Little somethin for my godson Elijah and a little girl named Kerim
Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
I say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots
I give a holler to my sisters on welfare
Tupac cares, if don’t nobody else care
And uhh, I know they like to beat ya down a lot
When you come around the block brothas clown a lot
But please don’t cry, dry your eyes, never let up
Forgive but don’t forget, girl keep your head up”
Now it goes without saying that the year 2009 has to have been one of great joy and no doubt costing us a great deal of heartache as it came to comings and goings of our team or teams , as the case maybe. Well, most certainly for me it was. Although I’m still pinning my hopes that the New England Patriots can acquit themselves well in the upcoming NFL playoffs. If not then , I guess that I’ll just have to deal with it. Fear not, I won’t be committing suicide or anything near as drastic as that. I’m more liable to drown my sorrows with a bottle of alcohol and reminisce as to what went right my teams and what indeed went wrong. Only then, will I have a really clear picture as to why things unraveled so, for my teams.
In the NFL as many of you will no doubt be aware I’m an avid follower and supporter of the New England Patriots. Call me any of the following adjectives if you must, stupid , naive , crazy. I’ll be able to take it. It’s what we Brits do best but not always , as I’m not your typical soft spoken Englishman. I may well have been born on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and a subject of Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. But that’s as far as it goes with regard to my British background. As my ancestry is steeped in the traditions of the Caribbean and its islands. Both of my parents are natives of Jamaica . And for the younger part of youth, I initially lived there for the better part of 7 years.
Jamaica’s ‘greatest musical ambassador and export’ to the culture of the world. Bob Marley and his iconic group ‘The Wailers’ . Here they’re seen performing one of their biggest international hits ‘ Natural Mystic’. As a youngster I must admit that I went through the phase of mysticism and the Rastafarian faith and culture. Ever in search of something meaningful to life. Something that I still adhere to, today. ‘Jah , Rasta far I’ !
At the age of ten I returned to the United Kingdom with my younger brother to finish my formal education in Britain. My sister remained behind , living with my maternal grandmother for the next six years , before she too would join me , my younger brother ,father and mother in our home. Those years apart from my sister brought the siblings closer together as we advanced into adulthood. And for good reason, as it meant as a familial unit we could come to rely on each other when there was in fact a great problem. None perhaps more so , than when my father decided to up and leave his family to be with ‘his mistress’. What ensued from there made and the family and I ,a much closer unit than I could ever have imagined. No father there as a guide, for me and my brother . And no father figure as such , for my sister to dote on. Needless to say, it was our mother who ended up filling both of the roles, any child accustomed to having both parents around would need. And she fulfilled those obligations admirably.
At (10-5) with the lone game remaining against the Houston Texans, this upcoming Sunday (Week 17). The team can take flight in knowing that it has already sown up the AFC East division, having garnered a wild-card berth in the playoffs. But this ought to be not a great deal to shout about for this Bill Belichick coached team. As their form as late, can be best described as erratic. From one game to the next you just can’t be sure which Patriots’ team will turn up. The one that exudes confidence and at times has played like champions. Or the one that for some lame ass reason tends to stoop to the level of a lesser opponent and who in the end comes off looking like a fraud. That’s the dilemma that I, as a Pats’ fan sees before me. Whether or not those views shared by other Patriots’ fans , I cannot be all that sure . But in all likelihood I know that there are some of us out there who are very much concerned with the unevenness of the team’s play throughout much of this season. I can only hope for their sake and that of the fans the ship is righted before it sets sail into the playoff against its first round opponent !
As Tim Duncan gets older, the more cerebral he becomes as a player. He may well be that one or two steps slower but he more than makes up for it with his more than agile basketball IQ. If there’s a better player in the NBA at present playing the position of that ‘power forward’ and hybrid center’ , then by all means name him and make sure that you’ve got the facts to back up the veracity of your argument. The San Antonio Spurs may not be the dominant force it once was but they’re still a team to be reckoned with. And in Gregg Popovich , they still possess one of the more astute and well rounded coaches in all of the NBA. Other than Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers, Popovich is the only coach in the league to have won multiple titles posted on their career resume’ as a coach. It paints in stark contrast as to what has happened in the rest of the NBA. Long tenured coaches in the NBA nowadays, is now becoming something of a rarity , with the exception of Jackson , Popovich and Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz. A very select and rare breed indeed !
This season I expect the Spurs to contend within their division and the Southwest Division of the Western Conference may well be the most competitive in all of the NBA. It is now stacked with teams from top to bottom that possess a great deal of talent. And in all likelihood it will take something of a dog fight for more than one if not two or more teams from the division to make the playoffs. The Dallas Mavericks, Spurs , Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets and now a resurgent Memphis Grizzlies are all looking to stake their claim that they are indeed playoff material and NBA championship contenders. And of the teams within the division , the Spurs are the lone winners of an NBA championship. As a matter of that they’re the only multiple winners of a championship outside of the Lakers within the Western Conference. And as of now , the Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban will do whatever it takes to make that a reality for his team to land its first NBA championship. He’s become the George Steinbrenner of the NBA but with a much more odious personality. Brash and outspoken, Cuban doesn’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks of him , just as long his name is in the spotlight. And for NBA commissioner , David Stern that has become a bone of contention. Especially given Cuban’s constant criticism of the league and its game officials.
The Los Angeles Lakers are quite rightly deemed the team to beat in the Western Conference. And as the defending champions that’s where everyone will take aim. But with the now confidence enriched Lakers and that of their All Star guard and regular and NBA Finals’ MVP in Kobe Bryant looking to repeat as champions. I do believe that things will be considerably more difficult for not only the San Antonio Spurs in derailing the aspirations of Bryant and his teammates. But it’ll also be the same for the entire NBA. And that is with due respect to the likes of the Eastern Conference’s Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks. As the only way to derail the Lakers at this juncture, would be if someone were to pass on a communicable and deadly bacterial form of a disease unto Kobe Bryant. Now don’t get any ideas out there as this would be deemed a felony, punishable by a several years in prison , if found guilty. Think about it , do you really hate Kobe Bryant and the Lakers that much ?
If you drink it and it doesn’t kill you, then you’re fine. That’s how it is with myself and the Florida Marlins. I wasn’t tempted by Eve to bite of the forbidden fruit, or in this case drank of the wine that is the Marlins. In MLB , what you see is what you get with a vast array of the teams. The Florida Marlins aren’t glamorous but they are by no means the poor man’s Donald Trump. They’re mid tier to low market team who just happens to reside in one of the top 25 ad markets in the US and that’s it. Any appearance of grandeur is lost on the franchise. Their owner Jeffrey Loria , though a billionaire several times over is essentially a spend thrift. And anyone who knows of his previous exploits as major league baseball owner with the ‘now defunct’ Montreal Expos , should know exactly what I’m talking about. ‘Shout-outs’ to my man mceezy, over at doin-work.com It’d appear that’s something that he’s not accustomed to doing when it comes to an in depth research on an issue.
In the NL East the pecking order now appears to be the Philadelphia Phillies and everyone else in no discerning order, with the exception of the moribund Washington Nationals. They’re now beginning to make competitiveness within baseball seem like an all ‘too dirty word’. With the continued mediocrity of the Pittsburgh Pirates , Kansas City Royals and the Washington Nationals. Major League Baseball can now be happy that it has its own trifecta of piss poor major league teams. And for God’s sake please don’t bring up the use of the word prospects as the rationale behind the ineptitude. That argument has now become mute, archaic and completely devoid as to its veracity. If only we had someone within the upper echelons of baseball’s hierarchy to figure this all out ? But unfortunately baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig is too busy counting his salary from 2008 and that was an estimated $17.5 million for that year alone. What the fu_k ? Not even Steve Ballmer , the CEO of Microsoft pulls down that sort of cash each year. And we all know how big Microsoft is as a company , don’t we ? And people question my resolve when I say that there’s indeed a financial imbalance within the game of baseball. Well look no further than Bud Selig , to see one of the ‘biggest miscreants and frauds’ within the entire game.
As I alluded to earlier the pecking order within the NL East is he Philles and everyone else thereof. We have free wheeling , dealing and exorbitant spending New York Mets, the Washington Nationals , the Atlanta Braves and last but not least the Florida Marlins. And for Marlins’ manager, Fredi Gonzalez , each year that he has this team remaining competitive. Then each year that it is, he also gains more experience and no doubt the confidence of his players as a team.
The Marlins, albeit that they’re very much a young team they do possess on their roster several bright and up and coming players who’ve essentially taken the opportunity given to them and have begun to prove themselves. Add in the fact that they also have one of the most ferociously talented players in all of baseball in, Hanley Ramirez. And you can well understand why it is I am excited to see this team on the baseball diamond. Ramirez’s presence only adds to the confidence of the team overall and his teammates feed off that confidence. This team can contend with the likes of the Mets and Phillies , if they apply themselves to the task at hand. But it’d be easy to overlook the team’s frailties as well. And that comes in the lack of real consistent every day pitching from the rotation. As good as I and many others may well deem it to be. I’d be remiss to think that they all have to do is to rely on the offensive presence of the likes of Ramirez, Jorge Cantu , Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin , Cody Ross and Emilio Bonifacio to see them through each game. It has to be a collective effort all round . And it has to be done with regularity on a day in, day out basis. That’s what separates the good teams from the bad teams and the bad teams from the woefully inept. Consistency has always paid dividends and that is what the Florida Marlins must now strive for . In time everything else falls into place.
I have been lucky enough to witness this ball-club win two World Series championships in the very first decade of their existence. And there’s not that many major professional sports franchises that one can actually say that about , in this modern era. But more is the pity that the game itself can’t be played on an even footing . It might perhaps further the allure of the game instead of detracting from it .
Financial nuances asides the tumult that has beset the Florida Marlins being the only major league franchise to call its own home venue. The franchise only derives of its revenues through concessions and souvenir sales at Landshark Stadium Stadium.(formerly Dolphins Stadium- owned by the Miami Dolphins of the NFL) Much of this asinine juxtaposition comes from the lack forthright action by Bud Selig’s office and none commitment of Marlins’ owner in making a full financial obligation in getting a new stadium built. Since they’re coming into inception the Marlins have continued to play in the same venue. Here you can the political grandstanding by all parties involved. Herein the Miami City Commission.
These are but my thoughts and feelings to three major professional sports franchises that I for one wholeheartedly support in good and bad times. And I’m not one sugar coat my feelings about them when I know that their fortunes are heading towards the outhouse. As is my right I’ll be openly critical of ownership on down. I’ve a vested interest in seeing them do well, rather than seeing them being proverbially being used as a fire hydrant for every canine that wants to urinate on them. And that’s something that some fans would rather not question about the teams that they support. Instead they sit around and play the optimist. What use is that when you’re continually being sold a ‘bill of goods’ that offers nothing tangible in return ?
In good times as with the bad maybe the only thing as a supporter you can do …..”is just to keep your head up ’cause things are gonna get easier and things are get brighter” .
Tupac Shakur’s rendition of his seminal hit, ‘Keep Your Head Up’
NB: Click here to read the entitled piece ‘If We Build It They Will Come’. The piece deals with the politicking , the in fighting and all of the intrigue of the vested parties that looked to finalize the building of a venue for the Florida Marlins.