Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Sports, Tampa Bay Rays

I Wish Them The Best I Wish Them The Best …..I Really Do ! Wait A Minute Reality & Gut Check Time …………..


I Wish Them The Best I Wish Them The Best …..I Really Do ! Wait A Minute Reality & Gut Check Time …………..

Spring Training is here and teams have arrived at their respective destinations for the start of the Cactus and Grapefruit League’s preseason games. The Tampa Bay Rays for their part , this weekend they have their fan friendly ‘Rays’ Fanfest’. There the Rays’ effervescent fans will get to meet and greet the players as well the Rays’ coaching staff and owners. All well and good one might think for the franchise but they , alongside several other teams around the league face a very daunting task this upcoming season. Major League Baseball (MLB) for all the nonchalant mindset and comments from the owners and in particular from Commissioner Bud Selig , has simply failed to address a number of issues that still places the game and a number of teams on the edge of a precipice . Were it not for the fact that the NBA , NHL and NFL have their own problems in part, that are somewhat similar in nature to that of baseball’s . We wouldn’t as such , be overly concerned.if only because MLB isn’t in the midst of a labor dispute. And even Major League Soccer (MSL) are not to be left out of this all , as they now face a very tense period of deliberations as they try to resolve their impending collective bargaining agreement renegotiation with the Major League Soccer Players’ Union (MLSPA). MLSP’s Executive Director Bob Foose and the league’s commissioner, Don Garber , have been cordial with one another during their deliberations. But the players themselves, feel that they’re now being short-changed by the league and its process.

Both NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his NBA counterpart David Stern have their own problems, as they try to eke out an agreement between themselves and their respective unions – NFLPA & the NBPA . NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter have now backed their respective leagues against a wall and they now await their next moves. It’s now one big game of cat and mouse ,with a little bit of ‘chicken’ being thrown in for good measure.

Minnesota Twins pitcher Joe Mauer swings in the batting cage  at baseball spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010. photo appears courtesy of  Assoc Press/ Nati Harnik  .......
Minnesota Twins pitcher Joe Mauer swings in the batting cage at baseball spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010. photo appears courtesy of Assoc Press/ Nati Harnik .......

As to the season and how the teams embark upon it will rest with their play during Spring Training. A number of teams will be looking to show off their new acquisitions to their fans and likewise the fans themselves will want to gauge how they feel that their teams will do. For myself, as a Florida Marlins’ fan I just want to see the team remain competitive throughout the course of the preseason and then acquit themselves well enough to challenge the likes of the Mets , Phillies and Braves within the NL East division. If they can hold their own against that triumvirate of teams and contend for the division. Then there’s no reason to believe why they won’t be able to contend in the postseason in the in both the NLDS and NLCS . Anything gained beyond that to me, would be deemed more than welcomed if it meant another World Series appearance ! I’ve been lucky enough to witness organization win two of them , since their inception. Which is more than can be said for the Cubs’ organization over the past 100 hundred years.

Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, left, watches batting practice with Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez during spring training baseball Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010, in Jupiter, Fla. With the smallest payroll in the majors last year, the Marlins won 87 games and finished six games behind eventual league champion Philadelphia in the NL East. Visiting spring training to watch the first full-squad workout, Loria said the 2009 Marlins underachieved.  photo  appears  courtesy of  Assoc  Press/Jeff Roberson   ........
Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, left, watches batting practice with Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez during spring training baseball Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010, in Jupiter, Fla. With the smallest payroll in the majors last year, the Marlins won 87 games and finished six games behind eventual league champion Philadelphia in the NL East. Visiting spring training to watch the first full-squad workout, Loria said the 2009 Marlins underachieved. photo appears courtesy of Assoc Press/Jeff Roberson ........

Now we can all opine on the struggles of the teams that we know that won’t be in with a shot of competing for anything other than mediocrity within MLB and as a matter of fact within the respective divisions . I mean what would the odds-makers in Vegas be wagering on there being a Kansas City Royals , Washington Nationals World Series ? Much less the Pittsburgh Pirates winning more than 85 games during the regular season ? Any takers on either ? I thought not ! It’d be catastrophic for major league baseball and could well send Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy into a catatonic state , were the scenario to arise, where the Nationals and Royals to ‘meet up’ in the league’s showcase event in the ‘Fall’.

One of the more intriguing scenarios and division this season , might be the competitiveness that might well arise within the AL West . The cream always rises to the top they usually say. That may no longer be the case in that regard , as there have been several changes made to the roster of the Los Angeles Angels . We may well see them regress and come back to the pack within the division. They are still the team to beat and on paper though they are a lessened squad, don’t be fooled into thinking that Mike Sciocsia won’t have his team ready to play. Both he and his coaching staff will most definitely make sure of that. With the Seattle Mariners Mariners , Oakland A’s and Texas Rangers, all having added pieces to their respective rosters. The division could be very interesting place for to see some very good baseball being played throughout much of the regular season. The Mariners have added enfant-terrible’ Milton Bradley to their lineup , where he’ll be alongside major league veterans Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki . But the biggest blow to the Angels may well have been them allowing the departure of their pitching ace John Lackey to the Boston Red Sox , via free agency. Never mind the fact that Vladimir Guerrero is now a Texas Ranger and one could surmise that Angels’ GM Tony Reagins wants a fresh face new look to owner Arte Moreno’s team.

Both the AL Central and NL Central should allow us the chance to see whether or not there’ll be repeat champions within both divisions. As both the Minnesota Twins and the St Louis Cardinals will be looking to successfully defend their divisional crowns. They’ll no doubt be tested by the respective aspiring contenders within their division. But in each case the division is theirs to lose. And with both Joe Mauer of the Twins and Albert Pujols of the Cardinals as the reigning league MVP’s, there would also the possibility of the duo repeating those feats. Suffice to say , that if they were both to repeat as the respective league MVP’s, I wouldn’t be at all be unhappy , as they are both terrific players and a credit to the game of baseball.

Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux, who is now the assistant to the Cubs general manager, watches practice during spring training baseball camp Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux, who is now the assistant to the Cubs general manager, watches practice during spring training baseball camp Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010, in Mesa, Ariz. photo appears courtesy of Assoc Press/ Ross D. Franklin ............

The usual frenzy that we’ve come to expect and see from both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees will continue to go on unabated within the AL East . One , is the team ‘we all just love to hate’ , while the other we just continue to bear, just as long as they are ‘beating up’ on the Yankees . Am I wrong or am I right ? You’ll hear no qualms from me on that matter !

And while the Yankees have gone about ridding itself of players they supposedly feel are no longer of value to the team . With Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera now both in the last year of their respective contracts. It’ll be interesting to see the stance taken by Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman and that of the team’s front office . In particular the actions of Henry ‘Hank’ Steinbrenner and his brother, Harold ‘Al’ Steinbrenner , who under the patriarch George Steinbrenner , now run the organization along with its board members. But as custodians of the family’s ownership of the team , they’re now entrusted with looking after its immediate future and long term success. The thought process may well be to re-sign both Jeter and Rivera to sizable contracts but nothing that would be deemed to be overly long term. Both have been the ‘face’ of the Yankees’ success over the last decade plus. Wherein they have been around for the team’s most recent World Series’ successes . The thought of neither of these two players being part of the organization beyond this year could well be seen as a passing of the torch ? But who would then be deemed the recipient of the mantel held by Jeter ? And who could be seen as the ‘natural heir apparent’ to Rivera ? The two players are perhaps two of the most beloved players in the long line Yankees’ greats that have played for the organization.

Courtesy of St Petersburg Times

Hillsborough’s budget problems could sink cross-bay move by Rays

By Bill Varian , Times Staff Writer

TAMPA — Proposals to build a new pro baseball stadium in Hills­borough County may be speculative at this point.

But Hillsborough officials say what’s certain is that there is little public money available to help turn that prospect into concrete, should the Tampa Bay Rays direct their gaze this way. There also doesn’t appear to be any political will to even broach the topic.

“It’s unlikely given the financial situation of cities and counties that any government will step up with a financing plan to build a new stadium,” said Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. “And again, I think we have to be mindful that we work together as a region, not in competition with one another.”

The debate over the Rays’ future in St. Petersburg took a turn last week when it was confirmed that at least two groups are investigating possible baseball stadium projects in Hillsborough. One group is looking at downtown Tampa, the other at the state fairgrounds.

Those two locations were among five possible new homes for the Rays put forward by the ABC coalition, a business group formed by the city of St. Petersburg to assess the team’s future. With St. Petersburg officials refusing to hear the report, Hills­borough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan has invited the group to give a presentation to his board.

But practically speaking, Hillsborough County government has little room from current available tax sources to help build a stadium. What money there is in an era of government layoffs would not make a significant dent in debt payments for a stadium that could cost $500 million or more.

And no one is stepping forward to float another new tax.

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In order to read Bill Varian’s article in its entirety just click unto
the link provided.
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As I alluded to earlier, the AL East will about the two prominent teams is the Red Sox and Yankees. As they fare, the fate of Tampa Bay Rays may well be decided upon whether they can pose enough of a challenge to these two dominant teams. In all likelihood the wild-card berth representative for the American League will come from within the division. And for the Rays to pull of the feat of either winning the division or being the wild-card representative , they are going to have to play 0.600 ball or better. Meaning that they’ll have to win a minimum of 97 games. As to whether or not they are capable of achieving that feat will be dependent upon the coaching ability of Joe Maddon and his coaching staff . This team is certainly capable of doing that if the likes of Evan Longoria , Carl Crawford , B. J. Upton , Ben Zobrist , Carlos Pena , Willy Aybar and in particular the pitching rotation led by Matt Garza and James Shield ‘play up’ to their full potential.

Rays’ ownership under principal partner Stuart Sternberg and General Manager Andrew Friedman have done their very best to make sure that the best possible in onfield talent is there , in trying to attain the success they seek. And that is with the limited financial resources that is available to Sternberg. This will be the ‘make or break season’ for the organization altogether. Failure to meet even moderate success on the field and it means that Tropicana Field , the home venue of the Rays , will then become a barren wasteland in terms of competitive baseball. Lackluster support from the local community has hurt the commercial viability of the club and it may well mean that Stuart Sternberg and his partners may well seek to relocate the franchise elsewhere. The thought of building a state of the art venue that seats anywhere between 35,000 to 45,000 fans for the moment is just that , all talk !. And given the economic climate within the state, it will prove to be hard to justify that type of expenditure at the expense of the local infrastructure and quite possibly the local taxpayers. This much is certain, the cost of building such a facility won’t be borne by the club or for that matter by the MLB hierarchy . We’ve seen the merits of Bud Selig’s edict on this very topic. And that is to suborn and extort the community into building a facility that it can ill afford to pay for. And given the idiocy of the local print media and their belief that the money is there for such a venue to be built . You could surmise that as long as they have something to write about within the local sport’s market then nothing else at all matters.

As the season unfolds it will be great to see how a number of teams fare and whether or not there will be a distinct change in fortune for some. Given the present unenviable tenure of the Chicago Cubs and their prolonged drought. Perhaps the baseball gods might willingly smile upon the club and at least grant them their wish of an appearance in the World Series. Don’t you now believe that their long suffering fans at are least are deserving of that fate ? ‘Curse of the goat’ and Steve Bartman notwithstanding, even the Cubs are deserving of their day in the sun. But wha’d ya know, they will somehow find a way to disappoint their fans. I mean it’s been 102 year and counting, since they won a World Series. So why all of a sudden should things change for the better, for the organization ?


Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………….

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For the fans out there who’ve seemingly lost ‘faith’ in their team. Here’s George Michael to reassure you that you’ve got to have ………..”Faith”.

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In order to view the gallery pictures in full just click on each to see in them in their entirety. All pictures
appear courtesy of Associated Press @ copyrighted material …..

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Angell Conwell, Hot Females

What Can Angell Conwell Do For You ….. ?


What Can Angell Conwell Do For You …..?

Aspiring actress Angell Conwell , who has been featured in the print media. Amongst such magazines as King Magazine and FHM. Primarily known for merely supporting roles. This young actress is hoping to now hit it big in Hollywood. And hopefully they’ll take note of Conwell , once they see her up close and personal. Angell was born August 2nd 1983 in Orangeburg , South Carolina. She would then move to Columbia, South Carolina , at the tender age of two along with her family.

Angell  Conwell  aspiring   actress and   model.   Amongst  her  list  of credits is   the   critically  lampooned  box  office 'bomb'  'Soul  Plane'.  Conwell  alongside Sofia Vergara   were the   only  visual bright  spots  from  a  'poorly  contrived  movie'.
Angell Conwell aspiring actress and model. Amongst her list of credits is the critically lampooned box office 'bomb' 'Soul Plane'. Conwell alongside Sofia Vergara were the only visual bright spots from a 'poorly contrived movie'.

Conwell’s body of, work though slight. She has also been featured in the videos of such singer- songwriters as, John Legend, Robin Thicke and Maxwell, to name but a few.

And so without further ado, here’s a gallery of rather tasteful pictures of Angell Conwell. So do enjoy and by all means leave a comment as to your likes and dislikes concerning the piece. Don’t forget now , in order to fully appreciate the gallery pics , you’ll need to click unto each individually.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slide-show for your perusal .

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………………….

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50 Cent feat’g Ne-yo …….’Baby By Me’

Baseball, Football, Mark Dominik, MLB, NFL, Raheem Morris, Sports, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Rays

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina ……..Or In This Case The Tampa Bay Rays ……….


Don’t Cry For Me Argentina ……..Or In This Case The Tampa Bay Rays ……….

The woes of the sporting landscape here within the Tampa Bay area has been well chronicled over the years. From the years of mired mediocrity of all three of the professional sports franchises in the area. Apparently it’s back though not quite yet with the same resonance as before . The pitiful Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their half a_sed fans have pinned their hopes on Raheem Morris as the team’s coach and that of Mark Dominik as their general manager. Nothing quite like throwing a half drowned child back into a swimming pool and telling them that they need to learn how to swim. And this is in essence is what the Bucs’ ownership has done with the inexperienced duo of Dominik and Morris.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris, left, and General Manager Mark Dominik talk to the media today about the release of five popular Buc players.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris, left, and General Manager Mark Dominik talk to the media today about the release of five popular Buc players. photo appears courtesy of St Pete' Times/ Skip O'Rourke ......

Now comes the hard part for the cash strapped organization they’ve got to in part lure the fans back to Raymond James Stadium to endure an inferior product and playing staff on the field of play this upcoming season. Never mind coming off a horrendous 3-13 this past season. The the coach was reveling in the fact, that the team had shown signs of life and improvement in their play as the season progressed. Call me naive but how is there improvement in a team, when they couldn’t even string together series of wins during the regular season ?. The coaching and entire coaching staff was completely out of its depth. And the less than knowledgeable fans in the area in their calls to the various local sports talk show hosts , were only too willing to subject themselves to complete ridicule with their so called observations on the Buccaneers. I’m not saying that the vast majority of the fans are clueless but when you start making asinine comments such as… ‘Sabby Piscitelli has the future makings of being Pro Bowl caliber player’. Then I’ve got to believe that some of these fans are chemically dependent on an illegal substance of some sort. Either that , or they’ve just escaped from the nearest mental facility within area ?

Former   hedge  fund  manager  and  venture  capitalist  Jeff  Vinik. The  multi-millionaire  businessman  recently  bought   the NHL's  Tampa  Bay  Lightning   from  Oren  Koules and   his  syndicate  partnership  group  for  the  bargain  basement   price  of  $170 million.  photo appears  courtesy  of  Associated  Press/  Charles Krupa ..........
Former hedge fund manager and venture capitalist Jeff Vinik. The multi-millionaire businessman recently bought the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning from Oren Koules and his syndicate partnership group for the bargain basement price of $170 million. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Charles Krupa ..........

The NHL hockey franchise in the area , the Tampa Bay Lightning has been mired in a similar decline of monumental proportions. So much so, that the ownership group that was once led by Hollywood movie producer Oren Koules and his syndication partnership have up and sold the franchise because of the sheer ineptitude shown on their part and the ongoing bickering that took place between Koules and senior partner , Len Barrie . If you’ve ever witnessed two five years old’s in a playground hurling barbs at each other. Then the idiocy of the behavior between Koules and Barrie bordered on that. The syndicate bought the NHL franchise for $240 million but off loaded it for the bargain basement sum of $170 million . But bear in mind that they still owe the previous owners of the franchise in excess of $75 million and they had also failed to keep up the installment payments to the owners , as this was the form of payment the original sale took. As to how this could ever been sanctioned by the league’s front office and its commissioner, Gary Bettman . Well, it clearly shows the idiocy of the game’s hierarchy and within its own head office. And so the travails of the sport remains ongoing . They’re but a heartbeat away from becoming completely extinct. I’d dare say that the vast majority of Canadians are pis_sed to see what has become of their national passtime in the hands of a US based and led hierarchy ?

The Lightning was sold to former hedge fund manager and multi-millionaire , Jeff Vinik . The new owner seems predisposed to spending whatever it takes to put the team back on track . And for the moment he’s placing his faith in Rick Tocchet and his coaching staff . And with a 26-24 (63 points) record and still something of a great deal to play for. The Lightning will have to play at an extremely high standard if they’re to harbor any hopes of garnering a playoff berth from within their division (Southeast) and the Eastern Conference as a whole.

Now the real problem for the franchise has been the been the dwindling attendance and hardcore support for the ‘the team’. And with their home arena filled to less than capacity. It’s easy to see why they now face an uphill task to lure fans back to the St Pete Times Forum . With barely nothing approaching 12,000 fans for a home game , the struggles for the franchise are mounting not just to maintain its competitiveness but also for its financial stability and viability within the area.

Matthew Silverman, left, Andrew Friedman and Stuart Sternberg are overhauling the Devil Rays.  photo  appears  courtesy of  New York Times/ Phillip   Diedrich  ..................
Matthew Silverman, left, Andrew Friedman and Stuart Sternberg are overhauling the Devil Rays. photo appears courtesy of New York Times/ Phillip Diedrich ..................

If things aren’t tough enough for the Tampa Bay Rays , as it is already. Now they have to contend with a rejuvenated New York Yankees’ team and a powerhouse that’s back to where they feel that they rightfully belong. And that’s atop of the baseball world as ‘World Series champion’. Never mind that they also have to contend with the Boston Red Sox , in what is an already competitive and contentious AL East division within major league baseball (MLB). But that doesn’t even describe many of the problems that the organization is now said to be facing. Some of it self inflicted , and some of it not. Its hardcore fan-base is barely above 14,000 at best and the team averages just over 23,000 per game (2009). Hardly what one would think viable to sustain a professional baseball franchise within the area. But this is how the Rays continues to survive while trying to eke out a profit for its syndicated partnership of owners headed by Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman . And then add this together with the fact that the Yankees’ spring training facility is domiciled in the city of Tampa at ‘Legends Field’ . And you begin to comprehend the vast problems that the Rays face in trying to attract fans to their home venue of Tropicana Field ,Tampa.

Courtesy of St Petersburg Times in conjunction with Tampa Bay.com

Give Tampa Bay Rays a shot, and Bud Selig gets a stadium

By John Romano , Times Sports Columnist

St. Petersburg — Welcome to Tropicana Field, Mr. Commissioner.

Hope you didn’t have any trouble finding the place. I know it’s kind of out in the boondocks. And I’m sure that explains why you have been forced — regrettably, no doubt — to miss 963 of the 964 regular-season games played here the past dozen seasons.

But it was certainly gracious of you to accept an invitation to tonight’s Governor’s Baseball Dinner, and for that, we are oh so grateful. Because, and you may have heard about this, we’re having a bit of a fuss regarding this whole stadium viability issue.

On the one hand, we have Rays ownership and a blue-ribbon committee of local business leaders who say Tropicana Field is the wrong ballpark in the wrong location. On the other hand, we have a lease. All of which leaves some pretty nervous baseball fans stuck in the middle.

So I’m guessing someone might broach this topic with you tonight. And I’m also guessing you’re going to say you agree with Stuart Sternberg that the only way the Rays can remain competitive is with a more attractive stadium that provides better revenue possibilities.

That’s certainly a legitimate argument. Attendance here has not been strong, and a drab stadium in a gloomy part of town hasn’t helped. The goal is a team that can remain competitive, and a better stadium situation is a big part of that equation.

But a stadium is not the only factor at play. Baseball’s economic system has as much to do with the Rays’ payroll issues as anything else. If we’re being honest, it probably has a greater impact than Tropicana’s zip code. Folks in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, with their shiny new stadiums and tiny little payrolls, can probably relate.

So, if I may, I’d like to suggest a deal:

We’ll consider building a stadium if you consider fixing the competitive balance issue.

Oh, I know that’s a hot-button issue for you, Mr. Commissioner. I know you’re on record saying that competitive balance is greater than it’s ever been in baseball. I know you’re proud of the role you have played in creating revenue sharing and a payroll tax.
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To read John Romano’s article in its entirety just
click on the link provided
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 Evan Longoria hits a two-run homerun in the first inning to tie the game 2-2. Tampa Bay Rays vs Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALCS at Tropicana Field on Saturday.  photo  appears  courtesy  of  Associated  Press/  Scott  Mayhew ...........
Evan Longoria hits a two-run homerun in the first inning to tie the game 2-2. Tampa Bay Rays vs Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALCS at Tropicana Field on Saturday. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Scott Mayhew ...........

What the Rays have as an added advantage for them, is the young nucleus of a team that is tried and tested . A very good manager in Joe Maddon and some tremendously gifted players in Evan Longoria , Carl Crawford , Carlos Pena , Matt Garza, David Price , Ben Zobrist , B. J. Upton and a slew of other players that would be the envy of ‘any another team’ within the entire major league (MLB) . But unless the fans are willing to come out to see this team play. Then, in all likelihood the owner, Stuart Sternberg , will uproot the organization and relocate elsewhere. It’s as plain and simple as that ! There are a number of cities across the country that would quite gladly welcome the Rays’ organization and would be amenable to building them a stadium that would meet their needs.

Unfortunately , in these dire economic times the city of Tampa with its grandiose notions of being a major sporting player on the professional sports’ landscape , has the ideas of a large major city but the working expertize and knowledge of nothing more than a rural communal town. And if that’s not enough of an indication, then just look at the social behavior of the fans at large, when it comes to their ‘showing support for this team’ ? They’re as fair weather as they come and their lack of loyalty speaks volumes as to why baseball as a sport cannot, simply work within this community. Especially when given the fact that in large part the residents of the city and the surrounding locale aren’t willing to come out and support the Tampa Bay Rays wholeheartedly.
And needless past allegiances to other teams plays its part in this all. But in all sincerity the present ownership has done more than enough to deserve far more than it is now getting from the so-called fans of the sport, within this community !

Elaine Page gives you her rendition of the Andrew Lloyd Webber , Tim Rice written ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ from the musical ‘Evita’. Joining Page onstage , is noted actor and singer, Antonio Banderas.

Courtesy of Sporting News.com

Rays’ payroll set to drop following 2010 season

Sporting News Staff reports

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg told Tampa radio station WDAE that the team’s payroll will decrease dramatically in 2011.

Referring to the team’s 2010 payroll, which will be more than $70 million, Sternberg said Monday, “(We’ve) completely have outspent ourselves this year.”

“There’s no $60 million payroll next year, either, let alone a $70 million payroll,” Sternberg added. “It’s going to be a tough transition, but it’s something that given the economics of the game and specifically the economics of what we are in Tampa Bay and in St. Petersburg, it makes it impossible to do it for more than a couple of years.”

Several key Rays, including left fielder Carl Crawford, first baseman Carlos Pena and closer Rafael Soriano, are in the final years of their contracts.

American League All-Star Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays robs a home run from National League All-Star Brad Hawpe of the Colorado Rockies during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri.
American League All-Star Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays robs a home run from National League All-Star Brad Hawpe of the Colorado Rockies during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images / Dilip Vishwanathi .............

Marketing pushes asides, the Rays’ sales office hasn’t done an acceptable job to begin with. Furthermore in an area , where the vast majority of baseball goers are either Red Sox, Yankees or Phillies’ fans. Then in large part, all that the club is left with are the scraps that’s left at the table that no one actually wants when it comes to the fans. The area is primarily made up of relocated fans from other areas of the country, whose allegiances are still with their home teams. Very few, if any, have either changed allegiance or steadfastly support the Rays wholeheartedly. If that were the case , then the average attendance at home games at the ‘Trop’ would be way above the 23,000 plus, that they’re said to be getting. If truth be told even on a fairly good night for a home game there’s hardly anymore than 14,000 fans in the stands, if that ? And no matter what the word coming down from up on high within the organization , be it from Sternberg , Silverman or even GM Andrew Friedman, himself. The baseball club will continue to struggle to lure fans and eke out an existence within the area.

Granted , even if the franchise has a state of the art stadium built to its exacting standards and specifications. There’s still no guarantee that the fans could come in droves to see the team play , no matter where the new venue happens to situated. For all of the studies undertaken by both the organization and that of the local government agencies within the locale . There’s no concrete evidence to even suggest that this would mean an uptick in attendance to the desired numbers that they would wish for. Essentially the options are for the Rays, stay and continue as is, or move to another part of the country where this is a greater wish for the game of baseball and where fans are actually willing to come and see a team play. At present that just doesn’t seem to be the case with the fans within the area. The continued excuses forthcoming from the fans have become monotonous and of no merit. Whereas, the ownership is hampered by a hierarchy (MLB-front office executives) within the game that simply doesn’t know what the hell it is that they’re doing ! Or how best to address the most acute needs of its members.
Can someone please explain to me how it is that an as_hole such as Bud Selig was voted into the office of commissioner and still remains there to this day ? I knew that the vast majority of owners within the game were stupid but I had no idea that it was this much !

I can tell you this much ,as a fan of the game I certainly won’t be shedding a tear for any major league franchise at this juncture ! Be they good , bad or indifferent. The truth is I love the game but I can neither stand the continued pomposity of the owners and in many cases the self serving attitude of many of the game’s players. It were as if many of them think that it is ‘we the fans’ who owe them something . When in fact it’s actually the other way around. I think the Lloyd – Webber composition best sums it all up !. Don’t you ?

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………….

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Outkast feat’g Killer Mike …..’The Whole World’ .

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<strong>Melyssa  Ford <em> , Canadian  born  model,  actress </em>and   aspiring  singer</strong>.  There's no reason   why  she   can't  do  all  three ,   as  good , equally  .  And  judging  by <strong><em> those  hidden  assets</em>,  I'd   say  she's off  to  a  very   good  start !</strong>.  What  do   you  think  ?
Melyssa Ford , Canadian born model, actress and aspiring singer. There's no reason why she can't do all three , as good , equally . And judging by those hidden assets, I'd say she's off to a very good start !. What do you think ?

Baseball, Basketball, College Football ........, College Basketball, Football, MLB, NBA, NFL, Sports

In The News Today …. Sports That Is …………..


In The News Today …. Sports That Is …………..

Well , I’ve been running through the back pages of the newspapers just trying to catch up on the latest as the sport’s world is concerned . And what with an emphatic triumph for the NFL as whole with the success of Superbowl (SBXLIV) being the most watched television event in the nation’s history. There’s a great deal for the NFL to feel proud about at present. Though I’m not so sure , that’ll be the case if the March 5th, deadline comes and passes and an agreement is not reached concerning the renegotiation of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFLPA .

The ramifications for both sides could be dire, if an accord cannot be reached before the deadline. But considering the antics being shown by both sides , I’m of the opinion that somehow at the last prevailing minute calmer heads should prevail. But then again I may well prove to be wrong. We’re dealing with a bunch of spoiled owners and an even crazier bunch of highly overpaid players. And in both cases, the parties concerned are more interested in what’s best for themselves and most definitely not what’s in best interests or the league or the fans !

In college basketball Kansas routs the Texas ‘Longhorns’ 80-68 . And for Rick Barnes as coach of Texas , this can’t be all that pleasing a time. The former #1 ranked Longhorns have been losing games with almost the same frequency that the Kansas City Royals , Pittsburgh Pirates and New Jersey Nets have become accustomed to be doing, with almost as much relative ease. Now I’m not one to suggest that the Longhorns are about to be mired in mediocrity along the lines of the Nets, Pirates and Royals. But much more of this and the Longhorns’ faithful, as well as their boosters could well be calling for Barnes’ head on a silver platter.

The Carolina Panthers’ Julius Peppers feels that he’s no longer appreciated , loved or wanted by the organization . And granted, John Fox’s team severely underperformed throughout much of this past season. So much so, that one had the distinct feeling that had not the Tampa Bay Buccaneers performed so abysmally in the NFC South . Then in all probability , it could well have been the Panthers seated at the foot of the division, with one the NFL’s worst records. And it certainly didn’t help that Jake Delhomme the team’s quarterback was about as reliable as a flat tire would be a welcoming sight to a stranded motorist.

Having been franchised tag in each of the last two seasons , Peppers now feels that it’s time for the Panthers to up the ante and pay him what he no doubt believe that he’s worth. For Panthers’ GM Marty Hurney , this has more to do with looking at the entire scenario that the team now faces and whether or not it’s best to revamp the roster and start afresh. Or retain players such as Delhomme and Peppers. In the case of Peppers, Hurney knows only too well that he’ll be asked to ‘break the bank’ in order to retain one of the league’s best defensive players and ‘run stoppers.’ What appears to be imminent is that there will be a parting of the ways , between Peppers and the club. It may not yet be fact but it appears to the direction that the organization is heading in.

Now unless I’m mistaken , I was under the impression that Red Sox GM Theo Epstein was as astute a baseball mind as their is around MLB ? After-all , he has been the primary architect behind much of team’s success, more than anyone else within the organization . And that includes team manager Terry Francona . But the worrying thing here is that the organization has gone out and acquired Adrian Beltre’ from the Seattle Mariners. Beltre’s production over the past two seasons has been about as inspired,, as the lack of ingenuity and productivity being shown by the members of Congress and the Senate combined. But somehow Epstein is of the belief that the player will be a ‘good fit’ for the team . At a price tag approaching $14 million , one would certainly hope so for the Red Sox’s sake !

The Red Sox having lost Jason Bay to free agency , they were in need of some offensive fire power but one would have hardly thought that Beltre’ fitted the bill in that respect. There’s no doubt that Adrian Beltre, when he’s on form ,he is a very good player. But far too often , he has been known to go into prolonged slumps with his bat and his defense has been about as helpful as a hole in a bucket. This may or may not prove to be a costly gamble by the Red Sox. Given the fact that they now have to contend with a rejuvenated and much more confident New York Yankees’ team , within an already highly contentious and competitive AL East division. If the Red Sox aren’t able to get something out of Beltre this season, then it may well prove to be nothing more than afterthought on their part. Especially when one considers the vast financial resources at the organization’s disposal.

Coming off a 48 point night for the Orlando Magic in their 123-117 victory over the New Orleans Hornets, who were playing without their point guard and best player , Chris Paul . Magic’s guard and swingman, Vince Carter had one of his better games , if not his best game , since he was acquired by the team . Now that’s all well and good but there has to be more of this from Carter , on a night in and night basis – if the Magic are to viewed as a legitimate threat within the Eastern Conference as well as the rest of the NBA. But were it not for the offensive output by Carter , then the end result would’ve been entirely different as to the outcome.


Albeit, that Carter was ably assisted by Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis , the Magics’ bench offered very little by way of assistance, combining for a total of 23 points during the game. If this is what Stan Van Gundy believes to be , is ‘his best’ and ‘most balanced team’ since he assumed the role as coach. Then someone, had better check out the ‘sugar level’ of his Kool-Aid. Because there’s definitely something awry with that, as well as Van Gundy’s thinking on the matter.
And before the Magic can even think about contending for an NBA championship once again this season they’ll have to contend with the Boston Celtics , Cleveland Cavaliers , Atlanta Hawks and a sometimes quite dangerous Miami Heat team led by the universally admired skills of Dywane Wade . Is that enough of an answer for you Stan ?

So Florida State has to vacate 12 wins from its football program , in light of the cheating scandal that took place. Rather than standing up and being held accountable for their actions or lack of it thereof. Former University President T.K Wetherell and Athletics Director Randy Spetman had threatened a lawsuit against the NCAA . All of this took place under the less than caring eye. Yes, I said it ! It all took place under the less than caring eye of their now former coach, Bobby Bowden . Though that’s not to say that his his successor , Jimbo Fisher is as equally to blame. If you’re known to be turning a blind eye to the malfeasance of your student athletes, then you’re in effect no better than they are, in terms of the actions that they’re being accused of !

Now the program starts afresh as it looks to make its presence felt within the ACC . As to how this will all play out over the upcoming season remains to be seen . For the ‘noles’ faithful not seeing Bowden walking up and down the sidelines up there in Tallahassee will no doubt seem very strange . But had the faculty not given Bowden free reign as to the program began to spin out of control and almost allowing him to dictate the terms under which he originally wanted to retire . Then perhaps none of this all might’ve happened. But then again who knows ?

Now the one thing that has become abundantly clear in the midst of this all. Well, it has been the way in which the NCAA has dragged its feet concerning USC (Trojans) and that of the egregious transgressions within both their basketball and football programs. And the fans and public alike, are to believe that the NCAA has the student athletes’ best interests at heart ? That’s at least three loads of horse shit to begin with ! The NCAA cares about as much of the college student athlete as a member of Hezbollah cares about an Israeli or a Jew !

Well guys, those are but a few of the stories that I touched on and have read diligently. What pieces have you come across that peeked your interests ? And what views if any, were you left with after having read those pieces ?

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………….

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<strong> Alan De La  Garza  </strong>  who's  more  widely known   for her  portrayal  <strong>District Attorney   <em>  Connie  Rubirosa </em>  </strong>  on  the  long  running   NBC  hit  series   <strong> "Law  &  Oder " </strong>   starring  Sam Wateron,   Linus  Roache,  S.  Epatha  Merkerson,  Anthony  Anderson   and  rounding out the  ensemble  is   Jeremy  Sisto.

Alan de La Garza , actress, who’s more widely known for her role as Asst DA ‘Connie Rubirosa’ on the long running NBC hit drama “Law & Order” . The show stars de La Garza , alongside Sam Waterson , Linus Roache, S. Epatha Merkerson , Anthony Anderson and rounding out the ensemble is Jeremy Sisto. de La Garza to my mind can skip down to her skivvies and anything less as and when she pleases. You won’t hear any complaints from me at all !

Golf, PGA Tour, Sports, USGA

Did I Miss Something Here But Since When Did The PGA Tour Turn Into A Free For All ………. ?


Did I Miss Something Here But Since When Did The PGA Tour Turn Into A Free For All ………. ?

Now we all know that the PGA Tour is missing Tiger Woods, dearly and ‘The Tour’ essentially without him, becomes somewhat non-descript . Those who think otherwise, really do need to get their heads examined. Without Woods on the PGA Tour, is in essence like having a four course meal at a swank restaurant but then being told that the chef can’t prepare the ‘main course’ due to unforeseen circumstances . So the maitre-de’ would like to know if you’d prepare to accept a ‘doggy bag’ instead ? That in essence is now what’s being served up until Woods’ returns to the golf course from his self imposed exile.

Ben Crane walks up the 18th fairway during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 in San Diego. photo  appears  courtesy  of  the  Associated  Press/ Lenny Ignelzi  ......
Ben Crane walks up the 18th fairway during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 in San Diego. photo appears courtesy of the Associated Press/ Lenny Ignelzi ......

Now don’t get me but when a sport become so self reliant on just one major star to make its presence felt on the global stage. To me that signifies that there’s either something seriously wrong within the sport itself. Or the mere fact that the USGA and the PGA are seemingly at a loss as to what to do about the whole situation. Granted , PGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem , feels that the game and Tour itself can proceed along without Woods at present. But with each passing tournament and the player’s none appearance and the likelihood that he won’t be returning for some considerable time. It has to be exacerbating for all concerned ! Losses are mounting up for a number of tournaments , wherein Woods had been expected to compete at the start of the season. And that doesn’t add in the ancillary losses that’ve been borne by a number of small and major companies that would service these tournaments, as well as the PGA Tour. Never mind the fact that the hospitality industry must be quaking from this all . But as we know there has to be a silver lining to it all. Well at least , that’s what Tim Finchem is hoping for.

Phil Mickelson is bent over in frustration after his eagle putt on the sixth hole rimmed out during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 in San Diego.  photo appears  courtesy  of  Associated Press / Lenny Ignelzi   .........
Phil Mickelson is bent over in frustration after his eagle putt on the sixth hole rimmed out during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 in San Diego. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Lenny Ignelzi .........

With the world’s number one golfer absent from the Tour , it was felt that his closest rival in the rankings , Phil Mickelson would step up to the plate and lead the charge. Well, that’s akin to having Paris Hilton take you on a tour of the American Library of Congress and then finding out that ‘her knowledge’ of that edifice borders on that of Borat’s first cousin from Kazakhstan. Well, perhaps not quite that bad. But Mickelson’s dominance on the Tour is more often than not just fleeting. He has his throng of supporters but he also has a great many none supporters. If anything the one golfer that most fans seem more attuned to and seemingly have more sympathy for is not Phil Mickelson but ‘two time golf major winner’ , John Daly. But Daly’s accomplishments of late, haven’t been on the golf course but more so what he’s been doing off it. His slide down from the upper echelons of the sport , can be best described as one never-ending nightmare. From bouts of alcoholism , run-ins with law enforcement , claims of spousal abuse , to multiple divorces, to being on the verge of bankruptcy. This is how one could essentially sum up John Daly’s life as of late. As to his competitiveness on the golf course ? Well , let’s just say that if he’s even par for a round then he’s had an exceptionally good day. But the fact is , Daly is now more reliant from getting a sponsor’s exemption to participate on the Tour , than he is to be an actual entered contestant for an event.

Jim "Bones" McKay wipes clean the controversial Ping Eye 2 sand wedge being used by Phil Mickelson after Mickelson hit a sand shot with the club during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course Saturday Jan. 30, 2010 in San Diego. photo  appears  courtesy of  Associated  Press / Lenny Ignelzi   ......

Jim ‘Bones’ McKay (caddie) wipes clean the controversial Ping Eye 2 sand wedge used by Mickelson after the player hit a sand shot with the club during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego , California. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Lenny Ignelzi …….

Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports

Mickelson accepts apology, won’t use wedge

By Doug Ferguson , AP Golf Writer

Los Angeles (AP)—Phil Mickelson won’t be using the Ping Eye2 wedge that led a fellow player to accuse him of “cheating,” even though he hopes others will use the controversial club to keep attention on what he calls a ridiculous rule.

“I won’t be playing that wedge. My point has been made,” Mickelson said on Wednesday on the eve of his two-time title defense at Riviera. “But if these governing bodies cannot get together to fix this loophole, if players stop using this wedge—which would stop the pressure of the issue—then I will relook at it and put the wedge back in play.”

The Ping wedge has grooves that no longer conform under a new U.S. Golf Association regulation, adopted by the U.S. PGA Tour. However, any Ping wedge made before April 1, 1990, is approved for play under a legal settlement from two decades ago.

Mickelson is among five players who have used the Ping wedge in competition this year.

Several players believe using the club goes against the spirit of the new grooves regulation, although Scott McCarron fueled the debate when he said of Mickelson and others, “It’s cheating.”

Mickelson hinted at legal action after saying he was “publicly slandered.” He said McCarron offered him a sincere apology late Tuesday, which he accepted.

“We all make mistakes, and we all say things we wish we could take back,” Mickelson said. “I’ve done it a bunch in my career. And the fact that it’s also not easy to come up and face that person, look them in the eye and apologize … I appreciate him being a big enough man to do that.”

Instead, Mickelson vented his anger at the USGA and its lack of transparency in developing the new rules for grooves. He has complained that he’s submitted wedges that fit the guidelines, only for the USGA to reject the club for violating the intent of the new rule.

“I’m very upset with the way the rule came about, the way one man essentially can approve or not approve a golf club based on his own personal decision, regardless of what the rule says,” Mickelson said. “This has got to change.”

The next step remains murky.

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In order to read Doug Ferguson’s article in its entirety
just click unto the link provided.
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Phil Mickelson looks on after hitting a bunker shot on the sixth hole during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, in San Diego. Mickelson is among at least four players at the tournament using a Ping-Eye 2 wedge that was made 20 years ago and has square grooves.  Such grooves now are banned on the tour because of a new U.S. Golf Association regulation this year that irons have V-shaped grooves. The square-groove Ping wedges remain legal, however, because of a lawsuit that Ping filed against the USGA that was settled in 1990.   photo appears  courtesy  of Associated  Press / Lenny Ignelzi     ........
Phil Mickelson looks on after hitting a bunker shot on the sixth hole during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, in San Diego. Mickelson is among at least four players at the tournament using a Ping-Eye 2 wedge that was made 20 years ago and has square grooves. Such grooves now are banned on the tour because of a new U.S. Golf Association regulation this year that irons have V-shaped grooves. The square-groove Ping wedges remain legal, however, because of a lawsuit that Ping filed against the USGA that was settled in 1990. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Lenny Ignelzi ........

At the PGA Tour’s most recent event a controversy erupted that embroiled Phil Mickelson and Scott McCarron and wherein there were accusations of cheating on the part of Mickelson. These accusations specifically targeted Mickelson and were made by McCarron and directed at Mickelson. Mickelson clearly denies any wrongdoing on his part. But there is more to this all than meets the eye. It’s not so much that there has been an ongoing feud between the two players in question. But essentially what this boils down to are the rules of the game and the presumed etiquette of the players. Golf has always been a sport that is self governing as to the on course play and etiquette of its players. Unlike other sports where a player may well have flouted or unwittingly broken a rule. Then that player is required by the rules of the PGA as well as that of the USGA to either notify the officials that they’ve contravened or broken rule, therefore immediately disqualify themselves from further play , dependent upon the severity of the rule broken or that of an adjudication forthcoming from a tournament official.

The controversy itself erupted out of the use of what is believed to be an illicit club used by Mickelson at the Farmers’ Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California. The event itself is one that Woods usually would use as one the openers to his season. It carries with it a total purse of $5.3 million, with $954,000 going to the winner. Much of what happened is opened to a great deal of speculation and conjecture. But this much is known, throughout the tournament Mickelson used a Ping #2 eye club which is not normally used for competitive play by the USGA and the PGA. Though the rules itself are somewhat vague on this issue. Mickelson for his part knew of the regulations but states his reason for using the club (which gives the golfer an additional advantage in his putting because of the grooves aligned along the putting surface aids the ball in its trajectory and direction) – was in fact to bring this all to the PGA’s attention and that in no way was it his intention to be viewed as a ‘cheat’ . Now far be it for me to suggest but Mickelson’s argument doesn’t stand the ‘litmus test’ and there’s no veracity there whatsoever. If you know that there’s indeed an issue that needs to be raised concerning a specific type of equipment , you don’t intentionally go out to break the rules of the game to draw it the governing board’s attention. The appropriate thing to do , is to make the PGA aware of the situation and let them make a statement with regard to the equipment and whether or not its use will be prohibited.

McCarron for his part, was duly upset that Mickelson carried on playing throughout the tournament using the club in question. It constituted a heated debate between the two rivals which only added to the excitement of what was to be a somewhat droll tournament. The Farmers’ Open was won by Ben Crane, who carded a 70, -2 under par for the final round with an aggregate total of 275 for a -13 under par , with a winning margin of one stroke over Marc Leishman, who finished in second place. Mickelson finished a distant 19th, some five strokes behind the winner. His performance throughout the tournament was somewhat pedantic even by his lofty standards.

Though the tension between the two players , McCarron and Mickelson has simmered somewhat. It has brought some much needed attention to golf in the wake of Tiger Woods’ absence. Suffice to say, if you’re having more controversy off the course than the more exhilarating play that there ought to on the golf course. Then why not create some controversy on it , if it means garnering some much unwanted attention that call for player to be viewed openly flouting the rules of the game even if he states that he was trying to bring attention to something that’s wrong with the sport to begin with. By my way of thinking , all we need now is for Vijay Singh or Ernie Els or another of the Tour’s prominent golfers to be caught in a sordid sex scandal involving multiple partners and some farm animals. Oh shit, that’s already happened with Woods , hasn’t it ? Minus the farm animals that is . But then again, who knows what sexual proclivities that’ve yet to be unearthed concerning Tiger Woods ? For the moment however, we’ll have to put up with the likes of McCarron and Mickelson carrying on like adolescent schoolboys at it, in the playground leveling accusations at one another for the most mundane of reasons. It just goes to show how boring the sport can become when there’s not someone there that the fans can actually gravitate towards.

Ah well, some you win, some you lose. I guess that’s why the game is, what it is ? Played by self absorbed individuals who for the better part hold themselves to what some might deem to be holier than thou standards. But who for all sense and purpose are no different from any other ‘athlete’ who participates in a professional sport ? Cheating is cheating, and the rules are in place to be obeyed not to be flouted knowingly. As has been the case with Phil Mickelson.

Highlights from the final round of The Farmers Open golf tournament.

And even though McCarron has since apologized to Mickelson, one can’t help but wonder what episode will next unfold in this chapter between the two golfers ? Can we say <strong"……can we say a duel ? Pistols at dawn from 30 paces " ? Stranger things are known to have happened and will happen. Somehow I think, we've not heard the last of this ‘little hissy fit’ between these two golfers. If this is meant to be the excitement that we’re meant to be looking for , while Woods is away on his self imposed sabbatical from the PGA Tour. Then, I think that I’ll now devote more time to watching reruns of ‘The Andy Grffith Show’ ! There’s for more entertainment there to be had , that’s for sure ! Did Aunt Bee ever get her ‘swerve on’ during the series ? And how comes there were never any African Americans to be seen in the town of Mayberry , North Carolina ? Was it actually the domain of the Klan ? Inquiring minds need to know ?

Click here to see the PGA Tour schedule for the 2010 season.

‘Your Cheating Heart’ as sung by Elvis Presley, originally written and recorded by Hank Williams Sr.

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Actress, singer  , burlesuque  performer  and   business  entrepreneur  , <strong> Elise   Neal </strong>,  seen  here  in  her  King  Magazine  photo  expose' .
Actress, singer , burlesuque performer and business entrepreneur , Elise Neal , seen here in her King Magazine photo expose' .