If You Say It Then You Had Better Have The Balls To Back That Sh#t Up !

•June 12, 2011 • 12 Comments

If You Say It Then You Had Better Have The Balls To Back That Sh#t Up !

I’m always befuddled when I hear a player stand up and make bold statement even if it is meant to rally the troops as they say ! Well no sooner have we heard one statement made now we have the Detroit Lions’ defensive tackle Ndamokung Suh making the claim that the team is quite capable of going …… 16-0 this season . Unless I’m mistaken it wasn’t that long ago Lions went 0-16 ( 2008) to become the first NFL team in history to lose all of their regular season games since the league went to a 16 game schedule. Suh either believes that highly in this team or he is truly naive to think that a quarterback in Matt Stafford who at best is serviceable but has yet to play a full NFL season is actually capable of leading the team to an unbeaten season.

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The Lions finished last year with a 6-10 record within the NFC North and actually struggled to make their presence felt within the league as a whole . Statistically as a team the Lions struggled in all facets of the game and from a defensive and offensive standpoint the struggles of the Detroit Lions manifested itself in a multiple of ways . I am not so sure that Jim Schwartz and his coaching staff having gotten a spark of life from this team is now capable actually boldly leading them to aware Suh believes that they can be ! As I’ve alluded to before , Matt Stafford is injury prone and from week to week you simply can’t be sure that he can play a full four quarters without getting a hang nail much less turf toe. For all of the hype that surrounded the player upon his entry into the NFL , there has been nothing that he has achieved that would suggest to me that he now is actually capable of leading this Lions’ team past the current Superbowl champions the Green Bay Packers or the other occupants of the NFC North , namely the Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears for that matter ! Most notably the Bears and Packers were two of the teams that made the postseason last year .

This season the Detroit Lions will have their hands full within the NFC and in particular over the course of their season as their schedule unfolds . It is incumbent on the Lions that they get off to good start in order to get some semblance of a rhythm going . The season could very well be shortened given the mere fact that the league hierarchy , team owners and NFLPA (union) are at an impasse in resolving the month long NFL lockout . And as cordial as some owners would like to have us believe that these negotiations are going there’s no real light at the end of the tunnel as of yet . NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell whose statements on the existing negotiation process has been minimal at best . New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft believes that only through continuous negotiations between the parties concerned can there be some sort of accord be reached. From my own perspective this has simply been nothing more than an image exercise of which neither party has executed or handled this situation well at all. The NFLPA and league hierarchy (NFL) have simply forgotten that they have alienated the fans but moreover the apparent greed that has set in both on sides has clouded their judgment .

If Suh’s prognostications are to come true then he and in particular his new defensive partner Nick Fairley will have to be fulcrum that holds this defensive line together . The Detroit Lions’ defense as the season progressed were able to shown signs of improvement but their lack of cohesion and inconsistently proved costly when it mattered most. On offense we saw what wide receiver Calvin Johnson was actually capable of alongside his teammate running back Kevin Smith . The two provided a lot of the offense that was produced by the Lions over the course of the season .

Now it goes without saying the Lions will live and die dependent upon the health of Matt Stafford and his overall productivity . And while I’ve no doubt that the player will have his moments t hose moments are liable to be few and far between . The Detroit Lions have remained a conundrum and an engima all rolled into one but the history of the organization and the fact that each Thanksgiving the fans have to endure Lions playing in this traditional seasonal game. And given that this season (week 12) the NFL in its infinite wisdom will make sure that tradition continues in that pairing of the Lions playing the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field , Detroit , with the Dallas Cowboys playing the Miami Dolphins at Texas Stadium , Arlington, Texas . Now don’t get me wrong I am all for tradition where it is warranted but with the apparent idiocy of the NFL hierarcy and their belief that the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions playing their respective opponents on Thanksgiving is the best possible form of entertainment that they could possibly serve up for the fans is akin to asking a vegetarian to become a carnivore because the taste of meat is far better than eating vegetables alone. And that’s with due respect to carnivores and vegetarians out there ! The relevancy of these two teams playing on Thanksgiving each year has lost all meaning for me as an NFL fan as I’d rather view two talented teams actually playing competitive football ! And when I last looked neither the Cowboys or Lions were actually capable of doing that on a consistent basis over the course of a season .

The Lions’ front office led by GM Martin Mayhew has formulated a plan that he and the ownership group led by Bill Ford Jr , as they seek to make this franchise relevant once again. It seems unfortunate to see the Detroit Lions fall so far in the aftermath of the excitement provided by their Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders . And for those of us who have witnessed those lofty days when the Lions actually roared , now if anything they’re like a kitten looking to be fed a plate of milk . Meow , meow !

At this juncture I’d like to say that I hope that Ndamokung Suh isn’t made to eat his words ! It’s one thing to make those bold statements but if you’re simply unable to back it up and the team then becomes an embarrassment on the field of play then once can only hope that the player is prepared to proffer up some form of apology to the fans . God knows, the Detroit Lions simply have done nothing right to indicate they are actually on the road to success , not with the inconsistency of Matt Stafford and a defense that seems to be unsure of itself at any given moment . Suffice to say it will be interesting to see whether or not Suh is made to eat those words .

And speaking of eating words can there be anything more galling than to keep on hearing that the Dallas Cowboys can be viewed as perennial contenders for the Superbowl ? One postseason win in the last decade and an owner in Jerry Jones who still feels that he’s a better general manager than his peers within the league . Chances are Jones on his best day has about as much acumen for spotting college talent bound for the NFL as a blind man could tell you the measurements of aspiring actress Denise Milani . And for those of who’ve viewed the stunning Milani will know that this beauty has the curves in all the right places .

The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Stadium are gigantic as are the egos of half the players on the team . Tony Romo is viewed as a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback but if anything he possesses the spine of a gutless coward . I’ve always maintained that Romo was more a Hollywood ” wannabe” than a NFL player ! And until he applies himself and leads this team by example then the Cowboys will always be considered an also ran or average team at best . This season if anything we will either see Jason Garrett show his real strengths as a coach or we may well see the Cowboys flounder . The NFC East they say is up for grabs this season and if anything the Dallas Cowboys have a chance to prove their worth . Mile Austin , DeMarcus Ware , Jason Witten , Dez Bryant and Romo will certainly have to lay to rest once and for all that they are good enough not only to win the NFC East but also worthy of being viewed as a Superbowl contender . Year in and year out those moronic idiots who provide the NFL analysis at ESPN continue with the hyperbole about the greatness that seems to be the Dallas Cowboys . I sometimes wonder whether or not Jones actually has these as#holes on the Cowboys’ payroll ? Maybe that’s presumptuous of me but then again I may well be wrong !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

If there is an NFL season to be had how do you see both the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions faring ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and as always thanks for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …………………

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, right, stands next to defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch during a break in practice drills at Detroit Country Day School in Beverly Hills, Mich., Friday, June 10, 2011. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio ……….

(2) Detroit Lions quarterbacks Matthew Stafford, left, and Shaun Hill, second from right, talk with team president Tom Lewand, right, during the team’s annual golf fundraiser, Tuesday, June 7, 2011, in Dearborn, Mich. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio …..

(3) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 28: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with Nick Fairley(1) 13th pick overall pick by the Detriot Lions, during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …..

(4) Jim Schwartz, center, head coach of the Detroit Lions poses with General Manager Martin Mayhew, left, and Tom Lewand team president after a press conference to introduce him as the Lions new head coach on January 16, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Gregory Shamus / Getty North America ……..

(5) Denise Milani and her ample 38″ DD’s . What’s not to like about the curvacious form of this Czech American beauty ?

(6) Care for a peek of Milani’s assets ? There’s always something to like isn’t there ?

(7) Get the feeling that there’s more that Denise has to offer us all ?

(8) Tyron Smith, 9th overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys, holds up a jersey on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ……..

(9) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – APRIL 19: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) and NFL owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys arrive for court-ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on April 19, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down last month. Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images …….

(10) Tony Romo (9) of the Dallas Cowboys looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles on January 2, 2011 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cowboys defeated the Eagles 14-13. Getty Images / Jim McIsaac …..

(11) Miles Austin (19) of the Dallas Cowboys scores a third quarter touchdown on a 3 yard pass from Jon Kitna (3) as DeAndre Levy (54) of the Detroit Lions defends during the game at Dallas Stadium on November 21, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys defeated the Lions 35-19 . Getty Images /Leon Halip ………
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Love ‘em Or Hate ‘em They’re Still Baseball’s MVP

•May 26, 2011 • 16 Comments

Love ‘em Or Hate ‘em They’re Still Baseball’s MVP

They’re the team that everyone either loves or hates as there’s no in between when it comes to the New York Yankees . Having won an unprecedented 27 World Series titles this is an organization that simply doesn’t rest on its laurel as it strives for excellence , the way that a new born baby thirsts for knowledge having taken its very first steps. Well for the Yankees this season may well be one where they’ll have to take baby steps as they try and figure a way out to be battle their way through the AL East and the rest of the AL as a whole . Never mind the fact that in the postseason that AL pennant isn’t a sure thing as some would like to believe.

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So much is expected of the team by their erstwhile fans that any slight hiccup won’t be necessarily tolerated but then again when it comes to being a fan of this organization you’re either thought of as being obnoxious or simply devout in your belief that they are the best thing in the game bar none ! In the AL East boasting a 27-21 record they (lead) stand a mere 1/2 game ahead of their most hated rivals the Boston Red Sox with the Tampa Bay Rays 1 1/2 games behind in third place. And as we have come to expect this division as usual will become a highly contentious and competitive one throughout the course of the season . So much so that to my mind I do believe that the wildcard entrant for AL will most definitely come from within this division ! To some that might not be a foregone conclusion but it has become a rarity for the wildcard to come from outside the division. That being said anything is possible and the improbable has been known to happen within the game , so why not this season ?

Coming off a convincing 7-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium the team now has a three game series facing the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. That series promises to be a very interesting one with the Mariners looking for some objectivity to their season given the inconsistency of their play overall . It remains to be seen whether or not Eric Wedge and his coaching staff can turn things around with this team and make the competitive within the AL West . Parent company Nintendo through its US subsidiary Nintendo USA have made a mockery as owners of this ball-club . Ambition and the will to win it would appear are the furthest thing from their mind. And it’s a pity to see the talents of Ichiro Suzuki and Felix Hernandez being wasted by an organization that simply is bereft of creativity and intelligence within their front office . It may well be that I’m proven wrong but I sincerely doubt it at this juncture !

In the Yankees 7-3 victory over the Blue Jays , pitcher , Mariano Rivera made his 1,000th pitching appearance for the New York Yankees a team record for the most appearances by a pitcher in team history and with it came his 572nd save for the team , the most ever by a pitcher and the most ever for a single team. Add in the fact his teammate Derek Jeter also looks to add to his own valid legacy within the organization as he approaches the 3,000 hits plateau . He now stands at 2974 a club record . But that in of itself isn’t the primary reason that both of these dominant figures within the Yankees’ dynasty still play the game. This duo have epitomized what the game has been about in terms of integrity and the fact that they’re well respected by their peers as well as the vast majority of baseball fans across the game’s panacea. I doubt the same can be said of the most recent players to have donned the Yankees’ pinstripes over the last decade and a half !

As the season unfolds and with it approaching the month </a? of June it will be very interesting to see how the team handles itself and whether or their pitching which I believe to be their Achilles’ heel can still be a threat . Beyond CC Sabathia and closer Mariano Rivera , there is nothing that would lead me to believe that this picthing rotation is a scare to anyone within the league ! Granted , there’s plenty of offense within this lineup with the likes of Curtis Granderson , Mark Teixeira , Alex Rodriguez , Nick Swisher , Robinson Cano and even that wily veteran Andruw Jones who seems to have found a new lease of life with New York Yankees. And that’s even with Jones platooning the DH position with Jorge Posada who seems to be undergoing struggles of his own , not just mentally but also physcially as well.

The one thing we can be sure of concerning the Yankees with the advent of both Hank and Hal Steinbrenner having taken over the reins from their late father George Steinbrenner III , no stone will be left unturned as this organization chases glory , no matter what the expense is said to be. GM Brian Cashman even though he’s said to have become somewhat frugal in terms of the team’s payroll we all know when push comes to shove he’s been given the go ahead this organization usually goes after a target and they usually end getting what they want even if it means having to overspend or delve into their top 10 prospects or for that matter within their minor league farm system in order to acquire a prospective free agent or to implement a trade. Money is of no object with a cash cow such as the YES Network there to provide the organization with a monetary treasure chest and the very fact that the team is still the biggest draw in the game by far let’s you know why it is that the organization remains the financial behemoth that it is . One of the most recognized and most valuable professional sport’s franchises in the world the organization hasn’t let the financial imbalance within the game impede its relentless steady march away from their MLB competitors. So much so, that I for one cannot see how the MLB league hierarchy led by Commissioner Bud Selig can actually come to a decision , wherein they will ever try to mandate a hard salary cap within the game of baseball. And it certainly isn’t as if the team owners within the game possess the common sense to actually realize that it may well be needed if they are to stave off financial ruin for some teams .

While the Yankees are in the midst of their usual perfunctory season their crosstown neighbors , the New York Mets continue to do their best impression of the Titanic. What that organization and team brings to the game in terms of competency bears about as much comparison to the genuine belief that either the Democrats or Republicans in Congress actually has any idea as to what ails the country at present . It’s now being widely reported that hedge fund manager David Einhorn has bought a $200 million stake in the team . Given the Mets’ financial situation and the very fact that cash liquidity is needed with the organization and its two most prominent owners being defendants in a civil suit that involves team President Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon and their involvement in the Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme scandal . I’ve got to ask myself what assurances were given to Einhorn that his investment is indeed safe ? Two hundred million dollars is nothing to be sniffed at and with the plaintiffs in this case said to be seeking the return of somewhere between $700 million to $ 1 billion said to have been received by the duo through an associate company under their ownership and command __ Sterling Equities Inc . I can only believe that Katz and Wilpon have assured Einhorn that his investment will not be at risk. But herein lies the caveat as the mediation process unfolds Katz and Wilpon have been economical with the truth and they certainly haven’t been completely compliant with the requests of the plaintiffs’ attorney in this suit .

Irving Picard representing the plaintiffs has stood steadfast in suggesting in that the defendants ( Katz, Wilpon , Sterling Equities et New York Mets) were aware the profits received were part of Madoff’s scheme that has defrauded some 7,000 plus investors of some $59 billion . Do you get the feeling that this story and the case still has a long way to go before it all comes to a satisfactory conclusion ? It’s not as if anyone is actually concerned with the achievements of the Mets on the field of play at present . With Wilpon in his recent interview granted to Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker Magazine gives you every reason to believe that the beleaguered owner must be at his wit’s end if he is now criticizing several players on the team . But then you simply cannot buy the sort of stupidity shown by Wilpon and then GM Omar Minaya as well as former manager Jerry Manuel ! The actions of that trio during the team’s slide into mediocrity might well give hope to the likes of the Kansas City Royals , Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners . But would that be asking too much also of the teams mentioned ? I will let you be the judge of that !

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In light of the points raised within this piece how do you see the New York Yankees’ season going and are you of the belief that they can make a serious challenge and quite possibly win the World Series ? And what thoughts if any do you have on the investment made by David Einhorn in the New York Mets ? Has he been duped into a false sense of security or will his investment in the team be a worthwhile one ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the matter .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera delivers against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ninth inning of a baseball game in New York, Sunday, May 1, 2011. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …..

(2) New York Yankees’ Andruw Jones hits a two run home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II ………..

(3) New York Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada hits a double in the ninth inning off of Toronto Blue Jays closing pitcher Frank Francisco in the ninth inning of a baseball game that started a rally of runs to defeat Toronto 5-4 on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek …..

(4) Mark Teixeira (25) of the New York Yankees celebrates with his team after hitting a game winning RBI in the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on May 24, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images ……

(5) Alex Rodriguez(13) of the New York Yankees looks after striking out against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on May 24, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images ……

(6) Derek Jeter (2) 2 of the New York Yankees hits a two run single in the seventh inning to tie the game a three against the New York Mets on May 22, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Yankees defeat the Mets 9-3 . Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images ……

(7) David Einhorn President, Greenlight Capital : The 39-year-old fund manager for the hedge fund Greenlight Capital has brought short selling into Wall Street’s lap with his public criticism of Lehman Brothers (LEH), the embattled Wall Street bank that has seen two top executives resign and its shares plunge roughly 50% since Einhorn made public his short position in April. His $6 billion fund has also waged a long-standing open battle against Washington-based small-business lender Allied Capital (ALD) since 2002; Allied’s share price has fallen by half since 2007. Getty Images / Paul Sprouse ……

(8) (L – R) Saul Katz, CEO of the Mets, Fred Wilpon, president of the Mets, Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon , chief operating officer of the Mets pose for a photo during Alderson’s introduction as the general manager for the New York Mets on October 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Andrew Burton / Getty Images North America …….

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Fool’s Gold And Then There Are The Fools Of The NFL …….

•May 12, 2011 • 16 Comments

Fool’s Gold And Then There Are The Fools Of The NFL …….

The NFL Draft came and passed and in many respects to my mind it was something of a non-event. That being said in light of the fact that the draft took place seeing the ongoing litigation that is now between the league and the players’ union (NFLPA) it remains to be seen as to whether or not there will be an NFL season to be played at all. With the league having announced that there will be a schedule and that they also have a contingency plan in place I for one would like to know how it is that they intend to assure the NFL fans that a season will indeed take place . Given the fact that this September commemorates the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the Twin Towers (World Trade Center) , the Pentagon Building and the deaths of those on board United Flight 93 over Shanksville , Pennsylvania . In the aftermath of that event as the nation mourned the death of its citizens it looked to its biggest national sporting past-times to bring us all in unison . Both the MLB and NFL made sure that the nation would be seen as a nation undivided , strong in its will and purposeful in carrying on its way of life . Bud Selig and the baseball hierarchy did their utmost to make sure whatever was necessary to assure its fans the their games would go on , even if it meant a short postponement to commemorate the loss of the lives of the victims .

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The NFL was steadfast in its resolve in making sure that scheduled games took place the following Sunday in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda . . With the recent death of Osama bin Laden and thankfully so , I’d like to think that both the NFL and NFLPA would come to an accord and actually say …..”look we are going back to work and the games will be played “. Instead the team owners , league hierarchy and players alike acutely aware of their image are in fact now playing a game of chicken . And by the second all parties are coming across looking like a group of infantile kindergarten children at play , who then get into an argument over a stuffed toy .

Were there not to be any semblance of a season this year within the NFL I for one feel that it would be disservice to those lost on September 11th 2001 . We see all the usual national acts of patriotism in praising the military and rightfully so but surely commemorating these victims in a way that we have all become accustomed to , now seems almost inconceivable . There may well be those amongst you who feel that not staging any sporting events would be the right thing to do as the solemn thing to do in commemorating the victims would be to have a day of some vigil as an act national of pride and unity. The mere fact that the NFL hasn’t publicly addressed this issue but I do believe that they stand to lose a great deal more than image because the animus of the fans once they feel betrayed will go a long way in showing whether or not the NFL will be welcomed back with open arms .

While both the NFL and NFLPA awaits another verdict to be rendered by the 8th District Court of Appeals in this ongoing saga I can’t help but wonder how it is that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his union counterpart DeMaurice Smith haven’t shown any common sense throughout this whole episode . At this juncture the longer the this debacle goes on the less relevant the NFL becomes in the eyes of its fans . The NFL Draft may well have heightened some interest as to how the teams fared but at the end of the day knowing the current premise and the idiocy we have all witnessed , it has to be said that perhaps in the overall scenario and how things continue to play out it might be best to do without the NFL season during the month of September.

So when it came to ineptitude last season in the NFL the Carolina Panthers stood head and shoulders abover everyone else in finishing with a 2-14 record . In doing so the Panthers were assured of the number one pick in the draft . The Panthers for their part followed protocol in acquiring Auburn’s 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton . Questions still remain unresolved concerning Newton’s actions while at Auburn but what cannot be denied he is indeed a player of extraordinary talent . That being said whether or Cam Newton’s game can be easily transferred to the NFL remains to be seen . And though the expectations are high for Newton and the Carolina Panthers their schedule may well dictate a situation wherein they will be a team that struggles over the course of the season .

Financially Cam Newton will be set for life and though the league has yet to come to a solid agreement as to how they will deal with the issue of rookie salaries and their underlying contracts . The Panthers’ fans will now pour over Newton’s every move in the ensuing months assesing his talents and how he carries himself. If Newton can have the the success attained by Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez as rookies within the NFL then the Carolina Panthers will go a long in knowing their choice was a prudent one . A five or six game improvement on last season’s showing would bode well for the future of the Panthers and if their picks from this draft and as recently as two years ago show signs in being productive then the Panthers could have quite a moderate season based on their own lofty standards.

For me the San Francisco 49ers remains an enigma as their front office continues to make personnel choices that simply make no sense . Denise York and her husband Dr John York continue to run this organization as if it were a personal bauble that’s on display but unfortunately the 49ers simply no longer commands the respect that it once had when Bill Walsh was leading them to unprecedented success . Now with Jim Harbaugh having assumed control as the successor to Mike Singletary as the team’s coach , it’s hoped that Harbaugh and his newly assembled coaching staff can lead the Niners to some semblance of success this upcoming season . Having left Stanford to coach the Niners it’s hoped that he can resurrect this organization and bring back some semblance to an organization that has been long starved of recent success .

I do believe that this season the NFC West could be as open a division as we’ve seen in a long time . The level of play there in recent years could be best described as rather average or mediocre at its worst. With teams such as the Seattle Seahawks , Arizona Cardinals and St Louis Rams it’s hard to envisage the type of football we may well see on display this upcoming season . Granted, a 7-9 record actually garnered the Seahawks a playoff berth last season but in reality it was simply an embarrassment to see such mediocrity on display albeit that they defeated the then reigning Superbowl (SBXLIV) champions the New Orleans Saints —- 41-36 in a game that if anything was indescribable as to the ineptitude shown by both teams .

Harbaugh in conjunction with GM Trent Baalke will now assess this roster to see where the real assets are and then seek make the necessary adjustments in the coaching strategy to meet the team’s greatest strengths . The one area where I do believe that Harbaugh will still have a problem is with the quarterback position . Having drafted Colin Kaepernick in the second round of this year’s draft they still have David Carr , Alex Smith and Troy Smith , who between them have been effective as an act of flatulence would be in a thunderstorm ! If Jim Harbaugh can quickly address that situation then there’s a possibility that the 49ers could actually have something of a decent season not just within the NFC West but within the conference and across the NFL as a whole .

Defensively they’ve been inconsistent but the offense when pressed into action has been capable of putting up points on the board. But we may well see a gradual advance of the San Francisco 49ers this season as Jim Harbaugh sets to stamp his own identity on this team and organization as they seek a resurgence of the organization as a competitive force once again within the NFL . Harbaugh is simply too good a coach , merely to have given up his gig at Stanford if he didn’t think that he could succeed within the professional ranks of the NFL . I for one hope that he’s successful but I also believe that much of that success will predicated upon the latitude he’s allowed in running this team as the York’s and their son Jed York , team President , allows him in resurrecting the 49ers’ fortunes !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit and as usual thanks for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………………

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) WORLD TRADE CENTRE ATTACKS 2001: Hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 approaches and hits the World Trade Centre’s south tower, bursting into flames and raining a hail of debris on Manhattan. A gaping hole in the north tower can be seen following a similar attack earlier in the day. Courtesy of Reuters ….

(2) A jet airliner is lined up on one of the World Trade Center towers in New York Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. In the most devastating terrorist onslaughts ever waged against the United States, knife-wielding hijackers crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center on Tuesday, toppling its twin 110-story towers. AP Photo/Carmen Taylor ……

(3) Ty Law returns an interception for a touchdown after Mike Vrabel pressured Rams QB Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXVI. At the culmination of the 2001 season we had Superbowl XXVI , a game played between the New England Patriots and St Louis Rams . The Patriots would go on to defeat the Ram 20-17 .Staff photo by Michael Seamans ……..

(4) Lonie Paxton was in on the kick heard ’round the world. Adam Vinatieri, above, kicks the winning field goal in Super Bowl XXXVI. Staff Photo by Kuni Takahashi …….

(5) Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick Cam Newton, right, gestures for a hand slap from Adam Smith of Make-A-Wish during an NFL football news conference at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, April 29, 2011. AP Photo/Bob Leverone …..

(6) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 28: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with Carolina Panthers #1 overall pick Cam Newton from the UNiversity of Auburn during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …..

(7) Defensive end Aldon Smith , center, the first-round draft pick of San Francisco 49ers, holds up a jersey next to head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, and general manager Trent Baalke at a news conference at the team’s training facility in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday, April 29, 2011. AP Photo / Jeff Chiu ……………

(8) Denise DeBartolo-York and her husband Dr John York – the owners of the San Francisco 49ers . photo appears courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle / Michael Macor ………………

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Continue reading ‘Fool’s Gold And Then There Are The Fools Of The NFL …….’

Who Let The Dogs Out ………. ?

•May 12, 2011 • 16 Comments

Who Let The Dogs Out ?

Well now that the fallout in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Lakers’ abrupt demise within the NBA Playoffs it appears that the repercussions and ramifications could be long lasting . We know that the team’s coach Phil Jackson will be stepping down and it’s presumed that a decision will be made by GM Mitch Kupchak in conjunction with the team’s principal owner Dr Jerry Buss as to who Jackson’s successor might be. Who could’ve foreseen the Lakers being swept in four rather lopsided games by the Dallas Mavericks in the conference semi finals of the playoffs ? The Mavericks now await the winners of the series between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals .

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In light of what we’re now hearing it could well be that the remnants of this team will be torn asunder and be completely revamped . This much we do know, the only piece liable to remain untouched could well be Kobe Bryant . But inasmuch as that is a certainty I do believe that Bryant , himself , will go a long way having his own input as to the personnel decisions that will most definitely have to be made. A successor to Phil Jackson will probably come from amongst the ranks of the assistants on this coaching staff of which the leading candidates appear to Brian Shaw and Jim Cleamons . It remains highly improbable that the hierarchy would go outside their stable of assistants to hire a coach unless it’s a high profiled experienced coach amongst the professional ranks . I certainly don’t believe that they’re liable to look amongst the collegiate ranks for a successor to Jackson !

It became pretty much clear that during this series the Lakers were mentally and physically outmatched and from a defensive standpoint this team was simply not there as a willing participant or competitor . The Lakers bench was never present and rarely did we see the best from Lamar Odom , Ron Artest , Matt Barnes and sparingly did we actually get a glimpse as to the consistency of either Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol . The one consistent factor throughout the series for the Lakers was in fact the player of Kobe Bryant who was the leading scorer on the team throughout the conference semi finals .

I do believe that if anything the Lakers’ players came in with the mindset that as the two time defending champions all they had to do was to literally turn up and that the Dallas Mavericks would quiver in their wake. Complacency and naivete had set in and if anything Phil Jackson was simply out-coached by his opposing number Rick Carlisle . But consistently throughout the series the Lakers simply didn’t have an answer for Dirk Nowitzki , the very astute and intelligent play of Jason Terry , Tyson Chandler , J J. Barea and the unselfishness of wily veteran point guard Jason Kidd . These aren’t your Mavericks of old as they’ve become resolute and very much more defensively oriented with the combined play of Chandler and utility player Shawn Marion as they’ve provided the team with that much needed one ….. two punch from a defensive standpoint.

Now any thoughts that NBA Commissioner David Stern might have had for a proposed Finals’ matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the presumed favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference the Miami Heat , will now have to be placed on the back burner. The Heat are now looking to fully vindicate themselves by closing out their series against their heated conference rivals the Boston Celtics . Now 3-1 up in that series and with the Celtics ailing on a number of fronts it’s hard to see how Doc Rivers’ team will be able erase this deficit and actually come back and win this series outright. An aging roster of stars now seems to have met its Waterloo and this will most certainly have to be the last charge for Kevin Garnett , Ray Allen , Paul Pierce and Shaquille O’Neal .

As to the direction that may well be taken by the Lakers’ hierarchy as they look to rebuild I for one can’t really see them delving once again into the free agent market with the impending free agents that will come to the market . Granted , there may well be one or two desirable free agents but nowhere near the number that came to the market this past season . Mitch Kupchak will look to see where the deficiencies are on the roster and make the necessary moves to bolster a team that underachieved and that had performed well below the hierarchy’s as well as their fans’ expectations . This much we do know the this Lakers’ team of the 2010-11 season won’t in many respects resemble the one we’re liable to see for the 2011-12 season.

Game four of what’s now turning out to be an intriguing and suspenseful series brought a cumulative points total not often seen in an NBA playoff game . If I said you that the game between went into triple overtime and there’d be 256 points scored you would’ve probably thought that I was insane . But that’s what transpired on Monday night at the Fedex Forum in Memphis , Tennessee, as the Oklahoma City Thunder would defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 133-123 in a thrilling and exhilarating game . Russell Westbbrook and Kevin Durant would account for more than half of the Thunder’s output with the duo scoring a combined 75 points on their way to the team’s impressive win . Not to be outdone in all of this were Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol who each chipped in with 60 points between them for the Grizzlies.

Tonight’s game resumes the series in Oklahoma City in a pivotal game five where the victor take’s the reins and more likely than not will the upper hand in this series . To my mind for both coaches Scott Brooks and Lionel Hollins after this explosive and unbelievable offensive output where defense was simply left at the door I seriously doubt that the two teams will be able to reproduce another epic of this magnitude ! If anything tonight’s game should be somewhat less stressful for the discerning NBA tv viewer in terms of the suspense we could expect. Thrills and spills asides this series has indeed taken on a life of its own wherein the two teams seem to be evenly matched . Albeit that as the number eight seed in the Western Conference , few might have expected the Grizzlies to have made it this far in the playoffs . Should Randolph and his teammates prevail against the Thunder , then a much anticipated conference final’s match-up against the Dallas Mavericks awaits them.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As the postseason unfolds were you at all surprised by the Los Angeles Lakers’ exit from the NBA Playoffs ? And which series to your mind of those played so far has been the most exciting to watch in your opinion ? Simply offer a comment as to your thoughts on the topics raised within this piece and anything else you feel to be pertinent with regard to the NBA postseason .

Alan aka tophatal ………………..

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) EL SEGUNDO, CA – MAY 11: Phil Jackson, coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, speaks during his last official Lakers news conference at the team’s training facility on May 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers were swept out of their best of seven series with the Dallas Mavericks four games to none. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images …..

(2) Phil Jackson, coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, hugs a Kevin Ding reporter for the Orange County Register as he leaves his last official Lakers news conference at the team’s training facility on May 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers were swept out of their best of seven series with the Dallas Mavericks four games to none. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images ……

(3) Lamar Odom (7) of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during a news conference at the Lakers training facility on May 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers were swept out of their best of seven series with the Dallas Mavericks four games to none. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images ……..

(4) Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks with members of the convened press at the team’s facility at the Toyota Center in El Segundo, California. Getty Images / Kevirk Djansezian ……

(5) Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, right, reacts to a dunk by teammate James Harden, left, in the second quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies in Oklahoma City, Wednessday, May 11, 2011. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams …..

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder guard Daequan Cook, left, shoots in front of Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo, right, and forward Zach Randolph, center, in the fourth quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. Oklahoma City won 99-72 . AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki …….

(7) Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins shoots as Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen watches in the second quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki ………

(8) Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, left, shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka in the first quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki ……

(9) Oklahoma City Thunder forwards Kevin Durant, front, and Serge Ibaka, right, cheer in the fourth quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. Oklahoma City won 99-72. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ……..

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NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

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Shut Up Already This Isn’t American Idol ………..

•April 19, 2011 • 17 Comments

Shut Up Already This Isn’t American Idol ………..

Ah the somber days of early Spring and all is meant to be well . At least across the sporting landscape it’s meant to be. The MLB season has started off in its usual indomitable fashion with teams rising to expectations while others have simply underperformed . That being said it’s still early days yet and the season is a long one of 162 arduous games over the course of six tenuous months before the postseason kicks in .

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As of now the divisions are looking rather interesting with the teams jockeying for position with regard to early season series . Now in the midst of finally making a decision as to where I’ll throw my hat in terms of supporting a team I’ve come to the decision that it’ll end up being a team within the NL . Well right off the bat let me say this without further ado it won’t be the Pittsburgh Pirates , Los Angeles Dodgers , Milwaukee Brewers , New York Mets or Florida Marlins . The latter for the reasons of which I’ve repeatedly stated because of the mismanagement of the team and organization as a whole by the ownership group ! The teams that seem to have my attention are the Colorado Rockes , Atlanta Braves and the St Louis Cardinals but I hate to say this as much as I like the Cardinals as a team I simply cannot stand their manager Tony La Russa ! He’s disingenous , an ingrate and someone whom I believe to be completely dishonest ! Suffice to say that to my mind he makes the fictional character Pinocchio seem like almost angelic nature !

So a choice has to be made and ultimately I choose the Atlanta Braves ! This has been a team and organization I’ve long admired because of their sheer longevity in terms of their success within the NL East and though they may only have that one World Series title to their name . It has to be said that period of consistency where they were repeating as divisional champions and making the playoffs had to be admired no matter where one’s allegiances may have laid . Now in their present guise this team is managed by Fredi Gonzalez and his coaching staff with a front office led by GM & EVP Frank Wren .

In terms of veteran presence the team is in that of the hands of Chipper Jones but his heir apparent to be sure is Jason Heyward , a player who has all the attributes desired to lead this ballclub long into the future and hopefully some real semblance of success. But there’ll also be contributions from teammates such as Dan Uggla , Brian McCann and Nate McClouth That being said with a pitching staff led by Tim Hudson , Jair Jurrjens , Derek Lowe , Tommy Hanson , George Sherrill and closer Craig Kimbrel , I’m fully hoping that this will undoubtedly be a season of success for the team and its fans who show up in attendance at Turner Field .

It’s long been felt that the Braves’ fans only came out in droves when they had perennial success or when the Hawks , Falcons or Thrashers were simply pedantic or downright mediocre . I’ll leave you all to be the judge of that because any and every team tends to have its ups and downs , no matter what their sporting endeavor might be . And the Braves are no different from no other professional sports franchise unless they happen to be the Los Angeles Clippers or Cleveland Browns for that matter !

The NL East the team will have to contend with the defending divisional champions the Philadelphia Phillies who look to be not only to be class of the division but the clear cut favorite to be the NL pennant winner this upcoming season . Whether or not that scenario actually pans out remains to be seen but I’m of the belief that the Atlanta Braves will do their utmost to deny the Phillies of that privilege ! . And I certainly believe that the Braves have as good a chance as any to make the postseason albeit that their division on the face of it isn’t an overly contentious one . I do believe that they will be challenged by the Florida Marlins and quite possibly by the Washington Nationals . And unless Terry Collins can in fact pull off the improbable , I certainly don’t see the New York Mets doing all that much this season within the division. Their situation is already tenuous at best from a financial standpoint and with both managing partner Fred Wilpon and team President Saul Katz under investigation by the Justice Department as well as there being a multi million civil lawsuit being lodged against the two as well as the organization their company Sterling Equities . I can’t help but wonder if the Mets can survive this season under its present ownership without Bud Selig , the league hierarchy and team owners intervening in some form or another to make sure that the team doesn’t fall into bankruptcy or be forced to cease operating should the Federal verdict go against the defendants Katz and Wilpon . At stake is in excess of $750 million and the very financial viability and existence of the New York Mets .

No word has been forthcoming on this matter from anyone within the MLB league hierarchy . Certainly no formal statement from Bud Selig or any of his subordinates such as EVP ,Administration & Chief Information Officer, John McHale Jr , EVP , Labor Relations & Human Resources Rob Manfred or EVP , Baseball Development Jimmie Lee Solomon . Kind of makes you wonder who’s in charge of the lunatic asylum otherwise known as Major League Baseball (MLB) ? With there now said to be a great deal of speculation that if Katz and Wilpon aren’t able to find a willing investor to purchase a stake in the team they could very well be forced to sell the team . A number of interested parties are said to have made private inquiries as to the duo’s willingness to sell at a stake in the team at a reasonable price .

This season within baseball could be one those that surpasses the events last season and the postseason by a long way . Granted the World Series itself ended up being something a one sided affair with the San Francisco Giants easily taking command of the series in defeating the Texas Rangers with a great deal of ease .

I’d certainly like to think that teams thought to be in contention won’t fail to deliver and at the same time I’d like to think that Commissioner Bud Selig and the owners are finally coming around to seeing that their game cannot continue to survive under its present financial structure . Especially where teams at the top of the pecking order in terms of payroll are now having to subsidize their small market peers . It simply hasn’t created that perceived level playing field that the owners and Selig had hoped for . And as far as the MBLPA is concerned, seeking any common sense from Executive Director Michael Weiner and his members is akin to trying obtain blood out of a stone . This being the very same union that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twentieth century along with baseball’s hierarchy merely adopt a steroid policy that could be even remotely considered to be fair. It’s rather idiotic to think that Selig as commissioner can’t even be succinct even when it comes to explaining the game’s most acute problems it now faces. I’ve heard so called purists and fans try to explain how the game has made great strides from those infamous years during the nineties , wherein the illicit use of PED’s was at its most rampant .

I’ve read on a contributor’s site and a baseball fan who fan even tried to justified the fact that both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa can be considered appropriate candidates for Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame ! The fact that the two players in essence are cheats doesn’t seem to have bothered this individual or the mere fact that they each profited financially in terms of the fraud perpetrated upon the fans of the game . Guess what , the duo both broke not only the law but also one of the most inherent doctrines of the game. That patron in particular who tries to justify this hypocrisy is an out and out idiot in making a case where it was wrong for two consenting adults ,one of whom happened to be an athlete (basketball player) at a parochial establishment of higher education chose to have sex , within the hallowed halls of Brigham Young University . The player was suspended albeit that there’s an honor code involved at the establishment but given the fact that there have been far more serious incidents that have gone unreported of at the school . Unless I’m mistaken there’s been more hypocrisy going on within the Mormon Church and on the campus than most would even care to admit . But that’s what you tend to get with the hypocrisy of organized religion and the de facto piousness that it espouses and that concerns all forms religion , be it Islam , Judaism , Christianity , Catholicism or otherwise . It breeds intolerance and it purveys it even to this day, with the still rather asinine notion that theologians and preachers , priests or Imams are above reproach . They’re human and they have their fallibilities or hadn’t anyone noticed ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the season and as it slowly meanders along its arduous path ? And how do you see things panning out for the Atlanta Braves this season in terms of their fortunes within the NL and the league as a whole ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and the points raised within this piece . .

Alan aka tophatal …………………..

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) LOS ANGELES – APRIL 18: Jake Harris of the reality TV show Deadliest Catch throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the game between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …….

(2) Left fielder Jerry Sands (47) of the Los Angeles Dodger, playing in his first major league game, chases down a fly ball ball against the Atlanta Braves on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won 4-2 . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ……..

(3) Pinch hitter Brooks Conrad (7) of the Atlanta Braves reacts after striking out to end the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ………

(4) Alex Gonzalez (2) of the Atlanta Braves reacts as he strikes out during a ninth inning Braves rally which fell short against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dogers won 4-2. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ……

(5) James Loney (7) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a two RBI single in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) ……

(6) Tim Hudson(15) of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 18, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images ……..

(7) Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones (10) swings for a solo home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Florida Marlins on Wednesday, April 13, 2011, in Atlanta. The RBI was the 1,500th of his career. Only two other switch-hitters have reached the 1,500 milestone. AP Photo/John Bazemore …….

(8) Atlanta Braves’ Jason Heyward runs to first after connecting for a home run in the fourth inning of a baeball game against the Florida Marlins on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 5-0 . AP Photo/John Bazemore …….

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MLB news

MLB Standings

MLB scoreboard scheduled game 19th April 2011

MLB results 18th April 2011

MLB Schedule team by team schedule

MLB Team Stats

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Braves’ active roster

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Atlanta Braves team stats

Atlanta Braves’ team stats 2010

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Braves historical team records – season

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It’s Their Time To Shine ………….. Who’s In It To Win It ?

•April 5, 2011 • 21 Comments

It’s Their Time To Shine ………….. Who’s In It To Win It ?

So the MLB season has kicked off to inauspicious start and already there seems to be some clamor for some teams to have remained at home . Forbes columnist and contributor Mike Ozanian states that the Tampa Bay Rays should they not be able to lure more fans to Tropicana Field over the next two years then quite possibly league’s hierarchy should look to contracting the team along with several other leading candidates . Having not read Ozanian’s article I’m not exactly surprised by the columnist’s findings but then again this has been something that MLB has failed to address when broached on the subject. I certainly think that the owners aren’t entirely happy with the present scenario in particular where teams such as the New York Yankees , Boston Red Sox , Philadelphia Phillies , Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets have paid out in excess of $ 250 million over the past five years as part of Bud Selig’s rather idiotic tax sharing revenue scheme that is supposed to assist the small market teams around the league in order that they become more competitive . Given the fact that in large part there doesn’t really seem to be any real parity within the league but merely lulls in the competitiveness of the so called big market teams , as and when they show the presence of mind to be legitimate contenders with any real consistency.

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Courtesy of Forbes.com

Contraction Looming For The Tampa Bay Rays

By Mike Ozanian , Sports Money

Groundswell building in Major League Baseball to dump the Tampa Bay Rays. From what I am hearing, I doubt there will be any baseball at Tropicana Field after 2014 even though the team’s lease runs to 2027.

The harsh reality is the Rays still have no fan support despite winning the AL East two out of the past three seasons and making it to the 2008 World Series. Stuart Sternberg’s group has done a good job of turning the team around on the diamond and developing and trading for young players since taking control in 2004. But the Rays have averaged only 23,000 at the gate the past three seasons even though prices have been slashed and in 2010 the team had the second-lowest ticket prices in the AL ($19.75).

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When the owners themselves such Frank McCourt , Fred Wilpon , John Henry , David Montgomery and others can’t even agree upon whether or not it’s in their best interests to have a hard salary cap within the game , I found it really naive of them to even think that a tax sharing revenue scheme actually makes things better for the game as a whole ! In large part when you have owners such as Jeffrey Loria and Bob Nutting pleading poverty while pocketing countless millions that were meant to benefit their respective rosters , it becomes all the more asinine that either team (Florida Marlins Pittsburgh Pirates) can even be viewed as being competitive. The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t been competitive within MLB in almost two decades and it becomes all the more laughable to consider that there remains a place much less a purpose for this team to even exist within the game . The day the Pirates once again becomes competitive within the league it could well be the day that hell actually freezes over !

The Rise Of The Rays: All-Stars And Arbitrage

By Steve Schaefer , Forbes Magzine

Arbitrage, synergy and “buy low, sell high” are all terms that at one time made about as much sense on the diamond as a pair of spikes on a trading floor. That has changed drastically though, and nowhere more so than in Tampa Bay where a trio of Wall Street veterans have been trying to redefine how to build a winning baseball team.

To understand the rebirth of the Rays you need to go back to their first incarnation as the Devil Rays, says Jonah Keri, author of ‘The Extra 2%’, an account of how the club went from from league laughingstock to pennant contender.

Original owner Vince Naimoli came from the world of finance too, but his fortune was built as a turnaround specialist, taking over struggling companies, streamlining operations, stripping out costs and then cashing out at a tidy profit.

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Three games into the season and there really isn’t much to be really all that hyped up about given the fact that it may well be at two months before we really the teams start to gain some traction and play with a great deal of consistency . The Baltimore Orioles seems to have gotten off to a good start and it bodes well for Buck Showalter , his coaching staff and the team should they actually make their presence felt within the AL East . It’d be great to see a truly competitive race within the division but it appears as if it’ll about whether or not the Yankees can have a resurgent season while competing with the Red Sox . I’d preface this by saying as good as the Tampa Bay Rays have been over the last two seasons this year I don’t believe will be their year to compete.

Offensively the Rays have been struggling and now the team’s best player Evan Longoria will be sidelined for up to three weeks with an oblique injury to his right side. And this scenario couldn’t have happened at a worse time for the team as it seeks to be a contender for the World Series . A playoff berth for the Tampa Bay Rays would have to come from the team playing not only competitively but also looking to win a minimum of 85 games merely to be sure of gaining the wildcard berth within the AL . And that’s not something I’m sure that this team in its present guise is even capable of doing in spite of the optimism that’s being shown by their most erstwhile fans !

Contraction is somewhat a dirty word to be using within the game but in essence it’s something that MLB may well have to address if they can’t get their financial house in order . Here again though it’s all going to become subjective rather than objective because in reality can the league hierarchy be trusted to make the right decision much less the owners ? It’s bad that they had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty first century merely to adopt some form of a drug testing policy . And it certainly didn’t help that the MLBPA under their then Executive Director Donald Fehr hiding behind invasion of privacy, as to a reason why the union and didn’t want a comprehensive drug testing policy in place . Since when did a union’s wishes trump what happens to be the laws of the land ?

I don’t believe that in light of Mike Ozanian’s piece that the league or owners will actually contemplate contracting one or more teams unless they’re pressed into such a situation or it’s because of a team’s dire financial straits ! . That certainly had to have been the case surrounding Drayton McLane’s sale of the Houston Astros to Houston businessman Jim Crane . Apart from that the very fact that the Astros haven’t a competitive force within the NL Central for a number of years .

Over the ensuing months we’ll learn a great deal more about the teams and that of their competitiveness as the season unfolds . And it could well be that we’ll no doubt be surprised by some teams whereas with others we will not ! We can all subscribe as to the teams we feel will make a genuine run of least trying to make it to the Fall Classic and if anything those are the ones that’ll be worth watching . Others will most definitely fall by the wayside and that if anything is what makes the long and arduous baseball season of 162 games such an intriguing and suspenseful one. As to the players who’ll make the season itself all the more enjoyable to watch you can make case that players such as Albert Pujols , Alex Rodriguez , Josh Hamilton , Joey Votto , Dustin Pedroia , Miguel Cabrera , Roy Halladay , Joe Mauer , Tim Lincecum and Robinson Cano will all make a case as to why they’re worth watching and paying the price of admission merely to see them play. As to what the fans may well think of it all remains to be seen but one can be sure that the most ardent fans among us will be watching closely while cheering on our teams.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you feel about the possibility that the hierarchy of MLB could very well down the road consider contracting a number of teams, in order not only to curb costs but merely get rid off teams that as such aren’t viewed as being competitive or drag on the finances of the large market teams that seemingly come to the aid of the small market teams ? Do you feel that in the long run such a maneuver would be of benefit to the game or to its very detriment ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the points raised within this piece as well as any other topic you might feel pertinent to the game of baseball and the prospects for the season. .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………

http://tophatal.wordpress.com/

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Infielder Ben Zobrist (18) of the Tampa Bay Rays is late with the tag on Mark Reynolds (12) of the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

(2) Infielder Elliot Johnson(9) of the Tampa Bay Rays bunts against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……

(3) Infielder Mark Reynolds (12) of the Baltimore Orioles is congratulated after scoring a run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Orioles would go on to defeat the Rays 5-1 Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …….

(4) Pitcher Wade Davis (40) of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………

(5) Infielder Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays was placed on the 15 day disabled list just prior to the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……..

(6) Billionaire entrepreneur Drayton McLane the former owner of the Houston Astros having agreed to sell the team to native Houston businessman Jim Crane for an undisclosed sum . All that now awaits is a formal vote approving the sale by the game’s hierarchy and board of governors made up of owners and executives of the league’s hierarchy . AP Photo / Michael Parsons …………….

(7) From left to right socialites Kase & Eileen Lawal , Houston businessman Jim Crane and his wife Franci seen here at a charity gala event in Palm Beach , Palm Beach County , Florida . courtesy of the The Palm Beach Post …….. copyrighted material …. @ all rights reserved .

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Bone Crusher ……. feat’g …….. Killah Mike & …… TI …………………………… ” Never Scared “

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King Tubby …………. ” Murderous Dub”
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Better The Devil You Know Than The One You Don’t Or Is It ?

•March 17, 2011 • 7 Comments

Better The Devil You Know Than The One You Don’t Or Is It ?

Better the devil you know than the one you don’t….. they say and in many ways that might just be true. Given the fact that we’re now seeing a great deal of unrest within the NFL and quite possibly the NBA in its imminent future . I’ve got say that I’m completely surprised with the ease at which MLB is now transitioning itself from Spring Training to the commencement of its regular season on the 31st March , 2011 . I suppose we’ve all got to grateful and thankful for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the somewhat smooth transition for the situation ?

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Slide show for your perusal.

We’ve all seen for ourselves the unrest now taking place between the NFL and the game’s players represented by the NFLPA . And with there now being a league enforced work stoppage and the impending litigation process to take place within the US Federal Court System it has me wondering where are the current leaders of tomorrow for the respective sports that we’ve all in some ways either come to love or hate ? NBA Commissioner David Stern has been in place the NBA’ commissioner for twenty five years and having come from a legal background as a lawyer it’d be only natural to think that any successor to Stern might from within the league’s own hierarchy or a prominent lawyer from inside the beltway with known connections to Stern and quite possibly members up on Capitol Hill. That was most certainly the case with Roger Goodell when he succeeded Paul Tagliabue as NFL Commissioner. Goodell and the league NFL President and present Chief legal counsel Jeff Pash are protege`s of Tagliabue while he was commissioner of the NFL and also when he was first a practicing lawyer with the law firm Covington &Burling LLP . Tagliabue a founding partner in the firm has since returned to his old stomping ground to practice law on a somewhat limited basis with the firm.

Goodell for his part after his initial first two years in office he now seems to have hit a brick wall in his dealings with the union and in doing so he’s coming across as something of a bumbling idiot whereas his opposite number with the NFLPA , Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has been able to articulate the union's points with clear clarification leaving no one with any doubt that they’re not the culprits here but it’s the league and the owners who are trying to paint a very different picture of the stance being taken by the players. Personally I’m not about to take sides on the issue , except to say that the childlike immaturity that has been shown by those sides during the negotiations borders on being downright infantile and totally below anything I’d have expected from either party ! But that’s what tends to happen when you have a bunch of multi-millionaire players and multi-billionaire owners fighting like rabid dogs over the scraps left at the dinner table. Only the scraps isn’t in fact leftovers from a meal but how to split $ 9 billion ($ 9,000,000,000) evenly amongst the two sides . Have you ever seen or heard anything so ridiculous in all of your life ?

Now when it comes to David Stern you either love him or hate him . He’s something of a chameleon as to the way he wants to be perceived by the fans and public alike and when it comes to the photo-op whereby he can even outshine the elite players within the NBA , let’s just say that is when the commissioner is at his very best it’s very difficult to actually ignore him . Twenty five years as commissioner of the league has seen expansion , as to the number of the teams within the NBA and the gross revenues of the league as business concern. And that could not have been done without the ascension of Michael Jordan and his becoming the face of the NBA globally and still being a marketing phenomenon to this day even after his retirement almost a decade ago . The league hierarchy under Stern’s tenure has shaped the league and its brand not just domestically but also on a global scale . And it might just be next to soccer the most popular sport on the planet and that is with due respect to baseball .

From a league whose revenues could be counted in the tens of millions each year____ the NBA is now a $4.5 billion —- $6 billion ($4,500,000,000 —- $6,000,000,000) a year enterprise that is still growing globally but if anything it may well have hit its saturation point within the North American market. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that even with introduction of the D League or Development League as it is more commonly known , David Stern has hinted that he’d some day like to see an expansion franchise outside North America , either in Europe or South America. Pardon me , for saying this but as popular as the sport may well be , and the fact that the league though headquartered in New York City , any thought of adding a franchise in either of the two regions mentioned would not only prove costly but somewhat of a gamble on the part of the NBA. Both Europe and South America already have an established presence of professional leagues and teams albeit that the players there see the NBA as their envy and a professional wish to play in the most competitive and athletic league on the planet. But the risks for them don’t outweigh the rewards whereas for the NBA that would clearly be the case in setting up a fledgling franchise anywhere around the globe. And what the NBA hierarchy may not have also taken into account is that soccer as such is very much the predominant pastime of many sport’s fans within the regions mentioned. As I alluded to earlier the risks outweigh the advantages and with there being a great deal at stake monetarily any plan put into operation would have to thought out and enacted.

We saw the death knell given to the NFL’s decade plus long experiment in Europe with NFL Europe, which is said to have cost the league in excess of $100 million and at the end of the day it simply had nothing at all tangible to show for it. Remarkably though the NBA hasn’t set its sights that high but what it has done is to have offices in Europe , the Far East , and in South America, working in conjunction with numerous partners in those regions to get the game more widely accepted and established. Is it any wonder during the Beijing Olympics Team USA was the talk and toast of the town as its litany of NBA stars were accepted by the masses and wherein audiences for their games during the tournament were in front of sold-out crowds ? Albeit that the NBA worked in conjunction with USA Basketball and the association’s director Jerry Colangelo to establish a real presence and resurrect the appeal of the team after their most recent disappointments on the international stage competitively.

Perhaps it’s too early to talk about David Stern stepping down as NBA Commissioner and though he hasn’t stated when he’s likely to step down from the position as the game’s highest ranking official. It has to be said that he hasn’t groomed an heir apparent nor has he suggested who he’d like to see succeed him in that office. I’d dare say that’d be a decision left to the owners within the league who will likely search for someone with a similar vain to succeed Stern at the time he chooses to step down. From my own perspective while I’ve admired David Stern’s business acumen I’ve got admit I do not admire his autocratic style of running the NBA . Granted , he’s made the league a great deal of money over the years but at the same time he’s made a number of mistakes that at one time or another have come back to bite the league in the proverbial ass, much to the annoyance of the fans and the journalists who cover the NBA. His adoption of a code of conduct and dress code was one of the many things he’s done right but at the same time he stooped to the lowest common denominator in trying to make the league on appearance seem ethnic in terms of marketing it to a wider demographic , particularly amongst young African American males and other ethnic minorities. It may well have been one of the biggest faux-pas on Stern’s part during his tenure. And his intransigence in not wanting to adopt a much sterner drug policy within the league while all the while trying to use the league’s selling point that at the time it had one of the sternest testing policies within all of major sports. Players weren’t being tested for marijuana , but were being tested for certain opiates, iliecit narcotics and steroids. Do I need to go any further with this ? Or is it plain to see who held the upper hand with regard to that specific issue ? It …… certainly wasn’t Stern or the owners ! The players obviously balked at that idea and may have made their feelings felt through the their union the NBPA and their Executive Director Billy Hunter

Then you also had the image policy as it related to the players’ conduct. The very fact that David Stern has been so inconsistent there as to the punishment at times meted out , that it certainly had me believing that not unlike the NCAA and its own idiotic policies as it relates to meting out what’s deemed appropriate punishment , here too the NBA picks and chooses who they necessarily want to make an example of as a deterrent to others. And perhaps another of Stern’s biggest flaw is the fact that he believes implicitly in the officials who officiate the games in the regular and NBA postseason. As we’ve all seen over the years their mistakes during and in the postseason have become not merely a talking point amongst the fans but a complete embarrassment to the league when it’s clear that they’ve done an abysmal job of officiating a game. Stern simply cannot accept that they are flawed individuals in terms of their on-court performances and any public criticism of the officials is often followed with a hefty financial punishment of the critic in question. .

Should the NBA commissioner choose to step down in the imminent future then I’d like for the person who succeeds him to use due diligence when it comes to all matters and simply not laud of the league as if it were their own personal fiefdom . That clearly has been the case with David Stern as he ruled the NBA , where from his early days of running the league , as he saw his influence grow and the money that was to be made he certainly made sure nothing stood in his way even if it meant having to turn a once trusted ally into an enemy. There may well be a number people around the league who’ve a great deal of admiration for the commissioner and many of them may well have some very flattering and reverential things to say about him . But I can only assume that neither Mark Cuban or Stan Van Gundy would be atop of that list in their view of Stern as an executive who’s said to be impartial.

Of all the high ranking officials within the four major sports I don’t know if anyone has alienated and has been more disliked by the fans than Bud Selig. From interim commissioner to now having held the position full time , Selig has managed to assume the role of class clown and idiot without ever having to bar an eyelid . It was if he were in character right from the start. And the very fact that he was once a team owner before succeeding Faye Vincent has me believing that the owners didn’t really cast their net all that far or wide in looking for a successor . All they seemingly wanted was someone who’d be at their beck and call as and when needed _ and who would try to put the Players’ Union (MLBPA) in its place. Which is akin to saying that we’ll hand a child a box of matches and see what happens next . You simply know that no good can from those actions.

As many of you know I think that Bud Selig is to baseball what the Congress , Senate and present administration are to the economic health of this country ……….. a complete and utter failure when it comes to dealing with its most inherent and acute issues. Selig for his part along with league hierarchy , owners and the union were complicit in covering up the steroid issue , and that’s even light of the statements made by Jose Canseco and the subsequent book published by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams (co authors of Book of Shadows) . As I said at the time when those 105 names came up on the list of then alleged steroid users and the fact that the union and hierarchy were under the impression that the list once in their possession would be destroyed as they were essentially were the ones who requested the testing of the players. Instead they chose to retain those records and when supoenaed by the Justice Department cried foul as the agency used that information to try and make its still ongoing case against Barry Bonds . At what point does the idiocy stop with Bud Selig and the game’s hierarchy and common sense begin to set in and prevail ?

Beyond the steroid issue and the very fact that as a financial concern the game of baseball has some major imbalances that it seemingly doesn’t know how to handle or that they may well choose not to out of sheer ignorance. It’s extremely hard to envisage how the MLB commissioner can repeatedly state that the game is in a very healthy state when for years it has had to assist many of its small market teams merely stay afloat from a financial standpoint . In his almost two decades of holding the game’s highest executive position Bud Selig has brought being a simpleton and an idiot to an art form that could be only admired by the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton were they alive !

Not only content with that issue Selig also looks to enforce his will on a team such as the Tampa Bay Rays by suggesting that they will never be able to stage an MLB All Star Game unless they have a new stadium built . But at no time has he or anyone within the game’s hierarchy come to their assistance in dealing with the politicians within the community at the municipal or state level to provide any type of input that would be of benefit to the organization and its owner Stuart Sternberg . Not only that Selig has also made a point of now pushing the issue to where it has now become something of an all consuming battle between the city of St Petersburg where the team resides at Tropicana Field and the organization (front office) itself. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel on this issue but and Selig continues to keep fanning the flames that has provided the discontent between the two factions on the matter.

What might be even more surprising in the midst of this all , while many teams within the league are suffering financially , the commissioner has been so well compensated over the last four years that he’d prove to be the envy of any senior banking executive on Wall Street. From 2006 to 2009 , Bud Selig earned in excess of $65 million accumulative in that span and it begs the question if he’s earning that much then why all the furor by St Louis Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa belly aching over the team’s slugger Albert Pujols wanting to be well compensated for his productivity and what he means to the team and organization ?

It’s from the sublime to the ridiculous in all things related to Bud Selig and the game of baseball . Many have suggested that by initiating the wildcard system within the game it made it all the more suspenseful in terms of the postseason. And with the added incentive that whomever won the All Star Game between the AL and NL would gain home-field advantage throughout the postseason . True enough , that has been the case but all of that pales into comparison with Bud Selig’s inconsistencies and decision making on so many levels in terms where has gone wrong with many issues concerning the game . The negatives have far outweighed the positives in my belief and will continue to do so until he actually steps down from his role as commissioner.

The decision making as and when it starts prior to Bud Selig’s departure as to the list of candidates quite possibly interviewing for the position and then assuming the role may well be not necessarily a large one . But I’d like to think that whoever is chosen will be a vast improvement upon the present incumbent .

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

At the time of either Bud Selig and David Stern stepping down from their respective positions do you believe that of their legacies will be well respected in terms of their overall achievements ? Or do you feel that the sooner their departure the better off both sports will be , no matter who assumes their roles as the respective commissioners of MLB and the NBA ? Merely leave a comment as to your thoughts on the topics raised in this piece.

Alan aka tophatal ……………………….

http://tophatal.wordpress.com/

:)

Picture and slide show details .
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(1) Commissioners Of Major Sport Leagues Attend Hearing On Capitol Hill L-R) National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, National Football League Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw,(now deceased – succeeded by DeMaurice Smith) National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, Major League Baseball Player Association Executive Director Donald Fehr (who now holds a similar position with the NHLPA ) and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig testify before the US House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection about the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports on Capitol Hill February 27, 2008 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee also heard testimony from officials from the US Olympic Committee, National Thoroughbred Racing and the US Anti-Doping Agency. Chip Smodoville /Getty Images North America ……….

(2) Team representative Tommy Losorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speak during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey. Mike Stobe /Getty Images North America ……

(3) John Wall of Kentucky stands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being drafted with the first pick by the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on June 24, 2010 in New York City. Al Bello /Getty Images ………..

(4) (L-R) Sports Illustrated Group Editor Terry McDonell, Sports Illustrated Writer Tom Verducci and Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig attend the 2009 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Celebration at The IAC Building on December 1, 2009 in New York City. Theo Wargo / Getty Images North America ……………

(5) Stern presents Michael Jordan with the 1991-92 MVP award in Chicago, MJ’s third of the five league MVP awards he’d win over the course of his career . Nathaniel S Butler Getty Images ……….

(6) Jeff Pash (background), NFL Executive Vice President and General Counsel, left, and Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, leave after negotiations with the NFL Players Association involving a federal mediator in Washington, Tuesday, March 8, 2011. AP Photo/ Alex Brandon …..

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Wiz Khalifa ……. feat’g Too Short ………………. ” On My Level”

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Eye candy ……………. Sally Ferreira

Milani Rose

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