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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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The Story Itself Says A Lot About The Player …………


The Story Itself Says A Lot About The Player

As feats go, the milestone of Derek Jeter approaching the 3,000 hit plateau to become the New York Yankees alltime hits’ leader would suggest that the players’ legacy is set. If nothing else the perennial All Star seems well on the way to becoming a first time ballot Hall of Famer . There has been nothing to suggest that Jeter’s name has been tinged by any major controversy relating the steroid era or anything else for that matter. He has seen this organization through its highs and lows over the course of his fifteen year in Major League Baseball . And while the New York Yankees seem set to write their own history this season by looking to dominate the competition within the AL East . It bodes well for the Yankees’ fans that the team’s captain is still as determined as ever to win . Jeter has led by example and his teammates seem determined to follow and not let their leader down.

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Last season would suggest that the player has something of down year in terms of his productivity for the team . There have been a number of issues concerning the team this season those questions arise around the Yankees’ pitchig which is and has been very suspect this season . A J Burnett , CC Sabathia are appear to the only reliable pitchers on the roster and one would suspect that over the course of the season they will become all the more dependent upon their middle relief pitchers and closer <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/team/player.jsp?player_id=121250&quot; Mariano Rivera .
That being said it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see GM Brian Cashman make a mad rush to acquire a highly sought after player merely as a rent deal until the end of the season and beyond should the Yankees be in with a sniff of making the postseason.

And no doubt while the eyes of the baseball world are on Jeter as he looks to pass another historical plateau in the game it has to be said were it anyone else not named Jeter I seriously doubt that the interest in the achievement would be there ! In this era where the game of baseball has simply been accompanied by the misdeeds of a number of players through their prolific misuse of steroids and other illicit substances the game has become tainted and some might say even lacking in appeal. Granted , fans are still cheering on their teams but look at the situation around the entire league at present . The undue burden of a slack economy has led to lower attendance for a number of teams around the league , never mind the financial mismanagement by owners of their respective teams . The game needs a real pick me up and it appears that the closer Derek Jeter gets to this feat the more eager we all are to see him accomplish that hallowed achievement . Say what you will were this Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez on the cusp of attaining 3,000 hits , I seriously doubt that the vast majority of us would be at all be interested in the accomplishment . Such has been the disdain for both players and their actions over the course of their respective careers that it’s great to know that the game still has its real heroes !

While Jeter has been lucky enough to play his entire career with the Bronx Bombers and serving them well over the course of his career. One has to ask even with his abilities would he still have succeeded and reached the height he has achieved were he playing for a lesser team ? Fate has a way of dealing an individual certain things and then what you make of what elements dealt to you in one way or another can denote whether or not you will succeed within that environment. Ability alone but also being around like minded individuals who share a common purpose can also be of great assistance in ascertaining that will to succeed . I do believe that in the case of Jeter he would have succeeded be it with the New York Yankees or St Louis Cardinals in approaching this feat . On the other hand however , in the case of winning multiple World Series titles I think that would simply be open to discussion and a great deal of conjecture !

At present Derek Jeter having amassed 2,990 hits, he is now but ten hits away from reaching 3,000 and becoming the 28th player in league history to attain that historical feat. This record I do believe has become a bench mark within the game along with Cy Young’s 511 wins which will never be reached in the modern era of the game . The single season and all time home run records though still recognized are tainted and that has been the misnomer now within the game as baseball’s hierarchy simply hasn’t the gusto to do what many believe to be morally right and have those records stricken from the books. But then again what would you expect from a league hierarchy led by a bumbling oaf to begin with ? MLB Commissioner Bud Selig simply has become a lap dog for the team owners and someone how cowers in the corner like a scared child the moment the MLBPA stomps its feet !

In all likelihood Derek Jeter will reach this landmark in any of the upcoming series on the New York Yankees schedule during the month of June . The team has a four game series against the Cleveland Indians starting the 10th June before embarking on a three game series against the Texas Rangers . There’s a distinct possibility that the ten hits needed could be attained over the course of these two consecutive series. If not , then Jeter has a chance of accomplishing the feat against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field during an intra league game. But the thought that the player could very well reach the 3,000 hit plateau at Yankees Stadium would indeed be something special in front of a raucous crowd and most notably his immediate family and friends . Especially were the feat to be achieved d in either of the aforementioned series against the Indians or Rangers for that matter .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Given the era that we are now in with regard to baseball how do you view the achievement of Derek Jeter reaching the plateau of 3,000 hits within the game ? And what thoughts if any do you have with regards to the single season and all time home run records achieved by Barry Bonds ? Simply chime in with your thoughts as you see fit .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) New York Yankees’ CC Sabathia hands the ball to manager Joe Girardi while leaving the game during the seventh inning of a baseball game at against the Boston Red Sox Friday, June 10, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II ….

(2) David Ortiz (34) of the Boston Red Sox crosses to score on a Jed Lowrie (12) triple in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees on June 9, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images …..

(3) Derek Jeter (2) of the New York Yankees celebrates scoring with teammate Curtis Granderson (14) after Granderson’s home run in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox on June 9, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty …….

(4) New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter hits an RBI double in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Wednesday, June 8, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II ….

(5) Derek Jeter (2) of the New York Yankees gets the force out against J.D. Drew (7) of the Boston Red Sox during their game on June 8, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images ……

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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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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”

AL East, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, MLB, New York Yankees, Sports, Tampa Bay Rays

When Johnny Met Manny ……………….


When Johnny Met Manny ……………….

Well holy Moses the impossible has happened and the Tampa Bay Rays are now able to make lemonade out of rat’s pi_s . How else can you explain the idiocy of many of the statements coming from GM Andrew Friedman senior managing partner Stuart Sternberg Granted we know that the organization and team have been beset with financial problems ever since they came into existence and it has been that way ever since . Friedman and Sternberg have continued to berate the fans but have little willingness to spend money but at the same time they’re looking to have a new stadium built at the taxpayers’ expense . And at no time have they actually shown a commitment that they’re prepared to step up to the plate and contribute in part to the building of the supposed new venue. Some solace for the fans eh _____ from two rather conniving individuals who have continued to talk out of both sides of their mouths.

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Slide show for your perusal.

Sternberg having made his fortune in the commodities’ market and on Wall St much like any other millionaire owner in the league has a bauble (Rays) that he can parade as his own personal jewel in his crown. And given the success that the organization has had in recent years having twice won the AL East divisional crown . Now having failed to make their presence felt in the MLB playoffs where they would succumb to the Texas Rangers the Tampa Bay Rays in the offseason essentially had themselves a fire sale gutting the team in order to stave off financial ruin. To make matters worse their most storied and beloved player Carl Crawford was signed by the Boston Red Sox and several other players have followed in tow.

Now Friedman and Sternberg are trying to allay the fans’ fears that the team is heading in the right direction even with the moves that have been made. Simply put you can’t dress a sow up as a pig and call it a pig . Neither can you say that the Rays will be able to contend within the AL East especially when the likes of the Red Sox , New York Yankees , Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays will have improved. It’s easy to understand the reason why the division has always been considered to be most competitive in all of baseball . It’s not liable to change at all this upcoming season and it remains to be seen whether or not the coaching staff of the Rays can still have this team playing competitively this upcoming season even with the changes made.

For the fans in attendance at Tropicana Field St Petersburg , Florida this could be a season where that venue will come to be even more so as an elephant’s graveyard where the attendance will if anything border on being bare to say the very least . Instead of that hardcore 15,000 that the organization has come to rely on we could very well see that figure drop below 10,000 . It gives even greater credence to the fact that baseball just doesn’t work in the city of Tampa and it never will. Spin it anyway you want but there comes a time when the fans and in particular Sternberg and Friedman will have to accept the fact that they’re fighting a losing battle. And it certainly hasn’t helped with the continued buffoonery being shown by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , his office and his idiotic impact of the stadium issue for the Tampa Bay Rays . Rather being of assistance to the organization’s plans Selig has been nothing but a hindrance with his nonsensical edicts and public statements on the issue. Telling the team that the only way that they can ever host an All Star Game is to have a purpose built new stadium is asinine, as it was to suggest that he was completely unaware of the whole steroid issue that has been simply rife within the game under his tenure as commissioner !

Now if to create something of a furor and perhaps lure fans into the belief that the good time are here again with them having signed both Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez to one year contracts . As to whether not both of these players who are shall we say are past their prime can prove to be productive remains to be seen. But it’s clear that if anything in terms of character they’ll be bringing a great deal with them if not much in terms overall productivity to the Rays.

The two players had unprecedented success as players on the Boston Red Sox having won two World Series and then essentially were either ran out of town or left of their own volition from the organization. Since their departure let’s just say that the fortunes for the Red Sox where GM Theo Epstein and team President Larry Lucchino rule the roost at the behest of principal managing partner John Henry . Can both players contribute to the Rays and make them a competitor within the AL East and throughout baseball will be of interest to the vast majority of fans the print media and broadcast networks who cover the game.

From my own perspective this may well be nothing more than a face saving publicity gimmick but at the same time with both players set to earn in excess of $7.5 million for their effort we could very well see them showing us that they’re not completely past their prime. I do believe however that this team will struggle to be competitive merely because from the standpoint that a great deal will be asked of Evan Longoria and David Price as they try to keep in tact that the momentum that had been created under Joe Maddon’s coaching philosophy. I’ve heard it said that the youth movement on this team will bode well for the Tampa Bay Rays but really given what’s happened in terms of the roster upheavals does anyone truly believe that to be the case ? The Rays may well have been tested over the last few seasons as they saw their glare shine brightly in the public’s presence and perception . But this is a whole new ball of wax and if the truth be told this is liable to be a season where we will see the fortunes of the organization and the team simply falter once again not only from a competitive standpoint but also from a financial one as well.

This upcoming season the team will be on a thread bare budget in terms of salary and once again they will be back in the bottom half of the league in terms of that very aspect. Suffice to say this is one more symbolic point that’s a sad indictment of what’s completely wrong with the game of baseball from an economic and business standpoint as it continues to be about the haves and have nots !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on both Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez joining the Tampa Bay Rays ? And do you see the team being competitive this season not only within the AL East but across the entire baseball landscape ? Simply chime in with a comment on this topic and what you you envisage this season within baseball.

NB Picture and slide show details .

(1) This file photo taken Sept. 6, 2010, shows Chicago White Sox’s Manny Ramirez during a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit. A person familiar with negotiations tells The Associated Press that Ramirez and Detroit Tigers’ Johnny Damon have agreed to one-year contracts with the Tampa Bay Rays. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, because the agreements had not been announced. Getty Images / Drew Bishop ……….

(2) In this file photo taken Aug. 24, 2010, Detroit Tigers’ Johnny Damon watches from the dugout in the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Detroit. A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez have agreed to one-year contracts with the Tampa Bay Rays. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, because the agreements had not been announced. AP Photo/Paul Sancya ………..

(3) In this Oct. 9, 2010, file photo, Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Rafael Soriano delivers the ball to the Texas Rangers during Game 3 of the American League Division Series baseball game in Arlington, Texas. A person familiar with negotiations tells The Associated Press that the New York Yankees have reached a three-year agreement with Soriano, last years AL saves leader. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ……….

(4)Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon talks with pitcher Andy Sonnanstine (21) as catcher Gregg Zaub, left, third baseman Evan Longoria and first baseman Willy Aybar, right, look on during the third inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the New York Yankees on Monday, Sept. 7, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Yankees won 11-1. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ……….

(5) Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays of the New York Yankees during the game on April 15, 2008 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………

(6) Seen here in a role as a relief pitcher David Price (14) of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in game seven of the American League Championship Series during the 2008 MLB playoffs on October 19, 2008 at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. The Rays defeated the Red Sox 3-1 to win the series 4-3 . Getty Images North America / Doug Pensinger ………….

(7) Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, left, talks to left fielder Carl Crawford during baseball practice Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays host the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Wednesday. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ………..

[8] Matthew Silverman, tram President (left), GM Andrew Friedman (center) and principal managing partner Stuart Sternberg (right) are overhauling the Devil Rays. photo appears courtesy of New York Times/ Phillip Diedrich ………………

Alan aka tophatal …………………………..

MLB News ………………….

Tampa Bay Rays’ 40 man roster . Active roster & depth chart

Rays’ roster 2010

Tampa Bay Rays news …….

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Jackie O

Eye candy …….. Jackie O courtesy of Smooth Magazine

More of Jackie O …… so what’s not to like ?

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Rick Ross ……. feat’g Styles P ……….. “BMF”

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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 ………………. 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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appear courtesy of Associated Press @ copyrighted material …..

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