AFC East, Atlanta Braves, Baseball, Bill Belichick, Football, MLB, New England Patriots, NFL, Sports, Sports & Social commentary, Sports Commentary, Tom Brady, Uncategorized

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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Bill Belichick, Football, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, New York Jets, NFL, Rex Ryan, Sports

Give A Dog A Bone ………………….. But You Don’t Have To Beat The Dog With It


Give A Dog A Bone ………………….. But You Don’t Have To Beat The Dog With It

Well it had to happen ‘Chowder fans’ are now in mourning having seen the New England Patriots lay down like a dog that’s just been beaten half to death by Michael Vick . Only in this case it wasn’t Michael Vick doing the bludgeoning but the New York Jets led by Mark Sanchez and that fiery coach Rex Ryan .

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For those of us who sat and watched what many may well have felt would be something of a lesson in how to close out this AFC divisional game between the New England Patriots and New York Jets . If anything what we saw was a gunshy and shell shocked Patriots’ team that simply had no answer for a thoroughly physical Jets’ team who simply came to the party fully ready to lay waste to the Patriots in their home venue Gillette Stadium , in Foxborough , Massachusetts ,. And if you were under the impression that it was simply just the Patriots’ players who were ill prepared in this game then one had to wonder what was going on with the mindset of Bill Belichick and his coaching staff .

The game itself came down to a comedy of errors but more on the part of the Patriots and the sub standard play of Tom Brady and the offense . But to simply lay the blame soley on the offense would be remiss as the defense itself was simply left hanging in the wind as Jets’ offensive players , LaDainian Tomlinson , Shonn Greene , Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes had the best of their divisional rivals. Brady had what could be best described as the worse day of postseason career in the playoffs. He was laid bare by an offensive line who simply did nothing to protect him and to witness him being harried and hustled into making several mistakes in the game was like watching a rookie perform in his first postseason playoff game. Sacked five times during the game this was a day that Brady and the Pats’ fans like myself probably wished that there could be a do-over. But instead as we know when it comes to the postseason it’s simply one and done if you fail to make it the promise land .

This was to be the Jets’ day and rightfully so as Mark Sanchez led his team with authority and it augurs well for them now as they face the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game . This 28-21 result if anything would give you the impression that this was a close game but in reality it simply was never that close to begin with . In large part it was simply one way traffic and that was evident throughout much of this game as New England was outplayed by the more eager Jets. And all of the smack talk over bragging rights that took place before the game now resonates even more and if anything it has cut like a dagger through the heart of the Patriots’ fans who may well have felt somewhat betrayed the team’s performance .

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

As to what the future holds for the Patriots after this devastating loss it remains to be seen what Belichick and in particular the front office may well decide to do. Having posted a league leading 14-2 record those performances during the season. The season itself for the Patriots was filled a great many highs as well as lows but if anything the regular season is one thing what really counts as we all know is the postsason and the the quest for the Superbowl . That’s what all 32 teams within the NFL start their season on that inimatable quest for one of professiobnal sports most illustrious team prize.

Patriots’ owner Bob Kraft the front office must now know that if this team is to be thought of as a perennial contender for the Superbowl and it has become abundantly clear that Belichick was if anything complacent in the team’s preparation in the postseason. The thinking is that the New England Patriots are the ever consummate team of professionals but herein lies the problem with the Patriots they’ve been the dog that has uncanny habit of being simply annoying that you’re tempted give it a whack with a bone. And this divisional game against the Jets the Patriots got beaten with that bone so profusely that I seriously doubt that they’ll make a quick recovery from this painful onslaught !

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For the remaining teams the Chicago Bears , Green Bay Packers , New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers this postseason could be one to savor . So far we’ve been given a great deal of intrigue , suspense and thrills. There’s been surprises and shall we say one or two shocks ? Now all that’s left is to determine which team will be raising the Lombardi Trophy at Cowboys Stadium in early February .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the the divisional games this past weekend and what if any were your thoughts on the performances of both the New York Jets and New England Patriots ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on this topic and the upcoming games .

Alan aka tophatal …………………………

Picture gallery and slide show details

(1) New England Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty speaks with the media while cleaning out his locker at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Monday, Jan. 17, 2011. The New York Jets defeated the New England Patriots, 28-21 in the AFC divisional playoff game Sunday. AP Photo/Stew Milne …….

(2) New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez ties trash bags filled the belongings from his locker while cleaning it out Monday, Jan. 17, 2011, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The New York Jets defeated the New England Patriots, 28-21 in the AFC divisional playoff game Sunday. AP Photo/Stew Milne ……

(3)Foxboro , Ma,. Drew Coleman (30) of the New York Jets tackles Wes Welker (83) of the New England Patriots during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa Martinez /Getty Images ….

(4) New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick answers questions from the media during a news conference Monday, Jan. 17, 2011, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The New York Jets defeated the Patriots 28-21 in an AFC divisional playoff game Sunday. AP Photo/Stew Milne ……..

(5) New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, center, reacts near the end of the Jets’ 28-21 win over the New England Patriots in NFL divisional playoff football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011. AP Photo/Winslow Townson …….

(6) Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots looks on near the end of their 28 to 21 loss to the New York Jets in their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa Martinez /Getty Images ………

(7) Braylon Edwards (17) and Santonio Holmes (10) of the New York Jets celebrate on their way to defeating the New England Patriots 28 to 21 victory over the New England Patriots during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images ……

[8] Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots and Mark Sanchez (6) of the New York Jets walk off the field after the Jets defeated the Patriots 28 to 21 their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images ………

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Jazz ingenue Esperanza Spalding ……. “She Got To You”

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Bill Belichick, Football, Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, NFL, Sports

Odious , Simply , Bloody, Marvelous …..


I don’t know whether or not to laugh or cry at this juncture. But suffice to say that the NFL lived up to its appeal of ‘anything can happen on any given Sunday’. Oh my God, that’s an Oliver Stone ‘movie’. No conspiracy theorists here however. Alas, the New England Patriots are finally showing signs of life but I sincerely doubt that it’ll be enough to sustain them throughout the playoffs. As a divisional winner they’re guaranteed a wild card berth. And as good as this team was perceived to be, they are nowhere near as good as the teams of old.

Foxboro , Ma,. December 27th 2009. Tom Brady (#12) of the New England Patriots celebrates with Kevin Faulk (#33) after Brady threw a second touchdown pass to Randy Moss against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Foxboro , Ma,. December 27th 2009. Tom Brady (#12) of the New England Patriots celebrates with Kevin Faulk (#33) after Brady threw a second touchdown pass to Randy Moss against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Simply put ,Bill Belichick is trying to plug holes into ill fitting pieces of a jig saw puzzle that in effect is still missing several much needed pieces. That has definitely got to be the case concerning the defense and how inexplicably inconsistent they’ve been this season. The Patriots had the pleasure of having their way with the Jacksonville Jaguars. And here’s a team that one now has to wonder how long their owner, Wayne Weaver , can continue to put up with Jack Del Rio as the team’s coach ? It’s safe to say that the cries …..’we want Timmy , we want Tim Tebow‘ won’t be enough to save Del Rio from the impending fall of the axe across his neck. Let the bloodletting begin. At this juncture it’ll be left to Weaver and the rest of the Jaguars’ hierarchy as to the final decision that will be made.

Foxboro, Ma- December 27th:  Sammy Morris (#34) of the New England Patriots gains yards against the defense Anthony Smith (#20) and Reggie Nelson (#25) of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Foxboro, Ma- December 27th: Sammy Morris (#34) of the New England Patriots gains yards against the defense Anthony Smith (#20) and Reggie Nelson (#25) of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

The Patriots for their part are beginning to show ever growing cracks in that once invincible armor and it certainly hasn’t helped that Tom Brady hasn’t been playing up to his own lofty standards. But then again when watching Brady at his best , you realize how good he really is and why it is that the organization has been so successful. And much of that had a great deal to do with the insight of former GM, Scott Pioli , who now ply his trade as the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. And one would hope that the relationship between Pioli and Chiefs’ coach, Todd Haley won’t be as testy and icy ,as it was rumored to be between Belichick and Pioli towards the end of the general manager’s tenure with the New England Patriots.

David Garrard (#9 ) of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks for an open man against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 35-7.
David Garrard (#9 ) of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks for an open man against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 35-7.

Courtesy of the Patriots Journal

Patriots Journal: To rest or not? That was the question to Belichick

By Shalise Manza Young , Journal Sports Writer

Foxboro-Mass,. — Bill Belichick has a philosophy on whether to rest some of his key players for this Sunday’s regular-season finale, and it’s a rather familiar one:

“I do what’s best for our football team. That’s my philosophy,” he said Monday.

That was pretty much all Belichick would say in his late-morning news conference about how he’ll approach personnel decisions for the game against the Texans.

He added that he had not yet made any decisions, as he and his coaching staff had just wrapped up their review of New England’s win over Jacksonville.

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Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots watches the final minutes of action against the Jacksonville Jaguars after a Patriots' 35-7 win at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots watches the final minutes of action against the Jacksonville Jaguars after a Patriots' 35-7 win at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Sunday’s game between these two AFC representatives show why the teams are heading in opposite directions. New England sits atop of the AFC East with a 10-5 record and are assured of winning their seventh AFC East crown in the last nine years. The Kansas City Chiefs for their part are in the San Diego Chargers’ dominated AFC West. Where if you get two competitive games between the contestants within the division you’re bound to be crying ‘foul’ . So god-damn awful is that division , that I continually ask myself why are there games scheduled between the occupants to begin with ? Because I know for damn sure that no one from the NFL’s hierarchy will be willing to give me or the fans a legitimate straight forward answer as to how bad the division really is.

 Randy Moss (#81)  of the New England Patriots reacts on the sideline after he caught his third touchdown pass of the day against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Randy Moss (#81) of the New England Patriots reacts on the sideline after he caught his third touchdown pass of the day against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

And it’s now pretty much safe to say that the Chiefs (3-12) will be fighting it out amongst themselves with the lowly Detroit Lions (2-13) and St Louis Rams (1-14) for the privilege of obtaining the number one draft pick in the NFL Draft of 2010. Oh to be a fly on the wall in the war rooms of those particular organizations. Suffice to say, things cannot get any worse than they are now. Absolutely not, well at least I’d like to think so !

 Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Jack Del Rio of the Jacksonville Jaguars after a Patriots' 35-7 win at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Jack Del Rio of the Jacksonville Jaguars after a Patriots' 35-7 win at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

New England had their way the Jaguars, rolling them over on their way to an emphatic 35-7 win at Gillette Stadium , Foxboro, Massachusetts, on Sunday afternoon. For the Patriots’ this was a welcome win on a cold and blustery day.
At best the Patriots can end up with an 11-5 record at the end of the season ,garnering them the number four seed in the AFC. As an avid Patriots’ fan I’m hoping that it’ll be enough whereby they can use their playoff experience to acquit themselves well this postseason. If they can hit a rich vein of form over the ensuing weeks however, there’s no reason to believe that they can’t upset the apple cart and throw a ‘monkey wrench’ into the ambitions of the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals who are ahead of them in the NFL’s AFC seedings.

 Randy Moss (#81) of the New England Patriots catches his third touchdown pass of the day against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Randy Moss (#81) of the New England Patriots catches his third touchdown pass of the day against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

I know the limitations of the Patriots but I’m also fully aware as to what they’re capable of doing when they actually set their minds to it. The problem being is that will the team collectively be in unison when they’re needed to be at their very best ? If not then this postseason could end as swiftly for them as a sudden cold Nor’easter has been known to suddenly envelope the New England area. And that as we know is never a pleasant thing to begin with. In other words it can be odious but yet it can also be simply bloody marvelous. It just matters whether or not you’re on the receiving end of it all ?

NB: All pictures herein, appears courtesy of either AP/Photos or Getty Images

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