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Savor The Moment …………….


Savor The Moment ……….

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

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

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Slide show or your perusal .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Slideshow inclused for your perusal

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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