning for another year, as has been the course of events concerning the coaching career of Calipari and the players under his tutelage . It has become something of a rarity, where the Wildcats’ head coach has a player under his tutelage for more than two years let alone their staying simply for their freshman year. Most definitely the case in 2012 , 2013 and now this season , just ending.


Duke’s Jahlil Okafor (15) is fouled by Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky (44) during the second half of the NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament championship game Monday, April 6, 2015, in Indianapolis. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

No denying, all season long, the Golden State Warriors have been very impressive . The Warriors have been the best offensive team in the league, have the best record in the NBA and perhaps the best player this season , solely based on the play of Steph Curry , the team’s leading scorer and major facilitator for their productivity. Curry and James Harden of the Houston Rockets are seen as the leading contenders for this season’s League MVP , alongside four-time winner LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. James and the Cavaliers were seen and meant to ride roughshod, not only over their division , but also the Eastern Conference . Other than the slip-ups and injury to Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls , this David Blatt coached team , would be still be questioned as to their competitiveness. The fact remains, as good a team as the Cavaliers appear to be, they remain flawed in certain aspects of their overall game. Granted, in a weak Eastern Conference , being marginally above average, can and should be enough, for Cleveland to make their way to the conference finals with a certain degree of ease.


September 29, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr (left) guard Stephen Curry (30) , and associate head coach Alvin Gentry (right) talk during media day at the Warriors Practice Facility. The Golden State Warriors have the best record in the NBA , top seeding in the Western Conference and a potential first round match-up against the New Orleans Pelicans in this season’s NBA Playoffs . AP Photo / Richard Hart

With the NBA season now winding down, teams having less than a handful of games to close out their respective schedules before the NBA Playoffs begin. It would be fair to suggest, several franchises fell way short of expectations sought. In many respects , this season within the NBA, it has been one , where the coaching at the lower levels, has been exceptionally poor, with the play of several teams being way below par. Hard to explain how abysmally poor the seasons of the New York Knicks , Minnesota Timberwolves , Philadelphia 76ers , Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic have been. With that being said, by enlarge the NBA still remains second most popular of the four major professional team sports , but by far the most popular on the global stage, when measured against its North American counterparts.


LeBron James (23) is seen here court-side talking to Cleveland Cavaliers’ head coach David Blatt in a game played at the Quicken Loans Arena , in Cleveland , Ohio,. Also pictured , is James’ teammate Kevin Love (background). The Cavaliers will be hoping to prove they are in fact the best team in the Eastern Conference and not the Atlanta Hawks as the teams’ records suggest. A potential conference finals’ match-up between the two teams seems a reality based on their play this season. AP Photo / Terry McAdam

Tuesday’s games offer the fans of the NBA six contests where teams will be vying to place themselves in contention for a playoff berth or at least position themselves higher within their conference or divisional standing. The most crucial of the games in question might well be , the contest between last season’s losing NBA Finalists the Miami Heat ….. as they square off against conference rivals the Charlotte Bobcats.

Miami faces a tough task as they seek the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Currently , one game out of the final berth as the tenth seed , this Erik Spoelstra coached team find themselves in something of unimaginable position. Inconsistency, has played a major part in the Heat’s disappointing season , beyond the injuries sustained by several of the players from their starting lineup, but that simply cannot be used as an excuse for the team’s woes this season.

In large part , Miami’s problems stem from the very fact the front office remained naive and complacent heading into the season , of the belief , their retention of LeBron James would be enough to succeed , without making a serious attempt to bolster the team’s roster . Their failure to do so, I believe played a part and more than justified James’ reason to leave the Miami Heat and head back to Cleveland and rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers , the franchise where he began his NBA career. The fallout from this all , might not be viewed as colossal , but bear in mind what James has meant to the franchise over the past four seasons and to the NBA , itself .

Five NBA titles in a seventeen-year span alongside sixteen consecutive seasons in the NBA Playoffs and somehow the San Antonio Spurs remain beneath the radar , when prognosticators begin to dissect the season and make their prognosis for the postseason. Last year the the LeBron James’ led Miami Heat were meant to sweep the Spurs aside on their way to a three-peat. Instead , the Western based franchise dumped the Heat on their proverbial @ss , with effortless ease , while apologists for the Miami Heat were at a loss to explain the team’s abysmal showing in the NBA Finals.


Chris Bosh (1) and Dwyane Wade (3) for whom , this season has been something of a misnomer . A greater burden has been placed on both stars in the aftermath of LeBron James’ departure , prior to the start of this season. Losing in the 2013-14 NBA Finals proved to be an emotional disappointment for the Heat organization and their fans , where there was a preponderance of complacency and conceit to go around . The Heat were ill-prepared and badly coached by Erik Spoesltra in the series’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs , with the Western Conference based Spurs romping away with ease winning their fifth NBA title under the guidance of Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff. The Miami Heat’s record suggest they are likely to miss out on a playoff berth in this season’s NBA Playoffs . Their only way in seems unlikely , with the two teams ahead of them in the conference standings not likely to make a major slip-up at this point of the season. AP Photo / Getty Images/ NBAE / Michelle Lord

Gregg Popovich the coach of the quintet of championships won by the Spurs, remains the best coach in the NBA and certainly among the top-ten in NBA history. Contrary to popular opinion , Popovich , is the equal of Phil Jackson , and he is by far more an astute a coach, when it comes to assessing talent than Jackson will ever be or hope to be. Granted , Jackson won eleven NBA titles , but in large part, his teams were pretty much set in stone , having the likes of four all-time greats already at his disposal , with Shaquille O’Neal , Kobe Bryant , Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen . As of late , we have seen what the former Bulls and Lakers’ coach is capable of doing when it comes to assessing player talent , as well as assembling a coaching staff . Let’s just say, the New York Knicks’ roster of players alongside the staff of Derek Fisher , might as well have been plucked from a bucketful of fecal matter and dressed up in the Knicks’ uniform , all under the watchful eye of franchise owner James Dolan .


A clearly frustrated Derek Fisher tries to make a point with an NBA official during a game played between the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden , New York City , New York , earlier this season. In his first year as a rookie head coach , Fisher has not only become the sacrificial lamb during his baptism of fire , but also the subject of a great deal of ridicule, alongside his players and the entire Knicks’ organization . The franchise even at its worst under head coach and former Head of Basketball Operations Isiah Thomas . The Knicks were never this incompetent , or lacking the will to win at home or on the road . As to the executive acumen shown by Phil Jackson , not only has it been an unmitigated disaster , but it is also clear , Jackson’s ego does not permit him to acknowledge his gargantuan mistakes . AP Photo / Phil Morris

My thoughts on the New York Knicks have been well-chronicled , and my continuing to lambast the franchise will be of little benefit to their fans or the team itself ! I have repeatedly said, if Jackson had a plan, then his strategies went askew , once the season got underway . How else can anyone explain their record and this asinine belief any marquee free agent will want join the franchise while this coaching staff remains intact ? Only a complete idiot would be of the opinion that this will be a team on the rise , when there remains so much awry with this organization from its very top, down to the coaching staff and the playing roster.

The retirement of Steve Nash from the Los Angeles Lakers bring to an end one of the great careers in recent NBA history. Among point guards , the two time League MVP is held in high esteem among his peers and many of the greats of the past to have played the game. Never a championship winning player , Nash’s career nonetheless was littered with notable achievements . Perhaps, this season more than any other over the past decade, we have seen the rise of the superstar point guard , among which , this season , Russell Westbrook , Chris Paul , John Wall, Steph Curry and Ty Lawson lead the way at the position .


Kobe Bryant (24) is seen here alongside teammate Steve Nash as the two , discuss a play that wasn’t properly executed . The two players have been sidelined due to injuries at various points of the Los Angeles Lakers’ season, leading to some dismal displays and one of the worst records in the entire NBA this season. Nash announced his retirement from the game , leaving the franchise with only Jeremy Lin as their starting point guard , with little productivity coming from the position over the course of the season . Kobe Bryant hopes to return next season , where he will be among the highest paid players in the NBA earning in excess of $24 million and likely to offer up the type of productivity hardly, justifying the outlay by the Los Angeles Lakers. AP Photo / Kelly Goddard

simply plagued Nash’s career with the Lakers and he was never really able to contribute to the team during his short tenure with the franchise. Head coach Byron Scott and his staff were simply able to get the players playing with any great resilience throughout much of the season , with their being very few bright spots to be seen , even .with or without the absence of Kobe Bryant . With six games remaining to the Lakers’ regular season sojourn , it is extremely difficult to suggest what the franchise can take out of it all , in terms of positive attitude . Mitch Kupchak and team owner , Jim Buss will certainly have to take a look at the makeup of the roster , beyond the likely preparation for the NBA Draft .

Bryant is no longer the once- dominant player and the explosive scoring feats are becoming something of a rarity , beyond his being able to play an arduous eighty-two game schedule , much less forty minutes a game. Hometown discount or not, I do not believe the Los Angeles Lakers can justify their paying $25 million to Kobe Bryant for the upcoming season , no matter the level of talent he is likely to be surrounded by !

Steve Nash’s departure is not really much of a surprise and his likely induction into the Hall of Fame as a first time ballot inductee seems all but assured. His name has never been tainted in controversy and he was not only well respected and well-liked among his peers , but he also had a loyal group of fans who reveled in his talent. Few players of his generation are likely to be garnered with such acclaim.

$ 2.1 billion can buy you a hell of a lot nowadays and in terms of an NBA franchise , it was the extortionate going rate for the Los Angeles Clippers. It was the price deemed appropriate by the NBA hierarchy , led at the time by former Commissioner David Stern . Billionaire entrepreneur , Steve Ballmer believed it a price worth paying to own the franchise, as it barely made a dent in his estimated $20 billion fortune or the fact he still remains a sizable shareholder in the software technology company Microsoft whose value remains in excess of $300 billion by market capitalization alone .

Former Clippers’ team owner , Donald Sterling remains a pariah and a subject of sheer ridicule as does the NBA hierarchy itself , along with their mishandling of the affair that brought the franchise and league unwanted notoriety . Some might suggest, even now , with the outrage of the recent statute in the state of Indiana , signed into law by Governor Mike Pence , the NBA remains a complete joke when dealing with matters of social issues and issues of real significance . David Stern and his successor Adam Silver remain opportunists and not much else beyond that , while the ongoing apathy of the NBA players and their union seems to be common place , with their lacking a great deal of wariness or their willingness to deal with a vast array of social issues. I get the impression, this generation of players are far more concerned with their visibility, among their corporate sponsors and being able to sell their licensed apparel, than wanting to address any type of social issue ! Michael Jordan , a great player nonetheless, would never be seen to rock the boat. Unlike such luminaries of the past , Magic Johnson , Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , Dave Bing and Bill Russell .

Los Angeles Clippers’ owner, Steve Ballmer is seen here with the team’s head coach Doc Rivers who also happens to be Head of Basketball Operations for the Clippers’ franchise. Ballmer purchased the Western based NBA team for an unprecedented sum of $2.1 billion after former team owner Donald Sterling was forced to sell the team after Sterling’s rather insipid, racially charged and insensitive remarks concerning African-Americans , their attending Clippers’ home games , their overall behavior , dishonesty and lack of morals . In the aftermath of those statements, Donald Sterling sought to make light of the remarks, suggesting they were misconstrued and completely taken out of context. How a derogatory racial term repeatedly made can be taken out of context , has never been properly explained by the now disgraced former NBA franchise owner.

The NBA remains a money-driven, money-hungry entity , steeped in a great deal of hypocrisy , led by a hierarchy of geriatric males, whose sole persona , has been simply to browbeat the consumer into submission , extort as much money as they can from the various corporate sponsors , while over-charging the radio and television broadcasters for an on-court product , which in recent years, has ebbed and flowed in terms of its competitiveness , like the tide coming in from the sea. Fans neither seemed repulsed or wary of this all, instead espousing tidbits of insipid stupidity , with their thoughts on a subject matters ranging from , how Kobe Bryant might measure up against Michael Jordan in terms of their careers or where LeBron James might well now stand in terms of his legacy and in comparison to Jordan , Magic or Larry Bird . Let’s just say , until LeBron steps up and puts on his ” big boy pants”‘ , leads the Cavaliers to the presumed title many believed the franchise would be walking away with this year _________ the Cavaliers’ forward still has a great deal to prove this season , in spite of his having to carry the team on his lofty shoulders.

In many respects , LeBron James has become a the modern-day mercenary within the NBA, a gun for hire , open to the right bidder , just as long as he is surrounded by the talent required commensurate to his obvious skill-set . Anything short of that , and he is likely to bolt ship as witnessed by the evidence on display in last season’s NBA Finals , and the likely reasons for his untimely departure from the Miami Heat. If Alonzo Mourning’s criticism of James cannot be seen as a veiled emotional response and in some circles how team President Pat Riley felt betrayed by the player’s abrupt departure. Business or not , it left the Heat organization not only in a state of disarray , but clearly with their season having imploded, they will be in a state of complete transition . Dwyane Wade is not getting any younger and Chris Bosh is being overpaid , while offering up paltry productivity for the services rendered .

In his twelve years in the NBA, it is estimated LeBron James has earned in excess of $450 million, inclusive of career earnings and from endorsement deals. Add in the player’s outside business interests , and one might suggest James is well on his way to becoming a one-man corporate conglomerate . LeBron James’ popularity is undeniable and his return to Cleveland, likened to a prodigal son returning home to his roots, has given his reputation that much sought-after redemption, after what was deemed his act of betrayal, when he first left the Cleveland Cavaliers. All seems to be right with the world, especially in the eyes of Dan Gilbert , the Cavaliers’ front office led by the owner (Gilbert) and GM David Griffin . Now all that remains is the franchise holding aloft the Larry O’Brien Trophy to signify their being NBA champions. Whether or not this happens during the postseason will largely be dependent upon James , his teammates , the coaching acumen shown by David Blatt and his coaching staff.



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Are you entirely happy with the outcome of the NCAA Tournament and its ending ? With the regular season of the NBA now winding down, what do you expect to see this postseason and which player, players and teams will be seen to create the most excitement during the NBA Playoffs ? Finally, do you believe the NBA can do no more to be part of the discussion on a number of social issues which tend to crossover into the world of sports ? Or are of the opinion it should not be any of their concern ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit on the points raised within this article and on anything else you believe relevant to the subject matter.



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A dog with fleas, will always remain a dog with fleas … you can’t change the evidence

A dog with fleas, will always remain a dog with fleas … you can’t change the evidence

With a little over two weeks before Major League Baseball (MLB) kicks off another season of their arduous one and hundred and sixty-two game schedule encompassing all thirty teams within baseball. MLB will continue to wind down their Spring Training schedule.

And with several big-money off-season deals being initiated , one could attest to the fact , on the official Opening Day of the regular season , we are likely to see the payroll commitment of the teams once again topping $3 billion. No reason to be surprised by the fact the Los Angeles Dodgers will have the highest payroll in the game with their closest rivals being the New York Yankees .


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While both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees will have something to prove this upcoming season. It would be fair to suggest their stories will not the only events to be played out on the baseball diamond , over the course of this year’s regular season schedule. I believe both of these fabled baseball franchises could very well play a part in determining their divisional races , with each likely to be seen as the presumptive favorites to win the NL West and AL East , respectively. For managers Don Mattingly and Joe Girardi , they will be immediately placed under the microscope, should both teams start to falter at any point during this season. Dodgers’ billionaire co-owners , Mark Walter , Todd Boehly , Peter Guber and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson are clearly disappointed with the ball-club’s lack of success over the past two seasons, with the Dodgers failing to make deep inroads into the postseason . Nowhere was this more evident than in 2013 and 2014, with the team failing to make an appearance in the World Series . Twenty-seven years years and counting , and this fact should not be lost on fans of this ball-club and their lack of failure.

A team such as the Los Angeles Dodgers , with All Stars at almost every position on their depth chart , but yet , there appears to be no apparent leadership among the players, much less among the managerial staff of Don Mattingly. Add in the fact , there are several Dodgers’ players earning in excess of $20 million annually , with several being among the highest paid players in the game , based on average and base salary , alone. With Giancarlo Stanton now having surpassed both Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw as the highest paid player in the game by way of a contract . The absurdity to suggest baseball remains a sport where financial discretion is being shown. Simply consider the fact , the imbalances which can still be seen within the game , by way of revenues , profitability and attendance levels over the past five years.

For teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees , money will be of no object , as they pursue the best players on the open market, seeking to win a World Series . In spite of it all, those trying to suggest , there is parity within the game, should really take a look at the teams who tend to make the postseason , heir payrolls and then seek to make their succinct claims of parity. It is not about parity, but sound management , players of proven ability, a good organizational , structure among ownership and the respective general managers . Last season’s World Series champions , the San Francisco Giants are a testament to this very fact , with GM Brian Sabean , Bruce Bochy and his managerial staff simply showing the rest of baseball how it is done , with the franchise having won their third title in the past six seasons .

It will be interesting to see how Don Mattingly and his team acquit themselves over the course of the season , specifically within the NL West , where it is thought the San Diego Padres might prove to be their biggest challengers within the division, alongside the presence of the reigning World champions , the San Francisco Giants . The Padres’ front office made a big splash during the off-season, acquiring several highly praised players by way of a trade or through free agency. Matt Kemp and Justin Upton could very well prove to be the difference as the Padres seek to become the dominant force within the NL West this season.

The story remains the same, the difference just happens to be, the cast of characters have somehow changed. For years, Ryan Braun denied his being involved in the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) ,only for the Milwaukee Brewers’ slugger to admit the fact of having lied and using an illicit substance, alongside his less than convincing act of contrition . Braun ,an NL League MVP Award winner , earned a substantial sum during his reign , while challenging the merits of baseball’s wish to have him serve their mandatory suspension. MLB hierarchy’s bark is simply no worse than its bite , that is if you’re being bitten by toothless octogenarian suffering from gum disease. With the imminent return of Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees’ lineup , his first at-bat during the regular season could very well be the most anticipated in the franchise’s recent history.

A year away from the game of baseball seems to have done nothing concerning Alex Rodriguez’s conceit , his continuing lack of respect for the game of baseball, the organization whom he plays for or the very fact he continues to show no remorse for his repeated lies and acts of deception . Incoming MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred having met with the player briefly, seems to be of the opinion, Rodriguez’s past transgressions, are now history and unlikely to be repeated. At the same time, the Yankees’ slugger sought to sue the franchise , for their non-committal in wishing to honor the incentives of his existing contract , for achievements reached and those future incentives likely to be attained, his career is not curtailed by an injury or another suspension .

Alex Rodriguez has been nowhere near his prime in several years , and it seems unlikely he can reproduce the form which made him a three-time AL MVP Award winner and one of the best players of his generation. Unfortunately , we now have to look back at Alex Rodriguez’s career under a cloud of suspicion , while questioning the legitimacy of his achievements . Active home runs’ leader and now perhaps the most despised player in the game, it is extremely difficult to see what advantages there are to be gained by the New York Yankees this season, as they seek to pursue a twenty-eighth World Series’ title. In the postseason , Rodriguez has been somewhat lackluster and far from being being inspirational for the Yankees in any meaningful way . Rodriguez will prove to be more of a distraction and a liability for the ball-club than he would be deemed to be an overall asset. The ” circus ” will be town for every regular season game being played at Yankees Stadium in New York City , New York , never-mind the legions of accredited , non-accredited members of the press , paparazzi and photographers seeking another story concerning the New York Yankees’ slugger. It is going to be one hell of a year for the ball-club and for Alex Rodriguez , with none of it likely to be seen in a positive light.

Miami Marlins’ executives , owner , Jeffrey Loria and GM Michael Hill still have a long way to go, convincing their fans of their $325 million investment in Giancarlo Stanton is truly worth the money committed to the player over the next thirteen years. As great as Stanton is said to be. The consensus remains , this was either a foolhardy decision made by the two front office executives or an investment which could reap great financial benefits and dividends for the ball-club in the long and short-term . From my own standpoint , this decision has the makings of becoming a monumental disaster , leading the Marlins to make the moves seen after their disastrous 2012 season which resulted in their last place finish in the NL East and the firing of then manager Ozzie Guillen .

The upheaval in the team’s roster as a face and financial saving exercise can best be described as one of sheer stupidity ran amok, within the front office , where a planned strategy at the start of the season was nowhere to be seen. Anemic attendance levels all season long and with an on-field product which was equally anemic , alongside Guillen’s extremely poor managerial decision-making was simply a recipe for disaster.

Mike Redmond and his managerial staff will enter into this regular season looking to have the Miami Marlins playing some competitive baseball , while seeking to put a wholehearted challenge and usurping what appears to be an almost certain firm grip on the NL East by the Washington Nationals , by far the best team within the division over the past two years. Now heading into 2015 , Redmond and his newly revamped team will be hoping to make a legitimate push at dethroning the Nationals as the divisional champions , while seeking to make the postseason for the first time in over a decade. The Marlins’ last appearance in such an endeavor took place in 2003 , the year they went on to win the World Series , defeating the New York Yankees in a thrilling six-game series (4-2) .

An extremely good pitching rotation , headed by Jose Fernandez , Matt Latos , Dan Haren , David Phelps and a bullpen , of strength in numbers , could very well provide us with the signs of a team likely to be one of the surprises of the regular season . Add in the offensive power being provided by seasoned veteran , Ichiro Suzuki , alongside , Giancarlo Stanton , Dee Gordon , Martin Prado , Reid Brignac and the rising star of Christian Yelich . Miami could be a team to watch , not just in the NL this season , but also as they take on the rest of Major League Baseball .

If for nothing else, Pete Rose’s desire to seek reinstatement back into baseball, stems from his wish to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Induction alongside his fellow teammates and Cincinnati Reds’ players , would mean more to the all-time hits’ holder than perhaps the titles won as a player. We know of his now well-chronicled web of deceit and lies to Bart Giamatti and the Reds’ ownership as to his involvement in betting on baseball games , and specifically, those involving the Reds. It has been a ” Cardinal Rule “ of the game , there is no betting allowed in baseball , but above all , no betting on the teams , where the players and managerial staff are part of a contest. This has been repeatedly overlooked by Rose’s supporters, who feel his banishment from the game has been long enough. Pete Rose’s detractors, have suggested his act of contrition with an apology after the years of lying , is strictly being done to seek empathy from fans , his former teammates and the public in general . Personally, I believe , Rose seeks the ongoing limelight , the undoubted publicity his induction would bring , as well as the chance to make a great deal more money from his public appearances for his speaking engagements and baseball card signings, which have become a major source of income for the player.

Rose has met with current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred , to discuss his eligibility , other issues and he has decided to take another look at Pete Rose’s situation , promising to make a public statement on whether or not he is likely to reinstate the former Reds’ manager and player. Controversy surrounded Pete Rose as a player and his managerial career. Now even away from the game and as a public figure , Rose in some circles , is viewed as a pariah , liar , and someone with little or no integrity at all . If his banishment from baseball is lifted, it is by no means a guarantee , his induction will be automatic or even a unanimous decision among the adjudicators within the BBWAA or the Veterans’ Committee , much less a recommendation coming from MLB , as to Rose being a nominee for the Hall of Fame . If the decision were made this year, then his first is year of eligibility would be no sooner than 2020 .

Given the ongoing hypocrisy within the game of baseball , lack of leadership at all levels , and the idiocy of Hall of Fame and those who preside over the institution . In recent years we have seen with the antics of Curt Schilling , there is little integrity or honor among thieves , much less to suggest there is any to be found at all within the game, a sport once deemed to be America’s favorite pastime. Both the NFL and NBA have simply taken care of that fact , pushing baseball down the professional and recreational sporting ladder over the past decade or more. Bud Selig’s tenure all but insured the ongoing ridicule, which surrounds the game, without everyone trying to suggest last season’s Cinderella Story and the exploits of the Kansas City Royals were something to rejoice. Unfortunately , this upcoming season, with the Royals reverting back to ways of old , menial spending on the playing staff .

The likelihood of the Royals being considered a major threat within the AL Central and American League , can be best assessed by their record prior to last season , and lack of postseason appearances . It is not as if GM Dayton Moore or team owner , David Glass have made a concerted effort to make the Kansas City Royals truly competitive. Seeing is believing and the evidence remains in full focus for everyone to see , just like a dog with fleas , not much can really be done , even with the advent of using medication prescribed by a veterinarian.


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Baseball’s official Opening Day of the 2015 season, begins on 6th April , 2015 with slew of games. Last year brought us brought us few real surprises and the usual controversies we tend to witness within a game, where there is no genuine leadership or a concerted effort by the league hierarchy , owners and union to make the changes necessary within baseball for it to be truly appreciated by the fans. Rob Manfred’s tenure begins under a cloud, but at the same time, if he can prove himself to be far more intellectually sound in his decision making than his predecessor Bud Selig. Then it has to be seen as a positive , even if it is only slight , be it perception or otherwise.


Picture and slideshow details below .

(1) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chad Gaudin , third from left, speaks with a trainer before being removed in the third inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Colorado Rockies , Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP Photo/Ben Margot

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier , left, is congratulated by third base coach John Valentin (13) after Ethier hit a two run home run off Colorado Rockies’ Jhoulys Chacin in the first inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP Photo/Ben Margot

(3) Joe Girardi ,left , manager of the New York Yankees is seen here in a montage of his Los Angeles Dodgers’ counterpart Don Mattingly . Both managers will be firmly placed under the microscope with a great deal expected of both ball-clubs. The Dodgers and Yankees currently have the highest payrolls within Major League Baseball . Getty Images .

(4) Alex Rodriguez , left and Ryan Braun . Two players whose names will remain indelibly linked to the use of PED’s and their return to the game , still under a cloud of suspicion , concerning their achievements within baseball . AP Photo / Maggie Hall

(5) Miami Marlins’ manager Mike Redmond is seen here with Giancarlo Stanton (right) in the dugout during a game played at Marlins’ Ballpark , in Miami , Florida . Stanton during the off-season signed a thirteen year $ 325 million contract , the most lucrative deal in baseball history . Getty Images / Hugh Davidson

(6) Pete Rose the career hits’ leader who is seeking his reinstatement back into baseball and thereby his possible eligibility for induction into the Hall of Fame , based in Cooperstown , New York. . Rob Manfred has decided to take another look at the case before rendering a decision on the former Reds’ player’s reinstatement.. If Manfred’s decision upholds the current ban , then it is unlikely Pete Rose will ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame. All nominees for the honor are initiated by hierarchy of baseball . Their recommendations are also made to the BBWAA Veterans’ Committee. Adams Sports Media Ventures Inc.

(7) Kansas City Royals’ GM Dayton Moore , left , is seen here alongside team owner, David Glass . During the off-season the Royals saw fit to revamp their AL Pennant championship winning roster of last season , leading many to believe the franchise has reverted back to ways of old , back to their penny-pinching ways . In 2015 the Royals’ payroll while above $65 million is not seen as competitive enough to be on the level of several of the big-market teams within the game. AP Photo / Paul Wilson




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We like to blow shi# up, because we can ….

We like to blow shi# up, because we can ….

In the aftermath of the Superbowl with the New England Patriots celebrating their historic victory with an unprecedented fourth Superbowl win in the franchise’s history. The dust has now began to settle on the ground and granted, the NFL hierarchy has yet to formally annnounce their findings into the ” De-Flate Gate ” affair , but it is being viewed in many circles, the historic nature of the Patriots’ victory will negate any of the adverse publicity that has come about in light of the allegations leveled against the organization. Clearly, at a time when the league (NFL) has failed to act with any real veracity in terms of the leadership of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and with the Superbowl having shattered recent viewership ratings’ record , it has to be said , the popularity of the league remains in demand and as popular as ever. Yet , the brand having been hit with a great deal of adverse publicity is still seeking to find some semblance of leadership and consistency among its ranks .


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Within the players’ ranks , NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has come under fire , with a great deal of criticism being leveled at the union’s highest ranking executive for his lack of understanding and unwillingness to hold his members accountable for their actions , when having broken the law. This hasn’t gone unnoticed and there are now several candidates now seeking to challenge the incumbent for his position at the next scheduled election due at the time of the union’s elections for various positions within their hierarchy. The fallout could prove to be very impact-ful not just for the NFLPA but also the league , itself . Should Smith be dethroned as the union’s Executive Director , it is believed there will be a seismic shift away from the antagonistic stance currently being taken by the union and their relationship with the league hierarchy under Goodell’s leadership.

Recently a fellow blogger and someone I consider to a knowledgeable individual when dealing with the subject of sports , wrote an insightful article on the changing face of the NFL and the careers of seasoned veterans in the league. Chris Humpherys , otherwise known by his pseudonym and writing moniker Sportschump , might be one of the most popular bloggers within this medium of sports’ blogging . I consider him to be a great writer , friend , albeit , that we do not always see eye to eye on certain areas , within the world of sports . Yet , I believe without their being creative dialog and debate, the world would be all too generic and simply, lacking creativity and intelligence !

The NFL to my mind , remains first and foremost a business , with the success simply being a bye-product of it all. The league may has yet to surpass the global popularity of the NBA or soccer (FIFA) , but yet in terms of revenues specifically derived in North America , it has outshone professional basketball , baseball and the hockey , leaving all three brands in its wake.

New England in the aftermath of their triumph over the Seattle Seahawks entered into the off-season with the front office led by GM Nick Caserio , head coach Bill Belichick and the coaching staff having to mull over several decisions concerning the long-term future and makeup of the team’s roster . With the recent announcement that the organization would be cutting ties with seasoned veteran defensive lineman Vince Wilfork . It brought to an end the eleven-year career one of the franchise’s great players in Patriots’ history. Wilfork is unlikely to be the only player being shown the door during this off-season, with fellow defensive player Darrelle Revis due $20 million (not including bonuses) , it seems highly unlikely the Patriots will take up his contract for the upcoming season .

Among the free agents on the Patriots’ roster the front office are likely to either jettison or retain are Shane Vereen , Steven Ridley , Jonathan Casillas , Dan Connolly , James Morris and Revis, himself. All at some point during the regular and postseason played a part in the team’s success and ultimate triumph. The hard part for the Patriots will be for the organization to not only retain the players they believe best fits their needs for their short and long-term future but also maintain the unprecedented success achieved over the past decade and a half .

For Tom Brady the motivation now become about whether or not he can surpass such icons as Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw by becoming the only quarterback in NFL history with five Superbowl victories , all with the same franchise. It is clearly something not lost on the three-time Superbowl MVP as he considers his career achievements and where he stands in the bastion of NFL history as a quarterback . It has been Brady’s singular drive for perfection and willingness to lead , which has brought about his ascent to the pinnacle of the game and where he is considered among the best to have ever played the game and perhaps the best quarterback of his generation. As the Patriots’ franchise leading passer there are not many more records for him to pass as a New England player and it is simply about his rewriting the history books for the franchise.

The relationship between a quarterback and his wide receivers, is said be one of the compatible and favorable among NFL players . Montana to Forty Niners’ legend Jerry Rice and Rice’s own legacy with Steve Young , literally has epitomized the success of the San Francisco 49ers and that of the history of the NFL , among the great quarterbacks and some of the greatest wide receivers in the league’s history. It would be fair to suggest Reggie Wayne of the Indianapolis Colts might just be considered the greatest receiver in the franchise’s long and storied history. Wayne’s success alongside former teammate Peyton Manning , can be seen as one of the nascent moments for the Colts and Manning’s successor Andrew Luck in his short career with the franchise has been beneficial for the veteran Colts’ wide receiver .

With the Indianapolis Colts coming to the decision and then announcing, they would not be re-signing Reggie Wayne for one more season , it leaves Wayne , in search of a new destination and a chance to prolong his career . Wayne and another Colts’ great at the wide receivers’ position , Marvin Harrison were systematically shown the door at a stage in their respective careers when both players it was believed still had something to offer. GM Ryan Grigson may well feel , with the development of T Y Hilton the franchise is now in safe hands , but I would hazard a guess, if the third year starter fails to meet expectations this upcoming season , Grigson is likely to regret the decision to curtail Reggie Wayne’s career with the Indianapolis Colts , especially if Wayne goes on and proves to be extremely productive elsewhere.

It does seem somewhat ironic, with the departure of Reggie Wayne from the Indianapolis Colts , another former Miami Hurricanes’ player met the same fate , with the resulting decision of the AFC South based Houston Texans to let their prolific wide receiver Andre Johnson , “walk “. Call me naive , but since when was it ” open season” on wide receivers in the NFL and are seasoned veterans at the position , now an ‘ endangered species’ ? Inquiring minds need to know and these are, one of many questions, that now need to be answered !

Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien may well have felt Andre Johnson was no longer productive , but when the passing game of the Texans can be best summed up as being mediocre , there doesn’t seem a great deal more that needs to be said concerning their 2014 sojourn in the NFL . I have no doubt Andre Johnson will likely find a home with a franchise before the start of the regular season !

Three-and-a-half to four years is the average career of NFL running back back and one who lasts more than six seasons , can be considered to have been extremely lucky in today’s modern game. Maurice Jones-Drew who began his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars after solid stint of nine years in the NFL , with his final season being spent with the Oakland Raiders .

The fact Jones-Drew has seen fit to call it quits , at this stage of his career, speaks to the intensity of the NFL, the physicality of the game, constant battering taken by the players , and the intensity level at which the game is played. Concussions, ligament injuries and broken bones , all play a part in what has been constantly described as a barbaric sport . It is quite possible the former UCLA Bruins’ running back could be lured out of retirement for the right price , but it would appear Jones-Drew’s decision is final .

Great running backs in today’s league are hard to come by , so it is imperative teams have a cluster of players capable of being productive at the position. With the Dallas Cowboys not quite ready yet to commit themselves to their single season leading running back DeMarco Murray and the apparent reluctance of either Jerry Jones or his son, Stephen Jones to approach Tony Romo and discern his willingness to restructure his contract and untying some monies to be made available in resigning Murray. It has me wondering, whether or not there is any common sense to be found within the Cowboys’ front office !

If DeMarco Murray is allowed to become a free agent on the open market , there would be a rush to sign the player to a significant contract and securing his long-term future. The Cowboys made their first postseason appearance in the NFL since 2009 and the fact they made it, came by way of their play within the conference , also on the road and the languid play of the Philadelphia Eagles who faltered down the stretch , allowing Dallas to win the NFC East. I have always maintained far too much credit has been given to Chip Kelly as a head coach , specifically when it is noted, he has always been averse to playing defense. The Eagles have become a franchise that epitomizes those credentials, since Kelly assumed control as the successor to Andy Reid .

Recent moves made by the Eagles’ front office have been seen as bewildering. Nonetheless, given the mediocrity of the NFC East , in all likelihood the continued incompetence shown within the division will be on display again this upcoming season .

Chip Kelly will enter this upcoming NFL Draft seeking to replenish his roster , having seen the team falter inexplicably last season, missing the postseason , when the division was firmly within their grasp. Needless to say, Chip Kelly tries to put a brave face on things, by veiling his own incompetency and apportioning blame elsewhere , placing it all firmly on the shoulders of the players. “Mirror , on the wall , who is the ugliest coach of them all ” ? You are Chip , you really are !


Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly leaves the field after a game played by the team this past season . An explosive offense could not counter the fact the Eagles have a feeble defense , an issue Kelly and the coaching staff have failed to address adequately , during his time as head coach . In the past eighteen months Kelly has also seen fit to release LeSean McCoy , Jeremy Maclin , DeSean Jackson and his starting quarterback from last season Nick Foles . Many are questioning the latitude given the to the head coach , with their said to be little if any input from the front office led by GM & President of Football Operations Howie Roseman . Getty Images / Greg Carr

If pressure is being brought to bear upon Lovie Smith , Jason Licht and the front office of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , then they are simply not showing anything to analysts and fans alike , as they continue to speculate on what decision will be made by the franchise with the number one overall pick in this upcoming NFL Draft. With the event being five weeks away, both Licht and Smith, are keeping their cards firmly to their chests , unwilling to provide an insight as to what their choice is likely to be.

Consensus states , the choices for the Buccaneers , a quarterback is needed to steer this team back on a path of success and considering how starved this franchise has been of success , since 2003 . It is easy to understand why the Buccaneers’ fans continue to live in past and laud the accomplishments of their Superbowl victory over the Oakland Raiders. Since that historic win for the Buccaneers, any semblance of success, can be gauged by the number of postseason appearances made since 2003 .

Jon Gruden as the head coach , was seen as being able to do no wrong after the victory over Oakland, but the head coach failed miserably in building team , for its long-term future . Gruden’s draft choices and free agent acquisitions have to be considered a monumental “bust ” , yet his supporters continue to point to that lone success and his detractors , can point to his lack of developing players and those years of sheer ineptitude in the aftermath of the victory. Raheem Morris as Gruden’s successor, proved to be equally mediocre during his tenure , where the best and worst were on display by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers .

Lovie Smith as the successor to Greg Schiano , has shown in his first season with the Buccaneers was no better than his worst or best with the Chicago Bears , where Jay Cutler has proven to be a quarterback whose abilities can be best summed up by the continued comparisons to another overrated and under-achieving passer, Jeff George . Need one say anymore on the matter ? Smith was a disciple of Tony Dungy , but his alleged prowess as a defense minded guru, was nowhere to be seen or his instilling discipline into the Buccaneers’ secondary of last season , one of the worst performing units in the entire NFL , bar none .


Sep 18, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith is shown on the sideline in the fourth quarter of their loss to the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 56-14. Not a great deal went right for the Buccaneers’ head coach or the team as they ended the season with , a league worst two wins and one of the worst records u> in franchise history. The Buccaneers will have the number one overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and will have to make the choice having to take a quarterback or another positional player. The team’s needs are widespread, but there is an urgency ____ a quarterback is needed after the considerable failures of Mike Glennon and Josh McCown last season . Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The choice facing the Buccaneers’ front office appears to be very clear, do they take either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston or quite possibly Brett Hundley and make that particular player their number one pick overall ? Another alternative for the franchise , would be be trade down offering the pick to another team and in return obtain a multitude of picks in the lower rounds of the Draft and obtain a free agent quarterback. As of now , there is still no clue as to the type of decision the organization will make , but while their fans continue to contemplate , the rest of us , can continue to speculate.



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Do you believe this NFL Draft will differ a great deal from last year’s event and many of the surprises we witnessed, and will there be a story coming out of this Draft, that will have us drawn to its unfolding even more ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe relevant to the NFL news as you believe it to be right now.



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The it factor ….

The it factor …

As is often the case athletes and their agents will seek to maximize the individuals’ profiles and the effect they might have on a franchise or singular success. With the NFL Combine coming to a close, teams will now seek to prepare themselves for the upcoming NFL Draft in April. The front office executives and head coaches will be factoring in the best possible scenarios and the players they believe best suit their teams’ needs. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers holding the number one overall pick in this season’s draft, the conjecture and speculation seems to be a choice between the two most recent Heisman Trophy recipients from 2014 and 2013, with the names of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota being the top of the pile. Albeit, Brett Hundley of UCLA (Bruins) made an impression on the coaches, beyond the Buccaneers, who might be still looking for a quarterback to meet their needs, of which it could be said several teams that bill beyond the NFC South based franchise.


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Jason Licht, general manager of the Tampa Bay Bay Buccaneers , along with Lovie Smith and the coaching staff will have an extremely tough decision to make. Do they take what appears to be a proven commodity in Marcus Mariota or a player such as Jameis Winston,who carries with him a great deal of baggage and a lack of maturity.

There can be no denying with a quarterback tending to be the normal focus of any NFL franchise, the coaches really need to have player not only skilled at the position but someone ready to play at the drop of hat, as and when needed. While a case is being made the Buccaneers will have the need of a quarterback ready to play, this is by no means a certainty, either Mariota or Winston has the prerequisite game that might well fit the team’s needs. With both Mike Glennon and Josh McCown having failed miserably for the team in 2014, it goes without saying the franchise’s needs are very acute indeed.

With Peyton Manning returning to the Denver Broncos and his career might now be deemed to be winding down. It has to be said, the last two seasons for the veteran quarterback and four-time League MVP has taken a remarkable decline in terms of his performances , specifically in the postseason. Superbowl 48 provided a glaring example of that fact without delving into this past postseason loss to the Indianapolis Colts . For the past seventeen years, Manning has had, that “it factor “, whether it’s on the field of play or off it, where he has become the darling of Madison Avenue, as the spokesperson for sevral major corporate entities where along the way the player has proven himself to be something of a versatile individual in-front of the camera , making several appearances on the NBC late staple and long-running comedic and satirical show Saturda Night Live(SNL). For those dealings Peyton Manning has been well-compensated , where he has become one of the most high-profiled and one of the highest paid athletes in the NFL by way of his off the field earnings.

Manning , Drew Brees and Tom Brady, all Superbowl winning quarterbacks and Superbowl MVP’s have been the face of the NFL over the past decade, with their unprecedented success. As to which of the current young crop of passers will now assume the mantel as the torch will undoubtedly be passed, it remains to be seen , but the common belief appears to be, with the growing stature of Andrew Luck, this league appears to be in great hands for the foreseeable future , with the number one overall draft pick from the 2012 NFL Draft having a great deal of success in his first three seasons within the NFL, albeit , third round draft pick Russell Wilson has been the first of the quarterbacks from the 2012 quarterbacks’ draft class to have won a Superbowl, while also appearing in a second successive NFL title game in his young career.

The era of Michael Jordan reigning supreme over the NBA ,while winning just about every singular and team award imaginable, during his career has cast a legacy, which is unlikely to be rivaled in the annals of NBA history. Granted, Bill Russell may well have won more championship rings as a player , but the era, competitiveness and style of play were so different. Jordan reenergrized the game at a time when it was needed, brought the brand out of the shadows of the NFL and unto a global audience of billions, where some of its most popular players are now among the most recognized athletes in the world. Never mind the fact the NBA has now cast its tentacles across the continents, far exceeding the reach of its NFL counterpart, while now having a presence of international players now plying their trade in the league, with several notable international players having achieved a great deal of success.

In a league, which yearns for singular success over team success, we witnessed an era of triumphs with the Chicago Bulls and their six titles within an eight-year span during which Phil Jackson showed his coaching brilliance and where in the latter part of his career he was able guide the Los Angeles Lakers to another five titles to round out his record-breaking coaching career. Jackson was blessed with the fact he had the privilege of coaching some the greatest players in the modern era of the NBA of which Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant can be considered among that grouping. Bryant for his part, modeled his game on his idol , Michael Jordan and was seen in some circles as the heir-apparent to the six-time Finals’ and five-time League MVP . The Los Angeles Lakers’ guard recently surpassed Jordan for third on the all-time career points’ total listing, with only Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ahead of him in this specific category.

As Bryant now struggles on a Los Angeles Lakers’ team seeking to find some semblance of consistency to their season in the NBA. It remains to be seen whether or not Kobe Bryant can now lead the Lakers out of the doldrums, from within the depths of the Pacific Dvision and Western Conference. Head coach Byron Scott and his coaching staff have not been able to countenance any sort of determination out of a roster simply lacking depth and a proven scorer, beyond Kobe Bryant.

Bryant who entered the NBA as the the thirteenth overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft was considered one of the best players in the league. He firmly established himself as a player to be watched having won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest during the All Star Game Break of that season with his aerial assaults upon the rim and for the next seven plus years established a reputation as an all-round player, whose skill-set on both ends of the floor were unparalleled . For the first eight years of his career it could be said that the dye had been cast as Bryant began to rule the roost. Granted, Michael Jordan was still firmly entrenched within the NBA, but his famed career was nearing its close and then commissioner, David Stern was looking for someone to assume the mantel of the league’s best player and to be face of the NBA. Bryant would be that person until the unsavory episode that somehow showed that the image, so calculatedly created, came crashing down around his ears, because of a web of deceit and the allegations of sexual assault, in the aftermath of an incident which took place in Eagle, Colorado,, That cloud cast a giant shadow over Kobe Bryant, laid the foundations for the breakup of what said to have been a close relationship with former Lakers’ teammates Rick Fox and Shaquille O’Neal.

Bryant’s career would not come to an abrupt close , but with three NBA titles coming during the latter part of the nineties and early part of the next decade,all with the Los Angeles Lakers. It could be said that a Hall of Fame career was well on the road to being established. A case could quite possibly be made, Kobe Bryant may well rank among the top-ten players in Lakers’ history, no small accolade , when one considers the greats to have donned the uniform of one of the NBA’s truly great franchises. Two more additional titles would follow and with it Bryant’s two Finals’ MVP Awards won in 2009 and 2010 , in the last of the Los Angeles Lakers’ most recent NBA triumphs.

With all of the fanfare and undoubted coverage of his high-school career in Akron , Ohio, there was no denying that LeBron James was an exceptional talent. ESPN would go to unprecedented lengths to make sure, not a moment of James’ prodigious career during high school, went uncovered. It should come as no surprise, the Akron, Ohio native, would forgo a collegiate career to make the jump straight to the NBA. All but assuring, fame and wealth would almost immediately follow , but in reality, a case could have been made, had James entered the collegiate ranks, his eligibility would have immediately come into question. His entering the 2003 NBA Draft was a foregone conclusion, as was his being picked number one overall, befitting his status as a prodigious high-school phenom . In the ensuing decade , James has become the best player of his generation, while accomplishing several feats , many felt might have been beyond him this early in his career. The two titles won with the Miami Heat added legitimacy to his status, along with his four League MVP Awards and two Finals’ MVP statues. Now back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, along with a hand-picked band of cohorts , James will now seek to bring a title to this particular franchise, while pursuing several NBA records which lie ahead on the list of accomplishments yet to be achieved . Think of it, as James’ own personal ” Bucket List” .

One of the things, I personally believe to be missing in today’s NBA, are that of great team rivalries and the individual player rivalries ! Perhaps, at last, we might be seeing that once again, with LeBron James and the player now thought to be closest to him in stature, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Already a League scoring champion as well as a League MVP recipient and NBA Rookie of The Year . The only award missing from Durant’s trophy cabinet, are an NBA title ring and the Larry O’Brien Trophy, itself. Oklahoma’s 2012 appearance in the NBA Finals was believed to have the makings of an instantaneous classic , only for it to all fall short of expectations with the team being swept aside , with such ease , that the fifth and deciding game of the series was already a foregone conclusion and set in the annals of NBA history.What should have constituted a classic Finals’ series rivalry became a non-starter and an afterthought, as LeBron James’ commanding presence on the grandest of stages set the tempo of the series. It has been the regular season meetings between these two great players , that now sets the stage for the fans to witness how good both Durant and James can be, when at their very best.

This NBA season it could be said that both Steph Curry and James Harden are doing all of the right things to have their names mentioned as not only legitimate candidates for this season’s League MVP , but also quite possibly mentioned, as elite players, rivaling the stature of Kevin Durant and Lebron James. Curry has the Golden State Warriors (43-10) atop of the Western Conference standings and percentage-wise , with a better record than the Atlanta Hawks’ mark of 44-12 , as of 22nd February , 2015, which leads the NBA in overall wins . Not too far behind are Harden and the Houston Rockets (38-18).

The race for League MVP this season, will likely come down to which player can lead their team to best record in the league at season’s end, while remaining consistent over the remainder of the season ? For Kevin Durant, that may well prove to be too tall an order to surmount, with the Thunder playing catch-up to the Portland Trailblazers within the Northwest Division , but leaving themselves lying as the eighth seed in the West, with a potential first round match-up against the Warriors in the NBA Playoffs. The second half of the season should prove to be an interesting spectacle in more ways than one, with the expectations being high among certain players and their teams.

Every great athlete is said to be born with natural talent and ability , add into that, an engaging personality and you have the ” it factor” . In the world of boxing , Floyd Mayweather has it, but his conceit, wantoned excess and opulent lifestyle, has alienated some boxing and sports’ fans, alike. The boxer brandishes wealth and success, like a badge of courage, but it also has become somewhat demeaning and lacking respect of his craft. He may well be the “pound for for pound “ best fighter on the planet , having yet to be truly challenged in the ring. His proposed bout with Manny Pacquiao is happening five-years too late, with the Filipino fighter, past his prime and Mayweather, simply adding to his statistics with meaningless fights against opponents, who in many respects took the fights against the multi-titlist, merely for the money, rather than the competition. Boxing has now become a comedic farce, with lack of real depth in talent and not really any great prospects on the horizon.

Major League Baseball has not gotten out of the way of its ongoing stupidity under a leadership hierarchy bereft of actual intelligence. Bud Selig may well be on the same developmental and evolutionary scale . he shares with Roger Goodell, as being the first of their kind to have walked on two feet. Having departed from his role as MLB Commissioner , the reins have been handed over to Rob Manfred,who will continue to be at the beck and call of the team owners, rather than seeking to act dependently of the clowns (owners), who sat idly by, said and did absolutely nothing, while the players and MLBPA (union) made a mockery of the game, all under Selig’s and Manfred’s none too watchful eye. The blind leading the blind all the way down into the depths ineptitude.

The saving grace for baseball, perhaps over the past four years, has been the emergence of such young stars as Bryce Harper , Manny Machado , Madison Bumgarner, Yasiel Puig , Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen and the Cinderella Stories of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals over the last three seasons. Though I have to admit, I believe that the Royals will not repeat the success achieved in 2014. Instead of seeking to build upon their gains, it would appear that David Glass and GM Dayton Moore would rather revert to ways of old, with penny-pinching and continued excuse of their farm system being where their future lies. Granted, the core of last season’s team was through the development with their Minor League affiliates, but the Royals’ failure failure in the World Series, came about,not only because of their postseason play, but also, there was no veteran leadership on-field experience to be found on the roster.

As good as the managerial acumen of Ned Yost and his managerial staff was said to be, he was of not a match for his counterpart, Bruce Bochy and the coaching staff the now three-time World Series champions over the past six seasons, the San Francisco Giants.

The impact which Mike Trout has had on the game of baseball cannot be understated and I do not believe has been seen, since the heydays of a young Ken Griffey Jr roamed the outfield making spectacular defensive plays , while also showing his offensive prowess with the bat, first for the Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds ,Chicago White Sox and closing out his career with the Mariners.

I truly believe, had Ken Griffey Jr’s not been cut short by recurring injuries then his mark would be the one fans of baseball would be a legitimate target and record as the career home runs’ tally. At the time of his all too abrupt retiremement Griffey ranked fifth on the all-time career home runs’ tally with 630 home runs hit during a twenty-two year Major League career. Sadly, were not for his career being cut short at that stage , I do believe he would have have surpassed Hank Aaron’s career mark of seven hundred and fifty-five (755) home runs, still seen in many people’s eyes as the true record, rather than the mark setby Barry Bonds and now recognized by Elias Stats’ Bureau and MLB as the legitimate record.

Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen having won respectively the AL and NL MVP but have yet to lead their respective teams to deep postseason runs in during baseball’s end of year showcase events. Both are now being seen as the respective leaders on rosters which each have a number of seasoned veterans on each team. It remains to be seen whether not Mike Trout can lead the Los Angeles Angels to not only an AL Pennant but also their first World Series’ title since 2002. For Angels’ manager Mike Sciocsia this will be a make or break year for the manager and his managerial staff , after the immense letdown of last season’s showing in the postseason. With players such as Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton , Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson on the roster , one would have thought with that sort of veteran presence on the team their failures were self-evident during their postseason sojourn. Should the Angels fail this season, then there is the likelihood GM Jerry Dipoto will come to the decision to relieve the manager of his duties.

For the better part of two decades the Pittsburgh Pirates have been an eyesore within baseball , until their recent resurgence of 2013 their making a return to postseason play after a two-decade absence. Andrew McCutchen has been a large part of the Pirates’ reemergence and back into contention within the NL. However , once again, they would come up short in the 2014 MLB Postseason , falling to the San Francisco Giants in the wildcard round of the playoffs. If the Pirates are to have any chance of winning the NL Central this upcoming season and securing themselves the guarantee of a postseason berth then their regular season record against their divisional rivals will have to be a great deal better than they were last season. It will also have to be collective team effort on the part of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ players and their newly revamped roster engineered by GM Neal Huntington.

The Angels and Pirates will open their regular season schedules with games against the Cincinnati Reds within the NL as part of a three-game series at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the Los Angeles Angels taking on the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington,.

Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees have had their fair share of drama during this off-season with the Yankees’ third baseman being the focus of just about everyone’s attention , as he seeks to resurface from his year-long mandated. It could be said , that for the first six years of his career, Rodriguez might well, have been the best player in baseball with his first year of playing in the Majors, coming in 1996.

Rodriguez has been able to do what no other player baseball history has been able to achieve , having signed two multi-million dollar contracts which will net the player in excess of $500 million in guaranteed income . During his tenure in baseball, Alex Rodriguez has been lucky enough to have signed two deals, each worth in excess of $250 million with incentives , for achieving certain career marks. The incentives are now the center of the latest controversy between the player and the Yankees’ organization, with the ball-club contending his contract is no longer valid, in terms of his reaching those marks, with his suspension and violation of the league’s steroid policy, negating any career mark set with the franchise. Rodriguez and his lawyers contend his contract remains valid , wherein, no clauses were instigated to counter any type of action concerning the player’s misdeeds.

GM Brian Cashman and Yankees SVP & Legal Counsel Lonn A Trost made a gross error in judgment when Rodriguez was signed to his most recent deal with the franchise. It has been their stupidity, along with the ongoing gullibility of Hal and Hank Steinbrenner , that continues to set this franchise apart , as to the continuing ineptitude which can be seen within the game. Yet for all of this, there are some fans, still trying to point to positives within the game , whatever, they are said to be . Baseball , still cannot get out of the way of its own ongoing stupidity, while the union (MLBPA) continues to run rings around baseball’s hierarchy now led by newly installed commissioner, Rob Manfred.

As for Alex Rodriguez, it will be interesting to see how he seeks to ingratiate himself back into the good graces of not only the fans, but also the Yankees’ organization , as the ball-club pursues a twenty-eighth World Series’ title. I certainly believe Rodriguez is now on the downside of a controversial career, one steeped in a great deal of deceit and sheer deception by not only the players but also by his closest confidantes as well the media who simply looked the other way repeatedly, when questions arose as to the legitimacy of his accomplishments.



Picture gallery.

What do you believe now constitutes an athlete who can be viewed as someone above reproach within their game ? Chime in with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be of merit with regard to this topic.

Picture and slideshow gallery details below.
(1) December 27, 2014) Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston (left) and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (right), the two most recent Heisman Trophy winners , pose with Mickey Mouse in front of Mickey’s Fun Wheel in Disney California Adventure park in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday during their teams first official Rose Bowl Game week appearance. No truth to the rumor the Buccaneers’ front office might be seriously considering the drafting of the Disney character over the two more noted quarterbacks . Scott Brinegar/Disneyland

(2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith left is seen here with the team’s general manager Jason Licht . The pair seem to be keep their cards close to their chest , unwilling to disclose who their pick will be in the upcoming NFL Draft . AP Photo/ Mark Baldwin

(3) Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning (12) of the Denver Broncos are seen here after a game between the two NFL teams. Luck succeeded Manning as the Colts quarterback in 2012 . The two quarterbacks were both selected as number one draft picks by the franchise in 1998 and 2012 respectively and each had distinguished careers with the franchise during their respective tenures. Andrew Luck has yet to win a Superbowl , but has guided the Colts to the postseason, in each of his first three seasons in the league. Getty Images North America / Tina Thomas

(4) Russell Wilson (3) , left and Andrew Luck (12) are seen here after a game between the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks. These two young quarterbacks may well be seen as the future of the NFL in terms of their ability at the position and the degree of success already attained . With the careers of Tom Brady , Drew Brees , Peyton Manning , Philip Rivers now winding down and Aaron Rodgers now seemingly at the top of his game , the mantel of the best quarterback in the NFL to take the game of football into the next decade may well now be in motion . Rodgers was named this season’s League MVP . A sign of his already significant stature in the NFL as a player and leader of the Green Bay Packers . AP Photo / Mark Wilson

(5) Bill Russell , left , is seen here with fellow Hall of Fame inductee Michael Jordan . These two great players were considered to be the best of their generation and among the fifty greatest players in NBA history. Russell outside the game was a staunch activist and civil rights’ advocate . Jordan has become the consummate businessman and owner of NBA franchise the Charlotte Bobcats . Getty Images North America / Andrew Holcomb

(6) The changing face of the NBA . Here we have Kobe Bryant and LeBron James right , representing the league and the best the game has had offer over the past decade and a half. Both players have slowly moved up the NBA’s all-time career points’ total list , with each having achieved a number of career feats during this NBA season. Kobe Bryant has played his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers. James’ career has encompassed stints with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers . AP Photo / Paul Drake

(7) Considered the two best pound-for-pound boxers in the world , Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao right, will finally meet in a title fight this year at the MGM Grand Casino Hotel & Resort Complex , in Las Vegas , Nevada . The fight is likely to be the highest grossing boxing match in history, with both fighters guaranteed a minimum fight purse of no less than $30 million apiece , with Mayweather likely to make in excess of $100 million alone , from this one bout as a participant and co-promoter of the contest. . It is a boxing match many believed should have taken place at least five years ago when both boxers were thought to be at the peak of their respective careers. Ring Magazine

(8) Rob Manfred who began his tenure this year as baseball’s tenth commissioner in the league’s history , looking to oversee the changes, he believes needed to attract more fans to the game domestically, as well as internationally. Manfred succeeded outgoing MLB Commissioner Bud Selig whose tenure spanned almost two decades as the highest ranking executive in the game . AP Photo

(9) Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Mike Trout are considered to be the two best players in baseball and most certainly within the NL and AL respectively. McCutchen and Trout will be hoping to lead their teams to at least a divisional title this season with the ultimate goal, being to win the World Series . Both the Angels and Pirates made the postseason in 2014, but failed to make significant leeway during the playoffs, falling at the same stage in the wildcard round of the postseason.

(10) Baseball legend and Hall of Fame inductee Hank Aaron is seen here speaking to fans at Turner Field in Atlanta , Georgia ,. Aaron has come out in support of Alex Rodriguez and his reinstatement to the game of baseball, but has said very little about the pursuit of the home run record which he once held and where the Yankees’ third baseman is the active home runs’ career leader in the game. Aaron retired from baseball with the career home runs’ lead of seven hundred and fifty-five home runs , which was since been passed by Barry Bonds. Hank Aaron now serves as a special consultant and goodwill ambassador within the Atlanta Braves’ organization . Getty Images North America / Chris Caruso

(11) Hank Aaron,left, still greatly admired throughout the game and Alex Rodriguez , perhaps the most despised player currently in the game of baseball. After sitting out a league-mandated year-long suspension in 2014 , Rodriguez makes his return to baseball in 2015 , hoping to resurrect his career and the fortunes of the New York Yankees who missed the postseason in 2014, for the first time in three years with their last appearance coming in 2011 . Baseball Almanac/ Walt Baker







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Posted in Alex Rodriguez, Baseball, Basketball, Football, LeBron James, Mike Trout, MLB, NBA, NFL, Rob Manfred, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The engines that fell apart …

The Engines that fell apart ….

By Tophatal

The second half of the NBA season will begin earnest on Friday 20th February after the mid-season All Star Break . Thursday, brought in the customary intrigue as it was the NBA Trade Deadline for teams to cut , waive or trade players , as they seek to make cap space or for those and seeking added help to bolster their playoff hopes with their trade maneuvers. All season long we were being told how good the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks were likely to be. Idiots bought into the notion Phil Jackson being hired to head the Knicks’ Basketball Operations added legitimacy to the organization , along with the hiring of rookie head coach Derek Fisher was simply another notion of sheer lunacy on their part.


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The Knicks’ season has been a complete disaster and now with the loss of the team’s best player , Carmelo Anthony having to undergo season ending surgery , what is now left of the franchise’s season has essentially been blown asunder. Fisher and his coaching staff have coached the team to one of the worst records not just within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference but also in the entire NBA.

Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills have now began to revamp the roster as they begin the second half of their eighty-two game schedule . The first game of their slog will be a home game against Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. In an Eastern Conference which has been far from entertaining with the exception of the dominance of the Atlanta Hawks and the recent winning streak of the Cleveland Cavaliers , there has been nothing at all to recommend about the stature of the conference and the overall play there.

The Brooklyn Nets with their $90.5 million payroll have simply proven that throwing money at a matter doesn’t solve it or make things any better . GM Billy King and team owner Mikhail Prokhorov have began to find that out and they are likely find the financial penalty by way of the luxury tax will prove to be costly for the franchise which will in the end mean their having to pay the league hierarchy a hefty $135.6 million penalty . All of the imbecilic NBA fans without a clue , as to what the meaning being of fiscally prudent involves, should actually take note and understand the business of sports’ economics once and for all.

Nets’ head coach Lionel Hollins and his coaching staff have simply struggled to get the team to play with any type of determination , with the Nets bearing an average record among all NBA franchises. There has to be a great deal of frustration among the Brooklyn Nets’ fans as to the ongoing ineptitude shown by the team and many of the players. Hollins and the team will likely fare better in their next contest when they tip-off against the Los Angeles Lakers on the road at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California,. Between them collectively the Lakers and Nets have combined for seventeen road victories and if your belief is that the teams have fared any better at home then you would be sadly mistaken. The contest promises to be one of sheer mediocrity given the recent form of both teams.

The return of Kevin Garnett to the Minnesota Timberwolves , the franchise where the player began his career is likely to be one of nostalgia , after his travails elsewhere, which saw his success with the Boston Celtics and their their most recent championship win. His move on to a lackluster spell with the Brooklyn Nets , serves as a kindly reminder as to what can go wrong for a veteran player,who still believes he can contribute even when his career has taken a downward slide.

Minnesota’s own self-implosion has been brought on by the ineptitude shown within the front office , led by owner, Glen Taylor , de-facto GM and Head Coach Flip Saunders . All of this has been borne out by the team’s record and abysmal play throughout the course of this season . I am not so sure what Garnett might be able to bring to the table by way of leadership, because that was nowhere to be seen during his tenure with the Brooklyn Nets. Other than his veteran experience and the likelihood of his seeking move up the ranks and into a coaching or executive capacity, this move is one that will bring about the chapter to one of the great careers in recent NBA history.

Saunders and the Timberwolves’ next game will be a home match-up against conference rivals the Phoenix Suns at the Target Center in Minneapolis , Minnesota , on Friday evening .

Sam Presti , GM of the Oklahoma City Thunder might just be one of the most under-estimated front office executives in the entire NBA. With Kevin Durant having been sidelined for part of the season, Presti knew without his All Star and reigning League MVP , the team would likely suffer , albeit, they still had the prodigious talents of their point guard Russell Westbrook .

Durant’s return has led to an upswing in the play the Thunder, as they seek to strive for playoff berth within the Western Conference. They currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference, where were the season to end today , a first round match-up against the Golden State Warriors would await Kevin Durant and his teammates. That certainly would be a series well worth watching between of two of the best offensive scoring teams not just within the conference , but also the league . Over their last six games Oklahoma has been on a tear having won five of six .

Sam Presti engineered the trades of Kendrick Perkins, Grant Jerrett , to bolster the team’s roster and perhaps give themselves not only cap room for 2015 , but also perhaps even greater depth than the rosters of the Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers , Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs . With addition of of DJ Augustin , Enes Kanter, Steve Novak , Dion Waiters and Kyle Singler . This is a team that cannot be now overlooked, merely, because of their early season travails . The Oklahoma City Thunder have a very good coach in Scott Brooks and a coaching staff which complements Brooks’ acumen. It would be foolhardy to overlook those assets.

In the past six weeks , I certainly believe the Phoenix Suns have gone from being possible playoff contenders in the Western Conference to now having blown any chance of actually gaining themselves a playoff berth. My reasons for this come about from the front office’s decision to trade both Goran and Zoran Dragic to the Miami Heat for veteran swing-man Danny Granger, which I believe the recipients got the better end of this deal by far ! Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough and Head of Basketball Operations Lon Babby may well have been thinking long-term as to the franchise’s future , but short-term , this deal does nothing for the team’s aspirations for the season. If anything, it now places Phoenix among the ” also-rans” of playoff contenders within the West. Their only hope now , may well lay elsewhere , with the implosion of several teams ahead of them within the West and their going on a multiple game winning streak . Something I do not firmly believe them to be capable of !

Phoenix may well have “sold their souls ” to the Devil and might now feel the wrath of their long-suffering fans after this deal. We will certainly get to gauge this all, when they play their next game . However , it will be their next two home contests , that will likely give vent to their anger towards to the front office and team owner Robert Sarver . The can be no denying before this trade was given the seal of approval, Goran Dragic was one of the primary reasons behind the Suns’ success over the greater part of their season. Dragic’s former teammate Eric Bledsoe may well have been viewed as the focal point of the lineup , but the two players complemented each other and made Phoenix’s success all the more pivotal. It remains to be seen, how the Suns will acclimatize themselves without Dragic and how the player will now impact the Heat’s own fortunes as they seek to make their presence felt within their division as well as the Eastern Conference.

LeBron James may well now be enjoying the fruits of his labors with the Cleveland Cavaliers , having left the Miami Heat prior to the start of the season. With both teams having struggled within the conference and their respective divisions. It could be said their current records are a reflection of who they represent as teams within the NBA .

Heat Team President Pat Riley may well have felt perturbed by James’ abrupt departure, but it should be noted the front office executive did little to aid the disgruntled star in building a roster capable of winning an NBA title last season. Granted, Miami made it to the Finals in 2014 , but manner in which they fell to the San Antonio Spurs was not only embarrassing, but the lack of competitiveness shown by the team was more of a surprise than anything else. You simply were given the impression , that James and his former teammates felt they had the luxury of sleep-walking their way through the series . A 4-1 series’ ass whupping suffered at the hands of the Spurs led to more than a wake-up call, not just LeBron James , but for the entire organization of the Miami Heat and their fans.

On Friday night, the Miami Heat came away with a lopsided twenty-four point road victory over the New York Knicks in a game played and I use the term ” game played” loosely , as nothing about the Knicks suggests this is a team which has a frigging clue , from the front office , down to the coaches and playing staff has any idea as to what it takes to win in the NBA at present . Anyone seeking to point out any positives concerning the New York Knicks this season has to be in need of psychiatric assistance.

The Cleveland Cavaliers for their part were bolstered by a thirty-eight point victory over the Washington Wizards , with Lebron James leading all scorers with twenty-eight points. victory which helps the Cavaliers make inroads in to the Central Division lead of the Chicago Bulls.

A debate continues to rage on all corners this season, as to which player should be viewed as the leading candidate for the NBA League MVP . We have the four-time winner LeBron James once again staking a claim for himself, that he is not only the best player in the league, but also the best of his generation and perhaps among the top-fifteen players to have ever stepped unto an NBA and win just about every accolade possible. In a year when we have seen Steph Curry , Klay Thompson , Kevin Durant, Chris Paul , Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and James Harden raise the level of their play. I cannot help but wonder are they really that good or is the the level of coaching that bad , where the defensive mindset within the NBA is almost non-existent ?

Harden has led the Houston Rockets to one of the best records in the NBA and is almost single-handedly making the team a force to be reckoned with in the league. So much for Dwight Howard bring his prowess to the team. Howard remains ‘Robin’ to Harden’s role as ‘Batman’ . Holy smorgasbord , what’s going to happen now ? While some might decry Harden as purely an offensive minded player , you simply cannot deny what he has brought to the Houston Rockets as a player. Consider the fact, there have been a number of winners of the League MVP Award who were no better better than James Harden , in terms of their defensive ability , but yet a number of observer, perhaps out of bias rather than using common sense, believe the Rockets’ forward not worthy of being the recipient of the NBA’s most prestigious regular season award. If left to them it would gift-wrapped and handed to LeBron James annually , without taking a vote ? The only player where that premise should be applied should be during the era where Michael Jordan reigned supreme within the NBA. The year that Karl Marlone was the recipient of the award, may well have been done out of pity , rather than merit.

If James Harden is not the named League MVP at the end of this season , given the fact the second-half of the schedule, is still in its infancy, my choice for the award would be Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors ! He is having an outstanding season , while making his presence felt as a very versatile player . Given Curry is presently earning as a point guard in this league , I believe him to be vastly underpaid in his current role !



Over the coming months which player , players , team or teams, do you believe will be on the ascent as the second-half of the season begins to take shape ? Finally, which two franchises do you believe will be the conference representatives in this season’s NBA Finals ? Your comments are more than welcomed on this topic and anything else you believe to be relevant to the subject . So let’s get the ball rolling with a comment or two.


Picture and slideshow details below.

(1) New York Knicks’ GM Steve Mills seated , is seen congratulating Derek Fisher center , after the formal announcement has been made that the former Los Angeles Lakers’ point guard has been named the new head coach of the franchise . The decision was made by Phil Jackson who heads up the Knicks’ Basketball Operations . This season the New York Knicks have been far from convincing as a team and are likely to end up being part of the NBA Draft Lottery when the 2015 NBA Draft takes place on the 25th June , 2015. AP Photo / Paul Daniels

(2) Dwyane Wade (3) of the Miami Heat posts up LeBron James (23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a game at American Airlines Arena on December 25 , 2014 in Miami, Florida. Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann

(3) Jordan Clarkson(6) of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Deron Williams (8) of the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center on February 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. With the departures of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Nets this season, the team is now back firmly in the hands Nets point guard Williams to lead . Unfortunately , for Brooklyn, Deron Williams’ play has been inconsistent as has been the team’s play which is reflected in their record . Getty Images / Stephen Dunn

(4) Kevin Garnett (2) of the Brooklyn Nets waits to hear the calls after he and Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets got into a scuffle in the first quarter at the Barclays Center on January 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Getty Images/ Elsa Martinez

(5) Seen here in the foreground is Oklahoma City Thunder player and reigning League MVP Kevin Durant . Also pictured is team GM Sam Presti who has engineered a multiple player trade with the view of bolstering the roster. Durant is due to become a free agent in 2016 , but could opt out at the end of this year and become one of the marquee free agents on the market during off-season. The front office and ownership are likely provide the their MVP with a lucrative contract at the time his current deal expires, making him one of the highest paid players in the league. However , Kevin’s Durant’s main goal is to win an NBA title having come close already , only for the Thunder to falter on each occasion . AP Photo / Matt Holmes

(6) Phoenix Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough is seen here speaking with the convened press, addressing their questions posed concerning the team’s season . McDonough made the decision to trade both Goran and Zoran Dragic to the Miami Heat , but has now leveled some criticism aimed at both players in the aftermath of their departure. Getty Images / Phil Pearson

(7) Steph Curry (30) and teammate Klay Thompson (11) are the primary reasons why the Golden State Warriors possess the best record in the Western Conference and are closely bearing down on the league’s best mark held by the Eastern Conference top seeds the Atlanta Hawks . Curry is also seen as a leading contender for League MVP . Getty Images / Steve White

(8) James Harden of the Houston Rockets might well be the leading candidate for the League MVP this season but questions are being raised to the Harden’s candidacy and his legitimacy as a nominee for the award . Getty Images /Harry How


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Posted in Basketball, Brooklyn Nets & New York Knicks, Dwyane Wade & Miami Heat, http://wp.me/pVgmr-f3, Mikhail Prokhorov & Billy King, NBA, NBA Eastern & Western Conference, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments