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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 Rays Are For Real But Who Knows That They’re There ?


The Rays Are For Real But Who Knows That They’re There ?

Did I miss something but since when did having a farm system that’s the envy of team owners and general managers was a guarantee of success ? I don’t care how good the talent may well be , what indicates how good the players or player might be comes about in the astuteness of the manager , his coaching staff are and whether or not they’re able to communicate with the players under their command.

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We’ve a litany of teams within baseball at present trying to justify and resurrect their legacies and show that they’re now competent to compete with the best of the best within the game. When abject mediocrity becomes the norm and the so called purists merely accept it as being the norm to my mind speaks of utter stupidity more than anything else ! Over the past few seasons I’ve seen the highs and lows within the Tampa Bay Rays’ and the fact that GM <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/tb/team/exec_bios/friedman_andrew.html””&gt; Andrew Friedman has done his very best to make this team and organization competitive . The Rays this season thus far have been simply exceptional away from home posting the best away record within the league . And with a bevy of young and exciting prospects over the past few years this is an organization that is not only looking to the future but also the immediacy of the here and now . Team manager Joe Maddon and his coaching staff certainly has this team playing at a high level with there being a distinct possibility that they could in fact be challenging for a wildcard berth at least should things fall their way. But in the game of baseball you simply don’t rely on luck but you make your own by playing and beating the teams on your schedule . And over the coming months the Rays will be severely tested by those teams not only within AL East but also across the whole baseball landscape.

Team owner Stuart Sternberg has had his litany of problems not only with the hierarchy of baseball but also with the Pinellas County Commission as well as the city of St Petersburg and the evolving issue of Tropicana Stadium and its immediate future and that of the team being domiciled there. Now while fans are petitioning for the team to remain within the local area I’ve heard little about how the governmental agencies will actually pay for the financing of a new venue for the team . Especially when one considers that both Hillsborough County and Pinellas County face budget deficits and the same can be said of the state government . Governor Rick Scott has yet to fully come out and commit to the financing of a new venue for the Tampa Bay Rays , albeit , that we do know that the state legislature had agreed that the financing for a new venue for the Florida Marlins would take place and that the new venue would be built on the site of the Orange Bowl in downtown Miami.

The Rays have been playing so well that it’s now resonating not just amongst their own fans but it appears that the rest of MLB is actually sitting up and taking note of this team. In spite of their missteps in the postseason last year and in 2008 the organization and team in large part has continued to make strides even if there have been a few missteps along the way.

The team now embarks on a three game series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan . And against a Tigers’ team that hasn’t seemed to have found a consistency to its game that I think that we could quite possibly see the Rays take two of three in the series . And on the mound the Rays will have their young phenom Jeremy Hellickson pitching against Phil Coke in what is liable to be a thoroughly entertaining game between two teams with postseason ambitions of their very own. It will be very interesting to see whether or not Evan Longoria can get out of his present slump and add some vital pop to the Rays’ offense . Within the league overall the Rays are a disappointing 23rd batting a .241 average but within the AL they are eleventh amongst the fourteen teams there. The AL leaders in terms team batting average are the Cleveland Indians batting at .25 points higher with a .266 average .

If anything what we do know about the Rays as a team is that Maddon and his staff impresses upon his players to be versatile in every aspect of their game . And from a defensive standpoint the Rays are sound and competent as ever . They rank second only behind the Atlanta Braves in fielding percentage and that if anyting gives you something of a true indication as to how competent in the field the Tampa Bay Rays are. That may well be the one asset that their front line pitchers can rely upon when the game is on the line and there isn’t that many runs on the board in support of their cause.

As a fan of the game and seeing the disdain shown to the organization by Bud Selig in particular , as there’s nothing more I’d like to see than the Rays actually making it to the World Series , winning the whole damn ‘shebang’ and then telling Selig to …… ” go f_ck himself and the horse he rode in on ” ! As the game’s highest ranking official the audacity and mendacity he’s shown in telling the ownership group of the Rays led by Stuart Sternberg that they are simply not fit enough to host an All Star Game because their stadium issue has yet to be resolved . But rather than acting as a conduit that could seemingly assist the Rays in their endeavors in dealing with both the city of St Petersburg , Pinellas County and Hillsborough County the commissioner has simply acted like the class bully belittling the efforts of the Rays , castigating and chiding the the municipal and country governments involved in the issue. And we wonder why the game is actually bereft of any common sense when it comes to there being any intelligence being shown by the game’s hierarchy ? So much so , that St Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster has stated that he found dealing with Selig more of a pain than actually dealing with a political foe or ally for that matter . I’ve never had that much implicit faith in anything that Selig has done with regard to the game , the blow-back from many of his decisions , has made him the laughing stock of the sports world .

As to what the season now holds for the Tampa Bay Rays we can only observe from afar make our own prognostications , simply watch as the whole spectacle of the season simply plays itself out . It could be well be a great deal of fun watching things unfold for the team and the game as a whole . And what’s not to like about that at this juncture ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece and MLB as a whole ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ……………….

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below

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(1) Tampa Bay Rays’ Sean Rodriguez, right, steals second as Florida Marlins’ Omar Infante, left, waits on the throw during the eighth inning of an interleague baseball game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Sunday, May 22, 2011. AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan …..

(2) Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher James Shields, left, is greeted by catcher Kelly Shoppach after pitching a 4-0 shutout against the Florida Marlins during the ninth inning of an interleague baseball game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Sunday, May 22, 2011. AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan ……

(3) Tampa Bay Rays’ Casey Kotchman slides safely into third base after hitting an RBI triple, as Florida Marlins third baseman Gregg Dobbs (29) awaits the throw during the third inning of an interleague baseball game at Sun Life Stadium, Sunday, May 22, 2011, in Miami. (AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan ……

(4) Florida Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez left, makes the tag as Tampa Bay Rays’ Elliot Johnson right, attempts to steal second base during the second inning of an interleague baseball game at Sun Life Stadium, Sunday, May 22, 2011, in Miami. (AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan ……

(5) Tampa Bay Rays’ James Shields pitches against the Florida Marlins during the first inning of a baseball game at Sun Life Stadium, Sunday, May 22, 2011, in Miami. AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan ……

(6) Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria draws a walk to load the bases in the eighth inning during an interleague baseball game in Miami, Saturday, May 21, 2011. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky …..

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of St Petersburg Times

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

By Bill Varian , Times Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………….

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John Romano , Times Sports Columnist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of Sporting News.com

Rays’ payroll set to drop following 2010 season

Sporting News Staff reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………….

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

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

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’t  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’s something  that  not  even  the  owners  can agree to  let  alone  the  commissioner’s  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 “‘all is  fair  in love  and  war ………”   But  it’d  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 ……………………………………….