Category: Sports

Davidson They’re Who We’d Like To See ………………….


 

 

 

 

The college basketball season  has  began  and there are a  great  many  things to  look  forward to.  I   for  one  am  looking  to  see if  Stephen  Curry can  carry on   where he left off  last  season.  Though  it can  be  said  that  Davidson  may not be  looked   upon  as  a  powerhouse   within  the  college  basketball  world.   They   did  in  fact   give  a  number  of   teams   a  scare   last  season   in  the NCAA  tournament.
 
 
 

 

Stephen Curry  of Davidson  tries  to  evade the  defensive presence of   Duke's Greg Paulus  .................
Stephen Curry of Davidson tries to evade the defensive presence of Duke's Greg Paulus ...............

 

Stephen  Curry of  Davidson  tries to  evade the  defensive  presence of  Duke’s  Greg  Paulus  in  game played in Durham , NC.  The Blue Devils  would  go  on to win  the  game 79-67.  picture appears  courtesy  of  ap/photo/ Sara Davis …………………….

 

 

 

 

 

And as  much  as  we  all  value  the  underdog  when  it  comes  to  a  game  of   combative nature.  The  chances  are   that  we’ll   tend  to overlook the  likes   of   a  team  like  Davidson.  Much  has been  made of  the  prowess  of  the  likes of  Tyler Hansborough  of the  North Carolina  Tar Heels  and   the  Kentucky Wildcats’  Jodie Meeks.  It  has   Curry  more than  anyone   else that   I  for  one  have  looked   forward to seeing   this  season.   All  three   players  are   exceptionally  gifted and   talented   in  their  own   way.  But it  has  been  Curry   who  has  got my   juices   flowing  every  time   he  sets   foot  on  court.

 

 

 

Andrew Lovedale  of  Davidson and  Duke's  Jon Scheyer  tussle  over a  loose  ball   during  the  game  ...................
Davidson's Andrew Lovedale and Duke's Jon Scheyer tussle over a loose ball during the game in the second quarter .................

 

 

Davidson’s  Andrew  Lovedale  and  Duke’s Jon  Scheyer  tussle over  a  loose  ball  during the  game  in the  second quarter . picture appears courtesy   of  ap/photo/ Sara  D Davis ……………..

 

 

 

 

lot has   been   said   of  his  prowess  as a  scorer   but   also  of  late  he’s  shown  that  he  can  lead  by  example.  Albeit   that   we  don’t  often  get to  see  the  Davidson  Wildcats’ games being   nationally  televised.  He can score  with  the  best of  them   and  thought  it’s  often  pointed   out that  he   has  a tendency  to be  somewhat  hesitant   defensively.  He  more  than  makes  up  for  this   with  his   prowess  on  the   offensive  side  of the  ball.  And one  can  well  understand  the  reason  why  we’re  unlikely  to  see  the  team  on  a  regular  basis  on  the  networks  when  it come  to the  televising of the  game.  The  Southern  Conference  isn’t  built   around   blockbuster  names   that we  all  can  recognize  at  will.  The likes of  Furman , Chattanooga ,  Elon, Citadel and Appalachian State   don’t exactly  leap  out at  you  immediately. But then  again  we’re  merely  talking  about  what  some  might  deem  the  also  rans  within  the  college  basketball  world.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

And  with  this  team  getting  off  to  a  nice  stat  to their  season . It’s hoped  that  they can  make  it  all  the way  to  the  NCCA tournament  without   much    fuss.  It’s  always  welcoming  to  see  a team that’s  deemed  a  minnow   set  about   taking   on and  then  taking  down  one  of the  Goliaths  of  the  college  game.   Every  year  come   tournament  time   that’s   certainly  what   a  number  of  fans   are looking  forward  to. Should it  come to the  fact  that  we’re  liable to  see   one  of the  titans  get  knocked   down  a  peg or  two  then  so  be it.  It  makes   the  tournament   all the  more   exciting   for us  all. 

 

 

 

Curry reacts after  his  foul in the  second  quarter  of  the  game played in Cameron Indoor Arena , Durham , NC,. ...........
Curry reacts to his foul in the second quarter of the game played in Cameron Indoor Arena, Durham North Carolina..................

 

Curry  reacts to  his  foul in the  second  quarter  of  the  game played  in Cameron Indoor Arena  in  Durham, NC,. picture  appears courtesy of  ap/photo/ Sara  D Davis ………………

 

 

 

 

 

Much  as  I  like the NBA  it’s the  college  game  that  I  think  in  its  purest  form   that  can  be  just  as exciting  as  anything  served up  in the  professional  game. But there are those  amongst   us  who  may  well  feel   the  opposite.  Teams such  as   Davidson  and  others  within the NCAA  aren’t  spoilt  in   terms  of the  athletes   that  are  on  show.  And  if anything   in  pursuing  their   craft  the  players  are  quite  prepared to  do  things  the  right  way.  That’s  not  say  that  the  talent  on  show  is  as great   as what  we  have  on  view  in the  NBA.  But for   every  Kobe  Bryant ,  LeBron  James  ,  Amare  Stoudemire  and  Tyson Chandler  who  chose to   forego   college.  We  have  the likes  of  Hansborough,  Meeks  and  Curry. Many   of  the  players  mentioned  within the professional  ranks  had  their  shortcomings  when  they   first  started  out.  And in  time  they  overcame  those flaws. But  how  much  better  off  would    they  have  been  had  they  pursued at  least one  or  two   years  within the college  ranks ?  Such  are  the  machinations  of the  game  and  the  pursuit of   financial  security.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But  when  it’s  all   said and   done  it is  the  likes of   players  such   as  Meeks,  Curry   and  Hansborough  that  give  us  some of  our   greatest  pleasure when  it comes  to the  college   game.  And  the  likes  of   teams  such  as Davidson   where one  can   only   proceed  to  dream  as   to  what  might’ve  been  had  players  of  the  ilk  mentioned   in  the  professional  ranks   chose  to  grace  us   with  their  presence  within  the  college  game.  If   only  for a  brief  and  passing  moment.

GM For A Day Or Any Period of Time Who’d Want To Be ……?


As much as I like sports there are times  when I’m completely at a loss to explain how and why it is that the executives  act the  way that they do ?  In hiring a GM a franchise looks to have an executive to oversee the behind the closed door operations of  a sports entity. We’ve seen some successful ones from the likes of Scott Pioli of the New England Patriots, Dave Dombrowski of the Detroit Tigers, Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox and Brian Cashman of  the New York  Yankees.    What these executives have in common are that they’ve  each  had  success  in  their chosen field.

 

 

 

 

Scott Pioli GM of  the New England Patriots  alongside  coach Bill Belicheck..............

 

Scott Pioli GM of the New England Patriots  alongside the team’s coach Bill Belicheck. Pioli and  Belicheck are the architects behind  the team’s success. Though as  of late it’s been widely rumored that Pioli will be leaving  the franchise for pastures green.  picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Dan Foster …………………..

 

 

In reality however  who’d really  want to be the point man for a franchise ?  Where at  every press conference  you’re the one  who becomes the  voice  and  reason when  the  franchise may well be  in trouble .  Be  it a  player ,  a coach  or  even the owner  themselves.  These are  the guys  who become the face of  the franchise at  these  most sensitive of  times.

 

 

Dave Dombrowski alongside  Detroit Tigers' manager  Jim Leyland .........

Dave Dombrowski the GM of the Detroit Tigers and the team’s coach Jim Leyland. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Todd  Boumann ……………….

 

 

 

Recently however we saw  where  then coach Romeo Crennel  was fired by the  Cleveland Browns. Prior to Crennel’s loss of employment  the  GM in place  Phil  Savage  was let go by the team. Merely done one would  believe  because of the sheer  lack of  success by the team. And when it comes to success  a franchise is judged by  its team first and  then the  coach, manager and lastly the  General Manager.  These men and in some  cases women  are  recently a hot commodity when they’re  at  a premium.

 

 

 

Danny Ainge  GM  of the Boston Celtics  and the team's coach Glen 'Doc' Rivers

Boston Celtics’ GM  and President of Operations congratulates his head coach Glen ‘Doc’ Rivers after  the team’s triumph in last season’s  NBA Finals. picture appears courtesy of  getty images/Elsa Burke ………..

 

 

A good GM can earn in  excess of  $5m a year  and upwards .  And it’s not unheard in some cases  it can be an astronomical  sum. Suffice to say these  guys aren’t exactly  crying  and asking  where their next meal will be coming from. But to those who  aspire to hold such a  position within a franchise  they’re very  much  the  Chief  Executive Officer and they hold sway over  the owner. PR has to be part of their DNA when dealing  with the press and  public alike.  And  it says a lot as to their  communication skills  when they’re  able to have the press eating  out of  their hands  even  when  the  subject matter  is indeed a sensitive one. 

 

 

 

Former Browns' GM Phil Savage  seated  alongside  then coach Romeo Crennel ..................

Former Brown’ GM Phil Savage(foreground) and former coach Romeo Crennel at each other’s side during  a press conference. Both men have since been fired by the organization after a lackluster and disappointing NFL season.  picture appears courtesy of  ap/photo/Tony Dejak …….

 

 

When a sensitive matter  come to light  where it becomes  a staple of the  tabloids  then it’s very  much up to the GM to keep the  press at bay  while  the franchise has to  deal with the problem from within.  For the New  York Giants  this  had to be the  case  when the  Plaxico Burress  episode  came to  light and was  very  much the  press’  raison de etre’.  And as litigious as  society has now  become.  It can only be said  that  it also  helps  if they’ve  also got  a  legal  background behind  them. It may well  be one  of the  most desired  positions  within a sport’s  franchise.  But I  for one  wouldn’t  relish being  the  focus  of  such  unwanted  attention even if  only  briefly.

 

 

 

So for now let’s just see how these  individuals will  suffice  over their  tenure at the  top of the  food  chain. Much  like the  execs at the top of a multi billion dollar  enterprise  these men  are  placed  under  a great deal of pressure  to make  the right  sort of    decisions  that’ll  go a long way  in defining  a franchise and  the  ultimate  direction that it heads in. 

 

 

 

 

 

tophatal  ………………………

It’s Not What I Would’ve Wanted But There You Have It …………..


 The wiles of the NFL are a strange game to me. The game between the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos whilst meaning a great deal to  both teams. It had me thinking how are those two teams with such established stars can proceed to play so unevenly throughout much of the regular season?  And while San Diego obliterated the Broncos, ended their Superbowl aspirations that led to the firing of Mike Shanahan.  Wherein the AFC West division as we know it has become to be known has as its content some of perhaps some of the worst teams in all of the NFL.

 

Vincent Jackson(83) congratulates teammate  LaDanian Tomlinson after his touchdown against the Denver Broncos at  Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Ca,.  ...............
LaDanian Tomlinson(21) is congratulated by teammate Vincent Jackson(83) after his TD against the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego ,Ca

 

lLaDanian Tomlinson(21) is congratulated by teammate Vincent Jackson(83) after Tomlinson’s touchdown during the game against the Denver Broncos played at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Ca,. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Mark Talbot ……………..

 

 

 

 

The Chargers notwithstanding the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders have hardly shown that the division possesses a team of merit based on their play this season.   As winners of the division with an 8-8 record they scraped their way into the playoffs. Albeit that they won their last four games of the season. Now the Chargers will have to face the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the postseason playoffs as wildcard entrants. The Colts as with a record of 12-4 made their way into the postseason upon the resurrection and play of their Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning. 

 

 

 

Marvin Harrison(88) of  the Indianapolis  Colts is greeted by teammates prior to the start of  the game played against the Titans ....................
Marvin Harrison(88)of the Colts is greeted by teammates in the team ritual and introduction prior to the game.

 

Marvin Harrison(88) of the Indianapolis Colts is congratulated by teammates prior to the game against the  Tennessee Titans. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Victor Matthews ……………………….. 

 

 

 

 

The San Diego Chargers by way of their own play this season has been erratic and uneven.  But for the resolute play of quarterback Phillip Rivers one doubts that the team would’ve  got as far as they did. LaDainian Tomlinson their much heralded running back has had a down year and even with regard to injuries. It can be said  that the player’s overall performances have  been somewhat sub par.  The loss of defensive stalwart Shawn Merriman also played a part in the downside to the team’s overall record. Merriman when on the field has been a player who has brought a great deal of forthright resolve to the team’s play as well as on the field leadership.  Other than Rivers who has been vocal as to the on field leadership, the team has been labored its way throughout the season and into the playoffs. Norv Turner if anything has been extremely lucky to be in the  position where he still holds a coaching job in the NFL.  The feeling was that should the Chargers fail to make the postseason he may well have been one of the casualties as to the firings that’ve proceeded to take place since season’s end.

 

 

(more…)

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  …………………….

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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