Month: December 2008

It’s A Dirty Business Is This Business We Call Sports …………And Then Some ……


Well it certainly goes without saying that the bloodlust and bloodletting that’s known to take  place within the boardroom is no different from that within the field of sports.We’ve seen it already happen within the  NBA this  season. Albeit  that  the season there  is  over a much  longer season.  However  the season that is  built around the NFL is one seventeen  weeks  give or take. And then you have the postseason itself where the  success there is very  much  predicated on the  immediate  results.  For the likes of fallen coaches Eric Mangini,Romeo Crennel  and Rod Marinelli  they’ll never come  to know what it is to equate  success  in the postseason. Well at least  not this season anyway ! 
 
Laverneus  Coles  of the  New York Jets  adresses the press after the  announcement  of the recent firing of  Jets' coach  Eric  Mangini ......
Lavernues Coles of the New York Jets addresses members of the press who convened at the Jets' facility to question players as to the recent firing of the coach Eric Mangini ..............

Lavernues Coles of  the New York Jets addresses members  of  the convened press  to answer questions as to the firing  of  the team’s coach  Eric  Mangini. picture appears courtesy of  ap/photo/Rich Schultz …………….

 

Each of the above mentioned  individuals  were  placed  under the scrutiny  of  expectful wishes.  And  they failed miserably  though  in some respects much  of it  was not  of their own making. But  at the  end of the  day  it is  the coach  who  has to take blame  for the  lack  of success  on the field of play.  With the firing of all three coaches by  their  respective franchises the New York Jets,Cleveland Brown and Detroit Lions. All three  men became casualties of the merry-go-round we’ve come to know as the coaching  carousel. Albeit that it’s not expected that either if any of the three will ever find themselves back  as a candidate for a mangerial position  within the NFL.  Crennel’s own  boss GM Phil Savage  also found  himself  out  of  a position  when he  too was let  go by Browns’ owner Randy Lerner. The axe does tend to swing  both ways then ?

 

Romeo Crennel the now former coach of the Cleveland Browns looks up  at the scoreboard during  the  game  between  Cleveland and the  Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns would go on to lose  the  game 31-0  and  post a 4-12 record  for  the season.
Romeo Crennel the now defunct coach of the Cleveland Browns looks up at the scoreboard during the game between the Browns and Steelers.......

Romeo Crennel the now former coach of the Cleveland Browns looks up at the scoreboard in a  game played between the Browns and  Pittsburgh Steelers. Crennel’s team would go on to lose  the game 31-0 and post a 4-12 record for the regular season. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Tony  Dejak …..

 

But as much as we see with each passing season  coaches let go because of  the undue pressure that’s placed upon them to succeed. What  does that  tell us  about  the state of  the game itself whereby a single mistake by a player or official  may well be all that it  takes  to sink the career  of a coach ? However it can also be said  that a coach  should be  able to instill   into those whom he  leads  what it is  that is expected of them. And that he  ought  to be able  to communicate  with them effectively. If the players themselves aren’t willing  to buy into what it is that the coach is  srtiving  to  achieve. Then how  will they go about  achieving  the success that they all strive for ? If those teams aren’t prepared on the day to meet  an opponent  then the  result endured is all too appropriate. Seventy percent of the game may well be physical but the remaining  thirty percent being said to be psychological, is  just as important, if  not more  so.

 

Lions' GM Martin Mayhew foreground  and  Team  President Tom Lewand  make the  announcement  that  coach Rod Marinelli had been terminated effectively  immediately ............
Lions' GM Martin Mayhew foreground and Team President Tom Lewand formerly having made the announcement that coach Rod Marinelli had been fired take questions from the convened press at the team's Allen Pk, Michigan team facility...............

Martin Mayhew,foreground, is the General Manager of the Detroit Lions. Seated alongside Mayhew at the convened press conference is  team President  Tom  Lewand. The announcement  being made  was that the franchise’s coach Rod  Marinelli as well as  several  members of  his coaching staff wouldn’t be  returning  next season. picture appears courtesy of  ap/photo/Paul Sancya ………………..

 

As to the travails  of  those coaches  who escaped the axe,guillotine or whatever rudimentary instrument one  might like to imagine being  swung above their head. Is it  fair  to believe  that they’re lucky  to survive  this most gruesome of rituals, given the evidence that come next season they too will  be  under even more  scrutiny not just from their owners and fans  alike ? If  anything  the quartet  of  NFL coaches  who’ve  succumbed  to the perfunctory  ritual of being  shown the door this season  are  the  one who ought to be  thought of as being  lucky. Granted expectations were  heaped upon their  shoulders  and  albeit that  they  failed. But who amongst us would  want  to be placed in that sort  of  a situation from the outset ? And less I’m not  mistaken unless  you’re Jesus Christ  himself  you’re indeed  being  asked  to perform  a miracle. And last I looked the coaches within the NFL  aren’t being viewed as the Messiah but yet the situation for which they of their own volition choose to be  placed within  are looked  upon as deities when they  succeed.  But  are either viewed  as oafs or buffoons  when they  falter. 

 

Cowboys' coach Wade Phillips  wraps up  his  press conference  with media  at the  Cowboys' Irving facility  in  Texas.
Cowboys' coach Wade Phillips wraps up his press conference with the convened press at the team's facility in Irving , Texas. .................

Wade Phillips  wraps up his  press conference with the members of  the press at the  team’s  facility in Irving, Texas.  Phillips and his much heralded team failed to make  the playoffs this  year having posted a 9-7 record this season.  They sufferered  a humiliating  season ending  loss  to their divisional rivals  the  Philadelphia Eagles 44-6. Thereby  depriving  themselves  of a postseason  berth  in the playoffs. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Tony Gutierrez ….. 

 

We know  that they’re highly paid individuals and they come  at a premium.  But are they infact any different from a titan of  industry  who’s asked  to lead a multi-billion dollar conglomerate ?  By their decisions  made  on and  in some cases off the  field can lead tothe success that’s envisioned by the hierarchy  of a franchise  as  well  as that of the  fans  themselves. And be that as it may one can only summize  that the coaches  who  aspire be amongst the professional  ranks  of the NFL have not  only belief in their own abilities. But also in that of the people who hire them to undertake such a demonstrative task. Failure at any price isn’t an option but  what ought to matter are the strategies  and the acceptable  risks that are part of that endeavor. So much of  what’s  predicated as  success  within the NFL nowadays isn’t just  about the  results on the field.  But it also has  a lot  to  do with the business  side of  the issue off  the field.  A languishing  and  less than what’s  deemed successful franchise  can  cost a team and  its  owners tens of  millions  of  dollars  each year in revenues. And the  bottom line at the end  of  the day may well be  all that matters  to a number  of  owners  no matter what  their  own wealth constitutes.  Though many  of them will  have  you know  that  certainly isn’t always  the case. But  when  have you  ever  known a wealthy individual not to want just a bit more money lining their pockets or bank accounts looking considerably  fatter ?

 

Herm Edwards of  the Kansas City Chiefs strolls  the sidelines  his  teams succumbs to another loss  this time at the  hands of the Cincinnati Bengals......
Herm Edwards of the Kansas City Chiefs strolls the sidelines as he has to endure, suffer and succumb to the Cincinnati Bengals in 16-6 loss on Sunday in the team's final regular season game............

 Herm Edwards of  the  Kansas City Chiefs  strolls the sidelines  having to endure  his team’s  16-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in his team’s final regular season game. The  game played in Cincinnati ensured that the Chiefs ended  the season with a  2-14 regular season record. picture  appears  courtesy of  ap/photo/Al Behrman ………………

 

 

I won’t begrudge those who  make the  decisions to fire an individual  if  they  fail to offer  a succinct reason as  to  why they  ought  not to be. I  do know that there are also some  who were  more deserving  of  the  fate than  others.  But  I’d also  preface  this  with a caveat.  Becareful  of  what you  wish  for  as  you aspire on down the  road  to find the person who you deem fit  enough  to lead your  franchise up  from the depths which  they now find themselves within.  Because at the  end of  the  day it’s  not only  the  fans who  you may also  be  answerable to but also  to  your  own lust  for  untold  wealth and the greed  therein  that  goes along  with it.  But also  your own  conscience  whatever persona, form  or  guise it  may well take.  Afterall  this may well may be  a business  first  but  in large part it is  nothing more than a rudimentary form or entertainment for  us all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

tophatal  …………………….

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The Tampa Bay Lightning Are A Different Sort Of A Team ………………


Well  without much of  a fanfare  the  days of renowned ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose  came  and  went  without  much of  a furore in Tampa Bay. Such was the  consequential hiring and then all too abrupt firing.  That as  a sound byte it didn’t  really  create that much of a  seismic  wave within the sport.  Melrose brought in to replace John Tortorella  was seen  more of as a figurehead  who’d  garner the respect  of  his  players  and at the same time  bring  back some of the luster  and  pizzaz to a franchise  that’d fallen  somewhat on hard times.   Their home base of  the  St Pete Times Forum  wasn’t  the  same  place  that it once  was  when they  were  indeed the Stanley Cup champions and held sway over all of  the  NHL. 

 

Avalanche goaltender  Andrew Raycroft makes a golve save  against the  Lightning's  Martin St Louis ..........
Avalanche goaltender Andrew Racyroft makes a glove save against the Lightnings' Martin St Louis ..........

Avalanche goaltender makes a glove save  against the  Lightning’s Martin St  Louis  in the penalty shootout between the  two teams. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Chris O’Meara ………………..

 

But then  again as  we  all know  the  aftermath of  the Lightning’s  triumph  was shortlived  as  the  NHL and  its  players  spiralled out of  control  all by their sheer  inability  to see  what  was  happening  to the game , the greed  therein  and  the  naivete’  of  NHL  governor Gary Bettman.  Such as  things are now for the  franchise those  heady days  are now long  gone and  they’re  now  mired  in  mediocrity  with Rick Tocchet  now  charged with leading  them back to some  semblance  of  respectability. 

 

Mike Smith(41) the Lightning's  goaltender  disputes  the  call made  that he  threw his stick at  the Avalanche's Milan Hejduk  during the  penalty  shooutout  that  decided the  game in the Avalanche's favor ............
Mike Smith(41) the Lightning's goaltender argues a disputed decision with linesman David Bisebois where it was adjudged that Smith threw his stick at the Avalanche's Milan Hejduk during the penalty shooutout that the decided the game in the Avalanche's favor.

Mike Smith(41) the Lightning’s goaltender disputes the  linesman’s assertion that  he  intentionally threw his  stick at the Avalanche’s Milan  Hejduk  during the penalty shootout.  The  game was won 2-1 by the  Colorado  Avalanche  which  was  played  at  the  St Pete Times’ Forum in Tampa, Florida. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Chris O’Meara …………………..

 

 

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s season so far  can be  best described  as abysmal  to say the least.  And  though I’ve never  been much  of a hockey fan , to  my mind a  competitive and combative sport is  still  a  sport  no  less.  Tampay Bay Lightning for all of its  vagaries  has been playing as if it lacks  on confidence on the  ice and  has at this moment  in time no real leadership on it.  The  hyperbole  and  furore  surrounding the new  owner Oren Koules led one to believe  that after his purchase of  the  the from the  Davidson family. The  franchise would be on the rise to even bigger and better things.  But  then again when it comes  to  Hollywood  hype  Koules knows a thing  or two  about  the  whole  transiency  of the system  therein.  As a producer of  the  low  budget movie Saw, the   series  that has  become  a blockbuster as well  as  being an accredited producer for  the  CBS sitcom Two And A  Half Men.  It  can be said  that Koules  knows how  sell  make  and sell a  good product. Even when it happens to be  mediocre  in value.   That being  said  Koules’  penchant  for the  game  is  unquenchable  and  it’s his passion for it  and  the franchise  that  may  well also in some way  determine its  success on and off  the rink.

 

Peter Budaj of  the Avalanche celebrates  with teammates after the team's  OT victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning ...........
Peter Budaj the backup goaltender of the Avalanche celebrates with teammates after the team's O/T victory over the Lightning 2-1 in Tampa, Fl...................

Backup goaltender Peter Budaj of the Colorado Avalanche  celebrates with teammates after  the  team’s  O/T victory 2-1  over the  Tampa Bay Lightning  at the St Pete Times  Forum in Tampa, Florida.  picture appears  courtesy of getty images/ Doug Benc ………………

 

It has to be said  that it is  never  good  to see a professional sport’s franchise  mired  in mediocrity. But then again it’s  never  good  to see anyone be in such a predicament. Be it  self inflicted or not  which  in  many  ways this  whole  situation  for  the Lightning  wasof their  own making. They served up a platter  of  delicacies to the  fans by shedding  players who’d served  the franchise well.  And  brought in  players whom in many  respects didn’t  fit  the mould  of what the franchise had been  about  to begin with and  what  had originally  brought  about  its  success. Now as the  season  has got under way and  with  no real  identity  to speak of this  team struggles  to even show  some  semblance  of success.  No  leadership  from the  likes  of  Vincent ‘Vinny’ Lecalier  and  from even  his  teammate Martin St Louis. But yet the  fans  are  led  to believe  that  all  will be  right once  they  find their  footing.  And  even with their  young rookie  Steve Stamkos  now  realizing  the  rigors  of  playing  in the NHL isn’t  all  that  it’s cracked  up  to be.  One  can summize  that this  team’ll be in for a hard  time as the season progresses.

 

Goaltender Andrew Raycroft of  the Avalanche looks on as teammate Adam Foote(52) guards the  puck on defense  as  the Lightning's Martin St  Louis  tries to  makes his presence  felt .............
Adam Foote(52) of the Avalanche handles the puck on defense as his teammates goaltender Adam Raycroft looks on. In picture also is the Lightning's Martin St Louis.................

Adam Foote on defense handles  the  puck as  teammate and  goaltender Andrew Raycroft  looks  on as  the  Lightning’s Martin St  Louis on offense tries to make his presence felt. picture appears couertesy of  getty images/ Doug Benc  ……………………

 

If there’s one thing  that  has  become  apparent  for  both Tocchet and  Koules with regard  to the  team  is that it’s certainly  not playing  with  any  confidence  at all. And as  it sits at the  bottom of the  Southeast  Division  with  just 22 pts , just two  points  adrift of the Atlanta Thrashers and some 19 points out  of first place where  the  Washington Capitals who hold the lead.  Much as many  feel that it’s not  out  of the  realms  of  possibility for  the  franchise  to  make a run at a playoff berth. I’m  inclined  to believe that unless  they can catch  lightning  in  a bottle  and play  out  of  their  skins. The  only thing  that this team has  to play  for  now is pride and  self respect. And no matter  what assurances  and  rhetoric  that’s  forthcoming  from interim coach  Rick Tocchet.  The fact of the matter is that  this team just isn’t  good enough  to  hang  with  the  big dawgs of the  NHL  at  present.   Nor  are  they  likely  to  be  until they  get  a backbone.  Defensively they’re abysmal  and  on the  offensive side of  things at times  they’re  all somewhat gunshy.  A far  cry  from those halcyon days  of  being  called champions  and  their  bravado on the ice  went  unquestioned.

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The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse Are Alive And Well Playing In The NBA ……..


 Say  what you will about  defending a championship as there’s often the belief  that once  having  won one  it’s extremely difficult to come back to try and defend and retain the said  championship.  But it’d appear that’s what the Boston Celtics  are setting out to do this year.  So much so that the start and  stats  that they’ve  proceeded to put up are  even more staggering than last seasons.  They’re now on pace to exceed last season’s tally of 66 wins.  Infact that they’re  now on pace for 74 wins that’d best  the  Chicago Bulls’ 72-10 tally at the  height of when Michael  Jordan reigned supreme.
 

Paul Pierce  grabs his knee in pain during the game against the Utah Jazz ............

Paul Pierece grabs his left knee in pain having injured it  during the  game played  against  the Utah Jazz. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Paul Matthews ………..

 

That being said this team with their triumvirate of stars in the guise of  Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce now seem to have added an even greater swagger to their  role as champions. The team’s  play is one of confidence night in and night out since  this season has started. And  the fact that they now sit atop of their division with a commanding 10 game lead over their nearest  rival  the New Jersey  Nets within the Atlantic Division. It’d suggest that the team hasn’t  missed a beat since its defeat of the Los Angeles Lakers in last season’s NBA Finals. At 23-2 the  team as alluded to before is playing with a great  deal of confidence and it has to be said  has come  with the improvement in the play of sophomore point guard Rajon Rondo.  As of late the player has been on  a tear that has  impressed  not only his coach  Glenn Doc’ Rivers  but also  his more studious and experienced  teammates as well.

 

Rajon Rondo of the Celtics and Deron Williams of the  Jazz  contest a loose  ball  during  the game ...........
Rondo of the Celtics and Williams of the Jazz contest a loose ball .........

Rajon Rondo of  the Celtics  and  Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz contest a loose  ball during the  game  played  on Monday night.  picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Paul Matthews ……………….. 

Rondo commands the floor  with a great deal of presence and no longer would it appear that the leadership role on the floor has  to go through Garnett or Pierce with everyone else  having to defer to them both in terms of the team’s offense. Rondo now has the confidence in his own ability and  that of  his  teammates around  him that he makes the right decisions  when it  comes to the distribution of  the ball and  the aspects of  the  team’s offensive strategies. Rivers,himself  has expressed his pleasure  in the player’s seemingly progress and maturity  shown not  just  on the basketball court  but  also off it as well. So much so that the feeling  is that the player can become the lynch pin of the team’s success  for years to come and that the franchise  can also profit  from it all. Say nothing of which in repeating as champions they  would become to  the toast of the New England area.

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An Englishman’s Home Is His Castle But It’s Football(Soccer) That Becomes His First Love …………


 Well the Premiership is living up to everything that  one would come to expect of the world’s best  soccer league.  Albeit that  those who play within Serie’ A and La Liga  may well  be of a differing opinion. And the ever too discerning fan no matter who might  be will cling  to the teams that they are devoted to. That being said  it can be of  great importance  to those who  may well  view the turbulent  economic  times that  the world is now in.  A crisis that’d seem unimaginable  a few  years ago will  no doubt  envelope a great many teams far and wide.  Corporate governance asides the wealthy  teams can no longer  afford to be  audacious  when it comes  to purchasing a major star player.  

 

dimitry-berbatov-of-manchester-utd-is-booed-by-spurs-fans-in-a-premiership-game-played-at-white-hart-lane-n-london
Berbatov of Man Utd is booed by Spurs' fan in a Premiership game ............

Dimitry Berbatov of Manchester  United  is booed by resentful  Spurs’ fans in a game played between the two  teams  at  White Hart Lane, London. picture appears courtesy of afp/reuters ……………………..

 

The financial  constraints  will be felt wholeheartedly amongst many of the top teams  even if their owners  happen to  be multi-billionaires  or corporate behemoths. That being said the purpose of this  piece is to look at  what is  happening  now  with the game in England.  Where in particular this  season it is felt that the race for the Premiership title won’t be  as one  sided as many  had come to believe.  The perennial  powerhouses  such  as  Manchester United , Chelsea , Arsenal and  Liverpool  are  all fighting  for league supremacy and  the benefits thereof  financially.  Winning the Premiership  means almost immediate  financial benefits  to a team as it presents them with an automatic  berth into the Champions League tournament. However domestic supremacy and the bragging rights  certainly does mean  a great deal to the  teams as well.

 

Berbatov and Ferdinand of Manchester United question a referee's decision of a second bookable  offense ...............

 Dimitry Berbatov and Rio Ferdinand  question the referee’s decision in a second booking  of  a United player during  the game . picture appears courtesy of afp/reuters ………………….

 

The Premiership  table as it now stands has Liverpool , Chelsea , Manchester United ,Aston Villa  and Arsenal  leading  the pack.  And though it can be  said that if one had  to choose which team would be in with a  chance  of  winning  the  division outright.  One would be hard pressed  as a betting man  which  team overall would be favored.  The once mighty  Manchester United  hasn’t been anywhere near as  invincible  as some would believe.  And even their  most feared of  enemies Chelsea, seemingly a team whose  largesse knows no bounds when it comes  to their  billionaire  owner Roman Abramovich, has been playing  well. But  not as consistently as many believe that they can. The fact of the matter is that  this season we could very well see  a very tight race for  the Premiership title  with it quite possibly going  right down to the end of  the season.  And as laborious  as the season is with  multiple domestic as well as European  competition.  All of the top contenders  had better be on notice  that they cannot  fail or even for one moment  take their eyes of the prize.

 

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill celebrates  his  team's triumph over Bolton Wanderers 4-2 ............

Villa manager Martin O’Neill celebrates  his team’s  4-2 triumph over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday. picture appears courtesy of afp/reuters …………

 

For the most discerning fans  they feel that they’d like to see  their teams prevail. The teams themselves know that some semblance of  success is all that they can strive for.  Much has been made  of the  fact that the likes of  Chelsea, Liverpool , Manchester  United and Arsenal  have  seen  this all before.  But  there’s  an  ever so remote a possibility that neither  of  these  teams could  prevail in the end.  But those chances  seemingly  are ever so remote.  One of  these  titans of the game will end  up winning  the title  another time. The quartet in question have won the  domestic  championship between them in excess  of  thirty times. And whilst  United are traveling off to the other side of the world to face Gamba Osaka,of Japan the  champions of  Asia in  the World Club Championship. Another  some might feel contrived and  meaningless tournament.  But  the  very fact  of  the matter it’s  the  financial rewards and what little prestige  that  one  summizes  goes with  being  anointed champions of the  world goes a long way in gaining further worldwide notoriety for the game. 

 

 

Jermain Defoe  slots  home the winner  his  team  ...............

Jermain Defoe slots home the winner slots home the winner for Portsmouth  against Barnsley  in a Premiership  game played  on Saturday. picture appears courtesy of afp/reuters ………………………..

 

The Premiership League as I’ve alluded to earlier  is the most eagerly contested  soccer league  in the  world.  It has a vast array of  superstars from all corners of  the globe.  And  if anything  this is what  makes  the  game  and  the league itself  all  the more  appealing  for fans across the world.  It can’t be  truly expressed as to how popular the  game itself is right across the globe. Tens of millions of  people each week tune in to watch the  games  of  the Premiership League. And the entertainment provided is a justification of  what the  fans really appreciate. And that’s certainly not just  in the United Kingdom but worldwide. The game has become a multi billion dollar industry and the revenues seemingly are on the rise.

 

 

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