AL East, Baseball, Basketball, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, MLB, NBA, New York Yankees, NHL, Sports, Sports & Social commentary, Sports Commentary, Tampa Bay Rays

Phew I’m Glad That’s Over …….. !


Phew I’m Glad That’s All Over !

Well the sporting weekend was filled with a litany of stories that may well have found its way into your time spent resting and taking anyone of a number of events on offer. Both the NBA and NHL playoffs are underway and as those episodes play themselves out the fans there I’ve no doubt will be thoroughly entertained. Now I’m not nor have I ever been that much of an enthusiast when it comes to the game of hockey and I doubt I ever will be ! Suffice to say that when it comes to being physical in such a way when the opposing players are throwing down and landing punches like effeminate school girls I’d rather throw my weight behind a good mix up in a martial arts dojo !

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Slide show for your perusal.

In what is allegedly said to be baseball’s biggest rivalry the Boston Red Sox and their divisional arch rivals the New York Yankees met in a three game series which the Yankees hosted at Yankees Stadium . Having lost the the first two games 5-4 , 6-0 respectively the Yankees were looking to redeem themselves in Sunday’s game in front of a soldout crowd and a national cable broadcast on ESPN .

Much has been made concerning the New York Yankees this season and the frailties of this team in particular with their pitching rotation whom many believe to the team’s Achilles’ heel. If anything with both of the losses in question it simply wasn’t about the weakness of the pitching but also that the bats wents extremely cold for the Yankees . Last night’s game in light of the furore created by the team’s veteran catcher Jorge Posada has pretty much summed up how things could very well go for the Yankees this season .

Posada is having a brutal season batting a mediocre .165 , much to the dismay of the player and the coaching staff led by Joe Girardi and hitting coach Kevin Long . That being said it was somewhat inexplicable the way in which the player informed GM Brian Cashman that he wouldn’t be able to play in Saturday’s game. His excuse seemed to be contrived , with him suggesting that he was suffering from a back-ache and that his head wasn’t where it needed to be. Pardon me for saying this , but if you’re unwilling to suit up when it’s all on the line and your teammates are counting on you then you have no part being on that team ! Either Jorge Posada was genuinely hurt or he wasn’t but for him to take umbrage when Cashman made it public to the press before the game that he wouldn’t be playing , I find it rather naive on the part of Posada ! After-all it was his decision to withdraw from the team and not face their AL East rivals the Red Sox . Now in light of that , it now appears that there’s a great deal of friction and an apparent rift between the player and the upper levels of the executive heirarchy of the New York Yankees . This I believe is what tends to happen when things become contrived and the players who feel that they ought to be treated with deference from their peers within the locker room . Posada, if he’s to be seen as a veteran and an example to the younger players on this Yankees’ roster then he ought to act accordingly , and not like some infantile child who has had his pacifier taken away from him.

I’m not about to suggest that after this Sunday loss ( 7-5 ) which gave the Boston Red Sox a clean three game sweep in this series that the season for the New Yankees is now up in the air as that would be rather asinine ! The Yankees’ situation won’t be made any easier knowing that they now have to face a red hot Tampa Bay Rays’ —- team that has the best away record (13-5 ) in the league this season and whose confidence at a real high. Having lost that game to the Red Sox the Yankees saw their lead within the division erased with the Tampa Bay Rays now leading the AL East with a 23-17 mark with the Yankees two games behind and the Red Sox a mere 3 games behind the division leaders. Things are hotting up within that division and there’s a great deal to play for , nevertheless I do believe that it’s still too soon to write the Yankees off at this juncture but I do believe that the chasm that has now been created between Jorge Posada and the front office could well be irrevocably broken . With Cashman having stated that he’ll approach the commissioner’s office to see what , if any punishment can be levied against the player , you simply get the feeling that Posada could be on his way out with the Yankees unless there’s a contrite apololgy from the player to the organization. The chances of that happening might just be diminishing by the second given the demeanor shown by Posada and his own remarks in light of the series loss.

This two game series between the Yankees and Rays at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida could go a long way in telling us about the direction that both teams are now presently heading in. The Rays need to win and win consistently if they’re even to be thought of as legitimate contenders within the division much less a wildcard entrant or for that matter to have a legitimate shot at the World Series Series . It’s a near on certainty that the wildcard entrant from AL will undoubtedly come from the AL East unless there’s a major surprise to come from within any of the other divisions . At this juncture with how the teams are now playing nothing can be taken off the table as of yet .

I don’t know about you but with all the talk of the Miami Heat strolling their way to the NBA title this season , I’m so glad they were given that proverbial wake up call ! Last night in their conference finals game opener against the Chicago Bulls played at the United Center in Chicago showed us why the Bulls should be written out of this series based on their so called inexperience . Complacency I believe has already has set in with the Heat especially amongst the role players on this team !

The Miami Heat showed why there are still many flaws on this team none more so than on defense as the Bulls laid an almighty can of whup ass on the self absorbed Heat . This game may well have started off as a sprint with the Heat’s ‘Big Three’ looking to stamp their identity on this game . But as good as LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are said to be , on the night Luol Deng , Derrick Rose , Taj Gibson , Joakim Noah and Ronnie Brewer simply better , as the Bulls took the Heat behind the woodshed and fuc_ed them proverbially in the ass ! Statistically the Bulls won this game by being aggressive and simply beating up on the Heat on the boards (45-33) on both ends of the floor .

Inexplicably the Heat were simply no match for the Bulls and the idiocy came about even further when the Heat had six players on the floor during this game but somehow the officials , Dan Crawford , Michael Smith and Ken Mauer as incompetent as we’ve known the referees to be didn’t call a technical against the Miami . Inasmuch , I had expected the Heat to win game one I certainly didn’t believe that they would be upended and embarrassed in the way that they were on the Bulls’ homecourt . But as I alluded to earlier , there’s a complacency about this team that I don’t believe that Erik Spoelstra or Pat Riley can deny . I think that there’s connivance and a belief about the Heat that having beaten the Boston Celtics with effortless ease they may well have felt that they would walk the Bulls like a hot knife through butter. Well it’s game on bitches and you’re now going to be in for a hard fought battle and one hell of a war .

The result a 21 point defeat ( 103-82) of the Miami Heat simply ought to remind us all that we ought to also take note that the Bulls did also sweep the Heat in their regular season meetings 3-0 . And though one could allude to the fact that the Heat as a team weren’t playing cohesively as a unit you simply cannot discount those results as being a one off at all ! The Heat were beaten and albeit that the regular season tends to mean nothing at all once the postseason comes around , you can’t deny that this would be the last thing that Miami Heat would have wanted at this juncture . And that’s to be in a battle where they’re expected to win soundly ____ but instead they’re now in the midst of what could turn out to be guerilla warfare and they’ve simply shown that based on last night’s display they simply haven’t the arsenal to compete against their younger foes.

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What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece and as such what sporting even over the weekend had your undivided attention ? Simply chime in with a comment and thanks as usual for the continued support .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………..

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) VANCOUVER, CANADA – MAY 15: Mason Raymond (21) of the Vancouver Canucks skates after the puck on the forecheck against Joe Pavelski (8) of the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 15, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Canucks defeated the Sharks 3-2 . Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …..

(2) Chris Higgins (20) of the Vancouver Canucks makes contact as he screens goaltender Antti Niemi (31) of the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 15, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Canucks defeated the Sharks 3-2 . Photo by Harry How/Getty Images ….

(3) Teammates, including catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia congratulate Boston Red Sox Kevin Youkilis, second from left, after he led the Red Sox to their 7-5 victory over the New York Yankees for a three-game sweep in their baseball series at Yankee Stadium Sunday, May 15, 2011, in New York. Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, right, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez join in the celebration. AP Photo/Kathy Willens ……

(4) New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez watches his seventh-inning RBI double in the Yankees baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, Sunday, May 15, 2011 in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …..

(5) David Ortiz (34) of the Boston Red Sox celebrates a home run in the fifth inning as Russell Martin(notes) #55 of the New York Yankees looks on and J.D. Drew (7) of the Boston Red Sox gets ready to bat during their game on May 15, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images …..

(6) Brett Gardner (11) of the New York Yankees is caught in a run down against the Boston Red Sox during their game on May 15, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images ……

(7) A woman holds up a sign supporting New York Yankees five-time All-Star and designated hitter Jorge Posada one day after Posada pulled himself out of the lineup in the Yankees baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium Sunday, May 15, 2011 in New York. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Posada apologized to him in a face-to-face conversation. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(8) Jorge Posada (20) of the New York Yankees cheers his team on from the bench against the Boston Red Sox during their game on May 15, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images ….

(9) From left to right Kurt Thomas (40), John Lucas III, Joakim Noah (13) and Derrick Rose (1) of the Chicago Bulls celebrate late in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls won 103-82 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …

(10) Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat reacts as he coaches against the Chicago Bulls in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Getty Images/ Gregory Shamus ……..

(11) Chris Bosh (1) and Dwyane Wade (3) of the Miami Heat talk on court against the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Gregory Shamus/ Getty Images ……..

(12) Kyle Korver (26) of the Chicago Bulls reaches for a loose ball against LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Getty Images/ Johnathan Daniel ……..

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MLB News

New York Yankees’ news

MLB Scoreboard

MLB Results & scores 15th May 2011

MLB Standings


Probable starting pitchers 16th May 2011

NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NHL Playoffs 2011

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Fabolous …… feat’g …….. Nate Dogg ……” I Can’t Deny It”

Baseball, Basketball, Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Cavaliers, MLB, NBA, NBA Playoffs 2010, New York Yankees, Sports

Tha Crossroads ………. See Ya’ At The Crossroads …….. So You Won’t Be Lonely ……


Tha Crossroads ………. See Ya’ At The Crossroads …….. So You Won’t Be Lonely ……

Well the “epicenter” of the sporting universe will very much this weekend be in the city of Boston . The NBA will have the continuation of the playoff series between the Boston Celtics against the Cleveland Cavaliers . And in MLB (baseball) we have the renewed and very much heated rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees of the AL East .

And for the venues in which both of these spectacles will be showcased for the attending fans and those watching on television. Expect the excitement and action to be riveting in its form and presence. Fenway Park , Boston will take center stage for what is perhaps baseball’s richest and most storied rivalry. The New York Yankees will be looking to keep astride with the division leading Tampa Bay Rays . And it’d be safe to say that the Rays are not only the “surprise team” of the division but they might just be the best team in baseball at present based on their current form. If only their “home fans” were appreciative of that fact in turning out at Tropicana Field , St Pertersburg in droves to show their unconditional support for the team . But alas, they are very much a fickle set of fans , to say the very least !

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The TD Banknorth Garden Center in Boston will play host to the Cavaliers led by their newly minted regular season MVP _____ LeBron James . And this particular series and game will be “pivotal” for both teams. Tied 1-1 James and his Cavaliers’ teammates will be looking to retake the advantage by winning the first game at the Celtics’ home venue. Not to be outdone however, Doc Rivers knows that if his team are to have a chance against this Mike Brown coached team and keeping the momentum after their ” lopsided” game two victory 104-86 over the Cavaliers. Then the Boston Celtics will have give their fans a repeat performance of their display at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio.

And as surprising at that 18 point margin of victory was , what even be more shocking was the laissez-faire approach taken by Cavaliers in general. Mike Brown’s post-game interview was none apologetic and if anything both he and his coaching staff ought to be held accountable for such a poor display. And the fact that he was unwilling to call out his star player as well as the supporting cast makes you wonder who is in fact ruling the roost there in Cleveland ? Is it “King James” or is it the coach ?

Can we all agree the disdain and contempt that the Red Sox fans have for the New York Yankees’ fans as well as the the team borders on that spirited feud between the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s ? If there’s a more heated rivalry both on and off the field in all of sports. Then I for one have yet to witness here in the United States ! Now don’t get me wrong there may well be one or two other rivalries that would like to lay claim that theirs is comparable to that of the Red Sox and Yankees’ rivalry. But you’d be hard pressed to convince the majority of baseball fans that is indeed the case. What one fans purports to be a rivalry one hand pales into insignificance when measured against of what we’ve all no doubt witnessed between these two teams over the course this rivalry’s existence. I know it’s not allout war but the Palestinians and Israelis could learn a thing a two from this long existing feud. Yankees’ fans can be obnoxious because their self conceived superiority complex. Red Sox fans on the other hand, now feel that after years in the wilderness and now with renewed success. Well in essence , they feel that their time is now to hell with what the Yankees’ fans might think or who the hell they are. As for their contempt of the team , well let’s just if they had a pot urine or fecal matter it would not surprise if they chose to launch it in the direction of an opposing fan or player of a fan ! Do you get where I’m coming from concerning this matter ?

Well what can the fans and viewing public expect to see throughout the series ? A Yankees’ team that’s playing well and in many ways some might say pacing themselves for the long haul drudgery of the season . The Red Sox for their part seem to be back to their winning ways . But this is a team that’s lacking in confidence and the players brought in via trades or free agency have yet to show their worth. As astute as GM Theo Epstein is deemed to be , even he must be somewhat disappointed in the form of Adrian Beltre , Marco Scutaro , Mike Cameron and in particular the team’s DH , David Ortiz . Granted, Mike Cameron is on the 15 day DL . Oh what a surprise that is ? Were he a race horse the veterinarian might well have considered euthanizing the often injured player. If there’s said to be a real disappointment however , then it has to be the inconsistency of the front-line starters in terms of the pitching rotation . Josh Beckett’s ERA of 6.31 is either an aberration or there’s a real cause for concern. I’ll let you be the judge of that if you happen to be a Red Sox fan. On the other hand, if you’re a Yankees’ fan then you’re probably rolling about the floor laughing your a_s off .

How manager Terry Francona and the team goes about contesting this series may well go a long way in telling us about the Boston Red Sox and their real aspirations for the season . His opposing number Joe Girardi knows that with the bulls eye resting squarely on their backs as World Series champions . Everyone within baseball will be looking to take them down and usurp their dominance. With a plethora of high priced stars on the team’s roster . This is a Yankees’ organization that takes “their dominance of the sport” rather seriously. Winning equates with success , which equates with making money. And no professional sports franchise makes money the way that the New York Yankees is able to do. Be it from a business or competitive standpoint their success is unparalleled and unmatched .

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Picture gallery . Click on the individual frame to view under close scrutiny.

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Well all that is left to say at this juncture , is merely to enjoy the sporting weekend and the revelry of the spectacles as they unfold. Be it in support of the Red Sox , Yankees or Cavaliers or Celtics . Just have fun and hopefully you’ll enjoy the cavalcade of sports entertainment at your disposal. For myself , it may well not so much be about these two series in question. But if anything I’ll be watching to see how the San Antonio Spurs acquit themselves in their playoff series against the Phoenix Suns . They have to erase a 0-2 deficit and still play themselves back into contention. An impossible task ? Not necessarily but given the consistency of their play against the Suns . I’m hoping that they can defend their home-court successfully in order to put my mind at ease. Thereafter, it’s then everything to play for .

Alan Parkins ………………….tophatal ………


Bone Thugs-n-Harmony ……………….. “Tha Crossroads”

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The always sultry Kerry Washington .

Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Major League Baseball, MLB, New York Yankees, Sports, Tennis

Friday Is Redux Day Rehashing Some Old Pieces



Friday Is Redux Day Rehashing Some Old Pieces

Well major league baseball (MLB) was off to its usual start and the Opening Day “game” was a battle of the AL East “behemoths” the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox . The game itself was played at the “famed” Fenway Park in Boston , Massachusetts. Now as we know this the “most hated” of sporting rivalries is similar to that of the rivalry between the “Hatfields” and the “McCoys” . And as far as I know to date there has yet to be a “loss of life” between these two warring sets of baseball fans. If I’m wrong in my assumption then please do correct me on this one element.

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The three game set between the Red Sox and Yankees was televised to a national audience and to a packed crowd , that is about as passionate about the game as anywhere across the entire nation. Fenway Park in all fabled history, is a place where if you to watch game you can’t but help soak up the atmosphere and that revelry that is there to be had. Alright, if you’re a Yankees’ fan in the midst of this you’re not going to be entirely happy . But then again, considering that “two teams will meet each other eighteen times” throughout the course of the regular season. You get the impression that when the Red Sox fans and the team visit Yankee Stadium in its gargantuan glory , there’s liable to be a surly welcome for the visiting fans. Unlike any other series in baseball there is a “lasting hatred” between these two sets of fans. And at times that angst that’s shown between the two teams can rival that of the volatility of in the stands ! I suppose as such it comes down to the competitiveness between the two and the very fact whoever wins the division is “guaranteed” a berth in the postseason . If you happen to finish “second” it is by no means a “guarantee” that you will be the wildcard entrant ..

The Red Sox would end up losing the series having its lone victory of the series in the opening day game with a hard fought 9-7 victory to their heated rivals. The strange this is, with the loss of the series , the Red Sox now sit at the bottom the AL East with a 1-2 record . Well it’s early days yet , so there’s no need to panic if you’re an avowed Red Sox fan. If you’re a Yankees’ fan then you can now start to gloat. Well , that’s what you guys tend to do for the vast majority of the time and throughout the baseball season. Is it any wonder that the fans around the league tend to find the Yankees’ fans , perhaps the most obnoxious in the league ?

There’s no denying that this season for the Atlanta Braves they would like to go out with that “last hurrah” for their legendary manager , Bobby Cox. And you do get the impression that the team doesn’t at all want to disappoint their manager or their fans

. And for those Braves’ fans in attendance at Turner Field in Atlanta. The thought that this is the very last season where they’ll see the “storied manager” seated in dugout alongside his assistant coaches and players will come as something of an aberration the fans. You get the impression that the Braves’ front office executives such as GM Frank Wren , Team President John Schuerholz and Chairman & CEO Terry McGuirk would like nothing more than for Cox to bow out of the game with perhaps “a real shot” of winning another World Series crown. And no doubt that sentiment is shared by their “most famous player” ever to have the Braves’ uniform Senior Vice President Hank Aaron . The Braves’ fans will no doubt share those exact sentiment of the team’s front office and its executives. However, all that stands in the Braves’ way in the NL East division are Florida Marlins , New York Mets , Washington Nationals and the reigning division champion and NL pennant title holder the Philadelphia Phillies. A really “daunting task” indeed that the Atlanta Braves will face through their schedule this season.

It will no doubt take a great deal of guile on the part of Cox and his assistants to have the Braves in contention throughout the season. But if there’s a manager within the game that’s capable of doing that and motivating a team, then “it is” Bobby Cox !

Talk is cheap and they’ll keep on talking until the “cows come home” . There are many who are now questioning the sanity of the Philadelphia Eagles’ front office and that of their coach Andy Reid . My thoughts on the matter after the trade of the team’s Pro Bowl “quarterback” Donovan McNabb to divisional rivals the Washington Redskins . Be careful what you wish for …..”as payback can be and is a real bitch” !

Whether or Reid bent or was not in favor of the trade is matter of mere speculation at this juncture. This much however we do know , team President Joe Banner had “the final say”. Eagles’ fans you can now bitch all you want because at the end of the day there’s absolutely no one but to blame than yourselves and the entire organization. McNabb was made to feel about “as welcomed” in the city as Osam Bin-Laden would have been , were he in a room filled with Hasidic Jews. And the fact that some of you are now said to be upset over the trade shows your complete arrogance and lack of understanding as to what has taken place ! You are the very same fans who “booed the player” when he was drafted by the team out of Syracuse University .

On first impression one would’ve thought that the Eagles had drafted a mentally and physically challenged individual , given the reception the player had received on the day he was drafted. Taken second overall in the 1999 NFL Draft. McNabb would go on to serve the club with distinction. Forget what you heard about the Superbowl loss to the New England Patriots in SBXXXIX – end result 24-21 . Let Terrell Owens “hold a grudge” ,have his bitching episodes and hissy fits like a female who’s on her menstrual cycle”. I don’t recall Freddie Mitchell catching a pass on the day but I do seem to remember “Fedex Safe Hands Freddie” actually dropping a few passes that weren’t even errant throws by the quarterback. And “TO” was complaining about McNabb’s performance in the loss ? And oh, by the way what has Owens since achieved after his abrupt departure from the organization ? “Fu_ck all” , I would say in terms on any tangible success !. No , “absolutely not” the Terrell Owens “reality show” doesn’t count as tangible success ! Well that’s unless you’re talking about his antics off the field in denigrating his former teammates , coaching staff, NFL owners and anyone else who doesn’t “think along” the same lines as he does ? I suppose that’s a “form of tangible success” if it makes you look like “an ever bigger as_hole” than first thought ?

Well this is merely part one of I don’t know many pieces that will take and be done consistently each Friday by myself. But hopefully this lone piece get about some constructive and interesting discussions ? And on passing note 9 time Wimbledon women’s singles champion

Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The former champion and winner of over 167 singles titles and a further 174 doubles titles from around the world is said to be cheerful and happy that the oncologist who diagnosed the cancer believes it to benign. However, to be on the safe side she will undergo chemotherapy in Paris , France while she’s there on business, as well her work with the UN and UNICEF . Anyone who has had a female relative or friend be stricken by this debilitating disease knows how hard it can be on the sufferer not just from a physical standpoint but also on a mental aspect as well.

Navritilova has said that she intends to ” beat the cancer” and then upon her recovery she will go out and assist women in a similar fight. She intends to work in conjunction with Susan G Komen Foundation , the largest women’s breast cancer organization of its kind in the United States. To date the foundation has raised in excess of $1.5 billion since the foundation’s inception in 1982. Monies raised goes not just into research but in “the hope of a cure” not just for breast cancer but it also goes towards funding other projects and issues that are causes that primarily affect young women. Grants are also provided in social areas that are of benefit to women around the world but particularly in developing and third world countries around the globe.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Navratilova and I hope that she’s able to make a speedy recovery from her illness. In her prime the ” Czech born American was the most dominant female in women’s tennis. She may well have been the most dominant female athlete the world has ever seen in not just women’s tennis on the Sony Ericcson WTA Tour but quite possibly in women’s sports bar none ! Unfortunately when it comes to dominance in women’s sports it’s not really taken all that seriously in the world of sports journalism. In reality women’s sport is still being treated with either a great deal of skepticism or in some cases just sheer downright ridicule ! It now makes one wonder if the steps taken by former women’s tennis pro Billie Jean King in getting Title IX to be fully recognized and its battle to get it legislated upon in both the House and Senate was really worth it at all ?

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………. ūüôā

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Picture gallery for your perusal

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Aaliyah feat’g Timbaland “Try Again” Soundtrack to the movie
…….”Romeo Must Die ” (2000) . Starring Jet Li, Delroy Lindo, Anthony Anderson ,
Aaliyah Haughton , Russell Wong and D B Woodside.

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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 ‚ÄĒ Proposals to build a new pro baseball stadium in Hills¬≠borough 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, Hills¬≠borough 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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AL East, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Mark Teixeira, MLB, New York Yankees, Sports, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays

Spend Big Live Big And You Too Can Be Successful …Well That’s The Credo Lived By In Baseball ………………..


 

This cannot be the time for fans of baseball to think that the game is back to where it ought to be. With the New York Yankees simply announcing that they’re able to go out and spend in excess of $420m on three players.  The world is of the belief that all is right within the game. Nothing now could be further from the truth. 

 

 

A J Burnett  and  newly acquired teammate    C C Sabathia of  the New  York Yankees ...................
A J Burnett and newly acquired teammate C C Sabathia smile for the press after the announcement is made by GM Brian Cashman as to their acquisition by the franchise .................

A J Burnett¬† and¬† newly acquired teammate¬†¬† C C Sabathia¬† smile¬† for¬† the cameras¬† after¬† their¬† acquisition by the Yankees was announced to the press by Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman.¬† picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Matthew¬† C Cushman ………………………

 

 

Whilst no one can complain of  this latest development it has to be said that the teams within the AL East may well be looking at this with some trepidation.  Well perhaps not the Boston Red Sox.  But most certainly the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles have to be  thinking to themselves what is it that they have to do in order to become competitive with the likes of high flying and big spending Yankees.  Neither of the teams in question possesses the sort of financial acumen that the likes of the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox have within their means.

 

 

 

At some time in the foreseeable future  the commissioner’s office  will  have to contemplate whether or  not it is  feasible  to consider a salary  cap within the game.  Albeit that this will present a dilemma for a number of teams.  Especially those with  the financial  wherewithal  of the  Red Sox and Yankees. Big  market  teams  being what  they  are  can  afford  to  spend lavishly  on players  whom they  feel  with  be of  benefit to  their  teams.  Unfortunately this is  not  the  case  for  the  majority of  the  teams  within  major league  baseball.  And it is  something  that  Bud Selig  and  the  team owners  certainly  have to face, despite  their  passionate  belief  that  the  game  is  in  a healthy state.

 

 

 

With revenues in excess¬† of¬† $6.5bn a year¬† it can be¬† said¬† that¬† the game¬† still isn‚Äôt¬† where¬† it ought¬† to be¬† when it¬† comes¬† to complete transparency¬† and¬† accountability¬† by¬† the¬† league¬† and¬† the¬† franchises themselves. And although¬† it is¬† a private entity¬† the hierarchy of the¬†¬† game¬† itself¬† relies¬† heavily on the goodwill of ¬†the public¬† and¬† the¬† communities within which it has a presence. But¬† if¬† this policy is to be¬† accepted¬† by all of¬† the¬† teams within¬† the¬† major leagues.¬† Then it has to be¬† done in such a way whereby it is¬† equitable¬† for¬† all.¬† It‚Äôs something¬† that¬† not¬† even¬† the¬† owners¬† can agree to¬† let¬† alone¬† the¬† commissioner‚Äôs¬† office.¬† For much of¬† his¬† tenure¬† Allan¬†‘Bud’ Selig¬† has¬† been¬† nothing more¬† than a¬† mouth piece¬† for¬† the¬† owners¬† and¬† when¬† needed¬† most¬† to be assertive.¬† He¬† was¬† almost¬† as docile¬† as¬† a¬† church¬† mouse.¬†¬† So¬† why¬† would¬† we¬† expect him¬† now¬† to be¬† assertive¬† ?¬† He¬† had¬† to¬† be¬† dragged¬† kicking and¬† screaming¬† into¬† the¬† twenty¬† first¬† century¬† when¬† addressing¬† the¬† steroid¬† issue¬† as¬† he¬† himself¬† appeared¬† to be oblivious¬† as to¬† what was¬† happening¬† around him.¬† It¬† was patently¬† obvious¬† what¬† was¬† happening¬† but¬† he¬† and his¬† minions¬† chose¬† to¬† ignore it .¬†¬†¬†

 

 

 

 

Angels' first baseman Mark Teixeira fields a ball during the ALDS game between the Boston Red Sox and  Angels.  Teixeira  was recently  acquired by the New York  Yankees.  ........................
Angels' first baseman Mark Teixeira fields a ball during the ALDS game played between the Los Angeles Angels and the Boston Red Sox . Teixiera was recently acquired by the New York Yankees and was signed to an eight year $180m contract.

Angels’ first baseman Mark Teixeira¬†fields a ball during¬† the¬† ALDS game¬† between¬† the¬†¬†Los Angeles Angels and¬† Boston¬† Red Sox.¬† Teixeira was acquired by¬†¬†the New York Yankees and signed to an eight years $180m¬† contract.¬†With the acquisition the team now possesesses four¬†of the 5 highest salaried players¬† in¬†Major¬†League Basbeball.¬† picture appears courtesy of¬† ap/photo/ Mark¬†¬†Tannenbaum …………….

 

 

 

 

 

He may well  feel that  when a team like the New York Yankees  can  go  out openly  and  spend  a  quarter of a billion  dollars  much  like a family spends on an entertaining evening   out.  We  may  well  think of it  as an evening’s entertainment for the  family.   But  for  the Yankees  it’s merely  nothing  more  than a day at  the  office. With the sort  of  financial  acumen  that’s  within  the realms of  the  Yankees  and  Red  Sox  is now  placing an even greater obstacle on the majority of  the  teams  within the  game.  They  in no way  can match  these  teams for  their financial muscle  or success.  Between  the two  they’ve won  six of  the last eleven   World Series .  And  as much  as  many  will  say  that  there’s  a  balance within the  game  more so  than any of  the  other  major  team sports.  One   would  also  say  that  when  it comes  to  the  financial  viability  of  their   teams.  Those  within   the game  of baseball  are in even more of  precarious  position than  that  of  their  counterparts  in  basketball,  football and perhaps  hockey.  The  latter  we  know  are still  trying  to create  a sound  business  structure  under  which  they  can  operate  with  some semblance  of  normalcy and success. There’s something  that  baseball can  learn from the  pratfalls  made  by the

NHL.

 

 

 

 

With these  uncertain  economic  times  it’ll  now  be  very interesting  to  see how many of the  teams  operate.  A  number of the  game’s  major  corporate sponsors  are  already  cutting  back on their  expenditure  and  exposure  within the  game.  And it’s  going to  become all too  apparent  as  to how  it’ll  end  up affecting many  of  the  teams  within the  game.  And  with  that’ll  come  the  uncertainty  of  the  fans  themselves  and  how  they  choose to  spend  their  discretionary  dollars.  If it comes to choosing  to feeding  their  families  and going to a game ?.  Then  the  family  will  win  hands down  each  and  every  time. Again that  is something  that the  league  will  most definitely  have  to  think  about for  the  foreseeable future.

 

 

 

The¬† signing¬† of¬† CC Sabathia , AJ Burnett may¬† well¬† have¬† made¬† everyone sit up and¬† take note¬† as to¬† how serious the New York Yankees¬† are about reacquiring¬† their position at the top of¬† the¬† food chain.¬† But¬† it¬† also¬† sets¬† about a¬† dangerous¬† precedence¬† about¬† the haves and have-nots¬† within the game. Their¬† signing of¬† Mark¬† Texieira¬† sets¬† about an¬† even¬† bigger¬† indication¬† as¬† to the direction that some are¬† able to¬† afford themselves¬† whilst¬† others¬† are¬† not.¬† They¬† say ‚Äú‚Äėall is¬† fair¬† in love¬† and¬† war ‚Ķ‚Ķ‚Ķ‚Ä̬†¬† But¬† it‚Äôd¬† appear¬† that¬† when it comes to¬† the¬† game¬† of professional¬† baseball all¬† semblance¬† of¬† common sense on the¬† part¬† of¬† the owners¬† as¬† well¬† as the¬† league and¬† players¬† themselves are¬† falling¬† on deaf¬† ears.¬† What they perceive as sound economic sense¬† and a guarantee as to¬† the aspirations¬† of success¬† is merely nothing¬† more¬† than¬† a¬† bold¬† face¬† charade¬† to lure¬† the fans through¬† the turnstiles. In order that their coffers¬† are¬† filled¬† and at the same time the cycle¬† of¬† greed and avarice¬† on¬† both sides¬† continues amongst¬† the players¬† and¬† league alike.¬† Whilst¬† the¬† fans and¬† consumers¬† alike¬† are¬† thrown up a¬† diluted and often mediocre¬† product¬† on the¬† field of play.¬†¬†¬†

 

 

 

tophatal ……………………………………….