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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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As The World Turns ……… Soap Opera In Sports


As The World Turns ……… Soap Opera In Sports

Is it me but it appears that the none sensical fans in the Tampa Bay area try to act as knowledgeable when it comes to sports as their the politicians not only in the state legislature but also the ones now said to be pursuing high office at present ? Over the weekend the Tampa Bay Rays came within a hair’s breath of being “no hit” for the third time within the space of a year. Never mind the fact that Rays’ manager Joe Maddon seems to have taken on the mindset of a whining child who’s lost its pacifier. But what might be even more preposterous was the insinuation by Rays’ pitcher James Shields that having been given an additional rest day before pitching in the team’s loss to the Toronto Blue Jays he wasn’t prepared. What the fu_ck is that all about ? And what the hell is Maddon and his coaching staff doing with these guys ? Are they professionals or are they not ?

Having swept in a three game series by the Blue Jays the Rays now finds themselves 2 1/2 games adrift of the New York Yankees in the AL East. Now I’m not about to suggest that the Rays are about to fold but this half assed belief that the division and the pennant was theirs for the taking was simply that …… half assed ! They’ve achieved nothing as of yet and have recently just learned how to win on a consistent basis . But the fans here within the locale have them as world beaters . Based on their play against the Blue Jays where they comprehensively outplayed . Any hopes that they might’ve had about sweeping through the postseason would be as meaningful as witnessing Sarah Palin assume the position of either Secretary of State or any political office within the federal government . Pretense is a wionderful thing but having the experience counts for something and at this juncture all that the Rays are giving their fans flashes of brilliance one moment and complete ineptness the next. Blue Jays’ pitcher Brandon Morrow was made to look like the second coming of Nolan Ryan as he struck out seventeen Rays’ batters in his team’s 1-0 victory . As he struck out the Rays’ batter it made you see how acute the frailties are on this Rays’ team. If the likes of Carlos Pena , B J Upton , Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria aren’t hitting and scoring runs then this team will find itself in a great deal of trouble against teams where offense is their forte’ and not a problem. And that’s inspite of the team’s strengths as a defensive presence.

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If the temperament and and psyche of the Rays can’t be put back in place where they’re playing to their strengths then Maddon and the Rays’ fans could very well see their season go up in flames .

OK so Tiger Woods does happen to be human aftter all ? His inept showing at the PGA Tour event the WGC Bridgestone Invitational from Firestone Country Club , Akron , Ohio. Woods belied his status as the world’s number one golfer by putting up such a poor display . That upon looking at the final leaderboard you’d have found it hard to believe that the player having finished in 78th place did in fact lose the tournament by thirty shots. Yes that’s not a misprint Woods finished in 78th place with an accumulative score of 298 __ 18 over par. It’d be remiss to say that Woods had a bad day at the office but part from his fourth place finishes at The Masters and US Open Woods’ presence and play on the Tour has been somewhat mediocre. And it’s pretty safe to say that should he not fare well in the final major of the season this week’s PGA Championship from Whistling Straits , Kohler Wisconsin then we may see Woods participate as part of the US team in the Ryder Cup . It mightn’t be out the realms of possibility to assume that Woods refuse an invitation were to have a poor performance at the PGA tournament . So erratic has been his play that you’d be hard pressed to believe that he’s the world number one and not some Sunday morning hacker had you witnessed his inept play at Firestone.

Off the course issues asides Woods’ mindset isn’t on his game despite his contention that it was’nt one of his better days . Were this a motor race he’d have been lapped by tournament winner Hunter Mahan at least twice , if not more . Mahan’s -12 under par 268 was enough to earn his second victory on the PGA Tour this season land him the $1,400,000 winner’s check . And any thought that one might have that Phil Mickelson was ready to take up the challenge of assuming the mantel of wrestling away the top spot from Woods atop of the Sony world rankings can be laid to rest. Mickelson’s appetite for that role is like that of an anorexic looking a for a morsel of food. They simply don’t want it nor do they have the desire or persistence to make it their wish. Mickelson merely lulls us all into the belief he wants the role but nothing could be further from the truth. And the world’s number two ranked player hardly made a dent in the lead that Woods has over him in those rankings. Needing to finish fourth or better in the tournament he tied with six other players for forty sixth place in this rarther lavish invitational field.

Those of you who know me from my days blooging within Fox’s blogging domain will know that I’m an avid martial art’s fan and boxing fan. Having served in the military I also taught self defense or in this case unarmed combat to members of the miliary whilst in the service. That being said with boxing now on the wane and some major marquee fighters unwilling face each other I’ve now become totally immersed in & MMA and the UFC . Over the weekend UFC held their showcase event UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland , California . Topping the bill was the middleweight title fight between Chael Sonnen and the champion Anderson Silva . To my mind the Brazilian , Silva, along with welterweight titlist Georges St Pierre are by by far the two most well respected and well rounded fighters in the genre at present . And they might just be two of the most popular fighters that UFC President Dana White has within the organization .

I’ve always maintained that if it’s ever your intention to talk bad about an opponent in a contest of athletic skills then you’d better have the sh*t to back it up when it counts most. In teams sports at times you can get away with it. But when it comes to an individualistic endeavor then there’s no one there to hold your hand or wipe your nose when the going gets rough. So for the idiot NFL and NBA players who think of themselves as warriors and call out an opponents , just simply shut the hell up ! You’re no more a warrior than Clay Aiken would be considered a candidate for the US Marine Corps . Have the time far too many of you talk so much sh*t that you don’t posess the pedigree to back it up !

In what turned out to be rather arduous battle in the octagon wherein Sonnen came to do battle and relieve Silva of his title . The challenger fall of his spirited and at times somewhat asinine remark about his opponent was left to eat his words. Though gamely outmaneuvering Sliva for much of the bout with his wrestling prowess. The one thing that Sonnen and all of Silva’s previous opponents have failed to understand is that no fight is ever over until that last bell is sounded . Sonnen got far too confident for his own good and Silva much like an anaconda stalks its prey simply waited for the challenger to make a mistake. And Sonnen would gladly oblige by allowing Silva take get him in triangle choke hold that would force the challenger to tap out in submission during their title bout. Sonnen to his credit after the bout was magnanimous in defeat but it paled into comparison with all of his pre-fight hype and contention that he’d take the champion down with ease.

tophatal …………………. 🙂

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