Social Commentary, Uncategorized, US military, VA (Veterans Administration), Walter Reed Medical Center

A Dose of Reality Rather Than The Perception Created ……


A Dose of Reality Rather Than The Perception Created ….

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My friends and I recently made a pact that we’d take a ride up to Arlington National Cemetery to visit the tombs of fallen US military servicemen and women. It’s something that I’ve done twice before, once back in 2003, for a second time in 2005 and then again in 2007. Each time , as solemn as the occasion has been I can’t help but wonder how the families of these fallen heroes might have been different had they not died in the service of their country. Having spent eight and a half years myself in the British military (Royal Marines) serving in a number countries , I’d like to think that military service molded me in some ways into the person I am ! I’ve seen the horrors of conflict up close and personal when I served in Ireland during the troubles there when the United Kingdom was seeking an accord between the IRA and the Protestant led region of Northern Ireland , whose loyalties were to the monarchy and the UK government .

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Our visit which I hope will take place some time in mid to late August will be something that I will be looking forward to __ with a great deal of solemnity. Whenever possible I have devoted much of my time volunteering with other work colleagues in assisting veterans seeking to obtain benefits that somehow has been denied to them by the bureaucracy of the federal governmment . And as many of you know , dealing with the government at any level from the local leveln on up can be as cumbersome as trying to push a boulder up a steep incline unaided . The VA ( Veterans Administration) to my mind in spite of the claims made by certain members of Congress or the Senate that their budget has risen steeply over the years, what they have failed to addresss is the very fact that those increases have been curtailed by severe cuts in other areas of the budget of that agency . Now we are informed that the Walter Reed Army Medical Center will soon be closed and that the facility’s operations will transferred elsewhere to other medical establishments around the country. As prestigious as the facility is said to be there are parts of it that from its facade that would give the impression that it is a dilapidated building about to be imploded . But such are perceptions created about the military veterans being given the best available care when in reality nothing could actually be further from the truth .

Having visited Walter Reed on several occasions in order to see wounded veterans and provide some support to these men and women I have felt that there can be so much more that could be done to make the lives of these individuals a great deal better . What might be even more intolerable upon one of my visits there , was to find that the many of inhouse facilities were not up to par and expected of a medical facility . The Walter Reed Medical Center is the oldest medical establishment within the Veterans Administration and it has been in use for over a century meeting the needs of the the US military . The rest rooms within certain areas of the facilty failed to work properly , you had a shortage of trained staff to meet the needs of the patients in residence . There has been continuous debate as to the fact the budget ($132 billion) of the VA has seen stark increases over the past few years but what both Senate Veterans Affairs Comittee and House Veterans Services Committee has failed to acknowledge is that they have made and steep financial cuts .

I’ve long held the contention that the members of the House and Senate have never been sincere when they state they care about the well being of the members of the US military . Meaningless sound bytes and little action if anything has me wondering why all the bullsh_t from these elected officials when they’re so full of crap to begin with ? And with that in mind it will be interesting to see what statements will be forthcoming from the Secretary of the VA , retired Army General Eric Shinseki once the House and Senate meander to an accord concerning the debt ceiling crisis and the undoubted cuts that will be made to the Veterans Affairs Department’s budget .

Now we all know that as contentious as the ongoing “debt ceiling” deliberations have been between President Barack Obama and the members of both the House and Senate much of which has been along political partisan lines . The one thing that cannot be overlooked has been the intransigence shown by both sides in trying to resolve this matter intelligently . While wrecklessness seems to be the norm , rather than showing creativity , intelligence and intuitiveness we have seen that neither side really have an idea how best to resolve this matter . Meanwhile we have members of the President’s cabinet chiding other countries as to how best to deal with their economic woes , whereas here in the United States members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee show about as much insight on the issues as a blind man in the midst of a sandstorm searching for water ! It is now bad enough that you have both political parties rather than show some common sense merely act like immature children , name calling and attritbuting the non-action due to the other side’s intransigence ——- when in fact it is there for the public to see that neither side knows what the hell they are doing and that they are simply making this more than a political hot potato by seeking to gain some traction without actually reaching an accord in trying to solve this issue. Not unlike they have typically conducted business ever since the 112th session of Congress came returned to work and prior to that .

With a little less than a week with a deadline set of 2nd August beore the government officially could default on its debts for the very first time in its history , it’s rather asinine to think that under the four previous Presidents prior to Barack Obama’s first term in office the country’s debt ceiling had been raised in excess of fifteen times ! But here we have the Congress repeatedly berating each other over this issue . It is obvious that they have learned nothing and will continue to learn not a god-damn thing ! And it certainly hasn’t helped the situation with the rather now idiotic stance being taken by new incumbents in either legislative chambers who claim to be fiscally responsible when we now find out that many of them having sworn to continue with “pork barrel” spending on pet projects have simply done about face and made sure that the constituencies they represent will be funded with tens of millions of dollars for what in some cases are meaningless projects merely to appease their ” backers” and monetary donors who just happen to be business with deep pockets and a great deal of political clout by way of their use of lobbying firms . But yet we are led to believe that these legislators went to Washington promising change ? The only thing that has in essence that has changed has been the names on doors of the offices where they have replaced their predecessors and not a great deal else ! It’s business and usual without a great deal of anything at all having been achieved .

Now while I am not naive enough to think that there should not be cuts in the budget of the Veterans Administration I would like to think that the cuts that will undoubtedly be made will not be as steep and severe whereby the acute needs of the men and women assisted will become a major cause for concern. It certainly is bad enough when one realizes that in the city of Los Angeles alone there are now over 9,000 homeless military veterans and shocking number of them in question are some of the most recent to have seen action both theaters of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile you have a city Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa whose biggest concern appears than the opportunistic photo opportunities of getting as much air and face time in the media , is to try and lure an NFL franchise to his beloved city , rather than actually take care of his city’s most dire needs . If you think that the figure mentioned is said to be extremely high in terms of the homeless veterans within the city of LA then consider what it might be in a city the size of New York ? Somehow reality then might really begin to set in as to the plight of these individuals .

A number of years ago I wrote a solemn piece concerning the plight a US military serviceman ( the piece was first published within Fox’s sports forum ) Marine Staff Sgt Carmelo Rodriguez whose story had also been documented by CBS News in their national evening broadcast . That soldier would later die but the sheer lack of real assistance provided to him by not only local authorities at the state and federal levels was marked indictment of system that is now systematically broken and wherein mere lip service is only paid by members of Congress and at the state level when it comes to the plight of military veterans .

I know now that over the coming weeks should this debate not be solved to everyone’s satisfaction then the ramifications will be far reaching beyond anything that any of us could have imagined. We all support the military and with good reason but herein lies the caveat we show support but how much support is actually given to them when they need it most ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the issue of the military servicemen and women who are now more often than not being left to fend for themselves with little assistance if any being on hand from the federal government much less at the state level ? By all means simply a comment as to your thoughts on the matter .

Alan aka tophatal ……….. http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Walter Reed Medical Center the US military’s oldest medical facility which is due to close this year having been in service for over 100 years . Many part of the center has fallen into dilapidation and disrepair causing a great deal of consternation amongst the public as well as servicemen and women who have availed themselves use of the facility over the years. The VA itself has stated that it was time for the hospital to close given the numerous problems that have arisen in recent years . mediadefenseindustry.com …. ( Media Defense Industry)

(2) Thousands of Christmas wreaths are nestled against headstones in Section 27 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on Dec. 15, 2005. Hundreds of volunteers gathered at Arlington to place more than five thousand donated Christmas wreaths on head stones in the cemetery. The 14th annual wreath laying event is a result of Worcester Wreath Company owner Morrill Worcester’s boyhood dream of doing something to honor those laid to rest in the National Cemetery . Courtesy of Wikipedia.com ….

(3) Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (L) speaks as former Washington State Governor Gary Locke (C) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) (R) listen during his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill March 18, 2009 in Washington, DC. Locke will become the 36th Commerce Secretary of the United States if confirmed. Murray also is the chairperson for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee . Getty Images North America / Alex Wong ………..

(4) House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner center (D-CA), Melinda Darby (R), former Executive Director of the Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Senior Oversight Committee, and Sara Wade, the wife of a wounded Iraqi veteran, participate in a roundtable discussion on the military and “wounded warrior” care, in Washington on September 22, 2009. Filner is the ranking Democrat and chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee . UPI/Kevin Dietsch …….

(5) U.S. President Barack Obama (2R) makes a statement on the SAVE (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency) program with Office of Management and Budget Director Peter R. Orszag (L) and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gen. Eric Shinseki in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on December 21, 2009 in Washington, DC. The award is given to Federal employees who submit ideas for saving the government money. He also applauded the Senate’s vote to end a Republican filibuster aimed at blocking health care reform. Getty Images North America / Pool resources ……

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Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death , Liberty At Present Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be …….So One Guesses Death’ll Have To Do ?

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AL East, Baseball, DeMaurice Smith, Football, Joe Maddon, MLB, New York Yankees, NFL, Roger Goodell, Sports, Sports Commentary, Tampa Bay Rays, Uncategorized

Another Day Same Old Story …….


Another Day Same Old Story …….

Slowly but surely we’re being told that the NFL and NFLPA are inching towards an agreement concerning the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement . What I find completely unbelievable about this whole episode is the very fact that the league and union have said little about they will do to meet the needs of the retired veteran players around of NFL. At no time during these deliberations have I heard or has it been reported as to what the NFL’s intentions are concerning to meet that of the players in question. I will continue to maintain that the NFL much like the union which says they represent all of their members simply do not care about the players in question.

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Hall of Famer Carl Eller and a number of his peers have filed a civil suit in Federal Court challenging the NFL and concerning the ongoing negotiations and the mere fact that little if any input has been allowed to be interceded in what might well be a binding agreement as it relates to the collective bargaining agreement. Much of what has now transpired now seems like a comedy of errors that couldn’t have been scripted by a Hollywood writer had it been first brought up as a premise . Roger Goodell and his minions have been given a considerable dose of reality , as too have DeMaurice Smith and the executive members of the NFLPA .

I am no longer enthralled as to whether or not there will be a regular season as the NFL has lost my complete and utter respect ! The asinine behavior by all of the parties concerned has me now simply wondering what else is there left for the league to do to leave its image in tatters ?

Well now that the season has resumed after the All Star Game , an event which in all honesty was about as mesmerizing as a political debate between two candidates who are about as insightful on the issues as they allegedly believe themselves to be. The game itself , with what was said to be at stake and you have to wonder why it was that the effort from the AL was so lackluster ? I can only imagine that their reason for participating was merely obtain their roster incentives from their respective teams . After that mediocre display by the team it simply served notice that the players are not in the least bit concerned with what the fans may well have thought .

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Infielder Sean Rodriguez (1) of the Tampa Bay Rays tries to turn a double play as Brett Gardner (11) of the New York Yankees breaks it up during the game at Tropicana Field on July 18, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……..

Now a number of patrons and contributors within this medium have suggested a number of ways to improve the event . And while many of the suggestions are valid I believe that what is actually needed is for there to be more of an input from the managers around the league and actually less from the fans in terms of the voting for the ballots of the All Star teams ! That being said after the low ratings for the televised broadcast on Fox I can’t help but wonder how Bud Selig and the league hierarchy now might view this rather disastrous event that is often seen as one of the major highlights of the MLB season. Rumor has it , that next season in staging the All Star Game at Kauffman Stadium , home to the Kansas City Royals rather than stage a game of the league’s current stars they will consider the staging of a soft ball game between the wives of the players who’ll be scantly clad . Perhaps that might incite and elicit even more viewers than the benign ratings obtained by Fox and the MLB Network .

Baseball has become bereft of creativity and ideas that now even with the team owners showing their stupidity and a union that has been enabled because of the sheer ineptitude of the league hierarchy. The game is losing is fans simply because the top executives within the game no longer considers what made baseball all the more appealing , instead they look to cater to one common denominator and that is to their corporate sponsors rather than to the fans .

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Infielder Derek Jeter (2) of the New York Yankees gets out of the way of an inside pitch from the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on July 18, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

In what might be considered a series that very well defines their season the Tampa Bay Rays are hosting the New York Yankees . Given the tightness of the race within AL East where six games separate the top three teams within the division . It is imperative that the Rays get a win under their belt in the opener , in order to place further pressure on the Boston Red Sox and Yankees who sit ahead of them within AL East. For all sense and purpose most definitely the wildcard entrant the AL will come from within the division , so there is a great deal at stake for both teams as to the outcome of this series .

Joe Maddon as manager of this team along with his coaching staff know that they will have to be at their very best over the ensuing months . Much has been made concerning the team as of late and whether or not Andrew Friedman the team’s general manager will be a major player as the trade deadline approaches on the 31st July .

The are now rumors now resonating through the grapevine that would suggest that there’s something in the offing and that in all probability a player on the team’s current roster will be traded . All signs point to the fact that BJ Upton whose contract expires at the end of this season could very well be the player in question to be off-loaded . Now it goes without saying that the player is a desirable target for a number of teams seeking an offensive presence to add some potency to their lineups to their respective rosters. And as with any team now looking to off-load salary it now seems as if the dye has been cast by the front office as the financial constraints placed on the organization has been stifling the competitiveness of this team. I don’t know that the front office can continue in the apparent direction that it seems to be heading in much longer , merely because of the fact no matter how many steps forward they seem to be taking , they tend to take even more steps backwards . I certainly don’t believe that principal managing partner Stuart Sternberg actually believes that the team will be aided by the league hierarchy be providing any assistance to the organization as they seek a new venue. A great deal has been chronicled on this matter and it goes without saying that the longer this issue remains unresolved the more protracted it will somehow become .

Over a long an arduous season a great deal is expected of team over the course of the year . It will certainly be no different for the Tampa Bay Rays and many of the other teams seeking to make the postseason . Certainly the races around a number of the divisions are now heating up and though I have heard it said that a 5 or 8 game margin isn’t a great deal to overcome but it is something of a rarity to see such a deficit be erased over the closing months of the season .

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Designated hitter Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays is congratulated by pitchers James Shields (33) and David Price (14) after scoring a run against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on July 18, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

From my own perspective as it concerns the Tampa Bay Rays , this is a team that is full of youthful vibrance looking to excel at the highest level and that is epitomized by players such as Evan Longoria , James Shields , David Price , Sam Fulds , Matt Joyce and others on this roster . They have an excellent manager in Joe Maddon whose coaching staff seems to excel in bringing out the best in young players and in getting seasoned veterans such as Johnny Damon to play as if their careers are on the rise once again. Damon if anything has been a leader of this team in more ways than one , willing to impart his considerable knowledge amongst his teammates in order to make them better. And much of that has been on display throughout the season as the Tampa Bay Rays have played with a great deal of zeal as they look to make themselves known within the division.

What is undeniable given the effort of this organization is that they will do their utmost to exhibit everything needed to fulfill the wishes of their fans . But slowly the inevitable does appear to be happening and it is that some of them now are willing to accept that this may well be the closing chapters of a saga that is coming to an end . The optimists out there simply believe that the best thing that can happen is for the team to simply move across the bay into the downtown area of Tampa and all will be OK. The reality however , suggests that in light of economic climate even such a proposed move is by no way a real guarantee of financial success for this organization. Also , bear in mind that the league hierarchy under Bud Selig has done little to aid the team in its efforts as they seek to resolve the ongoing issue of a new facility. As I alluded to earlier , the league is simply bereft of ideas on all fronts , from its image , to how best to aid its teams that are now said to be having numerous financial difficulties and to where the fans are beginning to have an immense distrust of the hierarchy and owners.

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Outfielder B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays catches a fly ball against the Boston Red Sox during the game at Tropicana Field on July 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

In what might have been a truly damning indictment as to the problems that the Tampa Bay Rays now face as to the plight of their situation , during last night’s game there was a prolonged stoppage. The game was halted due to the fact that there was a electrical problem that caused an outage where a number of the stadium lights went out at Tropicana Field . As archaic as the venue appears to be fans of the Rays simply feel that this is the team’s home and where they belong. However , the on air analysts covering the game for ESPN , John Kruk and Barry Larkin likened the venue to a gaping pothole that never ceases to cause problems . Both alluded to the fact that a number of players around the league simply dislike playing at the field and each throughout the course of their careers would simply wish they were playing elsewhere rather than being at Tropicana Field . Joe Maddon when questioned by Tim Kurkjian about the issue of the lights going out during at the game told the reporter that this was merely one of the things that they continue to put up with and that this was simply a way of life for this organization. At the game’s resumption you couldn’t help but wonder what other comedy of errors would now await the fans in attendance , never mind the national television audience watching.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

With the MLB season having resumed how do you see things panning out for the teams within the AL East ? And what thoughts if any do you have as to the future of the Tampa Bay Rays long and short terms , as it relates to their competitiveness and whether or not they remain within their current locale ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal …. http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Contact ……… rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) FILE – This April 14, 2011 file photo shows retired Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame football player Carl Eller, who represents former players, arriving at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis. Eller and lawyers for retired NFL players joined labor talks with representatives of owners and current players, Tuesday, July 19, 2011 in New York, as signs mounted that the league’s lockout might almost be over. AP Photo/Jim Mone ….

(2) NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah, right, pauses as he speaks to media in Washington, Monday, July 18, 2011, as talks to end the NFL lockout continued. Carl Francis also with the NFL Players Association is at left. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster ….

(3) NFL player Association executive director DeMaurice Smith along with NFL Payers Association president Kevin Mawae, left, speaks to reporters outside a law firm where contract talks ended, Friday, July 15, 2011, in New York. Significant progress on a major sticking point in the NFL labor impasse soaring rookie salaries during marathon talks Thursday raised hopes that a tentative agreement in principle could perhaps come within 24 hours, according to two people familiar with the negotiations. AP Photo/Louis Lanzano ….

(4) New York Yankees, from left in front, Robinson Cano, Eduardo Nunez, and Mark Teixeira celebrate the team’s 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in a baseball game Monday, July 18, 2011, in St. Petersburg , Fla. AP Photo/Mike Carlson …

(5) New York Yankees’ Russell Martin reacts after taking a walk to force in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning of a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in a baseball game Monday, July 18, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. AP Photo/Mike Carlson …

(6) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JULY 18: of the Tampa Bay Rays of the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on July 18, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

(7) Infielder Sean Rodriguez (1) of the Tampa Bay Rays tries to turn a double play as Brett Gardner (11) of the New York Yankees breaks it up during the game at Tropicana Field on July 18, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……..

(8) Infielder Casey Kotchman (11) of the Tampa Bay Rays takes the throw at first as Curtis Granderson (14) of the New York Yankees gets back safely during the game at Tropicana Field on July 18, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(9) Infielder Derek Jeter (2) of the New York Yankees gets out of the way of an inside pitch from the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on July 18, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …

(10) Designated hitter Johnny Damon (22) of the Tampa Bay Rays is congratulated by pitchers James Shields (33) and David Price (14) after scoring a run against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on July 18, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(11) Outfielder B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays catches a fly ball against the Boston Red Sox during the game at Tropicana Field on July 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ……
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Baseball, Brett Favre, Bud Selig, Casey Anthony trial, Jose Baez, Minnesota Vikings, NFL, Roger Clemens, Sports, Sports & Social commentary, Sports Commentary, Uncategorized

It’s Now The Talk Of The Town ……….


It’s Now The Talk Of The Town ………

So even with the aftermath and idiocy of what has taken place within the Ohio State athletics department it would appear that the stupidity of the school’s AD Gene Smith simply knows no boundaries as to his own idiocy ! . In his most recent public statement Smith made it clear that the he would like to see the return of Jim Tressel to the realms of coaching within collegiate football. Unless I’m mistaken were it not for the actions of the beleaguered and embarrassed coach the school might not have encountered the numerous problems created because of his web of lies , deceit and total lack of accountability by himself , his coaching staff and the players under his tutelage . Now with the school having to vacate all of their victories from the 2010 season as well their Sugar Bowl appearance victory it seems rather asinine that Gene Smith would actually seek to try and negate the damage done by Jim Tressel . Less we forget also , in the aftermath of Tressel’s departure the school would lose Terrelle Pryor as he sought to forgo his final two years of collegiate football. The player has made himself available for the NFL’s Supplemental Draft and become a client of uber-agent Drew Rosenhaus .

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Well last night at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles with all of the glad handing and back slapping was about to take place as ESPN staged the ESPY Awards at the famed auditorium. For all of the pomp and ceremony that was about to be thrust upon the viewers of the event nothing could be more self serving than this pompous and rather odious garbage that simply gives the broadcast outlet another chance to show how bereft of credibility and creativity within this particular organization. With a slew of professional as well as collegiate athletes on display awaiting to hear their names to be announced for a variety of nominations in several sports’ categories . Suffice to say that this is meant to be the sports world’s answer to the Oscars and as we can all bear witness to that particular event gives us every reason to ask the question …….. why ? . From my own personal standpoint the whole event is a complete waste of time and merely a way for the broadcast outlet to air a few hours athletes thanking each other and their maker while actually saying not a God damn thing ! Mind you host Seth Meyers in part made the event memorable with his lambasting of the Miami Heat and the mere fact that the team’s ” Big Three” tend to show up and play only three quarters of a game . Not to be left out of this also were the members of the New Jersey Nets and in particular Kris Humphries whose upcoming to nuptials to reality star Kim Kardashian could very well be the closest thing to the receiving of a ring that the player is ever likely to get that is not associated with the winning of the NBA title .

But really is anyone interested in who ESPN believes ought to be “The Male Athlete of The Year “ much less “The Best NBA Player” ? I can assure you of this if a poll were to be taken of 1,000 people on the streets there wouldn’t be a conclusive result bearing out any of the conclusions derived from last night’s winners much less some of the nominees in question !

With the Roger Clemens’ trial now set to take place it was interesting to read the statement made by the player’s chief legal counsel Rusty Hardin who asserts that Clemens would not be taking the stand in his defense trial for perjury and the obstruction of justice. With the prosecution having lined up litany of current and former players to testify and prove their case it remains to be seen what course this federal trial will take . Certainly the Justice Department wouldn’t have pressed ahead with this trial having indicted the player on the aforementioned charges . Amongst the prosecution’s chief witnesses are Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens’ former personal trainer Brian McNamee . The latter for whom credibility will most certainly come into question and whose own testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee left a great deal to be desired at the time. The player , himself wasn’t without his own problems given his own testimony to the very same governmental committee .

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Rusty Hardin (L), attorney for Roger Clemens, smiles as he leaves the U.S. District Court after the judge declared a mistrial, on July 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. The judge presiding over Clemens’ perjury trial declared a mistrial over statements introduced to the jury by the prosecutor that were not suppose to be heard. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was on trial for making false statements, perjury and obstructing Congress when he testified about steroid use during a February 2008 inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Affairs. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)


It seems so totally asinine to think that the MLB hierarchy would seek or should I say absolve itself all responsibility when it comes to dealing with the players who have as such brought the game into disrepute . But when one considers the mere fact that Bud Selig has failed to show a backbone nothing at all should come as a surprise ! We have the so called purists who now simply believe that the game is still at its very best in all of its guises , from the competitiveness of the divisions to the financial well being of the teams . Perhaps when the team owners and general managers as well as the MLBPA (union) have begun to pull their heads out of each others’ assholes to wake up and smell the coffee then perhaps we may well see all of the parties come to some sort of common accord rather than their continued buffoonery !


I decided rather than heading home last night to stay overnight at the girlfriend’s home in Orlando . The fact that I commute from my home (distance of 56 miles) in Central Polk County most mornings to head into the downtown area of the city was of no real joy over the past few weeks , given the animosity on display with protesters outside the courthouse while the Casey Anthony trial took place . In the aftermath of the acquittal of the defendant and the over the top celebrations that took place with Jose Baez and his associates’ after their client’s acquittal by the jury left a great deal to be desired . What might have been even more contemptible was the mere fact that Baez was seen high five-ing an associate at a local bar across the road from the courthouse , with all of this being caught on camera by the national press and paparazzi . The lawyer himself was fully aware of this but I would have thought Jose Baez having an adjunct office a mere two miles away from the courthouse it would have been prudent to undertake the celebrations there and away from the prying eyes of the media and public at large ! In doing so those celebrations along with the now angered throng of public protesters who had gathered at the courthouse can only have angered those present and who witnessed the lawyers’ celebrations. I am not about to decry Jose Baez for his antics but I would merely point out that he may well now have to deal with some backlash from those who may well have felt that his client got away with murder .


At the end of the day this was a trial that bore the resemblance of an idiotic charade from start to finish ! The prosecution flubbed this case and were made to look like bumbling idiots by simply relying far too much on forensic evidence that did little to help their case . Instead , rather than seeking to attack the character and of the defendant and the numerous lies told by her family members . with each and very passing moment they relied far too much on a group of professionals in various scientific fields of forensic pathology and medicine to brow beat and bore the jurors to sleep but also leave the judge presiding over the case with a sense of deja-vu. (Think of the OJ Simpson murder trial all over again and remember how that charade ended ? ) But herein lies the caveat to this case all along , the jurors had been left with no other option but to find the defendant not guilty because there was little to suggest all along that the Casey Anthony had deliberately gone out of her way to murder her child, Haley Anthony . However , what was abundantly clear to anyone with an ounce of common sense were the mere the facts as they were being presented by the prosecution should have warranted that the defendant should have gone on trial for manslaughter , rather than first degree murder . But you would now be hard pressed to find anyone within the State Attorney’s Office (9th District) willing to admit that they had made a mistake in how the case presented and tried . The only saving grace in this all may well be the fact that there will be a civil suit brought against Casey Anthony by several groups who assisted in the search of her missing child , for which we now know that she the was the victim of an untimely death at far too young an age .

I can’t but wonder what will now be achieved by the state shutdown in Minnesota by Governor Mark Dayton . The state now has a $ 5 billion budget shortfall and with the shutdown has come the furloughing of state employees and in some cases the firing of state employees . Mark Dayton has had to contend with two bipartisan legislative chambers who if anything have only their self interests at heart, rather dealing with many of the acute issues Minnesota state now faces. .

Now while this idiocy continues Zygi Wilf and his associate partners who own the Minnesota Vikings have to be wary of the fact that the organization will face a hard task in persuading the state legislature that they need to pass the bill that will finance the building of the proposed $1.55 billion state of the art facility for the team. I’ve always found it rather bewildering to think that the NFL while having a fund to assist the teams in the building or refurbishment of their stadiums , in large part the majority of team owners will seek to obtain assistance from the various governmental agencies in the cities where they reside . Mind you this particular endeavor takes place in each of the four major professional sports. Consider this also , NASCAR’s executives were aided to the tune of some $250 million by President Barack Obama’s now infamous “stimulus package” .


Through an affiliate corporation ISC (International Speedway Corporation Inc) the governing body of the sport was aided with those funds to refurbish several of the race tracks that they own across the country . Considering the dearth of dumb ass spending that is undertaken by the federal government on pork barrel issues” that simply favors the pet projects of the members of the House and Senate should anyone be at all surprised by this ? I can only surmise that it is somehow better to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on several race tracks than it is to actually put either more police officers on the streets or even make sure that more money is steered towards education ? God knows nothing would indicate or suggest otherwise that the country is well on the way to not producing a highly intelligent and capable work force for the future than to have Bubba and Cletus chewing on tobacco and telling you why it is that Lil’ E and Smoke are two biggest things to happen in the sport since Dale Earnhardt Sr died . I don’t know that is meant to be enlightening for the public in general nor do I favor the idiocy then shown and still being shown by the current administration and two legislative chambers of Congress !

Clearly if the Minnesota Vikings are not able to persuade the state legislature that it is imperative for them to approve this finance bill then it is quite clear that the organization may well have to relocate . Zygi Wilf and his partners having hired a lobbyist to present their case and now must await on a decision as to the course that the vote will take . But given the current economic environment and the mere fact that the projections of the costs of this facility had sky rocketed from its original estimate of $1 billion to the now $1.5 billion it is hard to see how the state can actually justify this as being a prudent way to spend money when it faces such a massive deficit. Mark Dayton , the Democratic governor of the state has implored the members of both legislative chambers that cuts have to be made and also that some taxes will have to be increased but as usual with all issues as it relates to taxes and spending one can never find the right answer to the problem !


It does seem strange however that while Conservatives are so vehemently opposed to tax increases , they are also against cutting the tax loopholes that have assisted major corporations in deferring their taxes by up to five years and at the same time one loophole that is often overlooked ………… it is where it now allows US corporations to reincorporate oversees and totally avoid paying any form US income tax at all . At the same time those very same corporations conduct business as usual within the continental United States unperturbed by any legislation by the Congress . And though I feel that the Democrats are just as blatantly stupid as their rivals when it comes to dealing with the economy it does give credence to the very fact that neither side has a clear idea as to what actually needs to be done !


The Minnesota Vikings to my mind are better served in actually getting their act together on the playing field rather than looking for the building of a multi purpose facility wherein they will no doubt over charge the fans for the privilege of attending their home games . And given last year’s implosion (6-10 record ) by the team and all of drama that surrounded Brett Favre is there anyone now at all willing to take any type of odds on how this team will now fare this upcoming season ? I would dare say that the newly installed head coach Leslie Frazier and his coaching staff are in a for another tumultuous ride . In the aftermath of last season’s implosion and meltdown with all of the drama and idiocy of seeing four veteran members of this roster go to Favre’s home and plead with the veteran to make one more return to the NFL might well have been one of the more asinine events to have taken place within the league in years . For the life of me I have yet to hear anyone explain succinctly why it is that they felt that the Vikings were even being mentioned as worthy favorites for the Superbowl to begin with ! Especially those analysts within ESPN and Fox who have simply looked upon Favre so favorably as if he were some sort of deity . I tend to wonder whether or not Mark Schlereth and Chris Mortensen can for one moment take their lips away from Favre’s ass without suffocating because it looks as if sucking the crap produced from the player’s anus might well be life sustaining for the duo !

Given the failure of the team last season and the very fact that there seems to be no consensus as to who the starting quarterback will be it is imperative that Leslie Frazier has an idea as that player it will be when the team undertakes its start to the season . The choices are Rhett Bomar , Tarvaris Jackson , Christian Ponder , Patrick Ramsey and Joe Webb . Of that quintet of starting quarterbacks Ramsey is the most experienced but the nine year veteran , shown that given the chance to start he hasn’t the command or leadership qualities to enhance the play of the team. Joe Webb if anything when given the chance showed that he was capable but the mobile quarterback isn’t something that seems to be endearing to Leslie Frazier and his staff. And though I don’t believe that Christian Ponder would appear to the answer to the Vikings’ problems at the position I do somehow get the feeling that if all else fails he will be thrown in at the deep end !

From an offensive standpoint this team has all of the prerequisite weapons to be competitive . And with the likes of Sidney Rice , Adrian Peterson , Visanthe Shiancoe , Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin . Defensively the team has had its problems but if anything that can situation can be put right by defensive coordinator Fred Pagac .


In the ensuing weeks as the NFL stoppage continues it will be very interesting to see what transpires concerning the Minnesota Vikings and the decision that will be made by the state legislature . So much is made about the economic downturn but it appears that even when the hardest hit are the impoverished somehow it seems to be the most wealthy amongst us who always end up profiting from the shambles and disaster that is left in the wake of such an event . Care to think how Zygi Wilf will end up a winner even if the vote sought isn’t in his club’s favor ? Needless to say that every assistance will be given to the team by the league should the Vikings seek to relocate or perhaps use a temporary facility while some form of compromise can be reached . Funny that sort of situation never seems to arise for the most desperate amongst us !

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What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as you’d deem fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !


Alan aka tophatal …………. http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Contact tophatal ……. rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) From left to right Ohio State university President Dr E Gordon Gee , former head football coach Jim Tressel and the school’s athletic director Gene Smith addressing the press in light of the scandal that embroiled the university in several scandals. This led to NCAA sanctions will cost the school multiple scholarships as well as having to vacate of the football team’s victories for the 2010 season. AP Photo ……….

(2) Members of the Dallas Mavericks (L-R) Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, J.J. Barea, Brian Cardinal, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler, pose with their ESPY Award back stage after being named “Best Team” at the 2011 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, California, July 13, 2011. Reuters / AFP ……

(3) Seth Myers cast members of NBC’s Saturday Night Live and who hosted the 2011 ESPN ESPY’s award from the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles . AP Photo / Chris Howard ….

(4) WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 14: Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens (R) leaves the U.S. District Court after the judge declared a mistrial, on July 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. The judge presiding over Clemens’ perjury trial declared a mistrial over statements introduced to the jury by the prosecutor that were not suppose to be heard. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was on trial for making false statements, perjury and obstructing Congress when he testified about steroid use during a February 2008 inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Affairs . Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images …

(5) Rusty Hardin (L), attorney for Roger Clemens, smiles as he leaves the U.S. District Court after the judge declared a mistrial, on July 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. The judge presiding over Clemens’ perjury trial declared a mistrial over statements introduced to the jury by the prosecutor that were not suppose to be heard. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was on trial for making false statements, perjury and obstructing Congress when he testified about steroid use during a February 2008 inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Affairs. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images …..

(6) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 16: NFL players lawyer Barbara P. Berens (L), linebacker Ben Leber(notes) of the Minnesota Vikings, NFL players lawyer James Quinn and former NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith leave court-ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 16, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners that followed a breakdown of labor talks between the two in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images …

(7) Vikings owner Zygi Wilf met with Gov. Mark Dayton ( foreground) on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. The two met concerning a deal for which the team owner envisions a new facility to be built at the taxpayers’ expense within the state of Minnesota . This scenario has changed vastly from what had been envisaged by the governor . Courtesy of MPR Photo/Tim Nelson ……

(8) Kurt Coleman (42) of the Philadelphia Eagles tackles Visanthe Shiancoe (81) of the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field on December 26, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Vikings would defeat the Eagles 24-14 .—- Getty Images North America / Jim McIsaac …..

(9) Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick, left, is tackled by Minnesota Vikings’ Antoine Winfield in the first half of an NFL football game, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Michael Perez ……

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Savor The Moment …………….


Savor The Moment ……….

Well as baseball enters the run into the midseason break for MLB’s All Star Game I look over the scene of the standings and I feel that between now and season’s end in September we could be in for one or two surprises . A number of teams are jockeying for the positions that could prove to be fruitful and for myself I’ve simply been looking forward to the play of the Atlanta Braves and their assault on taking down the rampant and division leading Philadelphia Phillies within the NL East .

If the Atlanta Braves are to chase down and pass the Phillies then their play will have to be at a phenomenally high level . And for manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaches will no doubt have to get this team playing with a rhythm and passion that is the equal to that of their rivals within division . It is my belief that the wildcard entrant for the National League (NL) will actually come from within the division as I do not believe that any of the apparent contenders within the NL Central or NL West will be there when it really matters !

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The team has a two game home schedule against the Colorado Rockies before facing off against their divisional rivals the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia on Friday . And though there’s a four game margin between the two teams in the standings anything that the Braves can do to cut that deficit makes the scenario all the more enviable for the Atlanta Braves’ fans and the belief that they could quite possibly win the NL East.

With Chipper Jones being the elder statesman on this team he leads by example . And for what may well be the player’s penultimate season his crowning achievement would be to lead this team into the playoffs and quite possibly winning the World Series would be a wonderful way to end what may well be a Hall of Fame career .

Alex Gonzalez (2) of the Atlanta Braves fields a grounder against the Colorado Rockies at Turner Field on July 7, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images ……

From an offensive standpoint this team has all the prerequisites in place with Dan Uggla , Jones , Jayson Heyward , Brian McCann and Alex Gonzalez supplying much of the needed offense to make this team a contender . The team’s pitching and its depth in particular has to be admired with seasoned veterans Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson being the primary starters but they are also ably assisted by Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens who is having an extraordinary season and is considered to be amongst the front runners for the NL Cy Young Award for this season.

With the events of the All Star Game being a fan favorite it will be very interesting to see how this all plays itself out there at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona , this upcoming weekend . As to the immediacy of the games now taking place as I alluded to earlier it certainly will be interesting to see how the teams acquit themselves over the ensuing days .

NFL season or not I’m at my wit’s end with the never ending fumbling and bumbling that seems to be going on between the two sides. The NFL and NFLPA along with the coterie of lawyers representing both sides, this whole episode now resembles a crime procedural drama that we often now see as part of the usual litany of programs that now seems to stagnate the landscape of broadcast and cable television. Could things get any worse at this juncture as the two sides look to reach an accord ? Too many lawyers in one room to my mind usually spells danger or some apocalyptic catastrophe that is bound to take place. The paeans and NFL analysts of ESPN and Foxsports seem to salivating like prepubescent schoolboys who’ve just witnessed viewing their very first Playboy centerfold spread as rumors abound that the league is said to close to reaching a binding agreement as to a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement).

As an avid fan of the New England Patriots I certainly am looking forward to the differences of this team from this season and my impressions of them from last year ! From what can only be described as a disappointing postseason foray watching the team wilt under pressure against the New York Jets simply was like a reoccurring nightmare of watching a child being scolded for wetting its bed having just been put to bed .

Bill Belichick and his coaching staff will have their work cut out for them this season as the Patriots seek once again to be a resurgent force not just within the AFC East but across the whole NFL .

A 14-2 record within the AFC from last season gave the impression that the team was on its way to something impressive and perhaps a fourth Superbowl in twelve years . But the Patriots fell short through their own complacency and lackadaisical approach of several players on the team . Belichick often viewed as a mad scientist or some might even say a narcissist now realizes that he can no longer ride on the coat-tails of his previous triumphs.

And for players such as Tom Brady , Wes Welker , Danny Woodhead and to my mind the defense will now have to step up their play and simply prove to the fans that last season’s faux pas were just an aberration and nothing less . If not , then the presumed belief that this team can be viewed as a perennial contender for postseason play will prove to be nothing more than a myth.

The team’s upcoming season schedule should prove to be intriguing with a number of their inter divisional games against conference foes a lot more intriguing . Their main nemesis now appears to be the New York Jets within the AFC East and any defeat of that team in light of last year’s postseason effort would prove to be rather welcoming. And I would dare to say that for Wes Welker after his jab at the Jets and their coach Rex Ryan he would wish to atone for that rather infantile gesture and those remarks. If you’re going to trash talk you had better have the balls to back that shit up to begin with rather than ending up falling flat on your ass ! As was the case in that now infamous postseason game .

Consistency during the regular season is one thing but it has and will always be the postseason where it all matters the most . And in the preceding two years up until last year the Patriots have been one of those teams who have shown that they are capable of winning when it matters most .

The NFL Draft saw Belichick along with GM /Consultant Floyd Reese and Nick Caserio decide to make some prudent choices that should complement this roster and to bode well for the future of the organization. If there’s one thing we can all tend to agree on it is that the Patriots rarely make mistakes when it comes to the NFL Draft . Over the years especially under the tenure of Scott Pioli who’s now with the Kansas City Chiefs in his capacity as that organization’s general manager the New England Patriots were able place themselves amongst the elite of the NFL

I am looking forward to what I believe will be an exhilarating year within the NFL given the uncertainties that have and are still taking place ! There now seems to be some common sense prevailing but I have always been of the opinion when you have too many legal minds in a room scrutinizing all of the legalese placed within what will be a binding legal document there’s also a tendency to miss many of the really salient points that do need to be addressed ! We were being informed that this was all to with labor issues that needed to be addressed but in reality it was all to do with one side wanting to derail the others’ wish to have an even bigger slice of the pie . Hell, if this were really about a real issue such as player’s benefits and in particular those of the recently and long retired players within the NFL , then I firmly believe that Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith representing the NFLPA would have been more sincere in dealing with situation ! Instead it really has been a pissing contest between the two sides as they let the vitriol and utter stupidity get the better of them !

The season could be a preamble of what we could expect because before it even starts there’s bound to be a great deal of uncertainty with there being so many problems that will undoubtedly crop up. It is being rumored that one of the issues is that of restricted and unrestricted free agents and how best to use the franchise tag . Furthermore , the owners it is being reported have discussed having a roster of up 90 players (inclusive of the practice squad) which would be whittled down to the customary 53 players . The stage is set now for what may well be a season of comedic proportions wherein practices as conducted away from the usual facilities with rookies and first teamers could well have the fans wondering whether or not it wouldn’t have been better to abandon the season altogether . From my own perspective the first three to four games of this upcoming season could be one where we will see football being played at a rather dull level in terms of execution from the teams ! But in reality a season of sorts in the NFL is far better than having no season at all . And that’s even with Baltimore Ravens’ player Ray Lewis being of the belief that the NFL fan will be running wild in the streets committing all sorts of crime . But then again Lewis of all people should know a thing or two about committing a crime !

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this article ? Simply leave a comment as you would deem fit and as always thanks for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Alan aka tophatal …. http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show gallery details .
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(1) Alex Gonzalez (2) of the Atlanta Braves fields a grounder against the Colorado Rockies at Turner Field on July 7, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images …

(2) Mark Ellis (14) of the Colorado Rockies scores on a wild pitch against Eric O’Flaherty (34) of the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 7, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images ……

(3) ATLANTA – JULY 7: Manager Fredi Gonzalez (33) of the Atlanta Braves discusses a call with Umpire Scott Barry during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Turner Field on July 7, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images …

(4) Chipper Jones (10) of the Atlanta Braves hits a 3rd inning home run against the Colorado Rockies at Turner Field on July 6, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images ……

(5) New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick takes notes after a touchdown by Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …..

(6) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to throw as his offensive line holds back Miami Dolphins defenisve tackle Randy Starks (94) and linebacker Cameron Wake (91) during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Krupa ……

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